New Plans for Hyperion-Glendale Crossing Don’t Include Bike Lanes, Wide Sidewalks

The Glendale Hyperion Bridge, circa 1928. Image via ##http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Glendale-Hyperion_bridge.jpg##WikiMedia##

The City of Los Angeles is moving plans to replace the Glendale Boulevard-Hyperion Avenue Complex of Bridges over the Los Angeles River near Hollywood and Atwater Village. You can read the full EIR, here.

The Glendale-Hyperion Viaduct complex consists of the following structures:  Hyperion Avenue Bridge over the Los Angeles River, Hyperion Avenue Bridge over Riverside Drive, Hyperion Avenue Bridge over I-5, Southbound Glendale Boulevard Bridge over the Los Angeles River, Northbound Glendale Boulevard Bridge over the Los Angeles River, and Waverly Drive Bridge.

Despite bike lanes on the bridge appearing in the 2010 Bicycle Plan approved by the city, the bridge contains no bike lanes and has less than standard width sidewalks. A public meeting will be held on the project tomorrow night, and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) is urging cyclist and safety advocates to turn out.

“The existing viaduct is currently the greatest barrier for bicycle travel between Hollywood and Atwater Village,” writes Eric Bruins with the LACBC.

“Hyperion is basically the flattest route across the LA River north of downtown, which is why it was identified in the L.A. Bicycle Plan for bike lanes, yet the project does absolutely nothing to accommodate bicyclists accessing the area from the west.  There are some really great local improvements connecting the L.A. River to Atwater Village, including a new ramp and pedestrian bridge, but the project does not apply a complete streets approach to regional mobility, as required by both Caltrans policy and the City’s bike plan.”

The largest issue that cyclists have with the environmental documents isn’t just that it dismisses bike lanes without doing any real analysis, but that it does so and then says that it’s in accordance with the Bicycle Plan with no further explanation.

Adhering to the 2010 City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan (refer to Section 2.4.2.1), the new shoulder on Glendale Boulevard can be used as a bicycle route. Though the proposed project will not include a bicycle lane on Hyperion Avenue, the project is consistent with the plan. 

Normally, when a project plan is not in accordance with an existing Master Plan or Circulation element, the environmental documents will say that they are and explain how the plan will mitigate this shortcoming.  Right now the city is denying the impact outright.

That could be grounds for a lawsuit.

That being said, city staff claim that the bridge redesign is a win for bicyclists. Via a spokesperson for Council Member Tom LaBonge, who along with Mitch O’Farrell represents the project area in the City Council, the Department of Public Works explains what those mitigation measures are.

1. Part of the project scope is to re-align the I-5 NB off-ramp at Glendale Blvd.  By relocating the off-ramp away from the river (Environmental doc ref.: Figure 1-3B, Footprint Map), a space will be made available to construct a new bicycle access ramp to the existing LA River Bikeway on the downstream side of the bridges. (Environmental doc ref.: pg. 1-16, New Bike Path Access)

2. Glendale Blvd Bridges NB and SB both will be widened, which will accommodate a striped bike lane when LADOT has developed bike lanes on Glendale Blvd beyond the bridges in the future. (Env doc ref.: pg. 1-16, Traffic Lane Restriping: the 6-ft shoulder may be used for future bike lane)

While the improvements to the Glendale Bridges are encouraging, the lack of a bicycle lane promised on the Hyperion Avenue Bridge means that instead of a smooth flow between the communities of Glendale, Hollywood, Silver Lake and Atwater, the city will have a hodge-podge of half measures that don’t get cyclists where they need to go in a safe and reasonable manner.

The Glendale-Hyperion Bridge is a concrete arch bridge viaduct in Atwater Village that spans the Los Angeles River and Interstate 5. The bridge spans 400 feet over the Atwater section of the Los Angeles River and has four mixed-use travel lanes. The improved bridge will also have four lanes.

Listening to staff at the DPW and with both O’Farrell and LaBonge’s offices, one doesn’t get the sense that they are indifferent to cyclists needs in the area, and that they believe the half-measures outlined above are enough. Neither this piece, nor the LACBC, see this as an issue where the city needs to be barraged with bad press.

However, as with so many things in life the first step can often be the hardest: admitting you have a problem. Cyclists can help them make that step by either attending tomorrow’s meeting, or emailing Tami.Podesta@dot.ca.gov and let the person overseeing the environmental studies know there is a problem with the plan. The meeting will be from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive. The LACBC has set up a Facebook event for it, which you can find here.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    I’ve been thinking about this the past few days, and I’ve realized that the problem is that the officials are thinking of the LA river as the only barrier that bikes need to cross, when in fact, the more difficult barrier to cross is the ridge separating the floodplain of the LA river (including Elysian Valley, and Riverside Drive, and the recreation areas near the Mulholland memorial) from the neighborhoods of Silver Lake and Los Feliz. Hyperion Ave crosses both barriers with this one bridge complex. The proposed bike/ped bridge crosses only the river, and (depending on how it connects to Glendale Blvd) won’t be much more helpful to area mobility than the existing bridge just north of this one connecting to Sunnynook park.

    If it’s really, really, really impossible to narrow the car lanes on Hyperion Ave to add either bike lanes, or expand the sidewalk into a mixed-use path, then the only way this alternative bridge can solve mobility issues is if cyclists get protected bike lanes connecting from this bike/ped bridge south on Glendale Blvd to the lanes on Rowena.

  • Aaron

    Hyperion is a critical connection between neighborhoods, and if the City isn’t going to make room for cyclists there (as the bike plan calls for) during the context of a major project, then it seems obvious that the City isn’t going to make room for cyclists anywhere other than the most “low hanging fruit.” If the City doesn’t provide for a bike lane as part of this construction (or at least construct in a way that would accommodate a future bike lane or multi-use path), it’s safe to say that there will never be a bike lane. Saying that cyclists can use the shoulder on this steep and fast-moving incline, so it is “consistent” with the bike plan that calls for a dedicated bike lane is such a joke that it calls the EIR into question, and the cycling community should absolutely consider a lawsuit.

    A somewhat more detailed quote on the role of the bike plan can be found on p. 2-6 to 2-7 of the EIR, and I’ve quoted it below.
    _____

    “2010 City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan

    The 2010 City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan is a long-range planning tool to guide future development of bicycle facilities in the City to the year 2045. The plan envisions programming future facilities in five-year increments for environmental evaluation and funding. There are no existing bicycle facilities on Glendale Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue. According to the plan, as a transportation element, Hyperion Avenue is listed as a future bicycle lane (dedicated bicycle-only lane), and Glendale Boulevard is listed as a future bicycle route (in-road bicycle and vehicle shared roadway).

    Adhering to the 2010 City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan, the new shoulder on Glendale Boulevard could facilitate future development of a bicycle route. Though the proposed project will not include a bicycle lane on Hyperion Avenue, the project is consistent with the plan because cyclists can use the shoulder.”

  • Roadblock

    Why do we only get 2 effin day notice on these things? the city just DOES NOT seem to want people to know about this.

  • Roadblock

    where is the meeting? Am I blind? I dont see the address / time

  • Alex Vickers

    This is really disappointing to see… And seen within the context of the planned LA River Redevelopment (http://www.larivercorp.com/greenway2020) it kind of seems pointless to me to redevelop this section of the LA River if you have to drive (in one of the more congested areas of LA) to get to it. This has the potential to connect two of LA’s hippest neighborhoods with thriving bike cultures and its a shame to see the lost opportunity. I’d go to Atwater/The LA River Path so much more often if it didn’t feel like I was taking my life in my hands crossing that damn bridge.

  • Roadblock

    WILL SOMEONE. ANYONE. PLEASE POST THE MEETING ADDRESS AND TIME?! AM I NOT SEEING SOMETHING HERE?!

  • Aaron

    The meeting will be from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive. The LACBC has set up a Facebook event for it, which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1376720622563270/

  • Frances

    Separate from the cycling issue…are they basically demolishing the bridge and rebuilding it to look old? If that is true it’s so so sad…

  • Aaron

    My understanding from reading the EIR is that they aren’t actually demolishing the bridges–they’re just widening/re-configuring/retrofitting them. The EIR seems to say that the street will actually remain open to traffic throughout the construction (though with some lane closure, obviously). I may be wrong, but that’s what it looked like to me.

  • Frances

    Thanks Aaron

  • brianmojo

    I understand that they might not be able to fit the bike lane on the Hyperion bridge. It’s only so wide, and basically they’re going to have to remove a lane to make space for bike lanes. That may happen eventually, but it’s politically not likely.

    That said, why, oh why, are they not building space for a cycletrack on the Glendale section of the bridge? They are widening both sides by 8ft and could easily make it 13 or whatever is needed to make room for bikes.

  • rickrise

    Here are articles of mine with background on this matter, including specific suggestions for accommodating bikeways:

    http://flyingpigeon-la.com/2011/12/the-silverlake-atwater-express/
    http://flyingpigeon-la.com/2012/05/crosstown-connection/
    http://flyingpigeon-la.com/2013/07/a-merge-too-far/

    LADOT has been full of excuses on this one, but it looks to me that it’s doable with some minor narrowing of motor lanes, which is needed to reduce speeding on the bridge anyway.

  • Aaron

    The City hasn’t made any sort of finding that a bike lane on Hyperion would require the removal of a mixed use lane (I don’t believe it would, but, if so, I expect the City to clearly demonstrate why this is the case).

  • mark vallianatos

    solution 1: reduce the planned 12 and 14 feet inside and outside travel lanes
    (which are too wide and encourage speeding) to 10 and 11 feet. This provides 5 extra feet for a painted bike lane or a cycletrack.
    Easy solution 2: one travel lane in each direction creates plenty of space for sidewalks and cycle infrastucture

  • Anonymous

    Check out that glorious river. Ah, the things we’ve lost in LA!

  • jim bledsoe

    Why widen the bridge at all. The primary reason i hear while volunteering at the Bicycle Kitchen for not riding bicycles is “I am afraid of cars”. If we calm traffic and build a safe cycling infrastructure we will solve many transportation problems. At the same time being able to use bicycle for the bulk of our daily trips to the store,work and recreation destinations will reduce the over all need to earn money there by giving us all more time to do useful things with our families and friends. i understand this notion of earning less is contrary to the conventional measures of wealth and prosperity. Let me simply respond in advance, money does not grow on trees but apples do and if you have apples you don’t need money. Also i understand this thread is focused on the DOTs malfeasance but the real issue underlying it is our collective quality of life. It is very important to consider the far ranging and complex results of any infrastructural design decisions. The cost of widening the bridge will prevent the reworking of some other infrastructural issues, like restoring the the LA River or building more subway and light rail facilities. Simply repainting a lot of our existing roads and adding inexpensive lane divers will allay fears of many and we will all live better.

  • jim bledsoe

    if we use the existing road for a bicycle path. The amount of cars going through the area we be reduced and the bicycle / pedestrian traffic will increase leading to an overall increase in bridge utility. i understand the above statement is counter to conventional road use and purpose conventions, but cars do not give us the advertised return on investment. Doing things that make cycling and walking safer and more convenient will help us build a more prosperous Los Angeles.

  • Roadblock

    I went to this meeting last night. After some pushing and prodding of the smiley people we found out a couple important things… One is that the CURRENT average speeds on the bridge are 55MPH. 55!! Thats WAY over the posted speed limit.

    The second thing we found out is that the proposed 12′ and 14′ lane configuration with crash barriers and banked roadways are FREEWAY grade designs intended to FACILITATE 55MPH traffic. This came right from Jeff the engineer’s mouth to the crowd. The proposed bridge design is rated for 55MPH.

    The bridge will have crash barriers installed. The final design will look basically like the 110 freeway overpass about 5 miles south of Hyperion.

    This street is one of only 3 equally dangerous routes from Silverlake Los Feliz Hollywood area to Atwater Glendale LA River. We can thank the “celebrity” announcers in the presentation video for this… Mitch Ofarrel, Eric Garcetti and the Tom LaBonge.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    They’re already building a barrier to separate the sidewalk from the cars – put both direction of the bike lane on the sidewalk side of the barrier.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Maybe there’s a way we can encourage them to use traffic calming measures to reduce travel speeds to 35, and then they can narrow the lanes to 10 and 11 ft, and use the extra 10 feet of width to put bike lanes on the protected side of the barrier.

  • james

    If current average speeds on the bridge are already 55mph then one could argue that 55 is the design speed, regardless of what it was supposed to be. If the replacement highway is intended to have an improved 55mph design speed then avg. speed and thus actual design speed could be 65. If you re-design to accommodate current levels of law breaking you only give people more room for more of the same behavior. This is a basic problem in traffic engineering.
    The current crop of engineers and planners at ladot and caltran are a product of the same education and modernist freeway-obsessed planning and traffic engineering education responsible for cities like Irvine and Lake Forest.

    Whatever attempts to make this city bicycle friendly were done because of outside pressure and will only be allowed to go far enough to create the false impression that LA has changed and only for the purpose of capturing some of the emmigration that has sent people to Portland, SF, Brooklyn etc. LA, much like Long Beach has no real interest in doing anything substantial to re-urbanize its formerly urban public spaces. They want some of that gentrificaton/”creative class”/annoying hipster moustache action and are willing to engage in some boosterist simulation and hold a few photo-ops to attract it. But actual reform is out of the question.