It Never Would Have Taken This Long…If Villaraigosa Were Still in Charge

The Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane just south of 4th and Spring. Not Green. Sort-of Buffered. Barely a bike lane. Photo: Damien Newton

By the time I hit Spring Street, I was in a bad mood.

My plan for the afternoon was to ride Metro and my bike up to Colorado Blvd. to take pictures of the new buffered bike lanes before heading downtown to ride the repainted Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane and then visit the heroes of L.A. Walks at Fountain and 7th.

But the day had gone awry. An hour fixing a Santa Monica Next story which contained some misinformation about Sunday’s plane crash and a broken down Expo train had stolen the time needed to get up to Northeast Los Angeles. So I rolled my bicycle out of the Civic Center Subway Station and was ready to pedal down Spring Street to 7th in a bad mood. City officials had told me the lane would be repainted over the weekend “before CicLAvia” so I was looking forward to the new lane.

But the lane isn’t painted. In fact, the water blasting that took place on the night of September 15th and a year and a half of routine wear and tear have left it a shambles of a bike lane, and we’re not just talking about green paint anymore. The buffer is obliterated in areas. The bicycle markings were blasted away with the green paint. Even the left line is missing for large stretches of the lane.

As you would expect, riding down it isn’t a great experience anymore. Just before the Parklet at L.A. Cafe, a driver swerved in front of me. When I yelled, “Hey, I’m in a bike lane!” he looked confused. He apologized at the next light. “I didn’t see it. I didn’t know.”

It was the opposite experience of riding on the Expo Line the day the Culver City Station opened. On that day, the people I talked to and overheard seemed out of casting for a Metro commercial, talking in awe about the great project and about how L.A. is catching up to New York on transit access. Yesterday was confused drivers and angry cyclists.

When I snapped the above picture just South of 4th Street, another cyclists stopped and asked if I was with “one of the bike groups who is mad about this.” Not wanting to get into too long a conversation on the street, I just said that I was.

“It never would have taken this long to fix this lane if Villariagosa were still in charge,” he muttered and pedaled off.

To top things off, a film crew was blocking the lane south of 5th. They would have actually followed all the rules for blocking a lane (assuming they had a permit) except the guard who is supposed to direct bike traffic was off to the side talking on his phone.

I’m not sure that’s true. After all, Villaraigosa was in charge when the deal was struck that led to the lanes current predicament, it does raise a central issue.

It’s been over two weeks since city work crews water blasted away the green paint, huge portions of the bike lane, and the city’s credibility as a rising city for bicycle friendliness. Two weeks of unsafe bicycle conditions where the city once had the crown jewel of its urban bicycle network. While there is certainly great news out of Eagle Rock concerning the new buffered bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard, Spring Street held and holds a symbolic importance beyond just physical infrastructure and paint.

How much longer are we going to wait to see the new design in action? Why did the city blast before it was ready to paint? While the process that led to the de-greening of Spring is frustrating enough, that’s an old story. The new one is wondering what is taking the city so long to fix the bike lane they destroyed a couple of weeks ago.

  • J. Ryan

    Everything you just described were common occurrences prior to the removal of the green paint — particularly drivers cutting into driveways and the right turn lane after the LA Cafe parklet.

  • AJ

    Agreed, the green paint certainly helped keep things less bad but did not create a safe, comfortable biking environment in itself.

  • AJ

    Today’s conditions are even worse… The film crew is back, and they blocked off the left turn from Spring onto 5th, essentially forcing drivers to right hook their way across the bike lane. Luckily (sadly?) there do not appear to be as many bicyclists using the lane in its current form–I haven’t seen nearly as many out of my kitchen window every morning.

  • As I said before….there was no point in blasting is the paint was already fading on its own. Just touch up areas with the new paint system

  • Niall Huffman

    There were only a few blocks where it was really bad (between 4th and 7th, mainly). North of 4th was pretty much pristine, and south of 7th looked OK. Even the really bad areas were mainly limited to the intersection approaches where drivers cross the bike lane with great frequency.

  • AB

    I’ve noticed a much higher frequency of people riding on the sidewalks now that the bike lane isn’t green and doesn’t have any markings. It is definitely they don’t know there is a designated lane for them to ride in.

  • AB

    I’ve noticed a much higher frequency of people riding on the sidewalks now that the bike lane isn’t green and doesn’t have any markings. It is definitely they don’t know there is a designated lane for them to ride in.

  • Sounds like perfect data for a before/after report.

    Im assuming someone is counting, of course? Because one never makes major traffic changes without counting.

  • Stumpy

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeediots!

  • Hope Springs

    Spring Street Parklet Impact Study includes longitudinal counts from which to build, in addition to those conducted by LACBC in 2011. http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/40-more-bikes-on-spring-street-in-2013/

  • miguo

    tinyurl.com/l3cselt

    v

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Cyclists Weigh in on Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane

|
The poor Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane.  The first “outside the box” bike project in Los Angeles has come under fire from just about everyone for the peeling paint and tire tracks that dominate a portion of the lane.  Even Midnight Ridazz hosts a thread entitled, “Green Lanes Are a Joke,” although opinions ont […]

The Changing Face of Downtown for Cyclists

|
In 2011, the City of Los Angeles passed a new Bike Plan which included a  “5 year bike network implementation plan.” The implementation plan focued on a handful of “core” areas to focus the bulk of the new bike facilities. One of those areas is Downtown Los Angeles. A year and a half later, checks […]

Buffered Bike Lanes Coming Soon To Montana Ave. in Santa Monica

|
Montana Avenue preliminary buffered bike lane markings. Following recent street repaving along Montana Ave., you may notice preliminary markings that are a little different than what was there before. Montana from 17th St. to 7th St. is being redesigned from standard minimum width bike lanes to include the new buffered bike lane treatment that was […]

LADOT’s FY11-12: A Banner Year for Bikeways

|
Back in a January 2012 L.A. Streetsblog article, Joe Linton stated that LADOT was “not quite on track” to complete Mayor Villaraigosa’s pledge for 40 new miles of bikeway each year. In that article, Linton projected only 31 new miles to be completed during Fiscal Year 2011-2012. The fiscal year ended two weeks ago, and LADOT […]