7th Street in Downtown Los Angeles Goes on a Diet

Photo: ##https://twitter.com/lacbc/status/393780500029927424/photo/1##Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition/Twitter##

Commuters into Downtown Los Angeles were surprised this morning to note that 7th Street had gone on a crash diet overnight. For .6 miles, between Figueroa and Main Streets, bicycle lanes were installed and a mixed-use travel lane was removed.

The new lanes are a key part in making connections in Downtown Los Angeles. The lanes connect to the previously painted 7th Street lanes that connect mid-town to Downtown and the Main Street buffered bike lane that runs north to City Hall. The lanes now run for 2.8 miles on 7th Street from Catalina Street in mid-town to Main Street.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition half-joked on twitter that “the LACBC offices now have bike lanes on three sides.”

But while celebrating the addition to the network is good, Streetsblogger Niall Huffman points out that the installation either would have been delayed or would not have happened without a state law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September of 2012. So, maybe we have to give Jerry Brown some credit as well.

AB 2245 provides for a CEQA exemption for Class II bikeway (bike lane) projects. According to the LADOT bike blog, under the former guidelines some bike lane projects in the City of L.A.  would have required an EIR if their traffic impacts were over specified thresholds.

That wasn’t the case here as the new lanes were put in and no environmental study was required, even though 7th Street lost a mixed use lane.

If you’ve ridden the lanes, let us know your experience in the comments section.

  • Steven White

    Hallelujah! This East/West connector is what we’ve needed so badly. My wife and I typically took to the sidewalk on 9th to get from the North side of Downtown where we live to the Southwest side.

  • AJ

    7th really needed to be a cycle track. I think this is an unfortunate example in which bike lanes will not work for anyone–it will slow down buses and still make for a nerve racking bike ride. There are four frequent bus lines that run on 7th and stops every 300 feet or less, so bicyclists will need to weave around buses every block. There is also a lot of parking and several valet stands. The goal should be to remove the 2-3 dozen parking spaces and create protected bicycle lanes that minimize conflicts with buses and cars.

    The road diet is certainly encouraging, but I fear that LADOT has set a bad precedent in half-baked solutions that leave bikes and buses to battle eachother for space while parking and vehicle space is still prioritized. Spring Street is another example–bus traffic has doubled or tripled recently as lines have been moved from Broadway (due to its pending road diet that will in fact also reintroduce parking). With so many buses, Spring has become an uncomfortable street to ride. This lack of coordination is the opposite of what I’m seeing from San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, which are increasingly taking an approach which focuses on multimodal functionality and rather than symbolic transit and bicycle improvements.

  • Irwin Chen

    So how do we go about getting a CEQA exemption on bus lanes…?

  • Anonymous

    I wish these were safe enough for a kid to ride on but this is still the land of half-baked lane design. Still, a big step forward, maybe.

  • J. Ryan

    I’m confused. Just walked down 7th past Fig to Hope and saw no changes.

  • brianmojo

    Looking forward to using this on my next commute to work. That said, I don’t see any bike lanes in the picture…?

  • Katherine McNenny

    Great news! Can’t wait until bike lanes connect east all the way to the LA River (and beyond)!

  • brianmojo
  • james

    It looks like 7th has regained on street parking? I can’t remember if parking became a travel lane during rush hour? If on street parking returned then that is a good thing for pedestrians. One of the many things that makes walking in Los Angeles a miserable experience is the presence of cars travelling in excess of 40mpg a few feet away from you on the broken sidewalk. Yes it does look like these lanes are half in the door zone but in a city that cannot even manage to produce one bicycle boulevard anything better is probably asking for too much. Now Ladot needs to cencentrate on “bicycle friendly streets” and give us an alternative to existing and dangerous second rate bike lanes that could get us into downtown where we will make the last leg of our trips on the downtown bike lanes.

  • Niall Huffman

    The work isn’t done yet. They just started last night; it takes a few days to scrape off the old markings and get the new ones laid down.

  • Niall Huffman

    Make them bus/bike lanes. The new bus lanes on Sunset between Fig and Elysian Park were cleared using the AB 2245 process.

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Oh sweet Jesus! This is really happening! Hallelujah indeed! Going to ride down there tonight and try them out. Thanks!

  • J. Ryan

    Yes, it was explained further in the LA DOT bike blog, but this article made it sound like they were complete.

  • Joe Linton

    Road diets are certainly encouraging – it’s a proven tool (at least according to Federal Highway studies) that makes streets safer for cyclists, peds, and, perhaps not intuitively obvious, drivers and passengers (thought to be mostly because it eliminates the blind spot in turning left across two on-coming lanes.) I think that the 7th Street road diet just west of this (on 7th from Figueroa to just west of Vermont Ave) has made that stretch so much nicer to bike on! It’s a great facility, and I am very happy to see it extended.

  • Christopher Kidd

    Unfortunately, the roadway construction required to install cycle tracks would take this project outside the bounds of the CEQA exemption granted under AB 2245. That law exempts lane re-striping, but not roadway construction. Putting in cycle tracks would require full CEQA review – money that could be better spent pushing through AB 2245-authorized road diets throughout the city.

  • brianmojo

    Genuine question: why does a cycletrack need 2 additional feet on either side? In theory it should actually need less space, since it doesn’t need buffers because there’s a physical barrier.

  • Christopher Kidd

    Cycle tracks are classified in the California Highway Design Manual as Class I bike paths. As such, they need to meet the minimum standards for bike paths, which includes a 2′ shoulder.

  • Joe B

    There’s going to be a center lane that will morph into left-turn pockets at the intersections, right? Couldn’t they make that center lane a little narrower and add buffers to the bike lanes, so that we don’t get doored? Even if the buffers disappear at intersections to make room for the left-turn pockets, that’s still better than door-zone bike lanes all the way down.

  • brianmojo

    So what I’m hearing is that we ought to work towards getting cycle tracks having their own design specs in the design manual, correct? Again, genuinely asking — does anyone think that the 2′ shoulder is practically necessary for a cycle track?

  • Anonymous

    sorry that we can’t make everything for kids.

  • JD

    This is great! I bike down 7th St. daily and it can be dangerous at times. Does anyone know when this will continue to the Arts District?

  • JD

    This is great! I bike down 7th St. daily and it can be dangerous at times. Does anyone know when this will continue to the Arts District?

  • Wanderer

    Does anyone know what Metro’s opinion of the road diet and bike lanes is? 7th St. is one of the busiest and most important bus corridors across Downtown LA.

  • CZ

    Euphemisms like “road diet” are asinine. Call it what it is: a reduction in motorized vehicle capacity.

  • icebrg

    Has anyone notice that it appears as though the bike lane on Grand Street will be removed? Not sure if it is temporary due to construction between 7th & 8th or a permanent move.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    That’s not in the current year plans, and as far as I know they haven’t started mentioning what will be in year 2 of the first five year plan.

  • Robb

    Or, an increase in bicycle capacity resulting in less noise, reduced pollution and an increase of livability resulting in more people walking and interacting with each other.

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