Buffered Bike Lanes in Downtown Los Angeles and Regular Lanes Through Second Street Tunnel

Images: Ryan Johnson
Images: Ryan Johnson

Getting to Downtown Los Angeles from points west seems to be getting easier every day. For the past several weeks, Streetsblog covered the addition of new bike lanes on 7th Street that link up with existing lanes in the Downtown. This weekend, the city striped new lanes through the iconic 2nd Street Tunnel into the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.

The new lanes will extend from North Spring Street, home of the famous sorta-green buffered bike lane, through the tunnel to Glendale Boulevard. The portion of the lanes in Downtown Los Angeles are buffered lanes, matching up with the Northbound buffered lanes on Main Street and Southbound ones on Spring. The project also connects with existing Sharrows on 2nd street from Alameda to Spring Street.

While the project isn’t quite completed yet, the early returns are good. Reader Brian Retchiess wrote on Friday, “I dunno about you, but my trips to Echo Park are about to get a lot nicer!”

Ryan Johnson wrote after his morning commute yesterday, “My ride through the 2nd Street tunnel this morning was excellent due to the newly striped bike lanes. Pavement markings are still missing, so there was a little driver confusion that I’m sure will interesting to watch during rush hour tomorrow.”

So how was your commute today? If you ride 2nd Street, did the new lanes make a difference? Let us know in the comments section.

  • M

    I absolutely hate it. That will add more congestion to an already busy route.

  • xiuxua

    tinyurl.com/l3cselt

    v

  • semiquaver

    Sorry you will have a slower drive. But I will get to survive, and if it safe for me on my bike, that will meaone less car on that route.

  • J

    I want to bash in the idiot’s head who made these insufferable bike lanes possible. This tunnel which used to take me ten seconds to drive through now takes me ten minutes. Multiply that by how many days I work a year, and I, along with tens of thousands of others, are losing countless hours from our lives. Screw pansy bikers, this is LA. Cars reign supreme. Unfortunately, so do bike-loving, liberal hippies. F**k the bike lanes, and f**k the morons who put them there.

  • Dave

    J
    You probably would bash someones head in if your driving speed was 10 seconds through that tunnel, all the more reason to protect other human life from people like you.
    10 minutes is a lie, be honest.

  • Dean Gorby

    The new bike lanes make a huge difference. After driving on 2nd street every work day for the past 9 years, I am forced to find a different route. Additionally, it has added to the already horrendous traffic on Fig. To significantly increase one of the WORST problems in LA (traffic) just to appease a very, very minority is pure foolishness. I’m sorry to the .01 percent of you who bike to work, but this is not a solution that works for Los Angeles. My question: where can we gripe about this to the ones who are responsible?

  • Dean Gorby

    I’m sorry, but I can’t resist: Technically speaking, if you don’t “survive” that also means one less car on that route. It’s a joke!! I have friends who ride their bikes to work, but for the VAST majority it’s not possible. I feel like adding to one of our very worst problems (traffic) to try to “encourage” bike riding is a foolish strategy. I crawl along the road with thousands of cars so that every 5 minutes or so one bike can drive by – how does that make sense?

  • sahra

    During non-peak traffic times, I see no back-ups. Peak hours are another story. I saw a tremendous line of west-bound traffic backed up on my way through the tunnel tonight, and it was taking people a considerable amount of time to get through. I am one of the bikers you do not care for who does not drive — the bike is my car just like your car is your car — and is grateful for the lane, but I don’t necessarily think a line of cars backed up, idling in a tunnel is in anyone’s interest, either. I wonder if timing the lights differently could help? The timing east of the tunnel is abysmal — cars and bikes alike usually have to stop at every light. Perhaps timing those better and allowing for a longer green for east-west traffic at Fig might help move things along more fluidly. The bike lane is a tremendous asset, but I would think some tweaking could possibly be done to help compensate for the change in traffic flow?

  • Roadblock

    I suggest you talk to yourself first… If you are in a car, you are part of the problem.

  • Roadblock

    It starts to make sense when you take a little bit of time to think over your decision to drive. Where are you commuting from?

  • Dean Gorby

    Wow you really gave me something to think about. I never even considered not driving. thanks.

  • Davis

    I bike this route twice a day and it felt very unsafe up till last weekend. This is the only bike lane on an East/West street in all of downtown, I hope drivers can be understanding and vary their commute to any other street.

  • Roadblock

    I know you are kidding but most people dont actually think about it… you didnt seem to… where are you commuting to and from? be honest. lets see how bad it would be for you.

  • Roadblock

    10 minutes? that seems like an exaggeration…. Hey guess what though… growing pains. The future is not single mode transport. It will take a while to connect the bike network, and it WILL be painful, but the result will be a better city for all of us including you. so let go of your anger man…. just give it a try. try riding a bike or taking the train….

  • Dean Gorby

    I appreciate your messages and the fact that you care about this issue, but riding a bike to work is not an option for me. I live in Glendale, and I frequently have meetings throughout the day all over the city. I also wear a suit to work, not really good for bike riding.

    I do agree with your comment below that progress is achieved only with some pain. However, I stand by my position on the closing of car lanes Downtown. It depends on perspective: from a person who sees this as positive progress towards a solution, it looks ONE way. For the vast majority of us just trying to survive and make our days decent, it looks ANOTHER way…

  • downtown commuter

    My perspective is that we are running out of oil and need aggressive implementation of efficient and sustainable transportation options if we are to thrive into the future. The vast majority aren’t thinking about our kids and what kind of a world we’re leaving them.

    I bike in a suit, but I also bike at a slow and comfortable 10mph, so I don’t sweat much if at all. I also have the option of taking the bus. Most people don’t though. They commute by car because the other options are unsafe or inconvenient. This is a step in the right direction. Downtown is a good place to start for bike friendly streets, the area can easily be covered by bike.

  • ubrayj02

    Right, you don’t like this but here is the question I have for you: why should LA care about what a guy who lives in Glendale, makes his money in LA, and then promptly splits back to Glendale to spend it thinks?

    You don’t live here but you use our town to make a living – leaving behind pollution and making our lives just the teensiest tiny bit more dangerous and less happy because of your commute choice. So what interest is it to the people who live and work, own property in LA to make your car trip one minute faster through a beautiful tunnel that will connect people who live, work, and shop here happier and more likely to value the city we live in?

    Here is where I think the politics of this line up: we don’t really care. Register to vote in LA and then we’d have an issue. This is a huge metropolis that has been outsourcing its tax base to Glendale and Burbank and Santa Monica and Alhambra, Culver City, South Pasadena, and Beverly Hills for at least two generations now and we’re broke, we’re spiritually broken, living in high pollution low social cohesion, communities and who really gives a crap if your commute is now slower. Take a bus! Take a train! Because if you come to town to earn but not spend nor help nor engage why the hell should I care about what you need and want? If we focus on the people who work AND live AND own AND spend in LA then people like you hop aboard for the ride anyway. We don’t need to win your car commute favor because our high value city attracts firms and business. Turning things over to car interests destroyed our downtown decades ago.

    The people who invest and own in DTLA are benefiting from safer streets and higher property values – and that also directly benefits this town unlike the splitsville car commuters who rob this town of capital while clamoring that we hand over every square inch of public space to their non-tax paying whims.

  • ubrayj02

    For the vast majority of wealth pirates, who swashbuckle into town in their vessels to hoarde treasure and then go plunk it down outside of city limits, yeah not driving is not an option. So, should we continue to allow our shores to be pillaged by the car driving buccaneers like you or should we defend our interests?

    I just spent a magic Sunday in DTLA with my family shopping and enjoying parks and bike lanes that didn’t exist three years ago. People from outside of LA come here now because it is a valuable and nice place to be – not because 2nd St. is 1 minute faster to drive through.

    Planning a city based on the “needs” of people who are civic non-entities, whose interests directly conflict with the chartered goals of Los Angeles, has got to end – and clearly these bike lanes signal that the change is already afoot.

  • Dean Gorby

    You want us to move our company OUT of LA, and that will HELP DTLA? Economics 101. Look it up hippie.

  • downtown commuter

    No, he’s saying move yourself into the city you work in. You said you live in Glendale.

  • ubrayj02

    Why is your company in DTLA? Because you can get there in your car in record time every day or because of the density of human capital and infrastructure make it a profitable place to be? Bike lanes increase that capital and increase that value. Urban streets that are turned over to mass motoring do the opposite. What I want you to do is actually apply some economics 101 instead of ignoring it because you like your widdle car so berry much. Show me the reams of evidence behind your “high speed cars on urban streets = businesses will locate in your downtown” because I look around this country and the rest of the world and I am not seeing it.

  • sahra

    If I may intercede here, I am not sure that insulting people for their choice of transportation or where they work is a particularly effective way to get someone to side with a particular line of thinking. I appreciate the passion, @ubrayj02:disqus, but think it may be hurting dialogue in this case.

    Instead, I think it might be a great opportunity to ask someone like @deangorby:disqus the question advocates are always looking to answer, namely: What does it take to get someone like himself, who has a job that both requires that he dress well and move from site to site around the city during the day, to consider alternative transportation methods? Would he ever consider such a thing? Or feel that he could try an alternative to driving on days he was confined to one site? If not, why not? What are the barriers he believes still exist and what does he feel he needs the city or his workplace do to help make transit or cycling a more attractive and viable option for him? And even if those barriers are removed, does he think he would ever really be convinced to try an alternative transit method?

    The conventional wisdom is that the more painful it becomes to drive, the more likely it will be for people to start to consider alternative methods of arriving at their destinations. I think that is very true in the long term. But in cases like the overnight change of the 2nd St. tunnel or Rowena in Silver Lake, that is clearly not true for those that never have considered alternative transit in the short term. Instead, people get angry and seek alternative routes to get to their destinations, not alternative methods.

    People can adapt to change eventually, but it certainly helps if they feel like their needs are respected and they are forewarned, included in conversations about the changes, offered reasonable justifications for an action, and offered viable alternatives to think about.

    Perhaps projects with dramatic overnight changes like that of the 2nd St. tunnel either need to be phased in more slowly (not sure how that would be possible) or campaigns need to be developed around them to both prepare people for a sudden change and to highlight alternative transit commuter routes. Who knows…? A campaign around a project might only give people more time to object to it — that is entirely possible. But maybe you all can come up with a better idea to help smooth these transitions…

    That’s my two cents… Damien told the LAT that they need to stop with the “us” vs. “them” approach to bikes v. cars issues. Reading this thread, I got the feeling that you all had entered “us” v. “them” territory and that it was just as unproductive as it is when it happens in more mainstream outlets. Perhaps it is time to kiss and make up and invite Dean on a Dim Sum ride…?

  • JRA99

    Dean, this is my situation exactly. I wear a suit at work; I travel around to different spots in the county several times a week. But I commute to my office by bike. Here’s what I do: On Monday, I drive to work with my bike and all the clothes I’ll need during the week in my car. Monday, after work, I ride home. Tues, Wed, & Thu I ride to and from work. On Friday, I ride to work, but I drive home.

    Currently, I have a shower/changing room at work which makes it all easy, but even when I didn’t have a shower/changing room, I still did this, but I cooled down and then cleaned up in a bathroom using body wipes and a wet washcloth. I’ve been doing this for 6 years and it has changed my life for the better in numerous ways, health-wise, stress-wise, cost-wise. Oh, and it’s fun too

  • ubrayj02

    The problem, as I see it, is that @Dean Gorby types look at Los Angeles like a coal miner looks at the caves he works in: grimy, ugly, get in, get out, get paid. How many coal miners decorate the interior of the caves they are working in? Why would they? They are there to scrape the walls bare of anything precious, cash out, and go home – and “home” is not Los Angeles.

    My attitude is similar to that of a person living in the countryside around and on top of a coal mine – my work and my home are in virtually the same place and if I trash my home by strip mining it then I may have a short-term cash influx but no long term prospects, no way of life, and no home.

    I encountered this same “common sense” argument about jobs & high speed urban car traffic years ago from professional engineers and it is totally bogus. There is an ANTI-correlation between jobs and high speed cars on urban streets as far as I can tell.

    This isn’t a bikes vs cars debate so much as an strip-miner attitude vs. the attitude of someone living on the hillside the miner wants to rip to pieces – and rip to pieces we have! DTLA has been the subject of innumerable strip-mining operations to get to a totally car-centric design paradigm and urban car speeds still only hover at 8 to 15 mph on average. It is pointless to take the selfish concerns of a non-voting, non-resident, pillaging outsider into account when trying to plan for a more livable city. Unless these motoring hordes want to put their kids and lives in the city they strip-mine wealth from I don’t see why we should turn over our streets to their interests.

  • Roadblock

    Timing the lights is something they’ve been tryin to do since lights were invented. It cant work because of the imperfect grid that is LA streets. There IS NO CHOICE. If you drive a car you will only ever average 15-20mph in any urban setting the world over. Ubrayj is totally right. This guy doesnt live in LA. He will just have to deal with that. Why should we have inhumane streets just to accomodate people who dont live here? I assume he lives in glendale on a nice street? Can we not have nice streets?

  • Roadblock

    Move your company out of LA? You wont. But maybe you should. Put it in glendale. Why not? Why have your company in LA if it means a lengthy commute?

  • Townee for life

    Best answer. Best perspective.

  • Townee fo life

    You know i feel like this is the case with most city folk. Where do BOE people live? Yorba Linda Simi Valley Long Beach? I bet most dont live in LA proper and commute in and just dread the traffic that they and the rest create… And therefore they work hard to widen and erode anything that makes their car trip long… Cops, city planners, the whole city family”

  • traffic bob
  • traffic bob

    After the installation of this bike lane, it takes about 5 minutes more to leave Downtown and cars are backed up- IS THIS REALLY WORTH THE TRAFFIC BACKUP, POLLUTION FOR THE 20 PEOPLE WHO MAY RIDE ON THIS ROUTE DAILY?

  • traffic bob

    The traffic before and in the tunnel is backed up now daily prior to the PM peak-

  • SFnative74

    Believe it or not, LA is one of the most densely populated cities in the country, so the potential for using a bike for many trips is there, esp given the traffic, the nice weather, and fairly flat terrain. There are not that many people riding today because there was nothing on the roads for bikes until very recently. To oppose the addition of bike lanes because there are relatively few people on bikes is to perpetuate the current situation. Let the city put in a reasonable network of bikeways in first then see the results.

  • DMalcolmCarson

    I think you actually have it exactly right. There isn’t any point in planning a city for the needs of those who don’t intend to really do anything in that city other than drive through it. This guy at least does work in DTLA, which is something. A lot of LA city decisions have been made to facilitate the lives of people who don’t do anything other than simply DRIVE THROUGH L.A. on the way somewhere else. Makes no sense whatsoever.

  • ubrayj02

    Define “backed up”. What kind of delays are motorists experiencing now versus before and further, why the hell should we care? Driving into and out of DTLA is an indicator of how stupid we want to be, as a city, with respect to the value of land and the strength of our communities. People, even in the “before” situation weren’t averaging more than 8 to 15 mph – but the value of the property around these bike lanes has been improved with the bike lanes installation. If cars started traveling faster here would we have a more valuable city? Would we be safer? Would we be happier in and around 2nd Street?

  • Location Manager

    Not to mention the added traffic backup, the bike lane just changed one of the city’s most iconic film locations. A tunnel I have scouted and location managed more than a few times was truly one of a kind. I think it’s great that we make the city more bike friendly, but bike lanes don’t employ thousands of people across the southland the way my industry does. Film makers will know have to go somewhere else to shoot a tunnel like the 2nd Street tunnel. Too bad, real shame.

  • Salts

    Yeah, bike lanes just save lives, prevent collisions, encourage a healthy and sustainable mode of travel… bike lanes have no positive externalities, I am sure.

    If it’s one of the most iconic tunnels, you better be willing to pay good money to use it then.

    Sure bike lanes don’t employ people– how many people are employed by left turn lanes? Or how about curbside parking? Why single out bike lanes Mr. Location Manager? Public transit employs people so let’s remove car lanes and make them transit only lanes! Oh wait, more bus lanes would hurt your business, wouldn’t it?

    Jesus, have you ever worked on a movie that deals with the f*cking reality that if we don’t curb our dependence on the automobile that we are screwed? God f*cking damn! It’s all about the money for you, isn’t it? Dollars signs on everything and anything that makes Downtown LA nicer only reduces your profit margins. Sorry, come with an argument of substance and maybe you’ll get some sympathy.

  • Salts

    traffic bob is 100% right! We oppose bike lanes because we care about the environment, don’t you get it?! We are on your side! The pollution! no! Make it stop!

    How do we make it stop? By driving our cars really, really fast! Encourage biking? No! Drive fast! vroom vroom! I’m saving the planet by flying through the tunnel at 35 miles per hour!

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Is it impossible to film in a tunnel with bike lanes? Vancouver seems to be doing fine at attracting film while installing separated bike lanes. Or do you think that Los Angeles is just inherently less successful as a film location than Vancouver?

    Also, I note that first you say the tunnel is “one of a kind”, but then you say that film makers will find “somewhere else to shoot a tunnel like the 2nd Street tunnel”. If the tunnel is truly unique, then filmmakers will find a way to make it work.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Also, I’ve noticed that there are many places where tiles are missing and the tunnel looks worn down. Presumably there is currently a lot of expense involved for film crews in post-processing to fix those blemishes. Maybe the city can find a way to repair the tunnel so that the extra expenses film crews face for a tunnel with a bike lane will be saved in not having to patch over the blemishes in the tunnel?

  • Timmuh

    DTLA smells like a urinal.

  • rodolfo

    So true. Goofy hippy bikers are so annoying.

  • ubrayj02

    DTLA is some of the most valuable real estate on a per sq. ft. or per acre basis than anywhere else in LA. Check the rents, homie. And this is after we’ve debased it with generations of bum piss and freeway-style streets.

  • Aunt Bike

    About as compelling an argument against safety and traffic calming measures as the one that argues they’ll cause slow traffic.

    Priorities, Location Manager.

  • Alex Brideau III

    You will survive.