In a surprise announcement, Metro revealed this morning that the much-hated 405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project will not add one northbound carpool lane as advertised. It will instead add protected bike lanes, aka cycletracks, to both sides of the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass.
Say hello to L.A.’s ExpressBikeLanes.
“It’s no coincidence that the Crimanimalz rode the I-10 on their bicycles at the same time we we doing final planning for the Sepulveda Pass Widening Project, and it got us to thinking…maybe bicycles do belong on freeways,” explains Doug Winning, the head of Metro’s Highway Department. “We only had one widening in the queue, so we made some quick adjustments to our plans to create L.A. County’s first highway cycletracks.”
Winning went on to clarify that the new plans for the project were in the plans for “years” and were not the result of the toll lane project’s decreasing popularity, inflated budget or way-over-deadline timeline. They certainly aren’t part of an attempt to blame bicyclists for the wildly unpopular and expensive project that even the local Metro Board Members, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Mike Bonin, believe is a mistake.
Which is not to say this announcement didn’t come with some controversy. Motorists who had their traditionally congestion-free commute on the 405 interrupted with a pair of Carmageddons and sporadic lane and ramp closures are now angry that they won’t be given a chance to risk being ticketed while driving solo in the carpool lanes.
“In truth, we didn’t even have to close any part of the freeway. That part was just for kicks,” Winning continued.
The announcement drew criticism from the Los Angeles City Bicycle Coalition of Cyclists.
“I’m not sure that cycletracks on a freeway with a steep incline is the best idea,” explains Eric Trojans, the LACBCoC. “And what’s with the transponder requirement?”
Trojans is referencing the one requirement that cyclists have to meet to ride in the new ExpressBikeLanes. Cyclists will be required to attach a transponder to their windshield that will notify Metro that there is a cyclist in the lane.
The transponders are free to rent, provided the cyclist rides both ways in the ExpressBikeLane at least 17 times per fiscal year. The fiscal year begins on May 3 and ends on May 4 of the following year. If a cyclist is worried he will not be able to make that many trips, he can link his ExpressBikeLanes transponder account with his or her LAUSD teacher I.D., a Mega-Ball lottery ticket, or a defunct TAP account to avoid transponder fees.
Of course, for the transponder to work, cyclists will also have to purchase a windshield. Metro was very clear that the transponder will only work when attached to a windshield.
“Bicycle windshield technology has been much improved in recent years,” Winning replied defensively when asked about this requirement. “Aren’t you the guy that got a law changed so that you could ride around in a bucket bike? I bet there are more bicycle windshields in L.A. than bucket bikes with babies in them.”
Winning further stated “We’re almost done, we just need to cone off some sections for traffic studies, especially in stretches where Neighborhood Councils haven’t yet endorsed gubernatorial candidates” Like ’em or not, ExpressBikeLanes are expected to open in January, 2032.