A Look At L.A.’s “Second Year” Bike Lane Implementation List

Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell celebrates the January 2014 opening on the Virgil Avenue bicycle lanes. Los Angeles is beginning technical studies to extend these lanes from Los Feliz Blvd to Wilshire Blvd. Photo: Office of CM Mitch O'Farrell
Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell celebrates the January 2014 opening on the initial half mile of Virgil Avenue bicycle lanes. The city of Los Angeles has begun technical studies on 40 miles of “Second Year” bike lane streets, including extending the Virgil bike lanes from Los Feliz Blvd to Wilshire Blvd. Photo: Office of CM Mitch O’Farrell

Last week, the Los Angeles City Departments of City Planning (DCP) and Transportation (LADOT) hosted a webinar for the start of what they’re calling “2010 Bicycle Plan Second Year Implementation.” The Webinar presentation materials are posted online hereSBLA covered some news from the webinar last friday. Today’s article focuses on the “Second Year” projects and additional bikeway implementation discussed. The full Second Year facility list appears after the jump.

In 2011, city staff put forth a list of about 40 miles of “First Year” study corridors. These were streets where bike lanes had been approved in the 2010 Bike Plan, but the city deemed further study necessary. Since 2011, the city has studied all and implemented some of the “first year” corridors. In many cases, first year study corridor facility implementation has stalled due to political issues. The city has also implemented plenty of other bike lane projects: some approved in the bike plan, and some opportunistic.

In January 2014, the LADOT relased its Priority 2 list. The same list in slightly different form, called “Second Year Study Corridors,” appeared on this handout distributed at DCP’s planning forumsThe second year study corridors are a list of about 40 miles of street segments where the city is looking to implement bike lanes soon. All of these bike lanes were already approved in 2011, when the city approved its bike plan.

The word “year” is somewhat confusing. Three years after adopting the bike plan, the city is starting on its “second year” bike lane projects. So, in this case, “year” means something more like “batch” or “grouping.”

Though Streetsblog welcomes and celebrates bike lanes almost anywhere, some recent L.A. City bike lane mileage has been more opportunistic than strategic. Bike lanes on Via Marisol, Laconia Blvd, Braddock Drive, and Fair Park Avenue were all implemented more because the street was overly wide, as opposed to the lanes being particularly useful.

The city’s “Second Year” list is much more strategic. Completion of these approved facilities will greatly enhance the city’s bicycle transportation network. These corridors are places where L.A. bicyclists ride and need to ride, but where no safe and convenient facility exists. These facilities connect with others to create bike networks.

Bicycle plan second year implemetation timeline - from DCP handout, click to view full 2-page handout
Bicycle plan second year implementation timeline – from DCP handout, click to view full 2-page handout

What’s next for L.A. bike lane implementation?

Don’t expect to see any of these lanes coming to a street near you right away.

The Second Year projects have been selected for technical studies because city staff anticipate that they “may reduce vehicle lanes” or parking. Though similar lane reductions generally improve safety for all road users, even drivers, taking things away can result in community backlash. This is especially true where Los Angeles communities distrust the city, including harboring skepticism of city technical expertise.

The “Second Year” facilities will undergo technical studies this spring and summer. Plans will be open to public input, and final designs are expected to be approved this fall.

These technical studies, if they’re anything like past LADOT technical studies, will not focus on how safe or convenient or healthy or wonderful these lanes will be for bicyclists. The studies are unlikely to look at driver or pedestrian safety either. Nor air, water nor noise pollution. They won’t look at the quality of the business environment, nor foot traffic. Nor quality of life. There’s more likely to focus on “Level of Service” (LOS) which only predicts any adverse impacts to cars throughput. So the studies are likely to show some motorist delay, which can add fuel to the any constituencies opposed to making these streets safer.

If the difficulties and delays in implementing the “Year One” batch are any indication of future “Second Year” performance, then bicyclists, and others, will need to rally behind these bikeways to actually get them implemented.

With Second Year Bikeways A Ways Off, What’s Next?

During last week’s webinar, Streetsblog Los Angeles posted a question regarding what the next bike lane facilities LADOT would be opening this Spring or Summer. LADOT’s Tim Fremaux responded that he wasn’t sure. He didn’t name a single bike lane facility expected to open soon.

Fremaux stated that the department had nearly exhausted the low hanging fruit bike lanes – lanes that could be implemented easily within existing roadway width without causing congestion, without removing needed travel lanes or parking. Unlike the “Second Year” list, low-hanging fruit bike facilities that don’t require cumbersome car-congestion studies.

This “we’re pretty much out of low-hanging-fruit” line has been a recurring response from LADOT. The 1996 Bicycle Master Plan referenced a lack of streets where lanes can be added without impacting traffic. During the 2010 Bike Plan process, LADOT asserted the lack of low-hanging fruit. DOT, then, until actual mileage commitments from a proactive mayor, turned around and implemented more than 150 miles of low-hanging fruit bike lane projects from 2010 until now.

Though there’s less remaining low-hanging fruit today than there was in 2010, it’s still out there. In an era of declining per-capita driving, in a city with lots of very wide over-built streets, there are still plenty of streets that can accommodate bike lanes with no controversy, no significant adverse impacts on car traffic.

The Second Year Bikeway List

The future bike lanes are listed in alphabetical rode by community area below. SBLA corrected city handout errors via this spreadsheet, and Google-mapped all of the “Second Year” segments here. For readability, SBLA has combined multiple facilities that form continuous corridors.

Boyle Heights

Boyle Avenue – from 5th Street to 8th Street (0.9 miles)
This stretch of Boyle is already a useful cycling street, crossing over and under three different freeways that otherwise serve as barriers to active transportation. The lanes will connect with Hollenbeck Park and with existing bike lanes on 8th Street.

Soto Street – Huntington Drive to 8th Street (3.7 miles)
Soto also crosses over and under barriers, including freeways and rail. The future facility will connect with bike lanes on Huntington Drive, 1st Street, and 8th Street.

Hollywood-Koreatown

Virgil Avenue / Hillhurst Avenue – from Wilshire Blvd to Los Feliz Blvd (3.4 miles total: 0.5 existing)
This facility would extend the existing lanes on Virgil Avenue. As Jeff Jacobberger noted, there are very few existing and planned facilities for population-dense and destination-rich Central Los Angeles. Extending Virgil’s bike lanes (and implementing the Vine Street, Hollywood Blvd, 6th, San Vicente and Hoover lanes – see below) would form a very useful corridor in this area where space is tight, but generally short travel distances are conducive to bicycling.

Hollywood Boulevard / Sunset Boulevard – from La Brea to Fountain (3.6 miles)
This facility would extend the Sunset Blvd bike lanes across all of Hollywood’s main commercial area. Though this area draws huge numbers of tourists, it’s generally an underwhelming destination. Making Hollywood safer and quieter could be a big step toward revitalization, and could lay the groundwork for implementing tourist-friendly bike share there.

Vine Street – from Yucca Street to Melrose Avenue (1.4 miles)
Shortly after bike lanes were approved in the 2010 Bike Plan, this portion of Vine Street received sharrows, so this doesn’t count as post-plan “new” bikeway mileage. The sharrows are a wholly inadequate bike facility, so actually implementing the approved lanes is needed. The Vine lanes would connect with L.A. bike-friendly Yucca Street the north, and with a useful bike route on Arden Boulevard to the south.

Mid-City

6th Street – from Fairfax Avenue to La Brea Avenue (1.0 mile)
These bike lanes would run between the County Art Museum and Park La Brea. With 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard ending at Park La Brea, 6th Street bike lanes would serve as a useful continuation route west.

San Vicente Boulevard – from Wilshire Blvd to Venice Blvd (2.3 miles total: 0.3 mile existing)
Like NYC’s Broadway and L.A.’s Silver Lake, San Vicente is a useful diagonal cutting through a primarily gridded area. A portion of San Vicente from La Brea to Pico recently received bike lanes. According to the LADOT website map, more mileage is also coming soon from Wilshire to Beverly. This project will close those gaps between those facilities.

Hoover Street – from Venice Blvd to 7th Street (1.1 miles)
This project would extend the existing Hoover bike lanes all the way from USC to the 7th Street bike lanes.

South Los Angeles

Central Avenue – from 1st Street to 95th Street (7.2 miles)
This is the second longest segment on LADOT’s list. The facility will connect to existing bike lanes on Central Avenue near the 105 Freeway, and extend them all the way to Little Tokyo. Central Avenue is an important historic street. Bike lanes would make it safer and more vital.

Vermont Avenue – from 79th Street to 88th Street (0.7 miles)
Vermont Avenue – from 105 Freeway to 120th Street (0.3 miles)
These two short stretches close gaps in the existing Vermont Avenue bike lanes.

San Fernando Valley

Woodman Avenue – from Roscoe Blvd to Sherman Way (1.4 miles)
This is a needed gap-closure on a very useful north-south street in the East Valley. Woodman also features innovative rainwater harvesting medians.

Parthenia Street – from Topanga Canyon Blvd to Kester Avenue (8.4 miles)
Parthenia isn’t the most destination-rich east-west corridor through the middle of the Valley, but a continuous bike lane there should serve as a relatively fast commuter cyclist facility, and would be much more politically feasible than trying to shoehorn a bike lane onto a popular east-west commercial corridor, such as Sherman Way.

Westside

Westwood Boulevard – from Le Conte Avenue to Wellworth Avenue (0.5 miles)
This long-awaited facility would connect UCLA with existing Westwood Blvd bike lanes below Wilshire. Westwood is one of Mayor Garcetti’s initial Great Streets Initiative sites. Though opposition stifled Westwood bike lanes further south, these lanes, at least north of Wilshire, appear feasible with minimal impact to other uses.

Barrington Avenue – from Olympic Blvd to Navy Street (1.1 miles)
McLaughlin Avenue – from Woodbine Street to Venice Blvd (0.7 miles)
Barrington and McLaughlin will form a worthwhile partially-sharrowed, partially-bike-laned corridor on the westside very near the future Expo Line. These lanes will connect with with existing lanes on Gateway.

Culver Boulevard – from Pacific Avenue to Jefferson Blvd (0.9 miles)
These bike lanes will provide access to the beach in Playa Del Rey.

Wilmington

Anaheim Street – from I Street to Henry Ford Avenue (2.3 miles)
Surprisingly, the harbor area has received a large number of bike lanes in recent years. What’s missing from the emerging network are a few central commercial through-streets, including Anaheim Street.

  • AJ

    Sad to see LA falling behind other NACTO cities. There’s no bold vision or innovation–we’re sleepwalking through the construction of 1980s facilities. Cheap infrastructure leads to limited results, and empowers the naysayers who can point to the lack of riders as an indicator of failure. Where are the transformative demonstration projects? Is Figueroa the only street that won’t have a door zone or gutter lane?

  • Joe Linton

    I am not going to say that L.A. has a bold vision, and there’s still a long way to go, but I think that you’re underestimating what the city has done recently: ~200 miles of bike lane in ~5 years isn’t bad. I think it means that our infrastructure is telling drivers that cyclists are legitimate road users. There have been a handful of very good road diets, too – 7th Street, the different Main Street Projects, Colorado Blvd – I think that these are very good projects.

    L.A. needed to jog before it runs. The new facilities are making things a little better, growing a constituency, and, soon, we can push the envelope even more.

  • AJ

    I don’t mean to discount that progress. But it seems like that initial momentum is fading now that Villaraigosa and De La Vega are gone. At the same time, cities across California are ramping up bigger and better projects while we’re stuck with a very elementary bike plan that features some projects that are still “too controversial” to implement without further study. Even as we make progress, the gap continues to widen.

  • MaxUtil

    I think you’ve seen a shift in the battle. It’s not as much a city wide argument anymore as it is neighborhood by neighborhood. A city the size of LA is going to have more layers of bureaucracy and more veto points. We’re going to have to fight to move forward in a lot of neighborhood council meetings and a lot of city council offices.

  • ubrayj02

    The next phase of what has been happening in Los Angeles is not going to happen in City Hall so much as the political campaign donation sphere. Will the foundations and billionaires of Los Angeles help professionalize livable streets advocacy?

    Without money flowing to the various advocacy groups and individual advocates, there will never be a big enough political movement to kick elected leaders in the direction we ought to be heading.

    The advocates who do get paid need to come from barn-storming, door knocking, marketing savvy backgrounds and just liberal arts degree mills and urban planning school. It would also pay to have professional engineers working for at least one or two of our local bike nonprofits to help come up with legal lane marking options and street designs without relying on government to do that for us.

  • Mike

    I’m excited for the prospect of a real bike lane on McLaughlin / Barrington. There is currently no good north/south corridor from the busy Venice Blvd lanes to Brentwood or Westwood. I use Barrington now, which is a little problematic, but, better than Westwood, Sepulveda or Bundy/Centinela.

  • Chris

    What’s the point of a bike lane on Culver from Pacific to Jefferson? Culver and Jefferson is in the middle of nowhere, and neither street is particularly friendly to cycles east of that intersection.

  • mark vallianatos

    1. the state is dumping LOS analysis, hopefully for VMT. LA should do the same with this set of bike treatments.
    2. With a network of cycletracks in the draft mobility element, lanes put in on those corridors should all be (at the least) buffered to create space for rapid conversion to protected lanes.

  • rickrise

    Mark, Claire Bowin of City Planning noted in the last BPIT meeting that LOS was going out the window, but that they were still bound by it till ti is officially discarded, which will be soon.

    Joe, 4th Street, which I ride pretty much daily, is not a Bicycle Boulevard, Neighborhood Greenway, or anything other than a sharrowed street with horrible road surface. It is nevertheless a route selected by hordes of bike riders daily, with typically more bike than car traffic at all hours except the school run. It deserves better, but is really just a bike route at best.

  • rickrise

    There’s a bike lane on Lincoln there, which also connects to the Ballona Creek bike path, and there’s a variety of bikelanes in Playa Vista. Culver also feeds to the popular Braude bike path along the beach, and Playa del Rey, at the end of Culver, is always crowded with bikes. I ride this road frequently, and a bike lane is much needed there. There’s also a median bike path along Culver only a little farther east, so these lanes open up the possibility of a useful gap closure for Westside bicycle riders.

    As well as incentive to add lanes to Jefferson, which has plenty of room and lots of residential, office, and retail properties along it.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    I’m excited for the Virgil/Hillhurst and Hoover lanes. Right now, my ride home from USC to Los Feliz involves starting on Hoover, but then detouring Union to 7th, and again Rampart/Coronado to Sunset. If the Hoover lanes are done well and manage to somehow mitigate that awful moment at Hoover and Alvarado where you have to go uphill while crossing two lanes of traffic, that will cut a few minutes out of the commute. And if the Virgil lanes really manage to mitigate the crossings of Beverly, Temple, and Silver Lake, and the uphill around 3rd or 4th, then they may cut another couple minutes from the roundabout route I’ve been doing.

    I’m not totally confident that any basic bike lane treatment will really fix these northbound routes, but the southbound ones should work well once it’s been done.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Whatever happened to the Year One treatments for Venice Blvd that were supposed to extend all the way to Main St?

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Miles driven per person may be declining, but there were approximately 30,000 more people in Los Angeles driving to work in 2012 than in 2005, according to the Census Bureau. That means more competition for the fixed amount of roadway space.

    Taking some of that traffic clogged space away from cars to reallocate to the small modal share for bicycles is a tough sell to community stakeholders.

  • DF_Paul

    Slightly off-topic, but I really wish the overall plan included resurfacing 4th street. I suspect a fair number of people without much experience riding are reluctant to start commuting when that street is in such poor condition for several key blocks. It’s not really that big a job, either.

  • Jon Leibowitz

    There’s a lot of poured portland cement concrete on 4th Street, these are perhaps the worst sections of it. I’ll have to pay attention to the stamped dates in the road but it wouldn’t surprise me if most of it was from the 1920s.

  • ubrayj02

    The counter argument to that line about the share of road users is clear and pretty easy to make and would go as follows:
    “Does all this space for cars really give us faster car travel?”

    “Does this road system produce value for us as a city?”

    “Does this road design make us measurably healthier and happier?”

    The answer to all of these questions is that, no, our current system is not really that fast (urban travel times still max out at 8 to 25mph on average); our “stroads” cost us more than they are worth in infrastructure and city services; and, in Los Angeles County we are facing an epidemic of diseases, deaths, and lowered quality of life caused by not enough active transportation.

    It depends on which group of “community stakeholders” we’re talking about as well. Old money, baby boomers, people who can afford live the 20th century dream – these people generally don’t give a crap about anyone else nor any of the points made above. They like the status quo because they think it serves them well.

    Other groups feel differently about the merits of keeping our materially and financially inefficient road design paradigm which makes us sad and unhealthy – and those other groups, which are growing in number every day as the middle class becomes poorer, want change.

  • Joe Linton

    I am working on a follow-up article about “Year One” – stay tuned, probably early next week.

  • poopopooooopppty

    Fuck 4th st! I take wilshire or 6th. 4th is fucking terrible and there are so many stop signs/intersections. They are actually redacting 6th from dead mans curve to Highland right now.

  • Huh, up until a few weeks ago I was commuting on 4th a few days a week (from Virgil to the end). I would see on average 0-2 other bicyclists in each direction.

    But yeah, I agree that it’s in horrible shape. My bike was falling apart from that street. And since there aren’t diversions to prevent/discourage drivers from using it, I also wouldn’t consider it a bicycle boulevard. But, it’s still preferable to any of the other nearby east/west streets.

  • So how do we get to where you think advocacy should be headed? Are you saying the current organizations fall short? What is the framework? Will this entail creating a new non-profit? Who is going to do the work to make this happen?

  • ubrayj02

    There needs to be someone in the billionaire/millionaire community in LA, or a couple of someones, who will pay the salaries of 3 or 4 full time staff in one of our local biking/walking/transit coalitions.

    That staff should include: a community organizer, a professional engineer, a marketing or design student, and a clerical worker/blogger. Those skill sets can be mixed up, but a team like that can pick out projects that will radically change the political landscape in a community and kick some ass.

    They need to be independently funded and no group selling t-shirts or internet ads is going to be able to do it. People accepting foundation money also get lazy. We need a rich person who wants measured results based on the $250,000 per year an operation like this would cost.

    That same money could be used to simply try and buy an election or two – but it wouldn’t be as effective as building a political power base and using that to steer votes and attention to livable streets issues.

  • Can you point to an example of where something like this has been done? Is this a vision that has been embraced by activists or are you a lone wolf on this? I concede it is bold/visionary but I am unsure how realistic it is to expect a Daddy Warbucks to do this.

  • On the other hand I just learned next month the LA Business Journal is publishing a special report on Wealthiest Angelenos. I guess that could serve as a shopping list to find a livability Daddy Warbucks?

  • ubrayj02

    I’ll just leave this here:

    http://www.thebicyclestory.com/2014/04/aaron-naparstek-part-1/

    Mark Gorton in New York is a great example of what a billionaire can do with the right advocacy team.

    In Chicago the people at the Green Streets Initiative were able to connect with a local rich dude who really helped push things politically forward on livable streets.

    I really think this is one place where LA has been falling short – we don’t have a privately backed team that can do its own transportation planning (to draw up legally sound options to counter the stuff the local government throws at us), legally lobby, and do grass roots community organizing. Part of the problem is that the nonprofits we have are often legally restricted from that type of work, another part is that the hiring pool is from the leftist or liberal arts college graduate community and not the business school, marketing, transportation engineering, design, community organizing, etc. worlds.

    One big component is that the wealthy in this town are looking for handouts from local government a la Eli Broad and his multi million dollar parking garage instead of giving their city a real hand up.

  • Dylan

    Robin Williams is totally into biking.