Venice Great Streets Phase 1: Road Diet, Protected Bike Lanes, Mid-Block Crossings

Morning rush on the .8 mile future Great Street in Mar Vista. Check out the map, ##https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Venice+Blvd+%26+Beethoven+St,+Los+Angeles,+CA+90066/Los+Angeles,+CA+90066/@34.0029397,-118.4396395,16z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x80c2baf512e6f497:0x61abf73848f48fd7!2m2!1d-118.4411967!2d33.9997623!1m5!1m1!1s0x80c2ba5ca7797825:0xdace1dd65915342c!2m2!1d-118.4288555!2d34.0061425##here.##
Morning rush on the .8 mile future Great Street in Mar Vista. Check out the map, ##https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Venice+Blvd+%26+Beethoven+St,+Los+Angeles,+CA+90066/Los+Angeles,+CA+90066/@34.0029397,-118.4396395,16z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x80c2baf512e6f497:0x61abf73848f48fd7!2m2!1d-118.4411967!2d33.9997623!1m5!1m1!1s0x80c2ba5ca7797825:0xdace1dd65915342c!2m2!1d-118.4288555!2d34.0061425##here.##

(Update: While I have the term “phase 1” in my notes, I was corrected that there are no formal “phases” to the project. Right now there is only a firm plan for the transportation improvements, but will be implemented as opportunities arise, such as partnerships with community groups or businesses. They could happen before, or after, the transportation improvements. – DN)

Last night at the meeting of the Mar Vista Community Council’s Great Streets Working Group, Councilmember Mike Bonin, members of his staff, and members of the Great Streets team discussed the specific plans for phase 1 of the Great Streets proposal for Venice Blvd. in Mar Vista.

For more on the Great Streets Program in Mar Vista, visit yesterday’s story on the outreach process.

Phase 1 is a pilot program that would focus on the transportation elements of the Great Streets program, with plans for murals, parklets, seating, and other improvements. Beautification and other improvements are being worked on and some volunteers are working on designing and creating planters to possibly be included in Phase 1. Phase 1 is scheduled to be completed in the “winter/spring of 2016” with funding coming from the LADOT’s Great Streets fund. There is no timeline for when the non-transportation improvements will be added.

The plan itself is pretty great. Currently, Venice Blvd. is six mixed-use travel lanes (which because of the bike lanes are almost never used for anything except cars), and two of the least-friendly bike lanes in the city. The planned changes for the .8 of a mile Great Street include plenty of plans to slow down car traffic and make the street more enticing for those looking to walk, bicycle, or just be outside.

Phase 1 includes:

1) A road diet between Inglewood Blvd. and Beethoven Street. This Great Streets corridor is home to many of Mar Vista’s small businesses including Earl’s Gourmet Grub (which has been home to Streetsblog fundraisers), the Mar Vista Farmer’s Market on Sundays, and the Bikerowave. Venice Boulevard will go from six mixed-use lanes to four.

2) The awful bike lanes I mentioned above are near-universally despised because of both speeding traffic that runs inches from one’s handlebars and the fact that most of the lane is in the door zone. That leaves a very narrow band in which to safely bicycle.

These lanes will be converted to buffered, protected bike lanes. The bollards will be similar to the ones used on the protected lane on Reseda Boulevard.

3) The city will also be installing four mid-block crosswalks near unsignalized intersections to make street crossings easier. The crossings will have their own traffic signals for cars and bicycles and will both reduce traffic speed and reduce the separation between the communities north and south of Venice Boulevard.

The plan has broad local support. Over three quarters of those responding to a Great Streets poll that was released online and distributed this Sunday at CicLAvia after last week’s announcement of this plan responded that the plan is “going in the right direction” with roughly ten percent responding in the negative. At last night’s meeting, there were some concerns raised about cut-through traffic and bottlenecks; but the councilmember and city staff promised that adjustments to the pilot could be made quickly if needed.

But before the pilot is on the ground, Mar Vista is holding a one-day pop-up to demonstrate the bike lanes.

The Mar Vista Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its “2nd Annual Community Event: Make It Mar Vista” on November 28th. The event is a mix of discounts at stores, community walks and bike rides, and other mini-street activations. Thanks to receiving one of the recently-awarded Great Streets Challenge Grants, Make It Mar Vista will also host a “pop-up” event for Great Streets (a one-day street transformation). While they won’t be removing a travel lane, they will be putting in a protected bike lane.

  • brianmojo

    Sounds great. Only negative I can imagine is that they’re only reducing the amount of car lanes for a small section of the road (which is unavoidable unless you got Culver City and more of the city on board). But it’s sure to cause some people to complain about the traffic.

  • Michael

    more lanes = more traffic (ie latent demand) It’s sickening to walk down venice blvd and see highway conditions in front of schools and single family homes. Just east of Centinela with 6 lanes, street parking and 20 ft building set backs there’s a 140 ft gap between buildings. That might as well be the 405.. Right now traffic is reduced to 2 lanes going east in culver near motor and overland because of traffic. It’s made a noticeable delay in traffic, but only seems to add a minute or so.

    I hope the whole stretch gets reduced to 2 lanes and designated bike / bus lane. A “great street” should never have the horrid collection of single story and inappropriate buildings, but it’s unique width has the potential to make it a real grand boulevard like you’d see in Paris or Milan (where 4-5 story buildings line their main streets

  • brianmojo

    i totally agree with this (I was just driving Venice the other day and thinking about how absurdly wide it is), I just meant that the shift of losing a lane will be very visible to drivers, who may raise a ruckus. I hope to be proven wrong!

  • mrsman

    One thing that will help eastbound traffic, at least, is to ensure that eastbound lanes never widen from 2 to 3 at Lincoln and then narrow again at Beethoven. The merging of the lanes will cause a bigger slowdown than simply leaving it as 2 lanes altogether.

    This also would apply to westbound, but I imagine it would be difficult to get this kind of road diet all the way from Mid-City to Venice.

  • cheongyei

    “The crossings will have their own traffic signals for cars and bicycles”

    Ridiculous, since bicyclists all over LA ignore traffic signals and signs. On any given day in Mar Vista I can count hundreds of infractions at “stop” signs where the bicyclist ignores the same stop sign that a motorist would be ticketed for ignoring.
    I’ve never seen the police ticket a bicyclist for blowing through stop signs, yet mosty bicyclists do it daily at every stop sign they pass.

  • Nancy

    The reason why Venice Blvd is “absurdly wide” is because it used to have a Red Car line in the middle. That was later on turned into a large median where cars would park (much like Hawthorne Blvd in the South Bay), and then eventually the street was widened completely.

  • rb

    the road diet on venice is a complete and utter disaster. get used to seeing cars throughout the side streets. the traffic is unbearable and the implementation very poor and not thought out.

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Last year, it seemed as though Councilmember Joe Buscaino (CD-15, South Bay and San Pedro) and Councilmember Mike Bonin (CD-11, Westside) were the only two City Council offices that were truly engaged and passionate about Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative. A year later, there are small improvements in San Pedro, protected bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard, and […]