(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.