Los Angeles Street Protected Bike Lanes Ribbon-Cutting This Thursday

New full-featured protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New full-featured protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The city of Los Angeles has a brand new full-featured protected bike lane. It is on downtown L.A.’s Los Angeles Street, connecting Union Station with First Street, running literally in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall.

Construction began in April and was recently completed.

Celebrate the newly completed lanes with Councilmember Jose Huizar and the L.A. Department of Transportation (LADOT) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday June 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the plaza at El Pueblo (also known as Olvera Street.) The address is 125 Paseo de la Plaza, though the festivities take place on the Los Angeles Street side of the plaza, immediately west of Union Station.

Though the city of L.A. already has protected bike lanes in the Second Street tunnel and on Reseda Boulevard (and more on the way soon for Venice Boulevard, Van Nuys Boulevard, and Figueroa Street) the Los Angeles Street bike lanes include features that represent some important firsts for L.A. protected bikeways.

Bicycle traffic signal to allow cyclists a separate phase from turning cars
Bicycle traffic signal allows cyclists a separate phase from turning cars

L.A.’s First Bike Traffic Signals

Bike signals are not required for protected bike lane intersections; Long Beach uses them, Temple City’s Rosemead Boulevard and L.A.’s Reseda Boulevard do not.

Bike traffic signals are used to give cyclists that are headed straight ahead a signal phase separate from right-turning cars. The signals contribute to a relatively stress-free ride; cyclists ride to the right of parked and moving cars the entire ride, and do not need to merge into traffic at the approach to intersections.

Similar to car traffic signals, the bike signals are triggered by sensors embedded in the street (see photos below). Waiting bicyclists receive the green light first, followed by turning cars.

One drawback of the bike signals is that they drive up construction and maintenance costs.

L.A.’s First Protected Bikeway Transit Islands

Passengers board a DASH bus at a Los Angeles Street's transit island
Passengers board a DASH bus at a Los Angeles Street transit island

In order to minimize pedestrian-cyclist conflict, the project includes transit islands. Instead of transit riders waiting at the curb, they walk across the bike lane and wait in the transit island. Bicyclists ride between the transit island and the sidewalk.

This speeds up transit, allowing buses to stop in the travel lane while passengers are boarding. It also makes for a more stress-free bike ride, as conflicts between buses and bicycles are minimized.

L.A.’s First Two-Phase Left Turn Markings 


The Los Angeles Street project also features green boxes that support cyclists’ two-phase left turns. Instead of stressful merging through car traffic to make a vehicular left turn, cyclists make a low-stress left turn similar to the way a pedestrian would.

The green paint features were striped after SBLA took photos last week; they are visible in the video embedded above.

More images after the jump. 

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The new Los Angeles Street protected bike lanes are literally in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall
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Bike traffic sensors embedded in the pavement. These trigger the bike signal phase. Note that some cyclists were still riding on the sidewalk.
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A second pair of bike sensors is located about 20 feet behind the first pair
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This cyclist has a green signal phase, while cars have a red turn arrrow

Unfortunately,  an unwanted feature remains. Even with bollards along most of the facility, LAPD vehicles are still parking in the lane. In the past, CiclaValley counted 22 police vehicles parking on the east side of Los Angeles Street between First Street and Temple Street. The good news is that, as of last Wednesday afternoon, that total was down significantly, with just a single police van blocking the bike lane.

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LAPD van parked in the Los Angeles Street bike lanes near First Street

See also CiclaValley’s photo tour of the new facility.

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    No money to put up decent bus shelters?

  • Sirinya Matute

    Lorenzo,

    Bus shelters in the City of Los Angeles are primarily provided through outdoor advertising companies in exchange for revenue from ads. They also require significant investment in dollars and time. I totally understand the value of seating and shade — it’s supposed to be over 100 degrees this time next week! My thinking on this is that it is okay to take an iterative approach. The bus target got moved from the old curb. That was easy.

    An aside, and perhaps others will know more since I have not gone down in person to see this yet: In order to put in a shelter, you must maintain a four-foot wide path of travel per the ADA (for wheelchair users, first and foremost). Lets’ just say a standard JC Decaux shelter went in. Is the transit island wide enough in order to accommodate both a shelter and to maintain this path of travel? I’m not 100% sure, but you’d need probably a minimum of 8.5 feet.

    -Sirinya
    (Worked on bus stops for another transit operator.)

  • Sirinya Matute

    Another side: I *love* the transit island. Love it. Would love to see more of it in new road design and where we can in road diets.

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    The picture shows the transit island with a ramp which I assume ADA compliant. I really hope they can find a way to put a shelter. I don’t know what kind of shelters JC Decaux has but one with a relatively narrow profile (with either a small bench or standing bars) could work. You obviously have more experience on this than I do.

  • Sirinya Matute

    Good points. Yes, the ramp’s there for compliance with ADA. I think voicing your support for something there is so important like you’ve done here.

  • There’s no space to put up a shelter and maintain acceptable lines of sight.

  • The biggest question to me is the phasing for the signal. So a bike is waiting, and gets some exclusive time. Whats the breakdown? 5 seconds for bikes and 60 seconds for right turns, for example, would be a disaster.

  • Joe Linton

    I think it depends on the sensors – how many bikes are present vs. how many cars are present. 5/60 is ok if there’s one bike. Riding it I haven’t seen any problems so far – even with 3 bikes queued up.

  • Joe Linton

    I don’t think that line of sight is an issue (For whom? Who needs to see whom?). Seattle and other places (I think SF) do bus shelters in these islands http://streets.mn/2015/05/18/the-importance-of-floating-bus-stops/

  • Well no, if there are also no cars turning, the default should be to give the bike movement green.

  • The problem isnt when cars and bikes are waiting for cross traffic. The problem is arriving after the cycle begins.

  • Yes, I’m well aware that it can work. However, I’ve seen it working in the place where it works the best: The NLs. This facility in general is a far cry from what I’ve ever seen there, though I’ll agree that maybe I should wait to see it in person before critiquing it in earnest. Still, from the pictures I’ve seen, the prospect for a shelter working well here doesn’t look promising at all. If the shelter is more like the sbX shelters (or at least the one pictured above), that could work since they’re pretty easy to see through. But if it’s the bulkier kind with a full ad board on the back and the side, which it sounds like it has to have for Metro to agree to put it up, then that causes visibility problems because people will cross outside of the crosswalk from behind the shelter. We don’t need to wait for people to get plowed over before fixing a problem that could be avoided in the first place.

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