Downtown L.A. Celebrates New Protected Bike Lanes On Los Angeles Street

Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero and LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds take a celebratory ride in the Los Angeles Street protected bikeway. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero and LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds take a celebratory ride in the Los Angeles Street protected bikeway. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Downtown L.A. now has protected bike lanes! Woooot! Wooooot!

Not just a block-long tunnel, but full-on grown-up Euro-style protected bike lanes. The newly opened half-mile-long Los Angeles Street protected bike lanes feature bicycle signals, floating bus stop islands, neon-green merge zones and two-phase left turn markings, not to mention freshly resurfaced pavement. All just in time for the launch of Metro bike-share on July 7.

Councilmember Jose Huizar and other city leaders officially opened the new facility yesterday afternoon. Huizar connected the low-stress bikeway with his DTLA Forward campaign, which will include additional protected lanes on Spring and Main Streets. Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds spoke of the symbolic importance of these lanes connecting with early Los Angeles’s focal plaza, plus Union Station, City Hall, and even Caltrans’ Southern California headquarters. The ribbon-cutting event even featured a small fleet of Metro bike-share bikes available to test ride.

LosAngelesStOpening116Jun16
L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar addressing the crowd assembled at El Pueblo

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Dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new bike lanes. Left to right are: Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero, Board of Public Works President Kevin James, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, Councilmember Jose Huizar, and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument General Manager Chris Espinosa
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Councilmember Jose Huizar riding in the newly opened Los Angeles Streets protected bike lane

For more details on the facility’s great features, see SBLA’s earlier preview articles from this week, and from when construction started.

  • Except, and I am sorry to rain on the parade, this is not a “Euro-style” protected lane. It is a painted lane, wide enough for a car to drive in, delineated by breakaway plastic posts. Which will get broken away by a car or more easily by a truck (probably a government owned one), and never replaced. Apart from the bus island and the traffic signals there is no physical infrastracture commitment by LADOT and there is apparently no heeding of lessons learned for the past 40 years in the rest of the world, and for the past 5-odd years in North America (hint to City of Los Angeles: Long Beach is a 1-hour, 14-bit ride away on the Metro). You need concrete and asphalt not paint and plastic.

    The LAPD have already marked their territory: http://laist.com/2016/06/17/really_though.php

    And I suspect that US Dept. of Homeland Seciurity will be doing the same soon enough too.

    I give these lanes 10 months max. But thanks for trying, I know that getting this past the dinosaurs was hard enough.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Those are not breakaway plastic posts that were used on Los Angeles Street. These are flexible K71 bollards that are secured to the road and can self re-erect if hit by a vehicle at over 65 mph. London and Paris have installed them. The LADOT previously tested its durability by having cars, trucks and a LAFD fire truck run over them at multiple angles and speeds as you can see in the following blog post:

    https://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/exploring-los-angeles-new-forms-cycletrack-materials-testing/

  • Random Bike Trips

    What’s wrong with you? It’s a good start towards becoming a more bike-friendly city. We have so much potential for clean travel that it’s good we’re taking advantage of it, albeit slowly, nonetheless though, we are doing something about it. Hopefully more bike-friendly streets with protected bicycle lanes are developed faster from here on out.

    But yeah, can’t really complain much about this. It’s a start towards something better and positive for this city.

  • Bernard Finucane

    These are still ridiculous because they don’t provide any disincentive to being run over.

    Something like this would make more sense

    http://www.calpipebollards.com/products/internal-locking-removable-bollards.html

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The size of those K71 posts does provide disincentive to being run over. Motorists are very aware of them and do not want to find out what happens to their motor vehicle when they hit one.

    The LAPD, like most cities in the U.S., have a very small amount of discretionary funds for installing on-street bikeways. To achieve any significant amounts of bikeway miles from those funds requires using mainly temporary paint and plastic materials. That half-mile of cycle track on Los Angeles St cost $750,000. The LADOT only has about $2.1 million in discretionary funds this fiscal year to work with. The bus stop island probably came out of the budget for public works. Everything else was probably from the LADOT budget. How many miles of cycle tracks do you think could be installed using those Calpipebollards for cycle tracks in that $2.1 million? LADOT is planning on installing 10 miles of bikeways per fiscal year. If the cost per mile of installation goes higher, then there will be less miles of bikeways installed. LADOT has to balance quality with quantity.

  • What’s wrong with me? The city ignores 40 years of best practices and you anonymously ask what’s wrong with me. Ten months. Sooner if Garcetti gets named VP.

  • The city of Vancouver installed all of its present Cycletrack system for $6 million:
    http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/map-cycling-vancouver.pdf

    A traffic signal installation costs average $500,000

    Meanwhile this cost $71 million: http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/cmia/images/O%2010-605%20Web.pdf

    And I-405 widening cost $1 Billion.

    The city needs to get its priorities in order.

  • They survive one 65 MPH impact. But from my experience, after 2 or 3 slower impacts they break off and tend not to get replaced. Again, this is intended to be like a Pop-up store and will be gone in 10 months.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Those K71 posts are designed to withstand multiple hits. Did you not look at the link showing the LADOT repeatedly running over those K71 with cars, trucks and a LAFD fire truck at various speeds to see how they stand up to repeated hits?

    You claim that you have experience with K71 posts. Exactly what experience is that? The Reseda Blvd cycle track has had K71 posts for over a year. Or are you using the longevity of those candlestick type posts in stating that the K71 posts won’t last after repeated hits? Those less expensive candlestick type posts aren’t designed to be as rugged as the K71 posts.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The city of Los Angeles is not the city of Vancouver in terms of money available to construct on-street bikeways. The city of Los Angeles is barely able to keep the average surface condition of streets at a grade C- using the amount of funding available for street resurfacing.

    Stating that a traffic signal cost $500,000 is an example of how the $2.1 million per fiscal year LADOT discretionary budget for on-street bikeways doesn’t go very far when installing bicycle specific signals, plastic posts and green paint. It cost $50,000 a mile just to install striping and bicycle symbols for a unprotected bike lane in the city of Los Angeles. Which works out to a maximum 42 miles of unprotected bike lane miles per fiscal year for $2.1 million. The Los Angeles St bike lane is half a mile long and cost $750,000. Which comes out to 1.4 miles per fiscal year for that $2.1 million if every cycle track cost this much to install per mile. Increasing the cost per mile beyond what was done on Los Angeles St would result in less than a mile of on-street bikeways being installed per fiscal year if there is only $2.1 available per fiscal year for that type of project.

    Comparing the cost of highway construction that is not funded by a city is not a apples to apples comparison. The city of Los Angeles did not fund constructing a freeway lane and only 15% of a Metro capital construction project within the boundaries of the city of Los Angeles is funded by the city of Los Angeles.

  • The city of Los Angeles is ten times the size of Vancouver, BC, which is coincidentally the number of months until these lanes return to parking use:

  • Here’s how U.S. cities interested in promoting bicycling as transport construct their lanes. They make a statement with concrete and asphalt, not pandering paint and plastic:
    https://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/8/docs/SBLG/Chapter3_GeneralDesign.pdf

  • Here’s how U.S. cities interested in promoting bicycling as transport construct their lanes. They are bold enough to make a statement with concrete and asphalt, not pandering paint and plastic:
    https://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/8/docs/SBLG/Chapter3_GeneralDesign.pdf

  • Sadly, it was at an exurban school crossing. The K71s were gone in 6 moniths.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    I rode my bike along the Reseda Blvd cycle tracks Sunday morning. I counted 217 K71 posts. As far as I could see there were no spots were there was any missing. About 5 would probably need to be replaced due to damage or discoloration. I only saw one that looked new.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Long Beach installed protected bike lanes on two streets in 2011. That was funded by grants the city applied for. Those two streets were the first and last time Long Beach installed protected bike lanes. Its not very useful for creating a low-stress bicycling network when there is only two locations with protected bike lanes in a city the size of Long Beach.

    Why didn’t Long Beach install more protected bike lanes? The reason was probably that the city didn’t want to fund it themselves and that the competition from other cities for grant money had intensified, which reduced the number of bicycling projects that could be funded by grants in Long Beach.

    In contrast, the LADOT is funding protected bike lanes through the 5% set-aside for bicycle capital projects from the 15% local return out of the Measure R sales tax. Which means that the LADOT can install protected bike lanes every year that those funds are available.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The three large cities with by far the most protected bike lane installations in the U.S. are New York, Chicago and San Francisco. The predominate methods used for creating those protected bike lanes are parked vehicles, paint and plastic. The reason for that is cost. If the quality of materials required was raised substantially then there would be much fewer of these installed. Protected bike lane installations per year in the U.S. started increasing rapidly after New York City demonstrated that these could be installed quickly at very little cost by using parked vehicles as the main protection, along with using paint and plastic on an existing road surface to mark the territory.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Your stating that using parked vehicles and plastic posts to create protected bike lanes will will not stop vehicles parking next to the curb. That doesn’t seem to be the case in New York City which has been using this method since 2007 and has by far the most miles of protected bike lanes in the U.S.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Thus far they seem more effective in keeping cars out of the bike lane than the paint they replaced. (Besides, many Angelenos are so protective of their precious cars that the slight chance that these bollards might scuff their paintjobs might be a deterrent.) :-)

  • Alex Brideau III

    You’ve mentioned the ten-month number several times. I’m curious… Is there a specific reason your hypothesis is ten months instead of six or 12? Just wondering.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Having ridden in this lane several times, I’ve noticed that the stretch between Aliso and Arcadia streets (which happens to be the US-101 overpass) has no bollards and only a painted buffer. Anyone know why there are no bollards for that stretch only? Some sort of Caltrans regulation or something?

  • Joe Linton

    Yep – according to someone from LADOT I spoke with at some point… sorry can’t remember – Caltrans, at some point, resisted adding bollards there.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Thanks for the info. If nothing else, it provides a very visible example of the difference between buffered bike lanes and bollarded bike lanes. When riding this route, I’ve observed drivers on this street widely disregard the former and (mostly) respect the latter.

    I wonder what it would take to get bollards on that overpass, though. Because if this overpass is exempted from protected/bollarded bike lanes, Caltrans will likely expect/demand all overpasses to be exempted.