Touring Expo phase II corridor by bike with contractors, planners, and Expo BAC members. Photo from the pedestrian bridge overlooking the trench right of way following the 10 freeway crossing.
On Earth Day this past Sunday, the Expo Line Phase II Bicycle Advisory Committee, of which I am a member, was given a tour of the Expo corridor and bikeway proposals with a few of the private consultants and public planners involved in the project. Looking at diagrams is never a sufficient replacement for some on the ground perspective, so I was glad we had this opportunity to scope everything out. It was also exciting to see a few testing trains in operation in preparation for tomorrow’s opening. I had not had a chance to get out and see the trains in action previously.
A small contingent of BAC members and interested parties met up a little earlier than the scheduled meeting where Phase II begins, to take a look at the tail end of the Phase I bike route and get a sense for how it will flow together. While I am incredibly excited about the opening of the Expo Line, looking at the bikeway connections in Phase I did not inspire confidence in Metro and LADOT’s ability to plan for pedestrian and bicycle facilities to connect to rail stations.
As with many grand infrastructure projects, the engineering of Phase I overlooks many of the details of both form and function that matter to people at the street level. Either they still don’t get it, or Metro and LADOT just don’t care to make more than a minimal or required effort. What ever the case, bicycling was clearly the afterthought in the Expo planning and engineering.
Even simple and inexpensive things such as wayfinding are deficient, especially where on-street facilities transition to off-street paths. The crosswalk connecting to the La Cienega station from the northeast intersection corner was less than ideal. It is broken up by a right turn pocket with a traffic island. The island had landscaping across most of it, narrowing it to a small choke point, reducing the functionality of the island for people trying to get across and limiting standing room.
Even when building trains, it still seems that it’s all about the car in L.A. Getting a new bike route is better than the former lack of one. In the case of the Phase I Bike Path, critical deficiencies at various points diminish the usefulness of this route as a feeder for the rail line or as a stand alone facility. Metro representatives often remind me that cars take priority at intersections and cannot have their green time affected. Bicycling ridership is modest, they say, never acknowledging that bicycling remains marginal because it is marginalized by design.
Take for example the absurdity of this post on bicycling safety along the Expo Line from Metro’s The Source. Riders are directed in the post to cross tracks as close as possible to 90 degree angles, but the bike lane striping pictured does not allow enough room to do so properly. Have none of the people responsible for designing streets and rail crossings ridden a bike since they were children? The depth of incompetence and lack of basic understanding of operating a bicycle within the American traffic engineering profession never ceases to amaze and dumbfound me. Read more…