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Englander Touts Reseda Great Street Upgrade, Includes Protected Bike Lanes

Parking protected bike lane improvements coming to Reseda Boulevard. Diagram via SFMTA

Parking protected bike lane improvements coming to Reseda Boulevard. Diagram via SFMTA

The city of Los Angeles will receive its first parking-protected bike lanes this weekend. The new parking-protected lanes are part of a Great Streets upgrade to Reseda Boulevard in Northridge. They will extend one mile from Parthenia Street to Plummer Street, replacing existing conventional bike lanes. If readers are unfamiliar with parking-protected bike lanes, also called cycle tracks, this Portland video can help.

plan via LAGreatStreets Tumblr

Reseda Boulevard plan configuration via LAGreatStreets Tumblr

At a community meeting last night, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch Englander expressed his enthusiasm for Reseda Boulevard’s new street design, stating, “Wait ’til you see the striping, it’s never been done before in Los Angeles.” Englander, responding to a common critique, added, “People say that the Valley is always last. Here, we’re first!”

L.A. City Councilmember Mitch Englander announces Reseda Boulevard Great Streets improvements. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

L.A. City Councilmember Mitch Englander announces Reseda Boulevard Great Streets improvements. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Councilmember Englander explained that the new street design had grown out of the Northridge Vision Plan. The plan, adopted in 2013, calls for improving “the Reseda Boulevard area traffic flow so that it is a safer environment for vehicles and a pedestrian/ bicycle-friendly environment for shoppers, students, and tourists.”

Englander stressed the new striping as a safety improvement. According to the city’s Transportation Department (LADOT), this portion of Reseda Blvd had 209 car crashes reported over the past five years. LADOT has done baseline surveys before implementing street improvements, and will be returning to record post-improvement behavior in early 2016.

Englander seized the opportunity to advance Reseda Boulevard upgrades under Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets initiative. In June, 2014, Mayor Garcetti chose Northridge’s Reseda Boulevard as the site to announce his first fifteen priority areas, including Reseda, targeted for Great Streets improvements.

Englander announced that the current phase of street improvements will be completed by April 14, the same day that Garcetti will deliver his State of the City address at the Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University Northridge. That event will include a walking tour of the new Reseda Boulevard improvements. Englander stated that this will be the first time a Los Angeles mayor has chosen to make his State of the City speech in the San Fernando Valley.  Read more…

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Not Your Parents’ LADOT

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reyolds. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reyolds. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

One of the nice things about shopping for food and eating in France is that the quality is assured by rigorous government regulation. While some boulangeries are better than others, in general, consumers can find a good quality baguette in any bakery.

Refreshingly, the same might be said about the Westside Urban Forum‘s (WUF) monthly breakfast events. Without the regulation, of course. While I wish WUF events were held at more transit-friendly locations west of the 405, attendees are always assured a great presentation on a timely topic. Today’s event with Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds was no exception.

The format — Ms. Reynolds interviewed by Brian Taylor, Professor of Urban Planning and Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies and Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies at UCLA — allowed for an informative, free-ranging session focused on complete streets, transit, competing priorities for L.A.’s roads, and safety. Reynolds is an experienced transportation leader who talks streets and mobility without getting too bogged down in the jargon of transportation engineering.

The talk began with a little on her background as a then-newly-minted history major working as an intern creating bike parking for the City of Oakland. To paraphrase, transportation is a lot like history, in that we are all looking at the asphalt with different opinions about how it should be used and what its design should look like.

Ms. Reynolds went on to describe the radical recycling of streets and public space that started in New York City under the leadership of Janette Sadik-Khan at the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT).

Reynolds has only been in her job for six months, but if all goes as planned, what has been said of the NYCDOT under Sadik-Khan might become true of LADOT: this is not your parents’ LADOT. This agency says they do something and they do it.

To illustrate the challenges LADOT faces, the General Manager spoke about L.A.’s Great Streets Program. Great Streets is L.A.’s “effort to activate public spaces, provide economic revitalization, increase public safety, enhance local culture, and support great neighborhoods…by reimagining our streetscape.”

One person in the audience aptly called Great Streets’ initial candidates, streets hand-selected by the City Council rather than a more data-driven process.

According to Reynolds, while some streets like Central Ave. in South L.A. have been studied to death and stakeholders are just awaiting implementation, in the case of others, like Venice in Mar Vista, “you have to show up with not a whiff of an agenda.” The General Manager believes that in South L.A., Mar Vista, on Western in Koreatown, Broadway downtown, and elsewhere, LADOT has an opportunity to try things out and hopefully exploit the intersection of arts, for which L.A. is known, and transportation. The changes ultimately will range from a light touch by LADOT to a wholesale rearranging of the furniture of our street.

Interviewer Brian Taylor did a good job keeping things moving while getting a chuckle from the audience for his shameless plug of UCLA’s excellent urban planning program and its upcoming Complete Streets Conference. Save the May 14th date for what might be called the Compete Streets conference, given the competing priorities of stakeholders. Whose street is it anyway?  Read more…

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What Should Downtown L.A. Do to Get Ready for Bike Share?

New bike lanes on 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New bike lanes on 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro regional bike share is coming soon. If all goes as planned, a year from now, downtown Los Angeles will have system on the ground. It will include about 1,000 bikes at 65 docking stations. The system will extend from Union Station to USC. For more detail, see SBLA’s earlier preview.

It’s not too early to ask Streetsblog L.A. readers — are Downtown Los Angeles streets ready to make bike share a big success? If not, what changes should L.A.’s Transportation Department (LADOT) prioritize in the coming months?

Let’s start by celebrating. Downtown has come a long ways in the last half a decade.

Back on October 10, 2010, there was this event called CicLAvia that flooded central Los Angeles streets with bicycles. At that time, there were no bike facilities in downtown Los Angeles.

In fact, there still were no bikeways downtown through July 2011. In August 2011, the 7th Street bike lanes arrived, dipping their toes across the 110 Freeway into downtown.

Green pavement bike lanes soon followed on Spring Street. Then, buffered bike lanes on Los Angeles Street and First Street.

In 2012, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar and LADOT announced the coming Downtown L.A. Bikeway Network. Other than a few facilities that the city spent a lot of time and money to study (Cesar Chavez Avenue and Venice Boulevard), the downtown network was built out. And then some — downtown now boasts one of the most complete bikeway networks in the city. 

It’s not Wilmington, but downtown is a great place to bike. Even when LAPD vehicles park in some of the lanes some of the time.

Downtown’s increased bikeability is a subject of some controversy. Read more…

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People St Opens First Project with Plaza in North Hollywood

Councilmember Paul Krekorian speaks at the People St opening in North Hollywood. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/LADOTPeopleSt##LADOT People St/Twitter##

Councilmember Paul Krekorian speaks at the People St opening in North Hollywood. Photo: LADOT People St/Twitter

What was once an empty alley near the busy intersection of Magnolia and Lankershim Boulevards in the heart of the North Hollywood Arts District is now a public plaza with tables, chairs, green polka dots on the pavement, and sun shade.

Enjoying the plaza. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/LADOTPeopleSt##LADOT People St/Twitter##

Enjoying the plaza. Photo: LADOT People St/Twitter

The plaza, the second of its kind and the first completed project in LADOT’s People St Program, cost only $57,000.

“L.A. is the densest urban area in the nation, so we are getting creative to reclaim underused spaces that can be transformed into places for Angelenos to eat, shop, and spend time with their friends and families,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

“The People St initiative allows community groups — who know their neighborhoods the best — to partner with City Hall to create great public spaces that make our communities more livable and prosperous.”

For those just joining us, People St is a program where LADOT works with a community partner to take an under-utilized section of street and turn it into a plaza, parklet, or bike corral. The city works with the partner on design and permitting, but the cost and maintenance of the project is covered by the local group. In this case, the partner was the North Hollywood Business Improvement District (BID).

Aaron Aulenta, with the North Hollywood BID, reports that working with LADOT was a relatively easy and conflict-free process. LADOT even provided some flexibility when the BID wanted a different color scheme than was outlined in the “toolbox” that the department gives to successful applicants. The BID wanted a green and yellow scheme that looks more like the plaza in Silver Lake than was allowed in the toolkit. Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Cars Running the Red at Venice and Robertson

Expo super-fan Gökhan Esirgen sends along the above video of cars running the red light at the newly-reconstructed intersection of Venice Blvd. and Robertson Blvd. Esirgen writes, “Note that this is not a seldom event — it happens for about five seconds in almost every cycle during rush hour and it’s typical of this intersection now. A pedestrian who looks at the signal but not the cars would be hit.”

Streetsblog editorial board member Jonathan Weiss forwarded the message to staff at LADOT. Before the afternoon was out, Jay Greenstein with Councilmember Paul Koretz’s office responded that engineers with LADOT are re-examining the intersection and LAPD’s enforcement division was notified.

We’ll keep an eye of our own on the intersection to see if there are any new, more positive, changes in the coming weeks and months.

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LADOT Striping Some, Not All, of Bike Lanes on Repaved Venice Blvd

New buffered bike lane preliminary striping on Venice Boulevard, just west of Arlington. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New buffered bike lane preliminary striping on Venice Boulevard, just west of Arlington Avenue. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The preliminary striping is down on the resurfaced mid-city stretch of Venice Boulevard that SBLA highlighted last week. The site is east of the existing Venice Blvd bike lanes, in the Los Angeles City neighborhoods of Harvard Heights, Arlington Heights, and Mid-City

Google map of Venice Boulevard area referenced in this article

Google map of Venice Boulevard area referenced in this article

The good news is that the L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) is extending bike lanes one mile east to Arlington Avenue.

The bad news is that, despite an approved plan and years of extensive studies to extend the lanes into downtown Los Angeles, the Venice Boulevard bike lanes will end at Arlington. For now.

The city recently resurfaced two stretches of Venice Boulevard in this area. Streetsblog reported on resurfacing from Arlington Avenue to Western Avenue. L.A. also resurfaced the northern (westbound) half of Venice Blvd from Crenshaw Blvd to San Vicente Blvd. 

The Crenshaw-San Vicente stretch has had a history of bike lanes disappearing and re-appearing with the Mid-Town Crossing redevelopment.

Reading the preliminary striping, the existing bike lanes in that area are being upgraded to buffered bike lanes.  Read more…

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No Pitchforks as LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds Addresses West SFV Forum

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds speaking at yesterday's forum. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds speaking at yesterday’s forum. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

I was a little worried that there might be pitchforks at last night’s transportation town hall. The event was hosted by L.A. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and held at the Tarzana Recreation Center.

The main speaker was Seleta Reynolds, the new General Manager of the Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT). I know that Seleta Reynolds has received a lot of praise from us here at SBLA, and from others who are excited about a walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented future… but how would she play in the suburban West San Fernando Valley?

I took the Metro Red Line subway, transferred to the Metro Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit, and bicycled the first and last mile. I locked my bike up against a playground fence, no bike parking in evidence.

While I was waiting for the event to begin, I overheard attendees talking about parking problems, and how a planned two-story school seemed too tall. When Councilmember Blumenfield touted the success of the Orange Line, the man next to me, under his breath, proclaimed it to be “a waste of money.” I responded, whispering, that “I rode it to get here.”

Councilmember Blumenfield was refreshingly multimodal in his opening remarks. He decried the West Valley’s transportation challenges, from being stuck on the 101 Freeway to too many buildings surrounded by “a sea of parking” that makes it difficult to walk or bike. His vision for the future would include grade separation for the Metro Orange Line, making the West Valley a place where millenials can “live-work-play,” and following a “more pedestrian-friendly way of planning.”

Reynolds was applauded and started in on a somewhat stock presentation, mostly focused on LADOT’s recently released strategic plan. She spoke of how previous well-intentioned strategies have drained the life out of our streets, and that now we’re thinking creatively about each street and the purpose it needs to serve.

In summarizing her department’s priorities, the GM cited two critical points: “provide choices” and “lead.”

Providing choices is, of course, a multimodal approach. DOT needs to not just move cars, but also to make walking, transit, and bicycling viable and safe.

Her second point, “lead,” is a bit more complicated. Reynolds explains that LADOT doesn’t do freeways — that’s Caltrans. LADOT doesn’t do buses and trains — that’s Metro. LADOT doesn’t even build bridges or curbs, fix potholes, or re-surface streets — that’s the city’s Public Works bureaus. LADOT does, as she puts it, “hold the bag on all these things,” so DOT needs to be a leader in partnering with these agencies to work together to make mobility seamless for people moving through the city.

Reynolds deprecated L.A.’s notoriously confusing parking signs, mentioning that she had heard from an actual rocket scientist who couldn’t figure them out. She also related that even she had already received two parking tickets since arriving in L.A. last August. She didn’t pull any strings; she paid them both. It is in her strategic plan to re-vamp these signs.

I was a little worried that Reynolds’ photos of Downtown L.A.’s Broadway Dress Rehearsal might not resonate with a suburban Tarzana audience. I was wrong. Among the audience questions were two different ones about how the Valley’s Sherman Way could be made more walkable. One asked if Sherman Way could be closed and become a “walk street like in Santa Monica.”

This man asked Seleta Reynolds if DASH service could work more like really effective circulators at Yosemite.

This man asked Seleta Reynolds if DASH service could work more like really effective circulators in Yosemite.

Also among the audience questions were concerns over improving Valley DASH service and providing places to sit at bus stops. Her response to the latter: “I want to make transit reliable, comfortable, and fun – to thank people for making that choice.”  Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Venice Boulevard Resurfaced, Bike Lanes Soon?

Thanks to friend of the blog and L.A. City Bicycle Advisory Committee Chair Jeff Jacobberger for spotting this and bringing it to the attention of the city of L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) and SBLA.

Pedestrian walking across the recently-resurfaced Venice Boulevard. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Pedestrian walking across the recently-resurfaced not-yet-striped Venice Boulevard. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Venice Boulevard was recently resurfaced between Western Avenue and Arlington Avenue. This portion of Venice Boulevard did not have bike lanes before the repaving, but it probably should get them very soon.

These blocks are designated for bike lanes on the city’s approved Bicycle Plan. The city already spent a lot of time and money to design and study extending Venice Boulevard bike lanes as part of its “Year One” bike lane projects list. The Venice Boulevard bike lanes would be extended 3.9 miles from their current terminus at Crenshaw Boulevard all the way to Main Street in downtown Los Angeles. When complete, this will create a 13 mile long bikeway. The existing 9.1-mile Venice Boulevard bike lanes are already the city’s longest.

Cyclist riding Venice Blvd yesterday

Cyclist riding Venice Blvd yesterday

The project would most likely be a road diet (or removing parking.) The road diet could convert four car lanes to three, and add continuous turn pockets and bike lanes. These road diet projects are, of course, safer for everybody – drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Yellow plastic temporary center line markers on Venice Boulevard yesterday

Yellow plastic temporary center line markers on Venice Boulevard yesterday

As of late yesterday, the new smooth surface is very bikeable. People in cars, on bikes, and on foot were all using the resurfaced street. The street has “gone black” (vernacular for resurfaced and not yet striped) and the only hint of any kind of lane markings were the temporary plastic markers delineating the center line.

Note: As this article was about to be published, SBLA received word indirectly that LADOT will extend the Venice Boulevard bike lanes very soon, but apparently not yet east of Arlington (where the above photos were taken.) We’ll update via comments below or a subsequent article as the picture becomes clearer.

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Damaged DTLA Parklet to Be Repaired, Four New L.A. Parklets in 2015

parklet

Last July a drunk driver damaged this parklet on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. The city is working with parklet sponsors, the Historic Core Business Improvement District, to repair it for a March re-opening. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

In July 2014, according to coverage at LAist and CBS, a drunk man made off with his friend’s car and, after clipping a couple of parked cars, smashed into a parklet. That parklet is located in front of Downtown Los Angeles’ L.A. Cafe, on Spring Street between 6th Street and 7th Street. Sadly, since the collision, the parklet has been closed.

The L.A. City Department of Transportation (LADOT) People St program recently announced that the Historic Core Business Improvement District (HCBID), L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, and LADOT have collaborated to devise repair and modification plans for the damaged parklet. According to HCBID executive director Blair Besten, the repairs will cost “into the thousands of dollars.” Besten said that the HCBID and LADOT “are taking the opportunity to revamp some things about the parklet that we thought could be a better use of space. For example, the [stationary exercise] bikes were underutilized, so we are replacing them with additional seating and bike racks.”

In addition, People St’s Valerie Watson stated that LADOT will be adding “reflective flexible delineators on parklet corners, like the ones you see out on Broadway Dress Rehearsal, for extra nighttime visibility.”

Besten said, “We are excited to get this program back up and running for the neighborhood and hope everyone will be happy with the usability changes we are making.”

In addition to getting the damaged parklet back up to spec, People St announced that four more parklets are on the way, and they are expected to appear on L.A. streets by late 2015.  Read more…

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Work Underway On Three New LADOT People St Plazas

North Hollywood goes green. People St plaza painting underway in new plaza, on the west side of Lankershim Boulevard just north of Magnolia Boulevard. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

One North Hollywood alley goes green. People St painting underway in new plaza, located on the west side of Lankershim Boulevard, just north of Magnolia Boulevard. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Los Angeles is reclaiming some car space to allocate it to walking and hanging out. Work is underway on three new plazas, located in Pacoima, North Hollywood, and South Los Angeles’ Leimert Park.

The plazas are the work of the city Transportation Department’s (LADOT) People St program. Under People St, community organizations apply to host city-built plaza, parklet, and bike corral projects. Based on city resources and project readiness, the city selects a limited number of projects to proceed each year.

2015 People St plaza and parklet awardees were approved and announced last July and are as follows:

  • North Hollywood – One block alley west of Lankershim Boulevard just north of Magnolia Boulevard – sponsored by the NoHo Business Improvement District
  • Pacoima – Bradley Avenue north of Van Nuys Boulevard to alley – sponsored by Pacoima Beautiful (see previous coverage here)
  • Leimert Park Village – 43rd Place from Degnan Boulevard to Leimert Boulevard – sponsored by Institute for Maximum Human Potential (see recent coverage here)

In order to save costs while getting lots of work done, LADOT is installing all three plazas at once this week. Read more…