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Posts from the Downtown LA Category


Eyes on the Street: Bike Lane Closure Signage Gives Wrong Sign?

Is the city giving cyclists the wrong sign? Photo by Nathan Lucero

Is the city giving cyclists the wrong sign? Photo by Nathan Lucero

Streetsie winner Nathan Lucero encountered some irritating signage when bicycling north on the Main Street bike lanes near El Pueblo downtown. From his @onmybikeinla Instagram post: (lightly edited)

After the bike lane on Main was closed twice, and blocked several times by multiple cars, these awful signs were at Arcadia. The left sign should read “[bike] may use full lane” and the other should be thrown away. The guard said the city provided the signs. I’m asking @lamayorsoffice @ladotbikeprog @ladotofficial to replace all of the ambiguous “share the road” signs with “[bike] may use full lane” and never use a sign with a bike crossed off when it’s perfectly legal for bikes to use the full lanes.

What do you think SBLA readers? Personally,I remember being a tiny bit encouraged that these film-shoot lane closures would actually acknowledge that bikes exist. This was not the case ten years ago in Los Angeles, though there were far fewer bike lanes then. I agree with Lucero, though, that the circle-slash-bike sign is inappropriate and signage indicating cyclists are allowed full use of the lane would be a big improvement. What signs do you think the city should be providing for these situations?

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Bike-Share Round-Up: Multiple Motions At Tomorrow’s Metro Board Meeting

Metro bike-share vendor Bicycle Transit Systems has a new L.A. webpage. Image via

Metro bike-share vendor Bicycle Transit Systems has a new L.A. webpage. Image via

Last month, after a fairly lengthy debate, the Metro Board of Directors approved an $11 million contract to bring bike-share to downtown Los Angeles. Though there is a lot of interest in bike-share on the Metro board, there is not a lot of agreement on exactly how to move forward.

Though Metro bike-share, run by vendor Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS), will begin in Downtown Los Angeles, multiple future phases are planned, but not yet fully approved nor funded. Elected officials are doing their job, jockeying to make sure future bike-share phases will serve areas they represent. Santa Monica and Long Beach already moving ahead under contracts with a different vendor, Cyclehop, so there are also questions about inter-operability.

Below is a brief run down of the latest in the multi-faceted world of L.A. County bike-share systems. There are already a lot of moving pieces, and there is yet to be any live bike-share bikes on the ground. Bike-share may get less complicated when the bikes arrive and Angelenos can see and experience how bike-share really works:

> In Metro bike-share news: Metro’s full board of directors will meet tomorrow and decide on a handful of follow-on motions Read more…


Broadway Dress Rehearsal Project Gets New, More Durable Surface

New yellow makeover for Broadway Dress Rehearsal. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New yellow suface being installed on Broadway Dress Rehearsal bulb-outs last month. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Downtown L.A.’s “Broadway Dress Rehearsal” project entered a new phase last month. SBLA readers will recall that the Broadway project was a relatively quick and low-cost creation of bulb-outs designed to calm traffic. The project removed space from cars, giving it to people dining and traveling on foot on one of L.A.’s highest pedestrian-volume streets. Broadway’s Dress Rehearsal opened August 2014 and every day plenty of people use it, especially the tables and chairs there. Last fall, the city Transportation Department (LADOT) published a study showing baseline conditions on Broadway; this fall LADOT will be following up with comparison data on what has changed.

Installation of Broadway's epoxy-aggregate surface in 2014

Installation of Broadway’s epoxy-aggregate surface in 2014

Initially the Dress Rehearsal bulb-out surface was, according to LADOT People St’s Valerie Watson, an “epoxy-based aggregate mix” — think tiny smooth rocks embedded in a thin layer of glue. Some merchants reported that some of the tiny stones were getting dislodged and tracked into stores.  Read more…


Eyes on the Street: Downtown L.A. Has Three Great Bike Corrals

Downtown Los Angeles' first bike corral - in front of Blue Bottle Coffee. Really. Photos by Joe Linton

Downtown Los Angeles’ first bike corral (really) in front of Blue Bottle Coffee. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

A couple weeks ago, I reported that the great new bike corral on Main Street at 5th was the first in downtown Los Angeles. Commenter Steven White correctly pointed out that there are indeed two other on-street bike corrals in the Downtown Arts District. So although it is the first in the historic core, the Main Street corral wasn’t the first downtown L.A. bike corral, nor was that my first or or likely to my last error to appear in writing.

I checked in with Elizabeth Gallardo, L.A. City Department of Transportation’s (LADOT) assistant bicycle coordinator, and the brains behind LADOT’s bicycle-friendly business programs. According to Gallardo, the the bike corral on Willow Street at Mateo Street was the first in downtown L.A., having been installed in October 2014. That corral serves and is sponsored by Blue Bottle Coffee‘s cafe at 582 Mateo Street.

Downtown L.A.'s third great bike corral in front of Pie Hole.

Downtown L.A.’s third great bike corral in front of Pie Hole.


On June 15th, LADOT installed both the Main Street corral, sponsored by Peddler’s Creamery, and a third corral on Traction Avenue at Hewitt Street, sponsored by The Pie Hole. The Main Street corral edged the Traction Avenue one out by a couple hours to claim the vaunted second-corral silver medal.  Read more…


A Look at Downtown L.A. Parking Enforcement Riding with LADOT

Officer Guerra and Sgt. Smith ticketing a parking violation on Spring Street. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Officer Guerra and Sgt. Smith ticketing a parking violation on Spring Street. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Earlier this week, I accepted an invitation to do a downtown Los Angeles bike-along with City of L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) parking enforcement officers. LADOT also uses bicycle officers to do parking enforcement in the Valley, West L.A., and Hollywood. The parking enforcement staff downtown is 30 strong, all on bicycle.

Traffic Officer Michael Guerra has been doing parking enforcement in downtown Los Angeles for 17 years. Also accompanying us was his supervisor Sergeant Rodney Smith.

Officer Guerra rode Los Angeles City bike number 75

Officer Guerra rode Los Angeles City bike number 75

The officers rode on Giant brand bicycles, complete with the city seal and vehicle numbers. This got me thinking that there’s a system in place for managing a city bicycle fleet, perhaps other city staff could use a city bike fleet for short trips.

My first question to them was about handicapped placards. Is handicapped placard abuse really as prevalent as I’ve read? Parking expert Don Shoup has asserted that widespread abuse of handicapped placards is a serious barrier to making variable pricing work in downtown L.A. The officers responded that handicap placards were typically on 75 to 80 percent of cars parked in the Little Tokyo and Historic Core, where we were going. And they said it’s worse in the Financial District.

This was confirmed during our ride. Many blocks on streets we rode, including on First Street and Third Street, had all but one or two cars displaying a handicap placard. It’s difficult to tell if some or all of these are legitimate. Other LADOT officers have been involved in placard enforcement sting operations typically headed by the DMV. Based on the headlines, both media and law enforcement have little trouble finding widespread abuse. Sgt. Smith mentioned that, in the past, LADOT had tried to push for placard reform via the state legislature, but that it had not yielded any results, and it was no longer a top priority.

I also asked about how the city’s L.A. Express Park variable pricing program has affected their work. Though they were aware that prices were sometimes changing, the program had not really made things perceptibly different from an enforcement end. I thought to myself, perhaps the placards do impact managing pricing; with so much placard use, most drivers pay nothing and it doesn’t matter how much the going rates are.

It didn’t take long for the officers to find and ticket illegally parked vehicles. Guerra said that it varies a lot, but that he writes 20-30 tickets on a typical day, though typically a lot fewer when it’s raining, and sometimes more around the holidays when drivers frequently park illegally to run in to get last-minute shopping done. On weekends, he writes more tickets, typically 40-50 per day, but that is because there are fewer officers deployed than on weekdays.  Read more…


Metro Planning Committee Approves Bike-Share Contract

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter rides Indego bike-share. Image via Streetfilms

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter rides Indego. Metro is in the process of approving Philadelphia’s vendor, Bicycle Transit Systems, to run its bike-share system starting in DTLA in 2016. Image via Streetfilms

As expected, at yesterday’s meeting the Metro Planning and Programming Committee approved the contract for the first phase of Metro bike-share. The final approval is now expected at next Thursday’s meeting of the full Metro board of directors.

The initial phase of Metro bike-share will be located in downtown Los Angeles, extending from Union Station to USC. There will be 1,000+ bicycles at 60+ docking stations. The system is expected to open in early 2016. Once established, the system is expected to expand to Pasadena, other parts of central Los Angeles, and additional areas. See details at this earlier SBLA article.

The vendor selected is Bicycle Transit Systems, which implemented and operates Philadelphia’s Indego bike-share system.

Metro bike-share will likely be the largest, but when it opens for business in early 2016, it will be the third bike-share system in L.A. County, after the systems already being implemented in the cities of Santa Monica and Long Beach. Both Santa Monica and Long Beach use a different operator, CycleHop, than the one being approved by Metro. At yesterday’s Metro meeting, the city of Santa Monica’s Strategic and Transportation Planning Manager Francie Stefan testified that multiple uncoordinated systems could “chill” the spread of bike-share throughout the region.

Both State Assemblymember Richard Bloom (AD-50), whose district includes Santa Monica and other Westside cities, and Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown submitted letters (PDF, PDF) to Metro advocating for Metro to prioritize interoperability between systems.  Read more…

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Interview with Luke Klipp of Jaydancing

Come Jaydance in DTLA this Saturday. Image via Luke Klipp

Come Jaydance in DTLA this Saturday. Image via Luke Klipp

For as long as I can remember, Streetsblog Los Angeles has been lamenting the L.A. Police Department’s targeted ticketing of pedestrians. LAPD “jaywalking” enforcement occurs mostly in downtown Los Angeles, but also outside various central Los Angeles Metro rail stations. I am excited that Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Jose Huizar recently introduced a motion to begin to examine these stings, but it looks like the archaic walking law will probably need to changed at the state level.

If the LAPD’s misguided pedestrian enforcement bugs you, too, then you’ll probably like Luke Klipp. I met Klipp at a meeting where he testified in favor of full sidewalks on the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. This Saturday, he is organizing “Jaydancing L.A.” a fun demonstration using artistic flair to protest the LAPD’s jaywalking stings. I interviewed Klipp over email late last week.

Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background? What led you to get involved in livability issues?
I grew up in Detroit, which probably doesn’t explain why I care so much about livability, except perhaps that Detroit was the antithesis of that, because it was both the Murder Capital and the Motor City. After college, I moved to California and to L.A. a few years later for love. And a few years ago, when my husband and I bought a home in Los Feliz, we found a place that was walkable, close to lots of amenities, neighborly, and still plugged in to the city.

I’ve always cared not only about livability but sustainability. When I see how we’re building our transportation network and developing our city, I think about the implications for me as I age, for our generation’s kids as they start to create their own families, and for our city’s ability to be a good steward of the environment that makes Los Angeles so livable to begin with. I was raised with the core value of leaving the world a better place, even if only in some small measure, for my having been a part of it. That’s at the heart of my passion around livability and livable cities.

What is Jaydancing? What can people expect to see? What do you hope to accomplish?
#jaydancingLA is an art protest in response to the LAPD’s ongoing targeting of people walking in Los Angeles. When the Mayor recently attempted to increase parking tickets as a revenue-generating measure, Angelenos were up in arms. And that’s for $70 tickets. In marked contrast, for at least the past four years, LAPD has been issuing jaywalking tickets at a rate of 12 per day, every single day, in downtown alone. That’s not a public safety measure, that’s a public gouging. I see an LAPD officer on average once a week posted right outside the Metro station at 7th St and Figueroa, waiting on the corner for unsuspecting pedestrians who make the mistake of stepping out into the crosswalk after the ticker has started its countdown. That’ll be $200.

So, on Saturday, June 20, from 2-3 p.m., people are invited to dance their way across, over, and through the crosswalks (legally, mind you) at some intersections in downtown LA along 7th Street. We’ll have music, signs, and a gathering afterward to celebrate. People are encouraged to post to social media using the #jaydancingLA hashtag with messages that continue to draw attention to the LAPD’s tactics.

Why dancing? This is downtown transportation – shouldn’t we be taking this very seriously?
Seeing stories of people who can barely afford the rent getting slapped with $200 tickets is maddening. I’ve wanted to scream at the folks at City Hall for their slow take-up of this issue. But it doesn’t matter how loud you are; it matters how effective you are.

We’ll be dancing BECAUSE it’s fun. Because it’s unusual. Because people will take notice. It’s not another protest with people marching and holding signs and chanting slogans; it’s tapping into Angelenos’ creative energies and having fun because you can only get so mad at the way things are. At some point you just have to channel that frustration and that anger into something beautiful, that makes people smile, and that gives people hope about what could be.

How can people get involved?
Go sign up on the Facebook event page and also on Eventbrite. Invite your friends, and show up on June 20 at 2 p.m.  Read more…


Metro Tunnel Under DTLA 7th Street Expected Complete Late 2015

Rendering of what the new 7th Street Station portal will look like from inside The Bloc.

Rendering of what the new 7th Street Station portal will look like from inside The Bloc. Image via Studio One Eleven

Step aside, North Hollywood. Keep chugging along, Purple and Crenshaw lines, and Regional Connector. Wait a while, preferably a long, long while, South Pasadena.

The first of new Metro’s new tunnels underway is expected to be completed late this year. It will be under 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles. It may not be long or expensive, but it represents an interesting change in the orientation of L.A.’s downtown landscape. It expands downtown’s connection with the Metro Red, Purple, Blue, and Expo Lines. When the current subways first arrived in downtown L.A. in 1992, downtown businesses and development were perhaps a bit standoffish, not fully eager to embrace transit access. Now, downtown development, in the light of demographic shifts toward transit, walking and bicycling, and is re-orienting itself to better connect.

The 1970s mall on the south side of 7th Street from Flower Street to Hope Street is getting a $180 million mixed-use makeover. It will no longer be Macy’s Plaza, but The Bloc. Though it will still have a lot of that ’70s-era parking, new residents and retail customers will have easy access to Metro’s subway lines.

Streetsblog mentioned the tunnel briefly in April, when the Metro board approved the agency’s $4.6 million portion of the project budget [PDF], representing roughly half of the cost of the tunnel. Metro also approved the terms of the agreement that assigns responsibilities for construction, maintenance, etc., and that mandates the tunnel be open to the public at least from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Now that the construction is underway, expected to be completed by the end of 2015, here is a more detailed post to show readers more of the how, where, and when of the tunnel.  Read more…


Metro To Vote On Bike-Share Contract With Vendor Bicycle Transit Systems

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter rides Indego bike-share. Image via Streetfilms

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter riding Indego bike-share. Image via Streetfilms

At its June 25 monthly meeting, the Metro Board will be voting on the contract for the initial phase of what is now optimistically called “Metro Countywide Bikeshare.”

SBLA previewed the regional bike-share system in this earlier post. The initial phase is planned to include 1000+ bicycles at 60+ docking stations in downtown Los Angeles, expected to be operational in early 2016.

According to the recently posted board agenda look-ahead [PDF], Metro has selected bike-share vendor Bicycle Transit Systems. The $11.8 million contract is “contingent upon the execution of an MOU between the City of Los Angeles and Metro” and “future phases will be brought back …for Board approval contingent upon successful completion and operation of the Phase 1 Pilot.”

Bicycle Transit Systems is a somewhat new presence in the bike-share industry, though captained by experienced leadership. The company is based in Philadelphia and headed by former Alta Bike Share CEO Alison Cohen, who led NYC CitiBike during its rocky start-up. To date, the company’s big bike-share implementation success has been Philadelphia’s Indego, which launched in April 2015 with 600 bikes at 60 stations.


Applause for Bonin-Huizar L.A. Council Motion to Rein in LAPD Ped Stings

Brigham Yen/DTLA Rising

2013 LAPD pedestrian stings. Photos via Brigham Yen/DTLA Rising

Last Friday, May 1, Los Angeles City Council livability leaders introduced a motion [PDF] to get the city family to examine the effectiveness of LAPD’s ongoing pedestrian sting operations. We would like to think that SBLA’s recent article critiquing these stings paid off, but probably the excellent recent Los Angeles Times articles by Steve Lopez and Catherine Saillant got just a tad more exposure.

Motion 15-0546 was moved by Councilmember Mike Bonin, and seconded by Councilmember Jose Huizar. Huizar was pretty busy pressing for downtown livability last Friday, introducing five “DTLA Forward” proposals “to increase, promote and protect pedestrian access, improve traffic flow and improve neighborhood connectivity in Downtown Los Angeles.” Note that the LAPD crosswalk sting operations do extend beyond downtown into MacArthur Park and Koreatown.

SBLA does not often cover the fairly simple process of introducing motions, as there is a lot of follow-through needed before the City Council actually passes one… but we are pretty happy to have some activity on these wrongheaded stings that we have been writing critically about since 2008.

Bonin had this to say in describing the situation:

It defies common sense to ticket someone who is entering a crosswalk as the countdown begins when they still have time to cross the street safely without disrupting traffic. We need to be and we will be a Vision Zero city, and pedestrian safety is paramount. But if we are going to be doing ‘crosswalk stings,’ I want to be sure we are focusing on busting drivers who don’t yield to people in the crosswalk.

Excessive and expensive tickets disincentivize walking in Los Angeles. We want people to be safe, but we do not want ‘Do Not Walk’ to be the message we send Angelenos.

The motion critiques the outdated state law that serves as the basis for stings:  Read more…