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Posts from the "Downtown LA" Category

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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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Metro Regional Bike Share Expected To Open In Downtown L.A. In 2016

What does bike share have to do with walkability?

Metro is about to receive bids for its bike share system anticipated to arrive in Downtown Los Angeles in early 2016. Photo of NYC Citibike bike share by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro is moving forward with its regional bike share system, expected to debut in downtown Los Angeles in about a year. Metro released its bike share Request for Proposals (RFP) in December 2014, with bids due January 27. A bike share contract is expected to be awarded by June, with full implementation of a 1,000-bike system in downtown Los Angeles nine months later.

Metro’s RFP is for an initial two-year contract, with possible extensions up to seven years and expansions to nearly 4,000 bikes in expanded service areas.

Though the initial two years are funded, the overall funding picture is not entirely clear. Metro is soliciting competitive bids, so the agency cannot be too specific regarding system funding and cost. In July 2014, Metro’s board allocated $3.8 million for downtown L.A. bike share capital; those funds are from ExpressLanes tolling revenue. Metro officials also mention unspecified state and federal monies.

The initial two-year contract is likely to run somewhere in the ballpark of $10-$16 million. 

Metro will own the system, brand it, and manage it, via contractors, but the system will be located in host cities, which Metro will require to share costs. Initial capital costs are split 50/50 between Metro and the host cities. Operations and maintenance will be split, with 65 percent paid by the host city and 35 percent by Metro. The funding is already in place for the initial two-year downtown L.A. pilot, entirely in the city of Los Angeles. The split funding process could complicate later expansion to other municipalities, which tentatively include Huntington Park, Pasadena, West Hollywood, and unincorporated county communities of East L.A. and Marina Del Rey. (See expansion map below.)

Rounding out the funding picture will be some additional bike share system revenue from system users, including memberships (typically single-use, daily, monthly, and annual) and usage fees. Metro’s RFP specifies that “[a]dvertising or sponsorship revenue shall not be considered or included” (RFP, page 2-102) in the proposals.

What the Downtown L.A. Bike Share System Will Look Like

If the stars align, downtown Los Angeles could possibly see the first bikes on the ground in this calendar year. Read more…

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A Changing South Park Plans for “Livable Alleys”

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from ##http://la.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Final-Report-10_21-SM-1.pdf##Green Alleys South Park Visioning Report## prepared for the South Park Business Improvement District

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from Green Alleys South Park Visioning Report prepared for the South Park Business Improvement District

Through cinematic distortion, alleys are seen as hubs where criminals engage in drug dealing, whacking, and even murder.

In reality, most city alleys are wasted, often unkempt spaces cluttered with toilets and mattresses due to illegal dumping.

Despite this reality, alley spaces offer great, unrealized potential, says the South Park Business Improvement District (BID).

As part of the BID’s focus on “bettering the physical and social environment for residents, property owners, and businesses of the area,” Executive Director Jessica Lall and Director of Planning and Communications Amanda Irvine have undertaken the task of transforming South Park’s alleys into livable green spaces as part of a larger plan to revitalize and rebrand South Park.

Bringing livable green alleys to South Park will help foster community, allow for greater recreation opportunities, reduce crime, and will offer expanded retail opportunities, Lall and Irvine claim.

Green alleys, as defined in the Green Alleys in South Park Visioning Report [PDF], are alley spaces that have been transformed and rebuilt to include “materials and features that reduce environmental impacts” and/or spaces that have undergone transformation via the addition of “plantings and landscaping.” Environmental impacts of the green livable initiative include rainwater capture and filtration and relief from the heat island effect. Read more…

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LADOT’s New Broadway Pre-Project Report Heralds Data-Driven Evaluation

Cover

Cover of new Broadway Dress Rehearsal report [PDF]

Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT) released a new report entitled Broadway Dress Rehearsal: Pre-Installation Existing Conditions Report 2014 [PDF]. The handsome 82-page report is full of facts, figures and graphs all detailing the “safety, public life, and economic” conditions on Broadway from 2nd Street to 11th Street in downtown Los Angeles. This stretch of street is where the Broadway Dress Rehearsal project was recently completed. The streetscape project removed a traffic lane to make space for plazas which feature outdoor seating and planters.

LADOT’s announcement states that the Broadway report is the first one to use the department’s new “robust methodology for pre- and post-installation evaluation and data collection.” This evaluation process is outlined in a second report entitled Project Evaluation Manual V1.1 [PDF]. LADOT further states, “By using established metrics that illuminate how new public spaces and street design impact the life of the street, we can track trends over time, evaluate project performance, and inform future program direction.” 

LADOT plans to do a corresponding post-installation study in Fall 2015 to compare the conditions before and after the Broadway Dress Rehearsal.

The reports are from LADOT’s innovative People St shop, the folks who are oversee the city’s new plaza, parklet, and bike corral programs.

What does the report say about Broadway? Here are some highlights from LADOT’s announcement:

Pedestrians generally outnumber vehicles on Broadway. There were more people walking along Broadway over the course of just 6 hours than motor vehicles traveling along the corridor over a 24-hour period on the same weekend day.

From 2007 to 2012, 120 intersection and 94 mid-block injury collisions were reported along Broadway (involving people driving, walking, and bicycling).

Pedestrian and bicycle injury collisions have been increasing.

Most mid-block collisions were caused by unsafe lane changes and unsafe speed by drivers.

Vehicular speeds and volumes differ for northbound vs. southbound traffic. Traffic speeds were higher and volumes lower going southbound; traffic speeds were lower and volumes higher northbound.

Excessive driver speeding behavior was observed. Almost one-quarter of drivers were speeding while heading south on Broadway on the weekday studied.

The report is chock-full of great visuals, breaking down all sorts of data, even differentiating the east and west sides of Broadway. There is information on motorists yielding, motorist encroachment on crosswalks, bike and pedestrian counts, speeding, collisions, spending, tax revenue, and even pedestrian group size and posture (standing vs. sitting).

Below are some sample data visualizations:

Counts of people walking and bicycling on Broadway. From Broadway Dress Rehearsal report [PDF]

Counts of people walking and bicycling on Broadway. From Broadway Dress Rehearsal report [PDF]

Read more…

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LADOT Pilots “Pedestrian First” Timing on Broadway

Pedestrians crossing at Broadway and 4th. Photo via LADOT.

Pedestrians crossing at Broadway and 4th. Photo via LADOT.

It seems like a simple concept. If you give pedestrians a walk signal before giving cars the go-ahead, pedestrians crossing at intersections will be more visible and crashes and injuries will be reduced. But in a city where too much of the infrastructure is still designed to encourage cars to move quickly, even a small change that benefits people who aren’t in cars will be noticed.

In this case, some Streetsbloggers have noticed that some of the traffic signals along Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles are out of sync with the rest of the city. Even if Broadway is home to the pedestrian friendly “dress rehearsal” and has its own pedestrian master plan, people are still cautiously optimistic when they see change at the street level.

“On Sunday morning, I was riding eastbound on 4th Street when I came to a red light as I reached Broadway,” wrote Patrick Pascal. “I was shocked to notice that (like Chicago and a few other progressive places) the walk signal permitted pedestrians to begin to cross at least four seconds before the traffic signal turned green.  Was this due to an error by the DOT or is the agency finally joining the 21st century?”

Good news! It’s the latter.

“At Broadway and 4th/3rd Streets, we are piloting a ‘pedestrian priority phase’ signalized intersection that provides a three-second head start for people walking/bicycling/skateboarding across the street,” responded Bruce Gillman, a spokesperson with LADOT. “We implemented this in conjunction with the Broadway Dress Rehearsal ribbon cutting ceremony last August.  Vehicles wait those extra seconds, making people more visible to drivers as they step off the curb.” Read more…

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Law Enforcement and Bike Safety: Top Cops Must Innovate, not Prevaricate

LAPD protects the bike lane in front of headquarters from sun and rain elements that could damage the paint job. Police cars parked in the bike lane, First Street between Spring and Main in downtown L.A.

LAPD protects the then-buffered bike lane in front of headquarters from sun and rain elements that could damage the paint job. LAPD cars parked in the bike lane on First Street between Spring and Main in downtown L.A.

If you approach LAPD headquarters from First Street, City Hall is reflected in the windows. This was designed into the building intentionally, to remind cops that they’re not there to serve the police department itself; they’re to serve the people of Los Angeles.

When I first moved to downtown from Los Feliz in 2009, I was thrilled to find a new bike lane on First Street between the Civic Center subway station and my new home in the Arts District. The portion between Spring and Main Street, in front of LAPD, was curbside with a wide buffer on the left to put space between moving cars and cyclists.

But it was always blocked by parked police cars.

It seemed outrageous to me that cops, out of laziness or contempt, could get away with sabotaging the bike lane on a stretch of street that runs between LAPD headquarters and City Hall, right in front of their bosses. So I started taking pictures of the cars. I went to an LAPD bike meeting. I met some sympathetic cops who suggested, among other things, that LADOT should put in bollards to keep all cars, including police cruisers, off the lane. One had warning notes put on the police cars. My photos were bounced up the chain of command. And we started a real, bona fide internal-affairs complaint. And, after many months, it seems I succeeded in embarrassing the police brass.

The result.

Instead of letting officers know that parking on bike lanes would not be tolerated, police leadership worked quietly with then LADOT chief Jaime de la Vega to remove the buffered lane. I knew about this in advance, because a city official leaked it to me with the hope that Streetsblog and other bike-advocacy groups could shame the LAPD.

It didn’t work. Read more…

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Eyes On The Street: Broadway’s Got New Bulb-Outs

Work is underway for Downtown L.A.'s Broadway "Dress Rehearsal." The street has fresh new striping for bulb-outs, also new zebra crosswalks. photo Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Work is underway for Downtown L.A.’s Broadway “Dress Rehearsal.” The street has fresh new striping for bulb-outs, also new zebra crosswalks. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Crews are out this week doing striping and new crosswalks for a project called Broadway’s Dress Rehearsal. Broadway is, arguably, Los Angeles’ most heavily pedestrian street. The current project reallocates former car-lane space to make way for pedestrians. It’s no secret that the transformation here is inspired by NYC’s relatively-inexpensive street plazas, including Times Square.

Streetsblog L.A. reviewed the overall project earlier, and subsequently reported on implementation timelines. There’s plenty more project details at Bringing Back Broadway.

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City Leaders Shepherding MyFigueroa Stakeholders Toward Consensus

Graphic from Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition's analysis of the past 10 years' traffic injuries and fatalities. Car collisions seriously injured 1453 persons and killed 2. Source: LACBC

Graphic from Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s analysis of the past 10 years’ traffic injuries and fatalities on South Figueroa Street in the MyFigueroa project stretch. Car collisions seriously injured 1453 persons and killed 2. Click graphic to enlarge. Source: LACBC

The long-anticipated MyFigueroa project made another appearance at the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee yesterday. With more than a hundred supporters in attendance, a great deal of staff work, political leadership, and a stakeholder summit process underway, it appears that MyFigueroa may be on track to break ground some day in the not too distant future.

The PLUM committee heard from staff and the public, made requests based on recommendations that came from a stakeholder working group, and pushed the item off for three more weeks.

MyFigueroa is expected to include the city of L.A.’s first significant stretch of protected bike lanes, as well as various improvements to make all road users’ experiences safer and better. The project extends from Downtown L.A. into Exposition Park. In the works since 2008, the project snagged on auto dealership (Shammas Auto Group) opposition in 2013, and has been stalled, churning its way through City Council committees ever since

Yesterday’s PLUM hearing began with a presentation by staff from the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the Department of Transportation (LADOT.) Staff responded to L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price’s motion (13-1124) directing staff to analyze “[a]lternatives … to removing traffic lanes on S. Figueroa Street.” My Figueroa proposes removing one southbound travel lane on South Figueroa (from 7th Street to Martin Luther King Blvd) to add two-way protected bikeways. Price and others have expressed interest in a paired couplet of one-way bikeways instead: northbound only on Figueroa Street and southbound only on adjacent Flower Street. DCP and LADOT reported that they had analyzed this Flower couplet possibility, but advised against it, as it would require removing two travel lanes on Flower, resulting in “more traffic bottlenecks” than the MyFigueroa project as planned.

Following the staff presentation, Councilmember Price’s Deputy Chief of Staff Paloma Pérez-McEvoy and Mayor Garcetti’s transportation staffer Marcel Porras stepped to the podium. Pérez-McEvoy and Porras related that, last week, Price, Garcetti and Councilmember Jose Huizar had convened a 4-hour “summit” meeting of Figueroa corridor stakeholders and bike advocates. Pérez-McEvoy expressed that the meeting had gone well, but that there were still some “small” issues including ingress and egress,  traffic impacts, and procedures for closing lanes for filming. Porras reported that the summit was pulled together quickly, had gone well, and that parties were all working together.  Read more…

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Eyes On The Street: Second Street Tunnel’s Semi-Protected Bikeway

The sorry state of L.A.'s only protected bike lane. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Down. Missing. Missing. The sorry state of L.A.’s first and only protected bike lane. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Sahra Sulaiman, SBLA’s Communities Editor for Boyle Heights and South L.A. took this photo last Sunday, showing the flattened and missing pylons in the Second Street Tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles. This is Los Angeles’ first and only protected bikeway.

Just last night, she spotted two cars that had collided parked in the westbound bike lane, with a tow truck parked just ahead of them and a cop car parked behind them. They were able to stay out of car traffic that way, but it made things a little dicey for anyone biking westward. There was a substantial trail of reflector and other debris left in their wake later that night, but, miraculously, the pylons in that vicinity remained upright and in place.

Sahra’s email alerting us can be found after the jump.

Readers: Let us know your ideas! Is there something that the city of Los Angeles can do to keep the Second Street “candlesticks” in place? Video surveillance? Razor wire? Air bags? Concrete barriers? relocate some Metro turnstiles? A traffic study? Relocating the Great Wall of Los Angeles? Emotionally intelligent signage? Maybe just build a protected bikeway elsewhere to take the debilitating pressure off of this brave tunnel?

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Los Angeles Revisits Its Zoning Code via “re:code LA” Process

The city of Los Angeles Department of City Planning is hosting a series of seven community planning forums running now through April 12th. Tonight’s forum is at Metro HQ in Downtown L.A. from 5-8pm. The forums are for public feedback on three citywide planning processes: re:code L.A.Mobility Plan 2035, and Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles. Streetsblog is previewing the citywide initiatives; today it’s the city’s zoning code update. See earlier SBLA coverage of the Health Plan and Transportation Plan.

From re:code LA website - the original zoning code pamphlet from 1946, next to the 1978 and 2013 versions

From re:code LA website – the original zoning code pamphlet from 1946, next to the 1978 and 2013 versions

L.A.’s Department of City Planning (DCP) has been busy with three initiatives that have the potential to shape livability for many years to come. The three plans are for health, transportation, and, well, something that just doesn’t lend itself to a jargon-free soundbite: modernizing the zoning code.

Zoning code is the city’s set of rules that mostly determine what can be built, where it can be built, and how it’s used. It specifies various aspects of development from how tall a building can be, how much signage is allowed, what industries are allowed in what areas, and how much off-street parking is required.

Here is a sample from the current zoning code:

Off-Street Automobile Parking Requirements. A garage or an off-street automobile parking area shall be provided in connection with and at the time of the erection of each of the buildings or structures hereinafter specified, or at the time such buildings or structures are altered, enlarged, converted or increased in capacity by the addition of dwelling units, guest rooms, beds for institutions, floor area or seating capacity.  The parking space capacity required in said garage or parking area shall be determined by the amount of dwelling units, guest rooms, beds for institutions, floor area or seats so provided, and said garage or parking area shall be maintained thereafter in connection with such buildings or structures.

The new zoning code effort goes by its nickname re:code LA, billed as “A New Zoning Code for a 21st Century Los Angeles.” Of the three citywide initiatives, re:code arguably the least comprehensible to the general public and the least far along. The re:code project started in 2013 and is expected to be completed in 2017. 

From this early in the process, the final results aren’t entirely clear, but a lot of re-code work appears to be neutral; it’s mostly re-writing and re-organizing rules that are already in place. Generally, the re-write doesn’t change policy. If you work in an commercial area, re:code won’t change it into a residential area. Zoning has been established for every part of Los Angeles, and re:code generally won’t be changing what’s approved. It will add new options that can take effect later. The format will change, too. Instead of a paper pamphlet, it will be a whizbang contemporary user-friendly web-based document.

For example, if a neighborhood has too many liquor stores, the new code won’t change the number of liquor stores allowed, but may provide streamlined rules that could help limit future liquor stores. Generally, that streamlined rule wouldn’t go into effect when re:code is adopted in 2017, but would become available to be later added to local planning documents – community plans, specific plans, etc. So, don’t expect to see any re:code changes affecting your street any time soon.

Read more…