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Posts from the "Bicycle Friendly Streets" Category

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NACTO’s “Cities for Cycling” Road Show Comes to Oakland

Image of a bike box from the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide.

Image of a bike box from the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide.

Today and tomorrow, Oakland will host the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Cities for Cycling Road Show, which brings experts on NACTO‘s Urban Street Design Guide to Oakland to meet with city planners, engineers, and elected officials.

The event is an opportunity for Oakland city staff and decision-makers to gather together to discuss the challenges and solutions in completing creating a network of safer streets for biking. They’ll receive guidance from representatives of New York City, Chicago, and Boston, all cities that have extensive experience using the NACTO guide and putting its bike infrastructure designs on the ground.

The NACTO Urban Street Design Guide is being adopted by more California cities, though Caltrans hasn’t endorsed it yet.

“Chicago and New York have the highest number of miles of protected bikeways in the United States,” said Dave Campbell, advocacy director for Bike East Bay. “And Boston has expertise in bike share, which will be coming soon to the East Bay.”

The Urban Street Design Guide shows how streets can be redesigned to be safe for all users — bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and drivers. Oakland is one of 28 cities and three state departments of transportation that have endorsed the guide as a resource for designing its streets. San Diego, Davis, and San Francisco are the only other California cities that have endorsed the guide.

Caltrans was also urged to endorse the NACTO guide in the recent report calling on Caltrans to reform its car-centric culture, conducted by the State Smart Transportation Initiative.

Since 2009, NACTO Cities for Cycling Road Shows have taken place in eight NACTO cities. Road Shows take on the specific issues and projects of their host cities. For example, in Atlanta NACTO provided comprehensive training on protected bikeway design, and in Boston the focus was on how to build out the city’s bike network over time.

In Oakland the focus will be on two projects: Telegraph Avenue and 14th Street. The city is currently working on the Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Project, developing alternative designs for bicycle facilities along the popular biking street. Bike East Bay has pushed for protected bikeways like the ones featured in the NACTO guide. Read more…

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Spend the Sunday of Your Holiday Weekend at the Bicycle Commuter Festival

It’s been nearly four years since the “Streets Summit” called together many of the city and county’s leading bicycling advocates to discuss advocacy, safety, and how the Livable Streets Community can move forward. While the movement has made great strides in this time, I miss the camaraderie and fun an event similar to the 2010 Street Summit and 2009 Bike Summit created.

BCIEnter the “Bicycle Commuter Festival.”

On February 16, the Bicycle Culture Institute (a relatively new non-profit helmed by Nona Varnado) and AIDS/Lifecycle are holding the first Bicycle Commuter Festival to “entertain, educate, connect and inspire bicycle commuting in Los Angeles.” You can sign up for the festival, here. A full schedule is available at the end of the post.

“The best way to inspire new ideas, confidence and loyalty is through a great time! No one wants to go to a conference, but everyone wants to go to a killer festival,” exclaims Varnado.

“By creating a festival environment and making learning fun, we’ll be able to cross boundaries that traditional sports, advocacy and promotion can’t. Our workshops are like parties with an open festival environment of bicycle advocacy, culture and brands; rivaling the greatest lifestyle fairs happening in Europe or other major cities.”

The festival includes both indoor and outdoor workshops, and two open air festival areas. Festival areas encourage talking directly with people representing local bike groups: from CicLAvia and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to L.A. Bike Trains and SoCal Cross; cycling brands BERN, Abus and Lezyne; local favorite commuter bike shops Orange 20, Flying Pigeon and many more.  Oh, and Streetsblog will be there too. Read more…

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Better Late Than Never: LaBonge and O’Farrell Celebrate Yucca Street, L.A.’s First Bike Friendly Street

Tom LaBonge leads Mitch O'Farrell (the only person in a tie) and others on a tour of Yucca Street. Photo via Scott Levin/Office of Council Member Tom LaBonge

In September of 2012, my son and I took a field trip to Hollywood not to see the tourist sites, but to ride on my bicycle back and forth on the .8 miles of Yucca Street, Los Angeles’ first Bicycle Friendly Street. Earlier today, Los Angeles City Council Members Mitch O’Farrell and Tom LaBonge hosted a community bicycle ride to celebrate Yucca Street.

“Let’s take ‘nobody walks in L.A.’ and make it ‘nobody drives in Hollywood,’” enthused LaBonge. “Yucca Street is for bikes.”

Yucca Street lies mostly in the 13th City Council District, currently represented by Mitch O’Farrell, who replaced Eric Garcetti, who is now Mayor of Los Angeles. While Garcetti celebrated Yucca’s opening with a short press statement, a larger community celebration wasn’t held until today. A small portion is also in the 4th District represented by LaBonge. While LaBonge is often criticized for not standing up for bicycle safety projects, including sometimes by Streetsblog, he was in front of this issue.

In 2011, residents complaints about the cut-through traffic on Yucca focused LaBonge and Garcetti to prioritize calming traffic on the street. In fact, the Council Members were talking about restricting through traffic, keeping the street open only to the car-free and local traffic, before LADOT completed its studies.

The improvements to Yucca Street were designed to make the residential and commercial community a safer place to walk and bicycle. Yucca, located just north of Hollywood Boulevard, was a popular street for automobile commuters looking for an alternative to sitting in traffic on a major arterial street. This attitude led to a dangerous situation for cyclists, pedestrians, other drivers, or just people looking to get from their car to their apartment. Read more…

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Colorado, Figueroa, Lankershim, Westwood…Checking in on the Bike Wars

As LADOT and City Planning continue outreach over proposals for bike lanes and road diets in the city’s bike plan, opposition has sprung up from entrenched community activists and business owners and at least one stoner. As LADOT wraps up this round of outreach, Streetsblog checks in on the status of the bicycle projects along three of Los Angeles’ iconic corridors: Lankershim, Colorado, and Westwood.

Colorado Boulevard

Despite some vocal backlash, especially at community meetings and in Patch’s comments section, it appears that the proposed bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard for three miles from Avenue 64 and Glendale City Limits will move forward. The Bike Plan proposes removing the third lane on Colorado Boulevard as well as on Eagle Rock Boulevard, and replacing them with buffered bike lanes, similar to the ones on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles.

Last night, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council voiced its support for the bike lanes with a 12-1 vote (h/t Walk Eagle Rock on Twitter), and Councilman Jose Huizar is already on the record in support of the project.

That being said, there is another Neighborhood Council vote on the bike lane at the Highland Park Neighborhood Council meeting tomorrow. If the opposition to the lanes is going to gain some ground, it’s going to be at the Neighborhood Council level, no matter how many silly editorials run in the Boulevard Sentinel.

LADOT looks at the Lankershim bike lanes as one way to provide access to the NBC Universal lot. Image: LADOT Bike Blog

Lankershim Boulevard Read more…

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League of American Cyclists Awards Los Angeles Bronze Medal for Bicycle Friendliness

Has CicLAvia helped make Los Angeles more bike friendly? The League of American Cyclists says it has. Photo:L.A. Streetsblog/Flickr

Over the last two and a half years, Los Angeles turned a corner. While the city has a long way to go to be a safe and welcoming city for pedestrians and cyclists, things are getting better. The change in attitude has also changed the debate from, “What can the city do to make things better?” to “Is it doing all that it can?”

Earlier today, the League of American Cyclists stepped into the discussion by awarding the city a “Bronze Medal” for bicycle-friendliness.

“Los Angeles is honored to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists for our work making LA a more bike-friendly city,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “From building 1,600 miles of bikeways over the next 30 years to increasing the number of bike racks in the city by 80 percent, we’re making it simpler and safer for Angelenos to get around on two wheels.”

Earning the Bronze is an accomplishment for a city, and mayor, that are taking bicycling seriously as a form of transportation. However, the League has four levels of bicycle friendliness: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. While advocates were happy to give the city its due, they also don’t want the city to settle for reaching the bottom rung of the ladder.

It was just two and a half years ago that cyclists had to take bicycling safety campaigns into their own hands. Photo: March 10, 2010,

“There’s still plenty more to do, but recent progress has been unprecedented – and worth acknowledging ” writes Joe Linton, an advocate who has literally done it all from the founding of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), to working as the executive director of C.I.C.L.E., to planning the first River Rides, to being the first staffer for CicLAvia.

“Mayor Villaraigosa and the LADOT deserve a great deal of credit for implementing more than 50 miles of bike lanes last year, hosting CicLAvias, and generally beginning to pay more attention to active transportation. Let’s hope that LADOT continues to make great progress, and hopefully aims for silver or gold very soon.”

Many advocates hope that the city uses this award as a springboard to become a truly great bicycling city. Neither Portland or Long Beach became bike-friendly cities overnight, and the size of the city and its car-centric planning could leave cyclists with a long hill to climb before true bike-friendliness is achieved.

“In the span of about 10 years, we have achieved what many thought was impossible in this car-centric city. At this rate of progress, it could be possible in another 10 years for Los Angeles to be known as a premier bicycling city. Keep in mind, Copenhagen’s status didn’t happen overnight. It took almost 40 years for the Danish city to reach 40% of the population using bicycle transportation,” writes Dan Dabek, the executive director of C.I.C.L.E.

No matter how one counts it, Los Angeles shattered all of its previous records for building bicycle facilities in the last year. The city says it constructed 75 miles of new bikeways, Streetsblog’s count was 62. But, even if one chooses Streetsblog’s math over the official tally, 62 miles of new bikeways was still more than the previous three years put together.
“This award would have been unthinkable just a few years ago,” begins Ted Rogers, author of the popular Biking In L.A. news site. “When I started my blog a little over four years ago, which was my introduction to bike advocacy, Los Angeles was a very bike-unfriendly city. There were no sharrows, few bikeways connected to one another, and the only major bike lane built in recent years unceremoniously dumped riders off with no warning in the middle of high-speed Century City traffic a few blocks from even more bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. And, we had no voice whatsoever in City Hall or LADOT.”
In its press statement announcing the award, the League noted the diverse advocacy groups representing all parts of the city, be they advocacy organizations such as the LACBC, groups that encourage and train cyclists, such as C.I.C.L.E., or the city’s various bicycle co-ops.

One of the featured groups is Multi-Cultural Communities for Mobility (née City of Lights), a bicycling organization designed to engage and empower immigrant and non-English speaking communities. City of Lights has become a national model for advocacy organizations in other cities. Read more…

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LADOT Brings Bike Friendly Design to Yucca Street

Yucca Street, L.A.'s first "Bicycle Friendly Street."

“Bicycle Friendly Street.”

Yucca and Wilcox, facing north. For more images fro Yucca Street, visit LA Streetsblog/Flickr

The term first appeared in the City of Los Angeles’ Draft Bike Plan in 2009. Despite its nice sounding name, advocates groaned. Instead of the universally approved “Bicycle Boulevard,” LADOT, City Planning and their consultants had coined their own phrase. At the time, it was widely assumed that whenever the City tried to innovate, disappointment would soon follow.

Today in Hollywood, just north of Hollywood Boulevard, the LADOT has christened their first “Bicycle Friendly Street”. On Friday, I had a chance to ride on all .8 miles of the “Bicycle Friendly” Yucca Street. Back and forth, back and forth. I rode the length between Vine and Highlands four times, following the Sharrows.

I admit it. I liked it. And I wasn’t alone.

“Designing the Yucca project was a collaborative process with the city and local residents and it’s been a win-win for the community, explains Council Member Eric Garcetti. “It reduces cut-through traffic and creates a safer environment for bicyclists as well as pedestrians.”

To earn the “Bicycle Friendly” designation, a street needs to undergo three treatments that make the street a friendlier place for cyclists to ride. The side effects of the new design and infrastructure are lower car speeds, fewer cars and a more pedestrian friendly environment. On Yucca, Sharrows direct cyclists across the .8 mile stretch with ease. Learning from past mistakes, the Sharrows direct cyclists away from turning lanes when necessary. Following a change in state guidelines, some of the Sharrows are even in travel lanes where there are no parked cars with the point four feet from the curb.

Stay out of the turn lane! This Sharrow approaching Cahuenga Boulevard directs cyclists into the through travel lane.

The Yucca Street bike signs have earned LADOT some positive press in social media after they were unveiled on the LADOT Bike Blog. Instead of the traditional “bike route” signs that even some members of LADOT Bikeways admitted were close to useless, these signs place the bicycle image next to the street name. It sends a clearer message that these streets are safe ones for bicycles more than the uniquitous and vague “Bike Route” signs that can be found nearly everywhere.

But the really exciting part is the third treatment.

The really exciting part. Cherokee and Yucca, facing west.

Last year we wrote about an effort by Council Members Garcetti and Tom LaBonge to restrict car access to Yucca Street. The residential portions of the street were being used every day by commuters tired of the congestion on Hollywood Boulevard. To that end, pedestrian islands and signs forbid left turns and through traffic onto Yucca making it nigh impossible for use as a cut through. As a result, cars accessing the streets are almost uniformly cars making local trips.

“The bollards were originally put in to mitigate some negative impacts in the neighborhood,” adds LaBonge. “This new route has turned a negative into a positive. This is another great addition to our bike infrastructure, though we have more work to do.”

I didn’t have my notebook or voice recorder with me, but I did stop to talk to some residents of the apartment buildings to ask about the changes to their street. To a person, they said there was less traffic at rush hour and the street was a better place to walk. The two cyclists I chatted with agreed, Yucca is one of L.A.’s best .8 miles of bikeways.

Of course, some communities have proven resistent to changes that make their streets more livable. While advocates point to the beautiful Vista Street Bike Boulevard in Long Beach, Yucca provides a case study closer to home. There’s three major differences between Yucca and Vista.

First, Vista Street is entirely residential in its Boulevard while Yucca stretches east through some shopping areas. Second, while Vista uses traffic circles to slow cars, Yucca outright stops certain turns and through traffic, making a cut-through not difficult and slow, but impossible. Last, Vista Street is a mostly upper-class area of Long Beach where most people are homeowners. Despite the Lowes mixed-use development at its eastern end and its proximation to Hollywood, Yucca is mostly middle-income rental properties.

All in all, Yucca provides a great first start to the Bicycle Friendly Street Program. In some ways, this “Friendly” street is even superior to Long Beach’s boulevards. It will be interesting to see going forward if Yucca is an outlier of the program, or an example of what can and will be done.