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Posts from the "Bike Master Plan" Category

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LADOT Ready to Embrace “Floating” Bike Lanes for Westwood, But Is West L.A.?

Technically, tonight's community meeting is on all of these projects. However five of them are expected to draw more attention than the others.

Tonight, city officials with LADOT and City Planning will present the environmental documents for five Bike Plan projects in West Los Angeles. Highlighting the list of projects is a proposal by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) to restripe 1.6 miles of Westwood Boulevard between National Boulevard and Santa Monica Avenue to create a “floating” bike lane in each direction. LADOT has said they would back such a plan if there were community support.

The proposed floating bike lane for Westwood between National and Santa Monica Boulevards. Image by LACBC via Rancho Park Online

Basically, if a floating bike lane were installed, the city paint what would at first glance appear to be multiple bike lanes. During different periods of the day, the street configuration would change. For example, during off-peak hours there would be car parking along each curb, then a bike lane, then two mixed use travel lanes and a turn lane, then another bike lane, parking, and the alternate curb. At rush hour, there would be two lanes in one direction and one in the other (it changes pending which rush hour) with a turn lane and bike lanes hugging the curb.

For more information on how floating bike lanes work, read this case study from San Francisco. It states that the design, while not perfect, generally works.

While not perfect, with its slightly confusing, unorthodox design, it successfully accommodates cyclists, part-time on-street parking, and motorists needing additional capacity during peak hours. It does so with minimal signs, leading one to conclude that while the design is unorthodox, it uses fairly predictable road-user behavior to its advantage. Cyclists naturally tend to stay to the right, and motorists will use a space even if it is not clearly for their use if traffic congestion reaches certain levels and the space is reasonably accommodating.

Following 150 riders attending the Ride Westwood! ride and rally the previous Saturday, the LACBC’s Eric Bruins attended the Westside Neighborhood Council meeting on Valentine’s Day to press for the “floating bike lanes.” In advance of his meeting, some on the Council circulated a letter deriding the plan, encouraging attendance and even stating that “even the local cyclists find the proposal unworkable.” More of the letter is available at Biking in L.A.

Despite the email blast, Rancho Park Online reported that most of the people in attendance that spoke were in favor of the proposed changes. Conversely, most of those on the Neighborhood Council were skeptical. Read more…

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Breaking News: City Releases DEIR for 5 Year Bike Plan Implementation/My Figueroa Project. Further Study Not Needed

39.5 miles of bicycle lanes on congested streets and the My Figueroa Project are headed towards environmental clearance following release of a DEIR and a new law signed by Governor Brown. Map via: The 2010 Bicycle Plan - First Year of the First Five-Year Implementation Strategy and the Figueroa Streetscape Project

When Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 2245 into law, a law allowing certain bicycle projects to opt-out of the CEQA process, the news was somewhat buried. On the same day, the Governor vetoed the “Give Me 3″ safety legislation that created a legal buffer between cyclists and passing automobiles earning the scorn of cyclists everywhere.

While the veto of Give Me 3 is still a sore subject, cyclists can take solace that the City of Los Angeles is taking advantage of A.B. 2245 to speed up bicycle, and even some pedestrian, projects in Los Angeles.

When the Department of City Planning unveiled the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the next five years of bicycle plan implementation and the My Figueroa! project, one small paragraph in Section II shows how the game has changed.

In September 2012, Governor Brown signed in to law Assembly Bill (AB) 2245, which allows re-striping of  urban roadways to proceed under a Statutory Exemption as long as a traffic and safety analysis is prepared  and hearings are held in affected areas…The city will not be certifying the EIR or preparing a Final EIR. Rather, Notices of Exemption will be filed pursuant to 1) California Public Resources Code (PRC) Section 21080.20.5 (c)(2) – for the bicycle lanes and 2) CEQA Guidelines, Article 19, Sections 15301, 15304, and 15311 for the streetscape improvements proposed as part of the My Figueroa Project.

In plain English, the city is opting out of the lengthy EIR process for the rest of the certification and using the public outreach, traffic and safety studies to meet the requirements of A.B. 2245. This will save the city money and months of planning and allow many projects to move forward on an accelerated timeline. At this point, neither LADOT or City Planning were able to release a timeline on when each of these projects or the sensational My Figueroa! project will move forward. Read more…

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LADOT’s FY11-12: A Banner Year for Bikeways

A bright June day on Los Angeles Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo and Graph by Joe Linton

Back in a January 2012 L.A. Streetsblog article, Joe Linton stated that LADOT was “not quite on track” to complete Mayor Villaraigosa’s pledge for 40 new miles of bikeway each year. In that article, Linton projected only 31 new miles to be completed during Fiscal Year 2011-2012. The fiscal year ended two weeks ago, and LADOT not only met, but greatly exceeded the 40 new miles pledged.

According to LADOT General Manager Jaime de la Vega, his department  delivered 76 new miles of bikeways this year: “51 miles of on-street bike lanes, 21 miles of sharrow-ed routes (bike routes with shared lane markings), and a 4-mile bike path.”

Joe Linton has a slightly lower total - 62 new miles, mostly from excluding some of the sharrows projects that were done on existing bike routes, hence Linton doesn’t see them as truly “new” mileage.

Taking either mileage figure, it’s clear that LADOT not only met but substantially exceeded the pledged minimum of 40 new bikeway miles. This shows on L.A. streets – have you seen new bike lanes and new sharrows on the streets in your neighborhood?

Linton has a report card posted at Bikas that grades the DOT’s bike infrastructure work this year. He gives them an overall grade of A-, a very high mark for a department that Linton has been very critical of in the past.

Below are a few excerpts from Bikas report card, which includes grades for quantity, equity, distribution, breadth, innovation, and transparency.

Read more…

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Welcome to the Bike Wars. City Announces Meetings for Bike Plan EIR.

Looking north from National on Sepulveda Blvd. The City wants to put in new bike lanes stretching past the future Expo Line Station up to Ohio Ave.

Bicycle advocacy in the city entered a new phase last week, when the Department of City Planning released a five page Notice of Preparation (NOP) for an environmental review of forty three miles of bike lanes. These projects represent some of the more controversial bicycling projects as they often times require removing curbside parking, mixed-use travel lanes, and/or turning lanes.  The public process, which begins with scoping meetings next week, could prove to be contentious as this is the first time the City of Los Angeles has publicly proposed a city-wide program of creating bicycle facilities at the cost of mixed-use facilities or automobile parking.

Just because a bike project is being studied doesn’t mean that it will be implemented,” reminds Joe Linton, a long time bicycle advocate and head of the new group BIKAS.  ”It’s critical that bicyclists track these projects and build community support to ensure that they get done.”

The project list covers projects in all corners of the city.  New bike lanes on North Figueroa, the South Figueroa Corridor Protected Bike Lane, Bike Lanes connecting Venice Boulevard to the Expo Line Sepulveda Station to Santa Monica Boulevard, a connection to the future Westside Subway Station on Avenue of the Stars, are all included.  Projects on Lankershim, Devonshire, Bundy, Centinela, Cahuenga, Ceasar Chavez, Martin Luther King…there seems to be a project for just about everyone.  A full list of the projects can be found at Curbed, or in the NOP.

“If you’re involved with a Neighborhood Council, make sure they know about these meetings and get involved,” says Alexis Lantz, the Planning and Programming Director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.  ”If you’re not involved, now’s the time to get involved.  A letter from a Neighborhood Council goes a long way in telling the city that these projects are wanted and supported.” Read more…

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Ready to Join the Fight for Safe Streets in Your Community?

Following up on the success of the 12th Annual River Ride, and the ongoing success  of its regional partnership program; the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition looks to recruit local Livable Streets advocates to fight for safe streets in their communities.  The new Neighborhood Bike Ambassador program seeks to educate and empower cyclists to fight for implementation of the Bike Plan on their local streets in their local communities.  Over the summer, LACBC will begin to recruit ambassadors before organizing

You don't get an actual badge for signing up. I checked.

“We’re trying to get this program off the ground to engage the already very active bicycling community and really anybody that wants to see safe streets in their neighborhoods,” explains Alexis Lantz, the Planning and Program Director for LACBC.

The goal of the program is to build local “street level” support for bike projects like bike lanes, boulevards, bike parking corrals, bike friendly business districts and more. In most cases, it’s not enough to just rally cyclists for a project, so LACBC will work with ambassadors to craft messages that will work best in each community.  For example, where I live in West L.A might be more receptive to messages about how bike boulevards reduce the number of cars on arterial streets reducing car congestion than anther part of the city which would be more receptive to messages about the value of bike lanes in supporting local business.

Bike Ambassadors will also work with Neighborhood Councils and other community groups including local businesses, schools, churches, to build awareness and support for projects, create safer streets, and help make Los Angeles healthier. Ambassadors will organize community bike rides and other fun and educational events to help get more Angelenos out cycling.

And if all else fails, some old fashioned “retail politics” can be employed.  ”We want people to feel comfortable to do the door to door outreach that makes a difference,” continues Lantz. Read more…

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Editorial: It Ain’t Easy Bein’ L.A.’s Green Bike Lane

Photo: Joe Linton

The Los Angeles Times ran an editorial earlier this week entitled L.A.’s bike lane blooper. While the Times was generally supportive of L.A. City bike plan implementation, it did come out against green bike lanes in downtown Los Angeles stating that “the green lane spoiled the shots that made Spring the perfect stand-in for Anytown, USA.”

It’s not the main point of this editorial, but, in case the Times and the film industry didn’t get the memo: “Anytown, USA” now has bikes and bike lanes. Spring Street commonly stands in for New York City, which now has plenty of green bike lanes on its streets. Chicago is stepping up with an unprecedented batch of new protected bike lanes. Bike facilities already show up in plenty of movies. I am not a huge film-goer, but can recall spotting on-screen bike lanes in Inception and Mickmacs. If L.A.’s streets do not accomodate bikes, they become frozen in a car-centric outlook that’s fading from Anytown, or at least from Anycity.

Ultimately, though, does film-readiness trump everyday safety and livability? No.

The Spring Street green bike lane is one half of a one-way couplet that flows south on Spring and north on Main Street. Should the Main Street side of the couplet also be green, as has been floated by the city’s Transportation Department – LADOT? The film industry is apparently responding “no” and livability proponents are saying “yes.” I’m going to break ranks here and say that my opinion is that the Main Street lanes don’t need to be green.

Here’s why: Read more…

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At Zev’s Urging, Supes Demand Progressive Bike Plan

Earlier today, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors quickly and unanimously passed a motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky urging for progressive changes to the L.A. County Draft Bike Plan.  The L.A. County Bike Plan addresses the “unincorporated” parts of L.A. County (those without a municipal government) such as Marina del Rey.

First, he named Carmageddon, than he rescued the Bike Plan. Good year for the Supe. Photo: Brian Watts/KPCC

The motion, available on the Supervisor’s website for the last week, picks up many of the suggestions made by bicyclists at a recent meeting of the County Planning Commission, including language that allows the County to build cycle tracks when permitted by state law, requires conformity with the recently released “model street manual” by the L.A. County Department of Public Health and UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, and allows the use of other innovative bicycling design as they become approved by Caltrans.

“The bicycle plan has come a long way since the first draft, but there improvements are still needed to really address safety,” testified the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Alexis Lantz before passage of the motion.  ”We want the County Bike Plan to not only be a guide for implementation but a visionary plan for the next 20 years that will help create safer streets, encourages a diversity of people to bicycle, and maximizes our planned and proposed transportation investments so LA County becomes more mobile, better connected, healthier and a more livable county.

We feel the motion before you today gives the guidance needed to staff in order to do just that and we urge you to support it.” Read more…

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LACBC: Send County Bike Plan Back to the Drawing Board

Late last year, a team of advocates descended on City Hall to urge the City’s Planning Commission to reject the most recent draft of the city’s bike plan for a variety of issues, ranging from equity to the vague nature of the goals and timeline for implementation.  The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is hoping for a  re-run as the L.A. County Bike Plan heads to the County Planning Commission with many of the same issues needing resolution that the city’s plan had last year at this time.

To read the plan, click here.

This Wednesday morning (full event details at the end of the post), the County Planning Commission will meet at 9:00 A.M. to discuss the draft Bike Plan and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is urging cyclists to urge the Commission to send the plan back to the staff for further revisions.  To help advocates better lobby the County Planning Commission, the LACBC created an action alert on Google Documents for individuals or organizations.

The LACBC summarizes on its blog:

“…while this plan does provide 816 miles of new bikeways  for the many unincorporated communities in LA County, the majority are bike routes (458). We feel the plan still needs a number of improvements, including more miles of bike lanes and bike boulevards (also referred to as bicycle friendly streets) before any action should be taken on it.”

The Bike Plan has been in the works since 2009, but this run to the L.A. County Planning Commission feels a bit rushed with recent developments not being taken into account.  Most notably, we’re just weeks removed from the triumphant launch of a “Model Design Manual for Living Streets” written by a team of experts including bike planner Ryan Snyder.

The manual showed how any municipality could embrace a living streets philospohy to encourage greater physical activity and a more equitable mix of transportation modes.  Funding for the Manual came from the L.A. County Public Health Department, yet neither the manual nor its street designs are part of the L.A. County Bike Plan.

It’s time for the County’s left and right hands to get an idea of what the other is doing. Read more…

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Buffered Green-Painted Bike Lane Coming Soon to Spring Street in DTLA

A conceptual rendering of what the buffered bike lane down Spring St may look like as the design is being close to finalized with a ground breaking planned for early December 2011 (Photo: DLANC)

(I was on the road yesterday and missed the big announcement of L.A.’s first buffered bike lane coming this December.  Streetsblog contributor Brigham Yen caught the news first and announced it on his personal blog at BrighamYen.com – DN)

Valerie Watson, the At-Large Director of DLANC (Downtown LA Neighborhood Council), who has been heavily involved with making the Historic Core in Downtown LA a much more pedestrian and bike friendly community, sends me this rendering (and more info) of a fully separated bike lane down Spring St that will also be painted green (like those coveted ones in bike-friendly Portland or New York).

With a ground breaking coming as soon as December (as in this year 2011!), the 1.5 mile bike lane will stretch from Cesar Chavez to 9th Street and be 6 feet wide with green paint to mark very clearly for motorists to see, and there will also be a 4-foot stripe buffer zone between the bike lane and car lane for further cyclist protection. Full time loading and parking will be available on the west side of the street next to the bike lane (as you can see in the rendering).

Here are some benefits of having the bike lane down Spring St:

  • Better access to businesses along Spring St by patrons walking, biking, using transit, and driving
  • Full time parking and loading will be added on west side of Spring St
  • Increased crossing safety for pedestrians

The design of this project can still be tweaked and refined by the community’s input and feedback is encouraged.

And even more good news. Read more…

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L.A. Wins Honorable Mention in League of American Cyclists Bike Friendly Communities Awards

It seems like every time the City of Los Angeles and bicycles are mentioned in the same sentence, some controversy is involved.  Yesterday, the League of American Bicyclists released its list of “Bicycle Friendly Communities” and the City of Angeles received an Honorable Mention for the second time in four years.  The League’s Award has proven somewhat controversial with some seeing it as a sign that things are getting better, while others are wondering what in the world the League was thinking.

The League of American Bicyclists regularly awards communities, states, universities and other organizations awards for bicycle friendliness.  The awards are bronze, silver and gold.  The Honorable Mention category is more of an encouragement for city’s on the right path to keep trying.  A League spokesperson tells L.A. Weekly that the Honorable Mention is for the quality of the Bike Plan, and not because of the actual state of things on the streets.

“The League of American Bicyclists made the correct decision to keep LA at the level of Honorable Mention for its latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community awards,” writes Ron Durgin, a local League Certified Bicycling Instructor and President of Sustainable Streets.  ”In four or five years, if the City of LA delivers on some of its aspirational promises, it may be ready to elevate its status as a Bicycle Friendly Community until then, it should be grateful for the Honorable Mention nod.”

The LADOT agrees with Durgin’s assesment.  ”We are honored to have been nominated and we are committed to making Los Angeles more bicycle friendly every year,” commented Jaime De La Vega, the General Manager of the LADOT.

But not everyone feels that even honorable mention was merited.  In fact, at least several hundred people don’t.  Over the last several weeks, Bikeside surveyed Los Angeles’ bike community on whether or not local cyclists feel that L.A. is “bicycle friendly.”  70% of respondents said that the city was NOT bicycle friendly.  ”L.A. doesn’t even deserve an honorable mention,” surmized Bikeside President Alex Thompson.

For a full size image, click here.

After giving the city a pat on the back for the Honorable Mention, Alexis Lantz of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition lays out a road map for Los Angeles to get from Honorable Mention to the medal round for the next round of Bicycle Friendly Community Awards.

Read more…