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Posts from the Road Diet Category


No “Lane-Stealers” Here: Central Ave. Bike Count Underscores Need for Better Infrastructure and Investment in the Community

A father runs errands with his children along Central Avenue after picking them up from school. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A father runs errands with his children along Central Avenue after picking them up from school. His back wheel has been modified so that his child can stand on it while hanging onto his dad. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

While some might not relish the opportunity to stand out on a street corner and count passersby for two hours, I can honestly say I really enjoy the experience.

Not the act of counting of people, per se. But the chance to absorb the rhythm of a street. I actually spend a good deal of time moving along both Central Ave. (in South L.A.) and Soto St. (in Boyle Heights), where I am participating in the biennial Bike and Pedestrian Count this year. But standing in one place for two hours allows you to get a sense of how and why they are using the street — indicators that can sometimes be just as important as quantitative data in regard to policy-making.

Perhaps most striking to me during my count shift on the west side of Central Ave. (between Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.) Wednesday was that, of the approximately 200 people that passed by me on foot or on bikes, only one elderly couple seemed to be out for a stroll. The rest appeared to be commuting, heading home from school, or running errands (many of those counted passed by a second time, often carrying something purchased at a nearby market).

That stands in stark contrast to more well-to-do neighborhoods where you are liable to see joggers at various times of the day or people taking in the sights, window shopping, walking a dog, or lingering over coffee and people watching.

When one of the students from nearby Jefferson High School (getting experience with data-gathering as part of a National Health Foundation program) was asked if she had ever walked the two blocks north to visit the 3 Worlds Cafe — a project launched by chef Roy Choi that got its start at her high school — she replied, “No, it’s not safe.”

To her and other residents I’ve spoken with, that section of Central doesn’t feel very secure.

Pinning down exactly what makes a section of a street insecure can be tough, given that that sort of information tends to travel by word-of-mouth among residents and doesn’t necessarily correlate with actual crime stats. When gang-bangers are enforcing territorial boundaries by intimidating local youth, for example, they do so knowing that those youth will not report them. So despite Compstat data showing the area around 3 Worlds Cafe as seeing less reported crime than, say, 41st St. (regularly used by students to move between Jefferson HS and Central Ave.), and despite the Newton Division of the LAPD being located practically next door to the cafe, youth are still reluctant to wander up that way.

Walkability for this community, in other words, hinges on much more than just traffic control.

But traffic is indeed a problem, too. Read more…


Rowena Avenue Forum Reveals Significant Common Ground

Silver Lake's half-mile Rowena Avenue road diet. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Silver Lake’s half-mile Rowena Avenue road diet. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

In 2012, Ashley Sandau was walking across Rowena Avenue and was hit and killed by a motorist. Then-Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge spearheaded efforts to make Rowena safer. The city Transportation Department (LADOT) implemented a road diet on Rowena. The street had two travel lanes in each direction. These were reduced to one travel lane each direction, plus a center left turn lane and bike lanes. LADOT studies have found that post-diet Rowena supports roughly the same volume of cars as pre-diet, but does so with reduced speeds and fewer collisions.

A group of Silver Lake residents are frustrated with the Rowena road diet and urging the current Councilmember David Ryu to undo the safety improvements. Road diet opponents have a website and petition, and have attracted the attention of the L.A. Times.

Last night, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council held a town hall meeting to discuss the Rowena road diet. The event was held at Ivanhoe Elementary School. Approximately 200 people attended.

Attendees initially directed questions to a panel of city representatives – LADOT, plus police and fire representatives – plus pro- and anti-road diet leaders and Councilmember Ryu’s Chief of Staff. The questions were mostly fielded by LADOT, represented by engineer Tim Fremaux, who stressed that the diet was a proven safety measure intended to slow speeds and make crossing safer, with bike lanes that “do not connect to anywhere” just “icing on the cake.”

After the questioning, the meeting shifted to public comment. While there were certainly vocal road diet opponents expressing comments, the sentiment ran about two-thirds in favor of the road diet, with many Silver Lake residents expressing that they do bike and walk, and do want to make the neighborhood more conducive to these modes.

While one couple that live on Rowena described the post-diet street as a “living nightmare,” most commenters expressed that Rowena had been improved and could be made even better – more of a commercial village “more like Larchmont.” The largest quantities of critical comments were mostly not focused on Rowena Avenue itself, but on cut-through traffic impacting nearby parallel streets, especially Angus Street to the south, and Waverly Drive to the north. One Angus resident decried that calming Rowena had “pushed millions of drivers onto our street.”  Read more…


To KFI’s John & Ken: Where Are Those Streets With “50%” Space For Bikes?

Are there really streets in downtown L.A. where bicyclists get fifty percent of the roadway? Los Angeles Street this morning. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Are there really streets in downtown L.A. where bicyclists get fifty percent of the roadway? Los Angeles Street this morning. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This morning, I listened to SBLA editor Damien Newton interviewed yesterday on KFI radio’s John and Ken show . Frankly it made me tense to hear the level of antipathy that John and Ken express toward people who bike. Toward me. Toward my family and our safety.

I heard a few misconceptions stated by the hosts, who repeatedly accused Damien of lying.

The falsehood I want to focus on, the one that John and Ken repeated, over and over, was that there are existing places in Los Angeles where bikes get fifty percent of the roadway. I counted ten mentions of this assertion. The first and clearest was in the hosts’ introduction (at 01:25) when they stated:

They’ve [bicyclists] gotten fifty percent of the roadway on some streets in downtown L.A. and other places.

Readers – is there actually a street anywhere in Los Angeles where fifty percent of the roadway is set aside for bikes?

John and Ken, if you are reading this, maybe you could explain where you got this fifty percent number. What streets are you talking about?

The hosts did go on to explain this a bit, blaming road diets. Road diets generally take one lane away from cars and replace it with two bike lanes. In recent years, the city of L.A. has implemented just over fifty miles of road diets on its 6,500 miles of roads. Some road diets perhaps worsen congestion, some do not, and occasionally, in some places where lots of cars turn, they reduce congestion. I am going to assert that 50+ miles of road diets are not a major cause of the extensive congestion many drivers experience throughout Los Angeles. None of these road diets have ever been done on freeways, which seem pretty congested pretty frequently.

But do any road diets in Los Angeles actually give fifty percent of the roadway to bikes?  Read more…


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…


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.


San Diego Sued for Putting in a Bike Lane

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Before (above) and after (below) a road diet and new bike lane on Fifth Avenue. The street still has two travel lanes after the road diet. Top: Google Streetview. Bottom: from a tweet from Councilmember Todd Gloria

A lawsuit filed last week in San Diego [PDF] claims that the city did an inadequate CEQA analysis for a recent road diet and new bike lane on a stretch of Fifth Avenue.

The city’s Bicycle Master Plan calls for a bike lane on that section of the street, and lists it as a priority project. A recently completed water main repair there, followed by repaving, gave the impetus to restripe it and, in the process, the city removed one lane of traffic and added a wide, buffered bike lane.

Fifth Avenue is part of a north-south duo of one-way streets that connect downtown San Diego to Balboa Park through San Diego’s urban core. Together, they comprise one of the main corridors for bike access to downtown, with other parallel routes interrupted by steep canyons. They are also part of a planned “downtown loop” [PDF] which is being set up in anticipation of the bike share launch, now scheduled for next month.

The section that is subject to the lawsuit is between Laurel and Upas streets, a nine-block segment that connects to Balboa Park, the zoo, and several museums, just north of the downtown bike loop. Although from the photos above there is clearly plenty of room on the street, at peak times it can get congested.

For some people, that is an argument for a road diet, which can slow down and smooth traffic, allowing bicyclists to ride with at least some illusion of safety. But for others, the congestion is an argument to leave the bad design in place.

The lawsuit was filed by Leo Wilson on behalf of the Bankers Hill Community Association–not to be confused with the Bankers Hill Community Group, which currently celebrates the new bike lanes on its website. The suit claims that the bike plan calls for narrowing traffic lanes to squeeze in a bike lane while preserving all three existing lanes, and that removing a lane should require a new CEQA analysis.

The city won’t comment on pending litigation, but the lawsuit quotes San Diego Senior Traffic Engineer Brian Genovese as saying that the new striping is exempt from CEQA because the project is included in the adopted bicycle plan.

It’s depressingly reminiscent of the 2006 lawsuit against San Francisco’s bike plan, which caused the city to delay putting in any bike facilities, including bike racks, for four years while it completed an expensive Environmental Impact Report that came to the same conclusions the city had reached without the report: that bike facilities do not create a significant environmental impact.

This lawsuit makes claims similar to those in the San Francisco suit, saying that traffic congestion will worsen, and that vehicles will be diverted to other local streets.

Unfortunately, the state’s Office of Planning and Research has not yet completed its guidance on S.B. 743, under which vehicle congestion will be removed from the list of environmental impacts that need analysis.

The city is trying to do what the state mandated in its Complete Streets Act [PDF] that requires cities to “plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network that meets the needs of all users of streets, roads, and highways, defined to include motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, seniors, movers of commercial goods, and users of public transportation, in a manner that is suitable to the rural, suburban, or urban context of the general plan.”


Glendale-Hyperion Bridge Political Contortions Forcing Unsafe Compromise Design

Los Angeles' latest "Option 1A" propsal for the Glendale Hyperion Bridge would preserve two sidewalks. Detail - click for full page.

Los Angeles’ latest “Option 1A” proposal for the Glendale Hyperion Bridge would preserve two sidewalks but not include the planned bike lanes. Detail – click for full page.

Last night, the Citizens Advisory Committee for the design of the new Glendale-Hyperion Bridge met to discuss the city’s latest proposal.

L.A.’s historic Glendale-Hyperion Bridge opened in 1927. It connects the Los Angeles communities of Silver Lake and Atwater Village. About ten years ago, city plans to renovate the bridge got underway. In 2013, the city proposed a dangerously high-speed highway-scale bridge design. Communities objected to the proposal. The city went back to the drawing board, and formed an Advisory Committee tasked with reviewing various possible configurations, and coming up with a better plan for the new bridge.

In August, the committee voted to move forward with Option 3 which includes bike lanes and sidewalks, and a road diet. Four existing car lanes would be reduced down to three lanes.  L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who represents the area on one side of the bridge, rejected the committee’s selection in favor of one that preserved four traffic lanes.

Given the width of the bridge, there is not quite enough room for two sidewalks, two bike lanes, and four car lanes. LaBonge’s insistence on preserving four car lanes meant that either bike lanes or a sidewalk would be eliminated.

The project stewed internally for a few months.

At last night’s meeting, attended by LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds and City Engineer Gary Moore, LADOT presented a new design – called Option 1A. The new option is an attempt to preserve both sidewalks while meeting LaBonge’s insistence on four car lanes. This eliminates the bike lanes. Preserving both sidewalks (via either Option 1A or Option 3) is important. As it would be prohibitively costly to go back and add sidewalks at a later date. Lanes, whether for bicycles or cars, can be reconfigured relatively inexpensively.

The city’s Option 1A cross section labels the bridge sidewalks as “shared use path[s].” Advisory Committee members Deborah Murphy (L.A. Walks), Don Ward (Los Feliz Neighborhood Council), and Eric Bruins (L.A. County Bicycle Coalition) all commented that these are just sidewalks, not designed for shared use. For most of the bridge, Option 1A shows an 8-foot sidewalk. Under Waverly Drive, the sidewalk narrows to 5.5 feet. The bridge is sloped, which means most cyclists will travel at fairly high speeds downhill. With limited width, limited sight lines, and significant speed differences between people walking and bicycling, Bruins characterized Option 1A as a “recipe for disaster.” Read more…


Wilmington’s New Bike Lane Network, and What It Does and Doesn’t Do

Bike lanes on Broad Street in Wilmington

Bike lane on Broad Avenue at Avalon Boulevard, in the southern end of Wilmington. Visible in the distance (middle left horizon) is the Vincent Thomas suspension bridge over one of the main channels of L.A.’s harbor. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Where is California’s most concentrated bike lane network? Long Beach? Davis? San Francisco? Santa Barbara? San Luis Obispo?

How about Wilmington?

Some readers may be wondering: just where is Wilmington?

Wilmington is a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles.  It is directly inland from the Port of Los Angeles. San Pedro is west of the port, Long Beach is east, and Wilmington is to the north, just inland. Long Beach and San Pedro have waterfronts. Wilmington has more of an industrial truck-front, with no connection to the water.

According to the L.A. Times convenient neighborhood mapping tool, Wilmington takes up 9.1 square miles and, in 2008, had a population of 55,000. Within Wilmington’s borders there are port-related industrial areas more-or-less surrounding a central residential district which includes a few commercial corridors. 87 percent of Wilmington residents are Latino; over 60 percent are renters.

Wilmington has some of the worst air quality in Southern California. Ashley Hernandez, Wilmington Youth Organizer for Communities for a Better Environment (CBE,) tells how heavily polluted air becomes harder to breathe on hot summer days; families stay indoors and keep their windows closed. Jesse Marquez of the Coalition for a Safe Environment calls it the “Diesel Death Zone.”

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest port complex in the U.S., move goods using diesel-powered ships, trains, and trucks. If the ports themselves were not enough, Wilmington is surrounded by four freeways. Then there is a great deal of oil industry in and around the area, including eight refineries and numerous active oil well sites.

And Wilmington also has a dense network of bike lanes. Read more…


Cedillo’s Folly: Council Adjourns in Memory of Veteran Killed Crossing North Fig.

On August 20, at the ironic request of Councilmember Gil Cedillo, the Los Angeles City Council adjourned in memory of 84 year-old Korean War Veteran, William Matelyan. Matelyan was crossing North Figueroa Street at Avenue 26 last month when he was struck and killed by a car. This area of North Figueroa was approved for a road diet in the 2010 City of Los Angeles Bike Plan. Road diets are proven safety measures that make streets safer for all.

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A google map of the area for the proposed North Figueroa road diet. The white dot near the bottom left shows where North Figueroa intersects with Avenue 26.

A Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was prepared by city staff and released in January of 2013. The report showed a series of road diets and bike lanes throughout Los Angeles would have “no significant impact” on through-traffic time. The EIR traffic studies included the North Figueroa Project between San Fernando Road and Colorado Boulevard.

After the extensive EIR work, the city’s Transportation Department (LADOT) was on the verge of implementing the North Figueroa road diet, until it was delayed last year by newly-elected Councilmember Cedillo. Cedillo later indefinitely delayed the safety project, citing safety concerns. Cedillo’s supposed safety justification appears to be based on the unsubstantiated testimony of selected police and fire officers. Officers cited possible emergency response vehicle delays, though their statements are at odds with actual LADOT traffic studies.

Before Cedillo blocked the project, construction had appeared imminent. Based on similar projects throughout the city, it is clear that construction would have been completed by now without Cedillo’s interference.

The diet would have reduced the number of through-traffic lanes for much of North Figueroa, and would have added buffered bike lanes for 5.1 miles between San Fernando Road and Colorado Boulevard. The city’s traffic studies showed this would lead to slightly reduced average traffic speeds, making the street safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. LADOT calculated that the peak delay along the road diet would be less than a minute of delay for motorists.

When asked to comment on the street’s safety on Facebook, Cedillo spokesperson Louis Reyes answered that “Having researched the issue with our staff, that corner has not been slated with any type of prior planning. We are in the process of having LA DOT look at this dangerous intersection. “

Whether Reyes is unaware of LADOT’s EIR, or forgetting the highly-publicized battle to improve North Figueroa safety, or whether the office is just stating that slowing down traffic to make streets safer for all road users isn’t a safety improvement is not known.

On Twitter, Cedillo remains defiant, stating that “…there are no comprehensive LADOT studies on Figueroa that exist. We are doing them now.” Read more…


Eyes on the Street: New Road Diet Bike Lanes on Figueroa Street!

Newly striped bike lanes on Figueroa Street at Anaheim Street. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Eyes on the Street: Newly striped bike lanes on Figueroa Street at Anaheim Street. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

There are brand new bike lanes on Figueroa Street. Despite all the ruckus, LADOT went ahead and removed one travel lane, making room for new bike lanes…  Read more…