Reseda Boulevard Bike Lanes Extended, Wilbur Avenue Lanes Questioned

8_23_10_joe_1.jpgBrand new bike lanes implemented on Reseda Boulevard. Photo by Joe Linton

This past weekend, the city of Los Angeles striped two additional miles of bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard. The new 2-mile stretch of lane, reported in-progress here last week, extends from Devonshire Street to Parthenia Street. This stretch is nearly complete with lines fully striped, bike symbols added, but directional arrows missing and hopefully coming soon. It’s great to see relatively rapid progress on this formerly-controversial project.

Looking at the numbers: this past weekend’s striping brings the total Reseda Boulevard bike lanes completed to 8.2 miles of the 10.8 miles approved in 1996. In the north San Fernando Valley, there are now 4.9 miles from Sesnon Blvd. to Parthenia St., and in the south Valley, 3.3 miles from Vanowen St. to Reseda Blvd.’s southerly terminus. A 2.4 mile central gap remains from Parthenia to Vanowen. In this gap, the city recently installed 0.75 miles of sharrows, some of
which may be removed as the approved bike lane is implemented. Cyclists look to the city to continue progress southward, implementing the remaining 1.6 miles from Valerio to Parthenia, listed as a Year 2010 priority project in the city’s draft 5-Year Implementation Plan.

Unfortunately, bike lanes partially striped on nearby Wilbur Avenue are not proceeding quite as smoothly. Reported here last week, the city began implementing a “road diet” on Wilbur, reducing 4 travel lanes to 2 travel lanes, and adding a continuous turn lane and bicycle lanes. U.S Federal agency research shows that  the “road diet” reconfiguration reduces crashes, thus generally creates a safer street for all users.

These unannounced unapproved unplanned lanes were striped preliminarily during street resurfacing in July, but appear to be on hold, and the subject of some criticism. Last week, both Valley Bikery and LACBC alerted their supporters encouraging Valley cyclists to write to Councilmember Greig Smith in support of finishing the new lanes.

The Valley Bikery’s Ayla Stern stated that local cyclists canvassed homes along Wilbur yesterday and found nearly-100% unanimous support for the new bike lane roadway configuration. Neighbors reported favoring a safer quieter street, with convenient left turns and less speeding.

The LADOT has not been forthcoming with information on the Wilbur project. Repeated inquiries by Valley-resident and City Bicycle Advisory Committee chair Glenn Bailey received cursory, uninformative responses.

8_23_10_joe_wilbur.jpgWill these Wilbur Avenue preliminary bike lane stripes become permanent? Photo by Joe Linton

Complicating matters, a week or two ago, the city subsequently repaved an additional stretch of Wilbur (a half-mile north – from Devonshire Street to Chatsworth Street) and put down only markers in the center of the street, with no preliminary striping and no indication of whether bike lanes will be added or not. The decision appears to lie in the hands of Councilmember Greig Smith, who has expressed some skepticism on bike issues, but ultimately supported the completion of the portion of the Reseda Boulevard bike lanes in his district.

  • Now, along with hating Long Beach, I have to start hating the Valley too?

    I’d prefer not to hate, but instead to have my neighborhood inspire envy with bike facilities.

    NELA bike lanes FTW.

  • Erik G.
  • Notice how there is no car to be seen moving in either direction on Wilbur Ave in the photo above. Contrast that with Reseda Blvd which is the next street to the east running parallel to Wilbur ave. There is absolutely no need for four car lanes on this quiet residential part of Wilbur ave.

    So far, it seems that councilmember Greig Smith has the final say in his district and the response of PTA members, neighborhood councel etc. are getting the upper hand in voicing an opinion against this.

    I have been handing out flyers to bicycle shops in the valley and people I work with to support having bicycle lanes on Wilbur ave. I will spend even more time and effort from Wednesday through Sunday in an effort to get bicycle lanes installed.

    Not getting bicycle lanes on Wilbur ave would not bode well for implementing bicycle lanes on other streets in Los Angeles. Does anyone believe that there is not going to be similar attacks against road diets in their neighborhood?

    So far there has been a rather tepid response from bicyclists in support of Wilbur ave bicycle lanes. There needs to be a overwhelming response from people who approve of bike lanes on this street.

  • Joseph E

    Re: “Notice how there is no car to be seen moving in either direction on Wilbur Ave in the photo above.”

    Neither are there any cars parked along either side of the street!

    I wonder if they could not have eliminated parking along one side of the street to provide a bike lane completely safe from “dooring” accidents.

    That’s what would happen in Denmark or the Netherlands

  • @Joseph E: It didn’t look any Wilbur on-street parking was removed to implement the bike lane… though there are a few no parking stretches (where no homes are directly accessed from the street) mostly parking is allowed, but not in great demand.

    @Dennis: I agree that city withdrawal from this project would not bode well for bike projects elsewhere. I wouldn’t characterize bicyclists’ response as “tepid” though – we could all do more, but appropriate organizations alerted their members to contact Smith. Bicyclists are canvassing door to door… and you’re hitting the bike shops! Seems to me like a very good response! I’d like to see your flier (that you’re taking to bike shops) – is it posted on-line anywhere?

  • @Joe: I downloaded Aurishas’ e-mail from the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition to use for stimulating ideas to use for handing out information at work, bicycle stores and people on the street. I decided to go with that without alteration for several reasons:

    1. It has the credibility of a organization and further references if needed.
    2. I’ve been handing out bumper stickers with LACBC on it to get a higher volume of people to show up at transportation committee meetings etc.
    3. Handing out literature at large companys needs a conservative approach and this e-mail has it (I work for a large company and a petition would be a no-no.)

    I was disappointed to find almost all of the bicycle shop workers almost completely disinterested. Two of them wanted to have the papers put in a corner with the other local bike events. There doesn’t seem to be a light bulb going off in their heads that if there is more bike infrastructure it will bring in more customers. There is a bike store right next to where the sharrows are on Reseda Blvd and the owner said the LADOT was fooling around out front. If I was that owner I would be baking them cookies, bringing out the lemonade and offering to help them in any way that I could while thanking them profusely for helping to bring in more customers.

  • Good news! The bike lanes on Wilbur have been approved and will move forward this weekend. Bonus! It will be 2 miles of bike lanes, not 1.

  • Yaaaaaay! Great news indeed! I think that this is an important victory for the movement for safer streets – being led by L.A. bike activists!

    Kudos to Ayla Stern and Roadblock for organizing the immediate neighbors to petition in support of the new configuration. These lanes probably wouldn’t have happened without Ayla and Roadblock’s timely work.

    Thanks also to Valley Bikery, LAist, LACBC, BAC (especially Glenn Bailey), and Streetsblog for the push that made this happen – in the face of some neighborhood opposition, some councilmember skepticism, and, until today, some lack of communication from the LADOT. Thanks to folks at the LADOT who made this happen, and to Councilman Smith for ultimately supporting the project.

    Looking forward to riding these new lanes!


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