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.

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