A Road Diet for Main Street in Venice? Bike Coalition, LADOT Make the Case Tonight

The plan: Before and After for Main Street
The plan: Before and After for Main Street. Image via LACBC

Cyclists riding South on Main Street in Santa Monica are “welcomed” to the City of Los Angeles by a bike lane that disappears at the city border.  For no other reason than switching sides of a political boundary, cyclists who were riding in a bike lane in Santa Monica are moved in to the rest of traffic in Los Angeles.  And, the two-lane Main Street doubles to a four-lane one as well.  Welcome to Los Angeles!

All that might be about to change.  Tonight, at the Venice Neighborhood Council Board Meeting, the LADOT and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition will present a plan to put Main Street on a diet by reducing its car travel lanes from four to two and a turn lane, and connect new bike lanes to the ones in Santa Monica.  The meeting begins at 7:00 P.M. at Westminster Elementary School Auditorium, 1010 Abbot Kinney Boulevard.  Get more details, here.

A current view of Main Street, in Santa Monica
A current view of Main Street, in Santa Monica

Providing bike lanes on Main Street from Navy to Windward Circle will create, in the words of the Bicycle Coalition, a “Complete Main Street”. The proposed bike lanes will rebalance the street and provide
more road safety for all road users whether they be on bicycle, foot, or in a car.  Creating a “Complete Main Street” will require removing a travel lane in each direction in order to accommodate the bike lanes and a two-way left turn lane in the center of the road.  All on-street parking will remain.

Both the Bike Coalition and the City are eager to “avoid another Wilbur Avenue,” a reference to the controversy created in the Valley when a road diet was placed on a portion of Wilbur Avenue before the community was notified.

One major difference between the case in Wilbur and the plans for Venice is the participation of the local Council Member.  In the Valley, Council Member Greig Smith has been a critic of the Wilbur Avenue Road diet from the moment the paint went down.  On the Westside, Council Member Rosendahl’s office actually brought the plan for Main Street to my attention for the first time when we were discussing a completely different issue.

Another difference is the outreach effort.  While a handful of activists, including Streetsblog Board Member Joe Linton, Ayla Stern and Roadblock, walked the streets raising support for the Wilbur Avenue Diet, this time the effort is a little more widespread and organized.  The LACBC and LADOT have already prepared a flier touting the benefits of road diets in general and the plan for Main Street in particular..  Some of those benefits include, “Businesses can benefit: increased customer access by bike and foot traffic, reduced demand for parking, calmer traffic allows more people to notice businesses” and “Improves visibility for motorists exiting driveways or turning onto Main Street.”

You can download the flyer, here.

In short, the LADOT is clearly stating that road diets aren’t just good for cyclists and pedestrians, but for motorists, businesses and the community.

The LACBC will be going door to door in the community to create educate people about the project, but there’s no time like the present to make a good first impression.  If you live in the area, or use Main Street as a place to shop, bike, walk or even drive, the Bike Coalition would like your help tonight and moving forward.

  • J

    In the near future, the standard will be no center turn lane, and a parking protected bike lane on each direction. LA certainly isn’t there yet, but it will be someday. Newark, NJ, Long Beach, and Toronto are all joining the list of cities with cycle tracks, though.

  • We’ll be tweeting the proceedings live tonight from the BikeBlogChris twitter feed.

  • Jake Wegmann

    To reinforce J’s point but to take it a step further: why not push for a better design than this? We all know that plain vanilla bike lanes are an improvement over the status quo (i.e. no consideration for bikes in the roadway design whatsoever), but we also know that 5′ bike lanes immediately adjacent to curbside parking put inexperienced riders in danger of being “doored,” and do little or nothing to encourage hesitant bike riders to ride.

    Why push for a second-rate solution? Why not push for world-class bike infrastructure from the get-go? Why set the stage for an inevitable do-over in 5-10 years?

  • @ Jake – bike lane standards in CA are dictated by the Chapter 9 of the CA MUTCD (California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/mutcdsupp/pdf/camutcd2010/Part9.pdf

    If LADOT, or any CA city for that matter, wanted to do something different than what the CA MUTCD calls for, they would need to apply for a pilot project. The pilot project process takes much longer than a standard bike lane project. With the adoption of the new LA Bike Plan, the “non-standard treatment” section of the Technical Design Handbook will give us much greater leeway to apply for the types of pilot projects you’re suggesting.

  • Jake, I think that emphasizing the benefits of bike lanes only from the perspective of cyclists is not an effective lens to view this issue.

    These bike lanes (or whatever gets installed) should be primarily about overall safety, quality of life (noise, social interaction, demographic parity, air quality), and local business foot traffic.

    Yes, a bike lane puts you in the “door zone”, but if it makes the entire street safer for all users, quieter, better for business – that is the situation we are all looking for.

  • R

    Are they planning on reducing/enforcing the speed limit to 20-25? A bike lane is pretty much useless at attracting a significant amount of riders if they’re gonna place cyclists in the door zone on a road where people typically travel 35-45mph (see Silver Lake Blvd.)

    I agree with J, if LA can manage a cycle track on a main corridor, we’d see all sorts of new people riding it in huge numbers.

  • Ahh! What an improvement this would be. I ride from USC to Santa Monica all the time along this route and the transition from the bike lane to LA is dangerous. What this doesn’t address, however, is that the bicycle lane would still be in the door zone. Inherently dangerous bicycle facilities can be more dangerous than making cars share the road with bicycles.

  • Erik G.

    Great! except that cycle-tracks ala Holland or Denmark would be much better.

  • Jake Wegmann

    @LADOT Bike Blog, thanks for your response. Please, somebody tell me that something is being done, fast, to revise those MUTCD standards. Or am I the only one that senses the absurdity of a state government, on the one hand, setting aggressive CO2 reduction standards within a short time span, and on the other, making it difficult-to-impossible for CA cities to implement anything more than second-rate bike facilities?

    @Josey, sorry, I just don’t understand your comment. Why would arguing to create bike lanes that will actually keep cyclists safe and encourage more people to ride be in any way contrary to those other goals that you mentioned? If your argument is that “door zone” bikes lanes are the best that we can do in the short term, because of an absurd set of statewide rules that are hopefully in the process of getting fixed, and that they’ll help out with other goals besides cycling, then OK, I get that.

    But if your argument is that in advocating for the best possible cycling facilities I’m somehow ignoring other livable streets priorities, then that just doesn’t make sense to me. Bike-friendly streets = slower cars = more people on bikes and on foot = more customers to spend more money at more small businesses.

    I can’t believe that the state government is beaming second-rate standards to communities throughout the state, and that installing what is widely known to be the best facilities — not just internationally, but in other parts of the US — is not on the table.

    We’re California. We’re supposed to be the world-beating innovators. Instead, we’re installing street treatments that would have been laughed out of the room in Copenhagen twenty years ago.

  • What I’m saying is, the door zone bike lanes don’t me worry so much, so long as the rest of the street re-design is going to lower average car speeds and make the entire street measurably safer and measurably better for business.

  • This is a good and much needed change. Councilman Rosendahl is good on this issue here but I have been trying to get an ear in on the need for sidewalk and continuation of bike lane on Lincoln between Fiji Way and Jefferson (i.e. the death trap under the Culver overpass), and also widening the Ballona Creek bridge on Lincoln for safer bike lane access to the Ballona Creek bike path for years. His office has never responded to my calls or emails on this subject. Can anyone in the bike community help out here?

  • LADOT Bike Blog Didn’t Answer the Question

    Reading the MUTCD Chapter 9 section on markings for bike lanes, while LADOT may be correct about protected cycle tracks, that in no way means that a bike lane between the right-hand-most through lane of traffic and parking should be so narrow that a cyclist would be in the door zone even if s/he were on the left edge of the bike lane.

    There is nothing in the MUTCD preventing LADOT from creating wider bike lanes or marking a buffer zone between cars and bikes by placing the right-hand stripe of the bike lane outside the door zone of a majority of parked cars.

    LADOT is consciously placing cyclists in the door zone: unacceptable!!!

  • san

    How about extending the bike lane to Abbot Kinney.

  • A frequently overlooked advantage to having more bicycling in a area is that cyclists can see and hear events happening outside around them better than someone in a car or building and can become much like a neighborhood watch, or a security patrol. An example of that is my bike ride home last friday night when I saw 4-5 gang members beating up one of their own on the Orange Line bike path near the Reseda Blvd intersection that has been without lights for a few nights. There were about 5 police cars and two fire trucks there within about 3 minutes after I had gotten far enough away from the gang members to safely call it in to 911.

    It’s much more comfortable to call 911 after observing a crime while riding a bike than to do the same thing on foot. Bicycling gives you the ability to quickly be far enough away to safely call the police and to evade being chased by the perpetraters on foot. It’s also easier to pull off to the side of the road and call on a bicycle than when you are driving a car.

  • I have not seen Dutch facilities myself, so they may have some door zone lanes too, but one thing they have we sure as hell don’t, is legal protections, special legal status as vulnerable road users, and explicit obligations for drivers to exercise care. Drivers in America swing their car door open while texting and drinking coffee and couldn’t give a sh*t less if they might injury someone, until it finally happens, and then it’s a whoops, sorry, and they go on without penalty.

    As long as the status-quo is that drivers don’t care about paying attention when they open their car door, I will not ride in the door zone, period. If bike lanes are put in that force cyclists into a position of door zone or hugging the line with no passing distance, I will choose another route. In this manner I view poorly designed bike lanes as a restriction on my right to ride safely.

  • I have a friend on the Palms Neighborhood Council who wants to form a coalition to bring modern streetcars running on Venice Blvd. to connect them to the Expo Line and eventual Crenshaw Line extension north. This modern streetcar could run in transit-only lanes. Maybe we could see bicycle lanes as well.

    Perhaps we need a larger vision of Venice Blvd. as a multi-modal corridor. It’s certainly wide enough west of La Cienega.

  • Here in Beverly Hills we welcome cyclists with the same lack of fanfare: no bike lanes anywhere to speak of inside the city limits. So if you’re passing through from WeHo or Century City and liking those lanes, it’s an unwelcome surprise to navigate hostile traffic and potholes without the shelter of Class II lanes. Unlike Los Angeles, though, don’t expect dual Class II lanes on SM Blvd for a couple of years – if ever – according to city officials.


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