LADOT Responds: 20 Miles of Sharrows Part of Mayor’s Infrastructure Commitment

Expect to see a lot more of this in 2011 and beyond. LADOT has promised to quadruple the number of Sharrows on city streets. Photo: LACBC

Yesterday, we featured a headline by our Joe Linton that pretty harshly criticized an LADOT Bike Blog posting from Monday about the LADOT’s committment to increasing the number of Sharrows on L.A.’s streets.  We summarized Linton’s post into a couple of questions and sent them on to the LADOT to get some clarification.  After all, the city is promising 20 miles of Sharrowed streets to be completed in the next year…what could be wrong with that?

Scanning Linton’s article, Streetsblog boiled down his questions and complaints to three main questions.  Would the Sharrows count towards the city’s, and Mayor’s, commitment to 40 miles of infrastructure a year, even if some of the projects aren’t in the five year implementation plan?  If so, does this mean projects are coming off the list, or is this in addition to the original five year plan?  What about the streets that are scheduled for bike lanes, but also appear in the city’s Sharrow list?

Here is LADOT’s response.

Yes, it is the City’s intent to include sharrows as a part of the Mayor’s commitment to implement 40 miles of bikeways this fiscal year.  Some streets that receive the sharrow treatment are too narrow for bicycle lanes such as Fountain St. and Arden Bl., and in that case yes the sharrows will be a permanent solution.  For others the implementation of sharrows may be an interim measure to getting a permanent bicycle lane installed while the public and political will are collected in support of installing bicycle lanes as called for in the 2010 Plan. It may take some time to complete the public process for some projects.

The Bicycle Plan is clear about our commitment to make Los Angeles a bike-friendly city. Sharrows are one of several tools that will be used to get us to the goal. Sharrows are cost-effective treatments that can be installed quickly, as we continue to work toward major bikeway improvements detailed in the plan. In some cases the newly installed sharrows will be complemented with other traffic calming devices as appropriate and as funding is available for Bicycle Friendly Streets.

The much debated five-year implementation plan that was fought and debated over so vigorously is being treated as an easily ignored guideline and not a set in stone implementation plan.  Groups such as Bikeside and the Bike Coalition lobbied hard for the implementation plan, and actually temporarily derailed the plan at the Planning Commission in part because they were concerned that the city didn’t wasn’t committing to the projects that would create the greatest difference.  Fears that the city is casting aside it implementation plan band doing so behind the veneer of increasing the Sharrows program is a real one.

In addition, the Mayor’s much publicized “40 miles a year” pledge was based on the implementation plan.  As Linton points out, there’s a lot of projects on the Sharrows list that aren’t part of the implementation plan.

However, there is good news.  The LADOT has not eliminated projects from that list, so if the environmental review for projects goes smoothly, the city could well see these projects as additions to the plan instead of replacements to parts of the plan.  To help assuage concerned advocates, the LADOT could prove what streets are best for Sharrows and which are best for bike lanes by releasing the road widths and traffic volumes for all 22 streets that will  receive the Sharrows treatment in the next year.

At this point, it’s too soon to know for certain whether the city is backing away from the implementation plan or not, but for some bike advocates, already nervous that many projects are undergoing a lengthy environmental review, the concern is growing.

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