ABC Highlights Some Self-Inflicted Bikelash in Sun Valley

Last week, ABC ran another part of its ongoing “What’s Bugging You” series, and for the second time the focus was on bicycling.  This time, it’s “unexpected bike lanes” that are “bugging you.”  Last time, it seemed that the mere existence of bicyclists was “bugging you.”

ABC 7 has a pretty lousy reputation with many members of the bicycling community because of its reporting that seemed to blame the victims of the Christine Dahab/K-Town Ridazz crash because an LAPD officer found an unknown quantity of condoms somewhere near the crash site, but a review of the stories they’ve done on bicycling is actually pretty positive.  In the past month, they’ve run stories on CicLAvia, the L.A. County Bike Plan, Bike Station and the city’s proposed Bike Parking Ordinance.

Despite the attention grabbing headline, the piece is actually pretty reasonable with one glaring problem.  The reporter even found time to talk to a cyclist who used the lane in question and in a piece about how a private business lost two street parking spaces it manages to show the long parking lot attached to the business.

Watch the video embedded above, and then we have some analysis after the jump.

I feel for the store owner in the video, I do.  It must be bewildering to lose on-street parking right in front of your store with no notice.  If the loss is hurting his business that’s awful.  If CicLAvia can put door hangers on thousands of doors before each event, LADOT should be able to do the same in a smaller area before a road re-configuring.

So what was the LADOT’s outreach on this project?  Turns out that all you had to do to find out why the LADOT did something was to ASK THE LADOT and not ambush the mayor between meetings.  A department spokesperson writes the following:

LADOT installed the bicycle lane consistent with the 2010 Bicycle Plan adopted by the City Council and Mayor.

The plan clearly identified that this segment of Sheldon Street was designated for a bicycle lane.

It is a continuation of a previously installed bike lane segment.

Potential removal of parking also is identified in the plan.

The decision to remove on-street parking on one side of the street was based on an engineering assessment of the safest way to install the bike lane while minimizing impacts on the whole street.

So…they didn’t even notify the Neighborhood Council sometime before the striping went down?

Yikes.

A little deeper digging reveals that this street recently received a repaving from the Bureau of Street Services.  When they re-striped the street, LADOT asked them to add bike lanes in accordance with the 2010 Bike Plan.  While that certainly makes sense from an engineering standpoint there has to be a way that we can have bicycle projects and public outreach.  There has to be some way to make the Bureau of Street Services and LADOT sit down at a table with a list of streets up for repaving six months ahead of time so some sort of public notice can happen.  And there has to be some way for an angry store owner to here about a project ahead of time.  Didn’t the city learn anything from the Wilbur Avenue fiasco?

When I first saw the promotion for this story, I called Bruce Gillman, the press contact for LADOT, to find out what was going on.  He had no idea what I walk talking about.  Neither did bikeways.  In fact, the two of us traded emails guessing what lanes they were talking about  and decided it was probably the Expo Bike Lanes in West Adams.  ABC didn’t call LADOT to ask any questions.  If they were trying to do a sneaky parody of how not to give any notice, well done!  If they were trying to do an in-depth piece of journalism…

The problem with this kind of reporting, and what we’ve seen at LA Weekly in its blog section, is that it creates an impression that the city is bending over backwards to do everything cyclists want them to do at the expense of everyone else.  It’s not.  The city is certainly doing better than 2008, but it’s hardly moving mountains.  To prove my point, just look at the bike lane in this story.

You know what’s bugging me?  Bike lanes that are at least 30% in the gutter (or if this lane isn’t in the gutter it’s an awfully small bike lane, hard to tell without seeing the full lane markings) on roads that manage to have space for five lanes of car traffic.  Would this lane pass muster in Long Beach, New York or Portland?  Probably not, and that’s “bugging me” as much as anything else.

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