Separated Bike Lanes on South Fig? LADOT Presentation Hints at Future Project

Good Enough

In January 2011, consultants for the South Figueroa Corridor Project unveiled three different visions for the soon-to-be Living Street.  The visions were labeled “Good,” “Better,” and “Best.”  A recent presentation to Caltrans, made available on their website, shows current thinking on the legacy project from the project team and the new lead agency, LADOT.

There’s good news and bad news.  The bad news: it looks like “better” and “best” are off the table.  The good news?  “Good” still includes a transit only lane and a pair of bike only lanes.  The northbound bike only lane and separate transit only lane run the entire 3 mile route of the project from 7th and Figueroa to MLK Boulevard.  The Southbound bike only lane starts at 10th Street and goes all the way south.

The lane width varies in different sections of the street, after the jump we show what parts of Figueroa are going to see what types of lane configurations.

The South Figueroa Corridor Project was a project of the Community Redevelopment Agency.  Recently, the LADOT took over as lead agency for the project, and promised a quick environmental review.  The funding for the project comes from Prop. IC, and must be spent by the end of 2014.  Other parts of the corridor project, include improving connections to L.A. Live/Staples Center on 11th Street, and improvements to MLK Boulevard and Bill Robertson way to provide connections to the Expo Line.

In the section from Olympic Boulevard to 7th Street, every lane points north. There are three mixed-use lanes, a bus only lanes, a parking lane, a buffer and a bike only lane. Cyclists on the Cycletrack (yes, they use that word) are separated not only by a buffer and physical barrier, but also parked cars and a bus-only lane.
From Olympic Blvd. South to Pico Boulevard the street widens to 82 feet. A separated bike lane and parking lane appear going south. There are still three mixed-use travel lanes, although one is now southbound and the other is northbound. The rest of the street remains the same.
From Pico down to 21st street, the road shrinks to sixty seven feet. The parking on the southbound side of the street vanishes, the bike lanes each go from 7 feet to 6 feet and the buffers shrink from four feet to two feet. The mixed use turn lane also shrinks from 11 feet to 10 feet.
From 21st Street to Exposition Boulevard, the street configuration returns to what it was between Olympic and Pico Boulevards.
From Exposition Boulevard to MLK Boulevard, the road shrinks back to 67 feet. As we saw before, the buffers shrink to two feet and the bike lane to six feet. However, in this section all car parking disappears and a second southbound mixed-use travel lane appears.
  • J

    Nice! 2.5 miles of continuous cycle track, in one of the densest parts of the city. This is a big project in itself, and will also set a huge precedent for the city.

  • Will there be improvements on Flower for southbound buses?

  • Anonymous

    Looks great! I wonder a little about the wisdom of having the bike lanes and buffers varying radically is width at different points. Maybe it’s better to have consistent lane sizing? That said, much better that these vary than the auto lanes vary in width creating high speed/low speed zones. Either give the extra feet to the sidewalks or the buffers.

  • Eric B

    Similar thought re: southbound bikes, particularly connecting from 7th St which is supposed to be the main east-west route.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it we need special lanes? Why are those special lanes separated from traffic (by up to 12′ of parking and wasted space? 

    I understand how comfort works, but wouldn’t all of this be much simpler and cheaper if we just asked car drivers to slow down and be careful around cyclists?  Cyclists are already entitled to an entire – up to 13′ – lane, why should we think it’s good when we’re forced into special “safety zones”?  That top design looks custom-made for a right-hook car-on-bike crashes.

    I say we enforce the existing laws, use that “extra lane space” for sidewalk cafes and set the speed limit in downtown to 15mph.

  •  We can’t get car drivers to do simple things like not stare at their smart phones while they’re driving– what makes you think that they’ll magically start respecting cyclists’ right to the road if we ask?

    I got a car honking at me and shouting “GET OUT OF THE ROAD” just this afternoon while I was taking the lane on a low-traffic street. He got to the stop light three seconds ahead of me- I counted.

  • Anonymous

    So we can keep the bike mode share at less than one percent or shoot for a more Copenhagen/Amsterdam/Groningen number like 30%?

  • J

    Most people will only ride a bike if it feels comfortable. You may be fine riding with 4,000 lb cars brushing past you, but most people are not. The biggest reason that Amsterdam has so many cyclists is that they have an entire network of protected lanes like this, which allow children and grandmothers to use their bicycles to ride places.
    15mph speed limits are a good idea, and if you do have 15mph streets which actually force driver to drive at that speed, then you don’t need protection, but that requires a lot of engineering to dramatically reduce the street width, since people don’t magically drive slower if the speed limit is reduced, but the street is still designed for 35mph. Also, you quickly encounter a political problem if you try to make the many streets that connect places into 15mph streets. That is why we have cycle tracks.As for the intersection, none of these photos shows the intersection design. Unless the designers completely ignore everything published to date on proper cycle track design (NACTO, CROW, etc), the intersections will be designed to specifically protect against right hooks.If people didn’t know how to design cycle tracks properly, the streets of cities that use cycle tracks–Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, and increasingly NYC–would be running red with blood. In reality, bike use is exploding in these cities and injuries/cyclist are falling.

  • Erik Griswold

    I suspect this is also a way of keeping cyclists and streetcar tracks separated.  Evidence from Seattle and Portland is overwhelming that U.S. cyclists can’t deal with streetcar tracks for some reason.

  • Ubrayj02

    Cowards. Whomever submitted this is a coward.

    Ask for the best – it is what LA is worth. Villaraigosa brought CicLAvia to life, brought bike plan back from the brink, and actually can quit the post with some legitimate green credibility.

    His legacy deserves to be more than this.

    Best, best, best. We didn’t fly a Christiania load of Danes to LA to analyse Figueroa to turn out the worst of the three options they presented.

    If Times Square in New York was re-done with the “good” option – nobody would have given two shits and the project would have been derided and scrapped immediately.

    Stop being cowards, and do it right you weak kneed doughy paper pushing pension grabbing civil employee ladder climbing ass hats. Nobody has job security like you have job security. The politics and the economics of the “best” option, as well as the money to see it built, are all here. LEAD and the politicians will follow. Do it – the city needs you.

  • Ubrayj02

     Baby, when I ride with my baby I don’t want no cars near me. You dig?

    My baby being a pre-K kid.

    My mom and dad also want to ride in safety, so it isn’t about all of us being treated like children.

     The leading cause of death, mayhem, and injury in LA is not gunfire or gangs – it is cars and car drivers.

    “Fighting Traffic” by Peter Norton.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • Joe B

    So Southbound bikes from Olympic to 7th will ride on the sidewalk?

  • or on Flower

  • Dennis Hindman

    New York City was able to make a pedestrian plaza in the middle of Times Square because the overwhelming amount of users at that time were pedestrians and they were flowing onto the streets from lack of adequate amounts of sidewalk space. The city also didn’t do a lot of construction to build it. They set a few large heavy stones to block traffic and put in some inexpensive chairs that are the responsibilty of the businesses in the area to take care of.

    It would take a lot more money to move from the good south Figueroa st project to implementing the best design. Unlike Times Square, the biggest users of the street are the vehicles that move through it. Some taking away much of that space away from vehicles would be a much more difficult thing to justify compared to what was done to Times Square.

    People should have insisted on nothing less than protected bikeways that include buffers along arterial streets for the 2010 bike plan. Which is similar to what pedestrians get with sidewalks. Why should cyclists be expected to ride next to a large amount of fast moving traffic with only a six-inch wide stripe to protect them? Could cycletracks on arterial streets have been made a standard procedure in the bike plan? Probably not. There just simply isn’t the money to achieve any significant amounts of permanently protected bikeways along arterial streets.

    If LA, along with other large U.S. cities would stop giving away significant amounts of the tax base to developers with grandiose plans for building Taj Mahal like structures or entertainment venues, then the city would have more money to build better infrastructure. Once one developer gets these huge tax breaks, or loans, after claiming that they cannot do the projects without them, then other developers come in and make the same claim about how impossibly hard it would be to build their projects without these large giveaways from the city. This is how Donald Trump made a good amount of his fortune in the beginning of his career by comvincing New York City to give him huge discounted deals to build projects. Now, several people in the government of New York City realize how that made horribly bad deals that greatly reduced the amount of taxes that can be realized from the property.

  • Anonymous

    Ubrayj is technically correct. For 2009, there were 36,000 vehicle related deaths in the nation and 31,000 firearm related deaths. However, it’s not an apples to apples comparison as there is probably a lot more driving going on than shooting.

  • One other thing – that first diagram only adds up to 62 feet, but it says the ROW is 68 feet wide.  If the 4 foot buffer on one side is replaced by a 2 foot buffer on both sides, then there’s room to add another 6 foot wide southbound cycletrack.

    Also, I’m worried about how much space is going to those buffers.  I’d rather have usable space, either devoting that to wider cycletracks, or including it with the trees that are indicated on the sidewalks.  Once there’s a curb in that buffer zone, I don’t see why 4 feet is any better for cyclists than 2.

  • Ubrayj02

    It is never to late to make things better. It would not take a lot of money, and in either case LA has been given a lot of money.

    I will leave the apologizing and rationalizing to the other side in this issue. It is the height of political cowardice to do the “good” option here. The LA Times op-ed when the project is mid implementation is going to be scathing. If there is nothing better than this lame duck vision, those in charge of the project are going to have a tough time dealing with critics.

    In Canoga Park, they have civic parades that are so timid that they don’t dare close the right of way and instead march on the sidewalk. The positive effects of the parade are blunted by a half assed implementation. That is the plot to too many LA stories.

    We deserve better. We deserve the best.

  • Seems to me like the one place they should be extra sure to have a southbound bike lane would be at 7th St to connect with the existing 7th St bike lane. They should take some of the buffer from the NB bike lane and make that area a two-way bikeway.


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