Eyes on the Street…L.A.’s First Protected Bike Lane

1st protected bike lane
Surprise! Photo: Jessica Meaney

Last night, Los Angeles got its first protected bike lane last night when a series of plastic dividers went up in the Second Street Tunnel between Figueroa and Hill Street.

Currently, the physical separators are only up in the tunnel despite bike lanes existing on either side. In total, the bike lanes extend from North Spring Street, home of the famous sorta-green buffered bike lane, through the tunnel to Glendale Boulevard. A portion of the lanes in Downtown Los Angeles are buffered lanes, matching up with the Northbound buffered lanes on Main Street and Southbound ones on Spring.

The bike markings also connects with existing Sharrows on 2nd street from Alameda to Spring Street.

  • MaxUtil

    Are the bollards removable? If not, queue freak out by the film industry. That tunnel is used in roughly 90% of car commercials.

  • ubrayj02

    Oh my God this is going to ruin commercial filming in DTLA!

    Not to worry, we’ll have all this cleaned up in no time with a few donations to the charities of the City Council’s choice made by the commercial film industry. Can’t have DTLA become too nice now, can we?

  • MarkB

    Small note: Second Street intersects *South* Spring Street.

    Regardless, let’s hope that separated bike lanes are like what they say about divorce: once you get past the first one, the rest come much easier :-)

  • bike_LA

    Thank god. Climbing up 1st street is so tiring. HAHA.

  • Let the car industry adapt to changing reality. Put in solid protection and paint it green.

  • Rico

    Person driving in the bike lane in 3… 2… 1…

    But still, I love this. I wish it could be done on 7th Street since people are driving in the bike lane and using it as a passing lane.

  • roadblock

    If the film industry even tries to fuck with this expect a war. Thats not a threat that’s a PROMISE.

  • dude

    they need more in between so that cars dont use the lane to advance if they are stuck in traffic. we need tons more of these around the city

  • Rico

    And maybe some Botts’ dots to help with that.

  • poopface

    This isn’t the first protected bike lane in LA!!! There were like 3-4 of these plastic dividers on Venice under the new expo line bridge, that sweet sweet 4-5 seconds of riding in a protected bike lane was magical.

  • Guest


  • Leslie Caldera

    Long Beach put up a mile of these stanchions on a separated bike lane along Wardlow at El Dorado Park last spring. Almost immediately, the hollow plastic posts were knocked down by cars. After a few months, only a few were still in place. Soon after, all of them were gone, and none have been replaced. I hope L.A. has a better plan in place on how to deal with the inevitable loss of some of the stanchions.

  • Judy Frankel

    That is not a bike lane. It’s a side path. Bike lanes are required use, side paths are not. It is illegal to physically separate a bike lane. This makes it optional use. It’s good to have the semantics correct. How will they keep this free from debris? Can a street sweeper fit in the space without mowing down the stanchions? If a car can mow them down, how are they any more protective than paint? At least without them debris can be removed from the space.

  • Salts

    By all means, stay out of the bike lane. I don’t know why anybody would prefer staying stuck in car traffic but I guess people really wish they were cars sometimes. Don’t be surprised if the majority of bicyclists happily coast past in that awful, substandard, and slow optional facility while you assert your right to sit stuck in traffic.

    You do raise a good point of maintenance, I hope that LADOT makes sure to keep it clean. (I think a sweeper can fit in it since the bike lane is like 9′ wide)

  • Judy Frankel

    If it’s maintained I’d use it. Usually bike paths are in much better condition than separated paths. On a road like this the area is very likely to collect flat causing debris.

  • Rico

    Downtown BIDs have mini sidewalk sweepers that are about the size of an open-top golf cart. I’m sure those can be used to keep the bike lane/path clean. Also, I don’t care WHAT we call it. This particular design of bike lane/path has been demonstrated to work incredibly well the world over, and I love that LADOT is getting its act together to implement these.

    I think the next step should be raising the right of way up to sidewalk level.

  • Judy Frankel

    Yes, and then it would be a sidewalk, complete with pedestrians, dog walkers and joggers. Thanks, I’ll use the street.

  • Niall Huffman

    I’m told that this lane/path/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is indeed wide enough (just under 9.5′) to accommodate a street sweeper. One would think that the city would continue to sweep the tunnel according to its normal schedule.

  • Rico

    Yeah, you’re right. My trip to the Netherlands must have been a dream. Grade-separated streetside cycle paths never work. It’s not like we can just, you know, go around the occasional jogger after ringing a bell to alert them to our presence. Much better to have drivers tailgate us in their 2,000-lb death machines.

  • mrsman

    Could the commercials use 3rdstreet instead?

  • traffic bob

    Does Los Angeles Department of Transportation listen to any complaints regarding bike lanes? Who do we email or complain to?

  • Rico

    What is your complaint?

  • traffic bob

    I do not believe bike lanes in Downtown are safe- I do believe they are causing more congestion, traffic and pollution. DO THEY HAVE ANY DATA ON HOW MANY POEPLE USE THEM?

  • MaxUtil

    I think it’s the nice, white tiles they like. It really does look cool once they run it through the “make it shiny and look like the tunnel’s a mile long” machine. But if the bollards are removable, shouldn’t be a big issue. Maybe it even means the bollards get replaced occasionally since those things seem to have about a 6 month lifespan in the wild.

  • poopface

    LADOT does not have any data on how many people use the bike lanes. That is what the LA county bike coalition does with their bi-annual bike + ped count.

    Congestion will increase across LA county, regardless of bike lanes or anything. More cars = more congestion.

    Just because there are more cars doesn’t mean there should be more car lanes, the majority is not entitled to more space.

  • traffic bob

    I think more should be spent on Transit like buses- less than 1% of the L.A population commutes via bike to work (League of American Bicyclist 2012) and a high percentage of that is less than 4 moles each way- Why should good traffic lanes be eliminated for the few-

  • ubrayj02

    You do not believe that bike lanes in DTLA are safe but lots of reports from this and other cities tells a different story. On York Blvd. in Eagle Rock/Highland Park reported car crashes dropped over 25% after lanes were installed – and similar correlations have been found across the U.S.

    Your ALL CAPS rage question exposes only your ignorance. Sorry that what is normal no longer falls within your ability to cope with change.

  • ubrayj02

    What is a “good traffic lane”?! Are these lanes delivering safety on a per mile per year basis? Are these lanes paying for themselves by facilitating economic and social activity – and generating higher tax receipts for local government? Are these lanes making people happier?

    The answer to these questions is: no, no, and no. So the question I have for you is: why aren’t we doing more to make real, actual, “good traffic lanes”? Lanes that don’t leave a bloody trail of carnage and property damage in their wake. Lanes that improve the city’s ability to pay for its maintenance bills. Lanes that make people measurably happy?

    One big reason is that fools like you pull out your know-nothing rhetorical attacks and repeat the same, tired, baseless, broadsides against some very good urban policies. The good news is that people are voting with their feet and cycling and walking rates have been climbing for the past half decade (at least in my neighborhood) while local politicians have learned to ignore fools like you and focus on safety, land value, and happiness. These bike lanes represent that shift – so broadside away traffic bob. Tell us how we’re all a bunch of Agenda 21 stooges aiding and abetting Lance Armstrong wanna-be’s and stop sign scofflaws.

  • Location Manager

    As a location manager I can say the bollards are probably (I hope) removable but it takes a ton of prep time which we just don’t have unless you are on a big budget feature film (most of which have left town because of poor city planning like this). Most film makers are going to see this, shake their heads and take their projects elsewhere. I think making the city more bike friendly is great, but it is really making it hard to keep film shoots in LA anymore. Does your industry employ 1000s of people across the southland? Is it really worth it to trade LA’s #1 export for the couple dozen urban pioneers who can bike safely though the tunnel to work or the 100s of drunk/stoned hipsters who use bike mobs as the new form of social protesting at night? Trust me, like the horrible green bike lane on Spring Street, we will fight this. We will win, I think.

  • LM

    As a location manager I have to ask why do you feel this way? If I get a permit to close it down after hours on a weekday or on a Sunday, which are the only times you can close down the tunnel for the film shoot anyway, will you be there to battle my producers and I? Why do you hate my industry?

  • Salts

    Location Manager, get with the flipping times– bike lanes are here to stay. Fight it, I want you to. You have no time to remove bollards but have hours upon hours to fight the implementation of safe bike lanes? What a joke.

    You call making a more sustainable future poor planning? Tell me, Location Manager (who I am sure is SOOO educated and well-read– ha!): what is “good planning” for Los Angeles? Keeping it as your playground at the expense of safety?

  • Salts

    Because you don’t seem to give a damn about anything other than keeping your job as simple and profit-maximizing as possible. Is this wrong?

    Get with the times. LA is a city– cities change. You want something that will never change, get yourself a backlot. Don’t treat our public streets as your god damn playground. I’ve been on the tram ride at Universal Studies, it has never changed. The same old building facades and zero residents. It’s great for filming! Again, these are streets, our city has to adapt to change. If you want to stay relevant, maybe you’d acknowledge the truth that bike lanes are taking off EVERYWHERE. Been to New York lately? San Francisco? Chicago? All have dozens of new bike lanes that didn’t exist just a few years ago and many of the bike lanes are GREEN!

  • Location Manager

    Hey Salts, so if after the people I work with approve a budget to film in the tunnel and I then acquire a film permit to close down the tunnel and pay DOT to come in and temporarily remove the bollards for a film shoot is that ok? Surely we will also have to foot the bill to restore the bollards but again my producers really really want to film there despite the new look…is that ok? I share no profits with these people I am just trying to peice together day rates to feed my family…is that ok? We may not hang out at art walk, or sip coffee all day at Cafe de Leche and draw and talk about cool bands but we are ok people who live in this city as well and just want to eek out a living. Is that ok? The 1000s of commuters who now have to sit in even more traffic as a few people cruise by on bikes will live. The industry won’t disappear because there are bike lanes in the tunnel or Spring Street, it will adjust though some of it will leave. We will co-exist is that ok or does it have to be the Hipster Dictatorship, led not by brown shirts with mustaches but flannels with mustaches, where futurism and a new world order as decreed by you and your small group of angry friends must dominate because you are the definition of coolness and sustainability and the film industry and the 1000s it employs is by its very definition square, douchebagery, and running a muck. Is it ok to coexist if I go through all the correct channels to coordinate a film shoot for the people that hire me or must all filming in downtown la (which has been here long before The Smell opened up )have to take a back seat to your special interest group?

  • Christopher Kidd

    Activating Murphy’s Law already? Gosh, I thought we’d get at least 3-4 more tit-a-tats before a Nazi reference.

  • Salts

    Sure, film in the tunnel! And pay the appropriate fee to have the bollards to be temporarily removed. I have absolutely no objection to that. I don’t think anybody does.

    What we object to us the film industry actively working against efforts to make the city a more sustainable and lively place. And yes, that is exactly what “your people” have been doing.

    And please drop the hipster crap. I am poor, that’s why I ride a bike. Others ride to stay fit. Some ride because they care about the environment. Some a combination of all three. We can co-exist, so stop fighting to keep bikes out of the [motion] picture…

    There is no war on cars. There is a car on humanity. Hundreds of people die because of how things are today. Bike lanes, road diets, bollards… these are things that make us safer. Hipster or not, these are people and their lives are no less valuable. You might make a few less bucks but at least I will be able to see my family, and not wind up dead, because the streets will be a bit more safer.

    Some some compassion for my life, and everyone else who rides a bike, even if they are hipsters.

  • Ilovela

    I say you move out of LA because your antipathy for the film industry and living in this city is like living in New Orleans and opposing public parades and music playing or living in Denver and opposing the Ski Industry. Your an idiot and your photo looks stupid…

  • Your comment makes no sense.

  • ubrayj02

    I think that DTLA as a run-down post-industrial wasteland/car mecca location is going to have to change or go away. LA is becoming a stand-in for other major cities with its bike infrastructure – even if the perceptions of people in your industry insist that it isn’t “normal” for bike lanes to exist. In another couple of years it is going to look decidedly dated NOT to have bike lanes and bike riders in your ads and films. In fact, it already does look dated. If we’re trying to preserve that “dated” look just so we can film-for-less here why do we keep allowing new building permits in Downtown? Maybe because the city is at its fundamental level a land trust with police powers and it derives the majority of its income from land values and not wages and sales taxes that get paid indirectly

    through transfer payments with the state and federal government. So, yeah, congrats on Spring Street but nearly every player in DTLA you could imagine was in favor of the lanes staying green – way to make friends!

  • Thijs Decker

    Study after study shows that the way to get more people to commute to work via bike, is to increase biking infrastructure and make it safer to be on the road. One percent bike commuting is embarrassing.

  • Thijs Decker

    The safety of the plastic pylons would be more effective if they weren’t spaced 1.5-2 cars apart. In Austin we have a road that uses these, and they are much closer together.


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