LADOT Striping Some, Not All, of Bike Lanes on Repaved Venice Blvd
The preliminary striping is down on the resurfaced mid-city stretch of Venice Boulevard that SBLA highlighted last week. The site is east of the existing Venice Blvd bike lanes, in the Los Angeles City neighborhoods of Harvard Heights, Arlington Heights, and Mid-City.
The good news is that the L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) is extending bike lanes one mile east to Arlington Avenue.
The bad news is that, despite an approved plan and years of extensive studies to extend the lanes into downtown Los Angeles, the Venice Boulevard bike lanes will end at Arlington. For now.
The city recently resurfaced two stretches of Venice Boulevard in this area. Streetsblog reported on resurfacing from Arlington Avenue to Western Avenue. L.A. also resurfaced the northern (westbound) half of Venice Blvd from Crenshaw Blvd to San Vicente Blvd.
The Crenshaw-San Vicente stretch has had a history of bike lanes disappearing and re-appearing with the Mid-Town Crossing redevelopment.
Reading the preliminary striping, the existing bike lanes in that area are being upgraded to buffered bike lanes.
The new bike lanes are part of a road diet. The width and lanes vary somewhat; adding the bike lanes has reduced travel lanes, and removed a few on-street parking spaces. The section from Arlington to 7th Avenue, is being reduced from seven car lanes to five.
From the driver’s perspective, car and bus traffic should flow fairly smoothly as LADOT’s reconfiguration makes for a consistent number of travel lanes all the way from San Vicente into downtown.
Bicyclists aren’t so lucky. At Arlington, they go from dedicated bike lanes to sharing busy car traffic lanes. Many ride on the sidewalk instead, where they encounter conflict with people walking.
Streetsblog received this explanation from LADOT:
The bike lane project on Venice involves two phases. Phase 1 is the segment between Arlington (east limit) and Lafayette (west limit). A good chunk of Phase 1 overlapped with a resurfacing project. With the resurfacing completed recently, we will be implementing Phase 1 imminently.
Phase 2 is the segment between Arlington (west) and Figueroa (east). This segment will include new bus/bicycle shared lanes and will require the removal of traffic lanes and parking. The design is about 75% complete. We are awaiting input from CD 10 (Arlington to Normandie), CD 1 (Normandie to 110), and CD 9 (110 to Figueroa), so that we may finalize the plans for implementation.
What is disconcerting about LADOT’s actions is that that they are foregoing an approved plan for one not yet approved.
The 2010 Bike Plan designated bike lanes for this part of Venice Blvd. Those approved lanes were studied via an extensive public environmental review (EIR) process, but have now been ignored in favor of future bus-bike lanes that pending approval. The bus lanes are part of the city’s draft Mobility Plan which is anticipated to be voted on after April 2015. It is possible that the final version of the plan could omit the Venice Boulevard transit lanes. Even if they are in the approved plan, if the Wilshire bus lanes are any indication, it could be a decade before Venice Boulevard improvements are implemented.
Delays like this make it look like LADOT will need to move back its 2025 vision zero goal.
L.A. City Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) Chair Jeff Jacobberger characterized the Venice Boulevard situation as follows:
I’ll put a positive spin on this. On the segment west of Crenshaw, the right lane was fairly wide and (except for pavement condition and some overhanging bushes) shareable with cars. However, because of the width of the lane and the absence of cross streets, traffic tends to move very fast on this segment. Striped bike lanes and narrower travel lanes might well have a traffic calming effect that will make this section more comfortable for people on bikes.
The section between Crenshaw and Arlington has variable widths and lane configurations. In the westbound lanes, when you cross Arlington, Venice goes from 2 to 3 lanes, so traffic speeds tend to pick up significantly. In the eastbound direction, at Crenshaw, the right lane is effectively a right-turn lane, and for vehicles driving east, Venice effectively widens, which increases speeds. Because of the bend at 7th Ave/Bronson, I am always somewhat worried that I will get rear-ended by a car speeding around the curve. Again, re-striping in this section will hopefully have a traffic calming effect and create a much safer space for bicyclists.
East of Arlington, where Venice is narrower, I am more confident about taking a lane without being killed.
In short, this Phase I will make the worst parts of Venice Blvd better for confident, experienced bicyclists, but, by failing to extend the lanes east of Arlington, the street will remain un-bikeable for most people who bike or who would consider biking. This is really a missed opportunity, because the Venice Blvd bike lanes had promised to be the City’s first continuous “Bike Lanes to the Sea.”
Lastly, though SBLA credited Jacobberger with tipping the city and SBLA to the repaving situation on Venice, acknowledgement should go to SBLA boardmember Jonathan Weiss who tipped Jacobberger off.