What Should Downtown L.A. Do to Get Ready for Bike Share?

New bike lanes on 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New bike lanes on 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro regional bike share is coming soon. If all goes as planned, a year from now, downtown Los Angeles will have system on the ground. It will include about 1,000 bikes at 65 docking stations. The system will extend from Union Station to USC. For more detail, see SBLA’s earlier preview.

It’s not too early to ask Streetsblog L.A. readers — are Downtown Los Angeles streets ready to make bike share a big success? If not, what changes should L.A.’s Transportation Department (LADOT) prioritize in the coming months?

Let’s start by celebrating. Downtown has come a long ways in the last half a decade.

Back on October 10, 2010, there was this event called CicLAvia that flooded central Los Angeles streets with bicycles. At that time, there were no bike facilities in downtown Los Angeles.

In fact, there still were no bikeways downtown through July 2011. In August 2011, the 7th Street bike lanes arrived, dipping their toes across the 110 Freeway into downtown.

Green pavement bike lanes soon followed on Spring Street. Then, buffered bike lanes on Los Angeles Street and First Street.

In 2012, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar and LADOT announced the coming Downtown L.A. Bikeway Network. Other than a few facilities that the city spent a lot of time and money to study (Cesar Chavez Avenue and Venice Boulevard), the downtown network was built out. And then some — downtown now boasts one of the most complete bikeway networks in the city. 

It’s not Wilmington, but downtown is a great place to bike. Even when LAPD vehicles park in some of the lanes some of the time.

Downtown’s increased bikeability is a subject of some controversy. Talk radio hosts assert that streets there have 50 percent of space for bikes. City Council candidate Gloria Molina has asserted that downtown should be less urban.

And there are still a few more bikeways on the way. Theoretically, LADOT will be adding bike lanes to Venice Boulevard, Cesar Chavez Avenue, and Central Avenue… or they will at least keep studying those possibilities. The ambitious MyFigueoa complete streets project is delayed, but going out to bid mid-2015.

One of my biggest concerns for L.A. bike share is walkability.

I mentioned walkability’s role in bike share in this earlier piece. Bike share kiosks cannot quite go everywhere. Bike share trips typically will include a short walk trip on each end. I think of it as bike share’s first mile / last mile issue, though it is more like first couple blocks / last couple blocks.

Downtown is pretty walkable and has been for a long time. The Department of City Planning (DCP) shephereded policies to keep downtown walkable, from street standards to adaptive re-useLADOT has implemented a number of projects to improve the pedestrian environment, from Broadway Dress Rehearsal to parklets to leading pedestrian intervals. Another parklet and two more scramble intersections are coming soon. MyFigueroa, mentioned above, will also be great for walkability.

But is downtown Los Angeles walkable enough for bike share? What can LADOT do to keep making DTLA safer and more convenient for people walking?

And hey, Pasadena, looks like you’re next. Are Pasadena streets bikeable and walkable enough to support bike share?

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