Los Angeles Street Protected Bike Lanes Ribbon-Cutting This Thursday

New full-featured protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New full-featured protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The city of Los Angeles has a brand new full-featured protected bike lane. It is on downtown L.A.’s Los Angeles Street, connecting Union Station with First Street, running literally in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall.

Construction began in April and was recently completed.

Celebrate the newly completed lanes with Councilmember Jose Huizar and the L.A. Department of Transportation (LADOT) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday June 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the plaza at El Pueblo (also known as Olvera Street.) The address is 125 Paseo de la Plaza, though the festivities take place on the Los Angeles Street side of the plaza, immediately west of Union Station.

Though the city of L.A. already has protected bike lanes in the Second Street tunnel and on Reseda Boulevard (and more on the way soon for Venice Boulevard, Van Nuys Boulevard, and Figueroa Street) the Los Angeles Street bike lanes include features that represent some important firsts for L.A. protected bikeways.

Bicycle traffic signal to allow cyclists a separate phase from turning cars
Bicycle traffic signal allows cyclists a separate phase from turning cars

L.A.’s First Bike Traffic Signals

Bike signals are not required for protected bike lane intersections; Long Beach uses them, Temple City’s Rosemead Boulevard and L.A.’s Reseda Boulevard do not.

Bike traffic signals are used to give cyclists that are headed straight ahead a signal phase separate from right-turning cars. The signals contribute to a relatively stress-free ride; cyclists ride to the right of parked and moving cars the entire ride, and do not need to merge into traffic at the approach to intersections.

Similar to car traffic signals, the bike signals are triggered by sensors embedded in the street (see photos below). Waiting bicyclists receive the green light first, followed by turning cars.

One drawback of the bike signals is that they drive up construction and maintenance costs.

L.A.’s First Protected Bikeway Transit Islands

Passengers board a DASH bus at a Los Angeles Street's transit island
Passengers board a DASH bus at a Los Angeles Street transit island

In order to minimize pedestrian-cyclist conflict, the project includes transit islands. Instead of transit riders waiting at the curb, they walk across the bike lane and wait in the transit island. Bicyclists ride between the transit island and the sidewalk.

This speeds up transit, allowing buses to stop in the travel lane while passengers are boarding. It also makes for a more stress-free bike ride, as conflicts between buses and bicycles are minimized.

L.A.’s First Two-Phase Left Turn Markings 


The Los Angeles Street project also features green boxes that support cyclists’ two-phase left turns. Instead of stressful merging through car traffic to make a vehicular left turn, cyclists make a low-stress left turn similar to the way a pedestrian would.

The green paint features were striped after SBLA took photos last week; they are visible in the video embedded above.

More images after the jump. 

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The new Los Angeles Street protected bike lanes are literally in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall
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Bike traffic sensors embedded in the pavement. These trigger the bike signal phase. Note that some cyclists were still riding on the sidewalk.
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A second pair of bike sensors is located about 20 feet behind the first pair
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This cyclist has a green signal phase, while cars have a red turn arrrow

Unfortunately,  an unwanted feature remains. Even with bollards along most of the facility, LAPD vehicles are still parking in the lane. In the past, CiclaValley counted 22 police vehicles parking on the east side of Los Angeles Street between First Street and Temple Street. The good news is that, as of last Wednesday afternoon, that total was down significantly, with just a single police van blocking the bike lane.

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LAPD van parked in the Los Angeles Street bike lanes near First Street

See also CiclaValley’s photo tour of the new facility.

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