The city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has striped new bike lanes on Heliotrope Drive in East Hollywood. The new lanes extend about 0.3 miles from Melrose Avenue to Rosewood Avenue.
Heliotrope is a fairly useful bicycling street that serves as a quiet alternative for crossing the 101 Freeway between Vermont Avenue and Normandie Avenue. The bike lanes nearly connect with earlier bike lanes installed on Edgemont Street about a year ago. The Edgemont lanes extend from Melrose Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard.
The Heliotrope bike lanes were striped a couple weeks ago, after the street was resurfaced. As of yesterday, bicycle markings have not yet been added.
The bike lanes replace existing sharrows which were installed in 2011. This is an upgrade, but begs the question why LADOT installed sharrows in places where there is sufficient space for bike lanes. Unfortunately Heliotrope was not the only location where this inferior treatment took place. These sorts of upgrades (from sharrows to lanes, and also from conventional lanes to protected lanes) are welcome, but they do not represent an overall expansion of the city's bicycle network. In some city documentation, projects like this have been counted twice as "new" bikeways, making it sound like the city is doing more than it is for bicycling.
This stretch of Heliotrope may be familiar to many Angelenos from the first two CicLAvia events in 2010 and 2011. Heliotrope and Melrose, sometimes known as "Hel-Mel," was then informally called L.A.'s "Bicycle District." In 2010, the nonprofit Bicycle Kitchen and two for profit bike shops were located there. The area is arguably a victim of its own success. The Bicycle Kitchen relocated due to excessive rent increases. Now the only remaining bike-related establishment is Orange 20, and its owner recently announced his departure.
Even if Hel-Mel is not quite the Bicycle District it was, Heliotrope Drive still sees plenty of cyclists, and it now sports bicycle lanes to keep them safer than before.