Eyes on the Street: Bus Platform Pilot on First Street in DTLA
There is a new piece of bike lane and bus stop infrastructure located in the westbound bike lane on First Street between Main and Spring Streets in downtown L.A.
L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) spokesperson Oliver Hou calls the new device a “Temporary Bus Platform Pilot” and clarifies that the roughly $20,000 facility is “definitely a pilot” that the department is “testing out and evaluating.” Hou states that the platform “removes the conflict between buses and bicyclists, and allows the bus to board and alight passengers without pulling in and out of traffic, improving bus services efficiency.”
The platform allows DASH riders to walk out, cross the bike lane, and board at sidewalk level. Bicyclists can continue straight ahead by popping up and down short ramps at each end. Signage directs cyclists to yield to pedestrians in a shared area atop the platform delineated with a checkerboard pattern.
The platform is somewhat similar to the floating transit islands on Los Angeles Street, though behind those concrete islands cyclists remain at grade while transit riders cross the bike lane going up and down curbs or ramps.
Preceding the ramp, cyclists can see new “hump” signage designating a 10 mph speed limit for bikes. The ramp up onto the platform feels somewhat steep, forcing faster cyclists to slow a bit to safely navigate.
There is a channel space between the platform and the curb, so it does not interfere with rainwater drainage.
During a visit to the site at lunchtime today, several cyclists went around the ramp.
The pilot platform would be better for cyclists if it accompanied an actual protected bike lane. The First Street facility has a striped area (a buffer) between it and the car lane. Though there are bollards at the corners of the platform, there are none in the buffer area. At lunchtime today, SBLA observed two ride-hail drivers using the bike lane as a drop-off area. Plastic bollards along the length of the block would make the bike lane safer, and make it clearer who the lane is for.
It is not Amsterdam, but the relatively inexpensive pilot platform may be a useful, low-cost way to help transit boarding on L.A.’s protected bikeway facilities. One place where it might make sense is Mar Vista’s Venice Boulevard, where some transit riders have expressed concerns that buses have been delayed by recent traffic calming safety improvements.