Eyes on the Street: Spring Street Bike Lane Upgraded to Parking-Protected

Spring Street has a new widened parking-protected bike lane. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Spring Street has a new widened parking-protected bike lane. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Downtown Los Angeles’ Spring Street has an excellent new protected bike lane!

Spring Street is one-way southbound through downtown Los Angeles. Spring received a buffered bike lane in 2011. This was one of L.A.’s earliest green-painted bike lanes. At the urging of film interests (the street is a common stand-in for New York City or other downtowns) the green was later minimized. In 2017, City Councilmember José  Huizar sought to upgrade Spring and its northbound counterpart, Main, as part of an initiative called Main & Spring Forward. The Councilmember and the L.A. Department of Transportation convened a public input process. LADOT crews have been installing the protected lanes for the past couple months, including adding new bike signals and bollards, and re-striping the entire street.

The latest upgrades added parking protection: instead of cars parking between the bike lane and the curb, they now park between the bike lane and the travel lane.

In addition the bike lane was widened; it now has plenty of width for two cyclists to ride side by side.

The Spring Street bike lane has also been moved to the left side of the street. For many cities, including New York City, a left-side bike lane is pretty much standard on one-way streets. Putting the bike lane (whether protected or conventional) on the left keeps bikes away from bus stops, and other right-side curb drop-offs. Locating the lane on the left also helps minimize dooring.

Due to a left-side counterflow bus-only lane north of First Street, and Spring merging into Main below 8th Street, the city located Spring Street’s buffered bike lane on the right side of the street in 2011. With upgrades being implemented now, it has shifted to the left. This makes for a fairly unique treatments at 3rd Street (where cyclists cross diagonally through the intersection to the left side) and between 8th and 9th Streets (where cyclists cross back to the right.) See images below for more detail on these crossings.

Below are photos of the newly upgraded facility, roughly from north to south.

Above Third Street, the lane is on the right side of Spring
Above 3rd Street, the lane is on the right side of Spring. Note the loop detectors in the street – these sense when bicycles are present, then trigger the bike signal at 3rd Street.
Temporary signage alerts cyclists to cross to the left side of the street at 3rd Street
Temporary signage alerts cyclists to cross to the left side of the street at 3rd Street
LADOT has publicized this diagram showing cyclists to cross to the left at 3rd and Spring
LADOT has publicized this diagram showing cyclists to cross to the left at 3rd and Spring
Cyclists have their own bike signal and pavement marking, allowing them to cross to the left at 3rd Street
Cyclists have their own bike signal and pavement marking, allowing them to cross to the left at 3rd Street
Temporary signage (in English and Spanish) alterts people how to use the use the new lanes
Temporary signs (English pictured, though there were also Spanish signs posted) alerts people how to use the use the new lanes
Additional temporary signage helps show where bicycles and cars go
Additional temporary signage helps show where bicycles and cars go
At streets with left-turning traffic (4th Street pictured) bicyclists have a signal that gives them a phase separate from left-turning cars
At streets with left-turning traffic (4th Street pictured), bicyclists have a signal that gives them a phase independent of that for left-turning cars
At streets with right-turning traffic (5th Street pictured) cyclists can turn via a bike box painted in the intersection
At streets with right-turning traffic (5th Street pictured) cyclists can turn via a bike box painted in the intersection
Spring Street's parking-protected bike lane is wide enough for two cyclists to ride side-by-side
Spring Street’s parking-protected bike lane is wide enough for two cyclists to ride side-by-side
Between 8th and 9th Streets, next to a mid-block signalized crosswalk, cyclists wait in a painted bike box to cross back to trigger a bike crossing signal. Cyclists can continue south in the right-hand bike lane where Spring merges into Main Street.
Between 8th and 9th Streets, Spring Street and its left-side bike lane end. Next to a mid-block signalized crosswalk, cyclists wait in a painted bike box to cross back to trigger a bike crossing signal. Cyclists can continue south in the right-hand bike lane as Spring merges into Main Street.

Though the lane is very much rideable and the cars are parking in the right place, construction is not quite complete. There are plenty of LADOT cones. A similar upgrade to northbound one-way Main Street is still on the way.

Readers – have you tried Spring Street’s new protected bike lane? What is your impression?

  • Noel Izlack

    I’ve been riding it all week on my commute to work. I was really excited about this new protected lane but the execution has left me very disappointed. I found it to be slower, more dangerous, and less convenient than the previous configuration. In fact, it is so bad that today I decided to ride in the motorized traffic lanes rather than ride in the bike lane. My number one complaint is the diagonal crossing at 3rd Street. To cross the street, I have to wait for a light then wait for cars to clear the street. It feels very exposed, dangerous, slow, and inconvenient. Moreover, immediately after 3rd St is another instance of dangerous spot at 4th St where I have to wait for a green bike arrow before I can ride. Overall I wish they left it how it was. I never saw any engineering plans for this new setup or community involvement.

  • Matti Paul

    It’s dangerous because you’re waiting more than before?

  • Noel Izlack

    Maybe I didn’t explain it properly or you haven’t ridden it yet and can’t relate, but it is more dangerous because the diagonal crossing at 3rd St forces you to ride against both oncoming traffic and against a turn lane. Yes there are red lights for turning cars but it’s a one-way to a one-way turn and cars roll through it. Plus traffic backs up and blocks the bike “crossing”. This makes a cyclist feel exposed and vulnerable. A far superior design would have put the diagonal crossing at 4th St so that bikes don’t have to contend with traffic turning onto 3rd. In addition, having the crossing at 4th would feel more natural since you are riding in the direction of traffic and you avoid the cars turning onto 4th St.

  • Matti Paul

    I have ridden it, but it was after Ciclavia and I think starting from 4th and 5th Street. I wrote that pretty late last night and thought you were talking about the transitional area between 8th and 9th. I’ll have to ride the full length. Sorry!

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Councilmember Huizar, city staff, and safe streets advocates cut the ceremonial ribbon on Spring Street's upgraded bike lane. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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