Councilmember Blumenfield Celebrates New Bike Lanes on Winnetka Avenue

New bike lanes on Winnetka Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New bike lanes on Winnetka Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This afternoon, L.A. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield hosted a celebration of the city’s newest bike lanes. The new Winnetka Avenue bike lanes extend 0.5 miles from Vanowen Street to Victory Boulevard. They were installed this week.

Map of Winnetka Avenue improvements - via LADOT
Map of Winnetka Avenue improvements – via LADOT

Half a mile may not sound like much but, as Blumenfield stressed today, this new half-mile gap closure has plenty of important connectivity. These are the first bike lanes in the city of L.A. that connect to the L.A. River bike path. The new lanes also connect to the Orange Line Bike Path. They extend the existing Winnetka bike lanes, installed in 2010, which already went 4.4 miles from Devonshire Street to Vanowen. The new bike lanes also connect to Pierce College and to the West Valley Occupational Center LAUSD adult school.

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield celebrating the Winnetka improvements today - L.A. River in the background
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield standing on Winnetka Avenue today, celebrating the new bike lanes – L.A. River in the background

The lanes are part of the Winnetka Avenue Street Improvements project, which has been the subject of more than a year of community engagement, including open house meetings, workshops, and a public hearing. The city Transportation Department (LADOT) did a traffic study which showed that the new bike lane configuration could result in modest delays to drivers.

The reason for the slight driver delay is that adding these bike lanes removes peak-hour parking restrictions north of Victory. Until this week, rush-hour parking was not allowed in order to provide three car lanes (southbound in the morning peak hours and northbound in the evening peak.) Now, peak-hour – and all-hour – car traffic has just two lanes in each direction. The parking restrictions are no more, allowing for more street parking serving local residents and businesses.

Ghost bike for bicyclist Ignacio Sanchez Navarro - killed on Winnetka in a 2017 hit-and-run crime
Ghost bike for bicyclist Ignacio Sánchez Navarro – killed on Winnetka in a 2017 hit-and-run crime

One key goal for the project is addressing safety issues. In April, 2017, Ignacio Sánchez Navarro was bicycle-commuting along the stretch where the new bike lanes are now. A driver killed Sánchez Navarro and fled the scene. The driver was later apprehended. The tragic hit-and-run crime led the community and the councilmember to focus on improving safety.

And a half-mile is not all. The councilmember announced that phase two of the Winnetka Avenue Street Improvements will extend the lanes an additional 0.4 miles to Oxnard Street, where they will connect with two miles of bike lanes from Winnetka to Topanga Canyon Boulevard. There is no specific timetable for the second phase, but the new striping will coincide with planned street resurfacing.

This new bikeway connectivity addresses the concern that many cyclists express that bike facilities just end without connecting to anything. The short new Winnetka lanes are not just low-hanging-fruit put-them-wherever-they-fit-easily bike lanes. Instead, they represent a gap-closure key to building an interconnected, safe, and convenient bicycling network in the West San Fernando Valley.

Cyclist riding in the new Winnetka Avenue bike lane
Cyclist riding in the new Winnetka Avenue bike lane today
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield with his staff, LADOT staff, and community members - all of whom Blumenfield credited with making the new lanes happen.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield with his staff, LADOT staff, and community members – all of whom Blumenfield credited with making the new lanes happen.

One bittersweet note of interest to some Streetsblog readers: It was good to see friend-of-the-blog and Blumenfield Legislative Deputy Jeff Jacobberger at today’s celebration. Jacobberger is a longtime advocate for safe and bicycle-friendly streets. He was recently injured when a driver crashed into him. He was rear-ended while on his bike commute in the Chandler Bouelvard bike lanes. Though the driver appears to have veered into the bike lane to pass to the right of a car, he remained at the scene and was not given any citation. Jeff – it’s good to see you’re on the path to recovery. Thanks for all your great work, including playing an important role in making these Winnetka bike lanes happen.

  • tomgilbert

    This is an unprotected shoulder next to a two-lane highway. The bar has to be higher.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Yeah, looks pretty dangerous

  • Oren Ben-Joseph

    Better than no bike line, but yes, reminds me of Venice blvd.

  • Guy Ross

    Would you cycle there with your kids? No? Stop celebrating.

  • Joe Linton

    I would cycle there with my daughter. And I will push to keep making it even safer.

  • iamthepinkylifter

    I appreciate the lane reduction, but the push for protected bike lanes needs to be a lot more aggressive in this city. As this very blog has shown us, paint does not equal safe biking infrastructure. We need to ask for more.

  • Guy Ross

    Just read the post script to the article about one of those in the photo being injured on Chandler which has this a similar design. I appreciate your candor in including it.

    I get your sentiment and the emotional and logical justification for celebrating this mini project. I don’t and see a project which exchanges travel lanes for parking spaces as very defeatist to cheer. I say this with the greatest respect, Joe.

  • JohnBrooking

    A door zone bike lane is not a victory. It’s just the opposite. It’s unethical engineering that is worse than nothing.

  • I wouldn’t cycle there period. Kids or not. The door zone isn’t a safe place for cycling.

  • According to a former Caltrans engineer who worked on standards at their headquarters in Sacramento ,there was nothing but pushback from her superior when she provided them with the facts about doorings and that the state should change their minimum standards for Class II bikeways (legal definition in CA for a “bike lane”)* The top person in charge of design standards, AFAIK also a Professional Engineer argued that DZBLs were acceptable because bicyclists should be looking into each vehicle window as they pass. The Professional Engineer, as are all civil and traffic engineers should have been educated in undergraduate entry level engineering courses about reaction times but apparently these facts still didn’t keep them from making unethical decisions.

  • The facility here is a Class II bikeway, commonly called a “bicycle lane.” That’s different from a shoulder.

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This morning, Streetsblog enjoyed the ribbon-cutting for the newest stretch of Los Angeles River Bike Path, located in the West San Fernando Valley. In 2011, Streetsblog covered the project’s groundbreaking. Councilmember Blumenfield hosted this morning’s ribbon-cutting, celebrated by a crowd of about 50, mostly city staff and river and bike advocates. Seleta Reynolds mentioned that […]