Eyes on the Street: Protected Bikeway on Workman Mill Road in Avocado Heights

New protected bike lanes on Avocado Heights' Workman Mill Road. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A. except as noted.
New protected bike lanes on Avocado Heights' Workman Mill Road. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A. except as noted.

A short stretch of Workman Mill Road in Avocado Heights now features two noteworthy urban innovations: protected bike lanes and rain gardens. The two features were part of separate projects, both implemented by the L.A. County Department of Public Works under the leadership of L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

For readers not familiar with the unincorporated L.A. County community of Avocado Heights, it is located just east of the Whittier Narrows Recreation area – along the east side of the San Gabriel River – north of Whittier, and east of South El Monte.

Map showing Avocado Heights and the Workman Mill Road protected bike lanes
Map showing Avocado Heights and the Workman Mill Road protected bike lanes

The Workman Mill Road protected bike lanes extend about 0.4-mile from Oakman Drive to Alanwood Road. LACDWP added new protection to existing bike lanes.

The protected bikeway opened in April 2021. These are the first protected bike lanes on streets in unincorporated L.A. County. The facility arose from a 2019 Solis motion that directed LACDPW to study converting the county’s conventional bike lanes to protected bike lanes where feasible.

The project separates cyclists from other traffic using plastic bollards, also called soft-hit posts.

Soft hit post on Workman Mill Road
Plastic bollard post on Workman Mill Road protected bike lane
Driver have hit and destroyed several of the posts
Since the Workman Mill Road Facility opened in April, drivers have hit and destroyed several of the posts
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Workman Mill Road protected bike lanes

The Workman Mill Road rain garden landscaping features were implemented a half-decade ago. Additional landscaping was installed more recently as part of a project Supervisor Solis opened in March 2021.

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County Supervisor Hilda Solis celebrating the opening of the Workman Mill Road Landscape Improvements in March 2020. Photo courtesy of Supervisor Solis

Most Southern California public landscapes are engineered to shunt rainwater off impervious surfaces and into storm drains, waterways, and ultimately into the ocean. The Workman Mill Road infrastructure instead slows down rainwater flow, directing it into landscaped parkways and median areas where it feeds the vegetation and infiltrates into the earth. Slowing water down has multiple benefits: it waters the landscape, cleanses urban runoff, recharges groundwater, and helps to reduce peak storm flows that can result in flooding. (See additional Streetsblog coverage of similar multi-benefit watershed management projects in East L.A. and Panorama City.)

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Rain garden landscaping along the Workman Mill Road protected bike lanes. Rain that falls on the sidewalk flows through the gaps and into the landscaped area.
Workman Mill Road rain gardens: gaps in the curb allow water in the gutter to feed the landscape.
Workman Mill Road rain gardens: gaps in the curb allow water in the gutter to feed the landscape.

The rain garden landscaping is located on the north side of Workman Mill between Lomitas and Dovey Avenues.

The difference in the street is dramatic.

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The corner of Workman Mill Road and Lomitas Avenue in 2007. Image via Google Street View
The same corner earlier this year - via Google Street View
The same corner earlier this year – via Google Street View

It appears that along Workman Mill Road there are additional asphalt median spaces that could be converted to more rain gardens. There also appears to be sufficient width to connect the protected bike lanes to the nearby San Jose Creek bike/walk path which the county is planning to extend to connect with the San Gabriel River path.

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Workman Mill Road protected bike lane
Workman Mill Road protected bike lanes

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