Four Years Late, North Spring Street Bridge Bike Lanes Installed

New protected bike lanes on the North Spring Street Bridge. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
New protected bike lanes on the North Spring Street Bridge. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

They are four years late. They are not perfect. But, rejoice, the city of L.A. has finally installed bike lanes on the renovated North Spring Street bridge.

The bridge – technically, the North Spring Street Viaduct – spans the Los Angeles River just northeast of downtown, connecting the neighborhoods of Lincoln Heights and Chinatown.

Map of the North Spring Street Bridge project
Map of the North Spring Street Bridge project

The new bike lanes had been approved to be included in the city’s bridge widening project, but were blocked by the area’s strongly anti-bike City Councilmember Gil Cedillo. Earlier this year, the incumbent Cedillo lost his bid for re-election; starting in December, Council District 1 will be represented by progressive challenger Eunisses Hernandez.

Below is the timeline on the project – click on links for greater detail:

The new bike lanes include plastic bollard protection.

New plastic-bollard-protected bike lanes on the N. Spring Street Viaduct
New plastic-bollard-protected bike lanes on the North Spring Street Viaduct

The bridge bike lanes are part of a planned 1.8-mile bikeway connection (mostly on-street bike lanes) all the way from the Chinatown L Line Station to the L.A. River walk/bike path terminus at Avenue 19 and San Fernando Road in Cypress Park.

As part of installing bike lanes on the bridge, the city also striped a missing one-block stretch of North Broadway, immediately north of the bridge.

The N. Spring Street bike lanes continue one block on N. Broadway
The new N. Spring Street bike lanes continue one block on N. Broadway – immediately north of the widened bridge.

There are unfortunately still two remaining gaps in that planned facility:

  • LADOT announced it would, in Fiscal Year 2019-20, add bike lanes on Avenue 19. BOE had widened an Arroyo Seco bridge there, but omitted adding new bike lanes as part of that project. SBLA has been unable to confirm why those lanes were delayed, but it is likely that they, too, were blocked by Cedillo.
  • There is also a ~200-foot gap between the new Spring Street lanes and the bike path fronting L.A. State Historic Park. As part of the second phase of the N. Spring Street project, the city tore out a building to extend Wilhardt Street, which now connects Spring to the park – ostensibly “to improve bicycle and pedestrian circulation and safety.” But the city only added shared-lane markings (called sharrows, which, for most settings, are not safer than an unmarked street), despite the fact that Wilhardt is a 44-foot wide two-lane street with no parking. And, perhaps to make it clear that city engineers have no sense for accommodating safe bicycling, the sharrows only go one way. The city somehow concluded cyclists will go from Spring Street to the park, but not from the park to Spring. Go figure.
One-way sharrow on Wilhardt Street
One-way sharrow on Wilhardt Street

In addition to the ridiculous one-way sharrow on Wilhardt, the city added a couple more sharrows where its transportation professionals failed to find sufficient space to extend the Spring Street lanes. There is one northbound sharrow on N. Spring, just south of the bridge. And there is one sharrow northbound, where the city added a right-turn-only lane onto Avenue 18, just north of the bridge.

New bike lanes on the Spring Street Bridge
New protected bike lanes on the widened Spring Street Bridge

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