L.A. City Bikeway Implementation Decreased in Fiscal Year 2021-22

Streetsblog again runs down the Good, the Meh, and the Ugly of recently installed Los Angeles bikeways

Colfax Avenue bike lanes in North Hollywood. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
Colfax Avenue bike lanes in North Hollywood. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
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L.A. City’s fiscal year recently concluded, so it’s time for Streetsblog L.A.’s annual look back at the past year’s bikeway implementation. The picture is not bright.

Under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, bike facility implementation peaked at 200+ new bikeway lane-miles annually. Since Mayor Eric Garcetti took office in 2013, implementation has fallen dramatically. Under Garcetti-appointed city Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds, new bikeway mileage has been dismal, hovering between 10 and 52 miles annually for the past seven years.

It’s not all Garcetti and Reynolds’ fault, as their modest efforts have been blocked by many city councilmembers: Gil CedilloPaul KoretzCurren PriceDavid Ryu, Mitch O’Farrell, and Paul Krekorian have all vetoed planned bikeway projects in their districts.

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L.A. City bikeway mileage by fiscal year – chart by Michael MacDonald and SBLA

LADOT recently provided Streetsblog a spreadsheet showing Fiscal Year 2021-22 bikeway implementation. For FY2020-21, L.A. City saw just 39.1 lane-miles of upgraded and new bikeways.

(Streetsblog’s totals differ slightly from those reported by LADOT, which reported 38.5 lane miles. DOT did not include non-DOT projects like the Bureau of Engineering’s new Taylor Yard bikeway bridge. See SBLA spreadsheet for details on discrepancies. SBLA numbers are used throughout this article.)

As noted in past posts (see FY20-21 and FY19-20), not all bikeway miles are equal. Quality protected bikeways and bike paths serve riders aged 8 to 80, while sharrows (shared lane markings) are such a weak treatment as to serve almost nobody. New bikeway mileage expands the network, while upgrades to existing bikeways do not. Among upgrades, some are significant (converting unprotected lanes to protected ones) and others are nearly meaningless (adding a buffer to an existing lane). In some places, upgrades point to LADOT’s failure to install the best/safest facility earlier. Also, many upgrades allow the city to double- and triple-count mileage when one street first gets, say, sharrows, then a bike lane, then a buffered bike lane, then a protected bike lane.

Grand View Boulevard in February 2021 - via Google Street View
Mar Vista’s Grand View Boulevard in February 2021 – via Google Street View

About a quarter of the total bikeway miles LADOT reported last year (9 out of 39 miles) were existing bike lanes that got the nearly meaningless addition of an extra buffer stripe.

Another fourteen percent (nearly 4 miles) are streets where the city added sharrows. Sharrows, known as the dregs of bike facilities, do have a few appropriate uses. But some studies have found sharrows can be less effective than no treatment.

Yes, the city probably should do these sorts of inexpensive marginal upgrades. No, they won’t make a meaningful difference for anyone.

In late 2021 Mar Vista's hilly Grand View Boulevard bike lanes got an added buffer
When Grand View Boulevard was repaved in late 2021, the city added a buffer to the existing bike lanes.

LADOT’s FY21-22 total of 39.1 miles breaks down into 26.6 miles of new bikeways and 12.5 miles of upgrades to already existing bikeways. Last year, there were 31.8 new lane-miles and 20.6 miles of upgrades.

Among the new bikeways are:

  • 2.86 miles of new bike paths (11 percent)
  • 3.63 miles of new protected lanes (14 percent)
  • 7.66 miles of new buffered lanes (29 percent)
  • 8.67 miles of new conventional lanes (33 percent)
  • 3.78 miles of new sharrow-ed routes (14 percent)

As SBLA noted in past years, it is informative to look at two types of good quality facilities:

So, FY21-22 saw 39.1 total miles (with ~26 quality miles) which is a step down from last year’s ~52 total miles (with ~34 quality miles), but still just above the prior year’s ~37 total miles (with ~20 quality miles).

For the past three years, the city did somewhat better than the prior four awful years. But, as SBLA opined last year, it sure isn’t a portrait in courage, nor an adequate response to a climate emergency that calls for big shifts in transportation.

As with the prior two years, a lot of upgraded and new bikeway mileage is tied to street resurfacing. This means that where councilmembers are not overly hostile to bikeways, the city will sometimes add new bike lanes (or, more often, add buffers to existing bike lanes) during resurfacing. Safe streets advocates are pushing for the city to adopt Healthy Streets L.A., which would mandate that the city always implement approved bus and bike lanes when it resurfaces streets. The L.A. City Council will vote on Healthy Streets L.A. tomorrow. If they do not approve it, the measure will go to voters in 2024.

Typically, Streetsblog acknowledges city councilmembers that have shown leadership in bikeway implementation at this point. There really aren’t any stand-out council leaders that have implemented a great deal of courageous bikeway mileage above and beyond the basics of what would fit easily with no (or minimal) space reallocated from cars. Nonetheless many of the more bike-friendly councilmembers – Nithya Raman, Mike Bonin, Monica Rodriguez, Kevin de León, and Bob Blumenfield – deserve credit for a decent amounts of quality bikeway mileage in their districts.

Similar to earlier posts, the run-down of many of the city’s upgraded and new bikeways is sorted into categories: the good, the meh, and the bad.

The Good

The city’s L.A. River bike path saw two new facilities open this past spring: the Taylor Yard bike bridge in Elysian Valley and the 1.3-mile path at the river’s headwaters in Canoga Park.

New Taylor Yard bike/walk bridge over the L.A. River in Elysian Valley
The new Taylor Yard bike/walk bridge over the L.A. River opened in March.
New L.A. River headwaters bike path in Canoga Park
New L.A. River headwaters bike path in Canoga Park.

LADOT expanded the city’s nascent protected bikeway network with new protected bike lanes installed on 1st Street, Airport Boulevard, Grand Avenue, and Riverside Drive, and new protection added to existing bike lanes on 2nd Street, Manchester Avenue, Sherman Way, and Winnetka Avenue.

The newly installed Grand Avenue protected bike lane
The newly installed Grand Avenue one-way northbound protected bike lane is located in South L.A. immediately east of the 110 Freeway. The bikeway extends 1.66 miles overall, but protection drops (and the bikeway is briefly omitted) where it is most needed near freeway on/off-ramps at Florence Avenue and Gage Avenue.
L.A. City Councilmember Nithya Raman
L.A. City Councilmember Nithya Raman opening the new Riverside Drive protected bike lanes in Los Feliz.
LADOT added one block of protection to the existing 2nd Street bike lane, near the
LADOT added one block of protection to the existing Second Street bike lane, near the 1942 First Street Bridge in the Temple Beaudry neighborhood just west of downtown L.A.
Manchester
LADOT added protection to portions of existing bike lanes on Manchester Avenue in Westchester. There is a short gap between these and earlier Manchester Avenue protected bike lane segments.
Newly protected bike lane on Sherman Way in West Hills
Newly protected bike lane on Sherman Way in West Hills.
New protection on Winnetka Avenue in Chatsworth
New protection was added to the existing Winnetka Avenue bike lanes in Chatsworth. This project extended Winnetka’s existing protected bike lanes, which are now 1.25 miles long – extending from Devonshire Street to Prairie Street.

The two-mile long new buffered bike lanes on Adams Boulevard were part of a larger multi-faceted safety project.

The Adams Boulevard Safety Project includes new bike lanes. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
The Adams Boulevard Safety Project includes new bike lanes.

Several new bike lanes (some buffered) added worthwhile connections with existing bikeway networks: Burbank Boulevard, Channel Road, Colfax Avenue, N. Figueroa Street, Foothill Boulevard, Mission Road, Tujunga Avenue, and Yosemite Drive.

LADOT extended Colfax Avenue's bike lanes above Hatteras Street in North Hollywood.
LADOT extended Colfax Avenue’s bike lanes above Hatteras Street in North Hollywood.
New buffered bike lanes on Lake View Terrace's Foothill Boulevard nearly reach earlier bike lanes there. These are part of City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez' campaign to calm traffic after speeding drivers crashed into equestrians
New buffered bike lanes on Lake View Terrace’s Foothill Boulevard augment earlier bike lanes just east of these. These are part of City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez’ push to calm traffic there after a speeding hit-and-run driver crashed into a pair of equestrians.
New bike lanes on Mission Road in Boyle Heights connect to the Sixth Street Viaduct
New bike lanes on Mission Road in Boyle Heights connect to bike lanes on First Street, the new Sixth Street Viaduct spiral bike ramp, and the under construction Mission/Myers Roundabout bikeway.
New bike lanes on Tujunga Avenue connect to the Chandler Boulevard bike lanes, very near the North Hollywood Metro Station
New bike lanes on Tujunga Avenue connect to the Chandler Boulevard bike lanes proving a good connection to the nearby North Hollywood Metro Station.
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New bike lanes on Yosemite Drive in Eagle Rock connect to lanes on Eagle Rock Boulevard. The new Yosemite bikeway is mostly conventional bike lanes, but also includes L.A. City’s first short stretch using the asymmetric treatment of uphill bike lanes and downhill sharrows.

A few other new bike lanes were more opportunistic – worthwhile, but mostly adding bikeways on wider streets where space permitted (as opposed to where lanes might be more needed): Bellevue Avenue, Brookhaven Avenue, Idaho Avenue, and La Tuna Canyon Road.

New bike lanes on Bellevue Avenue in the neighborhood of Echo Park
New bike lanes on Bellevue Avenue in the neighborhood of Echo Park. These unfortunately peter out into sharrows along the south end of the park itself, where cyclists contend with traffic at 101 Freeway on/off-ramps. These new lanes can be extended via Marion Avenue to connect to Sunset Boulevard bike lanes.
New bike lanes on Brookhaven Avenue in Mar Vista
Opportunistic new bike lanes on Brookhaven Avenue in Mar Vista.
New bike lanes on Idaho Avenue in the Sawtelle neighborhood
New bike lanes on Idaho Avenue in the Sawtelle neighborhood.
New bike lanes on near-rural La Tuna Canyon Road.
New bike lanes on semi-rural La Tuna Canyon Road. In 2018, this stretch was road-dieted after a gruesome crash where a hit-and-run driver severely injured a cyclist. At that time, the street received a striped-off margin on each side. Earlier this year, during repaving, that margin was upgraded to buffered bike lanes.

The Meh

As noted above, about a quarter of FY20-21 LADOT bikeway mileage was adding new buffers to existing bike lanes – a very minor step in the right direction. These meh upgrades included meh buffers on 2nd Street, 9th Street, Avenue 50, Bluff Creek Drive, Cypress Avenue, Foothill Boulevard, Grand View Boulevard (shown above), Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Valley Circle Boulevard, and York Boulevard.

Bike lanes on one steep wide block of San Pedro's 9th Street received new buffers
During resurfacing, new buffers were added to existing bike lanes on one steep wide block of San Pedro’s 9th Street.
New buffer added to Cypress Avenue bike lanes in Cypress Park
New buffer added to Cypress Avenue bike lanes in Cypress Park.
New buffer added to the existing Laurel Canyon Boulevard bike lanes through Sun Valley
New buffer added to the existing Laurel Canyon Boulevard bike lanes through Sun Valley.
Valley Circle
During resurfacing, LADOT added a new buffer to the existing Valley Circle Boulevard bike lanes. A portion of Valley Circle is outside the city of L.A. (in unincorporated L.A. County) so the buffer (and smooth new pavement) drop abruptly.

The Bad

You guessed it. Here is where Streetsblog mainly runs down the city’s newest sharrows.

LADOT installed sharrows arguably appropriately to get some of the above-listed bikeways through a number of narrow-ish pinch points. These included short sharrow stretches on Bellevue, Channel, Idaho, Grand/84th/Olive, Mission, Tujunga, and Yosemite. Those sharrows were better than completely dropping those bikeways, but not much better.

In FY20-21, LADOT installed just one new sharrow-ed bike route – on Brunswick Avenue in North Atwater Village.

Brunswick
New sharrows added to Atwater Village’s Brunswick Avenue

LADOT also added northbound sharrows opposite a one-way southbound bike lane on 2nd Avenue in South L.A.’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

See also SBLA coverage of earlier annual LADOT bikeway implementation: FY20-21, FY19-20 , FY18-19, and FY15-16. Thanks to Michael MacDonald for graphing these each year.

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