Steep New Bike Lanes on Via Marisol in NELA

Posted on 05/18/2012

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Over a mile of new bike lanes on Via Marisol – arguably some of the least useful bike lanes in Northeast Los Angeles

Bikas climbs the Monterey Hills to bring you news of new bike lanes in North East Los Angeles. Yesterday the Los Angeles City Department of Transportation (LADOT) released a listing of what they state are 34.9 miles of new bike lanes completed since July 1st 2011. The list includes three projects east of the Los Angeles River, one of which is new bike lanes on Via Marisol. According to LADOT, the Via Marisol lanes were completed May 13th 2012 – last weekend. I was already heading out to Cypress Park’s Nightingale Middle School again, so I figured I’d check out Via Marisol.

Via Marisol is located in the L.A. neighborhood called Hermon, which is east of the Arroyo Seco and 110 Freeway, adjacent to the city of South Pasadena. The new lanes run 1.2 miles from Via Marisol’s southern intersection with Monterey Road to its intersection with Lomitas Drive. These bike lanes do not appear in the city’s “2010″ Bike Plan or the city’s 5-year implementation plan.

Southern end of the Via Marisol bike lanes – at Monterey Road. Via Marisol intersects with Monterey twice – this is the southernmost of those two – near the Monterey Road entrance to Debs Park.

I knew where Via Marisol crossed the Arroyo Seco, but I’d never actually biked up that hill and seen what was at the top. What I found was a surprisingly wide suburban-scale car-centric road… sort of a NELA version of Porter Ranch. The street is so wide that the bike lanes were added without removing anything else.

Yesterday, I didn’t see any cyclists out there riding the lanes… but I did spot this guy waiting with his bike, while a jogger ran by in the lane.

Jogger taking advantage of the new Via Marisol bike lanes, while cyclist looks on

I know that I’ve pushed for this sort of opportunistic bike lane project pretty much wherever there is space. Overall the Marisol lanes are a small step in the right direction. A tiny bit better than sharrowing existing bike routes, these new bike lanes do represent a city commitment to fulfilling the letter (though not really the intent) of the  mayor’s 40-mile new bikeways directive.  They do show some drivers that bike lanes exist. The lanes sort of repudiate the LADOT line that generally asserts that all of the easy low-hanging fruit projects are already done, so we need to slow down and do costly time-consuming environmental review before worthwhile bike projects move forward.

I am not against this project, but I have to reach to find faint praise for it. I’d rather see more useful low-hanging-fruit bike lanes. I don’t expect that the Via Marisol bike lanes will see a lot of use in the near future.

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