Bikas brings you more bike lanes reports from the city of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley: 1.9 miles of new bike lane on White Oak Avenue. The new White Oak Avenue lanes extend from Van Owen Street to Roscoe Boulevard. They’re located in the neighborhood of Reseda.
White Oak runs north-south along the western edge of the Sepulveda Basin, where it has long had a short stretch of bike lanes (0.4 mile from Victory Blvd to Oxnard Street) that intersects the Orange Line bike path and Sepulveda Basin bike paths. The new White Oak stretch doesn’t yet connect to the existing lanes; it stops a half-mile short. Someday soon, hopefully this gap will be closed.
In this area, White Oak is a fairly wide street, though mostly only single-family residential homes. The street is appears to have been newly resurfaced, so it appears that the new bike lanes were done as part of a resurfacing project (which is great – and should happen all over L.A.!) No car lanes were removed to make way for the new bike lanes.
Like some other San Fernando Valley bike lanes, during a recent weekday trip to Reseda, I didn’t observe much usage yet. There were a few cyclists riding on sidewalks:
I spotted an interesting (for bike lane wonks like me, at least) preliminary lane marking on White Oak:
These are the lane widths in feet; going left to right in the photo, the bike lane is 5-feet, the No.1 lane 10.5-feet [marked 10'6"], the No.2 lane 10-feet. I am not going to go into all the sordid wonky details of lane width – and the ways that Los Angeles’ car-centric engineers push for unsafe lane widths – that’s worthy of an entire article one of these days… but I will write a bit about it because width matters for safety – and L.A.’s traffic engineers will often shoot down bike projects as unfeasible when they can’t fit with 12-foot or 13-foot car lanes.
For one really egregious example, that gets me riled up, see this L.A. City article (read the city’s engineer comments) about how Los Angeles City Department of Transportation (LADOT) insisted on 13′ car lanes that made for unsafe bike lane conditions crossing the Metro Expo Line light rail railroad tracks. Turns out (I’m shocked!) that the 13-foot car lanes created an unsafe condition (I wrote about it initially here)… so after cyclists wrote, fell, complained, and threatened lawsuits… the city relented and reduced the car lane to a still-excessive 11-feet. On bike lanes in transit corridors in population-dense car-sparse South L.A. communities, L.A. insists on 11-foot car lanes… but on White Oak in the middle of the more-suburban San Fernando Valley… well.. 10 or 10.5-feet will do.
It may seem wonky. What’s a foot or two here or there? Really, though, a maniacal insistence on excessive unsafe lane width is one of the many interlocking car-centric biases that LADOT and other agencies replicate that create car-centric conditions – resulting in the unsafe streets that we . Wide car lanes squeeze out space for bicycling and walking. Wide lanes contribute to higher speeds – which causes deaths and injuries. Where we design streets where cars slow down, the streets are safer for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. Within an urbanized area, generally 8 or 9 feet for car lanes is plenty. Retooling L.A.’s default excessive car lane widths is one issue that Bikas intends to take on – with your help!
Thanks, LADOT, Mayor Villaraigosa, and L.A. City Councilmembers Mitch Englander and Dennis Zine for getting the new White Oak Avenue bike lanes completed. The lanes were recently announced via a list on the L.A. City website.