New Los Angeles Street Bike Lanes, First Street Lanes Begun

Posted on 06/11/2012

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New Los Angeles Street bike lanes connect with L.A. Union Station

There are new bike lanes on Los Angeles Street in downtown Los Angeles, completed over the past two days. The Los Angeles Street bike lanes extend 1.5 miles from First Street to Alameda Street.

These lanes are part of what the city is calling the Downtown Bikeway Network. The Los Angeles Street lanes join existing downtown bike lanes on Spring, Main and 7th Street. Coming very soon will be lanes on 1st Street (see below) and additional mileage on Main Street. Later phases include lanes on Olive, Grand, Figueroa, Central, Venice, additional 7th Street, and more. The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, especially through their Complete Streets Working Group, has made Downtown bike lanes one priority in creating a more livable downtown for residents and visitors. Mayor Villaraigosa has also prioritized downtown bike lanes to provide safer places to use the upcoming bike share bicycles.

At their north end, the lanes connect with Union Station and L.A.’s historic plaza at El Pueblo, both prominent destinations for locals and tourists. The south end of the lanes is at Caltrans District 7 Headquarters, which includes the ¬†offices of L.A. City’s Transportation Department (LADOT.)

New bike lanes on Los Angeles Street

For portions of the Los Angeles Street lanes, an existing car lane was removed. Much of the new lanes include a buffer on the left.

I have a couple small critiques of this otherwise excellent facility. The northbound lane ends just before Los Angeles Street veers rightward at El Pueblo (between the 101 Freeway onramp and Alameda Street.)

North end of the northbound Los Angeles Street bike lanes – across from El Pueblo

From here cyclists take the lane to get into Union Station, or turn at Union Station. It looks like the road narrows somewhat in this area, pinched by a landscaped median, so there may not be space to squeeze in a lane here. Los Angeles Street ends at the next block (dead-ending at the entrance to Union Station), so there’s a lot of turning options. Cyclists turning left or proceeding straight need to take the lane, not hug the curb. Probably what would make sense here would be a sharrow or two, indicating to cyclists and drivers that cyclists take the lane here. LADOT used that sharrow treatment in a similar situation on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Sylmar.

Green conflict zone marking on First Street in Boyle Heights

One other idea: these lanes cross two 110 freeway onramps. There’s plenty of conflict where cyclists proceed straight ahead while car traffic turns to the right, crossing the bike lane. I think that this sort of conflict zone is the best place to color bike lanes green for a stretch, as L.A. has done on Spring and First Street in Boyle Heights. Alternately we could just close the freeways.

Both sharrows and green conflict zones can be added later.

The south end of the Los Angeles Street lanes connect with First Street, where they city is also adding new lanes. The First Street bike lanes are underway. Bikas spotted preliminary striping, all the way from Grand Avenue to San Pedro Street.

Preliminary bike lane markings on First Street in downtown Los Angeles

Kudos to Mayor Villaraigosa, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Jan Perry and Jose Huizar, the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, and LADOT for getting the nice new Los Angeles Street bike lanes striped.

(The Los Angeles Street lanes are not in the city Bike Plan nor the 5-Year Plan both approved by the city in 2011. They’re one of the opportunistic “Myra” projects that, after plan approval, the city determined to be feasible.)

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Posted in: bike lane