New Bike Lanes on Burbank Blvd in NoHo

Posted on 06/15/2012

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New bike lanes on Burbank Boulevard in North Hollywood

Within the past week or so, the city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) added 2.7 miles of bike lane on Burbank Boulevard. The new Burbank Blvd lanes extend from Radford Avenue (just west of the 170 Freeway) to Hazeltine Avenue (just east of Van Nuys Boulevard.) 

The city’s approved bike plan and 5-year plan do not include this stretch. The bike plan does designate future bike lanes coming to the part of Burbank Boulevard just west of this: 1.12 miles from Van Nuys Blvd to Sepulveda Blvd. That future stretch isn’t listed in the city’s 5-year plan listings, though it appears on the 5-year plan map (which the city had online but later removed.)

The lanes are listed on the LADOT website as “in design.” I learned that they were complete from this June 6th 2012 comment by Dennis Hindman.

These bike lanes are fairly close to existing lanes on Chandler Boulevard, which runs parallel about a quarter-mile south. Some folks have criticized this sort of redundancy (for example in places where the Orange Line bike path parallels the L.A. River bike path), but I think near-redundancy is the sign that a network is emerging. Bring it on!

New Burbank Blvd bike lanes running along the south end of L.A. Valley College

This portion of Burbank Boulevard is a mix of commercial and residential, including multi-family apartment buildings to single-family homes; it includes  significant Latino and Jewish residential populations. The new Burbank bike lanes serve to link residential areas with quite a few destinations, including the numerous commercial strips. The lanes connect with a handful of schools; they run along the south end of Los Angeles Valley College.

New Burbank Blvd bike lanes intersect the Metro Orange Line bikeway-busway at Valley College Station

The lanes intersect the Metro Orange Line busway and bikeway at the Valley College station. The lanes also intersect with a couple of short 1970s-era segments of bike path along the Tujunga Wash. The wash crosses below Burbank Blvd at Coldwater Canyon. These Tujunga Wash bike paths are rather marginal, but do offer excellent views of the Great Wall of Los Angeles mural.

For two blocks, between Woodman Avenue and Ventura Canyon Avenue, the roadway narrows slightly. For this short stretch, the bike lanes have been dropped and instead the roadway features sharrows.

Sharrow on Burbank Boulevard just east of Woodman Avenue

I’ve been, well, rather critical of sharrows, but actually I think that this two-block area is one of the few types of places where I generally think that they make sense. I don’t mind sharrows for short stretches between other bikeways, on streets that aren’t wide enough for preserving existing car uses and adding bike lanes. I didn’t actually measure, but I think this is the case on Burbank east of Woodman.

This sort of lane+sharrow treatment is done in San Francisco, including on Polk Street where there’s mostly bike lane, but a few blocks of sharrows, too. Historically, LADOT has taken more of what I might call a throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater approach. Sometimes a short pinch point had been used to omit miles and miles of bike facility. The example that comes to mind is that miles of Reseda Boulevard were omitted from early drafts of the bike plan, presumably due to a 2-block stretch where street parking was ultimately removed. Kudos to LADOT for doing the right thing on Burbank by putting as few sharrows as possible, only where most appropriate.

Big thanks to LADOT, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz for getting these Burbike… er… Burbank Boulevard bike lanes implemented!

One exciting footnote to this project: as far as I can ad tell, this appears to be the project where the city broke the 40-mile mark for new bike lanes in Fiscal Year 2011-2012. Wooooot! Woooooooot! (Please double-check my bike lane tracking spreadsheet here. Looks like 40 was broken either on Burbank Blvd or the Los Angeles Street lanes.)

From 1996 to 2009, the city striped roughly 5 miles of bike lane each year. With the mayoral directive to implement 40 miles of new bikeways each fiscal year, the LADOT has dramatically stepped up its bike lane mileage. I, frankly, had a lot of doubts that this would ever happen – especially when LADOT spent a couple months ignoring the new bike plan and mostly focusing on sharrowing existing bike routes. I am impressed that so many new bike lane miles have been implemented. I’ve been critical of some of these bike lane projects, and have praised many. Overall, I think it’s very good – and making a visible difference, noticeable to cyclists, drivers, and others.

And the fiscal year isn’t over yet! There’s still 15 more days worth of bike lane implementation!

More reporting on the totals and trends soon – probably next week.

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