The city of L.A. has striped 2.1 miles of new bike lane on Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles. The new northbound Vermont Avenue bike lane extends from the 105 Freeway to 88th Street, two blocks south of Manchester Avenue. This was reported earlier, on May 2nd 2012 at the LADOT website. Today, Bikas got a chance to head south and ride the new lane.
This is the first part of a larger South L.A. Vermont Avenue bike lanes project has been in the works for a couple years. This June 2009 L.A. Dept of Transportation (LADOT) bikeways status report states that LADOT had designed bike lanes for 3 miles (15,750 feet) of Vermont Avenue from Gage Avenue to the 105 Freeway but
Plans were sent to the County for concurrence. A joint meeting is
being scheduled by the end of June  to go over the comments.
Unfortunately the County of Los Angeles’ Department of Public Works (LACDPW) folks didn’t quite sign off on those designs… yet. For about two thirds of the designed project, from Manchester Avenue to the 105 Freeway, only the eastern half of Vermont Avenue is in the city of Los Angeles. The western half is in unincorporated L.A. County. If you think that LADOT is slow to implement bike lanes, you’ll be disappointed to hear that LACDPW insisted on even worse suburban lane-width standards, effectively blocking the project until *groannn* the street is widened. The county’s anti-bike lane stance allowed the city to do no work on the ground to implement these lanes for the following three years. Then, apparently due to Mayor Villaraigosa’s pledge to get 40 new bikeway miles implemented this fiscal year, the project was recently revived.
So, in the past month, the LADOT added northbound bike lanes on the L.A. side of the street!! And the county, well, still hasn’t done anything. (Action Alert: Let County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas know if you’d like L.A. County to do bike lanes on their side of Vermont email firstname.lastname@example.org or @mridleythomas on Twitter ) Kudos to the LADOT, Mayor Villaraigosa, and L.A. City Councilmembers Bernard Parks and Joe Buscaino [updated 15 May 2012] for getting two miles of the city’s bike lane implemented. Looking forward to them extending to Gage Avenue soon, too.
So… I biked south a hundred blocks. I had a meeting with Shuntain Thomas of L.A.’s awesome Real Rydaz low rider bike club and We Are Responsible People. He and a bunch of folks are working hard to put together a big South L.A. Peace Love and Family Ride and Fair on Sunday July 1st. If you don’t get to ride the Vermont Avenue bike lane before then, that’s a good day to check the lane out.
I rode south a bit more and arrived at the south end of the new lane at the 105 Freeway, also known as the Metro Green Line Vermont Avenue Station. The lanes actually begin at 116th Place:
Riding north I kept thinking how wide these South L.A. streets are. So much space dedicated to cars, despite so many folks without access to cars. Lots of people there walk, bike, and ride transit every day. There were plenty of cyclists: mostly working class Latino and African-American transportation riders (mostly riding on sidewalks), some young men and women on fixies, and I saw three cargo bikes, two of which were street food vendors.
And here’s the awesome third cargo bike:
Speaking Spanish, the gentleman riding it told me he rides for work and that he likes the new lanes. He had about a dozen plants for sale arranged neatly on two cargo shelves. His wares ranged from houseplants to veggies to a dwarf lemon tree! He didn’t want to talk long, as he had work to do.
Thanks again to everyone responsible for the nice new lane on Vermont Avenue in South L.A.!