Recent San Fernando Valley Bike Lanes: Plummer and Reseda

Posted on 05/21/2012


Plummer Street bike lanes completed 2010

So, it’s not the latest late-breaking news, but I wanted to post about a couple of recent San Fernando Valley bike lane projects that I rode and photographed earlier this year: Plummer Street and Reseda Boulevard. I gave a couple of CicLAvia talks at Cal State Northridge on March 8th 2012, and, in between the day and evening lectures, I got a chance to ride these relatively new bike lanes. I was happy to meet plenty of SFV cyclists in attendance at the talk. Bike Culture is thriving all over, and is alive and well at CSUN, which has a reputation as a car-commuter campus.

The Reseda Boulevard lanes are more recent and a more interesting – a worthwhile gap closure and an example of on-street parking removal – but I will review the Plummer Street lanes first.

The Plummer Street bike lanes extend 0.21 miles from Reseda Boulevard to Etiwanda Avenue. They were completed in March 2010. This was back when the a really pathetic draft version of the city’s “2010” Bike Plan was on the table (for one example: that entire plan included only 26 new bike lane miles citywide – that’s less than the roughly 34 new bike lane miles that the city has implemented already this fiscal year.)

The city was receiving so much bicyclist criticism for its poor plan and its lack of bike facilities, things started to budge on implementation. Well before plan approval and mayoral pledges, bike lane mileage implementation was trending upward. I think that this was largely to pressure from criticism from various sources, especially including Bikeside and the Bicycle Writers Collective.

I think that the Plummer lanes are one example that shows that fairly short segments can be useful. The 0.21-mile lanes make an important connection between Reseda Boulevard (see below) and California State University at Northridge.

On-street parking was removed for two blocks – from Chase to Napa – to create this stretch of the Reseda Boulevard bike lanes. The 0.5 mile section from Roscoe to Parthenia was striped September 2011.

The overal Reseda Boulevard lanes have a long checkered history which is ultimately a success story for bike lane implementation.

The new segment I rode in March 2012, that I hadn’t seen or reported on earlier, runs just 0.5 mile from Roscoe Blvd to Parthenia Street. This new stretch of Reseda Boulevard bike lanes was implemented September 2011.

The new lanes includes a two-block stretch from Chase Street to Napa Street where Reseda Boulevard narrows slightly. Though 90+% of the Reseda bike lanes had been added without removing existing parking or car travel lanes, for those two blocks, implementing two ~5-foot bike lanes necessitated removal/reduction of either parking or travel lanes. The city Department of Transportation (LADOT) generally won’t remove on-street parking to implement bike lanes, because they anticipate criticism from drivers and businesses that value the parking.

In this case, there’s sufficient off-street parking at each of the businesses on the east side of the street. City Bicycle Advisory Committee (LABAC) SFV leader Glenn Bailey and LADOT reps spoke with business owners (also local Neighborhood Councils and City Councilmember Mitch Englander) – and though I expect that some of them might prefer the two blocks of on-street parking, none of them ultimately strongly opposed the project.

This new segment is an important gap-closure.  The new half-mile completed 4.8 miles of continuous bike lane on Reseda Boulevard. Reseda Blvd now has 10.7 miles of bike lane, with 0.75-miles of  sharrows (and excepting a ~2-block gap at the 118 Freeway) for an 11.7 mile bikeway from one end of the Valley to the other.

This new half-mile gap-closure stretch is an example of how cyclists and the city can work with communities to solve problems, sometimes removing some car facilities, and implement worthwhile bike facilities. That’s the kind of work that Bikas intends to do more of!

Posted in: Uncategorized