South Los Angeles has brand new bike lanes on Second Avenue. The new 2nd Avenue bike lanes extend 0.5 mile from 48th Street to 54th Street.
South L.A.’s avenues run north-south; streets run east-west. This new lane is located just southeast of Leimert Park, near Crenshaw High School. The neighborhood, if signs there are to be believed, is called Angeles Mesa, though I’d never heard of Angeles Mesa before yesterday. The neighborhood is mostly African-American, with a growing Latino population.
This portion of Second Avenue is a rather overly wide street. I didn’t measure, but I think it’s ~60-70 feet wide for basically a 2-lane street lined with single family homes.
Overall, though, it’s a very pleasant street, with many handsome and well-cared for historic craftsman homes. Bike lanes were added easily without removing any car capacity.
Yesterday, on a Sunday afternoon, there wasn’t a lot of traffic of any kind on these relatively quiet two long blocks: A few pedestrians, a few cars, and a few cyclists. Some “scofflaw” drivers were going overly fast and blowing through stop signs. Some “scofflaw” cyclists were riding on the sidewalk (legal) and blowing through stop signs.
As I biked along Second Avenue, I said hello to a middle-aged Latina who was walking south. She returned my greeting, and asked if I had just moved into the neighborhood. I responded that, no, I didn’t live here, but in Koreatown, and was visiting to explore the new bike lanes. She smiled and said, with a touch of pride that the lanes were brand new, and just went in last weekend. I asked if she was a cyclist, and she responded no, but that she was thinking of riding on the lanes to get to the park (Van Ness Recreation Center at 2nd Avenue and Slauson – one long block from where the bike lanes currently end.) She strongly recommended that I visit the park. I asked her if she likes the new lanes. She responded that, yes, she really likes them, because the make the street “feel smaller.”
I was really happy to hear this answer, because, bike lanes can and do narrow existing car lanes. At least in theory, narrower lanes can, psychologically, make drivers feel like they’re on a smaller street, so they slow down a little, and drive a little more safely.
I did check out the park, which was very popular. There quite a few families riding bikes on a tiny jogging path in the park. At the park, I spoke Spanish with an elderly cyclist gentleman from Michoacán, Mexico. I told him about the new bike lanes on Second Avenue, which he hadn’t seen. Even though he got around by bike all the time (a black mountain bike with a large metal basket in front) he didn’t think that the streets were safe. He wanted to know what my heritage was. I told him that I grew up in Orange County, but that my ancestors immigrated from Germany. He then let me know that my Spanish didn’t sound like it had a German accent.
Thanks Mayor Villaraigosa, Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard Parks, and the Los Angeles City Department of Transportation (LADOT) for getting these new bike lanes striped.
The lanes were originally announced via this LADOT website spreadsheet, which states that they were completed May 27th 2012. Though they make good sense, they’re actually unplanned – what I call a “Myra.” The 2nd Avenue lanes do not appear in the city’s Bike Plan or 5-Year Implementation plan.