FY11-12: 50.2 Miles of New L.A.Bike Lanes!!

Posted on 07/03/2012


Graph of L.A. City bike lane mileage implementation over time. New bike lane mileage has increased dramatically in 2011 and 2012

It’s July 2012, which means that the city of Los Angeles has just completed Fiscal Year 2011-2012. The city’s fiscal year runs July 1st to June 31st. Mayor Villaraigosa’s directive to “build 40 miles of bikeway a year” went into effect July 1st 2011, one full year ago. The great news is that L.A. City greatly exceeded the 40 new miles pledged! Bikas doesn’t have an exact total, but L.A. has installed ~62.5 miles of new bikeways over the past fiscal year – including over 50 miles of new bike lanes.

Bikas thanks Mayor Villaragosa, the City Council, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) for making hugely important strides to make bicycling safer, easier and more legitimate. 

(Bikas is doing an overall report card, with some additional analysis… which we hope to post within a week… but today, we’ll share some early commentary.)

Earlier today, the LADOT website posted this article where LADOT General Manager Jaime de la Vega is claiming “76 miles of new bikeways”:

For FY 2012, LADOT successfully delivered 76 miles of new bikeways.  This consisted of 51 miles of on-street bike lanes, 21 miles of sharrow-ed routes (bike routes with shared lane markings), and a 4-mile bike path as part of the Metro Orange Line extension.

LADOT has really stepped up their game this year – with an order of magnitude more bikeways than ever before. I will very briefly critique the inaccurate “76 miles” but mostly will praise LADOT for an unprecedented 50.26 miles (!) of new bike lanes. Historically that’s about ten years’ output – all in one year this time! About one-fourth of all of the city’s bike lanes were installed in the past 12 months! It’s awesome – and it’s making a difference on the ground.

So… “76 miles of new bikeways.” Briefly, there are three discrepancies that affect this total:

  1. Only ~8 miles of the ~20 miles of sharrows were actually “new” bikeways. (Re-doing old stuff is arguably important, worthwhile, good – but it doesn’t add mileage to the network – so it shouldn’t be counted as “new” miles. In a few cases, existing routes received lanes, this doesn’t add to the overall total, but it’s a very significant upgrade, so it does count.)
  2. There are also three bike lane projects that the city claimed in FY2010-11 that they’re also claiming this year. (Sheldon Street and two Riverside Drive projects – totalling 1.05 miles.)
  3. The city is slightly undercounting bike path mileage, by not counting a 0.2-mile L.A. stretch of Metro’s new Expo bike path.

All in all, I think that the new bikeways total is more like ~62.5 miles (50.26 miles of bike lane + 8 miles of new sharrowed bike routes +  4.2 miles new bike path.) This is HUUUUUUGE! Unprecedented! Typically the city has done fewer than 10 miles each year.

So far in Los Angeles, there are three kinds of bikeways: paths, lanes, and routes. Bike path implementation is expensive, and varies based on the city’s success in obtaining outside grants. Bike routes are wimpy, nearly meaningless. Bike lanes are cheap fiscally, but require an allocation of space… so I see them as more-or-less a measure of the city’s political will to accommodate and legitimize bicycling.

From the approval of L.A.’s 1996 Bicycle Master Plan though 2009, the city implemented ~67 new miles of bike lane in 13 years – averaging 5 new miles per year. For the past three fiscal years, there’s a dramatic uptick in new bike lane mileage: (my work-in-progress spreadsheet tracking this stuff posted here.)

  • 1996-2009 avg: 5.1 miles
  • FY 2009-10:  10.29 miles
  • FY 2010-11: 15.29 miles
  • FY 2011-12: 50.26 miles

The graph at the top of the post tells the story visually. I will repeat it here:

Graph of L.A. City bike lane mileage implementation over time. New bike lane mileage has increased dramatically in 2011 and 2012

I’ve broked it out into 6-month intervals. Check out the steep rise in the latest two 6-month bars!

More overally FY 2011-2o12 to come in the next few days… but for now – kudos to all the folks who made L.A. streets better and safer this year!

Posted in: bike lane, sharrow