In response to the near fatal hit-and-run collision between an unknown motorist and Susanna Schick last Friday night that has been widely reported in the media, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) is calling for the City of Los Angeles & the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to dedicate resources to the rampant hit-and-run epidemic in the City of Los Angeles.
In particular, we ask for LAPD and the City of Los Angeles to:
- Create a division of crash detectives/inspectors specialized in bicycle and pedestrian crashes and standardize procedures for reporting collisions between emergency responders and LAPD.
- Fully investigate all cases where a person walking or bicycling is hit no matter the type or severity of injury.
- Collect data and report on the number of investigations leading to the identification of a driver and the number of cases that lead to legal action.
- Introduce legislation in Sacramento that will strengthen penalties for people caught committing a hit- and- run
While the LAPD has improved its investigation and reporting of traffic crashes, improvement is still greatly needed and it’s time for our City leaders to make this a priority and for all Angelenos to help end the hit-and-run epidemic. Hit-and-runs affect everyone who bikes, walks or drives in the City of Los Angeles.
In 2011 alone, there were over 18,800 hit-and-run collisions in the city. Five hundred and fourteen involved a person riding a bicycle, and another 759 involved pedestrians; over 12,880 involved another motor vehicle. Hit-and-run collisions resulted in the deaths of 36 Angelenos in 2011; 72% of those were people who were walking or riding their bicycles on the streets of Los Angeles at the moment they were hit. Hit-and-runs destroy peoples’ lives and property. Currently the LAPD does not know how many of those 18,800+ hit-and-run collisions were solved or how many were prosecuted. (all statistics from LAPD)
What is particularly horrific about this incident is that the motorist who hit Susanna and fled the scene appears to have deliberately attacked her with his vehicle. While we realize the majority of Angelenos are good people and can respectfully share the road, Susanna’s crash draws attention to the issue of road rage in our city and county. All too often, people simply trying to get from point A to B on their bicycle are harassed and threatened by motorists; yet because most such incidents are never reported to police or investigated by authorities, we have no idea how frequent these incidents actually are.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests that such harassment occurs throughout our city, county and state on a daily basis. As a result, the City of Los Angeles recently passed the first Bicycle Anti-harassment Ordinance in the United States to allow people riding bicycles whose personal safety is threatened to bring a civil suit against a violator. Even so, the difficulty in bringing a case means that the overwhelming majority of threatening drivers continue to get away with their crimes.
It seems pertinent to remind motor vehicle users that driving is a privilege and not a right. People who bicycle and walk are more vulnerable than other road users and deserve our respect and attention. So slow down, pay attention and share the road with people who chose other forms of transportation. We are all just trying to get to work, school, the store, and home to our families and friends alive and without injury.
Our hearts go out to Susanna, as well as her family and friends who are awaiting her recovery. LACBC calls on LAPD and law enforcements agencies across LA County to fully and fairly investigate all hit-and-runs, road rage incidents and cases of harassment against vulnerable road users. And LACBC calls on all Angelenos to stay calm when behind the wheel and remain at the scene for all crashes. It is our duty as responsible citizens and it is required by law.
The safety of all road users depends on it.
Further information about the hit-and-run collision involving Susanna Schick:
Susanna was hit while riding her bicycle in the Spring Street bike lane at 11:30pm on Friday night, within blocks of her home. The driver reportedly swerved across two lanes of traffic and into the bike lane where she was riding between 2nd and 3rd Streets. A block later she was apparently hit from behind by the same vehicle causing her to crash, causing a concussion, facial lacerations, 6 broken ribs, a broken collarbone, and 3 breaks to her pelvis, near the intersection of 4th and Spring Streets. The car is described as a recent model, white midsize Lexus, either two or four doors, with tinted windows. The driver is described as a well-dressed, man around 6′ tall and olive complexion, with a well-dressed female passenger. If you see a car that matches the description, call the LAPD Central Traffic Division at 1-213-972-1853.
A ChipIn Fund has also been created by folks in the bike community to help Susanna with recovery costs. Every little donation helps.
Yesterday morning the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a new Bicycle Master Plan for the unincorporated communities of Los Angeles County with a 4-0 vote, Supervisor Mike Antonovich abstained from the vote. This is the first new bike plan for the unincorporated communities since 1975 and it provides a vision and action plan for the next 20 years.
Over the last year LACBC has worked to improve the county Bike Master Plan to ensure this bike plan will better serve your needs and make the unincorporated communities safer for people of all ages to bicycle. We focused on trying to increase the miles of bike lanes, include innovative treatments in the design guide and policy language to encourage and make it easier for County Department of Public Works (DPW) to pilot innovative treatments. We also pushed for language to be included that specified the difference between a bike route and bike boulevard, and make sure communities with the greatest need were prioritized. And it is thanks to all of you who attend meetings and provided comments on the plan that the total mileage of bikeways in the plan increased from the initial 695 proposed miles to 832 miles!
Many of our concerns were addressed thanks to the leadership of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Supervisor Yaroslavsky joined us earlier this year and invited DPW staff to tour Long Beach by bike to see the kinds of projects that need to be implemented around the county. He introduced two motions directing staff to include innovative treatments in the plan, along with language to specify that bike boulevards will include some form of traffic calming features, and most importantly ensuring that bike routes can be upgraded to bike lanes without needing to amend the bike plan.
We also thank Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for his motion yesterday that directs staff to create a plan to implement bicycle parking at all County facilities. His motion also directs DPW staff to work with the County Department of Public Health to identify the ten unincorporated communities in LA County that have the highest rates of obesity and prioritize implementing routes identified here: FirstPhaseCounty in the next 12 months.
Now the real work begins. The Bike Plan outlines a first phase of projects DPW will implement over the next five years. You can view the projects here: FirstPhaseCounty. Project implementation will depend mostly on grant funding, but you can help get the bike wheels rolling by thanking your county supervisor for approving the plan and letting them know that you support the projects planned for your area. We also encourage you to let us know what projects are important to you.
We are putting out a special call to action for those of you who live in county supervisor district 5. At yesterday’s meeting it was clear the Supervisor Mike Antonovich still needs convincing that bicycles are an important part of our growing transportation system. We know many of you who live in unincorporated areas of the Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley and communities like Altadena use your bikes to get to work, access public transportation, shop and to recreate. Supervisor Antonovich is concerned about funding for roadways (that you use daily) being spent on bike projects. The roadway projects in his area involve maintenance that will greatly improve the condition for cyclists and motorists and bike improvements such as signs and bike lanes can be implemented for a nominal fee when resurfacing those roadways. Additionally many of the planned bike routes in his district will require installing paved shoulders along the roadways which also benefits motorists. So we encourage you to let Supervisor Mike Antonovich know how important the routes planned are for your area and will benefit all users. Email the Supervisor today!
Last Friday LACBC’s City of Lights program launched our first bicycle empowerment program aimed at targeting youth. The program is designed to take participants on a programmatic journey from bicycle mechanics to bicycle advocacy. There are five components to this program: bicycle mechanics, bicycle safety, creation of bicycle rides, public service announcements, and bicycle advocacy.
Each component is very unique in that they provide participants with the opportunity to explore each theme for a total of 6-8 hours on Friday’s for a full month with several instructors. The intention of the program is to “weave” all of the interrelated components together so that participants can fully understand the overall picture of the “bicycling world.”
Last Friday we commenced the first portion of the program with the help of Brenda Yancor, Rey, Rafa, and Capitan. Here’s a picture of Rey and the youth working on taking the bicycle apart.
Here’s the breakdown of the program:
Month 1: youth learn basic mechanics. In this portion, we cover brakes, hubs, chains, tires, and more!
Month 2: safety riding techniques and bicycle safety drills. Here, the students learn their rights as cyclists as well as common safety drills that should be practiced on the road.
Month 3: bicycle ride. The youth will organize a ride from beginning to end. We will guide them through the process (working with an itinerary) and enabling them to get creative as to what route they will take, the people they will involve, community outreach and more.
Month 4: public service announcement. We will have all of the youth creatively work on their own public service announcement. They will cover any theme they wish such as riding without a helmet, riding unpredictably, vehicle harassment, and more. The point is to convey a powerful and creative message that resonates with the rest of the public and the bicycling community.
Month 5: bicycle advocacy. In this last portion, we will take the youth on a bicycle audit of East Los Angeles. They will audit their streets and will make recommendations to city and/or county officials about improving the lives of bicyclists. We will help them understand how cities and counties draft bike master plans and how that affects policy and the environment.
After the youth finish the program we will provide them with bicycle lights, helmets, our Spanish resource guide, and more!
We are bringing this program to low-income youth in East Los Angeles with the intention of building strong relationships with the youth, to look at the built environment, to work harmoniously on different bicycle related projects, and to develop a broader vision so that the bicycling infrastructure can be transformed for the health and safety of all community members.
This program is a partnership between LACBC and LA CAUSA, a youth-build educational institution located in East Los Angeles which “fosters a commitment to social justice and nurtures a variety of skills necessary to act as agents of resistance and community transformation.”
We would like to thank Brenda Yancor, Miguel Ramos, Rafa, Guillermo, Reynaldo, Amy Ruvalcaba, and Tony Bautista for all of their support in making this program a reality. Without them this program would be in plain paper!
Last week we held a two day bicycle safety series with students from Centro Latino for Literacy in the Westlake/Macarthur park area. For much of our excitement a lot of students (especially moms) were happy and grateful that LACBC’s City of Lights program gave a workshop regarding bicycle safety and their rights as cyclists. What was more inspiring was the student’s energy and eagerness to learn what rights they are entitled to when they ride their bicycle! Questions were asked such as: can I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk? At what time should I turn on my lights to avoid a ticket?
As one man in the audience said “I come from a country [Mexico] where the rights of pedestrians and cyclists are not respected.” Majority of people in the audience agreed that the rights of pedestrians and cyclists are disregarded and not fully respected in their origin of country. It is no surprise to me when I hear people from other countries, especially from Latin America, say that it is surprising to them that laws do exist and are enforced here in the U.S. It gives them great joy and confidence that laws do exist and are respected by law enforcement in Los Angeles.
Much of our work revolves around teaching bicycle safety and giving participants helmets, lights, and other resources such as our Spanish resource guide to low-income people. We had about 180 people attend our bicycle safety and cyclists’ rights workshop for both days.
We want to thank Brenda Gonzalez, program coordinator, at the Centro for Latino Literacy for all of her support and outreach to the students and professors. Without her help and support we would have not receive a high attendance amongst the participants.
The City of Lights program will continue to engage students from the Centro so that students who come to school there also learn how to be confident city cyclists.
Tags: LA County Bike Plan, LA County Department of Public Works, Long Beach, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
Earlier this month LACBC organized a bike tour of Long Beach with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. The Supervisor invited a team of LA County Department of Public Works (DPW) staff to join him including Deputy Director Pat DeChellis, John Walker, Head of Programs Development, Dean Lehman, Head of Traffic & Lighting Division, Sree Kumar, Head of Design Division and Allan Abramson who works in the Programs Development Division and is responsible for the LA County Bicycle Master Plan. Our goal with this tour was to show the staff of DPW the type of bikeways we want to see in the many unincorporated communities of LA County.
One of the best way for anyone, including engineers, to understand innovative infrastructure treatments is to experience them. And as LACBC members know, Long Beach has become the local leader for innovative bicycle infrastructure projects. The City was a generous host and we were joined on the tour by Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, staff from their traffic engineering department responsible for helping design and implement the many innovative treatments, bike coordinator Allan Crawford and local bike mobility guru Charlie Gandy.
The tour included the protected bike lanes 3rd and Broadway, the Vista Bike Boulevard, the green sharrow lanes on 2nd Street, the beach bike path, and a number of other streets that have recently be upgraded with bike lanes, as well as stop at Bikestation and a few of the Bicycle Friendly Business Districts (BFBDs).
The bike tour was a great opportunity for County engineers to experience the innovative new facilities in Long Beach, but more importantly it enabled them to experience the streets by bicycling, something many of these staffers have not done in years. There was a lot of good dialogue between the County engineers and the Long Beach engineers. Ideas were flowing about bike boulevards and traffic calming ideas. We hope that once the county bike plan is adopted we’ll see many of the ideas discussed implemented in the many unincorporated communities the county plan covers. Already we’re hearing from DPW staff that they are looking for projects to enhance with some of the traffic calming treatments they saw implemented in Long Beach. As we recently reported, the county bike plan now includes an expanded design guide and language regarding innovative treatments, thanks to the leadership of Supervisor Yaroslavksy. We hope the Supervisor will continue his leadership and take an active role in improving the bike-ability of his district and the county.
In particular, we were excited to bring Supervisor Yaroslavsky on this tour because of his role on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACTMA or Metro) Board. As a Metro board member he is also responsible for deciding how much funding is allocated to active transportation projects through the Metro Call for Projects. The ‘Call’ has provided funding for many of the project Long Beach has implemented or will be implementing in the next five years, including a bike share program they hope to get off the ground in 2012. We hope that the Supervisor will draw upon this experience and continue to increase the funding allocated to active transportation through the Metro Call for Projects. We have and will continue to encourage the Supervisor to ensure bikeway facilities serve people of all ages, abilities, and experience in LA County as well as make sure bike parking facilities implemented by Metro follow the lead of Long Beach and Santa Monica and account for the future growth of cycling in LA County.
View a video from the tour put together by Supervisor Yaroslavsky office.
Tags: LA County Bike Plan, LA County Planning Commission, Supervisor Yaroslavsky
We have worked hard over the last year since the first draft of the LA County Bicycle Master Plan was released to ensure the Plan really serves the needs of the many diverse and dispersed unincorporated communities. Since the last Regional Planning Commission meeting on Nov 16th, a number of additional changes were made as a result of your many comments and LACBC’s advocacy. Our efforts were further supported by a motion put forth by Supervisor Yaroslavsky in December to ensure innovative treatments were included in the plan. This morning the LA County Bicycle Master Plan was again reviewed by the LA County Regional Planning Commission and was unanimously approved.
We are pleased with the changes that have been made since the first draft. Many of your comments and ours were integrated into the Plan and the changes will provide the people living in or adjacent to unincorporated LA County communities more opportunities to bicycle for everyday transportation and recreation. Since the Plan was first released, the total mileage of projects increased from 695 miles of bikeways to 832 miles of bikeways (currently there are only 144 miles of completed bikeways in the unincorporated communities of LA County).We are pleased that 47% of the projects planned to be implemented in the next five years are in areas where the median income is $40,000 or lower, ensuring the mobility options for low-income residents, many of whom already cycle for everyday transportation purposes or to connect to transit, are improved soon.
One of our campaign goals was to see more miles of bike lanes included in the urban areas of the unincorporated county and that better treatments are provided for rural roads to separate cyclists from sharing the roadway with fast moving vehicles. While 55% of the bikeways in the Plan are routes – 73% of those bike route projects are in the mountain and rural areas of LA County. Many of the route projects in areas like the Antelope Valley will include creating paved shoulders that, thanks to the expanded design guidelines, can include buffers between the vehicle travel lane and shoulder.
We are also pleased to see additional policies and guidelines included in Plan regarding the implementation of innovative treatments such as cycle tracks/protected bike lanes, bike boxes, etc. We also advocated for an expanded description and toolbox for bike boulevards. This was also included in the plan, however the language we were hoping for to specify that all bike boulevards projects will include some form of traffic calming features was not as strong as we would have liked.
We will be working over the next few weeks to address one of the remaining issues we have with the plan. We are concerned with wording included in the Plan that calls for a plan amendment to upgrade a facility. We feel this creates a barrier to implementing “better” bike projects than the ones specified in the plan, particularly in regards to upgrading a bike route to a bike lane if there is existing right-of-way to do so. Since the design of the bikeways identified in the plan will happen at a later date, it is possible that some streets identified as bike routes may have the existing right-of-way to support bike lanes without removing vehicle travel lanes or parking. Doing a plan amendment can take up to six months and adds additional costs to implementing projects and can discourage the Department of Public Works (DPW) from completing the best project possible for a particular corridor. While we want to ensure projects are not downgraded, we do want to see the best projects feasible for a specific corridor when implemented. We will be following up on this issue with the LA County Department of Regional Planning and the LA County Supervisors.
Additionally, the implementation of the plan is dependent on the ability of DPW to secure grant funding. However the county, like every incorporated city in the county, receives local returns from several sales tax initiatives including Measure R. We’re going to advocate that the County Supervisors allocate a percentage of the local sales tax return dollars to be used to fund projects and programs in the bicycle master plan. Similar to the campaign to secure 10% of the Measure R be set-aside for bicycle & pedestrian secured by LACBC, Green LA, and other advocates in the City of Los Angeles in 2010. This funding will help implement the plan, but also provide greater ability to DPW to leverage those dollars for grant funding. Most state and federal grants require a 20% local match, having a dedicated source of funding for bike projects will provide DPW a greater ability to secure grant funding. We’ll be calling on you to help us reach out to your County Supervisors to let them know how important it is to fund the bicycle plan.
The Plan will be heading to the LA County Board of Supervisors in late February or early March. Thanks to everyone who submitted comments and attended County Bike Plan meetings! We’ll keep you posted on upcoming board meetings and ways you can help us address the issues we mentioned above.
Tags: LA County Bike Plan, LA County DPW, LA County Planning Commission
Less than a month ago the LA County Department of Public Works released the ‘final’ draft of the LA County Bike Plan, which focuses on the unincorporated communities in LA County. This coming Wednesday, November 16th the LA County Bike Plan will head to the Planning Commission – while this plan does provide 816 miles of new bikeways for the many unincorporated communities in LA County, the majority are bike routes (458). We feel the plan still needs a number of improvements, including more miles of bike lanes and bike boulevards (also referred to as bicycle friendly streets) before any action should be taken on it.
This is the first update to the County’s existing bike plan in over 30 years and should provide a real vision and commitment to greatly increasing the safety of our unincorporated communities’ roadways and encourage more folks to bicycle to school, work, transit, their daily needs, or for fun over the next 20 to 30 years. If realized, the implementation of the plan should link residential neighborhoods, schools, business districts, transit hubs and the unincorporated communities to neighboring incorporated community and would have a significant impact on the region’s air quality, public health and safety of the county. However, the latest draft does not go far enough to create this network. We recommend the following:
Investment in Safer Infrastructure
The Plan should provide more bike boulevards and bike lanes and further enhance many of the proposed bike routes. The success of the County’s plan in increasing bike modal share will largely depend on its ability to make County residents who do not cycle now comfortable riding a bike on city streets, especially women, children and the elderly. Unfortunately the current draft fails to make use of the types of infrastructure that experience in other cities has shown are needed to convince these segments of the population that cycling is a safe and viable transportation option. While we appreciate that the County does not want to implement treatments that are still be piloted by other jurisdictions, we feel there is still more that could be done that is well within what is currently stipulated by the state.
For example, about 270 of the 816 miles proposed in the plan involve paving shoulders or widening roadways to install a Class III Bike Route, a road treatment that does little to encourage cycling among these groups, particularly on streets with average road speeds above 30mph. This does not make sense. If the County is prepared to incur the expense of intensive road construction, it should at least convert these miles to buffered bike lanes. The added cost of paint is negligible in comparison to the cost of road widening, but the facility’s quality and perceived safety would be dramatically improved. We especially recommend treatments like this in the Antelope Valley where travel speeds on local roads are posted at 50mph and people regularly travel faster than what is posted.
Additionally, the County Department of Public Health recently released the “Model Design Manual for Living Streets” and is in the process of adopting a “Healthy Design Ordinance” elements of both of these intiatives should be reflected in the County Bike Plan. Specifically the Plan should adopt the lane width standards set out by the Model Design Manual for Living Streets. Instead of uniformly applying Caltrans Highway Design Manual standards across a County so diverse in density, urban form, and local need, the County Manual provides more flexible standards which better reflect local uses. On streets with design speeds below 35 mph, 10’ lanes are standard, with widths up to 11’ considered if heavy bus or truck traffic is present. On streets with higher design speeds, the Manual is silent, permitting DPW to continue to utilize Caltrans highway design standards where prudent. Recognizing that drivers adjust to narrower lanes by reducing their speed, the County Manual emphasizes that “desired speed” should guide lane width determinations. In addition to desired traffic speed, we strongly request that the County give due consideration to bicycle traffic volumes and history of collisions involving bicycles. Finally, to the extent the County will seek of guidance from the Caltrans Highways Design Manual, it should document exceptions to 11’ and 12’ lane standards as provided for in Chapter 21 of the Caltrans Project Development Procedures Manual.
Equitable and Rational Prioritization of Projects
In order to make best use of limited resources over time, projects should be prioritized in a manner that develops infrastructure in communities with the greatest need from a public health, safety, and transportation justice standpoint. The current project prioritization grading scale should be amended so that it scores safety (based on local collision data) higher, awards points to projects serving low-income, transit-dependent communities as was done in the recently adopted City of LA Bike Plan; and grants preference to projects in communities with the highest obesity rates. By awarding more points in these areas, the County can ensure that the roll-out of its plan over the next few decades will positively impact the unincorporated communities in greatest need of safer streets for cycling first.
Clear, Ambitious and Easily Measurable Goals
Clear and measurable goals need to be set so that the public and policymakers have a clear track of the success of the plan. Therefore there needs to be a mode share goal beyond the first five years of the plan and it should be an ambitious one. We suggest a 10% bicycle mode share by 2032 for all trips, as well as an intermediate goal such as a 5% mode share by 2022.
We are encouraging everyone to write to the Regional Planning Commission by Monday November 14th so that all letters are in by the Wednesday November 16th. A template letter can be found here, we encourage you to personalize it and add your own thoughts, especially if there are roadways you feel would make ideal bicycle boulevards. We also encourage people to attend the public hearing Wednesday, November 16th and speak out for a better LA County Bike Plan.
LA County Planning Commission
Where: Hall of Records - Room 150
320 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
When: Wednesday, Nov 16th – 9am
LACBC and the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (DLANC) have been working since the ThinkBike Workshops this past September to see the vision developed in the workshops for protected bike lanes, also known as cycle tracks implemented on Spring and Main Street. We’ve been meeting with LADOT and thanks to the leadership of Mayor Villaraigosa and Councilmembers Huizar & Perry, Phase 1 of the campaign should be completed by the end of November!
This project will bring the first bike lanes to Downtown Los Angeles linking cultural and civic landmarks to the downtown business and residential core. LADOT will implement a buffered bike lane on Spring Street between Cesar Chavez and 9th Street. This first phase of the project will open Spring Street up for people on bicycles and help DLANC implement their plan for Parklets on Spring Street.
Currently Spring Street has five travel lanes during the peak hours (7 to 9am & 4 to 6pm) and three travel lanes during the off-peak hours. In order to secure space to create a protected bike lane, we’ve worked with DLANC and LADOT to maintain car parking and loading zones for local businesses on the west side of Spring Street 24/7 and turn one of the vehicle travel lanes into a 6′ bike lane with a 4′ buffer. This will mean Spring St. will only have two vehicle travel lanes in the off-peak hours (the bulk of the day) and three travel lanes during the peak hours. According to traffic studies done by LADOT, congestion levels on Spring Street will not be significantly impacted and travel times should remain the same for vehicles. The long term goal of LACBC and DLANC is to eventually see the car parking and bicycle lane positions swapped and a Dutch style protect bike lane implemented.
LADOT is still finalizing the design for the buffered bicycle lane but they plan to implement a green paint treatment with the bike lane so it will be more visible to motorists, thereby increasing the safety of people bicycling while also helping to encourage people currently bicycling on the sidewalk to ride in the street.
Traffic studies for Main Street are still being done, but the hope is to implement bicycle lanes on Main from Cesar Chavez to Venice Blvd in 2012. We will also be continuing our working on the 7th Street Bike Lane Campaign to create east/west linkages through Downtown Los Angeles to eventually link up to the Spring and Main projects. We want to ensure these routes are expanded to connect the many nearby communities, many of which have no existing bicycle infrastructure and are predominately low-income and transit dependent communities that rely on transit, bicycling and walking to access jobs in Downtown Los Angeles and meet their daily needs.
We are really excited to see this campaign moving so fast and hope you are too! If you live and/or work in Downtown LA and are interested in volunteering to help do outreach for this campaign please let us know. We are currently going door to door to local businesses and residential buildings to make sure everyone is aware of this exciting and innovative project.
Earlier this year LACBC won a research grant from Bikes Belong, a leading national bicycle research and advocacy organization, to study the potential effects of bicycle lanes on economic activity in Los Angeles neighborhoods. LACBC and UCLA student researcher Cullen McCormick will be focusing specifically on Northeast Los Angeles, where they will investigate the community lining York Boulevard from Eagle Rock Boulevard to Figueroa Street.
Why York Boulevard? The number of businesses and business types remain fairly constant along the stretch between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Figueroa Street, but the road configuration changes halfway along this segment at Avenue 55—creating good conditions in which to conduct research.
The eastern half of the York Boulevard study area, from Avenue 55 to Figueroa Street, retains its original road configuration: two auto lanes in each direction with a center turn lane and on-street parking. The slightly narrower western half, from Avenue 55 to Eagle Rock Boulevard, received a “road diet” in 2006 followed by bike lanes in late 2010. A road diet is the conversion of auto lanes from through auto traffic to other uses, which include center turn lanes, bicycle lanes, and sidewalks. With the road diet complete, the western portion of York Boulevard now includes one auto lane in each direction, a center turn lane, bike lanes in each direction, and on-street parking.
So that’s all well and good, but what is this study going to do, exactly? LACBC recently interviewed over 100 businesses along York Blvd to better understand their perceptions of bicycle lanes and road diets—specifically, how these treatments might affect the number of customers who visit their businesses.
With the business surveys complete, LACBC will now interview people who shop, dine, and spend time along York Boulevard. We will ask about their mode of transport and whether they feel that bike lanes, vehicle speeds, or road width influence where they choose to shop.
In addition to interviews, LACBC will compare sales tax data and property sale prices for both halves of the York Boulevard study corridor—measuring data before and after the road diet was put in—to see if there are any differences between the areas with and without bike lanes/road diet. Once we analyze the interview results and crunch the numbers, our student researcher will prepare the findings in a comprehensive report, which will be available online likely in mid-2012.
That’s the skinny on the York Boulevard Road Diet Economic Impact Study. If you have any questions, want to stay informed as the study advances, or perhaps can dream up a shorter, better-sounding name for the study, feel free to email us!
The Venice Neighborhood Council will be voting on the Main Street Road Diet proposal tonight. Please attend to voice your support of this project. Here is the text of an LACBC support letter sent to the Neighborhood Council today.
Dear Venice Neighborhood Council Members,
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition urges you to support the Main Street Road Diet from the border of Santa Monica to Windward Circle in Venice. Projects such as this have been demonstrated to be beneficial for all road users, not just bicyclists. Here are some of our reasons for supporting the Main Street Road Diet.
1. Road Diets have a record of making streets safer for everyone. They inhibit motorists from speeding – a benefit for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists. The configuration is also safer for pedestrians because it reduces the number of travel lanes that a crossing pedestrian must navigate.
2. Door zone concerns. Cyclists who are unaware of the door zone hazard (the space immediately adjacent to the left of parked cars where a cyclist can be hit when the parked motorist opens his/her door) typically ride in the door zone with or without the presence of a bike lane. Cyclists who are aware of the door zone hazard typically ride outside the door zone when bike lanes are not present and will ride to the left edge of the bike lane when bike lanes are present. The problem is not bike lanes but educating about the door zone hazard.
3. The LACBC views bike lanes that exceed the 5 foot minimum as preferable, but we also recognize a potential hazard that comes with providing a travel lane that might be too narrow for the bus traffic on Main Street. We recognize a need for a balance between the two and we don’t see the wisdom of completely rejecting a road diet on Main Street that might include a 5 foot bike lane.
4. The proposed Road Diet configuration already exists on Main Street in Santa Monica and it works. There is little to suggest why it shouldn’t work in the Venice section as well. Furthermore, a brief review of reported collision data on the Santa Monica section of Main Street shows a total of 15 bicycle collisions in the two-year period from January 2008 to December 2009. Of those 15 collisions, most were attributed to improper turns and right of way violations, as well as speeding and wrong way riding. Although four collisions were assigned “other violations” and one was assigned “unknown,” it seems clear that the bike lanes on Santa Monica’s Main Street section are not creating a hazard for cyclists.
We hope that you will consider these points and vote in favor of the Road Diet on Main Street. Thank you.
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
VENICE NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL BOARD MEETING
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011
Time: 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Location: Westminster Elementary School Auditorium
1010 Abbot Kinney Boulevard – Venice, CA, 90291
Venice NC info and agenda: www.grvnc.org