4th Street Style: An LA take on bicycle boulevards

February 17, 2010 at 8:13 am | Posted in Bike News | 1 Comment

Hassle-free. Relaxing. Enjoyable. These are not terms that you generally associate with bicycling in Los Angeles. Soon, however, Los Angeles bicyclists, pedestrians and all users of the road could see this idealistic vision materialize in the form of a series of “bicycle boulevards”! For several years LA’s cycling communities have been advocating that low-traffic streets such as 4th Street from Hoover St. to Cochran St. be turned into these bicycle boulevards.

The benefits would be manifold.

The atmosphere created by bicycle boulevards is one that is inviting to bicyclists, pedestrians, and all users of the road alike. Neighbors can once again enjoy their streets together, no longer threatened by speeding automobiles—with some through car traffic diverted, the drivers that do use the streets are your neighbors, traveling at neighborly speeds. Residents can reclaim a landscape that has in the last few decades been almost entirely usurped by the car: in most western US cities pavement has covered up to 70% of the urban landscape. With bicycle boulevards there are opportunities to have more trees, permeable pavement, traffic circles, mini-parks and other amenities.  One of the best examples of positive implementation of a network of boulevards is in Portland, OR. Berkeley, CA also has an extensive network of bicycle boulevards.

For cyclists, creating a bicycle boulevard would be simply improving upon an already utilized bicycle route.  These boulevards are created on low traffic streets where bicycle and pedestrian traffic can be prioritized.  Most, like 4th Street, run parallel to major thoroughfares and pass though both residential neighborhoods and commercial districts. Furthermore, they link neighborhoods and create a strong sense of place.

Businesses also can rejoice at the coming of bicycle boulevards. Contrary to many business owners’ perceptions, studies have shown that 70% of customers in Toronto and San Francisco arrive by means other than a car.  Infrastructure that encourages more cycling will improve business for most stores near a bicycle boulevard. One important reason for this is bicycles are very space efficient, parking 12 in a space that accommodates a single car; and of course cyclists can window-shop as they travel and park quickly at whim, unlike drivers.

So what’s next? A network of bicycle boulevards has been proposed in the Los Angeles Bicycle Plan Update. Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (CICLE) have been conducting outreach and advocacy to support the implementation of boulevards. The team would like to float a proposal to Councilmember Tom LaBonge by early April.  So far, both the Wilshire Center BID and the Rampart Village Neighborhood Council have shown support for the 4th Street campaign. GOOD magazine has also profiled the campaign.

If you want to become more involved with this exciting campaign, please contact Dorothy@la-bike.org for more information.  You can also join the e-mail list here.

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  1. […] talks about the benefits of bike boulevards, including the proposed for 4th St. in L.A.; remember, how you sell them to the surrounding […]

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