Bike Lanes, Bike Paths & Sharrows: Notes from the BAC Bikeways Subcommitee, 1/25/11

Last Tuesday, 15 people met on the 9th floor of the Caltrans building downtown to discuss upcoming bike lanes, upcoming bike paths, and the future of Sharrows in Los Angeles.  They met to discuss the engineering realities of each project and how to best move them forward for the benefit of all bicyclist Angelinos.  The results of this meeting, and the one held earlier this month, will be reported back to the full Bicycle Advisory Committee when they next meet.  In case you forgot when the BAC meets:

Bicycle Advisory Committee

Tuesday, February 1st at 7:00 PM at Hollywood City Hall, 6501 Fountain Ave.

If you can’t make it out next week, fear not: LADOT Bike Blog will be tweeting the proceedings as well as providing detailed notes on this here blog early next month.


Sharrows: just one of the projects discussed at the BAC Bikeways Subcommittee

BAC Bikeways Subcommittee Agenda

Projects discussed were:

  • the progress made on LA’s test Sharrows project,
  • extending bike lanes on York Boulevard,
  • completing bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard,
  • the Main Street Road Diet/bike lanes project, and
  • the San Fernando Road bike path

Roll Call

Though the meeting was a public event, attendance was still on the light side.  BAC representatives Joe Linton, Glenn Bailey, Larry Hoffman, Alex Baum, and Jeff Jacobergger formed the subcommittee with Joe Linton as chair.  From the LADOT Bike Program were Planning & Outreach coordinators Michelle Mowery, Nathan Baird, Oliver Hou, and Christopher Kidd.  From the LADOT Bike Program Bikeways Group were engineers Paul Meshkin, Abbass Vajar, and Tim Fremaux.  From the LACBC were Alexis Lantz and Allison Mannos.  And from Bikeside LA was Alex Thompson.

Pre-Meeting Notes: CicLAvía

Before the meeting kicked off, Joe Linton announced some great CicLAvia news.  Not only was the CicLavia team meeting soon with the Mayor’s office about the multiple CicLAvia’s planned for the coming year, but they also had secured a $10,000 sponsorship from Sprint.

A route and date have been announced for this year’s first CicLAvia: It will take place on April 10 (4/11/10) and will go along the same 7 mile route as last year’s wildly successful inaugural CicLAvia.  Subsequent CicLAvia’s in 2011 will seek to build extra spurs off of the original route, hopefully snaking down into South LA.  The CicLAvia team looking to plan entirely new routes all over Los Angeles in 2012 and beyond.

First Order of Business: Sharrows


The Sharrows on Abbot Kinney got interesting results

Assistant Coordinator Oliver Hou gave a preliminary report on his research of data collected on the routes of LA’s six test Sharrows, both before and after installation. The data for the test Sharrows study is by far the most in-depth information collected to date.

While the department will be submitting an official report on the results of the test Sharrows to the Transportation Committee later this year, the BAC Subcommittee wanted to get an update on how the project was coming.  Some of the preliminary results are quite interesting:

  • Sharrows appear to be a big success so far in Los Angeles.  The results of the report will recommend implementation of Sharrows throughout the City.
  • Drivers at almost every location gave bicyclists more space when passing once Sharrows were installed.  The one exception was Abbot Kinney (though Abbot Kinney had the widest passing distance before Sharrows went in).  The greatest changes in passing distance were observed on Fountain Avenue and 4th Street.
  • When observing the behavior of drivers who weren’t able to pass bicyclists on Sharrows, results were more mixed.  On 4th Street and Adams Boulevard, more drivers were observed to follow behind bicyclists at a safe distance after Sharrows installation.
  • Although their report is not finished either, LACBC also gave a report on their side of the Sharrows test project: outreach & surveys.  Preliminary data suggests that while Sharrows do encourage on-street bicyclists to move further away from the door-zone, the current Sharrows have not encouraged sidewalk riders to move into the street.  The LACBC will suggest that the sign “bikes may use full lane” should accompany any new Sharrows installed in Los Angeles.

The BAC members expressed interest in learning more about the study methodology and getting to review the report before it goes to Transportation Committee.

BAC/Public Comments

Further discussion covered many of the fine points of Sharrows.  BAC members mused on placing Sharrows in the center of the travel lane (independent of the distance from the curb), expressed hope for a green-striped Sharrows pilot project like in Long Beach, asked about using Sharrows to connect breaks in bike lanes where there is a right turn lane at an intersection, and possibly placing Sharrows at different distances from the curb depending on the width of the street.

The LADOT Bike Program committed that Sharrows in Los Angeles would never be less than 12 feet from the curb, and that the results of the report would dictate their recommendations.  One concern expressed by LADOT Bikeways engineers about placing Sharrows too far out on a street that sees minimal parking coverage was that a car could attempt to pass a bicyclist on the right in the parking lane.

BAC Bikeways Committee chair Joe Linton closed the meeting item by promising to the continue the item with the full BAC and to review the report when it comes out.  Joe also expressed his support for Sharrows in LA, and that the current arrangement only needs a “tweak here and there” to make it optimal.

York Boulevard Bike Lanes


York Boulevard’s current bike lanes, courtesy LA Eco Village

The next item concerned the plan to extend bike lanes from their current end at Avenue 55 all the way to North Figueroa Street.  LADOT Bikeways engineers outlined the current plans:

  • West of Avenue 55, York Boulevard has 1 travel lane in each direction with a Two Way Left Turn Lane between them.  East of Avenue 55, York Boulevard currently has 2 travel lanes in each direction with left turn pockets creating an additional center lane.
  • The proposed plan would remove one west-bound travel lane, convert the turn pockets into a Two Way Left Turn Lane, and add bike lanes.
  • All parking on York Street would be unaffected.

BAC/Public Comments

The BAC wanted to make sure that the bike lanes would be as wide as possible for this project.  While the current plan calls for 5 foot bike lanes, BAC and LACBC members asked LADOT Bikeways engineers to try to find the room to make lanes at least 6 feet.  LADOT Bikeways engineers responded that when a street is reconfigured, excess street width first goes to bike lanes and parking (if the parking lane is less than 8 feet) before it goes to travel lanes.

The BAC also asked LADOT Bikeway engineers about the traffic impacts of taking each direction on York Boulevard down to a single travel lane.

Main Street Bike Lanes

The Main Street Bike Lanes have already received plenty of attention

The bike lane project for Main Street has seen copious amounts of virtual ink spilled (from this blog, to Streetsblogtwice,to the LACBC blog, to Biking in LA, to Gary Rides Bikes, to Yo!Venice, and even the LAist), and the BAC also wanted to weigh in.

BAC/Public Comments

The LADOT Bike Program gave another outline of the current project, followed by comments from the BAC and the public.  Most comments centered around finding more road width to widen the bike lanes on Main Street.  The need for 11 foot travel lanes was questioned, and LADOT Bikeways engineers responded that an 11 foot lane was necessary for safe bus travel alongside bikes in the bike lane.  BAC member Jeff Jacobergger suggested that LADOT step up its enforcement of ticketing cars parked with part of their bulk blocking the bike lane as a way to increase the total amount of space for safe riding.  Bikeside’s Alex Thompson instead advocated for Sharrows to be placed on Main Street rather than a road diet and bike lanes.

BAC Bikeways Committee chair Joe Linton closed the item by noting that the increased dialogue by LADOT on the Main Street project was encouraging, and that more dialogue would be necessary on projects in the future.  He also expressed his opinion that bike lanes offer more benefits than drawbacks, and that he would support a bike lane project on Main Street rather than Sharrows.

Reseda Bike Lanes

Reseda BL

Just one more section of bike lanes on Reseda left

Next up was an update on the Reseda bike lanes.  If you’re a regular reader of LADOT Bike Blog, you’re sure to have read about the latest addition of bike lanes to Reseda Boulevard.  LADOT Bike Program staff informed the BAC subcommittee on the remaining sections yet to be striped.

  • Roscoe to Parthenia is the last remaining gap to connect about 9 miles of continuous bicycle infrastructure along Reseda Boulevard.  There is a bottleneck in road width along this stretch, which may require removal of parking spaces to move the project forward.  With approval for this parking removal, the lanes could be installed in about a month.
  • A gap between San Fernando Mission Boulevard and Rinadi Street is also problematic.  The difficulty lies in the overpass of Highway 118, and the existence of two right-turn on-ramp lanes.  Cooperation with Caltrans will be necessary to create a bicycle infrastructure solution that is safe for navigating the on-ramp.

San Fernando Road Bike Path

LADOT Bikeways engineers gave a brief update on the San Fernando Road bike path.  The completed section, from Roxford Street to the San Fernando City Limits, has had maintenance issues over the years.  Recreation and Parks is responsible for maintaining the path, and LADOT relies on feed back from the bike path users to know whether upkeep is being diligently carried out.

Then followed an update of Phases 2 & 3 for the bike path, both of which are fully funded.  Issues with utilities the run under the planned bike path, and negotiations with those utility companies, have set the construction schedule back.  Despite the setbacks, the City is is almost fully prepared for construction on the path.  The funding for Phase 3 won’t be available for a few years into the future.  The LADOT Bike Program is hoping, however, to have Phase 2 completed by the time funding for Phase 3 becomes available, creating a seamless transition.

BAC/Public Comments

Questions were brought up about lighting, bike/pedestrian conflicts, and project costs.  Staff responded that new lighting would either be solar or LED, that a center stripe will be added to the bike path to minimize conflict, and that working with Metrolink and retrofitting crossings for bicycle/pedestrian safety create significant costs.

BAC Meeting – Tomorrow

If you want to find out more about these issues, or if you want other issues addressed altogether, we highly recommend that you attend the full BAC meeting tomorrow night.  If you don’t make your voice heard, it’s hard to complain about the consequences when other do.

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