BPIT Notes 4/5/11: 7th Street, Venice Blvd, Sunset Blvd, and More

This last Tuesday, folks from LADOT, City Planning, the Mayor’s Office, Council Offices, LACBC, Bikeside, and other concerned bicyclists all piled into City Hall Room 721 for the monthly meeting of the Bike Plan Implementation Team.  If you missed it, you can get the meeting notice and agenda here.

It’s becoming more apparent with each meeting that City Hall Room 721 may not fulfill the needs of the ever-growing BPIT: the 37 people who showed up this month were practically flowing out into the hallway.  It’s encouraging to see that so many members of the public and so many representatives from various parts of the City are committed to making the LA Bike Plan a reality.  Rick Risemberg weighed in with a very uplifting recap of the BPIT at the Flying Pigeon blog.  Dan Rodman, an excellent new writer for Bikeside, gave his own recap of the meeting.

Up on the docket for the BPIT were updates on current LADOT Bikeways projects, progress on 7th Street, the Wilshire Grand project, Sunset Boulevard, getting started on Venice Boulevard, and future program priorities for the City.

Project Status Updates

After introductions, LADOT Bikeways engineer Paul Meshkin gave an update on all the Year Zero projects LADOT is working on right now.  Rather than rehash everything Paul mentioned, you can read about the statuses of all our ongoing projects right here.

As part of the project status updates, newly elected BAC Chair Jay Slater announced that he had met that morning with CD 14 Council Member Jose Huizar about both extending bike lanes on York Boulevard from Ave 56 to Figueora Street and potentially bringing bike lanes to Colorado Boulevard from Eagle Rock Boulevard to Figueroa Street.

7th Street Update

A future view of 7th Street? (via LACBC)

City Planning and CD 1 deputy Jill Sourial gave updates on the planning and outreach process involved in getting bike lanes approved on 7th Street from Catalina Street to Figueroa Street.  So far, CD 1 staff and City Planning have met with Westlake community members, have set up a process for further community meetings, and are meeting with the MacArthur Park Neighborhood Council this week to present plans for the bike lanes.  The LACBC is also kicking off a campaign to build community support for the bike lanes, working with community organizations like CCNP and CARECEN.  Glenn Bailey of the Los Angeles BAC recommended that outreach efforts also focus on any local chambers of commerce in the community.

Sunset Boulevard

When Sunset Boulevard got a resurfacing back in March, the LACBC and a few other bike advocates asked the City to consider extending the Backbone Network Sunset Boulevard bike lanes, which currently end at Douglas Street, all the way out to Figueroa Street.

City Planning and Bikeways engineers wanted to clear the air regarding this section of roadway, explaining that the stretch of Sunset in question would first need a reconfiguration in order to fit in bike lanes.  While this could be done in the future, they didn’t want to take focus away from the current projects on 7th Street and Venice Boulevard to move forward on Sunset just yet.

anti-gridlock zone

Any anti-gridlock zoned areas will require further analysis before we can put in bike lanes

Another complication for this stretch of Sunset is that it’s within an “anti-gridlock zone”.  The City, in order to put in bike lanes, would first need to do some analysis of the necessity/un-necessity of the peak-hour travel lanes in such an area.  LADOT and City Planning are looking into this issue.  There is, however, good news: DOT crews striped this stretch of Sunset with paint after the resurfacing and not with thermoplastic, which makes it much easier to remove the current configuration once a more preferred option (i.e. bike lanes) is ready.

Wilshire Grand

The next item for the BPIT centered on improvements that could be made to 7th Street as part of the Wilshire Grand development project.  The developer for the project has agreed to set aside $9 million ($4 million for phase one and $5 million for phase 2) for streetscape improvements around the project and on nearby streets.  This figures into the BPIT’s work because the project’s southern boundary is 7th Street.  The city will have the potential to use these funds to, among other projects, expand the 7th Street bike lanes from Figueroa Street to Main Street.

The first phase of the Wilshire Grand Project could be implemented, along with street improvements, in the next 1-2 years.  The process is in an early stage, and the City is still working with stakeholders to determine priorities.  The Wilshire Grand development will also provide pedestrian improvements on the 110 overpasses for 7th Street and Wilshire Boulevard.

Venice Boulevard

Next came the biggest piece of the meeting: preliminary discussion about bringing bike lanes to Venice Boulevard.  LADOT Bikeways engineers gave a presentation on their initial analysis to the assembled group.  You can read up on that analysis and give your own opinions on Venice Boulevard here.  The preliminary (and estimated) time-line was presented as: 3 months of design and outreach, 2 months of finalized design after outreach has been completed, and 1 month of implementation.

While a number of the stretches on Venice will require choosing between travel lane removal and parking removal, meeting attendees wanted to make sure community groups and NCs are also presented with the positives of a road diet and the potential for win-win benefits.  Advocates advanced a number of innovative ideas, like building “double sharrows” where a parking lane turns into a travel lane during rush hour (and both lanes are sharrowed), or creating bus-bike lanes (like the ones on Figueroa) to improve bus service as well as bicycle access on this heavily traveled bus corridor.

BPIT attendees discussed the finer points of securing community buy-in, how many options to present to community groups, making sure different options for the 5 sections of Venice keep as contiguous a configuration as possible (the street varies in width greatly as one travels along this section), creating a solution to the bottleneck that happens during Staples Center events, and efforts at community education & participatory planning in the low-income communities along Venice Boulevard.

For the next step, City Planning will meet with the 3 council district offices (CD 10, CD 1, and CD 9) through which this section of Venice Boulevard runs.  Together, they will determine a coordinated outreach strategy and work together on presentations to the various community groups in their respective districts.

Bike Plan Support Programs

The LA Bike Plan doesn’t just happen to be a bunch of lines on a map where bike lanes go.  It also has a long list of programs and policies meant to help make the City a more bike friendly place.  In this section of the meeting, the LADOT Bike Program and City Planning outlined all the programs they’re currently working on.  Of particular note was City Planning’s effort to provide status reports on program progress and a joint effort to use SWITRS and TIMS data to map bicycle crashes in LA.  They will use this data in the future to help prioritize new bike lane projects that provide the greatest safety benefit the soonest.

BPIT members expressed interest in the meetings paying more attention to education programs in future meetings and getting LAPD representatives to attend BPIT meetings to help keep them abreast of developments.

Next BPIT Meeting

The next BPIT meeting will be on May 3rd at 2:00 PM at City Hall Room 721.  Expected agenda items are progress on 7th Street, progress on Venice Boulevard, further discussion of Bike Plan programs, and more.  When we get an agenda for next month’s meeting, we’ll be sure to post it right here at the LADOT Bike Blog.

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