BPIT’s “Top 10”: How Would You Build 7th Street?

(Ed. Note: As first reported by LACBC on their twitter feed, the LA Bike Plan will have it’s final hearing before the LA City Council on March 1st.  We’ll disburse more information as it becomes available.  The finish line is in sight.)

One of the first actions taken by the recently convened Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT) was to create a “Top 10” list of projects for LADOT to begin working on concepts for.  The list includes streets like Venice Boulevard, Figueroa Street, MLK Jr. Boulevard, 4th Street and others slated for bike infrastructure projects in the near future.  LADOT engineers will take this “Top 10” list and (working with Council Offices, City Planning, and the BPIT) draft a number of options to make bike infrastructure feasible on each street.  Before our engineers get too far into crafting different scenarios, however, LADOT Bike Blog wanted to solicit ideas and input from our readers.  There is an enormous amount of collective wisdom stored in your bicycling heads, and we’d be remiss not to tap into it.

LADOT wants to know: How would you build it?

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7th Street featured prominently in last years' CicLAvia

While we can’t guarantee that every suggestion will make it into the drafted options, we know that bicyclists will have intimate knowledge of street configurations, problem intersections, and possible areas of conflict for upcoming projects.  Make sure your thoughts and ideas are heard in the comments section, or on our facebook page.

A Great Street for Bike Infrastructure

7th Street is one of those streets that just makes sense for bike lanes.  It’s one of the few east-west connections between mid-city neighborhoods (like Koreatown, MacArthur Park & Pico Union) and Downtown that is  extremely well suited for bicycling.  While all the streets north of 7th Street have a lot of hilly sections on them, 7th Street has one long, slow climb while going east towards Downtown.  This gentle slope was one of the reasons 7th Street featured so prominently in last years’ CicLAvia route.

Catalina to Soto

The current limits for the project on 7th Street, as designated by the Bike Plan, will eventually stretch just over 5 miles from Koreatown to Boyle Heights.  From Catalina Street in the west to Soto Street in the east, bike lanes on 7th Street would offer access to multiple LAUSD schools, multiple parks, and a safe corridor into Downtown for neighborhoods that have been traditionally under-served by the City. The BPIT team and LADOT engineers will begin by focusing on 7th Street from Catalina to Figueroa, as that stretch seems implementable in the very near term.

What are the possibilities?  Where are the conflicts?

If we can identify opportunities early, there’s a better chance we can utilize them.  If we can identify conflicts early, there’s less chance of them tripping us up after construction has begun.  In fact, Council Member Ed Reyes has already begun the process.  Last week, he walked with LADOT engineers on the section of 7th Street that lie within his district, looking for possible street conflicts and corresponding solutions to bring a bike lane to 7th Street. Please walk and bike it yourself in the near future and let us know what you think.

Though it would be nice to see our wildest bike fantasies come true throughout the City, we still need to consider conflicts and broad interests.  Is this a high-volume street, making it difficult to remove travel lanes?  How would the surrounding communities feel about bike lanes, especially if it meant travel lane or parking removal?  Are there some areas of the street where it would be easy to install bike lanes and other places that are more difficult?  Are there “pinch points” where the street width significantly narrows, making it difficult to fit in bike lanes?  Do you have innovative solutions to get around these possible conflicts?

Let us know how you would do it in the comments section.  We’ll compile the best ideas and make sure they get to City Planning and LADOT engineers.  Who knows, maybe something you suggested will show up at the next BPIT meeting.

0 replies
  1. Rick Risemberg
    Rick Risemberg says:

    Seventh seems pretty easy to me. I use it constantly, riding downtown to meetings in the Garment District. At least till you cross the freeway (heading east), it’s fairly wide, especially west of Alvarado; narrowing traffic lanes should give plenty of room for bike lanes.

    Between Alvarado and the 110, though, it’s narrower; I doubt you could fit standard bike lanes w/o a road diet, yet it feels as though there’s more car traffic there. This section also has very bad road surface, especially on the westbound lanes. There are many small shops and parking is usually fully occupied, making it difficult to remove a parking lane. Perhaps LADOT could remove parking from just one side of the street and add active crosswalks mid-block? Delivery trucks are a constant here as well, mostly bobtails and large vans.

    The climb from Figueroa to the freeway (westbound) is often tricky in front of the hotel. Perhaps a median channeling hotel drop-off traffic to a single merging point, combined with a “Watch for Bikes” sign at the merge itself?

    East of Figueroa, you may as well eliminate what parking there is. Maybe combined bus/bike lanes would be most suitable there, such as exist on Spring.

    Reply
  2. Joe Linton
    Joe Linton says:

    In addition to what you’ve stated for reasons that 7th is very compatible for bike lanes, there are two other great qualities that help make the street ideal: in that area, 7th is one of the few east/west streets that don’t have a 110 Freeway on-ramp/off-ramp for bicyclists to contend with. It also connects well with Metro Stations at Figueroa/Flower and at Alvarado.

    One other note: the stretch through downtown has already been approved for bike lanes – in the 2009 Downtown Street Standards – covered here and elsewhere: http://ciclavia.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/a-dozen-quick-cheap-l-a-projects-inspired-by-janette-sadik-khan/

    I think it’s great that the city is moving forward with the 7th Street bike lanes. It’s long been a frustration that the city has implemented no bike facilities of any kind within the dense urban core. 7th will be a good start.

    Reply
  3. brianhhsu
    brianhhsu says:

    While it might be difficult to implement downtown, I would ideally like to see separated bike lines similar to the ones on 9th Avenue in New York. 7th Street isn’t exactly wide enough for this to happen without a rather significant reduction in street parking or travel lanes, but it also seems to me that car traffic is relatively light throughout the day, particularly in Westlake and Koreatown. At least, I think it merits serious consideration.

    Reply
  4. villavaso
    villavaso says:

    I agree with brianhhsu, this is an excellent street to launch a separated lanes pilot. Even if they do not stretch the entire 5 miles, get them in from Catalina to the 110 and from Central to Soto. Exclude the densest part of downtown and the bridge over the LA River if you have to. 7th is an ideal street to convert to a bicycle priority street due to the numerous parallel streets that already prioritize cars and have freeway access ramps.

    Reply
    • ladotbikeblog
      ladotbikeblog says:

      Great comment, Stephen.

      How would you suggest implementing a separated bike lane where street parking currently exists? Most separated bike lanes and cycle-tracks preclude street parking because of the physical separation between travel lanes and bike lanes. I cringe to think of the community response to the removal of so many parking spaces on 7th.

      Would a protected bike lane, where the parking and the bike lane switch positions, be an acceptable substitute to a separated bike lane that would necessitate the removal of parking?

      Reply
      • Joe Linton
        Joe Linton says:

        “Most separated bike lanes and cycle-tracks preclude street parking” huh? Not true. The ones in the U.S. (Long Beach and New York City) have street parking along them. The configuration is: sidewalk-bikeway-parking-travel lanes. (What’s different between 7th and these streets is that the other U.S. examples are 1-way streets… which I suspects makes the bike signalization work simpler.)

        I think talking about removing a lot of parking is a non-starter. Similar to the configuration shown/approved in the downtown street standards, it appears to me that, with a road diet (removal of one traffic lane – from current 2 lanes in each direction with no turn lane – to a single lane in each direction with a center turn lane) it would be straightforward to free up space for the bike lanes. The road diet would remove no parking.

        Responding to Hsu and Villavaso: I would like to see the city implement protected bike facilities… but I think that it’s a couple of orders of magnitude cost difference between what’s already approved for 7th and what a protected facility costs.

        Cost of road diet bike lanes for 1 mile of 7th: ~$25K
        timeline to implement: ~1-3 months

        Cost of Long Beach protected bike facility 1 mile: ~$0.5M (includes securing grant funding, signals, curb work, federal permission for pilot outside of state-approved highway rules.)
        timeline to implement: ~2+ years

        I would suggest that folks support the implementation of the bike lanes now… and continue to work for the protected facilities in the future.

        (Even for Broadway in NYC, NYDOT initially implemented a standard 5′ bike lane first. That lane was, frankly, not a great facility – though I rode it. I think it’s worth implementing the approved lanes right away, then looking at next steps.)

        Reply
    • Joe Linton
      Joe Linton says:

      I don’t want to stifle the enthusiasm for pushing envelope (well maybe I do, a little) but I think that we can get bigger change quickly spread further – if we go for cheap stuff – ie: basic painted bike lanes. Even cities that have implemented these (NYC, Long Beach, ~Portland) have striped orders of magnitude more basic bike lanes – then come in with the fancier stuff in a few select locations.

      I personally think that a road diet on 7th Street will be an excellent facility – it’ll really change things for the better – make it safer, more “neighborhoody” for peds, drivers, cyclists… good for business, good for low-income riders, – and good for my commutes downtown!!!

      Regarding placement of cycletrack protected bike facilities – the ones I’ve seen (NYC, LB) have followed this pattern:
      – 1-way street (preferably couplet pair of 1-way streets)
      – wide street with excess capacity – ie: 3+ travel lanes
      – downtown area with few driveways
      Then they basically remove one ~10′ travel lane – and use that space to allocate to a ~5-6′ bike lane and ~4-5′ worth of buffer/protection. I think that, in L.A., the most likely place for this would be a pair of 1-way streets in downtown L.A. – for example: Figueroa/Flower – or Main/Spring (or maybe 5th/6th or 3rd/4th… though it seems like there are fewer driveways/crossings on north-south blocks.) I wouldn’t rule out 7th… but I think that there are other locations that look to me to be a bit easier.

      Reply
  5. Linnea
    Linnea says:

    Since 7th Street east of Alvarado is narrow, I would put an additional eastbound bike lane on 9th from Alvarado through downtown, and a westbound lane on 7th.

    Reply
  6. Alex Brideau III
    Alex Brideau III says:

    The 7th & Bixel intersection might be problematic as a good number of cars queue in 7th Street’s EB right lane to turn right onto Bixel for the 110 onramp one block done. Aside from the ridiculous gridlocking that some drivers seem intent on causing, my worry is that unless the EB cars get a dedicated right turn lane, they will cut off cyclists heading east.

    Anyone know how this intersection will be treated? They are just removing the existing paint today.

    Reply
  7. Joe Linton
    Joe Linton says:

    Alex — While a livability strategy for making Bixel/7th really walkable bikeable and safe could involve adding on-street parking on the south side of 7th (hence that’s the design I’d like to see)… I expect that the city will more likely introduce a short gap in the bike lane to allow for lots of cars to merge into the right lane. I bet that, on 7th at Bixel, heading east on 7th, , the lanes will be as follows (starting from the curb moving left): right-turn-only car lane, bike lane, through car lane, and left-turn-only car lane.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] western portion of the 7th Street bike lanes (from Figueroa to Catalina) are now on the city’s list of priority facilities to be implemented some time in the new fiscal year, beginning July 1st 2011. The project is […]

  2. […] in the air. Here’s the agenda. There will be project updates for the BPIT to hear (such as 7th Street, Venice Boulevard, and the streets around NBC/Universal and further discussion about programs […]

  3. […] 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 […]

  4. […] for input on “Top 10″ projects, LADOT Bike Blog last month launched discussions (both on the blog and on Facebook) on how best to build bike lanes on 7th Street.  We’d like to again extend […]

  5. […] How Would You Build 7th Street Bike Lane (LADOT Bike Blog) […]

  6. […] Comments « BPIT’s “Top 10″: How Would You Build 7th Street? […]

  7. […] to task for poor roadway maintenance on 4th street that put cyclists at risk. LADOT Bike Blog asks how you would improve 7th Street for bikes, and reports on the recent BAC meeting, including the election of Jay Slater as chair. […]

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christopher Kidd, LADOT Bike Program. LADOT Bike Program said: BPIT's "Top 10": How Would You Build 7th Street? http://wp.me/pMTUf-xA […]

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