6 Ways to Stay Cool while Biking in the Heat

Given that it’s only June and temperatures have already been registering above 100 degrees F, it looks as though we will have a hot summer ahead of us. But, high temperatures needn’t stop us from our bike rides and bike commutes, which is why we want to share with you how we stay cool.

Stay hydrated

Every bit of water you consume will help your body temperature remain low. Increase your intake of watery fruits and vegetables like watermelon and tomatoes. Sodium helps your body hold on to fluids, so drink something with electrolytes while you’re riding. To prevent your drinks from getting warm, freeze one bottle at half full and another at almost-full before topping them off. Aim to drink one 20-ounce bottle every hour.

After your ride, drink something with protein, which will hydrate you quickly because protein brings water with it when it travels to muscles. If you choose to drink water, also eat a snack or meal that contains protein and sodium.

Remember, caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which means drinking them will make you urinate more and lose more water. When it’s hot out, stick with water.

Get wet

It may be tempting to toss ice cubes down your clothing, but don’t. When you put ice on your skin, the blood vessels constrict directing hot blood back toward your core, ultimately making you feel hotter. Instead, bring an extra water bottle and a small towel to pour cool water over your neck and forearms, or wipe them with a cool, damp towel. Consider putting a wet bandana around your neck at the start of your ride.

Bike at a reasonable pace

Leave yourself plenty of time so you don’t have to rush. Heading out 15 minutes early can make the difference between a sweaty, draining hustle and a pleasant, breezy ride. It’s also worthwhile to budget a few minutes at your destination to splash water on your face and catch your breath.

Ride when it’s cool(er)

The coolest hours of the day fall between 4am and 7am, while the evening commute tends to be the hottest time of the day. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan, like a filled TAP card to take transit, or a friend you can call if you get partway home and start feeling symptoms of heat stroke (see below).

Prevent sunburn

A sunburn can be more than just painful. Fatigue and an increased metabolism are some symptoms of sunburn, and while the latter might sound good, it will be a problem on hot days as a faster metabolism increases your body’s need for liquids. So, do everything you can to prevent sunburn: wear sunscreen, choose clothing with built-in sun protection, and wear a hat under your helmet to shield your face and neck.

Wear the right clothes

Lightweight natural fibers are more comfortable, while lightweight polyester prints won’t show sweat. Loose fitting clothing will help you feel the breeze created as you bike. If you need to look professional at the end of your ride, a quick sponge bath and change of clothes will work wonders. And, don’t forget to wear your sunglasses!

Remembering these six precautions can help you avoid overheating. But, even if you follow these suggestions, heat stroke is a possibility, so make sure you can identify these symptoms:

  • Body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher
  • Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, or seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Headache (source: the Mayo Clinic)

If you or someone else shows signs of heat stroke, medical attention should be sought out ASAP. While waiting for emergency treatment, get the person in shade or indoors, remove excess clothing, and cool them with whatever means available. You can put them in a cool shower, fan them while spraying them with cool water, or place ice packs on their head, neck, and armpits (source: the Mayo Clinic).

Lastly, when it is hotter outside, people tend to drive more aggressively and impatiently. So, be extra careful out there and stay cool!

Getting ready to bike on the new Los Angeles Street

We have great news for everyone who cycles in Downtown Los Angeles– the construction of a protected bike lane on Los Angeles Street (from 1st Street to Alameda Street) has been completed. Woo-hoo!

On June 16, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Los Angeles Street Improvement Project was hosted by CD 14 Councilmember Jose Huizar, LA Public Works Commissioner Kevin James, Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero, and LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds. During the ceremony, a group of people rode Metro Bike Share bicycles on the newly enhanced Los Angeles Street.

Ceremony Photo

The protected bike lane, featuring the city’s first side boarding islands and bicycle signals, will make bicycling safer and more comfortable from the city’s civic core to Union Station. The following image slider show the “Before and After” scenarios of the project area.

 

Special Design Features of the new Los Angeles Street

As the first street in Los Angeles to implement design elements from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Los Angeles Street brings several unique roadway design features that are new to the city:

Side Boarding Islands

Bus platforms that “float” in the middle of roadway are named side boarding islands. Those who bike in urban environments know how frustrating it is to navigate the bike lane while buses weave in and out to reach their bus stops. According to NACTO , side boarding islands eliminate “conflicts between transit vehicles and bikes at stops.” Like the sound of that? Well, these bus platforms will also be implemented on Figueroa Street after the construction of MyFigueroa Project .

Bus Platform

Bicycle Signal Heads

Two bicycle signal heads are now installed, with one at the Temple Street intersection and another at the Aliso Street intersection. These signals dedicate a separate signal phase to bicycles, which will reduce conflicts between right-turning vehicles and bicycles that travel through the intersection.

Bike Signal Head

Bike Box (Two-Stage Turn Queue Box)

At the intersection of Los Angeles Street & 1st Street, and the intersection of Los Angeles Street & Temple Street, there are Two-Stage Turn Queue Boxes . This street treatment allows people on bikes to make safer left turns. As the name suggests, when trying to make left turns, bicycles should proceed to the bike box area first and then wait for another green signal to bike to the left leg of the intersection.

Two-Stage Turn Queue Boxes Diagram

Image Source: NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide

Upcoming active transportation projects will continue to make DTLA more bicycle-friendly

The Los Angeles Street Improvements Project is only one part of the larger scheme to improve the connectivity of Union Station and Civic Center. Metro finalized the Connect US Action Plan in 2015, which provides guidance to implement better pedestrian and bicycle facilities connecting Civic Center, Union Station, and neighborhoods such as Little Tokyo and Chinatown.

And, there are a lot of active transportation projects to be implemented this summer. The Metro Regional Bike Share Project  has begun to install its stations and will formally launch on July 7. The long-expected MyFigueroa Project,  which features similar roadway improvements to Los Angeles Street (bus platforms, bike signal heads, etc), is beginning construction this summer as well.

As more and more active transportation enhancements get implemented, DTLA will become a better place for people to enjoy walking and cycling!

 

Starting in Summer 2016: MyFigueroa Construction

The complete streets movement continues to gain momentum around the world and here at home in Los Angeles. Alongside People StGreat Streets Initiative, and Vision Zero, the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project, aka MyFigueroa, aims to create vibrant, safe streets across our city.

After 6 years of careful planning and overcoming obstacles, MyFigueroa will transform the car-centric Figueroa Corridor into a complete street that serves people who walk, ride bicycles, take public transit, and drive. MyFigueroa will improve safety and encourage access to multimodal transportation options through a number of streetscape elements:

Render of Figueroa and 11th. Courtesy of MyFigueroa

Render of Figueroa and 11th. Courtesy of MyFigueroa

The project area covers four miles of streets from downtown to LA Memorial Coliseum. Improvements will be different along the corridor, depending on the transportation needs of the area.

Figueroa Street from 7th Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard

  • On-street protected bike lanes
  • Separate bike signal heads
  • Bike boxes at intersections
  • Demarcated on-street protected bicycle lanes in conflict zones
  • Bicycle Wrong Way signs to discourage travel in the non-intended direction
  • Bus platforms to accommodate transit service, including Metro and LADOT DASH F Line
  • Curb ramps from the sidewalk to ADA accessible bus platforms
  • Protected, painted on-street buffered bicycle lanes
  • Relocated parking between the bicycle lane and first lane of traffic
  • Diamond lane for on-peak Silver Line
  • Center turn lane and right turn pockets as needed

11th Street from Figueroa Street to Broadway

  • On-street parking that is protected with curb extensions at intersections
  • One-way westbound bicycle facility, separated from moving traffic by a painted buffer
  • Expanded sidewalks
  • Seating and planting on sidewalks
  • Pedestrian and bicycle connections to downtown, neighborhoods, and local businesses

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Figueroa Street to Vermont Avenue

  • Repaired sidewalk paving
  • Street lighting
  • Improved transit waiting areas
  • Highly visible crosswalk striping

The $20 million Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project is managed by LADOT and funded by a Proposition 1C grant. Proposition 1c funding aims to make streets, sidewalks, and transit more accessible for affordable housing residents.

During construction, which is set to begin in Summer 2016, there are many alternative ways for people to get around. Check out this great map showing where construction will take place and alternate ways to get around in the meantime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MyFigueroa’s Let’s Fig it Out! campaign educates Figueroa users how to figure out (get it?) how to get around during construction. You can become familiar with the alternate routes and public transit lines now so that the transition is easier when the construction begins.

Alternative routes are available for public transit, cars, and bicycles during construction. Courtesy of MyFigueroa

Let’s Fig it Out! offers alternate routes for people who walk, bike, drive, and take public transit during MyFigueroa construction. Courtesy of MyFigueroa

To communicate the upcoming construction and improvements to the public, MyFigueroa has worked with LADOT, Figueroa Corridor BID, USC AthleticsUSC Transportation, and Metro. Promotional stored-value Metro TAP cards that display Let’s Fig it Out! and MyFigueroa logos will be given out for free and for sale at special events in the corridor area. Street pole banners along Figueroa advertise the upcoming construction and improvements in order to provide visibility of the project to people who travel the corridor.

A number of innovative partners have collaborated on the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project, and from the start, community members, organizations, and business improvement districts have shaped the planning and design process.

Courtesy of MyFigueroa

Project design team. Courtesy of MyFigueroa

As a project designed to encourage access to multimodal transportation, MyFigueroa will continue to refine how we conceptualize streets in Los Angeles. The completion date of March 2017 can’t come soon enough!

Biking-spiration from the Netherlands

Last month, City Hall was visited by a team of 10 business students from Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands. Hosted by Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative, avid bicycle rider and Economics Professor Louis Uljee and his students discussed their latest research on biking in Los Angeles.

The class spent their spring semester studying current transportation culture in Los Angeles and opportunities for improvement, and they finished off their research by spending two weeks bicycling all over the City of Angels. They concluded that by creating awareness of the economic and health benefits of riding a bike and increasing safety of bicycle infrastructure, LA can normalize bicycling, generate an inclusive bicycle culture, and increase ridership. You can learn more about their project on their Facebook page, HopOn.

Business students from Rotterdam University visiting USC. Courtesy of HopOn

Rotterdam University business students biked to USC. Courtesy of HopOn

From their presentation, we learned a lot of interesting things about bicycling in the Netherlands. Dutch bike culture is so ingrained in every day life because most people begin biking at a very young age. Usually, families and friends in various neighborhoods accompany young children on the ride to school from when they start school at four years old until they turn 10, at which time all children take a “bicycle exam” at school. The exam tests students’ abilities to be safe while riding, including proper hand signaling and bicycle positioning. Passing the test proves to school districts as well as children’s parents that the student can ride to school alone.

In the presentation, the business students shared a brief history of how the Netherlands became one of the world’s most bike-friendly nations. Before World War II, bicycling was the most widely-used form of transportation. After the war ended, increased affordability of cars encouraged the Dutch to trade in their bikes for vehicles, and bike lanes disappeared as roads became designed for fast-moving vehicles. Over the course of three decades, injuries and deaths of people on bikes, especially children, caused by accidents with cars spurred a series of protests in the 1970s.

In the 1970s, people in the Netherlands protested car-dominant roads with sign that read "Stop Child Murder". Courtesy of the Dutch National Archive

In the 1970s, Dutch people protested car-dominant roads with signs that read “Stop Child Murder”. Courtesy of the Dutch National Archive

Also during this time, increased oil prices simultaneously encouraged people to ride bicycles. With a renewed sense of the health, safety, social, and economic benefits of bicycling, Dutch citizens and government began working to create an expansive transportation network that was accessible and connected by bike.

Fast forward to four decades later in 2016 and the Netherlands is home to some of the most innovative bicycle- and people-oriented infrastructure in the world. The Rotterdam students described these exciting innovations in the Netherlands and Scandinavia:

Hovenring Bicycle Roundabout

The Hovenring Bike Roundabout courtesy of Huffington Post Canada

The Hovenring Bike Roundabout in Eindhoven. Courtesy of Huffington Post Canada

Students from the University of Delft designed the suspended Hovenring to allow for safe bicycle crossing above car traffic. Can you imagine if we had a bicycle roundabout like this above our freeways? Bikeway connectivity would skyrocket!

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bicycle Path

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bike Path. Courtesy of CNN

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bike Path in Nuen. Courtesy of CNN

Designer Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure made the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bicycle Path out of thousands of twinkling stones inspired by ‘Starry Night’. A sparkling bike path? Yes, please.

BikeScout

BikeScout was installed in March in Eindhoven.

BikeScout was installed in March in Eindhoven. Courtesy of Heijmans

Dutch company Heijmans Infrastructure created the BikeScout to increase safety at intersections. Radar trackers positioned along the road for 150 ft. leading to the intersection measure the changing positions of people who bike, walk, and drive. If there’s a collision risk, the LED lights lining the intersection flash, warning cars to stop. A BikeScout in LA would for sure help us reach Vision Zero goals.

CycloCable

The lift was originally built in 1993 and was remodeled in 2013. Courtesy of CityLab

The lift was originally installed in 1993 and was remodeled in 2013. Courtesy of CityLab

The POMA Group, a French cableway company, built the CycloCable bicycle lift on a steep hill in Trondheim, Norway. The user places their right foot on a footplate while the left foot remains on the bicycle pedal, and once a button is pressed, the bicyclist is pushed to the top of the hill. I can think of a few hills in Los Angeles that would become a lot easier to bike up with the help of a CycloCable!

Red Bike Lanes

Red bike lanes keep Dutch bicyclists visible to cars and clearly communicate where bikes should be used. Courtesy of Maurits90

The Netherlands has designated red as the official color for all bike lanes. Courtesy of Maurits90

Red bike lanes keep Dutch bicyclists visible to cars and clearly delineate where bikes should be used. Currently, Los Angeles and many other US cities are working to paint bike lanes bright green to enhance safety for all road users.

Even though I left the presentation and discussion with serious bike envy, it was inspiring to hear from the Rotterdam students about bike culture and infrastructure successes in the Netherlands. Here in LA, we have a lot of basic bikeways improvements to be made before we can even think about some of the complex infrastructure that was described to us by the Dutch students. The fact that it has taken about 40 years for the Netherlands to accomplish what they have reminds us that the changes we are making today will undoubtedly have an incredible impact on future generations. Working toward a safe, accessible multimodal transportation network is what keeps us going everyday at LADOT.

My Commute: Palms to USC and DTLA

 

I like to ride my bike along the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

Hi! It’s me, Gwen. I love riding my bike along the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

When I moved from Deep Springs, California to LA for graduate school, friends and family shared concerns that without a car, my commute would be terrible. Well, I am happy to report that I have proved them all wrong! Yes, walking, biking, and taking public transit has its challenges, but so does driving (traffic congestion, parking, climate change, to name a few). Rather than live in fear, I actually look forward to my multi-modal commute every day. First, I look at it as a learning opportunity. As a student in urban planning and public administration at USC, it is important to me that I understand and experience public transit and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Second, I embrace the economic benefit! I save a lot of money by not driving, which helps me afford life in Los Angeles as a student.

I save $4,020 each year by not driving

Thanks to a partnership between Metro and USC Graduate Student Government, I get to buy an affordable, unlimited Metro TAP Card each semester. You can see if you are eligible for a discounted TAP Card, too.

On any given week day, I travel from Palms to USC or DTLA on:

  1. The 733 Rapid bus: I love taking the bus, because I can read the news, do homework, meet new people, and bring my bike. Oh, and during my commute, I’ve also taken up learning a language. By using this time to practice Spanish on Duolingo, I have gone from 0-33% fluent in just 10 months! A este ritmo , voy a hablar con fluidez en un par de años más.
  2. The Expo Line train: The train is great for all the same reasons as the bus, but it’s faster. I guess one downside is that it warrants less time for language learning.
  3. My awesome bike: This is my favorite mode of transportation. I get to be outside, exercise, and meet other people who ride bikes. I hope that people who see me on my bike think, “Hey, that person looks pretty happy on their bike. Maybe I can ride a bike, too!”

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: Palms is way closer to UCLA than USC. Why am I choosing this epic commute? Well, to start, I need to get out and living far from campus helps me to explore more of LA. Plus, I have a lot of friends at UCLA, and I think it’s a cool school to live by (don’t tell Tommy Trojan). Some people are bi-coastal. I like bi-campusal.

Riding from Palms to USC

Before I hop on my bike, I run through an ABC Quick Check to make sure everything is in working order. It is better for me to solve a problem like a flat tire, broken chain, or faulty brakes at home than when I am rushing off to work or school. For example, when I take my bike down from a wall mount, sometimes the brakes become disengaged. I prefer to notice this in the comfort of my apartment, not when I’m trying  to stop at a red light.

Once I know my bike is good to go, I ride to Culver City Station and park at the station bike racks (with not one, but  TWO U-locks). Did you know you can rent a bike locker from Metro? I am seriously considering this, because my bicycle can never be too safe.

I keep an extra set of bike lights in my bag, and my helmet is reflective.

For the ride home, I keep an extra set of bike lights in my bag.

Since some classes end after 9pm, I often get home late. I love Venice because of the bike lane. Venice has the longest connected bike lane in Los Angeles! But cars drive at high speeds, which is even more terrifying at night. So, I’ve mastered at-night riding. Check out my super reflective backpack!

My reflective backpack helps me stay visible at night.

This picture of me wearing my backpack at night shows how hard it is for cars to see me when it’s dark. Good thing they can really see my backpack!

I also have a reflective jacket and helmet cover. You can never be too visible on the road!

Ok, back to my commute. At Culver City Station, I hop on the Expo Line train for a seamless commute to Expo Park/USC station, which is closest to my department, but there are actually three Expo Line stations at USC:

  • Expo/Vermont
  • Expo Park/USC
  • Jefferson/USC

This bike-train commute from my apartment to school takes anywhere from 35 to 50 minutes, depending on how long I wait for the train.

While I usually ride my bike to the train station, I sometimes like to bike all the to USC! My route travels along Venice and Exposition and takes about 45 minutes.

I really like this route because there's a bike path or bike lane the whole way

I like riding all the way to USC, because there’s a bike path or bike lane the whole way.

On my way home, I often swing by the grocery store. Thanks to my folding pannier baskets, which I bought from Palms Cycle, I can carry two full grocery bags (one in each basket).

Palms to DTLA

On days when I head directly to work, I take the 733 Rapid bus, which is pretty much a straight shot.

Taking the bus gives me a chance to read, do homework, and learn Spanish.

Taking the bus gives me a chance to read, do homework, and learn Spanish.

My walk to the bus stop is great because it gets me outside. It also reminds me that most streets in Los Angeles are not designed for pedestrians. I have near misses with cars almost as often as I do on my bike, and it’s especially bad during rush hour. Being a pedestrian can feel really powerless when streets are made for fast, heavy vehicles. People who walk should feel safe and connected. I’m grateful to be part of LADOT’s Active Transportation Division, working to make LA neighborhoods walkable through programs like People St.

I prefer the 733 Rapid to the 33 Local, because it's faster

I prefer the 733 Rapid to the 33 Local, because it’s faster.

My walk-bus trip takes about an hour, depending on how long I wait for the bus. I use Transit App to track arrival times, which helps minimize my wait.

DTLA to USC

Getting from DTLA to USC is super easy, because it’s only 4 miles on my bike. There aren’t always bike lanes, but I confidently take the lane and ride 4 feet away from parked cars when that’s the case. I was “doored” a few years ago, so I learned the hard way to never ride in the door zone. Learn from my mistake! This commute takes 25 minutes.

When I’m not on my bike, I take public transit. There are a lot of options spanning 28 to 36 minutes:

  • 910/950 Silver Line bus
  • 81 bus
  • DASH A bus
  • DASH F bus
  • Purple Line train
  • Red Line train
  • Expo Line train
I love that from work to school, I can either take public transit or ride my bike

I can take public transit or ride my bike from work to school.

This commute is about to get way better thanks to the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project (aka MyFigueroa). As part of MyFigueroa, complete street elements will be installed along a 4 miles stretch of Figuera. These improvements will include a protected bike lanebike signal heads, and bike boxes at intersections, among others. Construction starts in summer 2016 and will be completed by March 2017.

Well, there you have it. My commute saves money, gets me outside, gives me opportunities to be productive, and makes me feel connected to my communities and the greater Los Angeles.

Thanks for reading! How is your commute?

Gwen von Klan is an intern at LADOT’s Active Transportation Division.

Bicycle Corrals 2016: 42 New Bike Parking Spaces Spring up Across Los Angeles

Secure, safe bicycle parking is an essential element of a comprehensive bicycle network. Demand for bike parking in Los Angeles continues to grow as ridership increases and the City’s bicycle network expands. A lack of adequate parking not only discourages ridership, but also encourages people to lock their bikes to parking meters, trees, or sidewalk furniture. Where there is bicycle traffic and limited sidewalk space, on-street bicycle parking offers a worthwhile alternative…. That’s where bicycle corrals come in!

LADOT’s strategic plan, Great Streets for Los Angeles, calls for the installation of over 25 bicycle corrals. We’re excited to announce that this past month, LADOT installed three new corrals: Main Street in Venice, sponsored by The Copper Room,  Fuller Street at Runyon Canyon Park, sponsored by Friends of Runyon Canyon, and Huntington Drive, sponsored by Barrio Action. The recent installs account for a total of 14 Cycle Stall corrals, bringing our citywide corral total (including the two pilot corral projects) to a total of 16!

Main Street Corral in Venice

This corral can park up to 18 bicycles!

This corral can park up to 18 bicycles!

The corral on Main Street complements a highly used bike path, making life easier for people on bikes who commute to work or want to explore local shops, restaurants, and the beach. The corral presents a resting point between Santa Monica and the City of Los Angeles, cultivating a bicycle prioritized business corridor.

Runyon Canyon Corral

We were happy to see that the very first corral-user parked their bike in a secure way by locking the front wheel to the bike frame, rear wheel, and the corral.

We were happy to see that the very first corral-user parked their bike in a secure way by locking the front wheel to the bike frame, rear wheel, and the corral.

Runyon Canyon’s corral serves an important function at LA’s hippest Hollywood park. Runyon Canyon Park does not provide car parking and on-street parking is few and far between. The Runyon Canyon corral increases accessibility to the park, making it easier for people to enjoy the trails, views, and community spaces that the park offers. Today, people can leave their car at home and have a zero emissions workout with a seamless ride to Runyon Canyon.

Bicycling to Runyon Canyon Park is now a viable, secure option.

Thanks to our General Services crew, bicycling to Runyon Canyon is now a viable and secure option!

Huntington Corral

The Huntington Drive Corral is located directly in front of our People St and Active Transportation champion, Councilmember José Huizar’s El Sereno Field Office. The corral compliments a bicycle repair station to create a bicycle resource center for the community.

Senior Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery at our newest corral and bicycle repair station in El Sereno

Sponsorship: Applying for a Bicycle Corral

More questions about LA’s Bicycle Corrals? Maybe you are interested in sponsoring a corral yourself? Our People St Corral application cycle is currently on a rolling basis! Learn more on our People St Bicycle Corral page for FAQs and the application.

Eligible sponsors include business or property owners, non-profits, and community organizations. Sponsors must sign a maintenance agreement with the City in which the sponsor agrees to keep the corral clean and debris-free. Please note that corral placement restricts street sweeping. We suggest reaching out to our staff at peoplest@lacity.org to advise on any proposed location prior to submitting a full application.

Find a Corral

We hope you’ll come visit our newest corrals! Find a list of all existing bicycle corrals on our corral page, and you can check out our awesome new City of LA Active Transportation Map to find a corral near you.

Explore LA! [Video] So Pas to Silver Lake

This past week I took advantage of the nice weather and borrowed LADOT’s Active Transportation GoPro to film a bike ride from my home in South Pasadena to the Silver Lake Reservoir. I am a graduate student at USC and typically commute to school by transit and on bike. Initially, I wanted to use the GoPro to capture my experience on a new route to USC, but instead I decided to go for a relaxing ride without having to worry about getting to class on time. Doing so let me reflect on the perceived differences between biking in South Pasadena and Los Angeles. South Pasadena is very small, so it’s relatively easy to get anywhere on a bike within a few minutes. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is a lot larger and can seem inhospitable for bicycling. However, if you view each neighborhood as its own self-contained community, riding in the City of Angeles can feel like you are traversing a series of small towns rather than a monolithic sprawling landscape.

My leisurely-paced journey took me through a few LA neighborhoods and along the way I passed by some of my favorite restaurants and cafes. One of the many benefits of biking is being able to stop and walk right into places that seem interesting since parking a bicycle is a lot easier than parking a car. Just lift your bike onto the sidewalk, lock it up to a nearby bike rack, and go. No circling the block for a parking space!

I started my trip at Buster’s Coffee, located on the corner of Mission Street and Meridian Avenue near my apartment in South Pasadena. This neighborhood coffee shop is within walking distance from the South Pasadena Gold Line Station and is a convenient place to meet friends getting off the train. There is plenty of outdoor seating, which is great for people-watching, as well as charming indoor spaces for all your reading/studying needs. For those arriving by bicycle, a hand-painted bike parking sign shows you where you’re welcome to safely lock your bike up towards the rear of the table-strewn alcove next to the shop while you enjoy your meal.

After coffee I walked across the street to the great used book shop, Battery Books and Music, to pick up a new read. On a typical day after getting coffee and perusing books I might go to Mix ‘n Munch, which serves great grilled cheese sandwiches right next door to Battery Books.

Buster's Coffee

Dubbed “the coffee shop by the tracks,” Buster’s Cafe welcomes people arriving by any mode. (Image Source: Leisa Collins Art)

On this relaxed sunny afternoon, however, I went one block south on Meridian Avenue and made a right on El Centro Street, to get to Nicole’s, which offers tasty low-key French fare in a sidewalk cafe setting. The place doubles as a French market so I loaded up my bike’s saddlebags with sandwiches and cheeses, and proceeded to my next destination. After all, you can’t stop at a cheese shop on your way to a meadow and not pack a picnic!

Nicole's Gourmet Foods

Nothing better than a lazy afternoon at Nicole’s Gourmet Foods. (Image Source: Creative Expressions and More)

After leaving Nicole’s, I pedaled from South Pasadena into the City of Los Angeles by way of the York Boulevard Bridge, which brought me into the Highland Park neighborhood. There are a number of restaurants and shops along York Boulevard easily accessible by bike thanks to the bike lanes. If I did not already have lunch packed away in my panniers, I might have stopped at the Highland Cafe for some chilaquiles. Although I am a few miles from my home at this point in the journey, this translates into a mere 20-something minute bicycle ride, which is enough to get my muscles moving but not so far that it feels like a workout.

Highland Cafe

People on all sorts of bikes can’t stay away from the good eats at Highland Cafe. (Image Source: Happening in Highland Park)

As I continued west on York Boulevard, I eventually reached Eagle Rock Boulevard where I made a left and continue south. After a short ride down this wide boulevard I find myself in the neighborhood of Glassell Park. I passed by Habitat Coffee, a cafe that recently sprouted up in an otherwise unassuming stretch of Eagle Rock Boulevard. It’s not uncommon to see people enjoying pastries, good conversation, and taking advantage of Habitat’s outdoor dining to enjoy the sunshine.

Habitat Coffee

Habitat Coffee’s frontage is accented by our latest sidewalk bike rack design.
(Image Source: L.A.CAFE)

After winding my way through some side streets I reached Fletcher Drive. As with the other streets I used for my trip, Fletcher is its own main street with blossoming businesses. At this point, it was only a 10 minute bicycle ride to the Silver Lake Meadow where I enjoyed my picnic.

To most people, traversing the Los Angeles region by bicycle may seem intimidating. If you watch the video below of my ride, your can judge for yourself how easy it is to get to many local businesses using my bicycle- especially when there are bike lanes available! This trip would undoubtedly be faster by car, there’s no secret there, but when we spend our lives focusing on time saved, we tend to forget about time well spent, and this bike ride was an absolute delight.

This blog post was authored by Paul Cipriani, a Student Volunteer Intern in the LADOT Bicycle Program.

The Unsung Story of How a Sidewalk Bike Rack is Born

This year, LADOT’s Sidewalk Bike Parking Program is turning 20! What better way to celebrate two decades of bike parking than by telling you the story of how this indispensable end-of-trip bike amenity in our City came to be.

Sidewalk Bike Parking 20th Birthday

Our beloved end-of-trip facility is leaving behind its teenage years!

Where It Started At

It all started in 1995, when our Senior Project Coordinator Michelle Mowery spearheaded our Department’s efforts to provide ample amounts of sidewalk bike parking in the City. Initially, the Sidewalk Bike Parking Program was introduced as a “pilot” and was made possible by funds from a Metro Call for Projects grant. During its pilot phase, the Program purchased and installed approximately 1,700 inverted-U bike racks citywide. This momentous investment marked the beginning of the Department’s growing endeavors to encourage and facilitate active transportation in the City. Two years later, in 1997, the L.A. region began experimenting with the first generation of bike racks on buses, as a way to provide greater multi-modal connectivity to people traveling throughout the region.

Since its origin, the Sidewalk Bike Parking Program has relied heavily on the work and dedication of graduate students, including Ben Ortiz, Jose Elias, Kathleen King, Austin Sos, Jose Tchopourian, and others, working part-time at the LADOT Bike Program. Over the years, these bike parking mavens have nurtured hundreds of requests for bike parking, from being a data entry stored in a server to being a bike rack on the sidewalk.

This Is How We Do It

Our Sidewalk Bike Parking Program installs inverted-U bike racks at the request of business owners or any other member of the public, which definitely includes you. Each rack is 36″ tall, 24″ wide and can hold up to two bikes. The rack is designed to provide great support for bicycles, allowing the person parking the bike to lock both wheels and the bike frame to the inverted-U bike rack without worrying about the bike falling over. The City of Los Angeles assumes responsibility for the rack but not for bikes parked on it.  Although there is no fee to request a bike rack and installation is free, all racks are City property.

Bike parking installed through the Program can only be placed in the public right-of-way (primarily sidewalks) within the City of Los Angeles. Racks are situated on sidewalks to avoid conflicts with people walking or rolling and people exiting or entering parked motor vehicles or buses. You will find that racks are usually parallel but sometimes perpendicular to the curb and not directly next to building entrances and crosswalks.

Our City’s sidewalk bike parking has been turning heads since 1995.

Won’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Two decades have passed since some of the first sidewalk bike racks were introduced in LA and now we have over 6,000 bike racks on the ground. Much of our public right-of-way has been accessorized with bike parking, allowing Angelenos to ride and park their bikes at locations convenient to shopping, dining, playing, and most other spontaneous activities you can think of. The Sidewalk Bike Parking Program aims to provide highly visible and convenient short-term bike parking near office buildings and retail destinations near public sidewalks.

Now that you know where all the sidewalk bike parking in our City comes from, it’s your turn to tell us where people in your community want bike parking. To request a bike rack, complete an online Bicycle Parking Request Form. To determine if a location you would love to have bike parking qualifies for one of our program’s bike racks, please review our bicycle rack location criteria here. You can email bike rack coordinator extraordinaire Jose Tchopourian, if you have additional questions or notice a rack has become loose or damaged.

Today, our Department’s Sidewalk Bike Parking Program keeps expanding into new places within the City and upgrading inadequate parking equipment along the way. The Program could not be successful without your requests and feedback. Thank you! Now, walk, ride, or roll to your favorite destination near a sidewalk bike rack to celebrate.

#ElNiñoLA Update: LA River Bike/Ped Path Temporary Closure

On Friday, January 8, 2016 Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kirk Gibbs announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will be taking new interim measures to improve flood protection on the Los Angeles River during #ElNiñoLA.

The USACE is the federal agency responsible for navigable bodies of water, including our very own Los Angeles River. The LA River has an almost century-long history with the USACE that started after a series of floods, including the 1914 flood which caused $10 million in damages. A public outcry for action to address the recurring flooding problems led to the formation of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. Early flood control efforts included some channelization and the need for reservoirs. Bonds were approved by taxpayers in 1917 and 1924 to build major dams. After two additional destructive floods in the 1930s, Federal assistance was requested and the Army Corps of Engineers took a lead role in channelizing the River. Channelization began in 1938. By 1960, the project was completed to form the fifty-one mile engineered waterway we are familiar with today.

A hisoric shot of the Los Angeles River at Griffith Park, circa 1898-1910 (Source: Wikipedia)

Due to the expectations of a powerful El Niño season, USACE recently received emergency federal funding to put in place safety measures for the area of the river that spans from Griffith Park to Elysian Valley.

“Our river is unique — most of the year it runs nearly dry, and then during the rainy season it runs in powerful torrents as we’ve seen this week,” said Mayor Garcetti. “My top priority during El Niño is to ensure the safety of everyone in our city, and I thank the Army Corps of Engineers for taking action now to enhance the river’s flood management functions.”

The Los Angeles District of USACE determined this area needed increased capacity to keep the river in its banks. The L.A. District declared an emergency to USACE headquarters on January 6, prompting headquarters to provide $3.1 million in federal funding and nearly 3-miles of temporary barriers, known as HESCO Bastion. The temporary barriers act as industrial size sandbags, effectively raising the sides of the river channel and temporarily increasing its capacity during the winter storm rains.  The District also received approximately $500,000 to begin removing water-flow impeding vegetation from the highest-risk areas within the channel, in an area just upstream and downstream of Riverside Drive and the Zoo Bridge.

Industrial size sandbags were mobilized from Nebraska to LA a few days ago in preparation for the expected storms

Anytime rain is in the forecast the LA River Bike Path is closed for safety (shelters and resources are available for people experiencing homelessness). In the coming months, the raised barriers will allow for the expected volumes and help protect against flooding in adjacent neighborhoods. The barrier will be under construction on the bike path beginning Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

Due to the configuration of the HESCO barriers on the bike path by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the LA River Bike Path will remain closed through #ElNiñoLA season from Zoo Drive to Glendale Blvd (with the Alex Baum Bridge remaining open as a bicycle and pedestrian crossing across the LA River and 5 freeway).  North of this location, in the Griffith Park section of the Path, there is also an unrelated intermittent closure due to Caltrans freeway bridge rehabilitation work. Check out the City’s Detour Guide for getting around temporary closures on the LA River bike/ped path here.

UPDATE: As many of you may already know, the Bike Path has been closed due to flood control measures installed by the Los Angeles District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since January 2016. At this juncture, our agencies anticipate the earliest the Bike Path may reopen, post-‪#‎ElNiñoLA‬ flood risk and weather permitting, will be Memorial Day weekend.

Stay tuned for updates about construction and planned detour routes. Information will be available via our Blog (where you can also find articles about how to bike through El Nino and more!) and social media channels (@ladotbikeprog) using the hashtag #ElNiñoLA.

Updated 3/16/2016: Current information on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ barrier configuration added.

How to Ride Your Bike through #ElNiñoLA

The City of Los Angeles is the backdrop to countless scenes broadcast through the lens of a camera around the world. Most commonly, the City is associated with surfing, high school love, Noirs (animated and acted), miles of freeway, and the apocalypse in the form of volcanoes, meteor showers, martians, zombies, and, of course, earthquakes. While movie directors are interested in portraying the destruction of Los Angeles in cinematic productions, civil servants work day in and day out to make sure these catastrophic plot lines don’t unfold and life in the City goes on as usual.

This year, a main focus of the City’s is to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Scientists predict one of the strongest El Niño’s recorded will torment Southern California and parts of the Northern Hemisphere from January to March 2016. On November, 2015 the City El Niño Task Force was created by an Executive Directive signed by Mayor Garcetti. The goals of the Task Force are to bring together different City departments to collaborate and ensure the City is prepared to respond and, if necessary, recover from any issues caused by El Niño weather conditions. From stockpiling sandbags (200,00 of them!) to scheduling extra street sweeping, City agencies are ready to handle the wet weather our drought-parched landscape will soon receive.

Executive Directive on El Niño

Mayor Garcetti signing Executive Directive No. 14, which formed a City task force in preparation for El Niño. #squadgoals

To help Angelenos prepare for changing weather and stay informed about any emergencies, the City has some helpful resources available at its El Niño LA websiteAngelenos should check their roofs for leaks, clear gutters of leaves, and make sure their cars’ wipers, tires, and brake pads are up to spec. What if you get around on your bike, you ask? With a little bit of know-how under your belt and the right gear, you can keep riding through El Niño too. Stay one step ahead with our helpful tips below to keep moving through the winter, whether on foot, bike, bus, train, or car.

Tips for Riding in the Rain

Just as if you were driving a car or taking transit in the rain, you’ll have to adjust your behavior when riding your bike in the rain. Unlike putting on that fancy rain cape you’ve been storing in your closet, the following tips for riding in the rain involve a little more effort:

    • Check the Anatomy of Your Bicycle: The following tips all assume that your bike is working well. Take a few moments to inspect your bike’s most critical parts before your ride. If your bike’s brakes were having trouble slowing you down in dry weather, this is a good time to fix them or take your bike to a shop for a professional’s touch. The rear wheel should lift off the ground when you squeeze your front brake and lean into the front handlebars. Spin your wheels and make sure they aren’t loose. The last thing you want on a wet day is for your wheels to pop off!
Anatomy of a Safe Bike

To ride on streets, California law requires you ride a bike that meets all these specs, rain or shine.

  • Slow Down: Water between the roadway and your bike’s tires reduces traction. Less traction means slowing down and stopping will take more time. The best way to avoid skidding is to lower speed. Take your normal riding speed and ride at 75% that speed or so in the rain. Slowing down gives you enough time to correct any traction issues.
  • Brake Early: In the rain, roadways, tires, brake pads, and rims all get wet and, combined, extending braking time. If your bike has rim brakes, it will take a few tire revolutions before water between the brake pads and wheel is cleared and the brakes can grip the rim. Plan for this delay, look ahead, and start slowing down early to make a complete stop.
  • Brake Straight: Your bike’s brakes work best when you are traveling in a straight line. If you have to slow down or stop, do so before you’re making a turn.
  • Corner Wide and Slow: Make turns at corners slower and wider than usual. Start further out and take the widest and straightest path possible. Avoid sudden sharp turns.
  • Braking while Turning: Don’t do it! Slow down enough (see ‘Brake Early’ tip) before turning so you can coast through the motion. Sudden corner braking may cause your back wheel to skid and slide a bit. If this happens, don’t panic! Just let off the brake and look straight ahead, the bike will straight itself out.

Watch Out for Tricky Surfaces

Now that you’re riding, braking, and cornering safely, there are some special surface conditions caused by El Niño you should know how to handle.

  • Oil Slicks: After the rain, all the oil and gunk leaking out cars will float to the top of puddles and on the roadway. Keep an eye out for an iridescent sheen when riding and try to avoid riding over it to prevent skidding. If you can’t avoid a slick, coast through it without pedaling or braking to maximize traction.     

    Street. Yellow lines. Oil.

    Avoid oil slicks brought to the surface to prevent skidding. Photo courtesy: Flickr user Nik Stanbridge

  • Puddles: What looks like a bit of standing water could be a foot of water filling a hole in the roadway. To help avoid puddle-related hazards, ride towards the center of the lane (take the entire lane when possible) to give yourself enough room to move left or right around puddles.
  • Road Markings and Metal: Road markings can become slicker when wet. Similarly, drainage grates, manhole covers, and other metallic surfaces can become more slippery when wet. Ride slowly enough that you will be able to proceed cautiously over or around these surfaces.

Helpful Gear

Riding tips will help you maneuver through wet conditions and the right equipment and attire will help you stay warm and cozy in any ride.

Helpful Gear when Biking in the Rain

Don’t let the rain stop ya! Get suited up and arrive on your bike.

  • Get Fenders: Invest in some fenders for your bike! These metal contraptions keep all the debris washed onto the roadway by the rain on the ground and off of you.
  • Turn On Lights: By law, you should have a front white light and a red rear light. When it’s raining, even if you’re riding during the day, you should turn on your lights to increase your visibility.
  • Wear Waterproof Garments: A stylish rain cape is a particularly useful do-it-all piece of equipment during inclement weather. It drapes over your whole body, so you can wear whatever you want underneath. Other great options include waterproof jackets or plastic bags in a pinch.
  • Dress in Layers: If you’re not outfitted properly, you’re going to get wet. Make sure you’re wearing clothes that prevent water from getting in while allowing you to vent away excess heat and sweat. It may be cold out but you’re going to work up a sweat riding to your destination, so dress in layers to accommodate your needs. Consider wearing thermal under-layers made of wool or some other moisture-wicking fabric under your clothes during colder, windier days. Gloves are another great addition to prevent your wet and wind-blasted hands from getting too frigid.
  • Save your Stuff: While keeping yourself dry is most important, you should keep your electronics and important documents moisture-free too. Make sure your backpack or panniers are waterproof. If not, cover them with a waterproof layer. You can put the last of your plastic bags to good use here.  
  • Protect your Peepers:  Wind-whipped water can take a toll on your eyes, so protect them by wearing clear-lensed glasses. Remember, you should be able to see at all times when riding.

Rainy days, courtesy of El Niño, are rapidly approaching. Share your new found knowledge and preparation skills with your friends, so we can all keep riding through the rainy season.