Explore LA! Localism and the Bicycle

Los Angeles is a big city of over 450 square miles, with over 4,000 square miles if we’re looking at the whole County. This massive size is daunting even in a car… after all, how many of us have let friends and beloved relatives go un-visited all to avoid a traffic-clogged schlep to the Westside, Eastside, or the Valley, or that particular just-too-far place of your own personal choosing?

To some, this daunting size balloons out of all reasonable proportion at the thought of tackling it perched, huffing, between two spinning wheels; not to mention the idea of travelling on foot or taking a maze of public transit. Some say: Los Angeles is just too big, too spread out, the infrastructure isn’t there, Metro doesn’t go there, it’s too far, too hot, too hard. Los Angeles is one of the few cities where the phrases “let’s walk”, “let’s take the train” or “let’s bike” is met with confused stares.

City of Los Angeles bicycle facilities in their respective Council Districts

However, while Los Angeles as a whole is big, anyone who’s lived here for a while or has taken a gander as the LA Times’ wonderful Mapping LA project knows that LA is made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique-to-them shopping, recreational, and eating opportunities! Some trips are of course impractical for more sustainable transport methods; the average person doesn’t want to walk more than a mile, or spend more than an hour biking or riding transit while en route to their destination. Nor do most people relish the idea of donning a load of spandex and arriving at their destination sweat-dripped, and smelling faintly of the gym.

But, for many people, small, local trips to get groceries, coffee, or see a film are very exciting from a walking, and even more so, from a biking perspective! Getting on a bike or taking a walk doesn’t have to be something you prepare or set aside time for. The purpose of the ride can be practical, or for fun, or both! Say… a spontaneous event, just like when you hop in your car to pick up something quick.

This combination of practicality and entertainment is something unique to biking. You can turn a chore like picking up toilet paper into a sort of mini-adventure! Even in your own home town, if you’re used to getting around in a car… on a bike, you’ll see stores, people, and sights you’ve never noticed before. This is the driving concept behind Bicycle Friendly Business Districts! Since you don’t have to fight others for parking, it’s relatively easy to stop where you want to stop. While riding a bike there’s no excuse of, “oh we just passed it… maybe next time” if you come upon something that looks interesting, just stop, hop off, and check it out!

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Spintacular Neighborhoods are the place to be!

A smiley and Spintacular day in the NELA Bicycle Friendly Business District (photo courtesy C.I.C.L.E.)

As part of a local tradition of pre-celebrating the 4th of July, LADOT collaborated with the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) Steering Committee, C.I.C.L.E., the Bike Oven, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and Metro to host the Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour, a community bike ride through the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show. The ride is the second hosted by the NELA BFBD, a partnership between the City, community members, and local businesses to bolster the use of bicycles for short trips around the neighborhood, especially to dine and shop at local businesses.

CICLE Director Vanessa Gray partnered with local bike coop, the Bike Oven, to lead the ride

LA’s first Bicycle Friendly Business District is coming to Northeast Los Angeles as the City’s first pilot Bicycle Friendly Business District. The project is an encouragement tool for traffic demand management: in Los Angeles County, 47% of trips taken by car are under 3 miles, a distance easily traversed by bicycle.  These short car trips create local traffic congestion, parking shortages, noise pollution, air pollution, health problems caused by sedentary lifestyles, and unnecessarily contribute to all of the safety issues associated with operating heavy machinery like motor vehicles… all impacts that could be mitigated by walking and biking to local destinations! Read more

Red, Ride, and Blue! Spintacular Fireworks Summer Ride in Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District


This weekend, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) is going to get a little more SPINTACULAR! LADOT is a proud partner in the NELA BFBD Summer ride: The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour. The ride, sponsored by Metro and led by C.I.C.L.E. and the Bike Oven, will take place on Sunday June 28th from 5:00 – 8:00pm, and traverse 5 miles of Northeast LA’s bustling business corridors, taking riders to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center for a sparkle-filled evening of bicycles, fun, and games. Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this spintacular ride!

Along the way, riders learn about what makes Northeast LA a special place to walk, roll, and ride… The ride will stop at the York Boulevard Bicycle Corral for a Street Innovation Tour, led by Mark Vallianatos of the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI). The tour will highlight York’s public spaces and innovative street features.

Riders are encouraged to show their patriotic flare on their wheels and beyond in the Red, Ride, and Blue Bicycle Decorating and Costume Contest. Participants will have an opportunity to win even more prizes at the Spin the Wheel Trivia game, testing riders on their local knowledge and Los Angeles bicycle trivia.

Even the President knows how to get Spintacular for the Red, Ride and Blue Bike Decorating contest

“The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour highlights two local efforts I am passionate about – our 6th Annual Eagle Rock Concert and Fireworks Show and the NELA Bicycle Friendly Business District program,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The NELA BFBD is all about encouraging bicycle riders to support local businesses and enliven the public realm and the reason I brought back the fireworks show after decades without one in Eagle Rock was to encourage safe and family friendly public gatherings where people could also support local organizations and businesses. The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour is a perfect match and thanks to LADOT and all our partners for their support.”

Ride participants will travel at a casual speed, slowing down to stroll, take in the local scenery, and explore local businesses and culture. Riders should bring a helmet, water, bike locks, bike lights, cash for food, blankets, and jackets for the fireworks show. Secure bike parking and a reserved seating section will be provided at the Fireworks show for Spintacular Riders.

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Seattle Dispatch from #APA2015

People walking, bicycling, and driving all share the road in downtown Seattle

This year’s annual conference for the American Planning Association (APA), Sustainable Seattle, was hosted in a city rich with sustainable practices and, appropriately for our interests, complete streets infrastructure.  The APA covers all faces of planning, but complete streets are increasingly a focus of urban (and suburban) planners everywhere. Complete streets that make up walkable, bikeable, and ultimately livable communities, have become the national best practice because they make for sustainable communities, a core tenet and charge of the urban planning profession. The integration of complete streets with retail, mixed-use development, the densification of cities, and sustainable practices were highlighted throughout the conference.

Though LADOT performs much implementation, we are also tasked with planning and project development, which is the area we inhabit in Bicycle Outreach and Planning. Attending the APA conference gives us a broad context for what we do, which can be really helpful in a time where cities are growing at some of the fastest rates ever.  Here are some of our take aways from the conference, followed with a few snapshots of Seattle’s pedestrian-first culture.

Bicycle, bus, and car networks seamlessly weave through the retail-lined Aloha Street

Network connectivity is the nexus of people, land, and local economic vitality

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Clear your calendar, Bike Week LA 2015 is here!

It’s our favorite time of the year! Bike Week LA is back once again!

The annual week-long bici-centric event, sponsored by Metro, will fill May 10-15 with more bicycle-oriented activities than ever before! More?  Yes MORE! Bike Week focuses on encouraging people to ride their bicycles, raising awareness about people on bikes but also about all active transportation users in Los Angeles. Some of the week’s highlights include bike repair workshops, the infamous Bike to Work Day pit stops, and evening festivities to make sure you’re hooked up with people who share your interests! If you’ve never participated in Bike Week, do not fear, Bike Week is for YOU! It’s full of resources and activities for everyone, from the new to the experienced rider, from the bicycle-curious to the bikeaholic.

Come see Color Wheels at Caltrans District 7 on Thursday 5/14!

Bike Week LA 2015 Lineup:

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Just in time for the Holidays: SHOP – RIDE – NELA and the Colorado Bl Corral

Get your holiday shopping done in a jiffy in the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District

In case you were wondering what bicycles, Northeast LA and the local economy had in common with the holiday season, we wanted to bring a very exciting and fun event to your attention!

You may have been following our pilot project, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD), launched back in February in an effort to to bring more people to local businesses by bicycle.  The plan to achieve this includes implementing bicycle infrastructure enhancements to the neighborhood like bike lanes, corrals, and repair stations; offering promotional incentives to people arriving by bicycle; and overall, encouraging customers and employees to take local trips to business corridors on bicycles rather than in cars.

Since we last blogged about it, we have established a Steering Committee of local stakeholders including representatives from the Eagle Rock and Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Councils, the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institue, local non-profit organizations, and active transportation advocacy groups like C.I.C.L.E. and LACBC.  The NELA BFBD represents a collaboration and partnership between businesses, the community, and the City to accomplish shared goals of community building and economic development.

After many months of meetings, the Steering Committee has planned a kickoff event: SHOP – RIDE – NELA Holiday Edition.  The bicycle ride, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place on Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, and traverse 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. The ride will meet at METRO’s Highland Park Gold Line Station and make shopping and dining stops at LADOT’s two local business-sponsored Bicycle Corrals: the York Bl Corral located at 5000 York Bl (sponsored by Cafe de Leche) and the Colorado Bl Corral soon to be installed at 2136 Colorado Bl (sponsored by Core Club LA).  Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this leisurely ride!

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Modernizing pilots, Arts District corral open for business

Good day LA!

Today was another great day for the great streets of Los Angeles! Corral designs were updated and onlookers watched as the long awaited Willow St. Bicycle Corral was installed in the booming Downtown Arts District.

First stop by the Bicycle Corral Fairy was a check up on our very first corral: the York Bl. pilot.  The York Corral, originally installed in February 2011 has seen its share of wear and tear.  After the implementation of many more Bicycle Corrals throughout the city, we have learned a few things from their design, removing redundant or incorrect signage, and replacing materials like asphalt islands with more durable rubber wheel stops.

Before: Bye bye asphalt island!

After: The new sleek York Corral

After the healthy refresh at York, the crew traveled to the Arts District where Blue Bottle Coffee customers got an eyeful (and earful) of Bike Corral installation with their morning coffee. The LADOT sign crew and our colleagues at the City’s General Services Department (GSD) installed the new Corral on Willow St. at Mateo next to the neighborhood’s premiere coffee shop and our awesome maintenance sponsor, Blue Bottle Coffee.

Councilmember Jose Huizar was happy to see the new corral, saying “As a long time supporter I’m proud to host the first bicycle corral in the City. LADOT’s new bike corral configuration draws from lessons learned piloted in my district. Thanks to Blue Bottle Coffee for partnering with the City to bring the Arts District its very own bike corral!” The Corral reallocates one auto on-street parking space for 14 spaces for people riding their bicycles.

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More Bicycle Corrals Roll Out

City of Los Angeles General Services Department works with LADOT Signage Crews to install corrals on Abbot Kinney

The LADOT Bike Program has just installed two more bicycle corrals as part of the City’s pilot program!  The two corrals, both located on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in the very bicycle-friendly neighborhood of Venice, are the new custom LADOT cyclestall design.  Both locations, one outside of Gjelina Take Away and the other outside Local 1205, are some of the oldest bicycle corral requests on the books from a waitlist of over 25 requests. The Bike Program is happy to finally deliver these corrals after much organization, coordination and planning! Council member Bonin is as excited about the new corrals as we are, saying, “One of the coolest streets in LA just got a lot cooler thanks to two new bike corrals that will let dozens of people safely park their bikes as they visit businesses in the area. Bike corrals are a great use of space and an excellent reminder that our streets belong to everyone – including those who travel on two wheels.”

Both corrals represent the LADOT’s most contemporary integration of bicycle parking on a city street, addressing issues relevant to all users whether they are pedestrians, drivers, or bicyclists.  By removing bicycle parking from the sidewalk, the corrals free up space for pedestrians and the sidewalk’s actual purpose: walking.  The corrals are designed with features that protect them from cars once they are in the street, including durable rubber wheel stops and object marker signage that will warn parking cars that they are approaching the corral.  From the bicyclist perspective, the corral design provides ample space between the curb and corral for bicycles to enter from the street in addition to being accessible from the sidewalk.

Our custom cyclestall design

Beyond the design layout, we wanted to follow up with why we chose the cyclestall hardware for the pilot.  Both the corral hardware and design have been implemented for their safety, as safety is our number one concern.  The cyclestall corral shape and orientation towards the sidewalk demarcates a clear transition for users: from being a bicyclist to being a pedestrian.  As people on bikes dismount in the corral, there is no confusion or opportunity for the now-pedestrian to enter the roadway- one’s only option is to safely approach the sidewalk, without any potential conflict with a car.

The Bike Program would like to acknowledge and thank our hardworking field crews for getting these corrals in the ground.  Installing a bicycle corral is no simple feat. LADOT Marking, Striping, and Signage crews, as well as our colleagues in the General Services Department, worked on the actual corral installation.

Installation crews hard at work

In case you haven’t heard enough about bicycle corrals today, let’s discuss a few ways that they can and will benefit the surrounding businesses and community.  Benefits of the corrals include, but are not limited to, turning one parking space into 12, protecting bicycles in their care, and increasing business visibility and promotion.  Corrals also provide general safety features to the street: calming traffic, and promoting driver awareness.

Don’t worry, we’re not done with our pilot! Next in line are corrals at Antigua Coffee in Cypress Park (3400 N. Figueroa St) and Laemmle Theatres in North Hollywood (5240 N. Lankershim Bl.).  If you are interested in getting a bicycle corral in your neighborhood, the first steps are identifying a maintenance sponsor and a viable location.  We consider applications for corrals on a first-come, first-serve basis and as mentioned, we have a wait list of over 25 corral requests.  If you are the owner of a local business who would be interested in having a bicycle corral outside your establishment, please take a look at the Bicycle Corral Information and Application:

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LA’s first Bicycle Friendly Business District is coming to Northeast Los Angeles

Small businesses and bikes blend on N. Figueroa St., Photo courtesy Flying Pigeon LA

We are happy to announce that the City of Los Angeles is working on establishing its first Bicycle Friendly Business District in Northeast Los Angeles.  For the past year, the Bike Program has been developing a Bicycle Friendly Business District (BFBD) program to foster a broad and engaging range of bicycle friendly features in business districts or corridors.

The program aims to provide districts with adequate bicycle facilities including bicycle parking and repair stations, bikeways, creating maps of the bikeway network, installing signage, and facilitating bicycle wayfinding.  By cultivating bicycle friendly business practices in local businesses and developing local business districts to welcome patrons on bicycles, these districts seek to build community, increase physical activity, and make streets less congested while supporting Los Angeles neighborhood businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Districts – What are they?

A BFBD is a partnership between the City, neighborhood and business organizations, and local businesses that improves a business district’s Bicycle Friendliness through bicycle infrastructure and local business promotions to people travelling by bicycle.  The district encourages and promotes short, local trips, especially for shopping, dining and recreation.

The BFBD program complements complete streets and traffic calming objectives in order to capture local dollars and further neighborhood development in Los Angeles.  Districts cooperate with the LADOT, the Council Office, and local community partners to implement services already offered free of charge through the LADOT Bike Program.

These services, infrastructure, and other program elements combine with  local investment in bicycle amenities and programs privately funded by neighborhood and business partners.

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Atwater Bicycle Corral Open For Business!

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell unveils our newest bike corral, hosted by Kaldi Coffee

After much anticipation, Atwater Village now feature’s the city’s newest bicycle corral!  The corral is located in the 13th District, south of the vegetated bump-out on Glendale Boulevard and Madera, and its maintenance has been generously sponsored by Kaldi Coffee.

This corral marks the launch of the next phase of our pilot Bicycle Corral Program and is the first installation of a new corral design, our very own palm tree-adorned version of the Dero Cycle Stall Elite.  The latest design will continue to be seen across the city as we work to have 9 more similarly designed corrals installed in L.A. neighborhoods in the near future, identified through our Bicycle Corral Interest Form on a first-come first-serve basis. Read more