Meet Our Artist in Residence (in Person)!

The Engineer’s Corner: Oliver Hou, Transportation Engineering Associate II

Welcome to the Engineer’s Corner. This post is a special one, because we are spotlighting one of our program’s first interns: Oliver Hou. Lucky for us, his graduate school internship in the LADOT Bike Program inspired him to stick with transportation, and we’re grateful to say he’s become an integral part of the Bikeways Division. 

LeapLA Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Oliver Hou: My undergraduate background is in civil engineering.  After college, I started at a pre-cast concrete contractor doing architectural pre-cast design and building for construction.  During this time I was able to learn how to use AutoCAD as well as manage projects.  After a few years, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree and serendipitously came across the field of urban planning, which helped to answer a question that I always had while constructing buildings – what are the drivers behind development projects?  During my time studying urban planning at USC, I was fortunate enough to intern with LADOT Bikeways, which helped to fuel my personal interests in all things transportation.

For fun, I enjoy exploring cities around the world, including Los Angeles, for their cultural diversity.  If I’m not out trying new places to eat, I’m at home with my wife cooking healthy dishes.

Oliver enjoying the new protected bike lane on Van Nuys Blvd

Oliver enjoying the new protected bike lane on Van Nuys Blvd

Can you describe your commute? What is it like getting to work?

I live in Koreatown and my daily commute typically consists of catching a Metro Local bus to the Red Line Vermont/Wilshire station.  After a few stops, I exit the Civic Center station and either walk or take an LADOT Dash bus to the office. On occasion I will ride my bike to commute the 3 miles between Ktown and downtown.

My commute time is consistent and takes about 30 minutes each way. That is the part I like the most. In addition, I enjoy using apps such as GoLA, Smartride, and LADOTbus to navigate and track my transit options.  The only downside to my commute are the multiple transfers, so on days I don’t feel like dealing with it I will drive or hail a rideshare.

So how did you become interested in becoming an engineer?

I have always enjoyed building things, starting with Legos and Simcity as a kid.  And although I’ve never particularly enjoyed taking math/science classes, I excelled in them and like the idea that there tends to be only one “right” answer. My undergraduate program offered a broad-based math/science curriculum and I ended up choosing civil engineering because of the possibility of fieldwork and the opportunity to create projects that you can see and have a lasting impact. At LADOT, I have an opportunity to work in an area where the fields of engineering and planning intersect.

How long have you worked at LADOT and in which divisions?

I have worked at LADOT for about 5 years and in addition to being in the Active Transportation division as an engineer, I have been in the Bicycle Outreach and Planning group as an intern, and the Specialized Transit and Grants division as a planner.

What do your day-to-day duties consist of?

Each day is unique because we always have bike lane projects that are in varying phases. These projects could be facilities that are part of the Mobility plan, facilities intended to close gaps in our existing network, or facilities that need maintenance and modification. Some days, I am out in the field checking installations or investigating conditions on the ground. Other days, I will be in the office working with our team to develop plans.  

Before coming up with a plan, I often seek the opinions of other engineers throughout our department and at our district offices so I can try to consider all the impacts. The size and breadth of our City is truly amazing, with DOT having a hand in anything transportation related – it seems that I am always learning about new functions and personnel!

Oliver Hou and Bryan Ochoa, Assistant Project Coordinator, hard at work in the Bikeways Division.

Oliver Hou and Bryan Ochoa, Assistant Project Coordinator, hard at work in the Bikeways Division.

Do you have a favorite part of your work or a favorite project?

My favorite part of my work is seeing projects come to fruition, and seeing these facilities be used. What begins as a concept or vision has much to go through before becoming reality, particularly when it comes to some of our more innovate facilities such as the protected bicycle lane on Los Angeles Street with bicycle signals.

What are the most important things to keep in mind when planning for Los Angeles’ transportation future?

(1) Safety is our primary concern. While this may not have been the case in the past, the driving force of our department is to get people where they need to go safely and comfortably. In fact, with the City’s adoption of a Vision Zero Policy, it really has become a citywide effort. Safety for pedestrians and bicyclists should be what guides our decision-making when it comes to street design.

(2) From a mobility standpoint, our City already has amazing infrastructure in place that has endless potential for evolution.  That is, we have lots of roads and lots of lanes. Therefore, we are able to reconfigure this space to meet our transportation objectives, often with some simple paint on the ground, as our GM and many. This makes me very excited for what our future holds – whether it is a network of bus-only lanes that can maximize our throughput, or groups of super-efficient autonomous vehicles that put an end to traffic as we know it.

When you’re not hard at work making the streets of LA more bike friendly, what do you like to do in your free time?

My free time is mostly taken up by following all types of sports. I enjoy playing basketball (although not as often as I use to) and golf (not as often as I like).

Thanks, Oliver! We’ll see you on the streets!

LA River Path Closure Update

Last month, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Los Angeles District began removing non-native plants along the LA River path between Fletcher Drive and Riverside Drive. This work is part of an LA County Drainage Area Project to remove non-native vegetation and improve capacity of the channel.

In order to complete this flood risk management project, USACE has closed the access path from 7am to 4pm Monday through Friday, while the path remains open on evenings and weekends. USACE has placed closure signs and barriers along the path, and LADOT has coordinated the detour route.

USACE organized a public workshop on November 7 at Friendship Auditorium to address concerns related to the closure and the detour. Approximately 100 people attended, including users of the LA River path, people who live near the path, and community members. Also in attendance were representatives from Council District 13, Friends of the LA River, USACE Specific Divisions, LAPD Northeast Division, City of LA Engineering Divison, and LADOT Bike Program.

The Public Workshop at Friendship Auditorium was well attended and informative. Photo: Phil Serpa

The workshop at Friendship Auditorium was well attended and informative. Photo: Phil Serpa

The purpose of the workshop was to bring stakeholders together in order to address concerns and complaints. The workshop was a poster and table session in which people from the community could ask participants questions about path closure, detour route, the LA River, and the plant removal project.

Over the course of the evening, we recorded an exhaustive list of comments from attendees. We have compiled the key concerns below.

Comments from attendees

  1. Closure signage along the path looks unofficial and has too little information about the USACE project
  2. Detour signage does not provide information about the closure schedule
  3. Detour route feels unsafe for people on bikes and is disproportionately long compared to the closed segment of the path
  4. Closure time of 7am-4pm overlaps with commute hours
  5. Daily updates have not been shared on social media

Our team is in the process of reviewing these concerns internally as well as with Council District 13 and USACE.

For more information about the LA River, you may visit www.spl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Operations/

If you have questions or comments regarding the path closure, you may contact AMoperations.Branch@usace.army.mil

If you have questions or comments regarding the detour route, send us an email at bike.program@lacity.org

 

Hollywood Walk of Fame has a new star

Cycle hoops are the newest star of Hollywood the Walk of Fame!

In case you’re scratching your head, a cycle hoop is a steel ring that attaches to a parking meter post. Two bikes can be locked to the hoop at once, with one on each side. Check out the cycle hoops that were installed in Westwood a few months ago.

We are very happy to announce that we began our second installment of cycle hoops along the Walk of Fame Corridor this week. With the help of the Mayor’s Office, Great Streets Initiative, Council District 13, and Los Angeles Conservation Corps, we installed 49 cycle hoops.

There are now 49 cyclehoops in the Walk of Fame district.

There are now 49 cyclehoops in the Walk of Fame district.

Over the past few weeks, LADOT Bike Program surveyed parking meters throughout the Walk of Fame Corridor to idenfity those that are well suited for cycle hoops. To determine which would be the most secure and accessible, we selected parking meters that are:

  • Near the entrance of a business or visible through a storefront window,
  • At least three feet away from street furniture and trees, and
  • Far enough away from pathways so that parked bikes do not obstruct accessibility.

The street parking on the Hollywood Walk of Fame itself is serviced by Pay Stations, which means there are only a handful parking meters. To make sure we provided a substantive number of cycle hoops, we decided to also install on Sunset, Cahuenga, Vine, and commercial side streets.

Los Angeles Conservation Corps members installed the first cycle hoop at White House Pizza Cafe.

Los Angeles Conservation Corps members installed the first cycle hoop at White House Pizza Cafe. Photo: LACC.

These meter post bike racks offer a convenient and secure way for people to park their bikes and visit restaurants and shops. Plus, they are more cost effective than standard U-racks and take up less space on the sidewalk by building upon what is already there. We special-ordered the hoops from Bike Fixtation that make it easy to safely lock various bike frames and tires.

In Los Angeles, locking your bike to a parking meter post is still illegal, but Ordinance 183951, which was passed last year, lifts the ban for the purpose of allowing this cycle hoop pilot.

Previously, we have posted about how this pilot program seeks to increase bike parking along some of LA’s most crowded sidewalks. Due to its high-volume bike useage, Westwood Village was top priority. Now that we have outfitted the Walk of Fame with brand new bike parking, Venice Boulevard will be next on our list. Then, we will continue installing hoops on the rest of the Great Streets Corridors. Additional meter post parking districts will be identified as we evaluate the program’s success and report back to Council. You can share your experiences using these meter post bike racks by tweeting us at @LADOTBikeProg.

While we are testing these new racks, they will not be available for requests under our Sidewalk Bike Parking Program. To request a U-rack, complete an online Bicycle Parking Request Form and check out our bicycle rack location criteria to make sure your requested location qualifies. Email us at bike.program@lacity.org with questions or if you notice that a rack has become loose, damaged, or missing.

Get out there, #BikeLA, and enjoy your new bike parking!

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Are you as excited as we are to try out this new cycle hoop? Photo: LACC.

Safety Remains Top Priority of LA River Path

Shared bicycle and pedestrian paths are a great way to encourage exercise and active transportation. Our shared-use paths attract people with a wide range of bicycle skill levels, including young children, as well as people who walk, jog, skate, and roll. Special care must be taken in the planning, design, and maintenance of these paths to provide safe sharing of the facility with a variety of users of differing speeds and abilities

The LA River Path is a favorite transportation facility and recreation corridor for many Angelenos. Tragically, a recent collision on the LA River Path caused injuries to an elderly person who was walking. The person who hit them may have been bicycling too fast and unable to see the pedestrian or stop in time. LADOT will be working with LAPD and Council District 13 to initiate improvements that will support the enforcement of reckless and illegal riding (per LAMC 56.16)  on the Los Angeles River Path.

Cyclists should refrain from excessive speed, particularly in neighborhood areas of the path when people are walking and biking at slower speeds, and children are present. Pedestrians, as slower users of the path, should walk to the right as slow moving vehicles are required to do on roadways. We urge people to use caution while enjoying the path by keeping your head up, not wearing headphones in both ears, and maintaining a slow speed.

As we advocate for and implement new paths throughout Los Angeles, it is essential that we also educate people about local and state laws to ensure safety for all users.

California Vehicle Code

CVC 21207.5.  Notwithstanding Sections 21207 and 23127 of this code, or any other provision of law, no motorized bicycle may be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over such path or trail permits, by ordinance, such operation.

No motorized bicycles are allowed on the path unless allowed by Code.

CVC 21211.  (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting, or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist. (b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law. (c) This section does not apply to drivers or owners of utility or public utility vehicles, as provided in Section 22512.

It is illegal to loiter on or block a bike path except maintenance or utility vehicles.

CVC 21966. No pedestrian shall proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility.

Due to inadequate available width, no separate pedestrian path is available (like the Orange Line Bike Path) thus pedestrians are legal, and welcome, users of the Los Angeles River Bike Path.

CVC 23127.  No person shall operate an unauthorized motor vehicle on any state, county, city, private, or district hiking or horseback riding trail or bicycle path that is clearly marked by an authorized agent or owner with signs at all entrances and exits and at intervals of not more than one mile indicating no unauthorized motor vehicles are permitted on the hiking or horseback riding trail or bicycle path, except bicycle paths which are contiguous or adjacent to a roadway dedicated solely to motor vehicle use.

No cars, motorcycles, mopeds or other motorized vehicles are allowed on the path except maintenance or emergency vehicles.

California Streets and Highways Code

S&H Code 890.4. As used in this article, “bikeway” means all facilities that provide primarily for, and promote, bicycle travel. For purposes of this article, bikeways shall be categorized as follows:

(a) Bike paths or shared use paths, also referred to as “Class I Bikeways” which provide a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with crossflows by motorists minimized.

Bicycle Paths are designed for the use of people on bicycles and on foot.

S&H Code 890.9. The department shall establish uniform specifications and symbols for signs, markers, and traffic control devices to designate bikeways, regulate traffic, improve safety and convenience for bicyclists, and alert pedestrians and motorists of the presence of bicyclists on bikeways and on roadways where bicycle travel is permitted.

Bicycle Path design is overseen by Caltrans (State department) and various strategies may be utilized to make all users aware of each other on bike paths.

Los Angeles Municipal Code

LAMC 56.16 – 1. No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, cart, wagon, wheelchair, rollers skates, or any other device moved exclusively by human power, on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

Users of bicycle paths, or bikeways, are not allowed to use bicycles, skates, etc., in a way that endangers other users of the path.

If you are a competitive cyclist in training, please consider using training options such as the Rose Bowl training ride, various criterium training loops, or the Encino or Carson Velodromes.

The LA River path is for everyone.

In the coming months, treatments will be made near the entryways of the path in Atwater Village/Elysian Valley to notify bicyclists of areas where they might expect pedestrians and where to slow down to avoid conflicts. Efforts will be made to better support behavior that best suits a shared-use path that was built for active transportation as well as the recreational enjoyment of the Path-adjacent communities. Enforcement of the corridor by LAPD will be ramped up to enforce these laws in the problem areas.

Again, please remember that the path is a wonderful resource for all users. We thank Council District 13, LAPD, LADOT, LACBC, LA River Revitalization Corporation, Friends of the LA River, and local neighborhood organizations for their continued efforts to help keep the LA River Path a safe, enjoyable resource for all Angelenos.

My First CicLAvia

I love riding my bike. It’s one of my favorite things to do in LA, actually! I also really enjoy exploring this amazing city by foot.  In addition to sidewalks and bike lanes, I have experienced most of the ped and bike paths that LA has to offer. I am learning about active transportation in graduate school, and I work for LADOT’s Bicycle Outreach and Planning Program.  Naturally, as soon as people find out about my passion for walking and biking, they often ask, “Don’t you just love CicLAvia?”

Although I have lived LA for over a year, I often leave on the weekends to visit family or am busy with graduate school obligations, so I had never been to CicLAvia…

Until now! The stars aligned last weekend, and I finally made it to CicLAvia Heart of LA in Downtown.

(ʘ‿ʘ) LOOK AT ALL THE BICYCLES!

(ʘ‿ʘ) LOOK AT ALL THE BICYCLES!

I began my journey to CicLAvia from Union Station. A lot of my usual bus routes were on detour, so I decided to walk 1.5 miles to my destination. First, I noticed that there were a lot more people walking and biking than normal! Even the streets and sidewalks that were not blocked off for CicLAvia were teeming with families, couples on tandem bikes, and people dancing, and moving. The day was off to a good start.

Kids were having a blast in Chinatown.

Kids were having a blast in Chinatown. Photo by Kora McNaughton.

Now, my experience may have been a bit different than many CicLAvia goers, because I attended not solely as a person biking, walking, or rolling, but as a volunteer. A bunch of my friends and peers in the Associated Students of Planning and Development formed a team to adopt an intersection.

"Hi, we are here to keep you safe."

“Hello, we are here to keep you safe.” Ed, Garrett, and Parama were safety rockstars.

Adopting an intersection means controlling pedestrian and bicycle traffic at a vehicle crossing, pedestrian crossing, or dismount zone. At least 6 volunteers are needed to work a 3-hour shift. Our task was to slow traffic on the 4th Street bridge right before the downhill to prevent people from wiping out or losing control.

High-fives are my favorite!

High-fives are my favorite!

Adopting an intersection also means laughing with strangers, having a great time with friends, being outside, and feeling pride in Los Angeles. I highly recommend volunteering!

CicLAvia selfie!

CicLAvia selfie with Negin and Saja!

Throughout the day, I saw a lot of super cool bikes. I was amazed and inspired by all of the people who have put so much effort into creating beautiful, interesting, and useful bicycles.

Not your average Bike-Couch-Cooler in-one!

It’s not your average all-in-one bicycle couch and cooler!

Thanks to people who had speakers on their person, in shopping carts, or on bikes, we listened to tunes and had sporadic dance parties. Oh, and did I mention the dogs? There were dogs in bike baskets, backpacks, and bike trailers, as well as dogs walking and jogging.

Doggies love open streets, too.

Doggies love open streets, too.

It was a glorious day for dogs and dog people! I didn’t see any cats ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Maybe next time!

The crew of paddleboarders from WestSSUP was all smiles!

The crew of paddleboarders from WestSSUP was all smiles!

There was a celebration for all of the volunteers at the end of the day, which I couldn’t make because I had to go to school for a meeting. I heard it was a lot of fun, though!

I’m glad that I can finally say that I’ve been to CicLAvia. I am really looking forward to the next one in March! The route will be announced soon. Next time, I’ll bring my bike explore the event from the different perspective. I also want to check out the other open streets events that are coming up, including Long Beach’s Beach Streets on November 12 and 626 Golden Streets in San Gabriel Valley on March 5.

I want to see these on all of the streets all of the time.

I want to see these cabs on all of the streets, all of the time.

Being out there with all of the people on that bridge made me think about what LA would be like if we closed the streets to cars more often. I think it would be pretty great. What do you think?

I have a feeling these folks on roller blades would like to see more open streets!

 

Innovative sidewalk bike parking arrives in Westwood

There’s a new bike rack in town.

Well, it’s sort of a bike rack. It’s a steel ring that attaches to a parking meter post, and, like a U-rack, it can park two bikes: one on each side. It’s called a cycle hoop.

This morning, the first cyclehoop was installed in Westwood Village as part of a pilot program. Meter post bike racks are a convenient and secure solution for people to park their bikes and visit local businesses. Not to mention, they don’t cost as much as standard U-racks and take up less space by capitalizing on existing sidewalk infrastructure. In Los Angeles, locking your bike to a parking meter post is still illegal, but Ordinance 183951 (passed last year) lifts the ban for the purpose of allowing this cycle hoop pilot.

Folks from Great Streets, the Westwood Village Improvement Association, and Council District 5 came out to share in the excitement today.

ADOT Bike Program, Great Streets, Council District 5, Westwood Village Improvement Association, and LA Conservation Corps helped make the cycle hoop project a reality.

LADOT Bike Program, Great Streets, Council District 5, Westwood Village Improvement Association, and LA Conservation Corps helped make the cycle hoop project a reality.

Over the course of the last few months, LADOT Bike Program staff surveyed all of the parking meters in Westwood Village to find those that are best suited for cycle hoops. Our criteria for selecting parking meters was centered on safety and accessibility:

  • Parking meter is near the entrance of a business or visible through a large window,
  • Parking meter is at least three feet away from street furniture and trees, and
  • A bike attached to the parking meter does not block pathways that must remain accessible

Bright orange duct tape was used to mark meter posts at the exact installation height of the cycle hoops (18 inches off the ground). Our team wound up marking 86 parking meters to be slated for cycle hoop installation. Each cycle hoop will be installed today and tomorrow by LA Conservation Corps, which is our contractor for all sidewalk bike parking.

We have marked 86 parking meters to be slated for cycle hoop installation.

The cycle hoops will be dispersed throughout Westwood Village.

We special-ordered the hoops from Bike Fixtation. The size and height of the racks will make it easy to safely lock various bike frames and tires.

A few months ago, we posted about how this pilot program seeks to increase bike parking along some of LA’s most crowded sidewalks. Westwood Village was first on the list, due to its high-volume bike useage. Next, the program will provide the Hollywood Walk of Fame with brand new bike parking. Great Streets corridors will also be furnished with cycle hoops.

Additional meter post parking districts will be identified as we evaluate the program’s success and report back to Council. You can share your experiences using these meter post bike racks by tweeting us at @LADOTBikeProg.

The finished product! Who wants to be the first person to park their bike?

The finished product! Who wants to be the first person to park their bike?

For the time being, while we are testing these new racks, they will not be available for requests under our Sidewalk Bike Parking Program, like our U-racks. To request a U-rack, complete an online Bicycle Parking Request Form and check out our bicycle rack location criteria to make sure your requested location qualifies. Email us at bike.program@lacity.org with questions or if you notice that a rack has become loose, damaged, or missing.

There you have it. #BikeLA and try the cycle hoops out for yourself!

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!

#LeapLA: 4 years in the Making

In my departing blog post for the LADOT Bike Blog/LeapLA, I thought I would reflect on my path in transportation planning and the changes I’ve seen in Los Angeles in such a short time.

Last year, along with the modernizing overhaul of the Bike Program website, we rebranded the Bike Blog to Life for Everyday Active People (#LeapLA). Not everyone clearly associates transportation with people, land use, or culture, but my connection to the field has always been people-forward…

During my first year of Urban and Regional Planning school, I had the good fortune of taking a Policy Analysis class where I chose to do an analysis of corridor development on Eagle Rock Boulevard. Eagle Rock was the closest arterial street to my home, and a very wide street- an old yellow car right-of-way that had many different characteristics as you progressed through its different neighborhoods.

Despite some improvements like street medians and bike lanes, Eagle Rock Bl. still seemed very inhospitable to people, so I wanted to see what factors contributed to this condition. My analysis led me into the realm of street configuration and its relationship to community character and user behavior.

Researching human behavior around transportation was extremely captivating. Why did people jaywalk when it was clearly dangerous? Why didn’t people use the bike lanes that were built to help them?  How does all of this effect the economic development and user vitality of a street?

It was here I started my journey into understanding streets, neighborhoods, and people. A year later I found myself interning in the Pedestrian Program, a new division in LADOT born out of community neighborhood planning.

Talking with LADOT new-hires about People St's Sunset Triangle Plaza in Silver Lake

Talking with LADOT new-hires about People St’s Sunset Triangle Plaza in Silver Lake

In the Pedestrian program, my work mainly consisted of building the basis for a new program, Streets for People, later branded as People St. Soon I transitioned into a position in the Bike Program, where I began to develop programs based around business outreach and community collaboration. I worked on building partnerships between community members and the City, to bring placemaking infrastructure like bicycle corrals to City streets. Working with local non-profit organizations and educational institutions, I established a steering committee to pilot a Bicycle Friendly Business District in Northeast LA.

This pilot grew into a broader program that would incorporate bicycle and pedestrian friendly infrastructure and programming, supporting Angelenos to embrace a lifestyle of localism, walking, and biking. One of the biggest proponents of this program was not the components of the program itself, but the sheer necessity: Los Angeles data confirms that 47% of trips in the county are less than 3 miles, and therefore easily achieved by any number of combinations of walking, biking, and transit. By fostering a culture to shift these trips away from the single occupancy vehicle, our city could build culture and community cohesion, while solving the decades long problem of traffic and congestion.

In the almost 4 years since I came to LADOT, I’ve seen dramatic changes in Los Angeles. With the help and collaboration of many brilliant colleagues, I installed 14 bicycle corrals, 9 bicycle repair stations, 3 parklets, secured grant funding for 10 bicycle friendly business districts, and worked with hundreds of community members to make Los Angeles a more liveable place. As I transition to a role in the Department of City Planning, I will miss editing the LADOT Bike Blog (now #LeapLA), and the opportunity to develop new Active Transportation projects. Today though, Active Transportation has progressed to a place where it is embedded in new improvements. In my last month at LADOT I saw the installation of our first fully constructed cycle track on Los Angeles Street, infrastructure we only dreamed of 4 years ago.  I can’t wait to see what else Los Angeles has in store.

– Elizabeth

The #bikeLA team c. 2015

The #bikeLA team c. 2015

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!