#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

Planning Day 2015: A Planner’s Guide to DTLA Complete Streets

Take a look at your calendar, and you probably will not find Planning Day as a listed holiday. Planning Day, held on October 15th this year, is an annual event observed exclusively by the Department of City Planning (DCP) where DCP staff lead and participate in multiple tours designed to explore different planning-related themes throughout Los Angeles . For this year’s Planning Day, a group of DCP staff biked the streets of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), Little Tokyo, and the Arts District to see first-hand how LADOT is helping transform Los Angeles into a vision of Complete Streets.

LADOT People St guru Elizabeth Gallardo rallies DCP staff for our tour.

To kickoff the tour, LADOT People St Project Manager, Elizabeth Gallardo lead DCP staff along a greatest hits of active transportation projects designed by LADOT to serve a broad cross section of road users, who find DTLA as a vibrant place to live and spend their leisure time. First stop was the Spring Street parklets where Nicholas Ziff Griffin, Director of Economic Development at the Downtown Center Business Improvement District described the importance of these amenities in creating a vital place where people want to linger and explore new businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Peddler’s Creamery offers sweet rewards for customers that churn ice cream using pedal power.

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Bicycle Repair Stations activate sidewalks and contribute to holistic urban forms in Downtown LA

LADOT x Peddler’s x CRANC – Activating Main Street with a Bike Repair Workshop (photo courtesy of CRANC)

In June 2015, LADOT installed a new bicycle corral and bicycle repair station alongside Peddler’s Creamery, the first of their kind in LA’s Downtown Historic Core. Peddler’s, an ice cream shop that specializes in organic bicycle-churned ice cream, is located in a very special building called New Genesis. The property owner of New Genesis is the Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit organization that works with architects to build high quality permanent supportive housing for people who have lived on the streets, in prolonged extreme poverty, with poor health, disabilities, mental illness and/or addiction, so that they can lead safe, stable lives in wellness.

The Skid Row Housing Trust was founded in 1989, renovating and transforming a number of dilapidated downtown hotels into attractive and affordable permanent housing. Today the Trust has 22 buildings downtown, and two of the newest, New Genesis and New Pershing apartments are located right next to our newest bicycle- and people-friendly infrastructure.

The New Genesis building opened in 2012 and represents a holistic and progressive vision of Downtown LA urban sustainability. New Genesis Apartments includes mixed-use, mixed-income and artist loft units, as well as the commercial space that Peddler’s calls home. By integrating low-income housing into the broader fabric of our city, the Trust ensures its success and integrates people and uses much like any healthy street would integrate travel modes to form a complete street.

The workshop saw all kinds of bikes – motor bikes, delivery bikes, and just regular people riding by

The Trust is one of the first organizations in the country to combine permanent housing and on-site social services. They call it “permanent supportive housing,” which is now considered a best practice in the fight against homelessness.  Though housing planning and transportation planning are different disciplines, the idea of providing supportive services along with infrastructure is one we are very familiar with here in active transportation. We understand that just providing infrastructure leaves people wondering about their options, how to undertake change, and how to grow and expand their lives to embrace new or different habits.  In order for us to have a healthy transportation system, we need to build out support for other modes, as well as the amenities that will facilitate their use.  Some of these amenities are Bicycle Corrals, that support ridership by supplying ample bicycle parking on streets and in front of businesses, and a Bicycle Repair Stations, that provide the tools necessary to keep people on their bikes even when they have hiccups like a flat tire.

Bicycle Repair Stations are a resource for the whole neighborhood (photo courtesy of CRANC)

Many Downtown LA residents do not drive cars. LADOT’s mission includes not only to provide amenities to support bicycle ridership, but also amenities that enhance people’s ability to fully utilize the tools we provide. In order to realize that mission, LADOT collaborated with CRANC, the Trust, and Peddlers to host two bicycle repair workshops.  The workshops covered the basics of bicycle repair, provided safety and regulation information, as well as a special sweet treat from Peddlers!

We all need a supportive world to live well and one of the best ways to maximize support is through partnership and continuing educational opportunities. Like the proverb goes, give a person a bicycle and he has a ride for a day; teach a person to fix their bicycle and they have a ride for a life. A special thank you to our Bicycle Corral and Bicycle Repair Station maintenance sponsor, Edward Belden of Peddler’s Creamery, Gilbert Mascarro of Skid Row Housing Trust and David Castro of CRANC for their help in organizing and supporting these great workshops!

The good people of CRANC! (photo courtesy of CRANC)

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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Bicycle Repair Stations Move Forward

 

Dero’s Fixit Work Station has many great features

Great news bicycle repair enthusiasts, we are even closer to implementing our pilot run of Bicycle Repair Stations! City Council has adopted and approved the motion to accept the $17,000 grant from the Bikes Belong Foundation we applied for last year, thereby making funds available for the Bicycle Repair Station Business Improvement Program.

As discussed last year on the bike blog this program will see the implementation of 7-10 pilot Bicycle Repair Stations across the city. The product we will be using – Dero’s Fixit Bike Repair Station is equipped with a tool kit and air pump. The Repair Station comes with detailed instructions for a wide variety of bicycle repairs that are just a smart phone scan away.

One of the greatest concerns we heard from the last blog post was security. We will be working with the manufacturer to make the toolkit as vandal proof as possible. We also hope that by placing the stations in highly visible spaces in front of businesses that will care for them as a maintenance partner, we will deter theft with eyes on the street.

By placing these stations near our bicycle corrals and bicycle friendly businesses, this program will create a Bicycle Friendly environment that will contribute to and enhance the larger community.

We are still looking for locations for these stations. Requirements include a maintenance agreement similar to the Bike Corrals and the location criteria outlined in the last post. If you are the owner of a local business who would be interested in having a Bicycle Repair Station outside your establishment, please fill out this form and we will be in contact with you shortly.

 

Dero Fixit Work Stations coming soon to a neighborhood near you!