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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Exploring Los Angeles’ New Forms: Cycletrack Materials Testing

Today marks a very exciting step forward in our continuing effort to implement more cycletracks in Los Angeles. From 12-2pm this afternoon, we tested various cycletrack physical barrier options including armadillos and K71 bollards.  As a refresher, cycletracks, also known as protected bicycle lanes, are on street lanes that separate people on bicycles from motorized traffic by physical barriers such as curbs, planters, parked cars, and posts. They are a relatively new infrastructure that has become more and more popular around the nation.

K71 bollards and armadillos in the buffer zone await bicycles, a sedan, a truck, and the ultimate test: the LAFD fire truck!

Starting at 9 am, LADOT crews began installation of the cycletrack test materials. The installation served as a test for all road users, seeking to understand the various interactions the different types of barriers will face in their everyday contexts.

LADOT crews install an armadillo

Around noon, City employees, Mayor’s Office staff, folks from LACBC and the City of LA Bicycle Advisory Committee helped test the barriers with their bicycles, observing their perception of separation as well as the mountability of the materials.

Testing ridability over the armadillos

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Pop-Up Chandler Cycletrack at CicLAvia – The Valley #PopUpChandler

On Sunday, March 22, CicLAvia is coming to the Valley from 9 am – 4 pm. Adjacent to the North Hollywood Arts District Hub, the City will host “Pop-Up Chandler Cycletrack,” a one-day, “pop-up” protected bicycle lane demonstration. The Chandler Cycletrack will be temporarily installed on Chandler Boulevard between Vineland Avenue and Fair Avenue. The pop-up will help visualize facilities proposed in the City’s draft Mobility Plan 2035 to create low-stress bicycle networks that safely connect people to places. Roll through on your way to CicLAvia!

What is a Cycletrack?

Cycletracks, also known as Protected Bike Lanes, are bike lanes that physically separate bicycles and cars, increasing safety and comfort-levels for all road users.

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An example of a permanent cycletrack in Vancouver, Canada. Photo Credit: Paul Krueger

The pop-up event will feature one-way cycletracks on both sides of the street connecting the Chandler Bike Path to CicLAvia Lankershim Hub.

Why a Pop-Up?

Pop-up events give people an opportunity to see and evaluate public realm improvements during the planning process, hands-on. The pop-up technique is an incredibly useful tool in that it helps residents visualize the scale and appearance of potential improvements. While descriptions, mock-ups, and pictures help, first-hand experience can give people a fresh perspective that may be difficult to replicate through any other means.

Pop-up projects are comparatively low-cost and low-risk. Projects can last one day or longer, and they are easy to install and remove. Because not everyone has seen a protected bikeway, much less experienced the level of safety these facilities provide, this temporary reconfiguration can provide a venue to re-imagine Los Angeles as a safer more comfortable place to travel by any mode.

Project Goal + Benefits

The intent of this project is to be immediate, educational, and informative for the public and practitioners alike. It turns a standard public workshop into a real event for the community to interact with. It is more participatory than the traditional planning process, as community members are able to directly provide input, and impact future design and planning decisions in their neighborhood.

The physical separation provided by a protected bike lane makes people feel better about making trips on bikes.  It opens up the street to people of all ages, and makes bicycling low stress. Additionally, the road-diet helps to decrease the speed of motor vehicles. Protected lanes are especially great for families with young children; parents can have peace of mind knowing that their child can safely and comfortably ride their bicycle in their neighborhood. Ultimately, the hope is that people with all levels of biking experience who test out the pop-up lane will feel safer and more comfortable riding their bicycles, and thus support the introduction of this type of permanent bicycle infrastructure in their neighborhood.

Where else has this occurred?

A one-day, pop-up cycle track was created on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, CA last spring.

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People observe and discuss a block-long, pop-up cycletrack demonstration in Oakland, CA. The pavement markings and planters were all temporary for a one-day display. Photo Credit: @woolie

During the event, one participant commented: “it’s amazing to bike on Telegraph Avenue and feel so safe. I wish it was like this all the time.” To provide physical separation from vehicles, volunteers placed planters, and decorated boxes along a freshly painted line.

This past December, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to approve parking-protected bike lanes for Telegraph Avenue. Oakland brought conceptual designs from paper to the street, where the positive feedback provided by the community directly contributed to the measure being passed.

Other notable placemaking events include, Santa Monica’s Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway Project (MANGo), the pedestrianization of New York City’s Time Square, as well as the placement of plazas and parklets in the streets of Los Angeles. These cities have been able to successfully encourage bicycling and build support for infrastructural improvements through these temporary installations that demonstrate what actual changes can look and feel like.

Citywide Initiatives

Los Angeles is changing the way it thinks about safety. Under LADOT’s policy initiative Vision Zero, the city is making great strides towards eliminating traffic fatalities. As part of this effort to increase safety for all road users, LADOT has included protected bike lanes in its toolbox of options. Additionally, protected bicycle facilities are consistent with the long-term framework provided in the 2035 Mobility Plan, which emphasizes active modes of transportation, reducing vehicle miles traveled, low-stress facilities, and associated environmental benefits. The Mobility Plan recognizes protected bicycle lanes as an integral part of the Bicycle Enhanced Network, and details the benefits mentioned in the paragraphs above. Specifically, the plan sites enhanced bicycle infrastructure as a key element in making seamless connections from walking and biking to transit.

How to get involved?

Councilmember Paul Krekorian of District 2 says, “I encourage anyone biking to CicLAvia – The Valley to try out the Chandler Cycletrack pop-up. Test it out and let us know what you think about the idea. The input we get from riders will help make North Hollywood and the rest of Council District 2 more bike and pedestrian friendly, which is something I’m actively working to do.”

Participants are encouraged to document and share their experiences with staff during the event, as well as to post on social media websites throughout the event using the hashtag #PopUpChandler.

Cruising the Coast: A Two-Wheeled Tour of San Pedro

Bicycle tourism has been well observed and practiced as a recreational activity across the United States, but often we fail to remember the multitude of sightseeing opportunities right here within our city’s diverse neighborhoods.  As Los Angeles’ bicycle network and multi-modal connectivity expands, we have more and more opportunities get out of our cars and explore new areas by bicycle. There’s no better way to spend a sunny Sunday than exploring Los Angeles’ hidden gems. We thought we would share our favorite bicycle routes and points of interest in and around San Pedro, one of L.A.’s most scenic and bikeable neighborhoods.

Cruising the Waterfront 1

Clockwise from top left: The Corner Store, view from Paseo Del Mar looking north; bike lane signage; Metro Bus 246; palms at Point Fermin Park; Point Fermin Lighthouse; and buffered bike lanes on Paseo Del Mar.

Located 25 miles south of Downtown L.A., San Pedro is home to some of the city’s most breathtaking vistas and historical sights, not to mention bike lanes and paths that even novice riders will enjoy. Our journey begins on San Pedro’s Paseo Del Mar, accessible via the terminus of Metro Bus 246 at Paseo and Parker St. Cruise Paseo’s bike lanes and check out the breathtaking cliff-side views of the Pacific and Catalina Island. Stop by local haunt, the Corner Store to refuel with coffee and snacks before making your way east to Point Fermin Park, home of legendary Walker’s Café and the Point Fermin Lighthouse, built in 1874.

Cruising the Waterfront 2

Taking in the view on Paseo Del Mar.

From Point Fermin, it is a quick 5 minute ride down Shepherd and Pacific Avenues to Cabrillo Beach, where you can check out the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the nearby tide pools. If squids and urchins aren’t your thing, enjoy the views along the beachfront bike path and fishing pier. Head north on sharrowed Shoshean Road toward 22nd Street where twenty-second Street Park’s scenic bike path will lead you straight to Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro’s new artisan marketplace located in a beautifully restored warehouse.

After picking up some homemade marmalade, head up the hill to Beacon St. to check out the Muller House Museum (open Sundays only), a cherished jewel of San Pedro’s past. Other great sights in the vicinity include: the WPA murals in the San Pedro Post Office on Beacon St,  recently constructed Cabrillo Way Marina and Warehouse No. 1 at the south end of Signal St, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cruising the Waterfront 3

Clockwise from top left: Warehouse No. 1; view from Signal St., bike parking at the Red Car Downtown Station, bike lane on Harbor Blvd., a glimpse of the Bike Palace on Pacific Ave., the Merchant Marine Memorial and Maritime Museum off Harbor Blvd. Center: A brand new boardwalk just north of the Maritime Museum.

Take a well-deserved break at Utro’s Cafe right off of Sampson Way, home to arguably the best burger in town. Peruse Utro’s extensive collection of memorabilia to learn a bit about the history of longshore workers in San Pedro. If you’re still up for more San Pedro sights after lunch, take a stroll around the quaint shops at Ports O’Call. From here you can also take the short trip north to the fantastic Battleship USS Iowa and Los Angeles Maritime Museum both accessible via the bike lanes on Harbor Blvd.

If you want to give your legs a rest, hop on the Historic Waterfront Red Car Line, one of the last remaining vestiges of Los Angeles’ railcar past or enjoy the water show at Gateway Plaza, featuring two Fanfare fountains by WET Design. When you’re ready to catch the 246 back north, take bike-friendly 9th, 13th, or 14th Streets 4 blocks west to Pacific Ave.

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Since there’s so much more to see in San Pedro – like the Warner Grand Theater and Korean Bell, just to name a few- feel free to leave us your suggestions for other great bike-friendly sights in town! Also, let us know if you have any suggestions for other bikeable L.A. neighborhoods you would like to see us explore on the blog.

More great resources for your trip: Bike Palace (located on Pacific Ave. and 16th St.); bicyclela.org (for bike maps and parking info)

My Bicycle Route: NoHo to UCLA

My bicycle route is mainly on neighborhood streets, providing a lower-stress and more pleasant experience.

Jose Tchopourian, LADOT Bike Program.

The Los Angeles region is vast and challenging to navigate by any transportation mode. Some residents, like myself, find it more enjoyable and oftentimes faster to commute using a bicycle alone or in combination with public transit.

Before guiding you through my “hybrid commute”, which combines bicycling and transit, I would like to point you to some helpful resources for making trips by bicycle: bike maps and infrastructure, transit maps and timetables, bike rules of the road, and fun bike rides and education.

Since September, I have been commuting from my home in the NoHo Arts District to class at UCLA’s Urban Planning Department. My trip combines a bike and Metro’s underground Red Line subway. The total commute is 14 miles long and takes about 1 hour door to door.

I start my trip on the Metro Red Line at the North Hollywood station in the direction of Union Station. I ride the train two stops, departing at the Hollywood/Highland station. The train ride takes about 9 minutes. If you are riding Metro Rail with your bike, keep the following in mind: 1) use elevators or stairs to enter and exit stations 2) if the train is full, wait for the next one 3) give priority to passengers in wheelchairs, and 4) stand with your bike in the designated area for bikes, which are clearly identified with a yellow decal adjacent to the car doors.

Holding my bike while riding the Red Line Subway into Hollywood.

Holding my bike while riding the Red Line Subway into Hollywood.

The second part of my commute, an 8-mile bicycle ride, takes about 45 minutes and allows me to experience the sights and sounds of multiple neighborhoods.It is important to follow the rules of the road while operating a bicycle. Obey all traffic signals and stop signs, yield to pedestrians, and use lights to be visible at night. I find that riding predictably and communicating with other road users makes my ride safer.

The route I have selected avoids steep mountainous terrain. Instead, I experience slight inclines during my trip. In addition to elevation, I also consider the type of streets I will be using to get to my destination. Eight years of using a bicycle for moving through Los Angeles have taught me that safety comes first. Even if riding on arterial streets might bring me to my destination a few minutes earlier, I prefer to trade time saving for the lower-stress experience of riding on residential and neighborhood streets. When I do ride on arterial streets, I pick those that have bike facilities on them.

Here is my route. If you see me on the road, say hello!

If you would like to share your favorite route, send it to bike.program@lacity.org.

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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New bicycle lanes on Virgil Avenue lead the way for a more livable street

Virgil Village bike lane dedication

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell speaks about the economic and safety benefits of the new Virgil Avenue bicycle lanes.

New bicycle lanes have been installed on Virgil Avenue in East Hollywood. The bicycle lanes stretch from Santa Monica Blvd. to Melrose Ave. and were installed in conjunction with new pavement and crosswalk striping at intersections. Over this past weekend, Council Member Mitch O’ Farrell hosted a small ceremony in Virgil Village to celebrate the neighborhood’s latest bicycle lane project. Before leading a group of residents to test ride the new lanes, the council member gave a small speech acknowledging the economic and safety benefits of the new lanes, as quoted by L.A. Streetsblog yesterday: “…we implemented a solution that makes for a better pedestrian environment and that encourages small business growth along this blossoming commercial corridor”.  For more photos of the event, check out our Flickr page. Read more

LADOT announces Priority 2 list of planned bikeways

LADOT is pleased to release the cumulative list of Year 2 planned bicycle lanes. See the list below for the street name, council district and the respective mileage and limits of each project.

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Click here to access or download the original spreadsheet (Revised 1/23/14 to include spreadsheet link)

This Year 2 list contains the next 40 miles of bicycle lanes prioritized for installation.  Each project is part of an ongoing effort to strategically close gaps in our bikeway network by connecting new infrastructure to existing bicycle paths, lanes and routes in Los Angeles.  A number of these projects are funded through the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP).

Moving forward, LADOT will begin traffic and safety assessments for the Year 2 projects. Results from this analysis will be made available in a public report.  Upon completion of Traffic and Safety Assessments, LADOT and the Department of City Planning will hold a series of public hearings to disclose the analysis and give interested groups an opportunity to express their support or concern over the proposed bicycle lanes.

2nd St. tunnel and road set to receive bicycle lanes this weekend

2nd st pre marking under the 110 freeway

2nd St. bike lanes are on their way!

Downtown Los Angeles is getting better and better for bicycling. In addition to the recently implemented 7th St. bike lanes, we’re happy to announce that new lanes are being installed on 2nd St., this weekend. Work crews have already begun the process of removing the existing striping from the street. The next step will include installing new thermoplastic striping atop the mark out paint seen in the photos above and below. The new bicycle lanes will feature buffers (from Broadway to Figueroa) and will be installed from North Spring Street through the 2nd St. tunnel (which we know many are very excited about!) through to Glendale Blvd.  Read more

7th Street status update

Credit: LADOT Bike Blog

This woman looked very happy to be riding on the newly extended 7th Street bicycle lanes (Credit: LADOT Bike Blog).

Last Friday, LADOT crews began the work of extending the bicycle lanes and road diet on West 7th Street into Downtown LA’s Financial District and Historic Core. Since this is such an exciting project that will form a major connection in the Downtown bikeway network, we wanted to provide an update on the work that’s been performed so far (as of Friday, November 1) and what still needs to be done. Read more