A Safer Van Nuys Blvd for All

On Friday, December 16, a press conference took place to welcome the Van Nuys Blvd Great Street project in Pacoima. In attendance were the multiple partners that made this project possible, including: Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative; Council District 7; LADOT, Bureau of Street Services; business owners; and community members.

Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Great Streets Initiative

Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Great Streets Initiative

Max Podemski of Pacoima Beautiful speaks on how the safety-driven improvements to Van Nuys Blvd address environmental justice issues within the Pacoima Community.

Max Podemski of Pacoima Beautiful speaks on how the safety-driven improvements to Van Nuys Blvd address environmental justice issues within the Pacoima Community.

The Van Nuys Great Street is a safety-driven project that addresses a history of high collision rates along the corridor. Van Nuys Blvd is designated as a Vision Zero High Injury Network (HIN) street and is the site of 57 collisions involving injuries to people walking and bicycling since 2011. Studies conducted by LADOT found that 19% of motorists on Van Nuys Blvd speed while driving. The street has been reorganized to improve safety, access and mobility for all road users, especially children and older adults.

The Van Nuys Great Street project stretches from San Fernando Rd to the north, close to the Bradley Ave People St Plaza and connecting to the San Fernando Rd Bike Path, to Laurel Canyon Blvd to the south. This stretch of Van Nuys Blvd includes many important community-serving destinations, including Pacoima City Hall (housing a field office for Council District 7 and community partners like Pacoima Beautiful) and the Pacoima Branch Library, and is part of Pacoima’s “Mural Mile,” a unique concentration of hand-painted murals that grace the sides of buildings and business storefronts. Improvements made to the street include parking-protected and buffered bicycle lanes, 16 high-visibility crosswalk legs, signal modifications, marked parking stalls, and 4.82 lanes miles of street resurfacing.

Community residents look at before and after photographs of Van Nuys Blvd.

Community residents look at before and after photographs of Van Nuys Blvd.

Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Great Streets Initiative

Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Great Streets Initiative

For more information on this Great Streets project in Pacoima, visit http://lagreatstreets.org/van-nuys-n/.

For information on the City’s Great Streets Initiative and projects in development around the City, visit: lagreatstreets.org

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

 

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!

 

Getting ready to bike on the new Los Angeles Street

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

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

Ceremony Photo

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

 

Special Design Features of the new Los Angeles Street

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

Side Boarding Islands

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

Bus Platform

Bicycle Signal Heads

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

Bike Signal Head

Bike Box (Two-Stage Turn Queue Box)

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

Two-Stage Turn Queue Boxes Diagram

Image Source: NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide

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

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

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

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

 

Starting in Summer 2016: MyFigueroa Construction

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

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

Render of Figueroa and 11th. Courtesy of MyFigueroa

Render of Figueroa and 11th. Courtesy of MyFigueroa

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

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

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

11th Street from Figueroa Street to Broadway

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of MyFigueroa

Project design team. Courtesy of MyFigueroa

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

My Commute: Palms to USC and DTLA

 

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

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

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

I save $4,020 each year by not driving

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

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

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

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

Riding from Palms to USC

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

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

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

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

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

My reflective backpack helps me stay visible at night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palms to DTLA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DTLA to USC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading! How is your commute?

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

Explore LA! [Video] So Pas to Silver Lake

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

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

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

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

Buster's Coffee

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

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

Nicole's Gourmet Foods

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

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

Highland Cafe

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

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

Habitat Coffee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Explore LA! Adventures on two-wheels: NoHo to Griffith Park

Spring (or is this one long perpetual summer?) is back and adventure options for those on two wheels are endless! After travelling to a few other places, we wanted to get back on our local tourism tip!

This bicycle tour features destinations in between the Red Line North Hollywood Station (in NoHo) and the Griffith Park Sunday Drum Circle. Yes, a drum circle! This 8.5 mile-long bike ride travels along different bike facilities (bike paths, lanes, and routes) and features a variety of LA neighborhood attractions from shops & entertainment in NoHo to nature & culture in Griffith Park.

Come along for the ride! To prepare, you need: a bike, a bike lock, some kind of map or smart phone, water, snacks, and don’t forget your sun protection, because it can get HOT!

Pleasant 8.5 mile-long features NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Griffith Park

Pleasant 8.5 mile-long bike ride features the NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Griffith Park. Photo: Google Map

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