Why the 2015 “Call for Projects” is Cause for Celebration

Early Chandler Cycletrack rendering

Early rendering of proposed cycle track on Chandler Blvd, one of 8 active transportation projects from the City of Los Angeles recommended for Metro 2015 Call for Projects funding.

On June 29th, Metro released its preliminary recommendations awarding grant funding to projects countywide under the 2015 Call for Projects program, a competitive application process that distributes capital transportation funds to regionally significant projects. By all accounts, this was a successful ‘Call’ year for the City of Los Angeles, in particular for people that walk and ride their bicycle. Eight projects that will improve active transportation were recommended for funding!

City projects set to receive funding, by ‘Call for Projects’ category, include:

1) Regional Surface Transportation Improvements

  • Complete Streets Project for Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock: Improve traffic flow and implement “Complete Streets” elements on Colorado Boulevard by installing signal improvements, turn lanes, median islands, bump-outs, and pedestrian lighting. (More information available here)
  • Harbor Boulevard /Sampson Way/7th Street Reconfiguration: Harbor Boulevard and Sampson Way realignment/intersection consolidation;widened sidewalks; Class II bike lanes.

2) Transportation Demand Management

  • Building Connectivity with Bicycle Friendly Business Districts: Create Bicycle Friendly Business Districts that coordinate with business districts to offer TDM incentives, develop an app, and provide amenities that encourage short trips by bicycle.

3) Bicycle Improvements

  • Chandler Cycle Track Gap Closure Project: Project will construct a 3.1 mile cycle track along Chandler Boulevard, connecting the Chandler and Orange Line Bike Paths, and bridging a gap in the low-stress bicycle network.
  • Mid-City Low Stress Bicycle Enhancement Corridors: The Project is a compilation of bicycle way-finding and traffic calming treatments along two neighborhood corridors in Mid-City area to support regional low-stress bicycle network. (More information available here, and here)

4) Pedestrian Improvements

  • Melrose Avenue-Fairfax Avenue to Highland Avenue Pedestrian Improvements: Strengthen first/last mile connectivity on Melrose Avenue through pedestrian/bike-friendly improvements to restore the avenue’s reputation as a retail and entertainment destination.
  • LANI – Santa Monica Boulevard Improvement Project: The project will implement a series of streetscape improvements on Santa Monica Boulevard designed to increase pedestrian safety, support multiple modes and promote transit use.
  • Beverly Boulevard, Vermont Avenue to Commonwealth Avenue Pedestrian Improvements: Design and construction of pedestrian improvements/streetscape enhancements. To provide linkages to major transit along Beverly Boulevard, Temple Street, Virgil Avenue and Silver Lake Boulevard.

Due to the Call funding cycles,  some of these projects are programmed for a few years down the line and will not be funded until as late as 2020. However, having all these active transportation projects recommended for funding are a cause for celebration and we can’t wait to implement these projects! Additional information about the details of these projects can be found in this list of applications the City recommended to submit for the 2015 Call for Projects process.

Bike Share Coming to LA, says City Council!

Get ready for #BikeshareLA!!

Exciting news for Angelenos today! Bike share is coming to LA, says the Los Angeles City Council. Today, Council voted to partner with Metro to launch a pilot bike-sharing program in Downtown Los Angeles. The program is slated to launch with 1,090 bicycles and up to 85 stations by 2016. The program aims to eventually expand to other neighborhoods, such as Hollywood, Koreatown, Expo Park, North Hollywood and Venice.

Bike share could be a game changer for LA, creating a new transportation system that has benefits that extend far beyond moving people around. In other cities, bike share has expanded the number of mobility options available for short trips, improved the health of its users, decreased crashes, and produced positive business outcomes.

Bike share is a partnership between Metro, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS) and its partner BCycle were selected to implement the program for Metro in Los Angeles and other cities. The program builds on successful bike sharing operations in other major cities, including Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Paris.

After a 2012 effort to bring bike sharing to Downtown Los Angeles failed to materialize, Councilmember José Huizar, who represents a majority of DTLA, welcomes the program, which compliments his DTLA Forward initiative, aimed at improving pedestrian, public space and bicycle access in DTLA.

“This bike sharing program is a long time coming for DTLA and the City of Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Huizar. “We have been leading the fight to bring more pedestrian and bicycle uses to the City, particularly in Downtown, where many of its 53,000 residents live car-free lives. Our bike sharing service will greatly benefit them, as well as the many workers, visitors and tourists who come to DTLA each and every day.”

This Arts District poodle advised about station placement at last month’s bikeshare demonstration

Under the plan, Metro and the City of Los Angeles will share capital costs. Metro will cover 35% of net operations and maintenance costs and the City will cover the remaining 65%.

“Bike sharing’s return on investment is proven and powerful,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager. “It is good for local business, public health, and community happiness. The City is a proud partner to Metro in launching a new form of safe, equitable, and fun public transit.”

Naming rights for the bike share system will be retained by Metro and advertising rights on bike share stations will belong to the City and be negotiated separately from the MOU approved today.

“We’re very pleased to partner with the City of Los Angeles to bring bike sharing to Downtown L.A. next year,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair. “This partnership will do wonders to extend the reach of Metro’s bus and rail system and give Angelenos brand new, efficient and sustainable transportation options. Following Downtown L.A.’s bike sharing pilot, we look forward to expanding the bike share program to many other cities within Los Angeles County.”

BTS/BCycle is working on integrating transit fare cards similar to Metro’s TAP card, bringing a convenient, unified payment system to the county’s rail, bus and bike share systems.

Councilmember Mike Bonin also serves as a Metro Boardmember and helped usher in the new program.

“I am incredibly excited that we are moving forward with bike share in L.A. and that we are focusing on developing a system that will connect our neighborhoods,” said Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin. “It defies logic that snowy cities around the country have had bike share for years, but a city like Los Angeles, with our wonderful weather and communities begging to be biked, still hasn’t gotten this done yet. I’m excited this is happening in L.A. and I can’t wait for it to reach the Westside in the near future.”

Bike sharing programs have grown throughout the years from the free white bike programs introduced by the Dutch in the 1970s to the current explosion of member-based, electronic kiosk-operated bicycle sharing programs globally. In 2015, the global number of bike share bikes surpassed 1 million! Most major cities in North America have developed successful bike share programs:

· In Denver, 43% of bike share users say they use bike share to replace car trips.

· In Washington, D.C., 31% of bike share users report lower stress levels.

· In Paris, local bike sales increased 35% one year after the Velib bike share system was installed.

· New York’s Citibike system has created 200 local jobs.

· In five cities with bike share systems, injuries to people bicycling decreased by 30% compared to cities without bike share systems.

LA’s bike share on preview in the Arts District!

Learning from previous attempts to implement bike share, Los Angeles and Metro are creating a system in which bike share is a form of public transportation, and is subsidized similar to bus and rail.

The capital cost of the Pilot Program is anticipated to be $5,806,034. Grant funding from two sources have been secured in order to cover all of these capital costs. The first grant is $3,792,893 in ExpressLanes Net Toll Revenue. In addition, the Metro Board approved reprogramming $2,013,141 in Metro Call for Project funding from two former CRA projects to offset capital costs and pay for the remainder of the capital purchase of equipment for the Program.

The total Operations and Maintenance cost of the two-year program is estimated to be $5,259,639. The City’s 65% share will be offset by revenue from user fees, and the remaining net costs are recommended to be paid through a combination of funds from the Local Transportation Fund (TDA) and the Measure R Local Return 5% set-aside for bicycle programs.

Bike share will grace the streets of DTLA by Summer 2016 to provide Angelenos a new way to move around LA.

Step right up, first chance to test LA’s new bikeshare!

Guess what #BikeLA? Bikeshare is coming to Los Angeles in Spring 2016! 1,090 bikes at 65 strategically located stations will transform the way we move around Downtown LA.

What is bikeshare you ask? Bikeshare is a fleet of bicycles available for check out 24/7! Bikes can be picked up from one station and returned to any other in the system. It is an ideal way to get around and a new way to see LA!

In the next two weeks, you will have an opportunity to join us to test out the bikes and give feedback about the proposed station map! We heard from many of you about your preferred station locations already but if you haven’t yet had a chance to give your two cents, come on by! We’re all ears! And yes, you will be able to test ride the bikes! There will be a demo kiosk, fully equipped with bikes. Did we say bikes?  Bikeshare? Yes, we’re excited, we hope you are too!

Bikeshare demo station

Wait, there’s more! Bring your wallets! While testing these bikes is free, it will be sure to induce your hunger. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to eat from fresh and local eateries at each of these upcoming events:

If you’re wondering who is coordinating these events, it is the all-star collaboration between LADOT + Metro + BTS (and their partners B-CycleRidescoutToole Design Group and BikeHub). If you are interested in learning more, stop by, give us a shoutout on Twitter and stay tuned for more updates! We hope you love #bikeshareLA!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bikeshare, coming soon to #BikeLA!

Great news #BikeLA! We are one step closer to the historic launch of Los Angeles bikeshare changing the way we get around DTLA. We’re about to flash right into the future and our Downtown transportation options are about to become practical, cost effective, and neighborhood livening with the implementation of a regional bike share system!

Yesterday, the Metro Planning & Programming Committee unanimously approved for full Board consideration the adoption of the Regional Bike share Implementation Plan and the award of a 2-year operations contract to Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS). Soon the item will be in front of the full Metro Board of Directors for a vote. Next Thursday, June 25 at 9 am the Board will consider the contract with BTS and their partner Bcycle, to operate a regional bikeshare program for LA County. If the Board votes to pass the item, the project will move forward, with the countywide bikeshare program on track to launch next spring in downtown Los Angeles!

The DTLA pilot will provide 65 bikeshare stations and more than 1,000 bikes.  If the Pilot proves successful, Metro’s larger regional program will expand to include 4,000 bikes around nine cities and communities including Pasadena, West Hollywood, Venice and others.

Proposed bikeshare expansion map

Bikeshare is an ideal fit for LA, with our sunny and 75 degree winters and relatively flat terrain. Bikeshare will help revolutionize how people get around our neighborhoods, since it allows users to take a bike at one station and return it to any other within the system. In other words, bikeshare is really good for connecting people to places especially for trips that are easier on a bike than by car — one-way or round-trip. Bikeshare is a great way to travel to and from transit, closing the first/last mile gaps. It also brings people to business districts and provides opportunities for effortless exercise!

BTS launched Indego, Philadelphia’s bikeshare system of 500 bicycles in April (photo: Philly Fun Guide)

The BTS/Bcycle team chosen to operate the LA County system successfully launched in Philadelphia this April with 500 bikes. The company was selected after a rigorous procurement process in which staff evaluated several bikeshare companies. Among the reasons they were selected:

•BTS and its partner, Bcycle, have delivered bikeshare systems on-time in other cities and they have a good track record with those cities and with customer satisfaction.

•The BTS/Bcycle staff have expertise implementing large bikeshare programs in other cities, including Philladelphia, New York and Washington D.C. BTS operates bikeshare systems in Philly and Oklahoma City. Bcycle, in separate partnerships, has bikeshare systems in Denver, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and many others.

•Metro believes the BTS/Bcycle team has the greatest ability to deliver more than 1,000 bikes and 65 kiosks for Metro’s pilot program in Downtown L.A.

•The BTS/Bcycle team has also been working on allowing payment for bikes with transit fare cards in Philadelphia and Santiago, Chile. Metro wants its riders to be able to use TAP cards to pay for bikeshare memberships or rentals, with the vision that bikeshare is just an extension of the transit system.

This announcement has prompted questions about inter-operability of the different bikeshare systems in the County. Prior to the Metro Board deciding in 2014 to pursue a regional bikeshare program, two other cities — Long Beach and Santa Monica — had already secured funding and began planning their own bikeshare programs. The start dates of bikeshare in those cities is still to be determined but the bottom line is that the cities have different vendors, raising the question of whether their bikeshare systems will be compatible with the regional system.

Metro and the regional bikeshare program cities will continue working with Long Beach and Santa Monica to ensure “interoperability” and a good customer experience for those who want to use the different bikeshare systems. That means Metro will be discussing common fare structures (including use of TAP as a membership card) as well as inclusive bikeshare memberships, consistency in marketing and possibly co-locating bikeshare facilities for those traveling between Metro’s bikeshare kiosks and Long Beach and/or Santa Monica.

On Thursday, June 25th, the full Metro Board will consider the bikeshare contract with the BTS/Bcycle team at 9am in Union Station’s Metro Board Room. The meeting is open to the public and speaker cards will be available for those who wish to comment.

It’s a wrap! #BikeWeekLA 2015 Recap

It’s a wrap! Bike Week 2015 is officially over… animated bicycling creatures, a spinning wheel of trivia, 25 foot fish skeletons, shamans, BIKE SOCKS and so much more! Thanks Metro and all the LA County partners who worked so hard to put this all together! It was truly unforgettable because Bike Weeks come and go, but the memories stay with us forever. In case your memory’s not as great as ours, or you weren’t able to attend all the events, here’s a quick recap…

This year’s program for Bike Week was jam-packed with fun. Over at the LADOT Bike Program, we made sure not to miss any of the wonderful opportunities to get up and out with Metro and our bicycle partners, propagating bike love across LA throughout the week.

Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager, speaking at Grand Park's Bike Week 2015 Press Conference on Monday. Image: LADOT Bike Program.

Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager, knocks our socks off at Grand Park’s Bike Week 2015 Press Conference on Monday, May 11. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

MONDAY

LADOT General Manager, Seleta Reynolds, kicked off Bike Week 2015 with a group ride into work. She led a group ride of LADOT employees from Echo Park to LADOT headquarters in Downtown. Next stop: the Bike Week kick off press conference at Grand Park!  The press conference was star-studded with #bikeLA VIPs including Councilmember Paul Krekorian,  Councilmember Jose HuizarMetro’s day 1 on the job new CEO Phil Washington, Metro boardmember and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Caltrans’ District 7 Director Carrie Bowen, LACBC’s Executive Director Tamika ButlerCICLE’s Executive Director Vanessa Gray, Good Samaritan Hospital’s Andy Leeka, and CicLAvia’s Aaron Paley. Also, lots and lots of cameras and media from local news channels.

Later that day, Metro hosted the “Is Bicycling In Your Future?” panel moderated by Frances Anderton, host of KCRW Design and Architecture and daily bicycle commuter.  The panel featured Laura Cornejo, Deputy Executive Officer at Metro; Maria Sipin, Advisory Board Member of Multicultural Communities for Mobility; Tamika Butler, Executive Director of Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition; and Sergeant Mike Flynn, LAPD Central Traffic Division Bicycle Liaison. Panelists explored whether bicycle ridership will increase as viewed through the lens of engineering, enforcement, and encouragement. We did some math on this and… short answer: YES, bicycling is in YOUR future!

Monday night panel held at Caltrans Building. Image: Rubina Ghazarian

Monday night panel at Caltrans Building

TUESDAY

Tuesday opened with the 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles! As usual the Blessing was at the Downtown adjacent Good Samaritan Hospital, accompanied by a delicious breakfast. During the morning, fallen bicyclists and advocates were recognized. Then religious figures literally bless bicyclists as they ride by, ensuring them a safe passage throughout the year.

The 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles hosted by the Good Samaritan Hospital saw a large number of participants and a new recipient of the Golden Spoke Award. Image: Joe Linton/Streetblog LA.

The 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles hosted by the Good Samaritan Hospital saw a large number of participants and a new recipient of the Golden Spoke Award. Image: Joe Linton/Streetblog LA.

WEDNESDAY

Wednesday’s Bike-In Movies defied inclement weather (by LA standards) by attracting a park full of people on two wheels and their fascinating chair-and-blanket contraptions. Danny Gamboa of Ghost Bikes and Metro’s Jack Moreau MC-ed the night. The shorts ranged from animated critters dealing with aggressive cartoon cars to the very solemn stories of families who have lost loved ones and found peace through the Ghost Bikes movement.

Bike-In Movie Night at Marsh Park had a full house, with over 100 people showing up on bikes. Image: East Side Riders BC.

Bike-In Movie Night at Marsh Park had a full house, with over 100 people showing up on bikes. Image: East Side Riders BC.

THURSDAY

Thursday was Bike to Work Day! This event featured hundreds of pit stops across LA County. Our very own LADOT Bike Program’s pit stop hung out with the Caltrans pit stop in front of our headquarters at Main and 1st Street. Commuters came for the freebies and stayed for fun! We offered snacks, information, and other cool bike swag. We had many special pit stop visits including Tamika Butler and Eric Bruins from LACBCFirst 5 LA, former LADOT Bike Program superstar Jon Overman, and a news crew from Biola University.

From left: Elizabeth Gallardo - LADOT Bike Program's Assistant Coordinator and Tamika Butler - LACBC's Executive Director. Image: Karina Macias.

Assistant Bicycle Coordinator Elizabeth Gallardo chillin with LACBC Executive Director Tamika Butler

Later that night, creatives from across the region shared their bicycle-themed artwork with LA Metro for the Color Wheels Art Show. The reception was held at the Caltrans Building, coinciding with DTLA Art Walk. Food, music, and prizes, as well as the really cool bicycle art, helped fill the room. If you haven’t yet visited the exhibition, don’t worry, the show will be open all month! One of our favorite pieces was the fish skeleton stuffed with trash found in the LA River (Bicycle Coordinator Rubina Ghazarian not included in the art piece). The piece shows not only that our bike lanes are large enough to accommodate a giant fish towed via bike trailer from Burbank, but that we need to take better care of our streets, rivers, and oceans!

Color Wheel

Bicycle Coordinator Rubina Ghazarian salutes Bike Week from the Color Wheels ghost fish

FRIDAY

Bike Night at Union Station was the BEST! The event was hosted in the Old Ticket Room in Los Angeles’s most historic train station. We don’t want to gloat, but our LADOT Spin-the-Bike-Wheel was pretty cool! The trivia contest was all the rage, with people lining up again and again for an opportunity to prove their #bikeLA cred and win special prizes.

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We were extra proud to see how many young people were winning at the Wheel, exhibiting some serious street knowledge… You go, #bikeLA! Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Most exciting for us though was our opportunity to debut our brand new Bikeways Guides, hot off the presses from the print shop!  We distributed hundreds of our new maps, updating people with the first new guide since 2011!  Bike Night was also full of music, food trucks, a photobooth and sweet prizes for everyone courtesy of Metro and sponsors. Free bike valet and tune-ups services were offered by Fleet Streets. Once again, Bike Night has proven to be the champion of all Bike Week wrap-ups.

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Karina and Ben holding down the fort and thrilling crowds with Spin-the-Bike-Wheel! Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Talking the talk and walking the walk, we want to share what some Angelenos did during the week. A bike ride held by UCLA Urban Planning students and alumni (and former familiar faces from the Bike Program) visited NoHo Arts Districts, Chandler Bike Path, Griffith Park, LA River Bike Path, North Atwater Park, and Golden Road Brewing on Saturday, May 16. Across the City and beyond, many other rides took place during the week. Please share with us what you did during Bike Week in the comment section!

This group of UCLA students and alumni got together and rode from NoHo to Golden Road Brewing on Sat, May 16. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

This group of UCLA students and alumni got together and rode from NoHo to Golden Road Brewing. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Bike Week hooks you up with the events and people to begin or continue your bike journey! And probably most importantly, it provides you the tools to navigate the streets of Los Angeles by bicycle safely.  Sadly, Bike Week 2015 has ended, but the fun continues because May is Bike Month!

Ride safely and we hope to see you on the road whether it’s Bike Week or not because at LADOT every week is Bike Week!

Clear your calendar, Bike Week LA 2015 is here!

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

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

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

Bike Week LA 2015 Lineup:

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My Bicycle Route: Los Feliz to Downtown with Special Guests — LA Bike Trains!

Me (Heather!) and my bicycle

My favorite means of commuting to and from work has always been by bicycle, and my commute to LADOT  is no different. For many bicycle commuters, the decision to bike to work is often because they find the convenience, affordability, enjoyability, and commute time appealing. Biking also takes away the stress of having to rush to catch the [insert any public transit mode] or the all-too-familiar road-rage-inducing traffic congestion.

I live in Los Feliz and it takes me an average of 35 minutes to bike to work Downtown. In total, the ride is about 5.5 very doable miles. If I were to commute by car it would take me roughly 40 minutes plus a few bucks for gas (and then… parking).  There are a few bike routes I can take to work because of the growing bike lane network leading to and through Downtown and the route I take most often is straightforward, based in two prominent north/south and east/west bike network connectors: the 2nd Street tunnel and Spring Street bike lanes.

From my home, I use neighborhood streets to reach Sunset Boulevard, then take Sunset (more than half the ride), and finally catch the bike lane on Spring Street to the reach the LADOT office. My ride starts out in the quiet Los Feliz flatlands, where I weave through neighborhood streets and a few mid-block alleyways. I enjoy the slow pace I can take in the alleyways that feature limited vehicle traffic- their separation from major roadways allows me to relax and take it easy. I also enjoy the sense of community here. There are several schools in Los Feliz, so I routinely see a lot of moms and dads walking their kids to school or older kids walking together in groups.

Turning into mid-block alleyway in the Los Feliz neighborhood.

Turning into a mid-block alleyway in the Los Feliz neighborhood

When I reach Sunset, I take the popular Sunset bike lane for an easy 4.5 miles through a couple different neighborhoods: Silverlake and Echo Park. Biking on Sunset is my favorite part of the ride because it is scenic, varied, and social. There are a few rolling hills, but all elevation climbs are manageable and are subsequently rewarded with fun, gentle downhills. To my surprise, Sunset Blvd. in the mornings doesn’t ever seem as busy as it usually is in the evenings and on weekends.

Silverlake and Echo Park have a lot of locally beloved coffee shops. They’re always in full swing with people enjoying their favorite morning pastries alongside a cup of joe. Mornings along Sunset are also bustling with the bigger business of everyday life- there are always a few freight trucks unloading, buses picking up and dropping off people on their way to work. It’s important to follow the same rules of the road with these larger vehicles. When they are stopped to unload, I pass them safely, on the left.  With busses, sometimes I slow down and wait behind them until they exit the bus zone. Patience and common sense are important when sharing the road!

Using the bike lane on Sunset and passing the Sunset-Silverlake Junction Plaza.

Using the bike lane on Sunset and passing the Sunset-Silverlake Junction Plaza

When the weather is rainy or just too cold or too hot, I’ll opt for a multi-modal commute. For these rides, I dress according to the weather and bike to the nearest Metro Red Line Station, taking my bike on the train. From the Red Line, I get off at Civic Center Station, and then bike the rest of my way to work. Like Jose mentioned in his previous My Bicycle Route post, taking your bike on the train is super easy.

In addition to using other modes of transportation to supplement biking, I’ve also learned a few wardrobe tips to make my trips more successful. These include: 1) layering 2) wearing comfortable or slightly stretchy clothes to allow for lots of leg movement 3) cuffing pants to avoid greasy chain smears and, 4) adorning a reflective strap or vest for safety. Storing work clothes and extra gear like a multi-tool, bike lights, and flat tire patch kit in a pannier will also help ease your ride and facilitate a safe trip.

When I get the opportunity, I like to join an LA Bike Train to commute to work! LA Bike Trains is a free, community-oriented organization that helps people bike to work together. LA Bike Trains currently offer 10+ weekly or bi-weekly routes throughout the city that are led by Conductors, experienced urban cyclists. Some examples of the routes include Silverlake to Santa Monica and K-Town to UCLA. LA Bike Trains is a fantastic resource for people who want to ride their bikes to work, and the organization continues to grow, adding 5 additional routes since 2013. Luckily for me, there’s a Bike Train that leaves from Cafe Vitta in Los Feliz every other Thursday morning at 8 am and rides all the way to Downtown. It’s exactly the same route I usually take, but way more fun because I get to meet fellow bike commuters and have some company on my ride. Apart from social incentives, another great benefit of bike trains or biking with others is creating the “safety-in-numbers” effect, which makes you a little more visible to people driving. My ride to work with the Bike Train always feels fast- I guess time flies when you’re having fun 😉

Here’s my route in detail, from Los Feliz to Downtown:

Los Feliz Downtown

If you’re looking to find your perfect bike commute route, there are tons of resources out there to help you get started. Here are a few leads:

  1. Visit our most up-to-date Bikeways Map on bicyclela.org
  2. Ask fellow bike commuters or employees at your local bike shop
  3. Use the bicycle route option on Google Maps
  4. Use Google’s street view tool to help envision your route
  5. Read about others’ bike commute routes in our My Bicycle Route series
  6. Request a bike map for your region in LA
  7. Get in touch with an LA Bike Train conductor in your area

In addition to the route itself, you might want to think about environmental factors like:

  1. Elevation inclines and declines: Dress and prepare accordingly.
  2. Bicycle infrastructure: Paths, lanes, sharrows and their varying degrees of safety, connectivity, and ease.
  3. Vehicular traffic and speeds: Neighborhood streets often yield slower vehicle speeds while main thoroughfares often yield higher vehicular speeds.
  4. Time of the day: Make sure to use the proper lights and reflectors to make yourself visible.

Keep in mind that one of the best ways to pick your favorite route is to simply go out there and take a few test rides. You can even drive the route in a car ahead of time. Have fun, and let us know what your favorite rush-hour-beating bike commute route is!

Heather Do is an intern in Active Transportation Division’s Bicycle Program.

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.

Bikeshare coming to Santa Monica (and soon to LA!)

Santa Monica’s bikeshare pilot features SoBi “smart bike” technology.

The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a city staff report on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 for the purchase, installation, and operation of a 500-bicycle bikeshare system. The City of Santa Monica will contract with CycleHop to bring a bike share network of up to 75 stations to Santa Monica by Summer 2015, in plenty of time for the debut of Expo Line Phase II. The bike share network will provide a crucial “first/last mile” solution between Santa Monica residents and Metro’s light rail system.

Santa Monica residents got a sneak peek of a pilot bike share station outside Santa Monica City Hall. Passersby were able to test ride the green “smart bikes”, manufactured by Social Bicycles (SoBi). The bikes feature 8-speeds for climbing inclines, real-time GPS, and a payment system located directly on the rear fender of the bicycle.

The fourth generation “smart bikes” come with a u-lock.

Santa Monica hopes to create unique identification for the bikeshare system, keeping the bicycles and stations free of any corporate branding. Design preferences also include the incorporation of the color green to denote sustainability as well as the Metro logo. With countywide bikeshare efforts already in motion, Santa Monica staff wants to keep options open for local expression within a regional system.

The Los Angeles County regional system is being coordinated by Metro and is expected to launch in the Cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena in 2016 with plans for future expansion. Residents, employees, and those who travel through Downtown Los Angeles will have the ability to use the bikes to make short trips. The regional bikeshare system will also provide a crucial first/last mile solution for those traveling along the Metro Rail system from Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach, Pasadena, and Santa Monica.  Staff will present the findings and recommendations of the Regional Bikeshare Implementation Plan to the Metro Board in January.

The Santa Monica Council will also meet in January to further review recommended designs and suggested station locations. Until then, staff will move forward with contract negotiations with CycleHop, while also securing sponsorships, finalizing options for the proposed rate and membership structure, and sorting out the associated parking ordinances.

Locals were excited to test out the bikes!