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

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!

Biking-spiration from the Netherlands

Last month, City Hall was visited by a team of 10 business students from Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands. Hosted by Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative, avid bicycle rider and Economics Professor Louis Uljee and his students discussed their latest research on biking in Los Angeles.

The class spent their spring semester studying current transportation culture in Los Angeles and opportunities for improvement, and they finished off their research by spending two weeks bicycling all over the City of Angels. They concluded that by creating awareness of the economic and health benefits of riding a bike and increasing safety of bicycle infrastructure, LA can normalize bicycling, generate an inclusive bicycle culture, and increase ridership. You can learn more about their project on their Facebook page, HopOn.

Business students from Rotterdam University visiting USC. Courtesy of HopOn

Rotterdam University business students biked to USC. Courtesy of HopOn

From their presentation, we learned a lot of interesting things about bicycling in the Netherlands. Dutch bike culture is so ingrained in every day life because most people begin biking at a very young age. Usually, families and friends in various neighborhoods accompany young children on the ride to school from when they start school at four years old until they turn 10, at which time all children take a “bicycle exam” at school. The exam tests students’ abilities to be safe while riding, including proper hand signaling and bicycle positioning. Passing the test proves to school districts as well as children’s parents that the student can ride to school alone.

In the presentation, the business students shared a brief history of how the Netherlands became one of the world’s most bike-friendly nations. Before World War II, bicycling was the most widely-used form of transportation. After the war ended, increased affordability of cars encouraged the Dutch to trade in their bikes for vehicles, and bike lanes disappeared as roads became designed for fast-moving vehicles. Over the course of three decades, injuries and deaths of people on bikes, especially children, caused by accidents with cars spurred a series of protests in the 1970s.

In the 1970s, people in the Netherlands protested car-dominant roads with sign that read "Stop Child Murder". Courtesy of the Dutch National Archive

In the 1970s, Dutch people protested car-dominant roads with signs that read “Stop Child Murder”. Courtesy of the Dutch National Archive

Also during this time, increased oil prices simultaneously encouraged people to ride bicycles. With a renewed sense of the health, safety, social, and economic benefits of bicycling, Dutch citizens and government began working to create an expansive transportation network that was accessible and connected by bike.

Fast forward to four decades later in 2016 and the Netherlands is home to some of the most innovative bicycle- and people-oriented infrastructure in the world. The Rotterdam students described these exciting innovations in the Netherlands and Scandinavia:

Hovenring Bicycle Roundabout

The Hovenring Bike Roundabout courtesy of Huffington Post Canada

The Hovenring Bike Roundabout in Eindhoven. Courtesy of Huffington Post Canada

Students from the University of Delft designed the suspended Hovenring to allow for safe bicycle crossing above car traffic. Can you imagine if we had a bicycle roundabout like this above our freeways? Bikeway connectivity would skyrocket!

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bicycle Path

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bike Path. Courtesy of CNN

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bike Path in Nuen. Courtesy of CNN

Designer Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure made the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bicycle Path out of thousands of twinkling stones inspired by ‘Starry Night’. A sparkling bike path? Yes, please.

BikeScout

BikeScout was installed in March in Eindhoven.

BikeScout was installed in March in Eindhoven. Courtesy of Heijmans

Dutch company Heijmans Infrastructure created the BikeScout to increase safety at intersections. Radar trackers positioned along the road for 150 ft. leading to the intersection measure the changing positions of people who bike, walk, and drive. If there’s a collision risk, the LED lights lining the intersection flash, warning cars to stop. A BikeScout in LA would for sure help us reach Vision Zero goals.

CycloCable

The lift was originally built in 1993 and was remodeled in 2013. Courtesy of CityLab

The lift was originally installed in 1993 and was remodeled in 2013. Courtesy of CityLab

The POMA Group, a French cableway company, built the CycloCable bicycle lift on a steep hill in Trondheim, Norway. The user places their right foot on a footplate while the left foot remains on the bicycle pedal, and once a button is pressed, the bicyclist is pushed to the top of the hill. I can think of a few hills in Los Angeles that would become a lot easier to bike up with the help of a CycloCable!

Red Bike Lanes

Red bike lanes keep Dutch bicyclists visible to cars and clearly communicate where bikes should be used. Courtesy of Maurits90

The Netherlands has designated red as the official color for all bike lanes. Courtesy of Maurits90

Red bike lanes keep Dutch bicyclists visible to cars and clearly delineate where bikes should be used. Currently, Los Angeles and many other US cities are working to paint bike lanes bright green to enhance safety for all road users.

Even though I left the presentation and discussion with serious bike envy, it was inspiring to hear from the Rotterdam students about bike culture and infrastructure successes in the Netherlands. Here in LA, we have a lot of basic bikeways improvements to be made before we can even think about some of the complex infrastructure that was described to us by the Dutch students. The fact that it has taken about 40 years for the Netherlands to accomplish what they have reminds us that the changes we are making today will undoubtedly have an incredible impact on future generations. Working toward a safe, accessible multimodal transportation network is what keeps us going everyday at LADOT.

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.

Legalize it! Discussing Protected Bikeways with Caltrans

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Our Senior Bicycle Coordinator, Michelle Mowery, tests a protected bikeway on Rosemead Boulevard in Temple City. By next year there will be statewide standards for this type of facility that physically separates cars and bicycles on the roadway.

In September 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law A.B. 1193. This law, known as the Protected Bikeways Act of 2014, requires the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, to establish a new category of bikeway in the state’s Highway Design Manual, the technical design guide that governs bikeway treatment statewide. Currently there are three categories of bikeways – Class I bike paths, Class II bike lanes, Class III bike routes – and A.B. 1193 calls for the addition Class IV cycle tracks, or separated bikeways. Cycle tracks are common in Northern Europe but there are only a handful of such bikeways in California, and part of the reason is because of the absence of formal guidance at the state level. However, where separated bikeways (facilities that physically protect bicycle users from motor vehicle traffic) are implemented, they have been wildly successful and attracted a wider range of users! In May, Caltrans met with a broad coalition of bicycle advocates and local transportation agencies to discuss cycle track designs to hear some initial feedback as the design process for Class IV cycle tracks is being initiated.

To learn more about creating design standards for a new “Class IV” bikeway aka cycle track, we conducted an interview with Kevin Herritt, Caltrans’ Chief of Office of Geometric Design Standards. We would like to thank Herritt for taking the time to answer to some of the questions many in the bicycling community have had on their mind since A.B. 1193 passed. Read more

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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