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

Riders tested the ease of leaving the lane in order to make a left turn, checking for adequate spacing

Then cars, trucks, and finally, an LAFD fire truck ran over the barriers from multiple angles and speeds.

Bikeways engineer, Robert Sanchez, drives over the k71 bollards to test durability and how they withstand emergency vehicles entering and exiting the cycletrack

The truck continues over the armadillos, which like the k-71 bollards, remain fully intact

Since 2007, the number of protected bike lanes have doubled in the United States. An example from our own backyard is the 2nd Street tunnel, the first and only street in Los Angeles to feature physical separation. Currently entering construction, the MyFig project leads the way towards a fully protected in-road bicycle facility, but other locations are also considering less construction-heavy versions of the protected bike lane, specifically Los Angeles Street is being considered as a key connection to transit.  Because cycletracks offer a higher level of separation, they make traveling by bicycle a more attractive option for a wider range of people. In many ways, riding on these cycletracks can feel like riding on a bike path.

During the ongoing process of determining which physical barriers to use, we want to make sure to have a thoughtful, documented approach to testing these devices. Thus, on Los Angeles Street, we decided to test different configurations, with some segments featuring K71 bollards alone and/or in combination with armadillos. Additionally, we want to learn from other cities’ experiences to understand what has worked and what hasn’t. A few criteria that we want to use to judge effectiveness includes: deterrence from vehicle encroachment, emergency vehicle access and mountability, resistance to impact by vehicles, durability, maintenance, spacing, visibility, and exit and entrance safety for people on bikes. Washington D.C. used armadillos in a pilot program on Pennsylvania Avenue, creating a cycletrack in the middle lane of the road, but they proved unable to deter vehicles from making illegal u-turns through the median bike lane. To address this problem, the city is considering spacing the armadillos closer together. In regards to K71 bollards, we want to be aware of the possibility of them going missing or degrading too quickly, as was the case on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. Fortunately for Los Angeles, we don’t have to deal with snow and continually plowing the lanes during winter.

Next week, LADOT will be teaming up with the Department of City Planning to demonstrate a cycletrack at CicLAvia. The Pop-Up Chandler Cycletrack will take place on Sunday, March 22 at CicLAvia – The Valley. We invite community members and anyone rolling through to test the temporary facility and provide feedback. #PopUpChandler

As we continue to assess the results from our cycletrack tests and demos, gather recommendations, and assemble best practices from other cities, we would also greatly appreciate your feedback! Let us know what you think of today’s testing or other thoughts about cycletracks. Leave your comments here, send us an email or reach out on facebook or twitter.

0 replies
  1. Steven White (@StevenMWhite)
    Steven White (@StevenMWhite) says:

    Personally, I like the K71 bollards. While none of the options provide a solid barrier if a driver is out of control or purposefully trying to enter the bike lane, the K71 bollards are the most visible because of their height and therefore best able to clearly delineate the bike lane from the main travel lane and make all road users aware of the space.

    Reply
  2. Dennis Hindman
    Dennis Hindman says:

    I prefer the mid sized Armadillo’s if the placement is oblique to the axis of the street. Its side slope is less abrupt if cyclists run into it compared to the larger size and it will give more of a warning to drivers if they hit it compared to the smallest sized Armadillo.

    The white K71 bollard will likely quickly lose its clean look after tire marks and soot attach to it. The low lying rigid black Armadillo’s will probably more closely resemble their original look over time if they don’t break.

    The sides of the parking lot style separator are abrupt enough to knock a cyclist down if they hit it when its placed oblique to the axis of the street.

    Reply
  3. Dennis Hindman
    Dennis Hindman says:

    That was a good test for durability and how much danger these physical barriers would pose for bicyclists to ride between them and on them.

    The next test should be to see which one of these devices are most effective in keeping drivers from moving or parking in the bike lanes. Its not a useful bike lane for cycling if motor vehicles are parked in it.

    Downtown has some of the most egregious violations of vehicles parking in bike lanes, none more so than police officers. So I suggest that the best way to determine which device is most effective in preventing that from happening is to install them for a few days on the buffered bike lane next to the LAPD headquarters. If any of these devices can keep police officers–most of whom believe that they can park anywhere–from parking their vehicles there, then it has a good chance of keeping most other vehicles from parking or driving in a bike lane. The LADOT may not be successful in keeping police officers from parking in a bike lane by telling them not to, but the LADOT can sure as heck try to deter them from doing that by installing some devices on the roadway.

    The police officers will probably at some point find out that they can run over a K-71 bollard without damaging it. Once they discover this its quite possible that they will start parking on them.

    Its quite likely that the tallest Armadillo’s or the parking lot style dividers will prove most effective in deterring most the police officers from parking in a bike lane. But the only way to find out is to try an experiment to determine which ones are most effective in doing that.

    The devices can each be rated by how many police cars are parked in the bike lane compared to the baseline of how many police cars were parked in the bike lane before the installations. To count the number of police cars before and after the experiment simply have someone with a camera ride next to the bike lane with the time and date noted as Zachary did in this CiclaValley article:

    http://ciclavalley.org/case-disappearing-los-angeles-bike-lanes/

    There’s enough parking violations by police officers currently next to the LAPD headquarter (Zachary counted 22 in his video) to differentiate the effectiveness of each device in deterring parking in a bike lane.

    Reply
  4. The Odd Duck
    The Odd Duck says:

    Have you though of this. Put down a Caltran “Rumble Strip” and then drill a hole down about a foot and a half, then use short drain pipe you can get at a hardware store that way to can build them a in house design and it would be cheaper that way. BTW if you ever hit a rumble strip you know its there.

    Reply
  5. James
    James says:

    I have an idea. Why don’t you test the K71s outside the LAPD headquarters to see how long they will last in a war with police cruisers.

    Reply
    • LADOT Bike Blog
      LADOT Bike Blog says:

      Will get back to you on whether we will be publishing results. Based on our experience that day, and on keeping the materials in place for about a month, we found the k-71 bollards to be more durable, mountable for emergency responders, and ultimately more effective form of separation compared to the armadillo-type separators (which seemed to pose a bigger slip hazard).

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] was actually the first project I was given when I came back to this division. We’ve tested some of the different traffic control devices for separation including armadillos and bollards of different sizes and shapes. That was my first […]

  2. […] LADOT Testing Materials To Convert Buffers To Protected Bike Lanes (LADOT Bike Blog) […]

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