Someone seems to have released the floodgates: new developments in bicycle infrastructure and planning are coming rapidly. Up next for the City is the newest draft of the LA Bike Plan. No, really: it’s finally here.
The 2010 LA Bike Plan has had a long and tortuous journey, with the first draft submitted by the bicycle consulting firm Alta Planning and Design (the firm behind the Portland’s Bicycle Master Plan Update). Released in 2009, the Bike Plan met with stiff criticism from community groups and bicycle advocates alike (even earning a rival website seeking to mimic labikeplan.org). Many bike advocates called it a “step backwards” while touting the merits of a “Backbone Bikeway Network“(though there was some disagreement). To address these concerns, the City Planning Department took the draft plan under their wing in an attempt to reshape it and nurse it back to health.
LADOT Bike Blog had the privilege of sitting in on one of the final meetings before the release of the newest draft of the 2010 LA Bike Plan. The meeting consisted of LADOT district engineers, LADOT Bikeways staff, and City Planning Department staff. The purpose was to get all three departments on the same page and make sure that the district engineers would approve all the infrastructure contained in the draft Bike Plan.
While I’m not allowed to spill the beans quite yet on the details of the new plan, I do want to share some teasers with you before its release.
In all, the plan calls for 200 miles of new bicycle infrastructure to be built over the next 5 years. This 200 miles would be in addition to the current 383 miles of existing infrastructure and infrastructure that has been funded but not yet completed. All existing projects that haven’t reached construction stage yet are considered separate from the 200 miles called for in the plan. 40 miles are projected for completion annually during this 5 year period, with the most direct and feasible projects coming first.
Another facet of the new plan is that it carries more types of planned infrastructure, allowing for a more fine-grained approach towards getting projects approved and built. Consider it a broadening of the toolkit LADOT Bikeways will be allowed to use in order to get infrastructure on the pavement. These additions embody many of the innovations that bicycle advocates have spent years fighting for. In addition to the standard Bike Path, Bike Lane, and Bike Route designations, the new plan will include:
- Bicycle Friendly Streets – Bicycle Friendly Streets are a bit of a catch-all for streets where we don’t have the room to install bicycle lanes, but we still want to make the street as safe and useful for bicyclists as possible. Treatments for Bicycle Friendly Streets could include Sharrows, traffic circles, bulbouts, choker entrances, bicycle loop detectors, traffic diverters, lane striping, and other traffic calming devices – depending on the type of street and volume of traffic. This coves a lot of streets in the mid-Wilshire area, where the streets are already pretty tight and there’s no way to fit in more infrastructure. If you’ve seen the Bicycle Boulevards in Berkeley, you’ve got a good idea of what we’re aiming for.
- Pilot Streets – These are streets that may be good candidates for the California Traffic Control Devices Committee (CTCDC) and federal (FHWA) Department of Transportation experimental project studies. By arranging to do a CTCDC or federal project, the City can experiment with new infrastructure methods that normally aren’t allowed by Caltrans’ Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices(CA MUTCD). As part of the federal experimental project, the federal government assumes legal liability for the project and offers technical and advisory assistance to the City in implementation. The City, in turn, would be responsible for filing regular progress reports to the federal government. For those who are fans of what Long Beach is doing for bike infrastructure, a lot of their projects were made possible through federal pilot projects.
- Enhanced Bicycle Routes – Enhanced Bicycle Routes are current Bike Routes that the city would like to beef up. These Bike Routes are usually on high-volume arterial streets that cannot fit a bike lane. While these streets are too much of a thoroughfare to qualify for the treatments prescribed for “Bicycle Friendly Streets”, Enhanced Bicycle Routes may be eligible for Sharrows installation and enhanced signage. The 2010 LA Bike Plan hopes to use Enhanced Bicycle Routes as a tool for “gap closure”, connecting the gaps between existing bike lanes on streets where a bike lane would not fit.
- Transit Bike Lane – A Transit Bike Lane is a dedicated bus lane that also allows bicycle traffic. You’ve probably seen signs on Figueroa Street near downtown to that effect. City Planning hopes to implement similar Transit Bike Lanes in all places where dedicated bus lanes are going in, Wilshire Blvd. being an example.
It’s a very exciting time for bicycles in Los Angeles, and LADOT Bike Blog eagerly anticipates the release of the 2010 LA Bike Plan. We’ll be sure to cover it in more depth once it is released.