Update: Metro Orange Line Extension Bike Path

The opening of the Metro Orange Line BRT in the fall of 2005 greatly expanded mobility options for the notoriously auto-centric San Fernando Valley. The original 14 mile leg that stretches from Warner Center to North Hollywood has been a big success, surpassing Metro’s own 2020 ridership goals in just seven months.

Running beside the busway for a majority of its length is the Orange Line bike path – a Class I bicycling facility (a small section on the busway’s extreme eastern end has Class II bike lanes). According to the LA City Bike Plan, Class I facility’s are “ideal for novice riders and children, recreational trips, and long distance commuter bicyclists of all skill levels who prefer separation from traffic.”  The bike path has also been a big hit and has helped Valley residents realize the value of investments in adequate bicycling and pedestrian facilities.

Picture taken shortly after the openning of the Orange Line Bike Path

Metro Orange Line Extension

Metro Orange Line Extension

Orange Line Extension (Photo: Courtesy of Metro)

Building upon the success of the original Orange Line bike path, Metro and LADOT have begun construction on an extension that stretches from the exclusive right-of-way terminus at Canoga to the Chatsworth Amtrak/Metrolink Station. The extension will extend the busway and the bike and pedestrian path northward for an additional four miles.

We here at the LADOT Bike Program are really excited about the extension and hope that it will further mobility and access for residents of the Northwestern San Fernando Valley. Here are some details about what you can expect from the extension:

Bike Parking Galore!

The Metro Orange Line Extension will have new stations at  Sherman Way, Roscoe, Nordhoff, and Chatsworth. Here is a quick summary of the bike parking facilities that each new station will provide.

  • Sherman Way Station: 16 lockers and 12 racks
  • Roscoe Station: 8 lockers and 6 racks
  • Nordhoff Station: 8 lockers and 6 racks
  • Chatsworth Station: 16 lockers and 10 racks

Details about the New Path

Here are some details about the new facility.

  • From the Metro Orange Line Canoga Station to Vanowen Street, the facility will be a 10′ wide multi-use path.
  • The new bike and pedestrian path will run between the busway and Canoga Avenue from Vanowen St. to the terminus at Lassen St.
  • A new traffic signal will be installed at Lassen Street/Old Depot Plaza Road to connect the path to the Chatsworth Intermodal Transit Center
  • At Chatsworth Station (Lassen St.), the path will link up with the existing Browns Creek Bike Path

Canoga Avenue Bikeway Improvements Courtesy: Metro

As always, we’re always looking for comments/suggestions from you guys. Feel free to leave a comment below about what you like or don’t like about the existing Orange Line bike path, and/or what you would like to see in the new facility.  Your input is greatly appreciated.

0 replies
  1. Eric B
    Eric B says:

    The current bike path has several design flaws relating to intersections:

    Signals require a push button rather than electromagnetic sensors. For a good example of bike sensors on a path terminus, check out the Marvin Braude Bike Path at its intersection with Washington Boulevard and Mildred Ave in Venice. Push buttons are for pedestrians–detectors are for bikes.

    Push buttons are not configured to be reachable from the right side of pathway. If push buttons are to be used, then they need to be reachable by a cyclist without dismounting. That means to the right side of the path (when approaching the intersection), facing the path.

    Curb cuts are not perpendicular to path. The ramps are not consistently in alignment with the path, causing bicyclists to awkwardly maneuver around a design obstacle at the very moment they should be paying attention to traffic in the intersection. The configuration also creates conflict between users traveling in opposite directions as the ramps are often narrower than the path. The alternative for bicyclists is to hop the curb, which is also less than desirable (particularly on a road bike).

    At the risk of beating a dead horse, curb cuts are not aligned with push buttons. At several intersections, it is physically impossible to both push the button and not hop the curb.

    The path has zero signal priority even at the most minor cross streets, requiring bicyclists to stop way too frequently for any convenience. Where path use is greater than cross-street traffic, the path should have the default green, not the street. (One way to achieve this is to have loop detectors several hundred feed back away from the intersection such that a passing bike can trigger greens at the next cross street before having to stop.)

    At major streets, the path should by default have greens at the same time as the busway or parallel street. If the busway has a green, there is no reason that a bike should have to stop and activate the signal (and therefore wait for a complete signal cycle).

    These critiques can best be summarized this way: tell the engineers to design the bikeway like a roadway for bikes. In every aspect of the design, treat bicyclists like the efficiency of their trip matters–don’t require them to dismount, don’t require them to go out of their way to push a button or go down a ramp.

    These issues are enough to deter me and others from using the path. I’ll go out of my way to use good bicycle facilities. The current Orange Line bike path is not worth a detour.

    Reply
    • ladotbikeblog
      ladotbikeblog says:

      @ Eric – Thanks!

      Almost every issue you mentioned are ones that our engineers are working on resolving for the Orange Line Extension, so it’s nice to know that they’re on the right track.

      Reply
      • Eric B
        Eric B says:

        Great to hear! I realized how long of a rant that was after I pressed post.

        Thanks for being on top of this stuff. Details matter.

        Reply
      • ***A***
        ***A*** says:

        This is so awesome! The issues mentioned are somewhat minor to me. Just having returned from Amsterdam, I was so excited to “discover” and use this path. I’m even more excited to have the path open up to my neck of the woods. I love that Eric took the time to give such thorough constructive feedback. And i really LOVE that Ladotbikeblog responded. I am truly thinking about giving up my car and gym membership. If LA can become more bike friendly can stop polutting the air

        Reply
      • kdbhiker
        kdbhiker says:

        Eric my thoughts exactly but ladotbikeblog it’s 2013 and nothing has been changed and I doubt it ever will!

        Reply
        • Mark Van Horne
          Mark Van Horne says:

          I’m still trying to figure out why the “bike commissioner” never felt the need to weigh in DURING construction? IF there is an elected official in charge of bike transportation, isn’t it the duty of that person to make sure bike paths are properly designed bEFORE we spend millions of dollars building them? Where was the oversight?

          Reply
  2. Kevin M
    Kevin M says:

    Thanks Eric for the detailed write-up on the current state of the Orange Line bike path. I can’t agree more and hope that LADOT addresses these issues as soon as possible.

    Reply
  3. Dennis Hindman
    Dennis Hindman says:

    Eric B. did a great job of detailing improvements that could be made to the Orange Line bike path.

    A quite noticeable bright spot of the Orange line bike path are the safety of the crosswalks that seem to be several notches above the typical safety of crosswalks in the valley that I’ve encountered. There usually is unnoticeable encrouchment of motorized vehicles towards these crosswalks and the vehicles are kept far enough away to ease fears even for a parent with a child on a tricycle.

    For those that cannot figure out how to make a European style cycle track work safely at intersections here I say look no further than the Orange Line bike path intersections for solutions on that. It can be done. It’s the willingness to make the investment in safety for pedestrians and bicyclists that seems to be the biggest sticking point. The main reason the safety at these intersections was increased dramatically seems solely the result of trying to reduce the odds of car collisions with the Orange Line buses. The crosswalks safety improvements for peds and cyclists were a side beneficiary of this concerted effort. A safety highlight are the red lights embedded in the street at the Woodman Ave intersection.

    Contrast this with the crosswalk that connect the bike path that runs along Victory Blvd and intersects at Balboa Blvd. This creates the more typical car driver behavior of getting aggressively close to or encrouching on the crosswalk without regards to whether there is a cyclist or pedestrian present. You have to be much more aware if there are cars and what the driver is doing when crossing at this point compared to any of the Orange Line bike path crosswalks.

    I do wish that there had been more attention paid to the creation of the surface of the Orange Line path as there are several sloppy surface flaws that create a noticeable jolt like a glob of asphalt that was left in the middle of the path and a imprint perhaps from a pipe that was made. I constantly have to try and remember where those are when riding on the path across from Pierce College late at night.

    One of the problems riders have on the path is people walking not being aware that they are in the bike path part and not the pedestrian section. The paint that indicates the separation of peds/bikes has faded badly and perhaps a stronger message could be made by way of a thicker coat of paint. Then again most of these people may not be aware that there could be a bike approaching them from behind.

    How about some small signs along the path that indicate where the users are or how much further it is to get somewhere. Or even perhaps signs that point out where some interesting places are located along the way.

    The bike path lights just east of the 405 overpass and before the Orange Line parking lot have a shield blocking the light from the path. This retrofit modification seems to have been made to appease a homeowner on the other side of the sound wall. There should have been another solution other than blocking out the light to the path.
    How about a translucent shield to diffuse the light when a complaint like this happens.

    Reply
  4. Todd Edelman
    Todd Edelman says:

    Hooray! Very good analysis, Eric!

    I live in Berlin now but am originally from what is now West Hills. As a child I remember sitting in the car crossing some of the tracks which eventually became the Orange Line. And just a couple of weeks ago I was using Google Earth and seeing that the right-of-way was still intact and was wondering if it would become another BRT-ish corridor, with that natural connection to the Chatsworth train station. So, good news — also for more people from the west Valley who want to go carfree to Santa Barbara and beyond…

    And just think — earlier this week I saw a visualization of one of the new light rail cars on the Exposition Line with “Culver City” in the destination window. Went to high school there.

    Keep the good news flowing!

    Reply
  5. Jason Burns
    Jason Burns says:

    I love the Orange Line bike path. But, I agree that something needs to be done about intersection crossings.

    Could some of the smaller cross streets be closed off at these points? Tyrone Avenue? Vesper? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to a stop at a red light with absolutely no traffic in either direction.

    There is also the precedent of pedestrian and bike path overpasses for busy intersections, such as the Pinellas Trail in Florida (which is currently 37 miles long.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinellas_Trail

    Ideally, it would be great to see a full Class I bike path from Chatsworth Station all the way to Burbank. I think more people would be encouraged to use the path – especially families.

    Reply
  6. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    One more thing. The bike lane should switch sides with the pedestrian lane. It just seems more natural to have the faster moving bikes closer to the road because pedestrians tend to want to walk on the part of the path that is most further away from the fast moving cars.

    Reply
  7. bdflatlander
    bdflatlander says:

    It would be a great feature to be able to park your car in the Chatsworth Train station parking lot and then pick up the new Orange Line bike path right there in the parking lot and proceed south.

    From what I have been able to determine from the information on the Internet, it sounds like the new Orange line bike path will start/end at Lassen Street.

    Also, as some of the other comments have discussed, it would be great to be able to push the walk buttons at the street crossings without having to walk your bike back into position to cross the street. This is particularly a problem on the East side of Lindley Ave. The curb cut is so awkwardly positioned and makes a west bound cyclist have to walk their bike quite a ways to be able to cross Lindley after pushing the walk button.

    For the most part I really enjoy using the existing Orange Line bike path and ride it frequently. However, like most things in life, it could use some improvements here and there.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  8. Mark Van Horne
    Mark Van Horne says:

    Thanks Eric for all your comments. As I understand it, there is actually a Commissioner of Bicycling in LA and I’m wondering what this person does?

    I mean, shouldn’t the DOT have consulted with this person BEFORE making this pathway? Burbank uses buttons to change the lights along the path, but at least they are located well BEFORE the intersection.

    One of these days, a biker is going to fall into the street while trying to press a signal button on a pole that is one foot from the curb and he’s going to be hit by a car. Then he is going to sue the city and we will all be paying for the lack of thought that was put into this project. We need engineers that really think about what they are building.

    Another example of engineering that didn’t work, is the landscaping that was done along the LA river between Whitsett Ave and Laurel Cyn in Studio City. Very pretty plants, but initially nothing was done to channel run-off from the sprinklers along the embankment. The concrete became covered in algae which was very slippery and the city had to close off the area for a year, while drainage was installed. How does somebody design a walkway for people, adjacent to hills with sprinklers, while doing absolutely NOTHING to channel the water?

    While I’m glad to know that the DOT is making these changes to the Orange Line, it’s unclear (at least here) if these changes are being made to the 4 mile extension or retroactively to the entire path. I hope it’s the entire path. I’ve ridden this bikeway with friends and I can’t convince them to repeat the process due to all the stop lights. It’s faster to just ride on Oxnard. It would seem paramount when designing a path for bikes, that it is actually an improvement over riding on the street, otherwise what’s the point?

    Landscape choices also affect bicycles. I see that bark is frequently used as a mulch, but that can easily blow onto the path and it’s filled with splinters. Plus, it will degrade and need to be replaced eventually. Gravel is heavier and lasts forever. There are sections of the path along Victory in the Sepulveda basin, where tree roots have lifted the concrete, creating ramps. Surely by now, the city planners know which trees have invasive roots. Or which ones drop those “spike balls”, which land all over the path.

    I can’t remember exactly, but I think that as the path heads West, it becomes a sidewalk at Balboa and Victory. Yet the painted lanes are virtually eroded away and signage is non-existant. Unless you know the path, riders would think it had ended. Can you imagine a ROAD where the divided lines were allowed to disappear without repainting?

    Unfortunately for us bikers, there are people who hang out along the path, who throw glass bottles on the path. Glass on the street is no big deal for cars with steel belted radials, but it’s a HUGE issue for bicycles. Therefore, street cleaning should be prioritized throughout the city on roads and paths that bikes use.

    Perhaps a good idea would be for some DOT official who enjoys biking to actually ride the paths they build on a bicycle to see for himself what works and what needs improving.

    Thanks,

    Mark

    Sorry for the rant, but I was born in the valley and I’ve lived here more than 50 years. I’d really like to see more attention paid to bike paths. Don’t even get me started on the path through Griffith park that ends at a homeless encampment under the overpass!

    Reply
  9. Mark Van Horne
    Mark Van Horne says:

    For you planners…one more thing. Bikers like to ride over the Santa Suzanna pass into Moorpark/Simi. From there, you can ride all the way to the ocean near Oxnard, then up the coast along PCH. It would be great if that route could be taken into consideration when building new bike paths. The only other way to the coast from the Valley, involves taking Mullholland to Sepulveda, through heavy traffic and blind curves. Since virtually NOBODY uses the Santa Suzanna pass via car, due to all the curves, it’s a MUCH better route. Let’s capitalize on that!

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] lanes on Rinaldi, Devonshire, and Plummer, as well as the Valley’s premier bike facility, the Orange Line Bike Path. Be sure to check out the Bike Program’s official website in the coming weeks for the latest, […]

  2. […] be visible and make some noise. LADOT is moving forward with bikeways around the city, including an extension of the Orange Line bike path, and wants your opinion on how to build bike lanes on Venice Blvd. LACBC reports on the Tuesday’s […]

  3. […] LADOT Has Some Plans for the Orange Line Bike Path (LADOT Bike Blog) […]

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