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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.

Get your holiday shopping done in a jiffy in the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District

In case you were wondering what bicycles, Northeast LA and the local economy had in common with the holiday season, we wanted to bring a very exciting and fun event to your attention!

You may have been following our pilot project, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD), launched back in February in an effort to to bring more people to local businesses by bicycle.  The plan to achieve this includes implementing bicycle infrastructure enhancements to the neighborhood like bike lanes, corrals, and repair stations; offering promotional incentives to people arriving by bicycle; and overall, encouraging customers and employees to take local trips to business corridors on bicycles rather than in cars.

Since we last blogged about it, we have established a Steering Committee of local stakeholders including representatives from the Eagle Rock and Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Councils, the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institue, local non-profit organizations, and active transportation advocacy groups like C.I.C.L.E. and LACBC.  The NELA BFBD represents a collaboration and partnership between businesses, the community, and the City to accomplish shared goals of community building and economic development.

After many months of meetings, the Steering Committee has planned a kickoff event: SHOP – RIDE – NELA Holiday Edition.  The bicycle ride, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place on Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, and traverse 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. The ride will meet at METRO’s Highland Park Gold Line Station and make shopping and dining stops at LADOT’s two local business-sponsored Bicycle Corrals: the York Bl Corral located at 5000 York Bl (sponsored by Cafe de Leche) and the Colorado Bl Corral soon to be installed at 2136 Colorado Bl (sponsored by Core Club LA).  Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this leisurely ride!

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It is hardly a surprise the Los Angeles River Bike Path is one of the city’s most beloved and prominent bikeway facilities. With new parks popping up and additions such as The Frog Spot, the river is increasingly a destination people want to visit. With an accerlerated  focus on efforts to revitalize the river and extend the bike path that runs along it, there is a parallel growing need to collect data on the river’s bike path usage. To address this need, the Bicycle Program recently collaborated with students from the city’s Hire L.A.’s Youth program to conduct bicycle counts along the L.A. River and in river-adjacent communities.

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A man bicycling on York Blvd during our bike count conducted prior to bike lane installation. For more photos during our “before” count session, visit our Flickr page.

Throughout the month of October we conducted over a dozen weekday counts along the river from 4pm to 6pm to capture use during evening rush hour.

For the month of November we are conducting counts in Northeast LA, including on  York Boulevard between North Figueroa Street and South Pasadena, North Figueroa Street, and on Colorado Boulevard. The long-term goal is to repeat these counts on a regular basis to measure growth in bicycling, and more generally to have a steady stream of bike counts.

While we have yet to fully analyze our results, here are some preliminary results from one of our count sites, York Boulevard between North Figueroa Street and Avenue 63:

  • We conducted four weekday PM counts between 4pm and 6pm. We counted a total of 119 people bicycling, or an average of 29 people bicycling during each count session.
  • Of the 119 people counted bicycling, 21, or 17.6% were women.
  • The majority of people counted, 62%, were traveling eastbound, while the remaining 38% of people were traveling westbound.
  •  During a mid-day Saturday count, conducted from 11AM to 1PM, we counted 41 people bicycling.

We look forward to conducting additional counts throughout the city to gain a clearer perspective on bicycle needs and use.

 

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 bikeshare 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 bikeshare 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 bikshare 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!

Councilmember Felipe Fuentes leads the way

A new stretch of bike path on San Fernando Road is here! Last Thursday morning, Councilmember Felipe Fuentes of the Seventh District, City agencies, and community partners announced the installation of a new bike path on San Fernando Road from Branford Street to Wolfskill Street, opening the bike path for its inaugural ride.

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds joined representatives from Metrolink, Metro and LAPD, along with local families and friends to check out the new installation.  Reynolds says, “This section of the San Fernando Road bike path increases opportunities for people to unplug and spend time with friends and family.  LADOT looks forward to working with our partners, city leaders, and the community to connect this system to the City of Burbank in the near future. “

Councilmember Fuentes cuts ribbon with LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds.

This 2.75-mile segment of the path connects Angelenos to the existing San Fernando Bike Path. This addition is the second phase of the planned bike path that sits adjacent to San Fernando Road. Phase 1, completed in 2011, included 1.75 miles of bike lanes on San Fernando Road from Hubbard Street to Roxford Street.

LADOT Engineer Tina Backstrom says that the bike path is a challenging design, as it involves a lot of coordination and partnership with agencies like Metrolink and Metro.  The long-awaited Phase 2 improvements include lighting, striping, traffic signs, and landscaping. Metrolink also enhanced the safety of the Bike Path project by making railroad and traffic signal improvements. Specifically, the bike path design has taken the opportunity to upgrade all the pedestrian crossings that intersect with the railroad.  Backstrom says, “We’re looking at safety for everyone,” with the new path making things safer for people on bikes, walking, driving, or riding the train. Continue Reading »

Good day LA!

Today was another great day for the great streets of Los Angeles! Corral designs were updated and onlookers watched as the long awaited Willow St. Bicycle Corral was installed in the booming Downtown Arts District.

First stop by the Bicycle Corral Fairy was a check up on our very first corral: the York Bl. pilot.  The York Corral, originally installed in February 2011 has seen its share of wear and tear.  After the implementation of many more Bicycle Corrals throughout the city, we have learned a few things from their design, removing redundant or incorrect signage, and replacing materials like asphalt islands with more durable rubber wheel stops.

Before: Bye bye asphalt island!

After: The new sleek York Corral

After the healthy refresh at York, the crew traveled to the Arts District where Blue Bottle Coffee customers got an eyeful (and earful) of Bike Corral installation with their morning coffee. The LADOT sign crew and our colleagues at the City’s General Services Department (GSD) installed the new Corral on Willow St. at Mateo next to the neighborhood’s premiere coffee shop and our awesome maintenance sponsor, Blue Bottle Coffee.

Councilmember Jose Huizar was happy to see the new corral, saying “As a long time supporter I’m proud to host the first bicycle corral in the City. LADOT’s new bike corral configuration draws from lessons learned piloted in my district. Thanks to Blue Bottle Coffee for partnering with the City to bring the Arts District its very own bike corral!” The Corral reallocates one auto on-street parking space for 14 spaces for people riding their bicycles.

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Monday commenced Seleta Reynolds’ first week as the new General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. On August 12th, the LADOT Bike Program had the pleasure of sitting down with Ms. Reynolds to discuss a number of topics ranging from commuting, bicycle planning, and direction for the Department moving forward.

General Manager Seleta Reynolds

The Bike Program welcomes LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds to the #bikeLA City family

LADOT Bike Program: What was your commute like today? We understand that you rode your bicycle to work on your first day. Generally, how does your Los Angeles commute compare to your SF commute?

LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds:  My Los Angeles commute is already an improvement over my San Francisco commute. I rode my bike in the first day.  Some folks rode in with me to show me the ropes, and helped me navigate the streets. It was totally enjoyable and really a great way to start the first day, to get a little exercise and be out in the morning. Today I rode the bus because after dropping my daughter off at school, it was easy, just hopped on and only took about 20 minutes or so. I can also take Metro’s Red Line from where we live.  Having so many choices is a huge advantage, and the fact one of them involves riding my bike is just fantastic. When I was in the Bay Area living in Berkeley I rode BART into San Francisco. You cannot ride your bike over the Bay Bridge yet, you can only ride over half of it. Now I have more choices and one of them includes bicycling.

LADOT Bike Program: In your experience, are there things Los Angeles can learn from San Francisco when it comes to bicycling? What are some bicycle-related measures from San Francisco that you would like to see implemented here?

LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds: Every place is different. I worked in San Francisco for three years and before that was a consultant, working all over the U.S. I worked on a bike plan for the Reno Sparks area, and also on a plan in Denver called Denver Moves. Every place has something unique about it. San Francisco is so different from Los Angeles, mainly because the width of the streets are so hyper-constrained and the topography in the city; it really limits the routes you take and everybody wants to be on those routes. There were some really tough projects and really difficult conversations about reallocating space.

San Francisco has a strong commitment to its “Transit First” policy, and a commitment to safety and Vision Zero. I would love to see that rise in Los Angeles, to have that unifying commitment from a policy perspective on all the leadership levels It  will be great  to have bike-sharing in Los Angeles, especially in Downtown, along with more protected bikeways and better intersection treatment, bicycle signals, two-stage left turns- a higher level of consideration. People encounter bad behavior from people on bikes because there is no system set up for you when you’re on a bike. We have treated people on bikes as either fast pedestrians or slow cars when really they are neither of those things. Giving consideration to that system is important to encourage good behavior, and getting along and sharing the road.

LADOT Bike Program: What are some of your short-term and long-term goals for improving walking and bicycling in the City?

LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds: Short-term I would  like to see us continue to nurture and grow the People St program and  adopt a really strong safety initiative, whether that’s Vision Zero or some other initiative we have for improving safety. I think that is foundational, you have to get that right before you can accomplish more. I would also like to see us continue to shift towards moving goods and people. Thinking about the function of streets and how we can provide a street that is comfortable for the folks who are not currently out there riding or walking, understanding what those people want and need. We need to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to the bike network in particular. Building two miles of high-quality protected bikeways is better than, from my perspective, building 50 miles of five foot wide bike lanes that are just separated from traffic by a stripe. It would be great to  change our attitude when it comes to the design principles we use to approach projects.

LADOT Bike Program: The City of Los Angeles has a massive footprint, do you have a strategy for implementing the Bicycle Plan while managing other Department initiatives?

LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds: Partnerships are key; working closely with the Bureau of Street Services as they’re repaving streets, working closely with the Department of Water and Power on green streets, and folding our projects into those projects. Partnering with Metro on first and last mile solutions to leverage the huge investments they’re making in extending the rail lines. Also, finding private partners, people who have not traditionally funded transportation and to get them to come to the table to work with us on these kinds of projects is the only way we’re really going to get it done. We have to continue to evolve the way we do outreach in communities in order to get further faster. That is something I am really excited to work on with the Bicycle Outreach Program because the program has learned a lot of lessons about what has worked and what hasn’t worked. We need to make sure we are getting that community buy-off as early as possible so that we don’t get stuck in an endless cycle of back-and-forth, which pulls us away from doing other things.

LADOT Bike Program: What do you see as some of the differences to implementing bicycle infrastructure here as opposed to your work in San Francisco?

LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds: The strategy here has to lead with complete streets and safety in a strong way. In San Francisco we had a really strong, across the board, commitment to Transit First, and had shifted away from Level of Service or traffic capacity. That’s different here, there is a need to provide a strong balance. Starting with that discussion will be important and a little bit different than what we did in San Francisco. I think the L.A. context will be different from a design perspective, the way we think about the function of the street is going to be different. There is no such thing as a prototypical street in either city. Continue Reading »

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