There has been a lot of talk lately, both on this blog and elsewhere, about Bicycle Friendly Streets (more commonly known as Bicycle Boulevards). The LACBC has long been campaigning to turn 4th Street into a Bicycle Boulevard. Rich Risemberg reports that Council Member Tom LaBonge is also committed to a Bicycle Boulevard on 4th Street. CicLAvia’s route went along 4th Street, giving an idea of what a Bicycle Boulevard could be. Waring Avenue has also been identified as a site for a Bicycle Boulevard, both by Council Member Tom LaBonge and by Hollywood Examiner writer Taylor Nichols. In terms of a street in LA that already most closely resembles a Bicycle Friendly Street, Westholme Avenue might have the strongest case.
But sometimes lost in the shuffle is what, exactly, makes up a Bicycle Friendly Street or Bicycle Boulevard? How are they different from other streets? What is installed and why does it make bicycling safer? How much does it cost and how does it get installed? Come along with LADOT Bike Blog as we examine the:
Anatomy of a Bicycle Friendly Street
(Ed Note: Most information on Bicycle Friendly Street treatments come from the Technical Design Handbook in the draft 2010 LA Bike Plan. Though we are happy to present it in bite-sized pieces, we highly recommend you download it yourself and have a good read. You can download the Technical Design Handbook here. For a refresher on what a Bicycle Friendly Street is -also called a Bike Boulevard- you can read our introductory post here.)
If a Bicycle Friendly Street is a baseball team, Traffic Diverters would be the cleanup hitters. A Traffic Diverter’s purpose is to direct vehicle traffic away from a Bicycle Friendly Street while allowing through travel for bicycles. Traffic Diverters have also been shown to raise property values and make streets a more pleasant place to live. The City of Berkeley uses Traffic Diverters not only to facilitate Bike Boulevards, but also to discourage through traffic on their residential streets. When drivers treat collector streets as a bypass to nearby busy arterial streets, it can create dangerous road conditions and an unpleasant living experience. Traffic Diverters put car traffic back where it belongs while providing a safe, enjoyable neighborhood environment for bicyclists, pedestrians, children, and pets.
Traffic Diverters are the top-of-the-line treatment for a Bicycle Friendly Street, listed in the draft Bike Plan as the level 5 treatment out of 5 levels.
Diagonal diverters are meant for an intersection of a local street with another local street. Since local streets are not designed for through traffic, a diverter will encourage drivers to use these streets for their appropriate purpose. Typically, a diagonal diverter can have a wide paved center which blocks through traffic with a flexible or removable bollard. This design feature can be placed to allow emergency vehicles to pass through when necessary.
Diagonal diverters typically cost between $4,000-$10,000, and newer designs for diagonal diverters may call for drought-resistant landscaping that can, with the support of the community, tie them into the feel and fabric of the surrounding neighborhood.
Raised Median/Crossing Islands
While a diagonal diverter is only appropriate for smaller residential streets, installing raised medians or crossing islands can improve a Bicycle Friendly Street where it meets with a larger arterial street.
As shown in the photo above, a raised median/crossing island allows through traffic for bicycles along a Bicycle Friendly Street while directing drivers onto an arterial street more appropriate for car traffic. While a diagonal diverter redirects traffic in all directions, a raised median only redirects traffic from the Bicycle Friendly Street.
Raised medians/crossing islands also make the crossing of larger arterial streets much easier and safer for a bicyclist. By providing a protected space between directions of traffic, a bicyclist can cross a street one direction of traffic at a time.
Check back next week for more Anatomy of a Bicycle Friendly Street.