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Got questions? We’ve got answers. This Thursday, the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning (DCP) in partnership with the Department of Transportation (LADOT) will host a webinar to answer any general questions on the scope, timeline, and strategy behind this year’s bicycle projects, as we continue to implement the 2010 Bicycle Plan. Based on the plan, every year DCP and LADOT selects 40 miles of corridors to evaluate implementation of new bicycle facilities with the goal of enhancing the city’s overall bicycle network. Public participation plays a critical role in deciding what facilites to move forward with. Adopted by the Council in 2011, the 2010 Bicycle Plan is the guiding document to help encourage and enhance bicycling in the City of Los Angeles.

Dept of City Planning and Dept of Transportation: Bike Primer Webinar

Thursday, April 17

7:00 – 8:00 PM

Online Workshop

Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7887587811798396930

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The Department of City Planning in conjunction with the Department of Transportation will be hosting a webinar on April 17th to answer questions about upcoming bicycle projects in Los Angeles.

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We know the stereotype that Los Angeles is a car city,  that it’s not safe to bike, and that sometimes those that do bike can find it difficult to do so. It’s why we at the LADOT Bike Program work hard to make our city a friendlier place for people on bicycles and why we’ve always got plans to expand our work. But sometimes there are devastating incidents that remind us of how much more work we have to do, and the many ways that we need to approach bicycle safety. Because bicycling safely in this city doesn’t end with a sharrow or a bike line – it’s also about knowing that if something were to happen to you the law would be on your side.

That’s where Damian Kevitt comes in. Just over a year ago Damian was hit by a car while on his bike on Zoo Drive on the edge of Griffith Park. What could have been a minor accident turned very dangerous when the driver proceeded to flee the scene and entered the 5 freeway with Damian trapped underneath. To this day, the driver’s identity is unknown.

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Damian back on the bike

The seriousness of Damian’s accident is surpassed only by the height of his courage; within months Damian was back on a bike again, not only biking but also running and swimming, joining a community of athletes with similar physical challenges. There is no doubt that it takes a ton of resilience to come back from a collision  like Damian’s; but it wasn’t enough for Damian to ride again on his own.“Too many people are losing their lives or being injured themselves because someone was unwilling to stop and render care….If I can do something that is going to prevent at least one other person then I can walk away from this feeling in some kind of bizarre way that it was worth it, that at least I accomplished something good out of it” he said. Just days after the incident and hours out of one of many surgeries, Damian promised to finish the ride, but not just for himself. Damian became the catalyst for a movement of people in Los Angeles devoted to making the city is a safer place to bike.

Finish The Ride, a joint effort of Damian, LA County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), and Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), is happening on April 27th at 8AM. All proceeds benefit LACBC’s continuing hit-and-run campaigns and CAF.  But as Damian explained, it’s “not that there’s a lack of solutions or even resources [to address hit and runs], there just needs to be enough pressure to make it a priority. Make it enough of an issue that is has to be confronted.”  The more people that come out to support the event, the greater the visibility for the cause. If you can’t ride, you can volunteer.

Sunday, April 27th 8:00 AM. The ride starts at 4810 Sunset Blvd and finishes at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park. Credit: Finish The Ride

Sunday, April 27th 8:00 AM. The ride starts at 4810 Sunset Blvd and finishes at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park. Credit: Finish The Ride

“It’s unfortunate,” Damian said, “that we have to legislate it in order to effect the change, but if that’s the necessary evil in order to prevent people who are unable to make proper moral choices than that is the necessary evil.” You can urge our legislature to increase penalties on hit and run drivers by signing the petition here.

For our part, Councilmember Tom LaBonge has directed LADOT to work on identifying improvements on the Zoo Drive bridge.  LADOT engineers are working with Caltrans to make safety improvements at the location and recently Caltrans re-striped the Zoo Drive bridge by placing double yellow stripes.  Soon we will be installing delineators on top of the lines on the bridge that lead to the south bound entrance of the 5 Freeway, to further discourage drivers from crossing the double yellow lines and prematurely entering the freeway.  Councilmember LaBonge is allocating funds from the CD-4  budget to ensure that the delineators will be installed for Finish the Ride.

Some people probably doubted that Damian would ever recover enough to bike again, just like some people don’t think LA can ever be a biking city. We know otherwise. Join Damian and others on April 27th, to show that Los Angeles really can be a city friendly to bicyclists, and one that is safe and accessible for all. “Being in LA and being outdoors in a very raw way is what bicycling is about wherever you live. The importance is to do that in a way that is safe and fun,” Damian said. “LA has got the fun. We just need to make it safe.”

 

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On Sunday, another awesome CicLAvia took place along Iconic Wilshire Boulevard! Thousands of people took to the street on bicycles, feet, roller skates and other types of people-powered movers to experience the 6-mile route along Wilshire from Grand Ave. to Fairfax Ave. While the final numbers are not in yet, organizers stated that even more people attended this CicLAvia than the previous CicLAvia that took place on the same route. Of course, the LADOT Bicycle Program was there and here are some pictures from our day!

"General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri participated in the CicLAvia press conference with Council Members LaBonge and O'Farrell"

General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri participated in the CicLAvia press conference with Supervisor Yaroslavsky and Council Members Blumenfield, LaBonge and O’Farrell

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A student bicycles through the Safe Moves City.

A student bicycles through the Safe Moves City.

Improving the safety of our bicyclists is a huge priority for LADOT. It’s a driving force behind the work we do at the Bicycle Program and the reason we’re working to install more bike paths, lanes and routes in the city than ever before. However, providing adequate bicycle infrastructure is only one component. To truly create a better cycling environment and see safety improvements, we need to teach current and future bicyclists about safe bicycling practices.

Safe Moves- School Bicycle Safety and Transit Education Program

Currently, LADOT contracts with the Safe Moves program to educate over 175,000 students a year about habits and skills they can adopt to be safer bicyclists. Safe Moves works with students to teach defensive bicycling habits such as making eye contact, checking over one’s shoulder, and being aware when walking and bicycling. An interactive course allows students to bike through a mock city where students are exposed to the same risks posed by a real-life urban cycling environment. Although the course is designed to create a fun experience for the students, it’s also designed to guide each student through traffic issues they could encounter. The mock city course features railroad tracks, cars laving and entering driveways and signalized intersections. Instructors demonstrate where the door zone is, proper signaling techniques and the dangers presented by riding the wrong way against traffic.

In addition to educating students about safe bicycling skills, the Safe Moves program create a social environment where students can feel comfortable asking questions and try out different types of bicycles. Safe Moves strives to create a dialogue about how students currently travel and the alternatives to driving to school.

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Students listen to an instructor before trying out the course. Helmets provided by Safe Moves.

 Bringing Safe Moves to your school

If you’re interested in bringing a Safe Moves workshop to a school, you can contact Safe Moves at their website or you can make a request with your local principal or school administrator. Safe Moves hosts workshops during school hours (usually one per grade level), after-school workshops, community, and weekend events so you can work with Staff to design a workshop that fits your community’s needs.

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A closer look at the bicycle rumble strip.

Yesterday morning, LADOT installed a series of small rumble strips at the Riverdale Park entrance on the Elysian Valley River Path. The series of rumble strips are intended to alert cyclists as they approach a major pedestrian entrance to the path. Each strip itself is comprised of thermoplastic markings approximately four inches wide and between 1 to 3 feet long (pictured above). Keep in mind that each rumble strip is designed significantly different from the type used for motor vehicles and therefore will not directly hamper the bicyclist’s travel. However, the strips should be significant enough that the bicyclist feels a noticeable vibration before reaching the Riverdale Avenue path entrance. LADOT hopes that this demo project will remind bicyclists to watch for and slow down when approaching entryways on the path.  We’ve had a lot of complaints from community members about bicyclists traveling too fast and passing them too close.  Please treat pedestrains with caution when you are on the path.  Slow down and provide an audible signal (bell or courteous shout out) when passing people walking, running or moving slower along the path. Remember by state law that the path is open to them too!  It’s important that we ensure that all users feel safe and happy on the bike path, irrespective of how fast (or slow) they’re travelling.

(Editor’s Note: We inadvertently neglected to mention the ongoing work done by CD 13 Field Deputy Adam Bass with community members and LADOT staff to come up with solutions to address ongoing issues between bicyclists and pedestrians on this section of the Los Angeles River Path.  We want to recognize Mitch O’Farrell for his ongoing support of the Los Angeles River Revitalization efforts and the months of hard work of his staff working with the community and LADOT to come up with viable solutions. Thank you for making safety a top priority in your community.)

Senior Bicycle Coordinator, Michelle Mowery, test bikes over the rumble strips post-installation

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Tim Fremaux and David Somers present on the MyFigueroa project at the Planning and Land Use Committee Meeting.

Yesterday, the Department of City Planning and LADOT Staff reported back to the Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUM) on the MyFigueroa project. MyFigueroa aims to redesign the Figueroa corridor into a multimodal street that promotes walking, bicycling and transit use while fostering economic and community development. As the project moved through outreach and design phases, concerns were raised regarding how the final design balances the needs of all users and affects vehicular traffic in the downtown network. In their report to PLUM, staff addressed these concerns, specifically, how the project will work in conjunction with the 110 HOT lanes, future integration of the downtown street car, foreseeable economic impacts of the project and the feasibility of an alternate couplet design which would feature bicycle lanes installed along Flower St. and Figueroa St.

Ultimately, the Transportation and City Planning staff report concluded that a couplet alternative would have more impacts than the original concept due to street width constraints and immediate funding timelines established by the project’s funding grant.

Following the City’s staff report, Council District 9 and the Mayor’s Office spoke of the outcome of a half-day MyFigueroa stakeholder summit that took place the previous week. The summit brought together Transportation and City Planning staff along with key stakeholders to discuss how to move the project forward while effectively addressing concerns about the project. The Mayor’s and Council District 9 Staff submitted specific requests, outlining concrete steps to address public concerns about the MyFigueroa project without stalling the progress that has been made to date. City staff will continue to work with MyFigueroa stakeholders to produce a project that will suit all stakeholders’ needs and will report back to the PLUM committee with an update in 3 weeks.

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The Brutal Truth

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“Scene of a cyclist fatality that resulted from a dooring incident in a door-zone bike lane in Cambridge, MA”. Credit: humantransport.org

As I explained in my recent post, “Learning Bike Safety the Hard Way”, for a cyclist, getting doored can be emotionally and physically deflating. Getting back on the bike was an inspiring moment, although I found it important to recall my own experience to provide the Los Angeles cycling community with safety tips and the lessons I have learned in this experience. My last post focused on my own collision and recovery; below, I will discuss the experiences of others, dooring collision studies, municipal safety programs and my own ideas about cycling infrastructure and safety in hopes that cyclists will learn from the mistakes I and the perpetrator made- so they hopefully wont have such an experience themselves.

After my dooring accident in January, I heard many anecdotes from other cyclists about their experience being doored and how those accidents affect themselves or loved ones. One friend had a door opened in front of him and ended up flying over the door, yet escaped with a few minor scrapes. Another had a door opened right into his kneecap and felt excruciating pain, but was able to walk it off and get back on the bike about 20 minutes later. A woman I was speaking to about my experience told me that her mother had also been doored and required a year of physical therapy for her injured hand. I received a message from a friend who knew someone who was also doored recently: the victim suffered a dislocated shoulder, was prescribed two different pain medsications and missed a week of school. Throughout this unfortunate litany of injuries and accidents, a recurring theme was a lack of awareness from the individual opening the car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. Because of this, I believe it essential that drivers be educated on the importance of observing their surroundings. It is also incumbent on cyclists to be aware of the door zone in order to reduce the rates of this entirely preventable accident.

In fact, in 2007 New York City started the “Look” campaign to address this issue following a 2006 report that showed “nearly all fatal crashes were the result of poor driving or bicycle riding behavior, particularly driver inattention and disregarding traffic signals and signs.” By using public education and outreach in campaigns, organizations and municipal agencies can teach individuals exiting their car to look for passing cyclists. In Northern Europe, individuals are taught to open their car door with the hand that is opposite the door (say, one’s right hand on the driver’s side, or one’s left hand on the passenger side), which would force an individual to look behind them for a cyclist before opening the car door. Cyclists should also use defensive riding techniques such as not being too close to vehicles that appear to be parked as there may always be somebody about to open their door!

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New York City’s successful bicycle and pedestrian safety campaign. Credit: New York City Department of Transportation

Tragically, there have been several documented cases across the world in which a doored cyclist lost their life, highlighting just how severe these accidents can be. A majority of the fatal dooring incidents involve the cyclist being struck by passing vehicles after being forced into the traffic lane to avoid being hit by the door. Most of these fatalities involve large vehicles like trucks or buses.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find data on the total amount of dooring incidents that occur in Los Angeles in a given year. There is no “dooring” category for reporting purposes in the collision databases the state maintains. Because of this, it is a hidden, unrecognized hazard that is difficult for advocacy groups and municipal entities to quantify. Nevertheless, there have been some attempts to understand the rates of dooring accidents, such as a Chicago study that found dooring was the primary collision factor in 19.7% of bicycle crashes; in Boston, door zone collisions account for around 5% of collisions; in Santa Barbara, dooring accounts for around 16% of collisions. The League of American Bicyclists Guide to Safe Cycling suggests that the third most common motorist-caused bicycle collision is opening a door into the path of a cyclist, while cutting off a cyclist while turning, and running stop signs are the top two, respectively.

These experiences suggest the need for added bicycle infrastructure, such as segregated cycle tracks, to protect cyclists and identify a predictable space for them on the road. Outreach is also important, not only to highlight the risks cyclists face, but also illuminate the many benefits that can be realized when one uses a bicycle as their main mode of transportation. These include an active and healthy lifestyle as well as heightened spiritual, mental and emotional health that many cyclists enjoy. Los Angeles has some of the worst congestion and air pollution in the country; cycling serves to mitigate some of their negative effects as well.

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A young girl riding in this separated “cycle track” bike lane suggests the perceived safety of such a facility. Credit: Livin in the Bike Lane

Cyclists share a great deal of responsibility for traffic safety. Cycling has some inherent risks, so bicyclists must ride legally and alert at all times. Indeed, this collision could have been avoided if both myself and the woman who opened her door had been paying better attention and if we had not been in such a rush. I would suggest you take a look at the LADOT Bicycle Program’s recommendations on following California bicycle laws; with respect to the door zone, this means cycling at least three feet from parked cars. It is also advised that cyclists not pass cars on the right side (oops).

Despite the pain that I have endured throughout this experience, I am only more inspired to pursue bicycle safety and driver awareness in my work here at the LADOT Bicycle Program. Many individuals have a difficult time making that transition back to the bike after such fearful collisions- and so I dedicate my work to them. Although my ordeal wasn’t that severe, I am interested in exploring solutions to reduce the risks associated with cycling. Hopefully, this story and more like it will contribute to the discussion of implementing protected bicycle lanes, or cycle tracks, in the city of Los Angeles, which separate cyclists from the roadway and reduce the probability that a dooring can occur. Please feel free to share any of your own dooring experiences (or other collisions) in the comments below.

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