Feeds:
Posts
Comments

(One of our Student Professional Workers, Jose Tchopourian, took a trip to the Northeast during his Spring Break from UCLA. In this post he shares his experience getting around by bicycle during his visit to three East Coast cities.)

The Northeastern United States may not be the most popular Spring Break destination for folks trying to avoid winter weather, however I decided to take on the challenge. Over the course of a week, my wife and I explored Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. on two wheels.

Chillin’ in Philly

Our first stop on this journey was Philadelphia. Our home base was the Fishtown neighborhood, located three miles northeast of the Center City and walking distance to cafes, restaurants, and the Girard MFL Subway Station. We explored the city on foot, by bike, and on transit. The compact footprint allowed us to visit multiple neighborhoods, but also destinations such as City HallReding Terminal Market, Barnes FoundationSchuylkill River Trail, South Philadelphia’s scenic architecture, and many more cultural and historic institutions.

Schuylkill River Trail, Philadelphia.

Although temperatures were below freezing, us two Angelenos managed to tough it out by traveling via trains and buses into the Center City and walking and biking between the many attractions. We found that pedestrian-oriented facilities are common around the Central City. Ample sidewalks and crosswalks, benches and trees, street lighting, squares and parks, and river banks create a pleasant walking environment. We found that bike facilities vary and include off-street bike paths along the rivers, on-street facilities such as buffered bike lanes, sharrowed routes, and streets without markings. Philadelphia’s narrow streets in the urban core facilitate transportation on bike and foot due to low motor-vehicles speeds and volumes.

Philly Bike Shop

A hip bike shop in South Philadelphia.

For all these reasons, Philadelphia is in the top-tier of bicycle commuting cities in the nation. Bicycle mode share is 2.3%, compared to 0.6% nationally. Notably, the share of women bicycle commuters is 33%, compared to 24% nationally. With the arrival of a bike share program later this year, the city will most likely maintain its lead and continue growing. Continue Reading »

Guangzhou residents using their bright orange bikeshare bikes. (Photo courtesy: itdp-china.org)

Here at LADOT we are working closely with Metro and coordinating with Santa Monica and Long Beach to bring bikeshare to Los Angeles County. As we work diligently on launching a regional system, we like to stay up to date about programs in other cities to understand best practices and learn from one another. Time and again, one trend has proven true – Bikeshare is here, there and everywhere and growing exponentially every year.

Nationally, within the last five years, bikeshare systems have boosted multi-modal mobility in large cities like Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, New York, Bay Area, and Seattle. Bikeshare has also emerged as a mid- and small city transportation solution in Des Moines, Aspen, Boulder, San Antonio, and many more.  Internationally, cities all over the world have launched bikeshare systems. As of September 2014, bikeshare programs help transport people in more than 700 cities in 57 countries, with a combined fleet close to 800,000 bicycles worldwide.

Bikeshare has seen upward trending growth in the past few years – in 2013 total program launches rose by 60%. A large part of this growth can be attributed to one country: China leads the world in terms of number of programs, stations, and bicycles by a long shot. The numbers increase daily, but as of September, 170 separate operations were on the ground in Chinese cities. Close seconds include Italy and Spain with 130 programs each. Tied for third were Germany, France, and the United States with roughly 40 cities each. To put that into perspective – while only one out of every six people live in China, three out of four bikeshare bikes, in the world, are located there.

Bicycling is not new to China. Three decades ago, China was referred to as the “Kingdom of Bicycles” due to the majority of the vast population who used bicycles for transportation. However, bicycle use has significantly declined over the past 20 years. Consistent with trends in “emerging markets“, China has shifted towards the automobile in recent years. One step China has taken to combat the declining numbers of people using bicycles for transportation and address transit connectivity was to launch public bikeshare programs countrywide. This shift has reignited the country’s passion for bicycling and helps to hinder the growing reliance on owning and utilizing automobiles. Continue Reading »

Reseda Rollout!

As you may have been following, Reseda Boulevard, one of the Mayor’s 15 Great Streets, is getting some BIG upgrades! In a series of phased installations of marking, striping, and K-71 reflective bollards that constitute a very excitingly reconfigured street, last night, LADOT crews began putting in the some of the finishing touches – the frosting on the cake, if you will – with a splash of green!

Reseda Boulevard between Gresham and Rayen got a new layer of thermoplastic last night! #freshkermit

These upgrades to safety and efficiency are on Reseda, between Plummer and Parthenia. The segment is the business corridor and the heart of the Northridge neighborhood. In addition to the City’s first parking-protected cycletrack, upgrades include new continental crosswalks, street furniture and a funky new sidewalk pattern to reflect the mid-century flagstone facades unique to the corridor!

LA MAS Project Manager, Stacey Rigley putting in the final bolts for the mid-century modern-inspired street furniture

Phase 1, the segment on the east side of Reseda Blvd between Rayen and Gresham, will be officially unveiled this Saturday, April 11th. A community workshop for Phase 2, which includes both sides of the street between Nordhoff and Gresham, will be held following the unveiling on Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm at Benjamin Moore Catalina Paints (more details here). Phase 2 upgrades will be installed from April to June, culminating in a final community event this summer.

To create a safer environment in the portions of the cycletrack where people on bikes will interact with people in cars, the design called for highlighting the conflict zones with green. These locations include driveways, bus stops, and right turn pockets.

A graphic illustrating how the green will highlight conflict zones

Continue Reading »

Me (Heather!) and my bicycle

My favorite means of commuting to and from work has always been by bicycle, and my commute to LADOT  is no different. For many bicycle commuters, the decision to bike to work is often because they find the convenience, affordability, enjoyability, and commute time appealing. Biking also takes away the stress of having to rush to catch the [insert any public transit mode] or the all-too-familiar road-rage-inducing traffic congestion.

I live in Los Feliz and it takes me an average of 35 minutes to bike to work Downtown. In total, the ride is about 5.5 very doable miles. If I were to commute by car it would take me roughly 40 minutes plus a few bucks for gas (and then… parking).  There are a few bike routes I can take to work because of the growing bike lane network leading to and through Downtown and the route I take most often is straightforward, based in two prominent north/south and east/west bike network connectors: the 2nd Street tunnel and Spring Street bike lanes.

From my home, I use neighborhood streets to reach Sunset Boulevard, then take Sunset (more than half the ride), and finally catch the bike lane on Spring Street to the reach the LADOT office. My ride starts out in the quiet Los Feliz flatlands, where I weave through neighborhood streets and a few mid-block alleyways. I enjoy the slow pace I can take in the alleyways that feature limited vehicle traffic- their separation from major roadways allows me to relax and take it easy. I also enjoy the sense of community here. There are several schools in Los Feliz, so I routinely see a lot of moms and dads walking their kids to school or older kids walking together in groups.

Turning into mid-block alleyway in the Los Feliz neighborhood.

Turning into a mid-block alleyway in the Los Feliz neighborhood

When I reach Sunset, I take the popular Sunset bike lane for an easy 4.5 miles through a couple different neighborhoods: Silverlake and Echo Park. Biking on Sunset is my favorite part of the ride because it is scenic, varied, and social. There are a few rolling hills, but all elevation climbs are manageable and are subsequently rewarded with fun, gentle downhills. To my surprise, Sunset Blvd. in the mornings doesn’t ever seem as busy as it usually is in the evenings and on weekends.

Silverlake and Echo Park have a lot of locally beloved coffee shops. They’re always in full swing with people enjoying their favorite morning pastries alongside a cup of joe. Mornings along Sunset are also bustling with the bigger business of everyday life- there are always a few freight trucks unloading, buses picking up and dropping off people on their way to work. It’s important to follow the same rules of the road with these larger vehicles. When they are stopped to unload, I pass them safely, on the left.  With busses, sometimes I slow down and wait behind them until they exit the bus zone. Patience and common sense are important when sharing the road!

Using the bike lane on Sunset and passing the Sunset-Silverlake Junction Plaza.

Using the bike lane on Sunset and passing the Sunset-Silverlake Junction Plaza

When the weather is rainy or just too cold or too hot, I’ll opt for a multi-modal commute. For these rides, I dress according to the weather and bike to the nearest Metro Red Line Station, taking my bike on the train. From the Red Line, I get off at Civic Center Station, and then bike the rest of my way to work. Like Jose mentioned in his previous My Bicycle Route post, taking your bike on the train is super easy.

In addition to using other modes of transportation to supplement biking, I’ve also learned a few wardrobe tips to make my trips more successful. These include: 1) layering 2) wearing comfortable or slightly stretchy clothes to allow for lots of leg movement 3) cuffing pants to avoid greasy chain smears and, 4) adorning a reflective strap or vest for safety. Storing work clothes and extra gear like a multi-tool, bike lights, and flat tire patch kit in a pannier will also help ease your ride and facilitate a safe trip.

When I get the opportunity, I like to join an LA Bike Train to commute to work! LA Bike Trains is a free, community-oriented organization that helps people bike to work together. LA Bike Trains currently offer 10+ weekly or bi-weekly routes throughout the city that are led by Conductors, experienced urban cyclists. Some examples of the routes include Silverlake to Santa Monica and K-Town to UCLA. LA Bike Trains is a fantastic resource for people who want to ride their bikes to work, and the organization continues to grow, adding 5 additional routes since 2013. Luckily for me, there’s a Bike Train that leaves from Cafe Vitta in Los Feliz every other Thursday morning at 8 am and rides all the way to Downtown. It’s exactly the same route I usually take, but way more fun because I get to meet fellow bike commuters and have some company on my ride. Apart from social incentives, another great benefit of bike trains or biking with others is creating the “safety-in-numbers” effect, which makes you a little more visible to people driving. My ride to work with the Bike Train always feels fast- I guess time flies when you’re having fun ;)

Here’s my route in detail, from Los Feliz to Downtown:

Los Feliz Downtown

If you’re looking to find your perfect bike commute route, there are tons of resources out there to help you get started. Here are a few leads:

  1. Visit our most up-to-date Bikeways Map on bicyclela.org
  2. Ask fellow bike commuters or employees at your local bike shop
  3. Use the bicycle route option on Google Maps
  4. Use Google’s street view tool to help envision your route
  5. Read about others’ bike commute routes in our My Bicycle Route series
  6. Request a bike map for your region in LA
  7. Get in touch with an LA Bike Train conductor in your area

In addition to the route itself, you might want to think about environmental factors like:

  1. Elevation inclines and declines: Dress and prepare accordingly.
  2. Bicycle infrastructure: Paths, lanes, sharrows and their varying degrees of safety, connectivity, and ease.
  3. Vehicular traffic and speeds: Neighborhood streets often yield slower vehicle speeds while main thoroughfares often yield higher vehicular speeds.
  4. Time of the day: Make sure to use the proper lights and reflectors to make yourself visible.

Keep in mind that one of the best ways to pick your favorite route is to simply go out there and take a few test rides. You can even drive the route in a car ahead of time. Have fun, and let us know what your favorite rush-hour-beating bike commute route is!

Heather Do is an intern in Active Transportation Division’s Bicycle Program.

The Bike Program is excited to share a survey on behalf of our friends at the Coro Program. A couple of the fellows are conducting research into Angelenos’ attitudes towards various modes of transportation in their city. The survey is quick and will provide some fantastic insights for their research. If you have the time, please fill it out. But more importantly, please share with your friends so they can reach a wide audience. We hear there may even be prizes for randomly selected participants! Read more from Ellen and Nella below…

 

Hello!

We’re conducting a study as part of our fellowship to better understand attitudes toward sharing the streets in Los Angeles.

We are interested in responses from all walks of life. Whether you ride a bike, drive a car, walk, use transit, skateboard or scoot, we want to hear from you. It would greatly help our research if you could take the survey yourself, and also share the link with your extended networks in Los Angeles.

The survey takes about 10 minutes, and respondents can be entered in a raffle for a chance to win one of our prizes.

Thanks for your help!

Ellen Riotto and Nella McOsker, Southern California Coro Fellows

 

Coro Fellows Ellen and Nella

 

Since 2010 the LADOT Bike Program has worked diligently to introduce, formalize, and refine bicycle corrals for the City of Los Angeles.  We have seen huge successes in our process, from the revival of the York Boulevard commercial corridor and pedestrian space to the overcrowding of our much needed Abbot Kinney corrals.  We have also tested and modified designs, beginning with U-racks, moving to the Dero Cyclestall Elite, and now a modified version of the Cyclestall that better serves cargo bicycles.  We are about to embark on our largest yet deployment of bicycle corrals in Los Angeles and hereby announce a call for new applications.  In the next two years, the department’s strategic plan, Great Streets for Los Angeles, calls for the installation of over 25 bicycle corrals.  There are many criteria that go into corral site selection and approval, but before we explain the fine print, we wanted to take you through a tour of lessons learned and the corral history that goes into today’s revision.

Phase 1

Our very first York Boulevard Bicycle Corral was yarn bombed to mark the new year!

Our first corral on York Boulevard featured many elements that have been discontinued due to cost, functionality, and permanence.  Our first design featured welded U racks that needed to be pre-assembled and lifted into place by crane.  The design also featured asphalt buffers that were repeatedly damaged by cars and delivery vehicles.  This design has been popular with users, as it allows a barrier-free approach to parking.  The lack of barrier, though convenient, does not provide as much protection as a structure that fully separates the parking from the travel lanes, and therefore, after considering all factors, the next round of corrals was modified significantly.

Phase 2

The corral at Gjelina Take Away has been seen packed here with 18 bikes! Photo courtesy Gjelina

Our next round of corrals consisted of 11 custom Dero Cyclestall Elites.  The new design, which fully separates the bicycle parking from travel lanes has sometimes been criticized by users as difficult to enter, creates a pedestrian interaction for people dismounting their bicycles, orienting the now-pedestrians towards the sidewalk and away from any conflict with moving vehicles.  This setting creates a more conscientious entry and exit from the bicycle parking area, eliminating conflicts between dismounted riders and those passing as well as driver-bicycle conflicts.  Beyond this change, the new corral design utilizes rubber wheel stops, durable buffers against parking cars and reflective flexible delineators that make the corral more visible to approaching vehicles, especially at night.

These corrals are installed in Atwater Village, Venice, Cypress Park, North Hollywood, the Arts District, Eagle Rock, Larchmont Village, Westood Village, and (coming soon!) Downtown’s Historic Core.  This round of installations presented rich feedback on corral placement in relation to travel lanes and bicycle facilities, user density, and the dynamics of nearby bicycle friendly neighborhoods.

Some lessons learned in this phase include:

  • need for high pedestrian and bicycle activity
  • preferred adjacency to bicycle facility (bike lanes, buffered bike lanes, or sharrows)
  • pedestrian scale street settings provide comfortable environment for people parking their bicycles
  • better entry to corral to accommodate cargo bicycles
  • bicycle friendly businesses and high turn-over services that attract people on bikes (like cafes) serve as ideal sponsors for corrals
  • dense, pedestrian-heavy areas with limited parking or sidewalk area are ideal locations for corral placement
  • most corrals necessitate two parking spaces for clearance and visibility reasons

Taking these lessons into consideration, we went back to the drawing board again for our next corral order, incorporating both user and safety considerations.

Phase 3

Our next phase will feature the custom Dero Cyclestall Elite, further modified with shorter side arms that allow for ample entry space. We’ve also ordered 5 corral extenders, allowing sponsors to select a longer version of the corral, expanding parking capacity from 14 spaces (as seen above these corrals can actually fit up to 18 bicycles) to 20 (24) spaces.  The additions fall within the two-parking space area, so the expanded corral does not require further parking impacts.

New Corrals await their future street!

Applying for a Bicycle Corral

We are currently looking for locations for our next corrals!  If you own a business or are part of a community organization that would like to sponsor a corral, check out our corral page, FAQs, and the corral application below.  All sponsors are required to sign a maintenance agreement with the City, where the partner agrees to keep the corral clean and clear of debris (corral placement restricts street sweeping).  Once a corral location is preliminarily reviewed and a maintenance agreement signed, the project enters engineering design, which at times reveals other complications or reasons a corral cannot be installed at that location.  If the project reaches design completion, the installation is coordinated by LADOT.

 

Jessica Ruvalcaba and Devon Fitzgerald met on their bicycle commute down Pico Boulevard

We all love happy stories about bicycling on LA streets. And biking is a great way to get involved in your community and meet new people. So when we heard about a Los Angeles bicycle commute that lead to an engagement, we definitely wanted to highlight it on the Bike Blog! Friend of the Blog, Jessica Ruvalcaba, has been an avid connoisseur of Los Angeles bikeways and even met her fiance while biking home from work one day. We interviewed Jessica about biking and living in LA… and that fateful day.

Thanks for talking with us Jessica. So tell us a bit about yourself? Did you grow up in Los Angeles? Have you always commuted by bike?

I grew up in San Diego and Riverside but I have been living in LA for the last 8 years, car-free. When I moved to LA, I was living in Hollywood and working at casting studios nearby so I walked to work and soon started biking. When my commute got longer I rode a scooter, and then a motorcycle, but after I got into an accident, I started biking again.

Now, I work at an elementary school in Northridge, which unfortunately is too far for me to bike to, so I usually borrow my fiancé’s car. When I met my fiancé, Devon, I was biking a 10 mile commute, which is kind of my limit, distance-wise.

So I’m told you and Devon met while riding bikes. Tell us the story!

I was riding home from work one evening – it was All Saints Day – and was stopped at a light heading east on Pico at Overland. Devon rode past me heading south and we smiled at each other. After he crossed the intersection, he looked back and I guess I was still smiling because he stopped, turned around, and rode back over to say hi.

He didn’t know too many people in L.A. at that time since he just moved from San Francisco to get his Masters at LMU. So we talked and he rode with me a bit and then we stopped for Ethiopian food on Fairfax. Right off the bat, we started talking about comparative theology and reincarnation. We definitely had an immediate connection.We ended up hanging out on the roof of my apartment building in MacArthur Park dancing and watching the stars. That was about 2 years ago and in January we got engaged!

Congratulations! Are bikes going to be incorporated into your wedding (a la Solange’s famous white bicycles)?

We might incorporate bikes into the wedding but our families are not as bike crazy as we are. Even though I have had to drive more recently, biking is still a huge part of my life and Devon’s as well. Devon rides his bike during his 4-mile commute most days to his job as a massage therapist. In 2013, we rode in the AIDS/Life Cycle fundraising bike ride from San Francisco to LA. It took about 7 days. It was an amazing experience. I would really recommend it.

I assume you would say bicycling is a great way to meet people! Are you involved with any other bicycling organizations? What is your advice to people who want to get to know their fellow people on bikes?

Biking is a great way to meet people! I’ve met so many people on bikes, but I’m pretty friendly so I tend to meet people wherever I go. I will say that you’re probably not going to meet anyone if you’re riding around with headphones on. It’s also kind of dangerous. I would recommend smiling and saying hi when riding if you really want to meet people.

I have been involved with a few local biking organizations. I volunteered at the Bicycle Kitchen but never made it “full-wrencher”. I also worked for AIDS/Life Cycle. Wolfpack Hustle events are also a great way to meet people, Midnight Ridazz’ are great for partying, and S.W.A.T., which is an all girls group who like to ride really hard.

What bike amenities would you like to see in your neighborhood? What would your dream bikeable neighborhood look like?

Safety is always an issue. I think a safer bike route along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is really needed. My dream bikeable neighborhood would have bike lanes protected by parked cars. I also think that more transit would really encourage people to bike, especially for commuters who have to drive between the Valley and the Westside or Mid-City. Maybe one day!

Great suggestions, Jessica. We’ll keep you posted on those cycletracks! ;)

A perfect view for two bicycles in love

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,135 other followers

%d bloggers like this: