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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

#CHILLIN: Buffered by parked cars, #PopUpChandler cycletrack users enjoy their morning coffee on the way to CicLAvia!

Thank you for stopping by, Los Angeles! Over 1,000 of you rolled through the #PopUpChandler cycletrack yesterday!  In case you missed it, the City hosted a pop up demonstration cycletrack at Sunday’s CicLAvia – The Valley. The one-day installation was a collaborative effort by LADOT and the Department of City Planning to create a temportary cycletrack as a means to bridge the network connection between the Chandler Bike Path and the CicLAvia NoHo Hub. #PopUpChandler, located between Vineland and Fair, gave participants an opportunity to see and experience the low-stress bicycle facilities proposed in the City’s draft Mobility Plan 2035, hands-on and in-person.

Pedestrian Coordinator, Valerie Watson presents cycletrack information and explains elements of Mobility Plan 2035

Throughout the day, people of all ages rolled through the cycletrack, protected by a row of parked cars, on their way to the CicLAvia North Hollywood Arts District Hub. CicLAvia event participants were encouraged to travel through the pop up and pit stop at the City of LA booth prior to continuing on to the day’s festivities. Upon exiting the cycletrack, users were able to directly engage with the City’s mobility planners and active transportation engineers to discuss the nuances of the protected lanes and learn more about different ways to confiure streets for all types of users.

Residents from the Valley and beyond noted the added comfort and safety of the cycletrack concept, especially for the youngest and most vulnerable: children on bicycles. Passerbys noted that “flipping the bike and parking lane just makes sense and seems safer for everyone.” Many provided City staff with feedback and shared their experience on social media using the hashtag #PopUpChandler.

City staff were joined by USC Price School externs to perfom cycletrack outreach, collecting surveys, feedback and answering questions. Unlike the traditional planning process, pop up events allow community members to experience infrastructure and provide input based on that experience.

The temporary “pop up” design utilized traffic cones to designate space for people on bicycles, people parking cars, and people driving cars. In this cycletrack design, the parking lane has been flipped with the bike lane, maintaining street parking, while adding extra protection and reducing conflicts between people travelling on bikes and people travelling in cars.  This configuration is simple and provides benefits to all users.  Beyond serving those travelling by bicycle or car, cycletracks create shorter crossing distances for people walking.  

City officials also came out to enjoy the festivities and experience the cycletrack for themselves. “The San Fernando Valley’s CicLAvia was a stunning success, bringing thousands of people out of their cars and homes and onto the streets for the day,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian of District 2. “I tested out the Pop-Up Chandler Cycletrack, along with a lot of other happy cyclists, and I believe it showed people what is possible as we strive to make Los Angeles a more connected and bike-friendly city.”

CicLAvia attendees enjoy the low-stress nature of the Chandler demonstration cycletrack connecting their journey from the Chandler Bike Path to the event hub.

Sunday’s event is just the first step toward safer and more comfortable mobility network. Cycletracks are an important element in the City’s draft 2035 Mobility Plan, which emphasizes low-stress facilities as an important active transportation  mode that helps to reduce vehicle miles traveled throughout the city, as well other associated environmental benefits. The 2035 Mobility Plan is scheduled to be before the City Planning Commission in May, and you can find out more at an open house on Tuesday, March 24. Protected bike lanes are similarly included in LADOT’s Strategic Plan “Great Streets for Los Angeles“.

Keep an eye out for similar pop-up events in the future that will help us better plan and design more permanent bicycle infrastructure in your neighborhood!

Rosemead Boulevard: the Complete Street features a cycletrack buffered by landscaped medians

It seems like cycletracks are all the rage these days on the LADOT Bike Blog.  We love the idea of the low-stress bicycle riding experience these facilities provide and are learning as much as we can about them as we prepare to install them in Los Angeles!

Last week we had the pleasure of convening a City of Los Angeles coalition to visit Temple City’s Rosemead Boulevard, a complete street that includes a fully constructed and landscaped cycletrack. The trip was organized by our very own Bicycle Coordinator, Rubina Ghazarian. The Active Transportation Division Outreach and Engineering staff were accompanied by our colleagues from the the Great Streets Studio and the Bureau of Street Services to learn about the outreach, design, construction, and maintenance of the new Rosemead Boulevard.

Temple City welcomes Bureau of Street Services engineers, Great Streets Staff, and the LADOT Active Transportation Division

The Temple City segment of Rosemead Boulevard, CA State Route 19, has undergone dramatic change in its use and form since being relinquished by Caltrans to the local municipality in 2008. State Routes, traditionally managed by the state department of transportation, Caltrans, are state highways and typically carry high volumes of cars at high speeds.  Some of these routes are formalized into spaces exclusively for cars, like freeways, while others remain woven through our residential and commercial corridors.  When Temple City began to consider options for improving the route to better serve local residents, they recognized the dynamic community development potential resting in the relatively large roadway.

Temple City Mayor, Carl Blum, a retired LA County civil engineer, saw the transfer of Rosemead as a once in a lifetime opportunity, with the understanding that major roads only get a shot at redesign once every 50 years.  He set the project aspirations high, envisioning a Complete Street that would work with the street they already had, to serve users of all modes and abilities.  Blum says that in pursuing such an ambitious project, Temple City is “planning for the future.” He understands the long trajectory of the project and that its full potential will only be realized later.

Our visitor package provided a living picture of the Rosemead project and its connection to the community

After many community meetings and design charrettes, the new Rosemead Boulevard plans grew to include landscaping, bike parking, sidewalks, pedestrian scale lighting, public art, and rubberized asphalt, which would minimize the noise of the large arterial.  With the new Rosemead, residents received universal ADA compliance, new and improved gutters, and over 100 new trees that will grow to create a living canopy for the neighborhood, reducing the heat island effect and cultivating a sense of place for the corridor.

Temple City cycletrack includes pedestrian scale lighting and a cement bicycle lane buffered by parking stalls and landscaped medians

Our visit proved very educational, providing an on-the-ground example of a Complete Street.  With the pending adoption of Mobility Plan 2035, we may see more projects in Los Angeles that fulfill the Complete Streets objectives of facilitating travel for people of all ages and modes.

Today marks a very exciting step forward in our continuing effort to implement more cycletracks in Los Angeles. From 12-2pm this afternoon, we tested various cycletrack physical barrier options including armadillos and K71 bollards.  As a refresher, cycletracks, also known as protected bicycle lanes, are on street lanes that separate people on bicycles from motorized traffic by physical barriers such as curbs, planters, parked cars, and posts. They are a relatively new infrastructure that has become more and more popular around the nation.

K71 bollards and armadillos in the buffer zone await bicycles, a sedan, a truck, and the ultimate test: the LAFD fire truck!

Starting at 9 am, LADOT crews began installation of the cycletrack test materials. The installation served as a test for all road users, seeking to understand the various interactions the different types of barriers will face in their everyday contexts.

LADOT crews install an armadillo

Around noon, City employees, Mayor’s Office staff, folks from LACBC and the City of LA Bicycle Advisory Committee helped test the barriers with their bicycles, observing their perception of separation as well as the mountability of the materials.

Testing ridability over the armadillos

Continue Reading »

On Sunday, March 22, CicLAvia is coming to the Valley from 9 am – 4 pm. Adjacent to the North Hollywood Arts District Hub, the City will host “Pop-Up Chandler Cycletrack,” a one-day, “pop-up” protected bicycle lane demonstration. The Chandler Cycletrack will be temporarily installed on Chandler Boulevard between Vineland Avenue and Fair Avenue. The pop-up will help visualize facilities proposed in the City’s draft Mobility Plan 2035 to create low-stress bicycle networks that safely connect people to places. Roll through on your way to CicLAvia!

What is a Cycletrack?

Cycletracks, also known as Protected Bike Lanes, are bike lanes that physically separate bicycles and cars, increasing safety and comfort-levels for all road users.

Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lanes 216

An example of a permanent cycletrack in Vancouver, Canada. Photo Credit: Paul Krueger

The pop-up event will feature one-way cycletracks on both sides of the street connecting the Chandler Bike Path to CicLAvia Lankershim Hub.

Why a Pop-Up?

Pop-up events give people an opportunity to see and evaluate public realm improvements during the planning process, hands-on. The pop-up technique is an incredibly useful tool in that it helps residents visualize the scale and appearance of potential improvements. While descriptions, mock-ups, and pictures help, first-hand experience can give people a fresh perspective that may be difficult to replicate through any other means.

Pop-up projects are comparatively low-cost and low-risk. Projects can last one day or longer, and they are easy to install and remove. Because not everyone has seen a protected bikeway, much less experienced the level of safety these facilities provide, this temporary reconfiguration can provide a venue to re-imagine Los Angeles as a safer more comfortable place to travel by any mode.

Project Goal + Benefits

The intent of this project is to be immediate, educational, and informative for the public and practitioners alike. It turns a standard public workshop into a real event for the community to interact with. It is more participatory than the traditional planning process, as community members are able to directly provide input, and impact future design and planning decisions in their neighborhood.

The physical separation provided by a protected bike lane makes people feel better about making trips on bikes.  It opens up the street to people of all ages, and makes bicycling low stress. Additionally, the road-diet helps to decrease the speed of motor vehicles. Protected lanes are especially great for families with young children; parents can have peace of mind knowing that their child can safely and comfortably ride their bicycle in their neighborhood. Ultimately, the hope is that people with all levels of biking experience who test out the pop-up lane will feel safer and more comfortable riding their bicycles, and thus support the introduction of this type of permanent bicycle infrastructure in their neighborhood.

Where else has this occurred?

A one-day, pop-up cycle track was created on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, CA last spring.

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People observe and discuss a block-long, pop-up cycletrack demonstration in Oakland, CA. The pavement markings and planters were all temporary for a one-day display. Photo Credit: @woolie

During the event, one participant commented: “it’s amazing to bike on Telegraph Avenue and feel so safe. I wish it was like this all the time.” To provide physical separation from vehicles, volunteers placed planters, and decorated boxes along a freshly painted line.

This past December, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to approve parking-protected bike lanes for Telegraph Avenue. Oakland brought conceptual designs from paper to the street, where the positive feedback provided by the community directly contributed to the measure being passed.

Other notable placemaking events include, Santa Monica’s Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway Project (MANGo), the pedestrianization of New York City’s Time Square, as well as the placement of plazas and parklets in the streets of Los Angeles. These cities have been able to successfully encourage bicycling and build support for infrastructural improvements through these temporary installations that demonstrate what actual changes can look and feel like.

Citywide Initiatives

Los Angeles is changing the way it thinks about safety. Under LADOT’s policy initiative Vision Zero, the city is making great strides towards eliminating traffic fatalities. As part of this effort to increase safety for all road users, LADOT has included protected bike lanes in its toolbox of options. Additionally, protected bicycle facilities are consistent with the long-term framework provided in the 2035 Mobility Plan, which emphasizes active modes of transportation, reducing vehicle miles traveled, low-stress facilities, and associated environmental benefits. The Mobility Plan recognizes protected bicycle lanes as an integral part of the Bicycle Enhanced Network, and details the benefits mentioned in the paragraphs above. Specifically, the plan sites enhanced bicycle infrastructure as a key element in making seamless connections from walking and biking to transit.

How to get involved?

Councilmember Paul Krekorian of District 2 says, “I encourage anyone biking to CicLAvia – The Valley to try out the Chandler Cycletrack pop-up. Test it out and let us know what you think about the idea. The input we get from riders will help make North Hollywood and the rest of Council District 2 more bike and pedestrian friendly, which is something I’m actively working to do.”

Participants are encouraged to document and share their experiences with staff during the event, as well as to post on social media websites throughout the event using the hashtag #PopUpChandler.

Bicycle tourism has been well observed and practiced as a recreational activity across the United States, but often we fail to remember the multitude of sightseeing opportunities right here within our city’s diverse neighborhoods.  As Los Angeles’ bicycle network and multi-modal connectivity expands, we have more and more opportunities get out of our cars and explore new areas by bicycle. There’s no better way to spend a sunny Sunday than exploring Los Angeles’ hidden gems. We thought we would share our favorite bicycle routes and points of interest in and around San Pedro, one of L.A.’s most scenic and bikeable neighborhoods.

Cruising the Waterfront 1

Clockwise from top left: The Corner Store, view from Paseo Del Mar looking north; bike lane signage; Metro Bus 246; palms at Point Fermin Park; Point Fermin Lighthouse; and buffered bike lanes on Paseo Del Mar.

Located 25 miles south of Downtown L.A., San Pedro is home to some of the city’s most breathtaking vistas and historical sights, not to mention bike lanes and paths that even novice riders will enjoy. Our journey begins on San Pedro’s Paseo Del Mar, accessible via the terminus of Metro Bus 246 at Paseo and Parker St. Cruise Paseo’s bike lanes and check out the breathtaking cliff-side views of the Pacific and Catalina Island. Stop by local haunt, the Corner Store to refuel with coffee and snacks before making your way east to Point Fermin Park, home of legendary Walker’s Café and the Point Fermin Lighthouse, built in 1874.

Cruising the Waterfront 2

Taking in the view on Paseo Del Mar.

From Point Fermin, it is a quick 5 minute ride down Shepherd and Pacific Avenues to Cabrillo Beach, where you can check out the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the nearby tide pools. If squids and urchins aren’t your thing, enjoy the views along the beachfront bike path and fishing pier. Head north on sharrowed Shoshean Road toward 22nd Street where twenty-second Street Park’s scenic bike path will lead you straight to Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro’s new artisan marketplace located in a beautifully restored warehouse.

After picking up some homemade marmalade, head up the hill to Beacon St. to check out the Muller House Museum (open Sundays only), a cherished jewel of San Pedro’s past. Other great sights in the vicinity include: the WPA murals in the San Pedro Post Office on Beacon St,  recently constructed Cabrillo Way Marina and Warehouse No. 1 at the south end of Signal St, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cruising the Waterfront 3

Clockwise from top left: Warehouse No. 1; view from Signal St., bike parking at the Red Car Downtown Station, bike lane on Harbor Blvd., a glimpse of the Bike Palace on Pacific Ave., the Merchant Marine Memorial and Maritime Museum off Harbor Blvd. Center: A brand new boardwalk just north of the Maritime Museum.

Take a well-deserved break at Utro’s Cafe right off of Sampson Way, home to arguably the best burger in town. Peruse Utro’s extensive collection of memorabilia to learn a bit about the history of longshore workers in San Pedro. If you’re still up for more San Pedro sights after lunch, take a stroll around the quaint shops at Ports O’Call. From here you can also take the short trip north to the fantastic Battleship USS Iowa and Los Angeles Maritime Museum both accessible via the bike lanes on Harbor Blvd.

If you want to give your legs a rest, hop on the Historic Waterfront Red Car Line, one of the last remaining vestiges of Los Angeles’ railcar past or enjoy the water show at Gateway Plaza, featuring two Fanfare fountains by WET Design. When you’re ready to catch the 246 back north, take bike-friendly 9th, 13th, or 14th Streets 4 blocks west to Pacific Ave.

Since there’s so much more to see in San Pedro – like the Warner Grand Theater and Korean Bell, just to name a few- feel free to leave us your suggestions for other great bike-friendly sights in town! Also, let us know if you have any suggestions for other bikeable L.A. neighborhoods you would like to see us explore on the blog.

More great resources for your trip: Bike Palace (located on Pacific Ave. and 16th St.); bicyclela.org (for bike maps and parking info)

Exciting news!  The Bike Program is in the process of a major overhaul of our two internet domains, BicycleLA.org and LADOTBikeBlog.wordpress.com. What does this overhaul look like?  We don’t have all the details yet, but one thing is certain, we’ve decided to merge our two sites: our future site will contain both the blog and BicycleLA.org.

The integrated website will provide a broad overview on bicycling within the City of Los Angeles, as well as information on ongoing projects, news, events, and general suggestions for safe and comfortable bicycle riding in urban environments.  We will still maintain the Bike Blog for project updates and #BikeLA editorials, but it will be embedded on our primary site.

To better serve our readers and provide you with engaging and relevant content, we created a survey to find out how you use our sites. We want the new BicycleLA.org+LADOTBikeBlog.wordpress.com to be the best resource it can be for residents and visitors alike, whether they are strong urban cyclists or just interested in getting information on what is going on with active transportation or complete streets in Los Angeles. Please help us understand our users by completing the following survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BikeLA

 

The Backstory

BicycleLA.org #keepingitreal since 1998

Believe it or not, BicycleLA.org has been around for 17 years (est. 1998!!! the same year Google filed for incorporation in California) and hasn’t seen a major redesign since the development of the 2010 Bicycle Plan! Similarly, the LADOT Bike Blog has also remained largely unchanged since its 2010 launch.  Well, we think it’s safe to say that Los Angeles has come a long way in five years.  Some would have said it was impossible, but we’ve seen car streets transformed into people streets!  Road space throughout the City has been reclaimed for people with the help of Bicycle Corrals, People St Parklets, and Plazas.  We’ve implemented road diets, making streets safer for everyone and repurposed lanes for buffered bike lanes in Northeast LA and dining on Broadway.  We’ve even launched the Bicycle Friendly Business Program to encourage people to run their local errands by bicycle (in LA County, 47% of trips taken are easily bikeable at less than 3 miles).   The evolution of LA streets is nigh, and our Great Streets vision can be observed in the recent adoption of the 2010 Bicycle Plan into a new plan that considers all modes for all ages and abilities: Mobility Plan 2035.

Keeping with the times, it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to make change here on our internet space.  To our delight, much of what has been temporary or experimental information on the LADOT Bike Blog has become permanent. To accommodate this shift, we choose to unite our fronts, providing #BikeLA with a one-stop shop.

We hope our new website will appeal to #BikeLA enthusiasts as much as it does to the bicycle-curious. We are going to spend the next few months working hard on it. During its development, we’d love continued feedback beyond our survey. If you have additional comments about our online presence, please email bike.program@lacity.org.

 

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