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Putting on the finishing touches at Hope St Parklet

People St is excited to kick off the new year with the installation and official opening of Hope St Parklet in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles. The new Parklet is located at the southwest corner of Hope and 11th Street, just a few blocks south of STAPLES Center, L.A. Live, and the Metro Pico Station. This is the first parklet to be constructed within the framework of the People St program, which hosted its first application cycle in Spring 2014

As a part of South Park’s Walkability Project, Hope St Parklet serves as a catalyst for future investment in pedestrian and bicycle amenities for the South Park community. The Parklet replaces two parking spaces, providing 288 square feet of new public green space complete with planters and seating for people to meet, talk, and enjoy the neighborhood. The parklet design is based in the People St Kit of Parts model, The Steps, which provides space for 2-3 tables and chairs and is flanked with built-in terraced benches and planters. The combination and configuration of movable and permanent seating encourages flexibility in uses.

Like other People St projects, identity and wayfinding signage at Hope St Parklet orient visitors to local destinations that are within walking and biking distance to the site. A quick look at the map shows that Metro Blue and Expo Lines are only a five-minute walk away. Raising awareness of walkable destinations, transit, and bikeways encourages people to explore the neighborhood, creating a dedicated resting place along the way.

Hope St parklet signage panel shows a person-oriented wayfinding with 10 minute radius

People St projects like Hope St Parklet align neighborhoods around street life, creating a place of communal respite in otherwise urban neighborhoods. Amenities like parklets are important to the vitality of any people-oriented corridor, creating an oasis of free public seating so people can pause, relax, and take in the neighborhood. “Working with the community to make neighborhoods more enjoyable and walkable is one of our goals,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager. “Creating spaces like the Hope Street Parklet gives people the opportunity to meet, relax and spend time where they live and shop.”

Councilmember Huizar, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, and South Park BID Executive Director Jessica Lall host parklet ribbon cutting ceremony

As the Community Partner for this project, South Park Business Improvement District (BID) is responsible for the management and ongoing maintenance of the Parklet. Funds for parklet materials, design, and labor were largely donated by members of the South Park community, including SODA Architects, Mia Lehrer + Associates, Mack Urban, Benchmark + Tishman Construction, A Joint Venture, Swinerton Builders, Trumark Urban, Hazens Group, USA, ValleyCrest Landscape Development, Harry H. Joh Construction, ABC Resources, Tinco Sheet Metal, Helix Electric. By leveraging donations and community good will, South Park BID managed to construct the parklet for less than $10,000.

With a full crew, the parklet was constructed in just over a day

Hope St Parklet is one of three parklets approved in the inaugural People St application cycle, along with People St Plazas in North Hollywood, Leimert Park, and Pacoima. Because the People St program is a public-private partnership, LADOT has provided technical assistance, project support, and the wayfinding signage. To date, the People St program has created a total of 30,600 square feet of Plaza space, a total of 1,540 square feet of Parklet space, and 1,500 square feet of Bicycle Corral space. The addition of Hope St Parklet adds to over 33,640 square feet of people-oriented green space in the City of Los Angeles – that’s 3/4 of an acre, nearly the size of the Taj Mahal! By reallocating vehicular right of way to people uses, we give new life to our public realm.

Can’t get enough parklets? There are two more parklets located on Motor Avenue in Palms that will complete installation in the coming month, so stay tuned! For more information about the People St program, visit our website, peoplest.lacity.org or email peoplest@lacity.org.

On Friday, January 8, 2016 Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kirk Gibbs announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will be taking new interim measures to improve flood protection on the Los Angeles River during #ElNiñoLA.

The USACE is the federal agency responsible for navigable bodies of water, including our very own Los Angeles River. The LA River has an almost century-long history with the USACE that started after a series of floods, including the 1914 flood which caused $10 million in damages. A public outcry for action to address the recurring flooding problems led to the formation of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. Early flood control efforts included some channelization and the need for reservoirs. Bonds were approved by taxpayers in 1917 and 1924 to build major dams. After two additional destructive floods in the 1930s, Federal assistance was requested and the Army Corps of Engineers took a lead role in channelizing the River. Channelization began in 1938. By 1960, the project was completed to form the fifty-one mile engineered waterway we are familiar with today.

A hisoric shot of the Los Angeles River at Griffith Park, circa 1898-1910 (Source: Wikipedia)

Due to the expectations of a powerful El Niño season, USACE recently received emergency federal funding to put in place safety measures for the area of the river that spans from Griffith Park to Elysian Valley.

“Our river is unique — most of the year it runs nearly dry, and then during the rainy season it runs in powerful torrents as we’ve seen this week,” said Mayor Garcetti. “My top priority during El Niño is to ensure the safety of everyone in our city, and I thank the Army Corps of Engineers for taking action now to enhance the river’s flood management functions.”

The Los Angeles District of USACE determined this area needed increased capacity to keep the river in its banks. The L.A. District declared an emergency to USACE headquarters on January 6, prompting headquarters to provide $3.1 million in federal funding and nearly 3-miles of temporary barriers, known as HESCO Bastion. The temporary barriers act as industrial size sandbags, effectively raising the sides of the river channel and temporarily increasing its capacity during the winter storm rains.  The District also received approximately $500,000 to begin removing water-flow impeding vegetation from the highest-risk areas within the channel, in an area just upstream and downstream of Riverside Drive and the Zoo Bridge.

Industrial size sandbags were mobilized from Nebraska to LA a few days ago in preparation for the expected storms

Anytime rain is in the forecast the LA River Bike Path is closed for safety (shelters and resources are available for people experiencing homelessness). In the coming months, the raised barriers will allow for the expected volumes and help protect against flooding in adjacent neighborhoods. The barrier will be under construction on the bike path beginning Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

Due to the configuration of the HESCO barriers on the bike path by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the LA River Bike Path will remain closed through #ElNiñoLA season from Zoo Drive to Glendale Blvd (with the Alex Baum Bridge remaining open as a bicycle and pedestrian crossing across the LA River and 5 freeway).  North of this location, in the Griffith Park section of the Path, there is also an unrelated intermittent closure due to Caltrans freeway bridge rehabilitation work. Check out the City’s Detour Guide for getting around temporary closures on the LA River bike/ped path here.

Stay tuned for updates about construction and planned detour routes. Information will be available via our Blog (where you can also find articles about how to bike through El Nino and more!) and social media channels (@ladotbikeprog) using the hashtag #ElNiñoLA.

Updated 2/8/2016: Current information on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ barrier configuration added.

In previous segments of “The Engineer’s Corner,” we have introduced you to some of the talented engineers part of our Bikeways group. This time around, we take a coffee break away from the bikeway design plans to chat with LADOT’s new Chief of Staff Bridget Smith.

While Bridget is a newcomer to our Department, she is a skilled engineer with a civil engineering education from UC Berkeley, over 25 years of professional experience, and not one but three professional certifications: Professional Engineer (P.E.), Transportation Engineer (T.E.), and Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (P.T.O.E.). In this interview for “The Engineer’s Corner,” we ask Bridget about her move to our City, her experience in the field of engineering, and her idea of a livable street.

Taking a Break with Bridget

LADOT’s new Chief of Staff Bridget Smith takes a break to chat with us.

LADOT Bike Blog: Can you tell us about yourself?

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The City of Los Angeles is the backdrop to countless scenes broadcast through the lens of a camera around the world. Most commonly, the City is associated with surfing, high school love, Noirs (animated and acted), miles of freeway, and the apocalypse in the form of volcanoes, meteor showers, martians, zombies, and, of course, earthquakes. While movie directors are interested in portraying the destruction of Los Angeles in cinematic productions, civil servants work day in and day out to make sure these catastrophic plot lines don’t unfold and life in the City goes on as usual.

This year, a main focus of the City’s is to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Scientists predict one of the strongest El Niño’s recorded will torment Southern California and parts of the Northern Hemisphere from January to March 2016. On November, 2015 the City El Niño Task Force was created by an Executive Directive signed by Mayor Garcetti. The goals of the Task Force are to bring together different City departments to collaborate and ensure the City is prepared to respond and, if necessary, recover from any issues caused by El Niño weather conditions. From stockpiling sandbags (200,00 of them!) to scheduling extra street sweeping, City agencies are ready to handle the wet weather our drought-parched landscape will soon receive.

Executive Directive on El Niño

Mayor Garcetti signing Executive Directive No. 14, which formed a City task force in preparation for El Niño. #squadgoals

To help Angelenos prepare for changing weather and stay informed about any emergencies, the City has some helpful resources available at its El Niño LA websiteAngelenos should check their roofs for leaks, clear gutters of leaves, and make sure their cars’ wipers, tires, and brake pads are up to spec. What if you get around on your bike, you ask? With a little bit of know-how under your belt and the right gear, you can keep riding through El Niño too. Stay one step ahead with our helpful tips below to keep moving through the winter, whether on foot, bike, bus, train, or car.

Tips for Riding in the Rain

Just as if you were driving a car or taking transit in the rain, you’ll have to adjust your behavior when riding your bike in the rain. Unlike putting on that fancy rain cape you’ve been storing in your closet, the following tips for riding in the rain involve a little more effort:

    • Check the Anatomy of Your Bicycle: The following tips all assume that your bike is working well. Take a few moments to inspect your bike’s most critical parts before your ride. If your bike’s brakes were having trouble slowing you down in dry weather, this is a good time to fix them or take your bike to a shop for a professional’s touch. The rear wheel should lift off the ground when you squeeze your front brake and lean into the front handlebars. Spin your wheels and make sure they aren’t loose. The last thing you want on a wet day is for your wheels to pop off!
Anatomy of a Safe Bike

To ride on streets, California law requires you ride a bike that meets all these specs, rain or shine.

  • Slow Down: Water between the roadway and your bike’s tires reduces traction. Less traction means slowing down and stopping will take more time. The best way to avoid skidding is to lower speed. Take your normal riding speed and ride at 75% that speed or so in the rain. Slowing down gives you enough time to correct any traction issues.
  • Brake Early: In the rain, roadways, tires, brake pads, and rims all get wet and, combined, extending braking time. If your bike has rim brakes, it will take a few tire revolutions before water between the brake pads and wheel is cleared and the brakes can grip the rim. Plan for this delay, look ahead, and start slowing down early to make a complete stop.
  • Brake Straight: Your bike’s brakes work best when you are traveling in a straight line. If you have to slow down or stop, do so before you’re making a turn.
  • Corner Wide and Slow: Make turns at corners slower and wider than usual. Start further out and take the widest and straightest path possible. Avoid sudden sharp turns.
  • Braking while Turning: Don’t do it! Slow down enough (see ‘Brake Early’ tip) before turning so you can coast through the motion. Sudden corner braking may cause your back wheel to skid and slide a bit. If this happens, don’t panic! Just let off the brake and look straight ahead, the bike will straight itself out.

Watch Out for Tricky Surfaces

Now that you’re riding, braking, and cornering safely, there are some special surface conditions caused by El Niño you should know how to handle.

  • Oil Slicks: After the rain, all the oil and gunk leaking out cars will float to the top of puddles and on the roadway. Keep an eye out for an iridescent sheen when riding and try to avoid riding over it to prevent skidding. If you can’t avoid a slick, coast through it without pedaling or braking to maximize traction.     

    Street. Yellow lines. Oil.

    Avoid oil slicks brought to the surface to prevent skidding. Photo courtesy: Flickr user Nik Stanbridge

  • Puddles: What looks like a bit of standing water could be a foot of water filling a hole in the roadway. To help avoid puddle-related hazards, ride towards the center of the lane (take the entire lane when possible) to give yourself enough room to move left or right around puddles.
  • Road Markings and Metal: Road markings can become slicker when wet. Similarly, drainage grates, manhole covers, and other metallic surfaces can become more slippery when wet. Ride slowly enough that you will be able to proceed cautiously over or around these surfaces.

Helpful Gear

Riding tips will help you maneuver through wet conditions and the right equipment and attire will help you stay warm and cozy in any ride.

Helpful Gear when Biking in the Rain

Don’t let the rain stop ya! Get suited up and arrive on your bike.

  • Get Fenders: Invest in some fenders for your bike! These metal contraptions keep all the debris washed onto the roadway by the rain on the ground and off of you.
  • Turn On Lights: By law, you should have a front white light and a red rear light. When it’s raining, even if you’re riding during the day, you should turn on your lights to increase your visibility.
  • Wear Waterproof Garments: A stylish rain cape is a particularly useful do-it-all piece of equipment during inclement weather. It drapes over your whole body, so you can wear whatever you want underneath. Other great options include waterproof jackets or plastic bags in a pinch.
  • Dress in Layers: If you’re not outfitted properly, you’re going to get wet. Make sure you’re wearing clothes that prevent water from getting in while allowing you to vent away excess heat and sweat. It may be cold out but you’re going to work up a sweat riding to your destination, so dress in layers to accommodate your needs. Consider wearing thermal under-layers made of wool or some other moisture-wicking fabric under your clothes during colder, windier days. Gloves are another great addition to prevent your wet and wind-blasted hands from getting too frigid.
  • Save your Stuff: While keeping yourself dry is most important, you should keep your electronics and important documents moisture-free too. Make sure your backpack or panniers are waterproof. If not, cover them with a waterproof layer. You can put the last of your plastic bags to good use here.  
  • Protect your Peepers:  Wind-whipped water can take a toll on your eyes, so protect them by wearing clear-lensed glasses. Remember, you should be able to see at all times when riding.

Rainy days, courtesy of El Niño, are rapidly approaching. Share your new found knowledge and preparation skills with your friends, so we can all keep riding through the rainy season.

Walk and bike lanes with father and daughter riding their bikes

The Metro Orange Line Bike Path is sufficiently wide to provide separate demarcated spaces for people walking and bicycling.

As the City works to design and build road improvements to support active transportation and revitalize the Los Angeles River, Angelenos are increasingly re-discovering the beauty of the City, changing how they travel throughout it, and visiting outdoor places to exercise. The bike path along the Los Angeles River is one of the few places in this City that can host people taking in nature, commuting to their destination, or just enjoying a pleasant bike ride or walk.

The continuous 7-mile segment of bike path that runs parallel to a mostly  soft-bottom portion of the river between Glendale and Elysian Valley known as the “Glendale Narrows” has proven to be especially popular for a number of activities, including: dog-walking, bicycling, recreational walking, bird watching, and more. Like many places in Los Angeles that become popular, the limited space, often less than 15 feet wide, available at this section of the LA River bike path can become crowded. At times, the bike path is occupied by dozens of people walking, rolling, and bicycling.

If You Build It, They Will All Come

Prior to the bike path being built from Fletcher Drive to approximately Riverside Drive in 2010, there was only 4.6 miles of continuous bike path from Fletcher Dr. to Zoo Dr. Few people rode their bikes along the Los Angeles River service road on the not-yet-constructed portion of the LA River through Elysian Valley, although the passage was used informally by locals. After the LA River path was extended to its current southern endpoint at Riverside Dr. in Elysian Valley, the facility’s smooth surface and accessible entrances attracted people walking, rolling, pushing strollers, and bicycling. What was formerly a 4.6-mile bike path became a continuous 7-mile shared use bike path, giving people more room to enjoy spaces along the LA River. Over the years, communities along the Glendale Narrows have also seen change and are drawing more attention to the LA River. Today, many people happily use what will eventually become a long linear park as it is intended for a variety of uses and activities. Despite the limited space, most users are able to get along most of the time – whether they walk, bike, or roll.

P1010106

Then CD 13 Councilmember Eric Garcetti and then CD 4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge at the grand opening of the Elysian Valley section of the LA River bike path.

Sharing the Bike Path

Unfortunately, this post is not about the usual harmonious rhythm shared by LA River bike path users, it is about the small portion of time when path users struggle to get along. Every now and then, people walking or rolling on the path encounter people riding their bicycles at high speeds, making them uncomfortable and concerned. On the other hand, people on bicycles complain about people who walk in groups of three or more abreast or against the flow of bicycle travel. We hear reports of people colliding or nearly colliding with one another on the path, which can startle path users and discourage them revisiting this beautiful resource. In a perfect world, the path would be wide enough that none of these conflicts would exist but the reality is that the current width of the bike path is what is feasible given physical constraints and available resources.

The City has few places that provide a better, uninterrupted bicycling experience than the Los Angeles River bike path, and as the River’s amenities continue to be built out all of us must do our part to keep the path a friendly and accommodating place for everyone.

photo.JPG

When everybody shares and uses the bike path responsibly, we can all get in on the LA River fun!

Keep in mind that both people walking and bicycling are legal users of the path. Below are useful tips to keep in mind when sharing bike path:

When Bicycling:

  • Yield to people walking or rolling.
  • Slow down for pedestrians entering the path.
  • Slow down when passing anyone.
  • Pass only when it is safe to do so.
  • Travel at safe speed with due regard for others.
  • Be especially cautious around children and elderly people.
  • When traveling side-by-side, stay on the right side of the path when pedestrians are present.
  • Ride in single file when there is not enough room to adequately share the path.
  • Slow down when approaching pedestrians
  • Giving audible warning (i.e., saying “passing left”, ringing bell), pass only when safe to do so, and when in doubt, stop.

When Walking:

  • Look both ways before entering the path.
  • Keep to the right side of the path.
  • Do not walk/stop in the middle of the path.
  • Make sure children know where to walk and when in doubt hold their hand.
  • Walk your dog(s) on a short leash (and please pick up after him or her).
  • Look behind you and ahead- especially when moving across the path.

Remember, the LA River bike path is a shared resource and we must all be courteous to its other users.

Key Laws Regarding Bike Paths

The following is the text and summary of laws relative to Bicycle Path use in the State of California and City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles River.

California Vehicle Code

No motorized bicycles are allowed on bike paths unless allowed by Code

  • CVC21207.5 Notwithstanding Sections 21207 and 213127 of this code, or any other provision of law, no motorized bicycle may be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over such path or trail permits, by ordinance, such operation.

It is illegal to loiter on or block a bike path except maintenance or utility vehicles

  • CVC21211 (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist. (b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law. (C) This section does not apply to drivers or owners of utility or public utility vehicles as provided in Section 22512.

Due to inadequate available width, no separate pedestrian path is available (like the Orange Line Bike Path), thus pedestrians are legal and welcome users of the Los Angeles River Bike Path

  • CVC 21966 No pedestrian shall proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility.

No cars, motorcycles, mopeds or other motorized vehicles are allowed on the path except maintenance or emergency vehicles.

  • CVC213127. No person shall operate an unauthorized motor vehicle on any state, county, city, private, or district hiking or horseback riding trail or bicycle path that is clearly marked by an authorized agent or owner with signs at all entrances and exists and at intervals of not more than one mile indicating no unauthorized motor vehicles are permitted on the hiking or horseback riding trail or bicycle path, except bicycle paths which are contiguous or adjacent to a roadway dedicated solely to motor vehicle use.

California Streets and Highways Code

Bicycle Paths are designed for the use of people on bicycles AND on foot.

  • S&H Code 890.4 As used in this article, “bikeway” means all facilities that provide primarily for, and promote, bicycle travel. For purposes of this article, bikeways shall be categorized as follows: (a) Bike paths or shared use paths, also referred to as “Class I bikeways,” which provide a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with crossflows by motorists minimized.

Bicycle Path design is overseen by Caltrans (State Dept. of Transportation) and various strategies may be utilized to make all users aware of each other on bike paths.

  • S&H Code 890.9. The department shall establish uniform specifications and symbols for signs, markers, and traffic control devices to designate bikeways, regulate traffic, improve safety and convenience for bicyclists, and alert pedestrians and motorists of the presence of bicyclists on bikeways and on roadways where bicycle travel is permitted.

Los Angeles Municipal Code

Users of bicycle paths, or bikeways, are not allowed to use bicycles, skates, etc in a way that endangers other users of the path.

  • LAMC 56.16-1. No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, cart, wagon, wheelchair, roller skates, or any other device moved exclusively by human power, on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

 

The City of Los Angeles and Metro are partnering to launch the Metro Countywide Bike Share Pilot Program in Summer 2016. The Pilot Program will feature up to 1,000 bicycles and 80 stations in Downtown Los Angeles. Based on preliminary studies and two rounds of public feedback (here and here), we have increased the system size by 20% and identified over 100 possible station locations. Now we need your help to select the very best ones.

Visit Metro.net/bikeshare to view the Bike Share map showing proposed station locations. Tell us why you like or dislike a location directly on the map. The deadline for comments is Thursday, December 31, 2015. Spread the word! Don’t forget to share the site with your networks #BikeShareLA.

We got great feedback at the Arts District Farmers Market. Now we want to hear which stations YOU prefer!

When thinking about station locations, you may be wondering what attributes to consider. Below is some information about station size and siting criteria we encourage you to think about when expressing your preferences.

  • What are the space requirements for a Bike Share station? The average station size is approximately the size of three parking spaces. Some stations may be smaller or larger.
  • What are the station siting criteria? We are searching for locations on streets, on sidewalks or in plazas that provide:Connectivity: Connecting to transit and key destinations creates a network
    Space Availability: Wider sidewalks and parking spaces are great locations
    Accessibility: Stations should be visible and easy to get to
    Sun: Sunny spots are best since stations run on solar power
    Demand and Support: Stations should be located where there is high demand
  • Are these stations set in stone? No. This is a pilot program and the station locations will be evaluated as the program moves forward. Stations may be moved in the future.

Help plan the Downtown LA stations in the Metro Countywide Bike Share Program!  Visit Metro.net/bikeshare

 

Take a look at your calendar, and you probably will not find Planning Day as a listed holiday. Planning Day, held on October 15th this year, is an annual event observed exclusively by the Department of City Planning (DCP) where DCP staff lead and participate in multiple tours designed to explore different planning-related themes throughout Los Angeles . For this year’s Planning Day, a group of DCP staff biked the streets of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), Little Tokyo, and the Arts District to see first-hand how LADOT is helping transform Los Angeles into a vision of Complete Streets.

LADOT People St guru Elizabeth Gallardo rallies DCP staff for our tour.

To kickoff the tour, LADOT People St Project Manager, Elizabeth Gallardo lead DCP staff along a greatest hits of active transportation projects designed by LADOT to serve a broad cross section of road users, who find DTLA as a vibrant place to live and spend their leisure time. First stop was the Spring Street parklets where Nicholas Ziff Griffin, Director of Economic Development at the Downtown Center Business Improvement District described the importance of these amenities in creating a vital place where people want to linger and explore new businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Peddler’s Creamery offers sweet rewards for customers that churn ice cream using pedal power.

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