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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.

 

In November 2014, the FHWA published the Road Diet Informational Guide to help communities understand roads diets and their numerous benefits to all roadway users. This past month, LADOT was able to participate in a webinar hosted by the FHWA, which acquainted participants with the new guide. The lessons learned can help inform policies and influence design to create safer streets in our neighborhoods.

As a refresher, road diets (also known as roadway reconfigurations, road buffets, road redesigns, etc.)  are a traffic calming measure that reconfigures roadway space to enhance safety and efficiency for all road users. Road diets can calm and reduce traffic speeds on wide arterials and are an effective safety solution to high traffic speeds, which have caused innumerable traffic fatalities nationwide and in Los Angeles. The most popular design, the standard 4 to 3 configuration, often replaces one auto travel lane with two bicycle lanes, one in each direction, and includes a center turn lane for left turns and emergency vehicles.

Diagram depicts how a road diet is configured when converting from a four-lane roadway to a three-lane roadway.

An example of a typical 4:3 road diet design: FHWA Road Diet Informational Guide

Many of Los Angeles’ arterials were designed during the post-highway planning era. These arterials were built with very wide lanes and often to accommodate a larger volume of cars. Wide lanes are unsafe by design for many users of the roadway because they produce an environment that facilitates speeding and unsafe behavior. The road diet design narrows the travel lanes and is predicted to reduce vehicular speeds and therefore reduce collisions and injuries. Additional benefits include improvements in mobility, access, and livability. There are many misconceptions associated with road diets, but much of these have been refuted by studies and research. The AARP created a fact sheet on road diets, based on nationwide research, showing that road diets are good for business. According to the AARP, “Road diets increase and enhance business activity by reducing traffic speeds (which helps motorists notice the shops, eateries and businesses they’re driving alongside) and by accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists (who tend to spend more money at local businesses than drivers do).”

As has been demonstrated by the successful road diets along York Boulevard & Colorado Boulevard, road diets provide many stand alone safety benefits for all, while simultaneously enhancing connectivity for bicyclists. After the 1.3 mile road diet on York Boulevard between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 54 was installed in 2006, a detailed traffic analysis showed a 23% and 27% reduction in collisions and injuries, respectively, per mile per year. Many bicyclists already ride on arterials because they connect neighborhoods. Adding bicycle lanes increases safety and bolsters connectivity, while providing additional buffers for pedestrians and shortening crossing distances. Bicycle lanes also create a safety-in-numbers effect, an added safety feedback. People on bicycles may also ride more predictably if a space is designated, reducing wrong way riding and dangerous weaving between parked cars and auto traffic.

A total of 51.9 miles of road diets have reshaped the landscape of streets in Los Angeles since the City began implementing them in 1999. However, many new road diet projects were implemented after the adoption of the 2010 Bicycle Plan. It is important to note that road diets are not just meant to serve bicyclists. Discussing the safety impacts of road diets clarifies that road diets equalize the playing field and create safer streets for people walking, bicycling, taking transit, and driving.

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The FHWA Road Diets Informational Guide is detailed and thorough, but if you don’t have the time to read through all of it, here’s a quick list of the key safety and operational benefits for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians found in the guide:

  • Decreased number of vehicle travel lanes pedestrians must cross, therefore reducing the multiple-threat crash (when one vehicle stops for a pedestrian in a travel lane on a multi-lane road, but the motorist in the next lane does not, resulting in a collision) for pedestrians
  • Provide room for a pedestrian crossing island
  • Improved safety for people on bicycles by adding bike lanes (such lanes also create a buffer space between pedestrians and vehicles)
  • Provide the opportunity for on-street parking (also a buffer between pedestrians and vehicles)
  • Reduced rear-end and side-swipe crashes for automobiles
  • Improved speed limit compliance and decreased crash severity when vehicular crashes do occur due at lower speeds

With this new information in hand and the FHWA guide in our back pockets, we look forward to working with more neighborhoods to determine where to implement safer roadway design across the City.

Welcome the a bicycle frielndly Larchmont Village!

This week the Bike Program worked with LADOT field crews and General Services to install two new Corrals, bringing our Pilot Phase 2 that much closer to completion. The first install took place on Larchmont Bl, with the corral sponsored by the Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese. This corral was requested back in 2012, but did not have a business sponsor until local advocate Rick Risemberg hit the streets and identified Simon Cocks, a partner in the local wine and cheese shop, to take on the Corral maintenance agreement. Cocks is an avid bicycle rider who commutes on his bicycle to Larchmont every day. The Larchmont Corral serves a bustling commercial corridor that will benefit from the 14-18 extra parking spaces created for people on bikes. Councilmember Tom LaBonge says, “The Bike Corrals are really a testament to the innovating ideas that the Department of Transportation is bringing to our city to make it accessible for everyone.  Encouraging more bicyclists to Larchmont will help the local economy of Larchmont.” High demand already exists for bicycle parking and people using the Corral will have unlimited time to shop, dine, and explore Larchmont businesses.

Simon Cocks, partner at Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese (they have VERY delicious sandwiches!) with bicycle advocate Rick Risemberg showing the power of partnership between advocacy, business, and local government

The other benefit of the Corral that cannot be overstated is its function to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians using the adjacent crosswalk. Crosswalks can be difficult for pedestrians in busy commercial corridors – drivers are distracted, looking for parking, or rushing to get through the congested area. The Larchmont Corral effectively removes 10 feet of unprotected crossing distance from the intersection. Passersby remarked at the installation that cars would often try to cut through the painted area where the Corral was installed, in order to get to the nearby parking lot quicker. With the Corral placement, the pedestrian crossing distance is now only 9 feet without refuge, making it ideal for more vulnerable users like children, seniors, or people with impaired mobility.

As seen from the perspective of the crosswalk, the placement of the corral protects the pedestrian from traffic that might otherwise cut through the painted zone

Treatments that shorten crossing distances are popular pedestrian safety countermeasures, the most well known version being curb extentions or “bulb outs.” In the Larchmont context, the Corral serves the same purpose as a “pinch point“- a narrow midblock pedestrian crossing- without necessitating expensive curb extention construction that often requires drainage and utility relocation.  Short pedestrian crossings are the gold standard of complete streets, and we are happy to see the Corral creating a new solution (perhaps never before implemented!) to this circumstance.

“A pillow of cement” – “Pillow”-type curb extension at 11th & Clay, in Portland, photo courtesy Seattle Transit Blog

The second installation took place on Colorado Bl at Caspar, in front of Big Mama and Papa’s Pizzeria and the 5 Line Tavern.  At this location, the Corral had been requested by both the Pizzeria and Core Club LA, a yoga and fitness studio down the block.  As the first to request, Core Club signed on as the maintenance partner, but the enthusiasm for the Corral illustrates that these facilities do not just serve a single business, they serve the community.  Corrals can act as attractors for businesses, and in other cities, they have been seen to improve foot traffic and business visibility by 67%.  Complementing the buffered bike lane that provides traffic calming to Colorado Bl and the Bicycle Repair Station further down the corridor, the Colorado Bl Corral bolsters bicycle friendliness in Eagle Rock, adding important infrastructure to the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District.

As the Colorado install wrapped up, we saw an eastbound bicyclist as well as a westbound mother with child in tow enjoying the buffered bike lanes

We are very happy to wrap up the year with 2 more Corrals, which brings our annual total to 7 new installations!  We have a few more Corrals allocated to the Pilot, pending installation on Westwood Village’s Broxton Ave., Downtown Historic Core’s Main St., and the Arts District’s Traction Ave. Once the cycle is complete, we will begin the next Phase, introducing a modified design of the Cycle Stall Elite.  Stay tuned for 2015, it will be a great year for Los Angeles streets!

This young lady has really loaded up her cargo bike with the maximum shopping capacity!

In light of our participation in the upcoming holiday shopping event, SHOP – RIDE – NELA, we wanted to make sure everyone was totally ready to saddle up on their bicycles to go shopping!  Whether you need to pick up a few items at the grocery store or want to meet up with a friend at a neighborhood cafe for a day of brunching and shopping, arriving on a bicycle is a great way to go!

Shopping by bicycle is an easy way to run local errands, making your daily routine fun and active without leaving that nasty carbon footprint you would if you were driving. On a bicycle, you can make multiple stops on your trip without having to keep track of time, or potentially even receiving a citation for staying too long at your meter.  How many times have you wanted to try on that other pair of shoes or talk to a friend you bumped into on the street, but you had to go, cause your meter was almost up?  Too many times!  Bicycles are a liesurely way to shop and explore your neighborhood, making you more aware of what it has to offer, and potentially more receptive to spending time and money there.

In some LA neighborhoods, LADOT has even installed Bicycle Corrals, where you can park your bicycle right in the middle of a busy shopping corridor just like your fellows driving cars.  These perks are no small beans in a city where auto traffic is the norm and as mentioned before, finding parking can be tedious and frustrating. Plus, shopping on a bicycle is more efficient than walking and less cumbersome than carrying things onto the bus. Because shopping by bike is super practical, doing so can easily be combined with your bike commute or leisurely ride around the neighborhood.

SHOP – RIDE – NELA, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place this Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, with a ribbon cutting for the Colorado Bl Corral with Councilmember Jose Huizar at 12:30. The ride will explore 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. More details can be found in our recent blog post about the event.

So let’s get ready to shop! The set-up you choose will mostly depend on the purchases you’ll be making or the items you will be transporting. There are lots of carrying options out there for any budget, so here’s a quick guide to get you started:

Carrying things on your bicycle

 

Backpacks and Messenger Bags

Uses: small loads and personal items

Backpacks are probably the simplest and most affordable way to haul your shopping items while bicycling. These are excellent for carrying small, lightweight loads, but be wary of heavy items and the “sweaty back” on hot days or long rides. Backpacks and messenger bags that are made by bicycle companies tend to be weather proof and highly durable, making sure your valuables are protected.

Price range: $25-150

Backbacks can be a great way to carry small items and your everyday load, as seen here on Yucca St in Hollywood

Saddle, Frame, and Handlebar Bags

Uses: extra small loads and personal items

Saddle, frame, or handlebar bags are excellent rackless options for storing small items and are very popular for holding commuter tools like tire levers, spare tubes, first aid kits, or other bare necessities. The frame and handlebar bags are especially useful for items that need to be easily reached like chapstick or your cell phone.

Price range: $10-90

A woman and her child use a handlebar bag on the Orange Line Bike Path in Woodland Hills

Racks

Uses: all-purpose

If you choose to use your bike to do most of the work instead of your back, then you’ll need to add a rack to your bicycle. Racks serve a wide variety of purposes and can be attached to the front and/or rear depending on your bike and carrying needs. A rack is key because it provides a mount for panniers (bicycle mounted bags) as well as a platform on which to strap your goods. A simple bungee cord can be used with a rack to secure most objects, making racks one of the most necessary and effective ways of undertaking any shopping trip by bicycle. Racks also free you up from cumbersome bags that might cramp your style.  Most local bike shops sell bike racks and they can be aquired for as little as $15.

Price range: $15-45

Observed during our recent York Bl Bike Count, this man has a back rack and a basket, getting ready to do a water run via York Bl in Highland Park

Straps and Bungee Cords

Items can be directly placed on top of a mounted rack without a bag or container by using secure straps or bungee cords.

Price range:  $2-10

Baskets and Milk Crates

Uses: small-medium loads

Baskets are great for carrying items that don’t need to be enclosed or carefully contained. Generally, weight should be considered when using a basket, as heavy objects might affect your ability to steer your bicycle.  Milk crates can serve as an affordable DIY basket. To use a milk crate, find one that is not too large for the rack and make sure to use a lot of zip ties to securely attach the crate to the rack. Be careful to not load up too much weight into the crate otherwise shifting weight might cause the zip ties to snap!

Price range: $15-50

At CicLAvia, sometimes baskets are used to carry friends!

Trunk Bags

Uses: small loads and personal items

Trunk bags are strapped on top of the rack and are built with non-collapsible walls that stand up on their own. Some trunk bags come with side pockets that can expand into small side panniers for extra storage.

Price range: $30-60

The LAPD Bicycle Unit uses trunk bags to carry important items necessary for their police work

Panniers

Uses: medium-large loads

Panniers are bicycle-specific bags that attach to the rear or front rack. Most panniers work like saddle bags and carry 10-20 liters per bag. Panniers are a wonderful solution for large amounts of groceries.  They are your ideal candidate for shopping, commuting, or bicycle touring and are often sold in pairs in order to balance your heavy loads.  Panniers come in all forms and qualities- the more expensive versions contain special features like converting into a backpack, clip systems for easy removal, reflectivity, and all-weather proofing.

Price range: $40-160

Former Bike Program superstar, Eli Glazier shows off his paniers with his bike mounted on the York Bl Bicycle Repair Station in Highland Park

Cargo Trailers

Uses: large loads

Bicycle cargo trailers offer the largest storage capacity and can carry much bigger loads than the bicycle itself. Trailers normally attach to the bike frame, much like a tow hitch on a truck. Some trailers are even fashioned with a child seat inside so you can take your child with you while you shop!

Price range: $150-250

Cargo trailers like the one we use when we do outreach at CicLAvia can carry a LOT of swag…

 

More Tips

 

Balance your weight

When you pack up your bags, try to distribute the weight as evenly as possible. This will make riding more comfortable and also prevent your bike from toppling over while you wait at stop signs or lights.

Look for Bicycle Friendly Businesses

Shop local and support businesses that embrace bicycle-friendly practices! The Bike Program launched the Bicycle Friendly Business Program (BFB) earlier this year to promote businesses that encourage people to bicycle for short neighborhood trips and make their streets more pleasant and convivial places to be. For more information or to opt into the BFB Program, check out our BFB page and opt in form!

My bicycle route is mainly on neighborhood streets, providing a lower-stress and more pleasant experience.

Jose Tchopourian, LADOT Bike Program.

The Los Angeles region is vast and challenging to navigate by any transportation mode. Some residents, like myself, find it more enjoyable and oftentimes faster to commute using a bicycle alone or in combination with public transit.

Before guiding you through my “hybrid commute”, which combines bicycling and transit, I would like to point you to some helpful resources for making trips by bicycle: bike maps and infrastructure, transit maps and timetables, bike rules of the road, and fun bike rides and education.

Since September, I have been commuting from my home in the NoHo Arts District to class at UCLA’s Urban Planning Department. My trip combines a bike and Metro’s underground Red Line subway. The total commute is 14 miles long and takes about 1 hour door to door.

I start my trip on the Metro Red Line at the North Hollywood station in the direction of Union Station. I ride the train two stops, departing at the Hollywood/Highland station. The train ride takes about 9 minutes. If you are riding Metro Rail with your bike, keep the following in mind: 1) use elevators or stairs to enter and exit stations 2) if the train is full, wait for the next one 3) give priority to passengers in wheelchairs, and 4) stand with your bike in the designated area for bikes, which are clearly identified with a yellow decal adjacent to the car doors.

Holding my bike while riding the Red Line Subway into Hollywood.

Holding my bike while riding the Red Line Subway into Hollywood.

The second part of my commute, an 8-mile bicycle ride, takes about 45 minutes and allows me to experience the sights and sounds of multiple neighborhoods.It is important to follow the rules of the road while operating a bicycle. Obey all traffic signals and stop signs, yield to pedestrians, and use lights to be visible at night. I find that riding predictably and communicating with other road users makes my ride safer.

The route I have selected avoids steep mountainous terrain. Instead, I experience slight inclines during my trip. In addition to elevation, I also consider the type of streets I will be using to get to my destination. Eight years of using a bicycle for moving through Los Angeles have taught me that safety comes first. Even if riding on arterial streets might bring me to my destination a few minutes earlier, I prefer to trade time saving for the lower-stress experience of riding on residential and neighborhood streets. When I do ride on arterial streets, I pick those that have bike facilities on them.

Here is my route. If you see me on the road, say hello!

If you would like to share your favorite route, send it to bike.program@lacity.org.

Get your holiday shopping done in a jiffy in the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District

In case you were wondering what bicycles, Northeast LA and the local economy had in common with the holiday season, we wanted to bring a very exciting and fun event to your attention!

You may have been following our pilot project, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD), launched back in February in an effort to to bring more people to local businesses by bicycle.  The plan to achieve this includes implementing bicycle infrastructure enhancements to the neighborhood like bike lanes, corrals, and repair stations; offering promotional incentives to people arriving by bicycle; and overall, encouraging customers and employees to take local trips to business corridors on bicycles rather than in cars.

Since we last blogged about it, we have established a Steering Committee of local stakeholders including representatives from the Eagle Rock and Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Councils, the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institue, local non-profit organizations, and active transportation advocacy groups like C.I.C.L.E. and LACBC.  The NELA BFBD represents a collaboration and partnership between businesses, the community, and the City to accomplish shared goals of community building and economic development.

After many months of meetings, the Steering Committee has planned a kickoff event: SHOP – RIDE – NELA Holiday Edition.  The bicycle ride, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place on Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, and traverse 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. The ride will meet at METRO’s Highland Park Gold Line Station and make shopping and dining stops at LADOT’s two local business-sponsored Bicycle Corrals: the York Bl Corral located at 5000 York Bl (sponsored by Cafe de Leche) and the Colorado Bl Corral soon to be installed at 2136 Colorado Bl (sponsored by Core Club LA).  Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this leisurely ride!

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It is hardly a surprise the Los Angeles River Bike Path is one of the city’s most beloved and prominent bikeway facilities. With new parks popping up and additions such as The Frog Spot, the river is increasingly a destination people want to visit. With an accerlerated  focus on efforts to revitalize the river and extend the bike path that runs along it, there is a parallel growing need to collect data on the river’s bike path usage. To address this need, the Bicycle Program recently collaborated with students from the city’s Hire L.A.’s Youth program to conduct bicycle counts along the L.A. River and in river-adjacent communities.

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A man bicycling on York Blvd during our bike count conducted prior to bike lane installation. For more photos during our “before” count session, visit our Flickr page.

Throughout the month of October we conducted over a dozen weekday counts along the river from 4pm to 6pm to capture use during evening rush hour.

For the month of November we are conducting counts in Northeast LA, including on  York Boulevard between North Figueroa Street and South Pasadena, North Figueroa Street, and on Colorado Boulevard. The long-term goal is to repeat these counts on a regular basis to measure growth in bicycling, and more generally to have a steady stream of bike counts.

While we have yet to fully analyze our results, here are some preliminary results from one of our count sites, York Boulevard between North Figueroa Street and Avenue 63:

  • We conducted four weekday PM counts between 4pm and 6pm. We counted a total of 119 people bicycling, or an average of 29 people bicycling during each count session.
  • Of the 119 people counted bicycling, 21, or 17.6% were women.
  • The majority of people counted, 62%, were traveling eastbound, while the remaining 38% of people were traveling westbound.
  •  During a mid-day Saturday count, conducted from 11AM to 1PM, we counted 41 people bicycling.

We look forward to conducting additional counts throughout the city to gain a clearer perspective on bicycle needs and use.

 

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