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Los Angeles is a big city of over 450 square miles, with over 4,000 square miles if we’re looking at the whole County. This massive size is daunting even in a car… after all, how many of us have let friends and beloved relatives go un-visited all to avoid a traffic-clogged schlep to the Westside, Eastside, or the Valley, or that particular just-too-far place of your own personal choosing?

To some, this daunting size balloons out of all reasonable proportion at the thought of tackling it perched, huffing, between two spinning wheels; not to mention the idea of travelling on foot or taking a maze of public transit. Some say: Los Angeles is just too big, too spread out, the infrastructure isn’t there, Metro doesn’t go there, it’s too far, too hot, too hard. Los Angeles is one of the few cities where the phrases “let’s walk”, “let’s take the train” or “let’s bike” is met with confused stares.

City of Los Angeles bicycle facilities in their respective Council Districts

However, while Los Angeles as a whole is big, anyone who’s lived here for a while or has taken a gander as the LA Times’ wonderful Mapping LA project knows that LA is made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique-to-them shopping, recreational, and eating opportunities! Some trips are of course impractical for more sustainable transport methods; the average person doesn’t want to walk more than a mile, or spend more than an hour biking or riding transit while en route to their destination. Nor do most people relish the idea of donning a load of spandex and arriving at their destination sweat-dripped, and smelling faintly of the gym.

But, for many people, small, local trips to get groceries, coffee, or see a film are very exciting from a walking, and even more so, from a biking perspective! Getting on a bike or taking a walk doesn’t have to be something you prepare or set aside time for. The purpose of the ride can be practical, or for fun, or both! Say… a spontaneous event, just like when you hop in your car to pick up something quick.

This combination of practicality and entertainment is something unique to biking. You can turn a chore like picking up toilet paper into a sort of mini-adventure! Even in your own home town, if you’re used to getting around in a car… on a bike, you’ll see stores, people, and sights you’ve never noticed before. This is the driving concept behind Bicycle Friendly Business Districts! Since you don’t have to fight others for parking, it’s relatively easy to stop where you want to stop. While riding a bike there’s no excuse of, “oh we just passed it… maybe next time” if you come upon something that looks interesting, just stop, hop off, and check it out!

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York Bl east of Figueroa, as seen prior to installation of bike lanes in 2014

In the Bicycle Program, part of our job is to make streets safer and more pleasant for bicycling. We realize that as more and more Angelenos are riding their bikes to get around, there may be more opportunities for conflicts between modes on our streets. Some, if not most, conflicts can be partially addressed by engineering and planning, but part of equation remains in individual motorist or bicyclist behavior.

Regardless of what causes the conflicts on our roadways, it is helpful to analyze available collision data to inform us where there is room for improvement, whether it is behavioral or infrastructural. Two years ago, we took a look at collision data on York Boulevard and found that overall crashes decreased 23% between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 55 after a road diet was implemented on that segment of the street. In this post we will take a follow-up look at the updated data, and get into the details of who has been identified in the data as “at fault” and the causation of bicycle-car collisions.  The data we are looking at analyzes the 3.9 mile long segment of York Boulevard between Aguilar Street and Arroyo Verde Road over a 12 year period.

If one wants to look at crash data anywhere in California, the primary repository is the SWITRS database: the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System. All reported collision data is gathered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and made available for query.  CHP collects data from local jurisdictions (in our case, LAPD) and adds it to the statewide database, and all data is made available through the California Public Records Act, which requires all records processed by State government to be publicly accessible. Normally, the data lags about 2 years, but SWITRS remains the most comprehensive data tool available to perform collision analysis over time.

Collision data in California are pared down to manageable categories, which makes it great to track overarching trends, but leaves much to be desired in terms of understanding conditions of collisions and nuances of behavior (two of the most important aspects of planning for safer road configuration and design). In the data, there is always a party determined to be “at fault” and a short list of causes, known as the “collision factor.” A cursory glance at the raw data would make anyone’s head spin: ROW Ped, Party 1 at fault. What does that MEAN? While it may seem confusing initially, SWITRS has a codebook that elaborates on what such terms mean. ROW is an abbreviation for “right-of-way,” and Ped is short for “pedestrian.” What ROW Ped refers to is when someone fails to yield right-of-way to pedestrians or other legal sidewalk users, such as people bicycling. Even terms like “Party 1 at fault” can be intuitive with a little context. Every traffic collision typically involves at least two “parties” and differentiating the people involved entails calling the various parties involved Party 1, Party 2, etc.

In this analysis, we attempt to decode this data.  Though, notoriously, car-bicycle collisions that do not result in a “Killed” or “Severely Injured” person are not reported (which always presents a significant data challenge), we will try to interpret a better understanding of what is really at work in the history of car-bicycle conflicts, with York Boulevard as our case-study.

The Overall Picture

Between 2001 and 2012, there were 39 collisions on York Boulevard involving both people driving and bicycling (SWITRS). Those driving were deemed “at fault” approximately 56.4% of the time, accounting for 22 of the collisions that occurred. Meanwhile, people bicycling were “at fault” in 41% of the collisions, deemed responsible for 16 of the collisions that occurred. In one case, the stated collision cause was “other improper driver,” placing neither party involved – the person bicycling nor the one driving – “at fault” (which accounts for the remaining 2.6%) Continue Reading »

A smiley and Spintacular day in the NELA Bicycle Friendly Business District (photo courtesy C.I.C.L.E.)

As part of a local tradition of pre-celebrating the 4th of July, LADOT collaborated with the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) Steering Committee, C.I.C.L.E., the Bike Oven, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and Metro to host the Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour, a community bike ride through the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show. The ride is the second hosted by the NELA BFBD, a partnership between the City, community members, and local businesses to bolster the use of bicycles for short trips around the neighborhood, especially to dine and shop at local businesses.

CICLE Director Vanessa Gray partnered with local bike coop, the Bike Oven, to lead the ride

The NELA BFBD was established last year as the City’s first pilot Bicycle Friendly Business District. The project is an encouragement tool for traffic demand management: in Los Angeles County, 47% of trips taken by car are under 3 miles, a distance easily traversed by bicycle.  These short car trips create local traffic congestion, parking shortages, noise pollution, air pollution, health problems caused by sedentary lifestyles, and unnecessarily contribute to all of the safety issues associated with operating heavy machinery like motor vehicles… all impacts that could be mitigated by walking and biking to local destinations! Continue Reading »

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Our Senior Bicycle Coordinator, Michelle Mowery, tests a protected bikeway on Rosemead Boulevard in Temple City. By next year there will be statewide standards for this type of facility that physically separates cars and bicycles on the roadway.

In September 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law A.B. 1193. This law, known as the Protected Bikeways Act of 2014, requires the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, to establish a new category of bikeway in the state’s Highway Design Manual, the technical design guide that governs bikeway treatment statewide. Currently there are three categories of bikeways – Class I bike paths, Class II bike lanes, Class III bike routes – and A.B. 1193 calls for the addition Class IV cycle tracks, or separated bikeways. Cycle tracks are common in Northern Europe but there are only a handful of such bikeways in California, and part of the reason is because of the absence of formal guidance at the state level. However, where separated bikeways (facilities that physically protect bicycle users from motor vehicle traffic) are implemented, they have been wildly successful and attracted a wider range of users! In May, Caltrans met with a broad coalition of bicycle advocates and local transportation agencies to discuss cycle track designs to hear some initial feedback as the design process for Class IV cycle tracks is being initiated.

To learn more about creating design standards for a new “Class IV” bikeway aka cycle track, we conducted an interview with Kevin Herritt, Caltrans’ Chief of Office of Geometric Design Standards. We would like to thank Herritt for taking the time to answer to some of the questions many in the bicycling community have had on their mind since A.B. 1193 passed. Continue Reading »


This weekend, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) is going to get a little more SPINTACULAR! LADOT is a proud partner in the NELA BFBD Summer ride: The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour. The ride, sponsored by Metro and led by C.I.C.L.E. and the Bike Oven, will take place on Sunday June 28th from 5:00 – 8:00pm, and traverse 5 miles of Northeast LA’s bustling business corridors, taking riders to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center for a sparkle-filled evening of bicycles, fun, and games. Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this spintacular ride!

Along the way, riders learn about what makes Northeast LA a special place to walk, roll, and ride… The ride will stop at the York Boulevard Bicycle Corral for a Street Innovation Tour, led by Mark Vallianatos of the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI). The tour will highlight York’s public spaces and innovative street features.

Riders are encouraged to show their patriotic flare on their wheels and beyond in the Red, Ride, and Blue Bicycle Decorating and Costume Contest. Participants will have an opportunity to win even more prizes at the Spin the Wheel Trivia game, testing riders on their local knowledge and Los Angeles bicycle trivia.

Even the President knows how to get Spintacular for the Red, Ride and Blue Bike Decorating contest

“The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour highlights two local efforts I am passionate about – our 6th Annual Eagle Rock Concert and Fireworks Show and the NELA Bicycle Friendly Business District program,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The NELA BFBD is all about encouraging bicycle riders to support local businesses and enliven the public realm and the reason I brought back the fireworks show after decades without one in Eagle Rock was to encourage safe and family friendly public gatherings where people could also support local organizations and businesses. The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour is a perfect match and thanks to LADOT and all our partners for their support.”

Ride participants will travel at a casual speed, slowing down to stroll, take in the local scenery, and explore local businesses and culture. Riders should bring a helmet, water, bike locks, bike lights, cash for food, blankets, and jackets for the fireworks show. Secure bike parking and a reserved seating section will be provided at the Fireworks show for Spintacular Riders.

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Over here at the Bike Blog, we will not leave any corner unturned! We’re back with the Engineer’s Corner and our next visit is to the princely desk of Steve Gaur, Bikeways Engineer and our Main Man for Bicycle Corrals. Sadly for us, Steve has been promoted to another division, so we wanted to make sure we get the inside scoop before he embarks on his next career adventure.

Steve says, “Just because you’re an engineer, doesn’t mean you’re a shining star.” Well Steve, let’s see what makes you shiny.

Bikeways Engineer Steve Gaur manning the plan with Asst Bicycle Coordinator Elizabeth Gallardo at the Figueroa Corral installation, June 2014

LADOT Bike Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Steve Gaur: I’m Steve Gaur, I’m a Bikeways Engineer, part of Active Transportation Division. I have a degree in Civil Engineering. I was born and raised in LA.  I live in Porter Ranch and I’ve been living here (in the valley) my entire life… I grew up here, went to school here at Cal State Northridge, never left. I obviously really love LA!

What is it like getting to work? Please describe your commute.

I started taking the Commuter Express since day one, when I was hired in 2001. I knew getting to work was going to be the most difficult part of the job based on how far away I lived, but I had learned that LADOT provides this amazing transit service, just a couple miles from my house. Every day I drive 5 miles to the bus stop in Chatsworth and then commute on the bus 35 miles Downtown, where it drops me a few blocks from work.

So how and why did you become an engineer?

I became an engineer because like most engineers, my strong point was math. My dad was an engineer for the County, which influenced me not only to pursue a career as an engineer, but to pursue a career in government. I graduated with a Bachelors from CSUN with an option in Civil. I didn’t focus on transportation in school because they didn’t offer many courses in it. In Civil Engineering, I concentrated on structural engineering, which landed me an internship at a private firm that focused on land development. At the same time, I did an on-campus interview with LADOT.

How long have you worked at LADOT and in which divisions?

I started with LADOT in 2001, so I’ve been here 14 years. I was in Geometric Design for the first 9 years and then spent a year in West Valley District Operations, before I came to Bikeways about 4 years ago.

What do your day-to-day duties consist of?

My day to day varies a lot. I work on bike path design, manage bike path projects… Since there are not many designers in our section, I take it upon myself to design- lanes, paths, and more recently bicycle corrals. I’ve designed almost all of the corral locations in the city. I coordinate with different sections and groups, perform feasibility studies for bike lanes… The list goes on- I work with Metro on different phases of federally funded projects, do field checks, site visits. And that is just a start,there’s a lot more to add!

You’ve been in bikeways a while now, what do you see as the most significant shift in how we design bikeways since you’ve been here?

There’s been a big shift since I’ve been working in the section just in four years… Before, when we were designing bike lanes, we had design standards which were strictly adhered to. Now, we have many more bicycle facility design resources like the NACTO Bikeways Design Guide, which has allowed us to experiment more. We now think outside the box and experiment with our pilot projects. In the past our upper management was old school. Today we are more flexible and open minded about exploring all the possibilities. Continue Reading »

Great news #BikeLA! We are one step closer to the historic launch of Los Angeles bikeshare changing the way we get around DTLA. We’re about to flash right into the future and our Downtown transportation options are about to become practical, cost effective, and neighborhood livening with the implementation of a regional bikeshare system!

Yesterday, the Metro Planning & Programming Committee unanimously approved for full Board consideration the adoption of the Regional Bikeshare Implementation Plan and the award of a 2-year operations contract to Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS). Soon the item will be in front of the full Metro Board of Directors for a vote. Next Thursday, June 25 at 9am the Board will consider the contract with BTS and their partner Bcycle, to operate a regional bikeshare program for LA County. If the Board votes to pass the item, the project will move forward, with the countywide bikeshare program on track to launch next spring in downtown Los Angeles!

The DTLA pilot will provide 65 bikeshare stations and more than 1,000 bikes.  If the Pilot proves successful, Metro’s larger regional program will expand to include 4,000 bikes around nine cities and communities including Pasadena, West Hollywood, Venice and others.

Proposed bikeshare expansion map

Bikeshare is an ideal fit for LA, with our sunny and 75 degree winters and relatively flat terrain. Bikeshare will help revolutionize how people get around our neighborhoods, since it allows users to take a bike at one station and return it to any other within the system. In other words, bikeshare is really good for connecting people to places especially for trips that are easier on a bike than by car — one-way or round-trip. Bikeshare is a great way to travel to and from transit, closing the first/last mile gaps. It also brings people to business districts and provides opportunities for effortless exercise!

BTS launched Indego, Philadelphia’s bikeshare system of 500 bicycles in April (photo: Philly Fun Guide)

The BTS/Bcycle team chosen to operate the LA County system successfully launched in Philadelphia this April with 500 bikes. The company was selected after a rigorous procurement process in which staff evaluated several bikeshare companies. Among the reasons they were selected:

•BTS and its partner, Bcycle, have delivered bikeshare systems on-time in other cities and they have a good track record with those cities and with customer satisfaction.

•The BTS/Bcycle staff have expertise implementing large bikeshare programs in other cities, including Philladelphia, New York and Washington D.C. BTS operates bikeshare systems in Philly and Oklahoma City. Bcycle, in separate partnerships, has bikeshare systems in Denver, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and many others.

•Metro believes the BTS/Bcycle team has the greatest ability to deliver more than 1,000 bikes and 65 kiosks for Metro’s pilot program in Downtown L.A.

•The BTS/Bcycle team has also been working on allowing payment for bikes with transit fare cards in Philadelphia and Santiago, Chile. Metro wants its riders to be able to use TAP cards to pay for bikeshare memberships or rentals, with the vision that bikeshare is just an extension of the transit system.

This announcement has prompted questions about inter-operability of the different bikeshare systems in the County. Prior to the Metro Board deciding in 2014 to pursue a regional bikeshare program, two other cities — Long Beach and Santa Monica — had already secured funding and began planning their own bikeshare programs. The start dates of bikeshare in those cities is still to be determined but the bottom line is that the cities have different vendors, raising the question of whether their bikeshare systems will be compatible with the regional system.

Metro and the regional bikeshare program cities will continue working with Long Beach and Santa Monica to ensure “interoperability” and a good customer experience for those who want to use the different bikeshare systems. That means Metro will be discussing common fare structures (including use of TAP as a membership card) as well as inclusive bikeshare memberships, consistency in marketing and possibly co-locating bikeshare facilities for those traveling between Metro’s bikeshare kiosks and Long Beach and/or Santa Monica.

On Thursday, June 25th, the full Metro Board will consider the bikeshare contract with the BTS/Bcycle team at 9am in Union Station’s Metro Board Room. The meeting is open to the public and speaker cards will be available for those who wish to comment.

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