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It’s a wrap! Bike Week 2015 is officially over… animated bicycling creatures, a spinning wheel of trivia, 25 foot fish skeletons, shamans, BIKE SOCKS and so much more! Thanks Metro and all the LA County partners who worked so hard to put this all together! It was truly unforgettable because Bike Weeks come and go, but the memories stay with us forever. In case your memory’s not as great as ours, or you weren’t able to attend all the events, here’s a quick recap…

This year’s program for Bike Week was jam-packed with fun. Over at the LADOT Bike Program, we made sure not to miss any of the wonderful opportunities to get up and out with Metro and our bicycle partners, propagating bike love across LA throughout the week.

Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager, speaking at Grand Park's Bike Week 2015 Press Conference on Monday.  Image: LADOT Bike Program.

Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager, knocks our socks off at Grand Park’s Bike Week 2015 Press Conference on Monday, May 11. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

MONDAY

LADOT General Manager, Seleta Reynolds, kicked off Bike Week 2015 with a group ride into work. She led a group ride of LADOT employees from Echo Park to LADOT headquarters in Downtown. Next stop: the Bike Week kick off press conference at Grand Park!  The press conference was star-studded with #bikeLA VIPs including Councilmember Paul Krekorian,  Councilmember Jose HuizarMetro’s day 1 on the job new CEO Phil Washington, Metro boardmember and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Caltrans’ District 7 Director Carrie Bowen, LACBC’s Executive Director Tamika ButlerCICLE’s Executive Director Vanessa Gray, Good Samaritan Hospital’s Andy Leeka, and CicLAvia’s Aaron Paley. Also, lots and lots of cameras and media from local news channels.

Later that day, Metro hosted the “Is Bicycling In Your Future?” panel moderated by Frances Anderton, host of KCRW Design and Architecture and daily bicycle commuter.  The panel featured Laura Cornejo, Deputy Executive Officer at Metro; Maria Sipin, Advisory Board Member of Multicultural Communities for Mobility; Tamika Butler, Executive Director of Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition; and Sergeant Mike Flynn, LAPD Central Traffic Division Bicycle Liaison. Panelists explored whether bicycle ridership will increase as viewed through the lens of engineering, enforcement, and encouragement. We did some math on this and… short answer: YES, bicycling is in YOUR future!

Monday night panel held at Caltrans Building. Image: Rubina Ghazarian

Monday night panel at Caltrans Building

TUESDAY

Tuesday opened with the 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles! As usual the Blessing was at the Downtown adjacent Good Samaritan Hospital, accompanied by a delicious breakfast. During the morning, fallen bicyclists and advocates were recognized. Then religious figures literally bless bicyclists as they ride by, ensuring them a safe passage throughout the year.

The 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles hosted by the Good Samaritan Hospital saw a large number of participants and a new recipient of the Golden Spoke Award. Image: Joe Linton/Streetblog LA.

The 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles hosted by the Good Samaritan Hospital saw a large number of participants and a new recipient of the Golden Spoke Award. Image: Joe Linton/Streetblog LA.

WEDNESDAY

Wednesday’s Bike-In Movies defied inclement weather (by LA standards) by attracting a park full of people on two wheels and their fascinating chair-and-blanket contraptions. Danny Gamboa of Ghost Bikes and Metro’s Jack Moreau MC-ed the night. The shorts ranged from animated critters dealing with aggressive cartoon cars to the very solemn stories of families who have lost loved ones and found peace through the Ghost Bikes movement.

Bike-In Movie Night at Marsh Park had a full house, with over 100 people showing up on bikes. Image: East Side Riders BC.

Bike-In Movie Night at Marsh Park had a full house, with over 100 people showing up on bikes. Image: East Side Riders BC.

THURSDAY

Thursday was Bike to Work Day! This event featured hundreds of pit stops across LA County. Our very own LADOT Bike Program’s pit stop hung out with the Caltrans pit stop in front of our headquarters at Main and 1st Street. Commuters came for the freebies and stayed for fun! We offered snacks, information, and other cool bike swag. We had many special pit stop visits including Tamika Butler and Eric Bruins from LACBCFirst 5 LA, former LADOT Bike Program superstar Jon Overman, and a news crew from Biola University.

From left: Elizabeth Gallardo - LADOT Bike Program's Assistant Coordinator and Tamika Butler - LACBC's Executive Director. Image: Karina Macias.

Assistant Bicycle Coordinator Elizabeth Gallardo chillin with LACBC Executive Director Tamika Butler

Later that night, creatives from across the region shared their bicycle-themed artwork with LA Metro for the Color Wheels Art Show. The reception was held at the Caltrans Building, coinciding with DTLA Art Walk. Food, music, and prizes, as well as the really cool bicycle art, helped fill the room. If you haven’t yet visited the exhibition, don’t worry, the show will be open all month! One of our favorite pieces was the fish skeleton stuffed with trash found in the LA River (Bicycle Coordinator Rubina Ghazarian not included in the art piece). The piece shows not only that our bike lanes are large enough to accommodate a giant fish towed via bike trailer from Burbank, but that we need to take better care of our streets, rivers, and oceans!

Color Wheel

Bicycle Coordinator Rubina Ghazarian salutes Bike Week from the Color Wheels ghost fish

FRIDAY

Bike Night at Union Station was the BEST! The event was hosted in the Old Ticket Room in Los Angeles’s most historic train station. We don’t want to gloat, but our LADOT Spin-the-Bike-Wheel was pretty cool! The trivia contest was all the rage, with people lining up again and again for an opportunity to prove their #bikeLA cred and win special prizes.

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We were extra proud to see how many young people were winning at the Wheel, exhibiting some serious street knowledge… You go, #bikeLA! Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Most exciting for us though was our opportunity to debut our brand new Bikeways Guides, hot off the presses from the print shop!  We distributed hundreds of our new maps, updating people with the first new guide since 2011!  Bike Night was also full of music, food trucks, a photobooth and sweet prizes for everyone courtesy of Metro and sponsors. Free bike valet and tune-ups services were offered by Fleet Streets. Once again, Bike Night has proven to be the champion of all Bike Week wrap-ups.

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Karina and Ben holding down the fort and thrilling crowds with Spin-the-Bike-Wheel! Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Talking the talk and walking the walk, we want to share what some Angelenos did during the week. A bike ride held by UCLA Urban Planning students and alumni (and former familiar faces from the Bike Program) visited NoHo Arts Districts, Chandler Bike Path, Griffith Park, LA River Bike Path, North Atwater Park, and Golden Road Brewing on Saturday, May 16. Across the City and beyond, many other rides took place during the week. Please share with us what you did during Bike Week in the comment section!

This group of UCLA students and alumni got together and rode from NoHo to Golden Road Brewing on Sat, May 16. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

This group of UCLA students and alumni got together and rode from NoHo to Golden Road Brewing. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Bike Week hooks you up with the events and people to begin or continue your bike journey! And probably most importantly, it provides you the tools to navigate the streets of Los Angeles by bicycle safely.  Sadly, Bike Week 2015 has ended, but the fun continues because May is Bike Month!

Ride safely and we hope to see you on the road whether it’s Bike Week or not because at LADOT every week is Bike Week!

Good news from our readers! We’ve heard back that you like visiting the wonderful world of transportation engineering! We thought you might! The Engineer’s Corner is a segment where we interview LADOT’s talented pool of engineers to learn more about them and their work. Our transportation engineers make the city work – they design the infrastructure and systems we use every day to get from point A to point B, from signage and striping, to signal timing and so much more.  In the second largest city in the country, with over 6,500 miles of City planned and maintained streets, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is home to some of the most thoughtful engineers around.

Next up in the hot seat we have resident engineer extraordinaire Abbass Vajar! Abbass is the longest reigning engineer in the Bikeways group. His years of experience were gained in the many different groups within LADOT, most notably the bikeways engineering group. Abbass is known around here not only for his detailed design skills but also for his sense of humor and sharp wit. As you will learn, he has a long history with our Department and traffic engineering in the City of Los Angeles.

Abbass Vajar sits in the Engineer’s Corner!

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

Abbass Vajar: My name is Abbass Vajar and I am an engineer by trade, licensed as a Civil Engineer (P.E.) and Traffic Engineer (T.E.) in the State of California. I grew up in Rasht, Iran, right on the beautiful Caspian Sea, and Los Angeles has been my hometown since 1979.

What is it like getting to work, can you describe your commute?

My commute consists of riding the Metrolink train into Union Station. I then complete my trip by walking about 1 mile (15 minutes) to the office. On special occasions like bike to work day, I take my bike and the train, for a multimodal trip.

You mentioned that you grew up in Iran. Can you tell us how the transportation network is different back home?

In Iran culture dictates driving habits, not necessarily the engineering and design. Drivers are generally aware of their surroundings and there are rarely collisions regardless of the lack of roadway infrastructure. In urban areas, speeds are lower.  Due to the old fabric and layout of the cities and the increased utilization of cars, the transportation infrastructure is unprepared for the demand.  As a result, traffic congestion and parking are increasingly more problematic.

So how did you initially become interested in engineering?

In high school, I was a math major. Based on my skillset, I was encouraged to become an engineer and entered into that program.

How long exactly have you been working at LADOT?

I started at LADOT in September, 1986. I have worked in many different groups within LADOT since joining the department. I spent some time in the Western District, then Geometric Design, Signal Design, Signal Timing, Interagency Coordination, Project Development, and finally Bikeways. Although my time in Bikeways has been interesting to say the least, my fondest memories are from the time when I worked in the Geometric Design and Signal Timing groups.

What were you doing before you joined LADOT?

Before joining LADOT, I worked at Caltrans for about 3 years. The training I received there with the mandatory rotations between the different disciplines prepared me for my various positions within LADOT.

How has transportation changed in Los Angeles since you first moved here in 1979?

Los Angeles was a traffic nightmare in the first few years when I lived here. We had a reputation as the smog capital for a reason. The development of ATSAC drastically altered the Department’s ability to move cars and reduce congestion. The system revolutionized Los Angeles. Today we are not stuck in the same place that we were back in the 80s and 90s, when we were famous for our traffic.

And aside from transportation, how has Downtown LA changed since the 80s?

We have seen a huge resurgence of Downtown Los Angeles. People are on the streets at night. They are dressed up and spending money here at restaurants and nightclubs. They even live here. This was not the case before when Downtown was avoided after dark and people only traveled here for work. Downtown still has some gems that are not seeing their full potential. Broadway, for example, can transform into a place with restaurants and sidewalk seating overlooking the historical theaters and buildings.

Have you had a favorite part of working in bikeways so far?

Where to begin? There are too many projects to name! But Manchester and Imperial are perhaps the two projects I am most proud of, as I worked on them from A-Z.  They were great projects because there was no impact on traffic or parking, there was median beautification and landscaping, bike lanes were added without removal of travel lanes… We worked with the community and obtained buy-in for the project, all in all it was a successful complete street, a win-win for everyone, with money well spent.

Can you describe the future of active transportation engineering?

While traffic is still a consideration, we have seen a shift toward creating shared streets or complete streets. We are now planning for modes in addition to cars. But there has not been a holistic approach. Instead, we have implemented in waves and often in a disjointed manner. We have bike lanes that do not connect and road diet projects that divert traffic onto other streets. There is a general recognition that people on bikes should not have to ride next to thousands of pounds of metal. Cycletracks are emerging as one solution. But Angelenos have not fully bought into the concept. There is still large opposition to the removal of auto travel lanes and car parking. In the coming years communities and politicians will need to decide whether they would like to install new active transportation facilities. Additionally, we need to plan for maintaining the new facilities. Bike lanes, paths, cycletracks, signage, and parking, will all need public dollars allocated for their continued upkeep. In short, there is a lot of work to do!

Can you describe the role of engineering in transportation?

Engineering is the art of designing mindfully and bringing objective viewpoints to the table. As engineers, we are passionate about our work and what we think is right. Our number one objective is to keep people safe and for this reason we defend our standpoints.

Abbass safely reviews plans for a new bicycle corral on Bike to Work Day, since safety is always the number one priority at LADOT

Before we close, we want you to know how you enjoy working with the planners in the department, be honest!

Planners and engineers are visionaries. Your role is to think 10, 20 years ahead. My role as an engineer, is to think about the everyday user. I need to point out the flaws, and bring objective opinions to the design table. Although the LADOT Bike Program’s engineers and planners have had differences of viewpoints in the past, we work through our differences because we have the same goal – to create safer streets. With our combined skillsets we collaborate to produce all that we produce in the City. In short, we make a great team.

Thanks for your time, Abbass, is there anything else you would like to add?

Bikeways… It is a challenging division to work in. Unlike other divisions, we do everything here from A-Z, from conceptual design, project development, securing funding, project management, to maintenance… Everything from inception to implementation and beyond. We are the only section in the department where everything is done in-house. Especially in the past, when bikeways were still new, we had our own drafters, designers, and geometric designer who worked only on bikeways. Today we are more integrated into the department as a whole. It is really quite amazing to see how far we have come and to be part of this group.

Bike Week is over, but we’re still celebrating! After over a year of design and development, we have completely redesigned our Bikeways map for a new and vastly improved 2015 edition! Last week we picked up our maps from the print shop and will begin distribution to libraries, bike shops, co-ops, and Council District Offices.

A Brief History of the Los Angeles Bikeway Guide
Legend has it that before the LADOT Bike Program was established, over 25 years ago, LADOT engineers would mail hand-drawn maps of the City’s then sparse bikeway network to people that requested bikeway maps.

When Senior Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery arrived at LADOT in 1994, she quickly realized the dearth of bicycle resources for the public. Bike maps were a constant request and Mowery advocated for the LADOT Bike Program to produce a guide to the City’s bikeway network with maps, tips, and community resources.

From oldest to newest: 15 years of our Los Angeles bikeways maps

Since 2000, the City of Los Angeles has provided sophisticated public bikeway maps by producing and distributing the Los Angeles Bikeway Guide, an educational resource that encourages people of all ages to ride bicycles safely and with confidence in Los Angeles. The City prints three versions of the Bikeway Guide–Central City/Westside, Valley, and Harbor–to make sure maps are available, in print, at a legible scale for the entire city’s bikeway network.

The NEW and Improved 2015 Bikeway Guide
2011 marks the last significant design or informational revision to the Los Angeles Bikeways Guide. If you have attended any of our outreach events in recent years, you probably have this outdated copy in your pannier or stuffed inside your kitchen drawer.  Perhaps it rests as a historic relic on your wall.

Behold! After an entire year of design, collaboration, and a brief stint of working with our LADOT People St Program, our in-house graphic designer and urban planner, Karina Macias, has completed a brand new Los Angeles Bikeway Guide! The Guide includes useful information on bicycle safety, riding etiquette, bicycle-related laws, local organizations and resources, and of course an up-to-date map of the City’s current bikeway network to help you plan your trips.

Delivering final print proofs to City Publishing Printing Press Supervisor Ron Gallegos

With the help of City of Los Angeles Publishing Printing Press Supervisor Ron Gallegos, this third edition of the Bikeway Guide is brighter and more colorful than ever before. Along with a new look and feel, this 2015 update includes new content informed by our entire team’s experience and background, including pointers on bicycle maintenance, tips for bicycle commuting, and updated local information.

We hope you are as happy with this new edition as we are! Collect all three Bikeway Guides and combine them to create one giant citywide map!

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UPDATE: Oops! Our bad. Looks like our new protected bike lane on Reseda Blvd. is mistakenly shown on Winnetka Ave. in the printed map for the Valley region. What a great time to introduce #UpdateYourMapLA! Edit your map to show a correction or a new facility with a thick marker. Draw over the map in the color coded system shown on the map’s legend. LADOT will periodically post #UpdateYourMapLA alerts. If you miss the alerts or want to take matters (markers?) into your own hands, as always, for the most recent version of our map, check our website. Thanks for all the support #BikeLA.

 

As an active transportation planner, I often think about the future: my impact on it, how I’d like to see things change, what the world will look like for the next generation, and (of course) why active transportation will help us in the future… I recently got to make a different type of impact on the future, given the opportunity to visit an elementary school and speak to young people about what I do for work!

Surveying Griffin Elementary kindergarten students on how they get to school

Once upon a time, long ago in Boyle Heights, I was an impressionable 2nd Street Elementary School student. When Career Day came around, we were introduced to a parade of civil servants including police officers, firemen, and sanitation truck drivers.  While no transportation planner ever visited my classroom to inspire me to pursue my chosen profession, I was inspired to pursue a profession where I could be of service to my city. These Career Day visitors taught me two important things: that it is important to do something I love and that I need to be prepared with the right skills for the job.

As a graduate student in Urban and Regional planning and a Student Professional Worker at the LADOT Bike Program, I have the privilege of doing something I love: encouraging Angelenos to use active transportation modes like biking and walking and making streets safer and more enjoyable for all Angelenos.

Last month I had the pleasure of reliving Career Day, this time in the role of The Professional!

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Spring (or is this one long perpetual summer?) is back and adventure options for those on two wheels are endless! After travelling to a few other places, we wanted to get back on our local tourism tip!

This bicycle tour features destinations in between the Red Line North Hollywood Station (in NoHo) and the Griffith Park Sunday Drum Circle. Yes, a drum circle! This 8.5 mile-long bike ride travels along different bike facilities (bike paths, lanes, and routes) and features a variety of LA neighborhood attractions from shops & entertainment in NoHo to nature & culture in Griffith Park.

Come along for the ride! To prepare, you need: a bike, a bike lock, some kind of map or smart phone, water, snacks, and don’t forget your sun protection, because it can get HOT!

Pleasant 8.5 mile-long features NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Griffith Park

Pleasant 8.5 mile-long bike ride features the NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Griffith Park. Photo: Google Map

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People walking, bicycling, and driving all share the road in downtown Seattle

This year’s annual conference for the American Planning Association (APA), Sustainable Seattle, was hosted in a city rich with sustainable practices and, appropriately for our interests, complete streets infrastructure.  The APA covers all faces of planning, but complete streets are increasingly a focus of urban (and suburban) planners everywhere. Complete streets that make up walkable, bikeable, and ultimately livable communities, have become the national best practice because they make for sustainable communities, a core tenet and charge of the urban planning profession. The integration of complete streets with retail, mixed-use development, the densification of cities, and sustainable practices were highlighted throughout the conference.

Though LADOT performs much implementation, we are also tasked with planning and project development, which is the area we inhabit in Bicycle Outreach and Planning. Attending the APA conference gives us a broad context for what we do, which can be really helpful in a time where cities are growing at some of the fastest rates ever.  Here are some of our take aways from the conference, followed with a few snapshots of Seattle’s pedestrian-first culture.

Bicycle, bus, and car networks seamlessly weave through the retail-lined Aloha Street

Network connectivity is the nexus of people, land, and local economic vitality

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It’s our favorite time of the year! Bike Week LA is back once again!

The annual week-long bici-centric event, sponsored by Metro, will fill May 10-15 with more bicycle-oriented activities than ever before! More?  Yes MORE! Bike Week focuses on encouraging people to ride their bicycles, raising awareness about people on bikes but also about all active transportation users in Los Angeles. Some of the week’s highlights include bike repair workshops, the infamous Bike to Work Day pit stops, and evening festivities to make sure you’re hooked up with people who share your interests! If you’ve never participated in Bike Week, do not fear, Bike Week is for YOU! It’s full of resources and activities for everyone, from the new to the experienced rider, from the bicycle-curious to the bikeaholic.

Come see Color Wheels at Caltrans District 7 on Thursday 5/14!

Bike Week LA 2015 Lineup:

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