The heavily-anticipated Bicycle Plan Implementation Team (BPIT) quarterly meeting was Tuesday before last, and was attended by over thirty participants eager to hear and voice their opinions on bicycle infrastructure projects throughout the city.
David Somers, the Department of City Planning’s Bicycle Planner, gave everyone an update on the scoping meetings that began this month to kick off the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for 43 miles of prioritized bike lanes. These meetings are intended to hear public concerns and recommendations regarding the EIR being prepared for these projects. A Draft EIR should be ready for public review by early Fall, which will eventually lead to a certified Final EIR and [hopefully] approval for the projects to begin. When asked what it would take for a bike lane to be removed from the final list of approved projects, Somers stated that the process is responsive to both elected leaders and community input. So remember to contact your local council member to voice your opinion on these projects.
Year One Projects
The next topic addressed by the meeting centered on a brainstorming session to discuss the many quantitative and qualitative benefits of these Year 1 bike lane projects packaged together for the EIR. These are important to discuss and think about because the EIR is narrowly focused on documenting negative traffic impacts of these bike lane projects, in this case, a range of slight to more severe motor vehicle travel time delays at peak hour, weekday travel times. Suggestions from the room included:
- Economic benefits from increased local business activity and boosted tax revenue;
- Environmental benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions, air and noise pollution, and decreasing new urban heat islands;
- Social benefits from increased public health and safety (“more eyes on the street”) and augmented community interaction;
- Increasing student mobility;
- Enhanced “regional connectors” by providing more methods of reaching other urban centers and corridors;
- Bike lanes place traffic noise further away from residences and businesses;
- Road dieting projects can influence driving behavior and act as a traffic calming device, improving safety for all road users;
- Mitigating traffic speeds during peak hours
- Enhanced energy conservation, regarding both reduced dependence on foreign oil and electric usage; and
- Weighing the opportunity costs of not implementing such projects
Draft EIR Package 2
The majority of the meeting focused on garnering input on a draft list of proposed projects to be considered for an additional EIR process. Both LADOT and LADCP stressed that as resources for projects this fiscal year have been stretched to the limit, in order to have a new project considered for this second package of around 40 miles of bike lanes, an existing proposed segment must be dropped (once again, another good reason to attend these meetings!). Some highlights of the conversation for each proposed projects are as follows:
- Vine St: The “best North-South option in the area”, some special attention should be paid to the intersection with Arden Pl., particularly for southbound bicyclists. A Cahuenga Blvd. connection should also be considered.
- Hollywood Blvd: A corridor with a high collision rate that would benefit greatly from some traffic calming. Efforts should be made to ensure it connects well to Sunset Blvd. Preliminary investigation shows that buffered bike lanes would require significant right-of-way loss. Standard bike lanes are more doable.
- Eagle Rock Blvd: Will require narrowing vehicle lanes to fit in 5 ft bike lanes in each direction.
- Vermont Ave: The “busiest North-South corridor in LA” should be considered a priority.
- Central Ave: A “great candidate for a road diet,” this byway would need to lose a vehicle lane; truck traffic might need to shift to Alameda St.
- Hoover St: An extremely constrained street, bicyclists have to be cautious of the door zone on this street. A proposal to provide High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the uphill portions could help mitigate potential door zone collisions for bicyclists.
- San Vicente Blvd: Options should explore careful consideration for both the Fairfax Ave and the Olympic Blvd intersections. This project should also extend up to the intersection with La Cienega Blvd.
- 6th St: Many report high speed traffic this destination rich corridor; this 1st/last mile facility could be a good candidate for a road diet with center left turn lanes.
- Motor Ave: Another 1st/last mile facility, investigation should explore changing proposed sharrows into a full bike lane, as well as the connectability with Metro stations along the Expo line.
- Palms Blvd: Investigation should explore sharrows, as well as extending the project down National Blvd.
- Westwood Blvd: Investigation will look into creating left turn pockets by taking out (at least) parts of the median.
- Anaheim St: Rudimentary bike lanes would suffice.
- Plummer St: Rudimentary bike lanes would suffice.
- Roscoe Blvd: The most debated of projects in discussion. Sherman Way might be a better alternative. Both options could potentially have buffered lanes. Expect a more detailed post on the debate between these two options in the near future.
Project Funding Updates
In the discussion of project funding, Nate Baird from LADOT stated that the Bike Program would be applying for grants from the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). As this program heavily favors projects with high benefit:cost ratios (which the bike lane projects to be submitted all have), we feel confident that these applications will be good contenders for funding. Success with these and similar grant applications would open doors to even more bike projects. These requested resources would greatly free up local funds for Bicycle Friendly Street (BFS) treatments. Recently received funds will soon be used on BFS treatments in Pacoima along New Hampshire Avenue, Herrick Street and Pierce Street.
LADOT was unable to obtain its requested $13 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. These funds would have been used to build 13 miles of path along the Los Angeles River and another 20 miles in downtown heading into Vernon.
Update from LAPD
Officer Jeff Kievit from LAPD provided an update on a transition underway with the LAPD bicycle task force. In order to better address more local issues, LAPD will soon have a bike/ped liaison for each of its traffic divisions in the city, as opposed to its current single contact. Each sergeant, once on board the program, will be able to specialize on what his/her respective community needs. LAPD has also been increasing its data collection methods for hit-and-runs involving bicyclists, as well conducting studies of primary factors (speed, bicyclists traveling the wrong way, etc.) to determine more concretely how bicyclist safety might be improved. Finally, as there has been a recent increase in stolen bicycles, both LAPD and BikingInLA’s Ted Rogers stress the importance of registering personal bikes, or at least writing down your bicycle’s serial number. Much like grand theft auto, a stolen bike needs to be reported, either via phone (311) or by visiting a station, in order to have a case. This process is made exceedingly more difficult if the bicycle has not been registered. Look forward to a posting coming soon on how to register your bike.
Thank you to all of those who attended the meeting, and we look forward to seeing you next quarter! BFS prioritization was determined to be a focus for the next BPIT meeting, which will be taking place in October (TBD); so start reviewing the Bicycle Plan for your favorite planned Bicycle Friendly Streets.