This past October 2nd, the Los Angeles Departments of City Planning (LADCP) and Transportation (LADOT) held their quarterly Bicycle Plan Implementation Team (BPIT) meeting. Over 20 people were in attendance, ranging from city employees from various departments, representatives from city council offices and several bicycling organizations, to many bicyclists and residents intrigued to see where bike infrastructure in Los Angeles is heading.
(Check out the meeting’s agenda to better follow along with these notes.)
Michelle Mowery, the Senior Bicycle Coordinator for the LADOT Bike Program, kicked off the meeting with some legislative news. Three important bicycling bills came before Governor Brown for signature recently. On his last day to sign such acts into law, Governor Brown approved California Assembly Bill (AB) 2245. This bill allows city, county and other local agencies to focus bike lane project efforts on outreach and design by exempting such projects from filing Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) (while bikeways were already categorically exempt generally, the new law specifically clears bike lanes, universally). The bill still requires municipalities to conduct public hearings to disclose traffic and safety impacts, so local decision makers will still be well informed as they decide to move forward or not on these types of projects.
Governor Brown also passed AB 819, which allows California municipalities to proceed with experimental bikeway design under certain parameters. This will allow a number of California cities to move forward with newer bikeway design ideas and designs, with clear safeguards and liability protection in place, as well as clear procedures for discontinuing specific treatments should they not work out. While an experimental process for trying out new signs and markings, via the CA MUTCD and the CTCDC, has long been in place, a process for experimental designs (with different physical treatments or placement in the right of way) had not been in place. This should pave the way for California cities to try out cycle tracks and other designs.
Lastly, the Governor vetoed CA Senate Bill (SB) 1464, which would have required all motorized vehicles to provide at least a three-foot passing distance when passing bicyclists. Expect a more detailed post on this decision and what the options are for another attempt in the near future.
Following these legislative updates, staff went through some project updates. Through Metro’s Call for Projects (2007), LADOT received funding to produce wayfinding signage along various bikeways all over the city. The Bike Program team is currently in the process of seeing how far these funds will stretch to introduce as many signed corridors in Los Angeles as possible.
Tim Fremaux, a LADOT Bike Program Engineer, gave an update on current bike path projects in the works. The updates included:
- the Expo II project is in the final stages of design for the light rail, staff are looking into how it will co-exist with the bikeway design
- the 2.75 mile San Fernando Road Project will connect to Sun Valley and will include a bridge over Pacoima Wash
- MyFig (LA’s first cycle track!) design is progressing; staff are working out signalization details along the route from 7th St to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
- the 4th St. Bicycle Friendly Street project continues; construction will begin soon on two roundabouts
Lastly, Mowery invited everyone to check out Yucca St., L.A.’s first Bicycle Friendly Street (BFS). We’re hopeful that the more people visit the street, the more Angelenos will request similar projects to be installed in other parts of the city. If you get a chance to try the street out, leave us a comment about your experience.
Priority 1 Bike Lane Projects Update
Tim Fremaux gave a quick overview of how the recent changes in legislation will allow increased public response and input regarding bikeway projects, thus improving and expediting bikeway connectivity throughout the city. Staff are still assessing how the new legislation will directly impact the process for these projects and we’ll provide an update as soon as we can.
David Somers, City Planning’s Bicycle Planner, summarized the public responses received on the Notice of Preparation (NOP) that kicked off the EIR process that was started prior to the new legislation taking place, for the priority 1 bike lane projects. He highlighted general themes, such as the general preference to not remove existing on-street parking, and indicated a desire by many to have the process also explain the many benefits these projects provide (as opposed to just the impacts).
Regardless of the process moving forward, DCP and LADOT will be holding public hearings (likely four) in the areas set to receive these new bike lanes, and will present the findings of traffic analysis as well as other relevant information, including safety benefits. Participants asked about the timing of the public hearing process, and expressed the importance of a minimum 60-day notification to neighborhood councils and other interested organizations. Participants stated that adequate notification will help ensure that neighborhood councils will be able to properly agendize the proposals for bike lanes in their areas, take in feedback and adopt an official position in advance of the public hearings.
Roscoe Blvd. vs. Sherman Way
As promised, the meeting addressed the Roscoe Blvd. vs Sherman Way bikeway choice. At the time of the meeting, more than 75 people had participated in our comparison polls. Results of our survey suggest that:
- 40% of bicyclists would prefer a route more centrally located in the San Fernando Valley (SFV), while 60% would rather have a route closer to the rest of Los Angeles;
- Half of bicyclists would want a route going through business corridors and other destinations, while the other half preferred a less stop-and-go mentality along a quicker thoroughfare;
- A vast majority of bicyclists preferred adding a buffered bike lane (95%) to adding additional full-time parking (5%), and;
- More cyclists liked the idea of a bikeway project on Sherman Way (65%) rather than Roscoe Blvd (30%), but others (5%) preferred alternative routes.
Participants expressed a few points of concern regarding these projects, including: questions about capacity choke points close to I-405 and Hwy 170, how Roscoe Blvd would be designed in stretches where the street might be reduced to one land of traffic, and the possibility of providing diversions along Sherman Way onto nearby, less-used streets to avoid vehicular traffic.
Alek Bartrosouf, the new Policy and Campaign Manager for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) , took some time to discuss LACBC’s new Bike Ambassador program. The Bike Ambassadors are volunteers organized into groups around five geographies, with each group free to choose their own priorities and goals. The Bike Ambassadors will meet with neighborhood councils to advocate for the implementation of Bicycle Plan as part of their campaign activities.
Bicycle Friendly Streets Prioritization
Transitioning from the SFV bikeway debate, Mowery stated that the Bike Program would be making Bicycle Friendly Streets more and more of a focus. The next BFS projects will be implemented on the New Hampshire Ave. / Berendo Ave. corridor, as well as 11th Street, and 4th Street (to Wilton Ave.)
At this point, discussion turned to what BFS projects should be given more focus in the near future. Some suggested streets included:
- Ohio Ave, East of Sepulveda Blvd.
- Abbot Kinney Blvd.
- 48th St., 60th St., and 84th St., McKinley Ave., and Budlong Ave. in South L.A.
- Chase St., Strathern St., and Valerio St. in the Valley
- Major transit stops in the Westside and South L.A. (USC, UCLA, Mid-Wilshire)
- Venice Blvd and Washington Way on the West side
- a key connection from Eagle Rock Blvd. to Occidental College
If you have any questions/ideas/comments/concerns about any of the projects on the five-year plan or beyond, please feel free to contact us.
Grant Funding Update
LADOT Bicycle Coordinator Nate Baird discussed the current external funding opportunities the Department is working on. The Bike Program is waiting to hear back from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regarding HSIP fund requests totaling $2.5 million. If approved, these funds would be utilized for bike lanes throughout the city (essentially, the priority 2 bike lanes), freeing up more local funds for creating and improving BFS projects.
Baird then informed the room how the recently received Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds will be used along the New Hampshire Ave. corridor. A $900,000 grant will go towards various traffic-calming devices along New Hampshire Ave. (from Melrose Ave. to W. 11th St.) and W. 11th St. (from S. Hoover Ave. to S. Harvard Blvd). These devices will include bulb-outs, bike loop detectors, roundabouts, improved crosswalks, school bike parking, and pedestrian warning devices.
The Bike Program has also recently teamed up with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and TRUST South LA in an application for a Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Grant, sponsored by the LA County Department of Public Health. This initiative could provide up to $500,000 over a four-year period to improve Bicycle Friendly Streets (BFS) and public outreach throughout South Los Angeles.
Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference Recap
Three weeks ago, Long Beach hosted the international Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference. A brief discussion took place on what workshops and presentations were most intriguing, while also recognizing those at the meeting who themselves had presented.
Wrap Up, Assignments
As a reminder, look into the LACBC’s Neighborhood Bike Ambassador program to help garner local support for bike projects and campaigns in the five regions of Los Angeles (the Valley, the East/ North East, the West side, South LA, and Central LA).
The next BPIT meeting, which will be held sometime in January, will focus on further discussion of finalizing the second year portion of the bike plan.