New bicycle lanes have been installed on Virgil Avenue in East Hollywood. The bicycle lanes stretch from Santa Monica Blvd. to Melrose Ave. and were installed in conjunction with new pavement and crosswalk striping at intersections. Over this past weekend, Council Member Mitch O’ Farrell hosted a small ceremony in Virgil Village to celebrate the neighborhood’s latest bicycle lane project. Before leading a group of residents to test ride the new lanes, the council member gave a small speech acknowledging the economic and safety benefits of the new lanes, as quoted by L.A. Streetsblog yesterday: “…we implemented a solution that makes for a better pedestrian environment and that encourages small business growth along this blossoming commercial corridor”. For more photos of the event, check out our Flickr page.
This key project was prioritized by the 2010 Los Angles Bicycle Plan’s implementation strategy and process for its connection to existing bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Blvd., which in turn connect to the very popular Sunset Blvd. bicycle lanes, and for the wide support the project had garnered. Improvements on Virgil Avenue had generated a lot of interest and support from local community members. In attendance at a number of community events, local stakeholders repeatedly expressed a desire for bicycle lanes and other traffic-calming measures. Surveys conducted as part of the Virgil Village Traffic Calming Plan, showed that prior to bicycle lanes being installed, most residents did not feel safe bicycling on the street and would feel more comfortable bicycling if lanes were installed. While more funding will be needed to implement the many other treatments identified in the Virgil Village Traffic Calming Plan, the new reconfiguration makes pursuing those additional treatments much easier to pursue.
The new bicycle lanes are a big step towards building a safer Virgil Avenue that residents can enjoy by bicycle or on foot. For this project, Virgil Avenue underwent a standard road diet, in which four travel lanes are converted to two travel lanes with a continuous left turn lane between them. This reconfiguration allows drivers to make much safer left turns. For this and many other benefits, the Federal Highway Administration acknowledges road diets as a proven way of improving traffic safety, a top priority for all of our L.A. neighborhoods. In addition, peak hour parking restrictions were also removed along this portion of Virgil Avenue, which will make it much easier for commuters to stop at local businesses during morning and evening rush hours. As part of the second package of prioritized projects, LADOT will analyze the potential of extending this new .5 mile lane 1.5 miles to the south to Wilshire Blvd., and 0.9 miles to the north to Hollywood Blvd.