You may have heard or participated in the range of events Metro conducted as part of the Metro Union Station/1st and Central Linkages Study (Linkages Study), a campaign to understand how Angelenos use L.A.’s biggest transit hub, L.A. Union Station. Recently, the LADOT Bike Blog had the pleasure of speaking with Lillian Burkenheim, the Director of Strategic Initiatives, to discuss the Metro Linkages Study and plans for the future of biking, walking and accessing transit around Union Station.
Bike Blog: How does Metro plan to incorporate bicycle access and bicycle facilities (lockers, showers, etc.) into Union Station?
One of the first proposed projects of the Union Station Master Plan (USMP) will be a redesign of Union Station’s western entrance. This redesign will most likely involve reconfiguring the main entrance walkway to be a more direct path from the Station to El Pueblo. From El Pueblo, the path will extend to Fort Moore (slighty north of Hill St.) before culminating at the entrance of Grand Park on Spring Street. Currently, this project is tentative and still pending approval from the Metro Board of Directors but could be constructed in the next 5 years.
Metro is currently working on developing a Mobility Hub where users could access resources such as car-share services, bike-share, and other amenities that help bridge the first-mile, last-mile gap in transit trips. Plans for the Mobility Hub are currently in development and the Union Station Master Plan will identify a location for such a hub.
Recently, bicycle lanes have been installed along streets that lead to Union Station. (Note: LADOT installed bicycle lanes on Main Street and Los Angeles Street in June of 2012.)
In the longer term master plan vision, there are concepts for both bicycle and pedestrian paths that will allow bicyclists to travel through the Station. The proposed expanded concourse will allow easier access to walk a bike through the station at ground level. The master plan is also proposing paths that take cyclists and pedestrians over the top of the rail yard, starting with a series of plazas and terraces and connecting to a bridge over the yard. The Master Plan proposes bike facilities of various sizes at all corners of the station, with services that would include bike share, bike storage (short and long term), and retail needs. A larger bike hub is proposed for the east side of the site, once Patsaouras Bus Plaza is relocated.
BIKE BLOG: So, how soon can we expect to start seeing changes around Union Station?
The reconfiguration of the entrance to Union Station is likely to be the first proposed master plan project. In addition, Metro will be working with LADOT to make bicycle and pedestrian improvements on the streets around the 1st and the Central Regional connector. Metro has also partnered with the City of Los Angeles on two Active Transportation Grants to the State that would implement improvements identified by the Linkages Study.
BIKE BLOG: How does the Linkages Study inform the Union Station Master Plan?
As Metro began working on the Union Station Master Plan,we recognized the need to focus on how people from surrounding communities access the station. The construction of the Metro Regional Connector seemed like a prime opportunity to study the accessibility of both transit hubs. The Linkages Study focuses on accessibility around Union Station and the Metro Regional Connector, with the goal of improving bicycle and pedestrian linkages to both destinations.
The Linkages Study began with a Community Festival at El Pueblo, which included a community bicycle tour on streets in the surrounding area. The experience was eye-opening for everyone. During the design team’s early analysis of the study area, we rode our bikes through Chinatown, Cornfield-Arroyo Seco, Civic Center District, Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, Arts District, El Pueblo and tried to find access points to the L.A. River. During our initial neighborhood conversations stage we discussed different travel scenarios to Union Station with the community including how to get bicyclists over the 1st Street Bridge and other ways bicyclists and pedestrians are currently crossing the L.A. River. The Linkages Study focused on navigation. For example, we found that users have difficulty finding places such as El Pueblo due to line of sight issues when they leave Union Station. These are the type of access and mobility issues that we’ve worked to identify through the Linkages Study and will address with the Union Station Master Plan.
Union Station is experiencing a growth in users that is expected to rise significantly over the next 20 years. Currently, Union Station serves about 66,000 people a day. With the addition of the Regional Connector and the High Speed Rail Station, the number of visitors is expected to grow over the course of the next 20 years to about 100,000 visitors a day. The Linkages Study is about improving bicycle and pedestrian access to the station, both for current and future users.
BIKE BLOG: How can LADOT Bike Blog readers help Metro with the Union Station Master Plan?
If you have questions, comments or suggestions, you can contact USMP staff by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can download current information and information from past meetings, including watching videos of prior meetings, at the project website, as well as sign up for our eblasts and updates. You can find out more about the L.A. Union Station Master Plan at http://www.metro.net/projects/LA-union-station/. Information on the Linkages Study can be found here: www.metro.net/linkages.
Last but not least, by voicing their support to elected officials, the bicycle community provides tremendous support and creates the momentum for creating bicycle lanes and paths around Union Station and its surrounding communities.