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Archive for the ‘Bicycle Friendly Business’ Category

This past week I took advantage of the nice weather and borrowed LADOT’s Active Transportation GoPro to film a bike ride from my home in South Pasadena to the Silver Lake Reservoir. I am a graduate student at USC and typically commute to school by transit and on bike. Initially, I wanted to use the GoPro to capture my experience on a new route to USC, but instead I decided to go for a relaxing ride without having to worry about getting to class on time. Doing so let me reflect on the perceived differences between biking in South Pasadena and Los Angeles. South Pasadena is very small, so it’s relatively easy to get anywhere on a bike within a few minutes. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is a lot larger and can seem inhospitable for bicycling. However, if you view each neighborhood as its own self-contained community, riding in the City of Angeles can feel like you are traversing a series of small towns rather than a monolithic sprawling landscape.

My leisurely-paced journey took me through a few LA neighborhoods and along the way I passed by some of my favorite restaurants and cafes. One of the many benefits of biking is being able to stop and walk right into places that seem interesting since parking a bicycle is a lot easier than parking a car. Just lift your bike onto the sidewalk, lock it up to a nearby bike rack, and go. No circling the block for a parking space!

I started my trip at Buster’s Coffee, located on the corner of Mission Street and Meridian Avenue near my apartment in South Pasadena. This neighborhood coffee shop is within walking distance from the South Pasadena Gold Line Station and is a convenient place to meet friends getting off the train. There is plenty of outdoor seating, which is great for people-watching, as well as charming indoor spaces for all your reading/studying needs. For those arriving by bicycle, a hand-painted bike parking sign shows you where you’re welcome to safely lock your bike up towards the rear of the table-strewn alcove next to the shop while you enjoy your meal.

After coffee I walked across the street to the great used book shop, Battery Books and Music, to pick up a new read. On a typical day after getting coffee and perusing books I might go to Mix ‘n Munch, which serves great grilled cheese sandwiches right next door to Battery Books.

Buster's Coffee

Dubbed “the coffee shop by the tracks,” Buster’s Cafe welcomes people arriving by any mode. (Image Source: Leisa Collins Art)

On this relaxed sunny afternoon, however, I went one block south on Meridian Avenue and made a right on El Centro Street, to get to Nicole’s, which offers tasty low-key French fare in a sidewalk cafe setting. The place doubles as a French market so I loaded up my bike’s saddlebags with sandwiches and cheeses, and proceeded to my next destination. After all, you can’t stop at a cheese shop on your way to a meadow and not pack a picnic!

Nicole's Gourmet Foods

Nothing better than a lazy afternoon at Nicole’s Gourmet Foods. (Image Source: Creative Expressions and More)

After leaving Nicole’s, I pedaled from South Pasadena into the City of Los Angeles by way of the York Boulevard Bridge, which brought me into the Highland Park neighborhood. There are a number of restaurants and shops along York Boulevard easily accessible by bike thanks to the bike lanes. If I did not already have lunch packed away in my panniers, I might have stopped at the Highland Cafe for some chilaquiles. Although I am a few miles from my home at this point in the journey, this translates into a mere 20-something minute bicycle ride, which is enough to get my muscles moving but not so far that it feels like a workout.

Highland Cafe

People on all sorts of bikes can’t stay away from the good eats at Highland Cafe. (Image Source: Happening in Highland Park)

As I continued west on York Boulevard, I eventually reached Eagle Rock Boulevard where I made a left and continue south. After a short ride down this wide boulevard I find myself in the neighborhood of Glassell Park. I passed by Habitat Coffee, a cafe that recently sprouted up in an otherwise unassuming stretch of Eagle Rock Boulevard. It’s not uncommon to see people enjoying pastries, good conversation, and taking advantage of Habitat’s outdoor dining to enjoy the sunshine.

Habitat Coffee

Habitat Coffee’s frontage is accented by our latest sidewalk bike rack design.
(Image Source: L.A.CAFE)

After winding my way through some side streets I reached Fletcher Drive. As with the other streets I used for my trip, Fletcher is its own main street with blossoming businesses. At this point, it was only a 10 minute bicycle ride to the Silver Lake Meadow where I enjoyed my picnic.

To most people, traversing the Los Angeles region by bicycle may seem intimidating. If you watch the video below of my ride, your can judge for yourself how easy it is to get to many local businesses using my bicycle- especially when there are bike lanes available! This trip would undoubtedly be faster by car, there’s no secret there, but when we spend our lives focusing on time saved, we tend to forget about time well spent, and this bike ride was an absolute delight.

This blog post was authored by Paul Cipriani, a Student Volunteer Intern in the LADOT Bicycle Program.

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This year, LADOT’s Sidewalk Bike Parking Program is turning 20! What better way to celebrate two decades of bike parking than by telling you the story of how this indispensable end-of-trip bike amenity in our City came to be.

Sidewalk Bike Parking 20th Birthday

Our beloved end-of-trip facility is leaving behind its teenage years!

Where It Started At

It all started in 1995, when our Senior Project Coordinator Michelle Mowery spearheaded our Department’s efforts to provide ample amounts of sidewalk bike parking in the City. Initially, the Sidewalk Bike Parking Program was introduced as a “pilot” and was made possible by funds from a Metro Call for Projects grant. During its pilot phase, the Program purchased and installed approximately 1,700 inverted-U bike racks citywide. This momentous investment marked the beginning of the Department’s growing endeavors to encourage and facilitate active transportation in the City. Two years later, in 1997, the L.A. region began experimenting with the first generation of bike racks on buses, as a way to provide greater multi-modal connectivity to people traveling throughout the region.

Since its origin, the Sidewalk Bike Parking Program has relied heavily on the work and dedication of graduate students, including Ben Ortiz, Jose Elias, Kathleen King, Austin Sos, Jose Tchopourian, and others, working part-time at the LADOT Bike Program. Over the years, these bike parking mavens have nurtured hundreds of requests for bike parking, from being a data entry stored in a server to being a bike rack on the sidewalk.

This Is How We Do It

Our Sidewalk Bike Parking Program installs inverted-U bike racks at the request of business owners or any other member of the public, which definitely includes you. Each rack is 36″ tall, 24″ wide and can hold up to two bikes. The rack is designed to provide great support for bicycles, allowing the person parking the bike to lock both wheels and the bike frame to the inverted-U bike rack without worrying about the bike falling over. The City of Los Angeles assumes responsibility for the rack but not for bikes parked on it.  Although there is no fee to request a bike rack and installation is free, all racks are City property.

Bike parking installed through the Program can only be placed in the public right-of-way (primarily sidewalks) within the City of Los Angeles. Racks are situated on sidewalks to avoid conflicts with people walking or rolling and people exiting or entering parked motor vehicles or buses. You will find that racks are usually parallel but sometimes perpendicular to the curb and not directly next to building entrances and crosswalks.

Our City’s sidewalk bike parking has been turning heads since 1995.

Won’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Two decades have passed since some of the first sidewalk bike racks were introduced in LA and now we have over 6,000 bike racks on the ground. Much of our public right-of-way has been accessorized with bike parking, allowing Angelenos to ride and park their bikes at locations convenient to shopping, dining, playing, and most other spontaneous activities you can think of. The Sidewalk Bike Parking Program aims to provide highly visible and convenient short-term bike parking near office buildings and retail destinations near public sidewalks.

Now that you know where all the sidewalk bike parking in our City comes from, it’s your turn to tell us where people in your community want bike parking. To request a bike rack, complete an online Bicycle Parking Request Form. To determine if a location you would love to have bike parking qualifies for one of our program’s bike racks, please review our bicycle rack location criteria here. You can email bike rack coordinator extraordinaire Jose Tchopourian, if you have additional questions or notice a rack has become loose or damaged.

Today, our Department’s Sidewalk Bike Parking Program keeps expanding into new places within the City and upgrading inadequate parking equipment along the way. The Program could not be successful without your requests and feedback. Thank you! Now, walk, ride, or roll to your favorite destination near a sidewalk bike rack to celebrate.

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Putting on the finishing touches at Hope St Parklet

People St is excited to kick off the new year with the installation and official opening of Hope St Parklet in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles. The new Parklet is located at the southwest corner of Hope and 11th Street, just a few blocks south of STAPLES Center, L.A. Live, and the Metro Pico Station. This is the first parklet to be constructed within the framework of the People St program, which hosted its first application cycle in Spring 2014

As a part of South Park’s Walkability Project, Hope St Parklet serves as a catalyst for future investment in pedestrian and bicycle amenities for the South Park community. The Parklet replaces two parking spaces, providing 288 square feet of new public green space complete with planters and seating for people to meet, talk, and enjoy the neighborhood. The parklet design is based in the People St Kit of Parts model, The Steps, which provides space for 2-3 tables and chairs and is flanked with built-in terraced benches and planters. The combination and configuration of movable and permanent seating encourages flexibility in uses.

Like other People St projects, identity and wayfinding signage at Hope St Parklet orient visitors to local destinations that are within walking and biking distance to the site. A quick look at the map shows that Metro Blue and Expo Lines are only a five-minute walk away. Raising awareness of walkable destinations, transit, and bikeways encourages people to explore the neighborhood, creating a dedicated resting place along the way.

Hope St parklet signage panel shows a person-oriented wayfinding with 10 minute radius

People St projects like Hope St Parklet align neighborhoods around street life, creating a place of communal respite in otherwise urban neighborhoods. Amenities like parklets are important to the vitality of any people-oriented corridor, creating an oasis of free public seating so people can pause, relax, and take in the neighborhood. “Working with the community to make neighborhoods more enjoyable and walkable is one of our goals,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager. “Creating spaces like the Hope Street Parklet gives people the opportunity to meet, relax and spend time where they live and shop.”

Councilmember Huizar, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, and South Park BID Executive Director Jessica Lall host parklet ribbon cutting ceremony

As the Community Partner for this project, South Park Business Improvement District (BID) is responsible for the management and ongoing maintenance of the Parklet. Funds for parklet materials, design, and labor were largely donated by members of the South Park community, including SODA Architects, Mia Lehrer + Associates, Mack Urban, Benchmark + Tishman Construction, A Joint Venture, Swinerton Builders, Trumark Urban, Hazens Group, USA, ValleyCrest Landscape Development, Harry H. Joh Construction, ABC Resources, Tinco Sheet Metal, Helix Electric. By leveraging donations and community good will, South Park BID managed to construct the parklet for less than $10,000.

With a full crew, the parklet was constructed in just over a day

Hope St Parklet is one of three parklets approved in the inaugural People St application cycle, along with People St Plazas in North Hollywood, Leimert Park, and Pacoima. Because the People St program is a public-private partnership, LADOT has provided technical assistance, project support, and the wayfinding signage. To date, the People St program has created a total of 30,600 square feet of Plaza space, a total of 1,540 square feet of Parklet space, and 1,500 square feet of Bicycle Corral space. The addition of Hope St Parklet adds to over 33,640 square feet of people-oriented green space in the City of Los Angeles – that’s 3/4 of an acre, nearly the size of the Taj Mahal! By reallocating vehicular right of way to people uses, we give new life to our public realm.

Can’t get enough parklets? There are two more parklets located on Motor Avenue in Palms that will complete installation in the coming month, so stay tuned! For more information about the People St program, visit our website, peoplest.lacity.org or email peoplest@lacity.org.

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Take a look at your calendar, and you probably will not find Planning Day as a listed holiday. Planning Day, held on October 15th this year, is an annual event observed exclusively by the Department of City Planning (DCP) where DCP staff lead and participate in multiple tours designed to explore different planning-related themes throughout Los Angeles . For this year’s Planning Day, a group of DCP staff biked the streets of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), Little Tokyo, and the Arts District to see first-hand how LADOT is helping transform Los Angeles into a vision of Complete Streets.

LADOT People St guru Elizabeth Gallardo rallies DCP staff for our tour.

To kickoff the tour, LADOT People St Project Manager, Elizabeth Gallardo lead DCP staff along a greatest hits of active transportation projects designed by LADOT to serve a broad cross section of road users, who find DTLA as a vibrant place to live and spend their leisure time. First stop was the Spring Street parklets where Nicholas Ziff Griffin, Director of Economic Development at the Downtown Center Business Improvement District described the importance of these amenities in creating a vital place where people want to linger and explore new businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Peddler’s Creamery offers sweet rewards for customers that churn ice cream using pedal power.

(more…)

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Early Chandler Cycletrack rendering

Early rendering of proposed cycle track on Chandler Blvd, one of 8 active transportation projects from the City of Los Angeles recommended for Metro 2015 Call for Projects funding.

On June 29th, Metro released its preliminary recommendations awarding grant funding to projects countywide under the 2015 Call for Projects program, a competitive application process that distributes capital transportation funds to regionally significant projects. By all accounts, this was a successful ‘Call’ year for the City of Los Angeles, in particular for people that walk and ride their bicycle. Eight projects that will improve active transportation were recommended for funding!

City projects set to receive funding, by ‘Call for Projects’ category, include:

1) Regional Surface Transportation Improvements

  • Complete Streets Project for Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock: Improve traffic flow and implement “Complete Streets” elements on Colorado Boulevard by installing signal improvements, turn lanes, median islands, bump-outs, and pedestrian lighting. (More information available here)
  • Harbor Boulevard /Sampson Way/7th Street Reconfiguration: Harbor Boulevard and Sampson Way realignment/intersection consolidation;widened sidewalks; Class II bike lanes.

2) Transportation Demand Management

  • Building Connectivity with Bicycle Friendly Business Districts: Create Bicycle Friendly Business Districts that coordinate with business districts to offer TDM incentives, develop an app, and provide amenities that encourage short trips by bicycle.

3) Bicycle Improvements

  • Chandler Cycle Track Gap Closure Project: Project will construct a 3.1 mile cycle track along Chandler Boulevard, connecting the Chandler and Orange Line Bike Paths, and bridging a gap in the low-stress bicycle network.
  • Mid-City Low Stress Bicycle Enhancement Corridors: The Project is a compilation of bicycle way-finding and traffic calming treatments along two neighborhood corridors in Mid-City area to support regional low-stress bicycle network. (More information available here, and here)

4) Pedestrian Improvements

  • Melrose Avenue-Fairfax Avenue to Highland Avenue Pedestrian Improvements: Strengthen first/last mile connectivity on Melrose Avenue through pedestrian/bike-friendly improvements to restore the avenue’s reputation as a retail and entertainment destination.
  • LANI – Santa Monica Boulevard Improvement Project: The project will implement a series of streetscape improvements on Santa Monica Boulevard designed to increase pedestrian safety, support multiple modes and promote transit use.
  • Beverly Boulevard, Vermont Avenue to Commonwealth Avenue Pedestrian Improvements: Design and construction of pedestrian improvements/streetscape enhancements. To provide linkages to major transit along Beverly Boulevard, Temple Street, Virgil Avenue and Silver Lake Boulevard.

Due to the Call funding cycles,  some of these projects are programmed for a few years down the line and will not be funded until as late as 2020. However, having all these active transportation projects recommended for funding are a cause for celebration and we can’t wait to implement these projects! Additional information about the details of these projects can be found in this list of applications the City recommended to submit for the 2015 Call for Projects process.

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LADOT x Peddler’s x CRANC – Activating Main Street with a Bike Repair Workshop (photo courtesy of CRANC)

In June 2015, LADOT installed a new bicycle corral and bicycle repair station alongside Peddler’s Creamery, the first of their kind in LA’s Downtown Historic Core. Peddler’s, an ice cream shop that specializes in organic bicycle-churned ice cream, is located in a very special building called New Genesis. The property owner of New Genesis is the Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit organization that works with architects to build high quality permanent supportive housing for people who have lived on the streets, in prolonged extreme poverty, with poor health, disabilities, mental illness and/or addiction, so that they can lead safe, stable lives in wellness.

The Skid Row Housing Trust was founded in 1989, renovating and transforming a number of dilapidated downtown hotels into attractive and affordable permanent housing. Today the Trust has 22 buildings downtown, and two of the newest, New Genesis and New Pershing apartments are located right next to our newest bicycle- and people-friendly infrastructure.

The New Genesis building opened in 2012 and represents a holistic and progressive vision of Downtown LA urban sustainability. New Genesis Apartments includes mixed-use, mixed-income and artist loft units, as well as the commercial space that Peddler’s calls home. By integrating low-income housing into the broader fabric of our city, the Trust ensures its success and integrates people and uses much like any healthy street would integrate travel modes to form a complete street.

The workshop saw all kinds of bikes – motor bikes, delivery bikes, and just regular people riding by

The Trust is one of the first organizations in the country to combine permanent housing and on-site social services. They call it “permanent supportive housing,” which is now considered a best practice in the fight against homelessness.  Though housing planning and transportation planning are different disciplines, the idea of providing supportive services along with infrastructure is one we are very familiar with here in active transportation. We understand that just providing infrastructure leaves people wondering about their options, how to undertake change, and how to grow and expand their lives to embrace new or different habits.  In order for us to have a healthy transportation system, we need to build out support for other modes, as well as the amenities that will facilitate their use.  Some of these amenities are Bicycle Corrals, that support ridership by supplying ample bicycle parking on streets and in front of businesses, and a Bicycle Repair Stations, that provide the tools necessary to keep people on their bikes even when they have hiccups like a flat tire.

Bicycle Repair Stations are a resource for the whole neighborhood (photo courtesy of CRANC)

Many Downtown LA residents do not drive cars. LADOT’s mission includes not only to provide amenities to support bicycle ridership, but also amenities that enhance people’s ability to fully utilize the tools we provide. In order to realize that mission, LADOT collaborated with CRANC, the Trust, and Peddlers to host two bicycle repair workshops.  The workshops covered the basics of bicycle repair, provided safety and regulation information, as well as a special sweet treat from Peddlers!

We all need a supportive world to live well and one of the best ways to maximize support is through partnership and continuing educational opportunities. Like the proverb goes, give a person a bicycle and he has a ride for a day; teach a person to fix their bicycle and they have a ride for a life. A special thank you to our Bicycle Corral and Bicycle Repair Station maintenance sponsor, Edward Belden of Peddler’s Creamery, Gilbert Mascarro of Skid Row Housing Trust and David Castro of CRANC for their help in organizing and supporting these great workshops!

The good people of CRANC! (photo courtesy of CRANC)

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Exciting things keep happening for the future of mobility in Los Angeles! Some of you who have been following mobility planning and implementation in the City may be wondering when Mobility Plan 2035, the primary planning document that guides planning and implementation of mobility for the City, could take effect.  Well you are in luck! On Tuesday, August 4th, the LA City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management Committees will consider the decision to adopt the Plan at 2:30pm in Council Chambers.

If urban planning and government are not your profession, you might be wondering what a plan is, why we use them, or how you can learn more. Planning documents are developed (this one has been in development for nearly 4 years!) with an extensive process of outreach, studies, socio-economic forecasting, visioning, and strategic planning in order to guide unified decision making in the future.  Plans are not set in stone, but they provide goals (aspirations in vision) and objectives (ways of achieving the vision) that the City can pursue to achieve a desired future. Once adopted, Mobility Plan 2035 will become part of the City’s General Plan and provide policy and implementation guidance for LA streets for the next 20 years.

Mobility Plan 2035 is getting ready for a green light!

Mobility Plan 2035 is especially dynamic and groundbreaking in that it represents the first time Complete Streets policies and guidance will be reflected in the City’s General Plan! Complete Streets are considered streets that provide safe access for all users.  Mobility Plan 2035 includes a Complete Streets Design Guide that provides decision makers, departments, and the broader community a number of options for public rights of way (streets!) to achieve safe mobility access for people of all ages and abilities.

Next Tuesday August 4th at 2:30pm the LA City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management Committees will consider the decision to adopt the the Mobility Plan 2035, the key planning document for mobility and streets in the City of Los Angeles. If the Committees vote to adopt the Plan, then the Plan will be heard at full City Council for final Plan adoption, the last step in the adoption process!

We’d like to tell you a little more about the Plan! Planning documents can be policy game-changers, and some of the substantial policy directives found in Mobility Plan 2035 are outlined in its Chapters:

  1. Safety First
  2. World Class Infrastructure
  3. Access to All Angelenos
  4. Collaboration, Communication and Informed Choices
  5. Clean Environment & Healthy Communities

Reseda Boulevard, LA’s first iteration of the Great Streets program shows how streets can facilitate low-stress travel with a parking protected bike lane and an attractive walking environment

Mobility Plan 2035 provides a vision of integrated transportation networks for all road users. The Plan especially focuses on safe, low stress networks that encourage more people to embrace modes of active transportation, whether it be biking, walking, strolling, rollerblading, skating or more.

The plan also establishes objectives to measure success, including objectives to decrease transportation-related fatalities; establish slow school zones; provide frequent, reliable on-time bus arrival; increase vehicular travel time reliability; expand bicycle ridership; expand access to shared-use vehicles; share real time information to inform travel choices; and increase economic productivity by lowering the overall cost of travel.

Other cool Mobility Plan objectives include ensuring that 80% of street segments do not exceed targeted operating speeds and increasing the percentage of females who travel by bicycle to 35% of all riders by 2035

If Mobility Plan 2035 is achieved, it would take 219,000 trips off of our roads every day, and result in 1.7 million fewer miles traveled every day, which would be great for our health, our commute, and the health of our environment! Full implementation of the Plan would triple the number of Los Angeles residents living within a quarter mile of a Transit Enhanced Network (TEN) facility and would more than double the number of jobs located within a quarter mile of such transit facilities.

Don’t forget, on Tuesday, August 4th, the LA City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management Committees will consider the decision to adopt the Mobility Plan 2035 at 2:30pm in Council Chambers. The meeting is open to the public and speaker cards will be available for those who wish to comment.

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