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Bradley Ave Plaza #thefuture

In the realm of active transportation, we are always thinking about the future and the constantly changing trends, cultures, and behavior shifts – these are the heartbeat of the City that we listen to in order to plan and integrate our work into the ever-evolving urban fabric of Los Angeles.  The conversation about active transportation increasingly goes beyond the modes we are talking about (walking, biking, rolling). The beauty of active transportation is that it intertwines with other disciplines, a wide variety of stakeholders, and other physical and social aspects of public space like social life, urban spaces, and cultural programming. Constantly in our practice, we observe these ties, although they differ neighborhood to neighborhood and place by place, as each has its own deep cultural and historical influences. We were lucky enough to spend some time in one of these culturally-rich neighborhoods lately, learning about the lay of the land.

Last week, LADOT Active Transportation Division traveled to Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima to attend a workshop put on by the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Van Nuys Boulevard is no stranger to recognition! It has been designated by two council districts as a Great Street, was selected as one of four Demonstration Corridors in the country for ULI’s Healthy Corridors Grant, and today hosted the ribbon cutting of its People St Plaza, the Bradley Ave Plaza.

This neighborhood within Pacoima is a touch point for the conversation about mobility and transportation due to its confluence of modes: the historically car-dominated transect of the Valley crosses both Metrolink tracks and the San Fernando Road Bike Path, a right of way that has been slated for a proposed future high speed rail line. Additionally, Van Nuys Blvd. is being studied by Metro as part of the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project. It remains to be seen what the future configuration of the street will look like or what type of transit and active transportation facilities will be built, but keep your ears peeled because improvements to mobility are in the works!

Max Podemski of Pacoima Beautiful leads a walking tour of Van Nuys Blvd, stopping at the intersection of Van Nuys Blvd and San Fernando Rd., where the bike path and Metrolink cruise side by side.

Pacoima is indicative of some of LA’s most significant growth challenges: though it lies in the heart of the sprawling single-family-home-oriented San Fernando Valley, because of ubiquitous under-the-radar garage conversions, the area reflects the density of multi-family housing. When reflecting on our favorite statistic, that 47% of trips in Los Angeles are under 3 miles and can easily be completed by walking or biking, we can’t help but see Van Nuys Blvd. as the ideal attractor for these local trips.

The ULI Healthy Corridors Workshop brought up some interesting points, but one of the things that piqued our attention was the term “economic leakage.” The workshop presented a number of snapshots and studies that have been conducted in the area. One study found that though many families- over 3000 property parcels- live within 1/2 mile of Van Nuys Boulevard, the vast majority leave the area to shop elsewhere.  This is the same story of economic decline of corridors and local economies over the past 40 years that can be told by countless cities and LA neighborhoods. (more…)

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Los Angeles is a big city of over 450 square miles, with over 4,000 square miles if we’re looking at the whole County. This massive size is daunting even in a car… after all, how many of us have let friends and beloved relatives go un-visited all to avoid a traffic-clogged schlep to the Westside, Eastside, or the Valley, or that particular just-too-far place of your own personal choosing?

To some, this daunting size balloons out of all reasonable proportion at the thought of tackling it perched, huffing, between two spinning wheels; not to mention the idea of travelling on foot or taking a maze of public transit. Some say: Los Angeles is just too big, too spread out, the infrastructure isn’t there, Metro doesn’t go there, it’s too far, too hot, too hard. Los Angeles is one of the few cities where the phrases “let’s walk”, “let’s take the train” or “let’s bike” is met with confused stares.

City of Los Angeles bicycle facilities in their respective Council Districts

However, while Los Angeles as a whole is big, anyone who’s lived here for a while or has taken a gander as the LA Times’ wonderful Mapping LA project knows that LA is made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique-to-them shopping, recreational, and eating opportunities! Some trips are of course impractical for more sustainable transport methods; the average person doesn’t want to walk more than a mile, or spend more than an hour biking or riding transit while en route to their destination. Nor do most people relish the idea of donning a load of spandex and arriving at their destination sweat-dripped, and smelling faintly of the gym.

But, for many people, small, local trips to get groceries, coffee, or see a film are very exciting from a walking, and even more so, from a biking perspective! Getting on a bike or taking a walk doesn’t have to be something you prepare or set aside time for. The purpose of the ride can be practical, or for fun, or both! Say… a spontaneous event, just like when you hop in your car to pick up something quick.

This combination of practicality and entertainment is something unique to biking. You can turn a chore like picking up toilet paper into a sort of mini-adventure! Even in your own home town, if you’re used to getting around in a car… on a bike, you’ll see stores, people, and sights you’ve never noticed before. This is the driving concept behind Bicycle Friendly Business Districts! Since you don’t have to fight others for parking, it’s relatively easy to stop where you want to stop. While riding a bike there’s no excuse of, “oh we just passed it… maybe next time” if you come upon something that looks interesting, just stop, hop off, and check it out!

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A smiley and Spintacular day in the NELA Bicycle Friendly Business District (photo courtesy C.I.C.L.E.)

As part of a local tradition of pre-celebrating the 4th of July, LADOT collaborated with the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) Steering Committee, C.I.C.L.E., the Bike Oven, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and Metro to host the Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour, a community bike ride through the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show. The ride is the second hosted by the NELA BFBD, a partnership between the City, community members, and local businesses to bolster the use of bicycles for short trips around the neighborhood, especially to dine and shop at local businesses.

CICLE Director Vanessa Gray partnered with local bike coop, the Bike Oven, to lead the ride

The NELA BFBD was established last year as the City’s first pilot Bicycle Friendly Business District. The project is an encouragement tool for traffic demand management: in Los Angeles County, 47% of trips taken by car are under 3 miles, a distance easily traversed by bicycle.  These short car trips create local traffic congestion, parking shortages, noise pollution, air pollution, health problems caused by sedentary lifestyles, and unnecessarily contribute to all of the safety issues associated with operating heavy machinery like motor vehicles… all impacts that could be mitigated by walking and biking to local destinations! (more…)

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This weekend, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) is going to get a little more SPINTACULAR! LADOT is a proud partner in the NELA BFBD Summer ride: The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour. The ride, sponsored by Metro and led by C.I.C.L.E. and the Bike Oven, will take place on Sunday June 28th from 5:00 – 8:00pm, and traverse 5 miles of Northeast LA’s bustling business corridors, taking riders to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center for a sparkle-filled evening of bicycles, fun, and games. Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this spintacular ride!

Along the way, riders learn about what makes Northeast LA a special place to walk, roll, and ride… The ride will stop at the York Boulevard Bicycle Corral for a Street Innovation Tour, led by Mark Vallianatos of the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI). The tour will highlight York’s public spaces and innovative street features.

Riders are encouraged to show their patriotic flare on their wheels and beyond in the Red, Ride, and Blue Bicycle Decorating and Costume Contest. Participants will have an opportunity to win even more prizes at the Spin the Wheel Trivia game, testing riders on their local knowledge and Los Angeles bicycle trivia.

Even the President knows how to get Spintacular for the Red, Ride and Blue Bike Decorating contest

“The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour highlights two local efforts I am passionate about – our 6th Annual Eagle Rock Concert and Fireworks Show and the NELA Bicycle Friendly Business District program,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The NELA BFBD is all about encouraging bicycle riders to support local businesses and enliven the public realm and the reason I brought back the fireworks show after decades without one in Eagle Rock was to encourage safe and family friendly public gatherings where people could also support local organizations and businesses. The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour is a perfect match and thanks to LADOT and all our partners for their support.”

Ride participants will travel at a casual speed, slowing down to stroll, take in the local scenery, and explore local businesses and culture. Riders should bring a helmet, water, bike locks, bike lights, cash for food, blankets, and jackets for the fireworks show. Secure bike parking and a reserved seating section will be provided at the Fireworks show for Spintacular Riders.

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People walking, bicycling, and driving all share the road in downtown Seattle

This year’s annual conference for the American Planning Association (APA), Sustainable Seattle, was hosted in a city rich with sustainable practices and, appropriately for our interests, complete streets infrastructure.  The APA covers all faces of planning, but complete streets are increasingly a focus of urban (and suburban) planners everywhere. Complete streets that make up walkable, bikeable, and ultimately livable communities, have become the national best practice because they make for sustainable communities, a core tenet and charge of the urban planning profession. The integration of complete streets with retail, mixed-use development, the densification of cities, and sustainable practices were highlighted throughout the conference.

Though LADOT performs much implementation, we are also tasked with planning and project development, which is the area we inhabit in Bicycle Outreach and Planning. Attending the APA conference gives us a broad context for what we do, which can be really helpful in a time where cities are growing at some of the fastest rates ever.  Here are some of our take aways from the conference, followed with a few snapshots of Seattle’s pedestrian-first culture.

Bicycle, bus, and car networks seamlessly weave through the retail-lined Aloha Street

Network connectivity is the nexus of people, land, and local economic vitality

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It’s our favorite time of the year! Bike Week LA is back once again!

The annual week-long bici-centric event, sponsored by Metro, will fill May 10-15 with more bicycle-oriented activities than ever before! More?  Yes MORE! Bike Week focuses on encouraging people to ride their bicycles, raising awareness about people on bikes but also about all active transportation users in Los Angeles. Some of the week’s highlights include bike repair workshops, the infamous Bike to Work Day pit stops, and evening festivities to make sure you’re hooked up with people who share your interests! If you’ve never participated in Bike Week, do not fear, Bike Week is for YOU! It’s full of resources and activities for everyone, from the new to the experienced rider, from the bicycle-curious to the bikeaholic.

Come see Color Wheels at Caltrans District 7 on Thursday 5/14!

Bike Week LA 2015 Lineup:

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Since 2010 the LADOT Bike Program has worked diligently to introduce, formalize, and refine bicycle corrals for the City of Los Angeles.  We have seen huge successes in our process, from the revival of the York Boulevard commercial corridor and pedestrian space to the overcrowding of our much needed Abbot Kinney corrals.  We have also tested and modified designs, beginning with U-racks, moving to the Dero Cyclestall Elite, and now a modified version of the Cyclestall that better serves cargo bicycles.  We are about to embark on our largest yet deployment of bicycle corrals in Los Angeles and hereby announce a call for new applications.  In the next two years, the department’s strategic plan, Great Streets for Los Angeles, calls for the installation of over 25 bicycle corrals.  There are many criteria that go into corral site selection and approval, but before we explain the fine print, we wanted to take you through a tour of lessons learned and the corral history that goes into today’s revision.

Phase 1

Our very first York Boulevard Bicycle Corral was yarn bombed to mark the new year!

Our first corral on York Boulevard featured many elements that have been discontinued due to cost, functionality, and permanence.  Our first design featured welded U racks that needed to be pre-assembled and lifted into place by crane.  The design also featured asphalt buffers that were repeatedly damaged by cars and delivery vehicles.  This design has been popular with users, as it allows a barrier-free approach to parking.  The lack of barrier, though convenient, does not provide as much protection as a structure that fully separates the parking from the travel lanes, and therefore, after considering all factors, the next round of corrals was modified significantly.

Phase 2

The corral at Gjelina Take Away has been seen packed here with 18 bikes! Photo courtesy Gjelina

Our next round of corrals consisted of 11 custom Dero Cyclestall Elites.  The new design, which fully separates the bicycle parking from travel lanes has sometimes been criticized by users as difficult to enter, creates a pedestrian interaction for people dismounting their bicycles, orienting the now-pedestrians towards the sidewalk and away from any conflict with moving vehicles.  This setting creates a more conscientious entry and exit from the bicycle parking area, eliminating conflicts between dismounted riders and those passing as well as driver-bicycle conflicts.  Beyond this change, the new corral design utilizes rubber wheel stops, durable buffers against parking cars and reflective flexible delineators that make the corral more visible to approaching vehicles, especially at night.

These corrals are installed in Atwater Village, Venice, Cypress Park, North Hollywood, the Arts District, Eagle Rock, Larchmont Village, Westood Village, and (coming soon!) Downtown’s Historic Core.  This round of installations presented rich feedback on corral placement in relation to travel lanes and bicycle facilities, user density, and the dynamics of nearby bicycle friendly neighborhoods.

Some lessons learned in this phase include:

  • need for high pedestrian and bicycle activity
  • preferred adjacency to bicycle facility (bike lanes, buffered bike lanes, or sharrows)
  • pedestrian scale street settings provide comfortable environment for people parking their bicycles
  • better entry to corral to accommodate cargo bicycles
  • bicycle friendly businesses and high turn-over services that attract people on bikes (like cafes) serve as ideal sponsors for corrals
  • dense, pedestrian-heavy areas with limited parking or sidewalk area are ideal locations for corral placement
  • most corrals necessitate two parking spaces for clearance and visibility reasons

Taking these lessons into consideration, we went back to the drawing board again for our next corral order, incorporating both user and safety considerations.

Phase 3

Our next phase will feature the custom Dero Cyclestall Elite, further modified with shorter side arms that allow for ample entry space. We’ve also ordered 5 corral extenders, allowing sponsors to select a longer version of the corral, expanding parking capacity from 14 spaces (as seen above these corrals can actually fit up to 18 bicycles) to 20 (24) spaces.  The additions fall within the two-parking space area, so the expanded corral does not require further parking impacts.

New Corrals await their future street!

Applying for a Bicycle Corral

We are currently looking for locations for our next corrals!  If you own a business or are part of a community organization that would like to sponsor a corral, check out our corral page, FAQs, and the corral application below.  All sponsors are required to sign a maintenance agreement with the City, where the partner agrees to keep the corral clean and clear of debris (corral placement restricts street sweeping).  Once a corral location is preliminarily reviewed and a maintenance agreement signed, the project enters engineering design, which at times reveals other complications or reasons a corral cannot be installed at that location.  If the project reaches design completion, the installation is coordinated by LADOT.

 

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