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Archive for the ‘Bicycle Friendly Streets’ Category

Spring (or is this one long perpetual summer?) is back and adventure options for those on two wheels are endless! After travelling to a few other places, we wanted to get back on our local tourism tip!

This bicycle tour features destinations in between the Red Line North Hollywood Station (in NoHo) and the Griffith Park Sunday Drum Circle. Yes, a drum circle! This 8.5 mile-long bike ride travels along different bike facilities (bike paths, lanes, and routes) and features a variety of LA neighborhood attractions from shops & entertainment in NoHo to nature & culture in Griffith Park.

Come along for the ride! To prepare, you need: a bike, a bike lock, some kind of map or smart phone, water, snacks, and don’t forget your sun protection, because it can get HOT!

Pleasant 8.5 mile-long features NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Griffith Park

Pleasant 8.5 mile-long bike ride features the NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Griffith Park. Photo: Google Map

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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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Me (Heather!) and my bicycle

My favorite means of commuting to and from work has always been by bicycle, and my commute to LADOT  is no different. For many bicycle commuters, the decision to bike to work is often because they find the convenience, affordability, enjoyability, and commute time appealing. Biking also takes away the stress of having to rush to catch the [insert any public transit mode] or the all-too-familiar road-rage-inducing traffic congestion.

I live in Los Feliz and it takes me an average of 35 minutes to bike to work Downtown. In total, the ride is about 5.5 very doable miles. If I were to commute by car it would take me roughly 40 minutes plus a few bucks for gas (and then… parking).  There are a few bike routes I can take to work because of the growing bike lane network leading to and through Downtown and the route I take most often is straightforward, based in two prominent north/south and east/west bike network connectors: the 2nd Street tunnel and Spring Street bike lanes.

From my home, I use neighborhood streets to reach Sunset Boulevard, then take Sunset (more than half the ride), and finally catch the bike lane on Spring Street to the reach the LADOT office. My ride starts out in the quiet Los Feliz flatlands, where I weave through neighborhood streets and a few mid-block alleyways. I enjoy the slow pace I can take in the alleyways that feature limited vehicle traffic- their separation from major roadways allows me to relax and take it easy. I also enjoy the sense of community here. There are several schools in Los Feliz, so I routinely see a lot of moms and dads walking their kids to school or older kids walking together in groups.

Turning into mid-block alleyway in the Los Feliz neighborhood.

Turning into a mid-block alleyway in the Los Feliz neighborhood

When I reach Sunset, I take the popular Sunset bike lane for an easy 4.5 miles through a couple different neighborhoods: Silverlake and Echo Park. Biking on Sunset is my favorite part of the ride because it is scenic, varied, and social. There are a few rolling hills, but all elevation climbs are manageable and are subsequently rewarded with fun, gentle downhills. To my surprise, Sunset Blvd. in the mornings doesn’t ever seem as busy as it usually is in the evenings and on weekends.

Silverlake and Echo Park have a lot of locally beloved coffee shops. They’re always in full swing with people enjoying their favorite morning pastries alongside a cup of joe. Mornings along Sunset are also bustling with the bigger business of everyday life- there are always a few freight trucks unloading, buses picking up and dropping off people on their way to work. It’s important to follow the same rules of the road with these larger vehicles. When they are stopped to unload, I pass them safely, on the left.  With busses, sometimes I slow down and wait behind them until they exit the bus zone. Patience and common sense are important when sharing the road!

Using the bike lane on Sunset and passing the Sunset-Silverlake Junction Plaza.

Using the bike lane on Sunset and passing the Sunset-Silverlake Junction Plaza

When the weather is rainy or just too cold or too hot, I’ll opt for a multi-modal commute. For these rides, I dress according to the weather and bike to the nearest Metro Red Line Station, taking my bike on the train. From the Red Line, I get off at Civic Center Station, and then bike the rest of my way to work. Like Jose mentioned in his previous My Bicycle Route post, taking your bike on the train is super easy.

In addition to using other modes of transportation to supplement biking, I’ve also learned a few wardrobe tips to make my trips more successful. These include: 1) layering 2) wearing comfortable or slightly stretchy clothes to allow for lots of leg movement 3) cuffing pants to avoid greasy chain smears and, 4) adorning a reflective strap or vest for safety. Storing work clothes and extra gear like a multi-tool, bike lights, and flat tire patch kit in a pannier will also help ease your ride and facilitate a safe trip.

When I get the opportunity, I like to join an LA Bike Train to commute to work! LA Bike Trains is a free, community-oriented organization that helps people bike to work together. LA Bike Trains currently offer 10+ weekly or bi-weekly routes throughout the city that are led by Conductors, experienced urban cyclists. Some examples of the routes include Silverlake to Santa Monica and K-Town to UCLA. LA Bike Trains is a fantastic resource for people who want to ride their bikes to work, and the organization continues to grow, adding 5 additional routes since 2013. Luckily for me, there’s a Bike Train that leaves from Cafe Vitta in Los Feliz every other Thursday morning at 8 am and rides all the way to Downtown. It’s exactly the same route I usually take, but way more fun because I get to meet fellow bike commuters and have some company on my ride. Apart from social incentives, another great benefit of bike trains or biking with others is creating the “safety-in-numbers” effect, which makes you a little more visible to people driving. My ride to work with the Bike Train always feels fast- I guess time flies when you’re having fun ;)

Here’s my route in detail, from Los Feliz to Downtown:

Los Feliz Downtown

If you’re looking to find your perfect bike commute route, there are tons of resources out there to help you get started. Here are a few leads:

  1. Visit our most up-to-date Bikeways Map on bicyclela.org
  2. Ask fellow bike commuters or employees at your local bike shop
  3. Use the bicycle route option on Google Maps
  4. Use Google’s street view tool to help envision your route
  5. Read about others’ bike commute routes in our My Bicycle Route series
  6. Request a bike map for your region in LA
  7. Get in touch with an LA Bike Train conductor in your area

In addition to the route itself, you might want to think about environmental factors like:

  1. Elevation inclines and declines: Dress and prepare accordingly.
  2. Bicycle infrastructure: Paths, lanes, sharrows and their varying degrees of safety, connectivity, and ease.
  3. Vehicular traffic and speeds: Neighborhood streets often yield slower vehicle speeds while main thoroughfares often yield higher vehicular speeds.
  4. Time of the day: Make sure to use the proper lights and reflectors to make yourself visible.

Keep in mind that one of the best ways to pick your favorite route is to simply go out there and take a few test rides. You can even drive the route in a car ahead of time. Have fun, and let us know what your favorite rush-hour-beating bike commute route is!

Heather Do is an intern in Active Transportation Division’s Bicycle Program.

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This young lady has really loaded up her cargo bike with the maximum shopping capacity!

In light of our participation in the upcoming holiday shopping event, SHOP – RIDE – NELA, we wanted to make sure everyone was totally ready to saddle up on their bicycles to go shopping!  Whether you need to pick up a few items at the grocery store or want to meet up with a friend at a neighborhood cafe for a day of brunching and shopping, arriving on a bicycle is a great way to go!

Shopping by bicycle is an easy way to run local errands, making your daily routine fun and active without leaving that nasty carbon footprint you would if you were driving. On a bicycle, you can make multiple stops on your trip without having to keep track of time, or potentially even receiving a citation for staying too long at your meter.  How many times have you wanted to try on that other pair of shoes or talk to a friend you bumped into on the street, but you had to go, cause your meter was almost up?  Too many times!  Bicycles are a liesurely way to shop and explore your neighborhood, making you more aware of what it has to offer, and potentially more receptive to spending time and money there.

In some LA neighborhoods, LADOT has even installed Bicycle Corrals, where you can park your bicycle right in the middle of a busy shopping corridor just like your fellows driving cars.  These perks are no small beans in a city where auto traffic is the norm and as mentioned before, finding parking can be tedious and frustrating. Plus, shopping on a bicycle is more efficient than walking and less cumbersome than carrying things onto the bus. Because shopping by bike is super practical, doing so can easily be combined with your bike commute or leisurely ride around the neighborhood.

SHOP – RIDE – NELA, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place this Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, with a ribbon cutting for the Colorado Bl Corral with Councilmember Jose Huizar at 12:30. The ride will explore 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. More details can be found in our recent blog post about the event.

So let’s get ready to shop! The set-up you choose will mostly depend on the purchases you’ll be making or the items you will be transporting. There are lots of carrying options out there for any budget, so here’s a quick guide to get you started:

Carrying things on your bicycle

 

Backpacks and Messenger Bags

Uses: small loads and personal items

Backpacks are probably the simplest and most affordable way to haul your shopping items while bicycling. These are excellent for carrying small, lightweight loads, but be wary of heavy items and the “sweaty back” on hot days or long rides. Backpacks and messenger bags that are made by bicycle companies tend to be weather proof and highly durable, making sure your valuables are protected.

Price range: $25-150

Backbacks can be a great way to carry small items and your everyday load, as seen here on Yucca St in Hollywood

Saddle, Frame, and Handlebar Bags

Uses: extra small loads and personal items

Saddle, frame, or handlebar bags are excellent rackless options for storing small items and are very popular for holding commuter tools like tire levers, spare tubes, first aid kits, or other bare necessities. The frame and handlebar bags are especially useful for items that need to be easily reached like chapstick or your cell phone.

Price range: $10-90

A woman and her child use a handlebar bag on the Orange Line Bike Path in Woodland Hills

Racks

Uses: all-purpose

If you choose to use your bike to do most of the work instead of your back, then you’ll need to add a rack to your bicycle. Racks serve a wide variety of purposes and can be attached to the front and/or rear depending on your bike and carrying needs. A rack is key because it provides a mount for panniers (bicycle mounted bags) as well as a platform on which to strap your goods. A simple bungee cord can be used with a rack to secure most objects, making racks one of the most necessary and effective ways of undertaking any shopping trip by bicycle. Racks also free you up from cumbersome bags that might cramp your style.  Most local bike shops sell bike racks and they can be aquired for as little as $15.

Price range: $15-45

Observed during our recent York Bl Bike Count, this man has a back rack and a basket, getting ready to do a water run via York Bl in Highland Park

Straps and Bungee Cords

Items can be directly placed on top of a mounted rack without a bag or container by using secure straps or bungee cords.

Price range:  $2-10

Baskets and Milk Crates

Uses: small-medium loads

Baskets are great for carrying items that don’t need to be enclosed or carefully contained. Generally, weight should be considered when using a basket, as heavy objects might affect your ability to steer your bicycle.  Milk crates can serve as an affordable DIY basket. To use a milk crate, find one that is not too large for the rack and make sure to use a lot of zip ties to securely attach the crate to the rack. Be careful to not load up too much weight into the crate otherwise shifting weight might cause the zip ties to snap!

Price range: $15-50

At CicLAvia, sometimes baskets are used to carry friends!

Trunk Bags

Uses: small loads and personal items

Trunk bags are strapped on top of the rack and are built with non-collapsible walls that stand up on their own. Some trunk bags come with side pockets that can expand into small side panniers for extra storage.

Price range: $30-60

The LAPD Bicycle Unit uses trunk bags to carry important items necessary for their police work

Panniers

Uses: medium-large loads

Panniers are bicycle-specific bags that attach to the rear or front rack. Most panniers work like saddle bags and carry 10-20 liters per bag. Panniers are a wonderful solution for large amounts of groceries.  They are your ideal candidate for shopping, commuting, or bicycle touring and are often sold in pairs in order to balance your heavy loads.  Panniers come in all forms and qualities- the more expensive versions contain special features like converting into a backpack, clip systems for easy removal, reflectivity, and all-weather proofing.

Price range: $40-160

Former Bike Program superstar, Eli Glazier shows off his paniers with his bike mounted on the York Bl Bicycle Repair Station in Highland Park

Cargo Trailers

Uses: large loads

Bicycle cargo trailers offer the largest storage capacity and can carry much bigger loads than the bicycle itself. Trailers normally attach to the bike frame, much like a tow hitch on a truck. Some trailers are even fashioned with a child seat inside so you can take your child with you while you shop!

Price range: $150-250

Cargo trailers like the one we use when we do outreach at CicLAvia can carry a LOT of swag…

 

More Tips

 

Balance your weight

When you pack up your bags, try to distribute the weight as evenly as possible. This will make riding more comfortable and also prevent your bike from toppling over while you wait at stop signs or lights.

Look for Bicycle Friendly Businesses

Shop local and support businesses that embrace bicycle-friendly practices! The Bike Program launched the Bicycle Friendly Business Program (BFB) earlier this year to promote businesses that encourage people to bicycle for short neighborhood trips and make their streets more pleasant and convivial places to be. For more information or to opt into the BFB Program, check out our BFB page and opt in form!

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My bicycle route is mainly on neighborhood streets, providing a lower-stress and more pleasant experience.

Jose Tchopourian, LADOT Bike Program.

The Los Angeles region is vast and challenging to navigate by any transportation mode. Some residents, like myself, find it more enjoyable and oftentimes faster to commute using a bicycle alone or in combination with public transit.

Before guiding you through my “hybrid commute”, which combines bicycling and transit, I would like to point you to some helpful resources for making trips by bicycle: bike maps and infrastructure, transit maps and timetables, bike rules of the road, and fun bike rides and education.

Since September, I have been commuting from my home in the NoHo Arts District to class at UCLA’s Urban Planning Department. My trip combines a bike and Metro’s underground Red Line subway. The total commute is 14 miles long and takes about 1 hour door to door.

I start my trip on the Metro Red Line at the North Hollywood station in the direction of Union Station. I ride the train two stops, departing at the Hollywood/Highland station. The train ride takes about 9 minutes. If you are riding Metro Rail with your bike, keep the following in mind: 1) use elevators or stairs to enter and exit stations 2) if the train is full, wait for the next one 3) give priority to passengers in wheelchairs, and 4) stand with your bike in the designated area for bikes, which are clearly identified with a yellow decal adjacent to the car doors.

Holding my bike while riding the Red Line Subway into Hollywood.

Holding my bike while riding the Red Line Subway into Hollywood.

The second part of my commute, an 8-mile bicycle ride, takes about 45 minutes and allows me to experience the sights and sounds of multiple neighborhoods.It is important to follow the rules of the road while operating a bicycle. Obey all traffic signals and stop signs, yield to pedestrians, and use lights to be visible at night. I find that riding predictably and communicating with other road users makes my ride safer.

The route I have selected avoids steep mountainous terrain. Instead, I experience slight inclines during my trip. In addition to elevation, I also consider the type of streets I will be using to get to my destination. Eight years of using a bicycle for moving through Los Angeles have taught me that safety comes first. Even if riding on arterial streets might bring me to my destination a few minutes earlier, I prefer to trade time saving for the lower-stress experience of riding on residential and neighborhood streets. When I do ride on arterial streets, I pick those that have bike facilities on them.

Here is my route. If you see me on the road, say hello!

If you would like to share your favorite route, send it to bike.program@lacity.org.

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Sharrows on Westholme Dr. in Los Angeles

A pair of sharrows on Westholme Dr. in Los Angeles

We’re excited to announce that LADOT crews will be installing approximately 20 miles of new shared-lane markings — or “sharrows” — in neighborhoods across the city.  Sharrows are intended to supplement the bicycle lane network in Los Angeles by:

  • Providing gap closures in the Class II (Bike Lane) network
  • Enhancing Class III (Bike Route) Bikeways- This includes future BFS facilities
  • Improving bicycling conditions on two-lane roadways with dashed centerlines


Click here to access or download the original spreadsheet

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The Bicycle Program would like to thank all the people who attended Active Streets L.A. last weekend to talk about walking and bicycling in their neighborhoods. Using a large-scale image of the neighborhood’s street network, locals pointed out intersections with difficult crossings and areas that felt uncomfortable for bicycling. The event was a great opportunity to identify existing conditions and key opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian improvements around the Vermont Square Neighborhood. The insightful comments we received will help us plan where traffic calming measures such as roundabouts, bulb-outs and future crosswalk locations will be most effective. We look forward to hearing more greats ideas and comments at the next Active Streets L.A. event!

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A resident uses a sticky note to indicate a difficult crossing on our map of the surrounding neighborhood.

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We received comments from residents of all ages!

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This family rode over on their scooters!

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The event had a great turnout!

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