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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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Our Senior Bicycle Coordinator, Michelle Mowery, tests a protected bikeway on Rosemead Boulevard in Temple City. By next year there will be statewide standards for this type of facility that physically separates cars and bicycles on the roadway.

In September 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law A.B. 1193. This law, known as the Protected Bikeways Act of 2014, requires the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, to establish a new category of bikeway in the state’s Highway Design Manual, the technical design guide that governs bikeway treatment statewide. Currently there are three categories of bikeways – Class I bike paths, Class II bike lanes, Class III bike routes – and A.B. 1193 calls for the addition Class IV cycle tracks, or separated bikeways. Cycle tracks are common in Northern Europe but there are only a handful of such bikeways in California, and part of the reason is because of the absence of formal guidance at the state level. However, where separated bikeways (facilities that physically protect bicycle users from motor vehicle traffic) are implemented, they have been wildly successful and attracted a wider range of users! In May, Caltrans met with a broad coalition of bicycle advocates and local transportation agencies to discuss cycle track designs to hear some initial feedback as the design process for Class IV cycle tracks is being initiated.

To learn more about creating design standards for a new “Class IV” bikeway aka cycle track, we conducted an interview with Kevin Herritt, Caltrans’ Chief of Office of Geometric Design Standards. We would like to thank Herritt for taking the time to answer to some of the questions many in the bicycling community have had on their mind since A.B. 1193 passed. (more…)

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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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We’re proud to introduce a new segment to the blog, The Engineer’s Corner, where we interview LADOT’s talented pool of engineers to learn more about them and their work. Our transportation engineers make the city work – they design the infrastructure and systems we use every day to get from point A to point B, from signage and striping, to signal timing and so many other things.  In the second largest city in the country, with over 6,500 miles of City planned and maintained streets, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is home to some of the most thoughtful engineers around.

In this inaugural post we will be highlighting the newest addition to the Bikeways team, Robert Sanchez. Robert comes to Bikeways from the Special Traffic Operations Division (a fancy name for special events) and fills a vacancy left by Tim Fremaux, who had performed much of the outreach during the initial implementation of the 2010 Bicycle Plan. Robert is not new to bikes though!  As you will learn, he has a long history with our Department and the City’s historic bicycle infrastructure.

LADOT Bike Blog: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Robet Sanchez: My name is Robert Sanchez, I am 34 years old, and I am a mechanical engineer by trade but I am licensed as a traffic engineer in the State of California. I grew up in Boyle Heights, east of Downtown near El Mercado de Los Angeles where the Lorena St. Gold Line station is now. I’ve been working at the LADOT for some time now and I really enjoy my work.

What is it like getting to work, can you describe your commute?

Typically I have a three and a half mile bike ride to the El Monte Busway and then I’ll jump on the Silver Streak or one of the rapid buses that bring me to Downtown. Then I ride from Union Station to our District 7 Headquarters here where I lock up my bike in the bike corral in our garage. If the corral is full (because now that more folks ride it gets full sometimes), I lock it to whatever I can find. Heading home, I sometimes ride east along 1st St or 4th St through Boyle Heights, then through East L.A., Montebello and into the City of South El Monte where I live. When I feel adventurous I have a nice 15 mile ride that I can do.

Do you have a favorite walk or bicycle ride you like (whether for recreation or utilitarian purposes)?

I do, actually. I ride and run quite a bit as well. My favorite bike ride is on the San Gabriel River going up towards the Santa Fe Dam or down towards the beach. It’s a really cool river, it has a soft bottom and has water most of the year, so you get to see wildlife and a lot of birds. The San Gabriel River is probably my favorite ride.

So how did you initially become interested in engineering?

I became interested in engineering when I was a little boy, I used to like to take things apart. I didn’t exactly know what engineers did until I was in college, but I always knew I was good with hands-on application, and I liked math and science. It was just something that came naturally. Once I found out exactly how much math was involved, I almost thought twice about it.

You mentioned earlier you have been working in LADOT for some time, how long exactly have you been here?

I believe this July it will be 13 years.

What were you doing before you joined Bikeways?

Before this assignment, I was with Special Traffic Operations Division for approximately 6 and a half years. What we did in that division was planning for any major special event, which could range anywhere from First Amendment events, to presidential motorcade, to parades, to large events like the Los Angeles Marathon and CicLAvia. It is major logistical work, and involves creating detour routes, messaging, signal-timing adjustments. A whole lot of stuff related to special events.

And what do your current day-to-day duties consist of?

That, I am still learning. Right now my day-to-day is focused on active transportation projects with a heavy emphasis on cycle tracks. I am also involved with early stages of development and design of future projects for our division.

You point out you are involved in cycle track design, the LADOT is experimenting with new bikeway treatments that have not been implemented in the City before. What is it like adapting to these changes in Bikeway engineering?

Actually it’s very interesting. I did work in this Bikeways section once before and it was a much different time. It feels like it has been ages because back in those days bikeways were very low priority. But it is interesting to see how open the City is now to do some of these new treatments, and it’s nice to see the City take a leadership role as opposed to just stepping back and watching what other cities do. So yeah, it is very exciting and I’m glad to be part of it.

One of these new projects include cycle tracks planned for Los Angeles Street… what has the process been like, working on this?

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Early rendering of potential treatment for Los Angeles Street cycle track, including left turn boxes which could be coupled with right-turn-on-red restrictions.

That was actually the first project I was given when I came back to this division. We’ve tested some of the different traffic control devices for separation including armadillos and bollards of different sizes and shapes. That was my first role with this project, securing the different materials, having them installed, and then actually testing them. It was fun, we coordinated a small demonstration of the project and got people out here to visualize what it will look like. We are also working with the Fire Department and the Department on Disability to make sure they are okay with the spacing and the location of the separation treatment since they need to access fire hydrants in particular and the bollards can pose a tripping hazard while they are working.

In addition to experimenting with new roadway treatments, the Department recently adopted a “Vision Zero” policy that seeks to eliminate fatalities attributed to traffic collisions. How can bicycle facilities assist the City in meeting this policy goal?

Bikeways can have a significant role. I think bicycle facilities in the past were just treatments that we squeezed in. I feel now they are being built in to the street designs in a way that makes a lot more sense, not just for people on bikes but also for vehicles and pedestrians, and organize the streets better. If you make a person bicycling safer, you inherently also make it safer for a person walking. People on bikes oftentimes have conflicts with pedestrians and vehicles. I think if you organize the street better, especially with the use of treatments such as cycle tracks, you put people in a more predictable location and everybody can learn the way the intersections, in particular, are supposed to work.

Before we close, we want to know- have you had a favorite part of working in bikeways so far? 

Yes, I think in my first stint with the Bikeways section I enjoyed the staff that was here at the time, folks like Jonathan Hui and Mike Uyeno who taught me a lot about integrity and civil service. I was much younger, and new to the work force, it was a time for learning the City way and soaking in all the knowledge. This time around, I’ve only been here a few months, but I really enjoy the fact that we get to try some cool new things and have an expanded toolbox. Coming back and seeing the potential, that’s been the best part so far.

Thanks for your time, Robert, is there anything else you would like to add?

Only than I am happy to be back in Bikeways and I’m very excited for some of these new projects we have coming up. I hope we can keep the momentum going and be strategic to make sure we meet everybody’s safety needs.

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#CHILLIN: Buffered by parked cars, #PopUpChandler cycletrack users enjoy their morning coffee on the way to CicLAvia!

Thank you for stopping by, Los Angeles! Over 1,000 of you rolled through the #PopUpChandler cycletrack yesterday!  In case you missed it, the City hosted a pop up demonstration cycletrack at Sunday’s CicLAvia – The Valley. The one-day installation was a collaborative effort by LADOT and the Department of City Planning to create a temportary cycletrack as a means to bridge the network connection between the Chandler Bike Path and the CicLAvia NoHo Hub. #PopUpChandler, located between Vineland and Fair, gave participants an opportunity to see and experience the low-stress bicycle facilities proposed in the City’s draft Mobility Plan 2035, hands-on and in-person.

Pedestrian Coordinator, Valerie Watson presents cycletrack information and explains elements of Mobility Plan 2035

Throughout the day, people of all ages rolled through the cycletrack, protected by a row of parked cars, on their way to the CicLAvia North Hollywood Arts District Hub. CicLAvia event participants were encouraged to travel through the pop up and pit stop at the City of LA booth prior to continuing on to the day’s festivities. Upon exiting the cycletrack, users were able to directly engage with the City’s mobility planners and active transportation engineers to discuss the nuances of the protected lanes and learn more about different ways to confiure streets for all types of users.

Residents from the Valley and beyond noted the added comfort and safety of the cycletrack concept, especially for the youngest and most vulnerable: children on bicycles. Passerbys noted that “flipping the bike and parking lane just makes sense and seems safer for everyone.” Many provided City staff with feedback and shared their experience on social media using the hashtag #PopUpChandler.

City staff were joined by USC Price School externs to perfom cycletrack outreach, collecting surveys, feedback and answering questions. Unlike the traditional planning process, pop up events allow community members to experience infrastructure and provide input based on that experience.

The temporary “pop up” design utilized traffic cones to designate space for people on bicycles, people parking cars, and people driving cars. In this cycletrack design, the parking lane has been flipped with the bike lane, maintaining street parking, while adding extra protection and reducing conflicts between people travelling on bikes and people travelling in cars.  This configuration is simple and provides benefits to all users.  Beyond serving those travelling by bicycle or car, cycletracks create shorter crossing distances for people walking.  

City officials also came out to enjoy the festivities and experience the cycletrack for themselves. “The San Fernando Valley’s CicLAvia was a stunning success, bringing thousands of people out of their cars and homes and onto the streets for the day,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian of District 2. “I tested out the Pop-Up Chandler Cycletrack, along with a lot of other happy cyclists, and I believe it showed people what is possible as we strive to make Los Angeles a more connected and bike-friendly city.”

CicLAvia attendees enjoy the low-stress nature of the Chandler demonstration cycletrack connecting their journey from the Chandler Bike Path to the event hub.

Sunday’s event is just the first step toward safer and more comfortable mobility network. Cycletracks are an important element in the City’s draft 2035 Mobility Plan, which emphasizes low-stress facilities as an important active transportation  mode that helps to reduce vehicle miles traveled throughout the city, as well other associated environmental benefits. The 2035 Mobility Plan is scheduled to be before the City Planning Commission in May, and you can find out more at an open house on Tuesday, March 24. Protected bike lanes are similarly included in LADOT’s Strategic Plan “Great Streets for Los Angeles“.

Keep an eye out for similar pop-up events in the future that will help us better plan and design more permanent bicycle infrastructure in your neighborhood!

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Rosemead Boulevard: the Complete Street features a cycletrack buffered by landscaped medians

It seems like cycletracks are all the rage these days on the LADOT Bike Blog.  We love the idea of the low-stress bicycle riding experience these facilities provide and are learning as much as we can about them as we prepare to install them in Los Angeles!

Last week we had the pleasure of convening a City of Los Angeles coalition to visit Temple City’s Rosemead Boulevard, a complete street that includes a fully constructed and landscaped cycletrack. The trip was organized by our very own Bicycle Coordinator, Rubina Ghazarian. The Active Transportation Division Outreach and Engineering staff were accompanied by our colleagues from the the Great Streets Studio and the Bureau of Street Services to learn about the outreach, design, construction, and maintenance of the new Rosemead Boulevard.

Temple City welcomes Bureau of Street Services engineers, Great Streets Staff, and the LADOT Active Transportation Division

The Temple City segment of Rosemead Boulevard, CA State Route 19, has undergone dramatic change in its use and form since being relinquished by Caltrans to the local municipality in 2008. State Routes, traditionally managed by the state department of transportation, Caltrans, are state highways and typically carry high volumes of cars at high speeds.  Some of these routes are formalized into spaces exclusively for cars, like freeways, while others remain woven through our residential and commercial corridors.  When Temple City began to consider options for improving the route to better serve local residents, they recognized the dynamic community development potential resting in the relatively large roadway.

Temple City Mayor, Carl Blum, a retired LA County civil engineer, saw the transfer of Rosemead as a once in a lifetime opportunity, with the understanding that major roads only get a shot at redesign once every 50 years.  He set the project aspirations high, envisioning a Complete Street that would work with the street they already had, to serve users of all modes and abilities.  Blum says that in pursuing such an ambitious project, Temple City is “planning for the future.” He understands the long trajectory of the project and that its full potential will only be realized later.

Our visitor package provided a living picture of the Rosemead project and its connection to the community

After many community meetings and design charrettes, the new Rosemead Boulevard plans grew to include landscaping, bike parking, sidewalks, pedestrian scale lighting, public art, and rubberized asphalt, which would minimize the noise of the large arterial.  With the new Rosemead, residents received universal ADA compliance, new and improved gutters, and over 100 new trees that will grow to create a living canopy for the neighborhood, reducing the heat island effect and cultivating a sense of place for the corridor.

Temple City cycletrack includes pedestrian scale lighting and a cement bicycle lane buffered by parking stalls and landscaped medians

Our visit proved very educational, providing an on-the-ground example of a Complete Street.  With the pending adoption of Mobility Plan 2035, we may see more projects in Los Angeles that fulfill the Complete Streets objectives of facilitating travel for people of all ages and modes.

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Today marks a very exciting step forward in our continuing effort to implement more cycletracks in Los Angeles. From 12-2pm this afternoon, we tested various cycletrack physical barrier options including armadillos and K71 bollards.  As a refresher, cycletracks, also known as protected bicycle lanes, are on street lanes that separate people on bicycles from motorized traffic by physical barriers such as curbs, planters, parked cars, and posts. They are a relatively new infrastructure that has become more and more popular around the nation.

K71 bollards and armadillos in the buffer zone await bicycles, a sedan, a truck, and the ultimate test: the LAFD fire truck!

Starting at 9 am, LADOT crews began installation of the cycletrack test materials. The installation served as a test for all road users, seeking to understand the various interactions the different types of barriers will face in their everyday contexts.

LADOT crews install an armadillo

Around noon, City employees, Mayor’s Office staff, folks from LACBC and the City of LA Bicycle Advisory Committee helped test the barriers with their bicycles, observing their perception of separation as well as the mountability of the materials.

Testing ridability over the armadillos

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