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Guess what #BikeLA? Bikeshare is coming to Los Angeles in Spring 2016! 1,090 bikes at 65 strategically located stations will transform the way we move around Downtown LA.

What is bikeshare you ask? Bikeshare is a fleet of bicycles available for check out 24/7! Bikes can be picked up from one station and returned to any other in the system. It is an ideal way to get around and a new way to see LA!

In the next two weeks, you will have an opportunity to join us to test out the bikes and give feedback about the proposed station map! We heard from many of you about your preferred station locations already but if you haven’t yet had a chance to give your two cents, come on by! We’re all ears! And yes, you will be able to test ride the bikes! There will be a demo kiosk, fully equipped with bikes. Did we say bikes?  Bikeshare? Yes, we’re excited, we hope you are too!

Bikeshare demo station

Wait, there’s more! Bring your wallets! While testing these bikes is free, it will be sure to induce your hunger. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to eat from fresh and local eateries at each of these upcoming events:

If you’re wondering who is coordinating these events, it is the all-star collaboration between LADOT + Metro + BTS (and their partners B-CycleRidescoutTool Design Group and BikeHub). If you are interested in learning more, stop by, give us a shoutout on Twitter and stay tuned for more updates! We hope you love #bikeshareLA!

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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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Great news #BikeLA! We are one step closer to the historic launch of Los Angeles bikeshare changing the way we get around DTLA. We’re about to flash right into the future and our Downtown transportation options are about to become practical, cost effective, and neighborhood livening with the implementation of a regional bikeshare system!

Yesterday, the Metro Planning & Programming Committee unanimously approved for full Board consideration the adoption of the Regional Bikeshare Implementation Plan and the award of a 2-year operations contract to Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS). Soon the item will be in front of the full Metro Board of Directors for a vote. Next Thursday, June 25 at 9am the Board will consider the contract with BTS and their partner Bcycle, to operate a regional bikeshare program for LA County. If the Board votes to pass the item, the project will move forward, with the countywide bikeshare program on track to launch next spring in downtown Los Angeles!

The DTLA pilot will provide 65 bikeshare stations and more than 1,000 bikes.  If the Pilot proves successful, Metro’s larger regional program will expand to include 4,000 bikes around nine cities and communities including Pasadena, West Hollywood, Venice and others.

Proposed bikeshare expansion map

Bikeshare is an ideal fit for LA, with our sunny and 75 degree winters and relatively flat terrain. Bikeshare will help revolutionize how people get around our neighborhoods, since it allows users to take a bike at one station and return it to any other within the system. In other words, bikeshare is really good for connecting people to places especially for trips that are easier on a bike than by car — one-way or round-trip. Bikeshare is a great way to travel to and from transit, closing the first/last mile gaps. It also brings people to business districts and provides opportunities for effortless exercise!

BTS launched Indego, Philadelphia’s bikeshare system of 500 bicycles in April (photo: Philly Fun Guide)

The BTS/Bcycle team chosen to operate the LA County system successfully launched in Philadelphia this April with 500 bikes. The company was selected after a rigorous procurement process in which staff evaluated several bikeshare companies. Among the reasons they were selected:

•BTS and its partner, Bcycle, have delivered bikeshare systems on-time in other cities and they have a good track record with those cities and with customer satisfaction.

•The BTS/Bcycle staff have expertise implementing large bikeshare programs in other cities, including Philladelphia, New York and Washington D.C. BTS operates bikeshare systems in Philly and Oklahoma City. Bcycle, in separate partnerships, has bikeshare systems in Denver, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and many others.

•Metro believes the BTS/Bcycle team has the greatest ability to deliver more than 1,000 bikes and 65 kiosks for Metro’s pilot program in Downtown L.A.

•The BTS/Bcycle team has also been working on allowing payment for bikes with transit fare cards in Philadelphia and Santiago, Chile. Metro wants its riders to be able to use TAP cards to pay for bikeshare memberships or rentals, with the vision that bikeshare is just an extension of the transit system.

This announcement has prompted questions about inter-operability of the different bikeshare systems in the County. Prior to the Metro Board deciding in 2014 to pursue a regional bikeshare program, two other cities — Long Beach and Santa Monica — had already secured funding and began planning their own bikeshare programs. The start dates of bikeshare in those cities is still to be determined but the bottom line is that the cities have different vendors, raising the question of whether their bikeshare systems will be compatible with the regional system.

Metro and the regional bikeshare program cities will continue working with Long Beach and Santa Monica to ensure “interoperability” and a good customer experience for those who want to use the different bikeshare systems. That means Metro will be discussing common fare structures (including use of TAP as a membership card) as well as inclusive bikeshare memberships, consistency in marketing and possibly co-locating bikeshare facilities for those traveling between Metro’s bikeshare kiosks and Long Beach and/or Santa Monica.

On Thursday, June 25th, the full Metro Board will consider the bikeshare contract with the BTS/Bcycle team at 9am in Union Station’s Metro Board Room. The meeting is open to the public and speaker cards will be available for those who wish to comment.

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It’s a wrap! Bike Week 2015 is officially over… animated bicycling creatures, a spinning wheel of trivia, 25 foot fish skeletons, shamans, BIKE SOCKS and so much more! Thanks Metro and all the LA County partners who worked so hard to put this all together! It was truly unforgettable because Bike Weeks come and go, but the memories stay with us forever. In case your memory’s not as great as ours, or you weren’t able to attend all the events, here’s a quick recap…

This year’s program for Bike Week was jam-packed with fun. Over at the LADOT Bike Program, we made sure not to miss any of the wonderful opportunities to get up and out with Metro and our bicycle partners, propagating bike love across LA throughout the week.

Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager, speaking at Grand Park's Bike Week 2015 Press Conference on Monday.  Image: LADOT Bike Program.

Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager, knocks our socks off at Grand Park’s Bike Week 2015 Press Conference on Monday, May 11. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

MONDAY

LADOT General Manager, Seleta Reynolds, kicked off Bike Week 2015 with a group ride into work. She led a group ride of LADOT employees from Echo Park to LADOT headquarters in Downtown. Next stop: the Bike Week kick off press conference at Grand Park!  The press conference was star-studded with #bikeLA VIPs including Councilmember Paul Krekorian,  Councilmember Jose HuizarMetro’s day 1 on the job new CEO Phil Washington, Metro boardmember and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Caltrans’ District 7 Director Carrie Bowen, LACBC’s Executive Director Tamika ButlerCICLE’s Executive Director Vanessa Gray, Good Samaritan Hospital’s Andy Leeka, and CicLAvia’s Aaron Paley. Also, lots and lots of cameras and media from local news channels.

Later that day, Metro hosted the “Is Bicycling In Your Future?” panel moderated by Frances Anderton, host of KCRW Design and Architecture and daily bicycle commuter.  The panel featured Laura Cornejo, Deputy Executive Officer at Metro; Maria Sipin, Advisory Board Member of Multicultural Communities for Mobility; Tamika Butler, Executive Director of Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition; and Sergeant Mike Flynn, LAPD Central Traffic Division Bicycle Liaison. Panelists explored whether bicycle ridership will increase as viewed through the lens of engineering, enforcement, and encouragement. We did some math on this and… short answer: YES, bicycling is in YOUR future!

Monday night panel held at Caltrans Building. Image: Rubina Ghazarian

Monday night panel at Caltrans Building

TUESDAY

Tuesday opened with the 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles! As usual the Blessing was at the Downtown adjacent Good Samaritan Hospital, accompanied by a delicious breakfast. During the morning, fallen bicyclists and advocates were recognized. Then religious figures literally bless bicyclists as they ride by, ensuring them a safe passage throughout the year.

The 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles hosted by the Good Samaritan Hospital saw a large number of participants and a new recipient of the Golden Spoke Award. Image: Joe Linton/Streetblog LA.

The 12th annual Blessing of the Bicycles hosted by the Good Samaritan Hospital saw a large number of participants and a new recipient of the Golden Spoke Award. Image: Joe Linton/Streetblog LA.

WEDNESDAY

Wednesday’s Bike-In Movies defied inclement weather (by LA standards) by attracting a park full of people on two wheels and their fascinating chair-and-blanket contraptions. Danny Gamboa of Ghost Bikes and Metro’s Jack Moreau MC-ed the night. The shorts ranged from animated critters dealing with aggressive cartoon cars to the very solemn stories of families who have lost loved ones and found peace through the Ghost Bikes movement.

Bike-In Movie Night at Marsh Park had a full house, with over 100 people showing up on bikes. Image: East Side Riders BC.

Bike-In Movie Night at Marsh Park had a full house, with over 100 people showing up on bikes. Image: East Side Riders BC.

THURSDAY

Thursday was Bike to Work Day! This event featured hundreds of pit stops across LA County. Our very own LADOT Bike Program’s pit stop hung out with the Caltrans pit stop in front of our headquarters at Main and 1st Street. Commuters came for the freebies and stayed for fun! We offered snacks, information, and other cool bike swag. We had many special pit stop visits including Tamika Butler and Eric Bruins from LACBCFirst 5 LA, former LADOT Bike Program superstar Jon Overman, and a news crew from Biola University.

From left: Elizabeth Gallardo - LADOT Bike Program's Assistant Coordinator and Tamika Butler - LACBC's Executive Director. Image: Karina Macias.

Assistant Bicycle Coordinator Elizabeth Gallardo chillin with LACBC Executive Director Tamika Butler

Later that night, creatives from across the region shared their bicycle-themed artwork with LA Metro for the Color Wheels Art Show. The reception was held at the Caltrans Building, coinciding with DTLA Art Walk. Food, music, and prizes, as well as the really cool bicycle art, helped fill the room. If you haven’t yet visited the exhibition, don’t worry, the show will be open all month! One of our favorite pieces was the fish skeleton stuffed with trash found in the LA River (Bicycle Coordinator Rubina Ghazarian not included in the art piece). The piece shows not only that our bike lanes are large enough to accommodate a giant fish towed via bike trailer from Burbank, but that we need to take better care of our streets, rivers, and oceans!

Color Wheel

Bicycle Coordinator Rubina Ghazarian salutes Bike Week from the Color Wheels ghost fish

FRIDAY

Bike Night at Union Station was the BEST! The event was hosted in the Old Ticket Room in Los Angeles’s most historic train station. We don’t want to gloat, but our LADOT Spin-the-Bike-Wheel was pretty cool! The trivia contest was all the rage, with people lining up again and again for an opportunity to prove their #bikeLA cred and win special prizes.

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We were extra proud to see how many young people were winning at the Wheel, exhibiting some serious street knowledge… You go, #bikeLA! Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Most exciting for us though was our opportunity to debut our brand new Bikeways Guides, hot off the presses from the print shop!  We distributed hundreds of our new maps, updating people with the first new guide since 2011!  Bike Night was also full of music, food trucks, a photobooth and sweet prizes for everyone courtesy of Metro and sponsors. Free bike valet and tune-ups services were offered by Fleet Streets. Once again, Bike Night has proven to be the champion of all Bike Week wrap-ups.

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Karina and Ben holding down the fort and thrilling crowds with Spin-the-Bike-Wheel! Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Talking the talk and walking the walk, we want to share what some Angelenos did during the week. A bike ride held by UCLA Urban Planning students and alumni (and former familiar faces from the Bike Program) visited NoHo Arts Districts, Chandler Bike Path, Griffith Park, LA River Bike Path, North Atwater Park, and Golden Road Brewing on Saturday, May 16. Across the City and beyond, many other rides took place during the week. Please share with us what you did during Bike Week in the comment section!

This group of UCLA students and alumni got together and rode from NoHo to Golden Road Brewing on Sat, May 16. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

This group of UCLA students and alumni got together and rode from NoHo to Golden Road Brewing. Image: Jose Tchopourian.

Bike Week hooks you up with the events and people to begin or continue your bike journey! And probably most importantly, it provides you the tools to navigate the streets of Los Angeles by bicycle safely.  Sadly, Bike Week 2015 has ended, but the fun continues because May is Bike Month!

Ride safely and we hope to see you on the road whether it’s Bike Week or not because at LADOT every week is Bike Week!

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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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Guangzhou residents using their bright orange bikeshare bikes. (Photo courtesy: itdp-china.org)

Here at LADOT we are working closely with Metro and coordinating with Santa Monica and Long Beach to bring bikeshare to Los Angeles County. As we work diligently on launching a regional system, we like to stay up to date about programs in other cities to understand best practices and learn from one another. Time and again, one trend has proven true – Bikeshare is here, there and everywhere and growing exponentially every year.

Nationally, within the last five years, bikeshare systems have boosted multi-modal mobility in large cities like Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, New York, Bay Area, and Seattle. Bikeshare has also emerged as a mid- and small city transportation solution in Des Moines, Aspen, Boulder, San Antonio, and many more.  Internationally, cities all over the world have launched bikeshare systems. As of September 2014, bikeshare programs help transport people in more than 700 cities in 57 countries, with a combined fleet close to 800,000 bicycles worldwide.

Bikeshare has seen upward trending growth in the past few years – in 2013 total program launches rose by 60%. A large part of this growth can be attributed to one country: China leads the world in terms of number of programs, stations, and bicycles by a long shot. The numbers increase daily, but as of September, 170 separate operations were on the ground in Chinese cities. Close seconds include Italy and Spain with 130 programs each. Tied for third were Germany, France, and the United States with roughly 40 cities each. To put that into perspective – while only one out of every six people live in China, three out of four bikeshare bikes, in the world, are located there.

Bicycling is not new to China. Three decades ago, China was referred to as the “Kingdom of Bicycles” due to the majority of the vast population who used bicycles for transportation. However, bicycle use has significantly declined over the past 20 years. Consistent with trends in “emerging markets“, China has shifted towards the automobile in recent years. One step China has taken to combat the declining numbers of people using bicycles for transportation and address transit connectivity was to launch public bikeshare programs countrywide. This shift has reignited the country’s passion for bicycling and helps to hinder the growing reliance on owning and utilizing automobiles. (more…)

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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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