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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

The City of Los Angeles is the backdrop to countless scenes broadcast through the lens of a camera around the world. Most commonly, the City is associated with surfing, high school love, Noirs (animated and acted), miles of freeway, and the apocalypse in the form of volcanoes, meteor showers, martians, zombies, and, of course, earthquakes. While movie directors are interested in portraying the destruction of Los Angeles in cinematic productions, civil servants work day in and day out to make sure these catastrophic plot lines don’t unfold and life in the City goes on as usual.

This year, a main focus of the City’s is to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Scientists predict one of the strongest El Niño’s recorded will torment Southern California and parts of the Northern Hemisphere from January to March 2016. On November, 2015 the City El Niño Task Force was created by an Executive Directive signed by Mayor Garcetti. The goals of the Task Force are to bring together different City departments to collaborate and ensure the City is prepared to respond and, if necessary, recover from any issues caused by El Niño weather conditions. From stockpiling sandbags (200,00 of them!) to scheduling extra street sweeping, City agencies are ready to handle the wet weather our drought-parched landscape will soon receive.

Executive Directive on El Niño

Mayor Garcetti signing Executive Directive No. 14, which formed a City task force in preparation for El Niño. #squadgoals

To help Angelenos prepare for changing weather and stay informed about any emergencies, the City has some helpful resources available at its El Niño LA websiteAngelenos should check their roofs for leaks, clear gutters of leaves, and make sure their cars’ wipers, tires, and brake pads are up to spec. What if you get around on your bike, you ask? With a little bit of know-how under your belt and the right gear, you can keep riding through El Niño too. Stay one step ahead with our helpful tips below to keep moving through the winter, whether on foot, bike, bus, train, or car.

Tips for Riding in the Rain

Just as if you were driving a car or taking transit in the rain, you’ll have to adjust your behavior when riding your bike in the rain. Unlike putting on that fancy rain cape you’ve been storing in your closet, the following tips for riding in the rain involve a little more effort:

    • Check the Anatomy of Your Bicycle: The following tips all assume that your bike is working well. Take a few moments to inspect your bike’s most critical parts before your ride. If your bike’s brakes were having trouble slowing you down in dry weather, this is a good time to fix them or take your bike to a shop for a professional’s touch. The rear wheel should lift off the ground when you squeeze your front brake and lean into the front handlebars. Spin your wheels and make sure they aren’t loose. The last thing you want on a wet day is for your wheels to pop off!
Anatomy of a Safe Bike

To ride on streets, California law requires you ride a bike that meets all these specs, rain or shine.

  • Slow Down: Water between the roadway and your bike’s tires reduces traction. Less traction means slowing down and stopping will take more time. The best way to avoid skidding is to lower speed. Take your normal riding speed and ride at 75% that speed or so in the rain. Slowing down gives you enough time to correct any traction issues.
  • Brake Early: In the rain, roadways, tires, brake pads, and rims all get wet and, combined, extending braking time. If your bike has rim brakes, it will take a few tire revolutions before water between the brake pads and wheel is cleared and the brakes can grip the rim. Plan for this delay, look ahead, and start slowing down early to make a complete stop.
  • Brake Straight: Your bike’s brakes work best when you are traveling in a straight line. If you have to slow down or stop, do so before you’re making a turn.
  • Corner Wide and Slow: Make turns at corners slower and wider than usual. Start further out and take the widest and straightest path possible. Avoid sudden sharp turns.
  • Braking while Turning: Don’t do it! Slow down enough (see ‘Brake Early’ tip) before turning so you can coast through the motion. Sudden corner braking may cause your back wheel to skid and slide a bit. If this happens, don’t panic! Just let off the brake and look straight ahead, the bike will straight itself out.

Watch Out for Tricky Surfaces

Now that you’re riding, braking, and cornering safely, there are some special surface conditions caused by El Niño you should know how to handle.

  • Oil Slicks: After the rain, all the oil and gunk leaking out cars will float to the top of puddles and on the roadway. Keep an eye out for an iridescent sheen when riding and try to avoid riding over it to prevent skidding. If you can’t avoid a slick, coast through it without pedaling or braking to maximize traction.     

    Street. Yellow lines. Oil.

    Avoid oil slicks brought to the surface to prevent skidding. Photo courtesy: Flickr user Nik Stanbridge

  • Puddles: What looks like a bit of standing water could be a foot of water filling a hole in the roadway. To help avoid puddle-related hazards, ride towards the center of the lane (take the entire lane when possible) to give yourself enough room to move left or right around puddles.
  • Road Markings and Metal: Road markings can become slicker when wet. Similarly, drainage grates, manhole covers, and other metallic surfaces can become more slippery when wet. Ride slowly enough that you will be able to proceed cautiously over or around these surfaces.

Helpful Gear

Riding tips will help you maneuver through wet conditions and the right equipment and attire will help you stay warm and cozy in any ride.

Helpful Gear when Biking in the Rain

Don’t let the rain stop ya! Get suited up and arrive on your bike.

  • Get Fenders: Invest in some fenders for your bike! These metal contraptions keep all the debris washed onto the roadway by the rain on the ground and off of you.
  • Turn On Lights: By law, you should have a front white light and a red rear light. When it’s raining, even if you’re riding during the day, you should turn on your lights to increase your visibility.
  • Wear Waterproof Garments: A stylish rain cape is a particularly useful do-it-all piece of equipment during inclement weather. It drapes over your whole body, so you can wear whatever you want underneath. Other great options include waterproof jackets or plastic bags in a pinch.
  • Dress in Layers: If you’re not outfitted properly, you’re going to get wet. Make sure you’re wearing clothes that prevent water from getting in while allowing you to vent away excess heat and sweat. It may be cold out but you’re going to work up a sweat riding to your destination, so dress in layers to accommodate your needs. Consider wearing thermal under-layers made of wool or some other moisture-wicking fabric under your clothes during colder, windier days. Gloves are another great addition to prevent your wet and wind-blasted hands from getting too frigid.
  • Save your Stuff: While keeping yourself dry is most important, you should keep your electronics and important documents moisture-free too. Make sure your backpack or panniers are waterproof. If not, cover them with a waterproof layer. You can put the last of your plastic bags to good use here.  
  • Protect your Peepers:  Wind-whipped water can take a toll on your eyes, so protect them by wearing clear-lensed glasses. Remember, you should be able to see at all times when riding.

Rainy days, courtesy of El Niño, are rapidly approaching. Share your new found knowledge and preparation skills with your friends, so we can all keep riding through the rainy season.

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Walk and bike lanes with father and daughter riding their bikes

The Metro Orange Line Bike Path is sufficiently wide to provide separate demarcated spaces for people walking and bicycling.

As the City works to design and build road improvements to support active transportation and revitalize the Los Angeles River, Angelenos are increasingly re-discovering the beauty of the City, changing how they travel throughout it, and visiting outdoor places to exercise. The bike path along the Los Angeles River is one of the few places in this City that can host people taking in nature, commuting to their destination, or just enjoying a pleasant bike ride or walk.

The continuous 7-mile segment of bike path that runs parallel to a mostly  soft-bottom portion of the river between Glendale and Elysian Valley known as the “Glendale Narrows” has proven to be especially popular for a number of activities, including: dog-walking, bicycling, recreational walking, bird watching, and more. Like many places in Los Angeles that become popular, the limited space, often less than 15 feet wide, available at this section of the LA River bike path can become crowded. At times, the bike path is occupied by dozens of people walking, rolling, and bicycling.

If You Build It, They Will All Come

Prior to the bike path being built from Fletcher Drive to approximately Riverside Drive in 2010, there was only 4.6 miles of continuous bike path from Fletcher Dr. to Zoo Dr. Few people rode their bikes along the Los Angeles River service road on the not-yet-constructed portion of the LA River through Elysian Valley, although the passage was used informally by locals. After the LA River path was extended to its current southern endpoint at Riverside Dr. in Elysian Valley, the facility’s smooth surface and accessible entrances attracted people walking, rolling, pushing strollers, and bicycling. What was formerly a 4.6-mile bike path became a continuous 7-mile shared use bike path, giving people more room to enjoy spaces along the LA River. Over the years, communities along the Glendale Narrows have also seen change and are drawing more attention to the LA River. Today, many people happily use what will eventually become a long linear park as it is intended for a variety of uses and activities. Despite the limited space, most users are able to get along most of the time – whether they walk, bike, or roll.

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Then CD 13 Councilmember Eric Garcetti and then CD 4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge at the grand opening of the Elysian Valley section of the LA River bike path.

Sharing the Bike Path

Unfortunately, this post is not about the usual harmonious rhythm shared by LA River bike path users, it is about the small portion of time when path users struggle to get along. Every now and then, people walking or rolling on the path encounter people riding their bicycles at high speeds, making them uncomfortable and concerned. On the other hand, people on bicycles complain about people who walk in groups of three or more abreast or against the flow of bicycle travel. We hear reports of people colliding or nearly colliding with one another on the path, which can startle path users and discourage them revisiting this beautiful resource. In a perfect world, the path would be wide enough that none of these conflicts would exist but the reality is that the current width of the bike path is what is feasible given physical constraints and available resources.

The City has few places that provide a better, uninterrupted bicycling experience than the Los Angeles River bike path, and as the River’s amenities continue to be built out all of us must do our part to keep the path a friendly and accommodating place for everyone.

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When everybody shares and uses the bike path responsibly, we can all get in on the LA River fun!

Keep in mind that both people walking and bicycling are legal users of the path. Below are useful tips to keep in mind when sharing bike path:

When Bicycling:

  • Yield to people walking or rolling.
  • Slow down for pedestrians entering the path.
  • Slow down when passing anyone.
  • Pass only when it is safe to do so.
  • Travel at safe speed with due regard for others.
  • Be especially cautious around children and elderly people.
  • When traveling side-by-side, stay on the right side of the path when pedestrians are present.
  • Ride in single file when there is not enough room to adequately share the path.
  • Slow down when approaching pedestrians
  • Giving audible warning (i.e., saying “passing left”, ringing bell), pass only when safe to do so, and when in doubt, stop.

When Walking:

  • Look both ways before entering the path.
  • Keep to the right side of the path.
  • Do not walk/stop in the middle of the path.
  • Make sure children know where to walk and when in doubt hold their hand.
  • Walk your dog(s) on a short leash (and please pick up after him or her).
  • Look behind you and ahead- especially when moving across the path.

Remember, the LA River bike path is a shared resource and we must all be courteous to its other users.

Key Laws Regarding Bike Paths

The following is the text and summary of laws relative to Bicycle Path use in the State of California and City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles River.

California Vehicle Code

No motorized bicycles are allowed on bike paths unless allowed by Code

  • CVC21207.5 Notwithstanding Sections 21207 and 213127 of this code, or any other provision of law, no motorized bicycle may be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over such path or trail permits, by ordinance, such operation.

It is illegal to loiter on or block a bike path except maintenance or utility vehicles

  • CVC21211 (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist. (b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law. (C) This section does not apply to drivers or owners of utility or public utility vehicles as provided in Section 22512.

Due to inadequate available width, no separate pedestrian path is available (like the Orange Line Bike Path), thus pedestrians are legal and welcome users of the Los Angeles River Bike Path

  • CVC 21966 No pedestrian shall proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility.

No cars, motorcycles, mopeds or other motorized vehicles are allowed on the path except maintenance or emergency vehicles.

  • CVC213127. No person shall operate an unauthorized motor vehicle on any state, county, city, private, or district hiking or horseback riding trail or bicycle path that is clearly marked by an authorized agent or owner with signs at all entrances and exists and at intervals of not more than one mile indicating no unauthorized motor vehicles are permitted on the hiking or horseback riding trail or bicycle path, except bicycle paths which are contiguous or adjacent to a roadway dedicated solely to motor vehicle use.

California Streets and Highways Code

Bicycle Paths are designed for the use of people on bicycles AND on foot.

  • S&H Code 890.4 As used in this article, “bikeway” means all facilities that provide primarily for, and promote, bicycle travel. For purposes of this article, bikeways shall be categorized as follows: (a) Bike paths or shared use paths, also referred to as “Class I bikeways,” which provide a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with crossflows by motorists minimized.

Bicycle Path design is overseen by Caltrans (State Dept. of Transportation) and various strategies may be utilized to make all users aware of each other on bike paths.

  • S&H Code 890.9. The department shall establish uniform specifications and symbols for signs, markers, and traffic control devices to designate bikeways, regulate traffic, improve safety and convenience for bicyclists, and alert pedestrians and motorists of the presence of bicyclists on bikeways and on roadways where bicycle travel is permitted.

Los Angeles Municipal Code

Users of bicycle paths, or bikeways, are not allowed to use bicycles, skates, etc in a way that endangers other users of the path.

  • LAMC 56.16-1. No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, cart, wagon, wheelchair, roller skates, or any other device moved exclusively by human power, on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

 

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On a sunny August afternoon in Boyle Heights, Mayor Garcetti signed his tenth executive directive since taking office and launched the City’s new Vision Zero initiative, or #VisionZeroLA! The Mayor was joined by local traffic safety proponents, including our very own General Manager Seleta Reynolds, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Mitchell Englander, other members of the City family, and a newly formed coalition of organizations in support of safer streets for everyone called Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance (LA0).

#VisionZeroLA represents a commitment on behalf of the City of Los Angeles to eliminate traffic-related fatalities by 2025. According to the Mayor’s Office, the City’s Vision Zero policy “is based on the fundamental principle that traffic deaths can be avoided through strategic, data-driven approaches to engineering, enforcement, education evaluation, and community engagement.”

Mayor Garcetti adjusts the mic before announcing #VisionZeroLA.

In a typical year, roughly 200 people are severely injured or killed in traffic collisions in Los Angeles. Approximately 44% of these collisions involved a person walking or riding a bicycle. Vision Zero LA aims to focus multiple City departments to collaborate and develop measures that will reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries from 200 to zero. To this end, our GM Seleta Reynolds will lead the Department to ensure our transportation system offers people safe and comfortable mobility. “We must transform our city so that our youth and older adults aren’t risking their lives just to get around town,” said Seleta.

Tackling traffic safety in a city with over 4,500 miles of streets is an ambitious task.  According to the Vision Zero LA team, however, of the 30,000 collisions a year in Los Angeles, about 65% of those that result in a pedestrian death or severe injury take place on only 6% of the City’s streets.  This proportion of street segments is known as the High-Injury Network and will be the focus of the City’s initial efforts and safety improvements.

Increase Safety, Decrease Costs

Any death or injury resulting from a traffic collision on our streets is one too many. Traffic collisions have a detrimental impact on the city and its residents: physical and emotional pain of the victims and their families, significant economic costs and financial burdens, adverse effects on health and safety, inefficiencies in the transportation system, and lower quality of life for all. Not only will #VisionZeroLA create invaluable benefits for our communities like reducing the physical and emotional harm these type of tragedies cause and ensuring all residents feel safe using our streets, this initiative will also save Los Angeles residents from the financial burden on society generated by traffic collisions that we do not immediately recognize.

recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that all traffic collisions cost the U.S. economy about $836 billion in 2010—$594 billion in value of social harm and $242 billion in economic costs. This staggering figure accounts for 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles. NHTSA researchers estimate the economic cost of crashes based on factors such as property damage, lost earnings, lost household production, medical expenses, emergency services, travel delay, workplace costs, and legal fees, while the societal impacts of collisions are quantified based on physical and emotional pain and loss of quality of life.

The economic cost of each traffic-related fatality to society is approximated at nearly $1.4 million; more than 95% of this amount accounts for lost time in the workplace and household, absent contributions to the market, and legal expenses. A cost breakdown from the NHTSA report based on severity of traffic collision is included below:

In 2010, Californians paid 8.3%, or $19 billion, of the total economic cost of traffic collisions nationwide, the greatest proportion out of any other State.

Based on the 200 traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries in Los Angeles in 2013 and cost estimates from the NHTSA, the LADOT Bike Blog estimates these fatalities cost our City nearly $280 million. The varying costs of collisions are summarized in the table below, differentiated by the extent of injuries and types of transportation modes involved. Over half of the reported 200 fatalities were people walking or riding their bicycle. Cost details for collisions without reported injuries (i.e. vehicle damage alone) were not included.

The 28,896 traffic-related injuries and fatalities that occurred citywide in 2013 cost all of us approximately $3.681 billion, or $367.36 per resident. In other words, it makes fiscal sense for the city to provide safer infrastructure in order to reduce fatalities and injuries, and avoid a portion of these costs in addition to the other damages caused by traffic collisions.

There is no replacing the loss of a life and to get an idea of the financial toll serious traffic collisions have on our city, here are a few things $3.681 billion could pay for:

For more information on #VisionZeroLA visit visionzero.lacity.org and follow @VisionZeroLA.

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York Bl east of Figueroa, as seen prior to installation of bike lanes in 2014

In the Bicycle Program, part of our job is to make streets safer and more pleasant for bicycling. We realize that as more and more Angelenos are riding their bikes to get around, there may be more opportunities for conflicts between modes on our streets. Some, if not most, conflicts can be partially addressed by engineering and planning, but part of equation remains in individual motorist or bicyclist behavior.

Regardless of what causes the conflicts on our roadways, it is helpful to analyze available collision data to inform us where there is room for improvement, whether it is behavioral or infrastructural. Two years ago, we took a look at collision data on York Boulevard and found that overall crashes decreased 23% between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 55 after a road diet was implemented on that segment of the street. In this post we will take a follow-up look at the updated data, and get into the details of who has been identified in the data as “at fault” and the causation of bicycle-car collisions.  The data we are looking at analyzes the 3.9 mile long segment of York Boulevard between Aguilar Street and Arroyo Verde Road over a 12 year period.

If one wants to look at crash data anywhere in California, the primary repository is the SWITRS database: the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System. All reported collision data is gathered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and made available for query.  CHP collects data from local jurisdictions (in our case, LAPD) and adds it to the statewide database, and all data is made available through the California Public Records Act, which requires all records processed by State government to be publicly accessible. Normally, the data lags about 2 years, but SWITRS remains the most comprehensive data tool available to perform collision analysis over time.

Collision data in California are pared down to manageable categories, which makes it great to track overarching trends, but leaves much to be desired in terms of understanding conditions of collisions and nuances of behavior (two of the most important aspects of planning for safer road configuration and design). In the data, there is always a party determined to be “at fault” and a short list of causes, known as the “collision factor.” A cursory glance at the raw data would make anyone’s head spin: ROW Ped, Party 1 at fault. What does that MEAN? While it may seem confusing initially, SWITRS has a codebook that elaborates on what such terms mean. ROW is an abbreviation for “right-of-way,” and Ped is short for “pedestrian.” What ROW Ped refers to is when someone fails to yield right-of-way to pedestrians or other legal sidewalk users, such as people bicycling. Even terms like “Party 1 at fault” can be intuitive with a little context. Every traffic collision typically involves at least two “parties” and differentiating the people involved entails calling the various parties involved Party 1, Party 2, etc.

In this analysis, we attempt to decode this data.  Though, notoriously, car-bicycle collisions that do not result in a “Killed” or “Severely Injured” person are not reported (which always presents a significant data challenge), we will try to interpret a better understanding of what is really at work in the history of car-bicycle conflicts, with York Boulevard as our case-study.

The Overall Picture

Between 2001 and 2012, there were 39 collisions on York Boulevard involving both people driving and bicycling (SWITRS). Those driving were deemed “at fault” approximately 56.4% of the time, accounting for 22 of the collisions that occurred. Meanwhile, people bicycling were “at fault” in 41% of the collisions, deemed responsible for 16 of the collisions that occurred. In one case, the stated collision cause was “other improper driver,” placing neither party involved – the person bicycling nor the one driving – “at fault” (which accounts for the remaining 2.6%) (more…)

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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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In November 2014, the FHWA published the Road Diet Informational Guide to help communities understand roads diets and their numerous benefits to all roadway users. This past month, LADOT was able to participate in a webinar hosted by the FHWA, which acquainted participants with the new guide. The lessons learned can help inform policies and influence design to create safer streets in our neighborhoods.

As a refresher, road diets (also known as roadway reconfigurations, road buffets, road redesigns, etc.)  are a traffic calming measure that reconfigures roadway space to enhance safety and efficiency for all road users. Road diets can calm and reduce traffic speeds on wide arterials and are an effective safety solution to high traffic speeds, which have caused innumerable traffic fatalities nationwide and in Los Angeles. The most popular design, the standard 4 to 3 configuration, often replaces one auto travel lane with two bicycle lanes, one in each direction, and includes a center turn lane for left turns and emergency vehicles.

Diagram depicts how a road diet is configured when converting from a four-lane roadway to a three-lane roadway.

An example of a typical 4:3 road diet design: FHWA Road Diet Informational Guide

Many of Los Angeles’ arterials were designed during the post-highway planning era. These arterials were built with very wide lanes and often to accommodate a larger volume of cars. Wide lanes are unsafe by design for many users of the roadway because they produce an environment that facilitates speeding and unsafe behavior. The road diet design narrows the travel lanes and is predicted to reduce vehicular speeds and therefore reduce collisions and injuries. Additional benefits include improvements in mobility, access, and livability. There are many misconceptions associated with road diets, but much of these have been refuted by studies and research. The AARP created a fact sheet on road diets, based on nationwide research, showing that road diets are good for business. According to the AARP, “Road diets increase and enhance business activity by reducing traffic speeds (which helps motorists notice the shops, eateries and businesses they’re driving alongside) and by accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists (who tend to spend more money at local businesses than drivers do).”

As has been demonstrated by the successful road diets along York Boulevard & Colorado Boulevard, road diets provide many stand alone safety benefits for all, while simultaneously enhancing connectivity for bicyclists. After the 1.3 mile road diet on York Boulevard between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 54 was installed in 2006, a detailed traffic analysis showed a 23% and 27% reduction in collisions and injuries, respectively, per mile per year. Many bicyclists already ride on arterials because they connect neighborhoods. Adding bicycle lanes increases safety and bolsters connectivity, while providing additional buffers for pedestrians and shortening crossing distances. Bicycle lanes also create a safety-in-numbers effect, an added safety feedback. People on bicycles may also ride more predictably if a space is designated, reducing wrong way riding and dangerous weaving between parked cars and auto traffic.

A total of 51.9 miles of road diets have reshaped the landscape of streets in Los Angeles since the City began implementing them in 1999. However, many new road diet projects were implemented after the adoption of the 2010 Bicycle Plan. It is important to note that road diets are not just meant to serve bicyclists. Discussing the safety impacts of road diets clarifies that road diets equalize the playing field and create safer streets for people walking, bicycling, taking transit, and driving.

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The FHWA Road Diets Informational Guide is detailed and thorough, but if you don’t have the time to read through all of it, here’s a quick list of the key safety and operational benefits for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians found in the guide:

  • Decreased number of vehicle travel lanes pedestrians must cross, therefore reducing the multiple-threat crash (when one vehicle stops for a pedestrian in a travel lane on a multi-lane road, but the motorist in the next lane does not, resulting in a collision) for pedestrians
  • Provide room for a pedestrian crossing island
  • Improved safety for people on bicycles by adding bike lanes (such lanes also create a buffer space between pedestrians and vehicles)
  • Provide the opportunity for on-street parking (also a buffer between pedestrians and vehicles)
  • Reduced rear-end and side-swipe crashes for automobiles
  • Improved speed limit compliance and decreased crash severity when vehicular crashes do occur due at lower speeds

With this new information in hand and the FHWA guide in our back pockets, we look forward to working with more neighborhoods to determine where to implement safer roadway design across the City.

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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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