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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

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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A student bicycles through the Safe Moves City.

A student bicycles through the Safe Moves City.

Improving the safety of our bicyclists is a huge priority for LADOT. It’s a driving force behind the work we do at the Bicycle Program and the reason we’re working to install more bike paths, lanes and routes in the city than ever before. However, providing adequate bicycle infrastructure is only one component. To truly create a better cycling environment and see safety improvements, we need to teach current and future bicyclists about safe bicycling practices.

Safe Moves- School Bicycle Safety and Transit Education Program

Currently, LADOT contracts with the Safe Moves program to educate over 175,000 students a year about habits and skills they can adopt to be safer bicyclists. Safe Moves works with students to teach defensive bicycling habits such as making eye contact, checking over one’s shoulder, and being aware when walking and bicycling. An interactive course allows students to bike through a mock city where students are exposed to the same risks posed by a real-life urban cycling environment. Although the course is designed to create a fun experience for the students, it’s also designed to guide each student through traffic issues they could encounter. The mock city course features railroad tracks, cars laving and entering driveways and signalized intersections. Instructors demonstrate where the door zone is, proper signaling techniques and the dangers presented by riding the wrong way against traffic.

In addition to educating students about safe bicycling skills, the Safe Moves program create a social environment where students can feel comfortable asking questions and try out different types of bicycles. Safe Moves strives to create a dialogue about how students currently travel and the alternatives to driving to school.

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Students listen to an instructor before trying out the course. Helmets provided by Safe Moves.

 Bringing Safe Moves to your school

If you’re interested in bringing a Safe Moves workshop to a school, you can contact Safe Moves at their website or you can make a request with your local principal or school administrator. Safe Moves hosts workshops during school hours (usually one per grade level), after-school workshops, community, and weekend events so you can work with Staff to design a workshop that fits your community’s needs.

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Karina Macias, LADOT Bike Program Graphics Guru

2014 is a big year for the LADOT Bike Program identity!  For the past 8 months we’ve been blessed with the ultra talented Karina Macias, our pro-bono consultant who designed new Bike Program stickers, spoke cards, and took the Bike Program graphic identity in an entirely new direction.  The Bike Blog took a moment to sit down with this graphics mastermind to get to the bottom of her brilliant design strategy.

Bike Blog: Why #BikeLA?

Karina: “We wanted to encourage a community, within social networking, of people who ride their bicycle in LA. [#BikeLA] would be the easiest way for bicyclists to share their ideas and stories.  This is the Bike Program’s way of identifying with them and building a community around bicycling.”

Bike Program Sticker by Karina Macias

Bike Blog: Why green?

Karina: “Bikes mean money… I mean, green is a comfortable color.  The Spring Street bike lanes are green and it makes bicyclists feel comfortable.”

Bike Blog: What about the spoke cards?  I see there’s a golden ticket…

Karina: “With the City of LA’s growing bikeways network, I felt this was the Bike Program’s way of giving bicyclists a golden ticket to a transportation network, to pedal powered transportation.”

This is your Golden Ticket!

Bike Blog: And the anatomy of a safe bike?

Karina: “That stems from my own ignorance of what a safe and well maintained bike should look like.  I wanted to share with everyone what I researched.”

Anatomy of a Safe Bike

Karina also designed a very handy spoke card that outlines the rules and regulations every Los Angeles bicyclist should know and carry on their bike.  The card includes both State and LA City bicycle laws.

Rules and Regulations Spoke Card side 1

Rules and Regulations Spoke Card side 2

We are so proud of these new promotional materials! Please stop by an outreach event soon to stock up on our fun, informational, and awesomely designed stickers and spoke cards!

And, if you want, you can follow Karina on Twitter! @kmacfromla

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Sharrows on Westholme Dr. in Los Angeles

A pair of sharrows on Westholme Dr. in Los Angeles

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

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


Click here to access or download the original spreadsheet

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Credit: LADOT Bike Blog

This woman looked very happy to be riding on the newly extended 7th Street bicycle lanes (Credit: LADOT Bike Blog).

Last Friday, LADOT crews began the work of extending the bicycle lanes and road diet on West 7th Street into Downtown LA’s Financial District and Historic Core. Since this is such an exciting project that will form a major connection in the Downtown bikeway network, we wanted to provide an update on the work that’s been performed so far (as of Friday, November 1) and what still needs to be done. (more…)

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July’s Bike Plan Implementation Team meeting was packed!

At our most recent Bicycle Plan Implementation Team meeting, Bikeways Engineer Tim Fremaux briefly noted that the LADOT implemented a number of road diets in the past fiscal year. Although it was only mentioned in passing, after looking at the exact mileage, it turns out this is actually a big accomplishment. Of the 100 miles of bike lanes installed over the last fiscal year, 20.1 miles came in the form of road diets. This comes as particularly promising news from a traffic safety perspective in light of the great safety improvements recently observed on a section of York Boulevard that received a road diet in 2006. So let’s take a page from the SFMTA, and be proud of our road diets, and see exactly where these road diets are:

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