Posts Tagged ‘2010 Bicycle Plan’


New bike lanes have been popping up all over the city, including this one on Eagle Rock Blvd. Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock

Why Data Matters For Bikeway Implementation

Over the past two fiscal years, the LADOT Bicycle Program has installed well over a hundred miles of new bike lanes, filling gaps in the city’s bicycle network and enhancing street conditions to make cycling more safe and pleasant. Alongside this effort, the LADOT will also soon be moving forward with highly anticipated bike projects in the city’s first EIR package, marking a huge step forward in the 2010 Bicycle Plan implementation process.

However, great as these accomplishment are, we don’t fully know the impact of bike lane projects and neighborhood bike networks unless we collect data evaluating the impacts of all this new bike infrastructure. How do new bike lanes and road diets affect the number of people bicycling on a street? Do bike lanes improve overall street safety? These are questions we need to answer. Additionally, we don’t know where bike infrastructure is most needed, and has the most potential if we don’t know the popular cycling corridors in the city. Simply put, data collection is incredibly important for evaluating the effectiveness of existing bikeways, and determining how best to advance new bicycle projects.

Since 2009, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) has coordinated – with the help of volunteers – bicycle and pedestrian counts throughout Los Angeles to help measure changes in the level of cycling. The results of the LACBC’s most recent counts, from 2011, observed a tremendous increase in the amount of cycling compared to 2009, particularly on streets that received bike lanes in the time between the two counts. While studies across the nation have demonstrated that building bicycle infrastructure leads to increases in the level of cycling, the LACBC bike counts attach real numbers to actual streets and bike projects in Los Angeles.

How YOU Can Help Future Bikeway Projects

The LACBC is now in the process of coordinating bike counts for 2013. They are scheduled to take place on the 10th and 14th of September, and the LACBC needs your help to put together the most comprehensive and accurate bike counts yet. Because this year’s bike counts will be conducted shortly after over a hundred of new miles have been implemented and with highly anticipated road diets on the horizon, they are especially crucial from a data collection standpoint. The LACBC’s September bike counts will offer an indication of how effective the past fiscal year’s bike lanes have been while offering important “before” data for future bike lane projects.

Ultimately, by simply continuing to count bicycle and pedestrian traffic, the LACBC will be collecting and compiling data the city unfortunately would not otherwise have, while reminding us not to overlook those walking and bicycling on our public streets. All modes of travel matter and deserve to be counted.

Take Action Now

LACBC Bike Count Flyer

LACBC Flyer Promoting the September 2013 Bike Count. Click image for printable version. Image credit: LACBC

If you can, please consider signing up to volunteer for the LACBC’s bike counts. The simple act of collecting accurate data on bicycle and pedestrian usage on our streets will simultaneously help educate Angelenos on the growing popularity of active transportation, evaluate the effectiveness of existing bikeways, and provide valuable data on streets slated for future bikeways.

For more information on the LACBC’s September 2013 bike counts, click here– and to be directly linked to the LACBC bike count volunteer form, click here. For those on facebook, check out the 2013 Bike Count event page.

After you sign up to volunteer, you MUST choose a volunteer orientation session to attend

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As a cyclist, there are few things that slow your roll more than stop signs and traffic lights. Getting back up to speed after stopping can take a lot of energy. Stopping at every light and stop sign can add minutes to your trip, and the extra exertion can leave you sweaty and tired when you get to your destination.

So, what do many cyclists do? Stop signs become yield signs, and often, traffic lights become stop signs. So called “California stops,” or rolling stops, are a common practice for both cyclists and motorists in Los Angeles, and across the country. The practice, while a boon to cyclist momentum, is unfortunately illegal. While states like Idaho, and more recently Virginia, allow cyclists to treat traffic control signals differently than cars do, California does not. In our state, bicycles are vehicles, and vehicles are bound by CVC 21462 and CVC 22450. While the first violation comes with a fine of less than $100 before administrative fees, additional violations increase the monetary cost of the infraction.

Setting aside the valuable, and very real point that bicycles are different than cars, and that bicycles are being made to adhere to a vehicle code that doesn’t totally apply to them, until statutes are changed, bicyclists should follow all traffic laws. They should do so for a number of reasons: Doing so will make cycling safer. It sets a good example for motorists, and it is the law. You might argue that treating a traffic control signal like a yield doesn’t harm anyone, and thus isn’t morally wrong, but this behavior can harm future plans for bicycle infrastructure, the lack of which can lead to real physical injury.

Running traffic lights works counter to the cause of those who want improved bicycle infrastructure because it creates community opposition to cyclists.  Tom Stafford writes that what really annoys drivers about cyclists is this rulebreaking behavior, even if no one is actually hurt by it, because it upsets the “moral order” of the road. Drivers get angry when they see a cyclist doing something they can’t do, whether that’s weaving between cars to move to the front of the queue or treating a stop light as a yield. There is almost a collective “Why do they get to go if I can’t?” uttered whenever a cyclist breezes through an empty intersection. To drivers, the rules of the road are the rules of the road.

As long as bicycles and cars are governed by the same sections of the Vehicle Code, drivers will think cyclists are “getting away with something” when they run red lights. This annoyance with rule breaking cyclists wouldn’t be as big of an issue for bicycle politics in Los Angeles or around the world if it was limited to the rule breakers themselves, but this isn’t the case.

Though what is known as the “affect heuristic“, a driver’s emotional response to perceived cyclist misdeeds becomes generalized to the entire cycling population. “That no-good, rude rule breaking cyclist!” becomes “Those no-good, rude rule breaking cyclists!” or worse yet, “All cyclists are no-good, rude and rule breaking!”

Politically, you can see why this would be an issue. In order for the 2010 Bicycle Plan to be fully implemented, LADOT and cyclists across the city need to rely on local community support. If community members, having seen some cyclists treating a stop light as a yield, see this needed infrastructure as a giveaway to rulebreakers, it’s going to be an even tougher sell.

So please, I know it makes a lot of sense to safely glide though red lights and stop signs. I don’t like slowing my momentum putting my foot down for a full stop as much as the next cyclist, but fairly or unfairly, it hurts the cause of improving LA’s bicycle infrastructure every time you do. As long as bikes and cars have to follow the same rules, running red lights on two wheels just perpetuates incorrect generalizations that can make roads unsafe for cyclists in the short term, and make growing our bikeway network more difficult in the long term.

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123 miles is about the distance from Los Angeles City Hall to downtown San Diego. Mayor Villaraigosa announced February 21st that it is also the number of bikeways installed by LADOT since the beginning of Bicycle Plan implementation in March 2011. The rate of 61 miles every 12 months is almost eight times as fast as in the last 40 years.

A list of the mileage completed so far this fiscal year can be found here:

As the year moves forward, LADOT will be focusing on adding additional bicycle lanes, more bicycle parking, several bicycle path construction projects, sharrowing more than 22 miles of roads, and installing Bicycle-Friendly Street infrastructure on 4th Street.

We’d like to thank the leadership of Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council, as well as the city’s many bicycle advocates, for helping to make Los Angeles a more Bicycle Friendly Community.

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