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Posts Tagged ‘Bike Lanes’

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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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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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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Did implementing a road diet on York Boulevard make the street safer? Yes, it did! Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock

When the LADOT proposes a road diet (also known as a roadway reconfiguration) on a street, it primarily does so with the intent of improving traffic safety. As it happens, road diets are frequently opportunities to specifically enhance conditions for people walking and bicycling – the most vulnerable users of our streets – while improving overall safety for all. After decades of study on the national level, road diets are officially acknowledged by the FHWA as a proven means to improve safety and the logistics of why road diets succeed in doing this  have previously been laid out on this blog. (more…)

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Rendering of the banner on a Collection Vehicle

We’re back with the Don’t Trash the Bike Lanes campaign!  As you may recall, last year we began to design a campaign in partnership with the Bureau of Sanitation to remind Angelenos to refrain from placing their trash cans in bike lanes (or otherwise obstructing them).  The campaign will focus on training Bureau of Sanitation employees to not place refuse bins in bike lanes after dumping, and will raise public awareness with a banner campaign on Sanitation Vehicles. (more…)

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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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Two LADOT bike racks in front of bicycle friendly Society of the Spectacle. Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock

(This post is part of our community profile series, which provides an insightful look into bicycle friendly and bicycle related businesses in the City of Los Angeles. We hope to show why these businesses choose to be bike friendly, and how they are helping to improve the qualify of life for all Angelenos. The LADOT Bike Program is committed to encouraging and supporting bicycling in the City of Los Angeles. If you know of a business that would like to be included in our series here on the LADOT Bike Blog, feel free to leave us a comment below, fill out our form, or email us at ladotbikeblog@gmail.com.)

Featured in today’s community profile are Amy and Katie O’Connell, owners of the eye wear store Society of the Spectacle, located on 4563 York Boulevard in the Highland Park neighborhood. Both are very enthusiastic about cycling and enjoy riding around the Highland Park and Eagle Rock area.

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