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Posts Tagged ‘cycletrack’

People walking, bicycling, and driving all share the road in downtown Seattle

This year’s annual conference for the American Planning Association (APA), Sustainable Seattle, was hosted in a city rich with sustainable practices and, appropriately for our interests, complete streets infrastructure.  The APA covers all faces of planning, but complete streets are increasingly a focus of urban (and suburban) planners everywhere. Complete streets that make up walkable, bikeable, and ultimately livable communities, have become the national best practice because they make for sustainable communities, a core tenet and charge of the urban planning profession. The integration of complete streets with retail, mixed-use development, the densification of cities, and sustainable practices were highlighted throughout the conference.

Though LADOT performs much implementation, we are also tasked with planning and project development, which is the area we inhabit in Bicycle Outreach and Planning. Attending the APA conference gives us a broad context for what we do, which can be really helpful in a time where cities are growing at some of the fastest rates ever.  Here are some of our take aways from the conference, followed with a few snapshots of Seattle’s pedestrian-first culture.

Bicycle, bus, and car networks seamlessly weave through the retail-lined Aloha Street

Network connectivity is the nexus of people, land, and local economic vitality

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We’re proud to introduce a new segment to the blog, The Engineer’s Corner, where we interview LADOT’s talented pool of engineers to learn more about them and their work. Our transportation engineers make the city work – they design the infrastructure and systems we use every day to get from point A to point B, from signage and striping, to signal timing and so many other things.  In the second largest city in the country, with over 6,500 miles of City planned and maintained streets, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is home to some of the most thoughtful engineers around.

In this inaugural post we will be highlighting the newest addition to the Bikeways team, Robert Sanchez. Robert comes to Bikeways from the Special Traffic Operations Division (a fancy name for special events) and fills a vacancy left by Tim Fremaux, who had performed much of the outreach during the initial implementation of the 2010 Bicycle Plan. Robert is not new to bikes though!  As you will learn, he has a long history with our Department and the City’s historic bicycle infrastructure.

LADOT Bike Blog: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Robet Sanchez: My name is Robert Sanchez, I am 34 years old, and I am a mechanical engineer by trade but I am licensed as a traffic engineer in the State of California. I grew up in Boyle Heights, east of Downtown near El Mercado de Los Angeles where the Lorena St. Gold Line station is now. I’ve been working at the LADOT for some time now and I really enjoy my work.

What is it like getting to work, can you describe your commute?

Typically I have a three and a half mile bike ride to the El Monte Busway and then I’ll jump on the Silver Streak or one of the rapid buses that bring me to Downtown. Then I ride from Union Station to our District 7 Headquarters here where I lock up my bike in the bike corral in our garage. If the corral is full (because now that more folks ride it gets full sometimes), I lock it to whatever I can find. Heading home, I sometimes ride east along 1st St or 4th St through Boyle Heights, then through East L.A., Montebello and into the City of South El Monte where I live. When I feel adventurous I have a nice 15 mile ride that I can do.

Do you have a favorite walk or bicycle ride you like (whether for recreation or utilitarian purposes)?

I do, actually. I ride and run quite a bit as well. My favorite bike ride is on the San Gabriel River going up towards the Santa Fe Dam or down towards the beach. It’s a really cool river, it has a soft bottom and has water most of the year, so you get to see wildlife and a lot of birds. The San Gabriel River is probably my favorite ride.

So how did you initially become interested in engineering?

I became interested in engineering when I was a little boy, I used to like to take things apart. I didn’t exactly know what engineers did until I was in college, but I always knew I was good with hands-on application, and I liked math and science. It was just something that came naturally. Once I found out exactly how much math was involved, I almost thought twice about it.

You mentioned earlier you have been working in LADOT for some time, how long exactly have you been here?

I believe this July it will be 13 years.

What were you doing before you joined Bikeways?

Before this assignment, I was with Special Traffic Operations Division for approximately 6 and a half years. What we did in that division was planning for any major special event, which could range anywhere from First Amendment events, to presidential motorcade, to parades, to large events like the Los Angeles Marathon and CicLAvia. It is major logistical work, and involves creating detour routes, messaging, signal-timing adjustments. A whole lot of stuff related to special events.

And what do your current day-to-day duties consist of?

That, I am still learning. Right now my day-to-day is focused on active transportation projects with a heavy emphasis on cycle tracks. I am also involved with early stages of development and design of future projects for our division.

You point out you are involved in cycle track design, the LADOT is experimenting with new bikeway treatments that have not been implemented in the City before. What is it like adapting to these changes in Bikeway engineering?

Actually it’s very interesting. I did work in this Bikeways section once before and it was a much different time. It feels like it has been ages because back in those days bikeways were very low priority. But it is interesting to see how open the City is now to do some of these new treatments, and it’s nice to see the City take a leadership role as opposed to just stepping back and watching what other cities do. So yeah, it is very exciting and I’m glad to be part of it.

One of these new projects include cycle tracks planned for Los Angeles Street… what has the process been like, working on this?

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Early rendering of potential treatment for Los Angeles Street cycle track, including left turn boxes which could be coupled with right-turn-on-red restrictions.

That was actually the first project I was given when I came back to this division. We’ve tested some of the different traffic control devices for separation including armadillos and bollards of different sizes and shapes. That was my first role with this project, securing the different materials, having them installed, and then actually testing them. It was fun, we coordinated a small demonstration of the project and got people out here to visualize what it will look like. We are also working with the Fire Department and the Department on Disability to make sure they are okay with the spacing and the location of the separation treatment since they need to access fire hydrants in particular and the bollards can pose a tripping hazard while they are working.

In addition to experimenting with new roadway treatments, the Department recently adopted a “Vision Zero” policy that seeks to eliminate fatalities attributed to traffic collisions. How can bicycle facilities assist the City in meeting this policy goal?

Bikeways can have a significant role. I think bicycle facilities in the past were just treatments that we squeezed in. I feel now they are being built in to the street designs in a way that makes a lot more sense, not just for people on bikes but also for vehicles and pedestrians, and organize the streets better. If you make a person bicycling safer, you inherently also make it safer for a person walking. People on bikes oftentimes have conflicts with pedestrians and vehicles. I think if you organize the street better, especially with the use of treatments such as cycle tracks, you put people in a more predictable location and everybody can learn the way the intersections, in particular, are supposed to work.

Before we close, we want to know- have you had a favorite part of working in bikeways so far? 

Yes, I think in my first stint with the Bikeways section I enjoyed the staff that was here at the time, folks like Jonathan Hui and Mike Uyeno who taught me a lot about integrity and civil service. I was much younger, and new to the work force, it was a time for learning the City way and soaking in all the knowledge. This time around, I’ve only been here a few months, but I really enjoy the fact that we get to try some cool new things and have an expanded toolbox. Coming back and seeing the potential, that’s been the best part so far.

Thanks for your time, Robert, is there anything else you would like to add?

Only than I am happy to be back in Bikeways and I’m very excited for some of these new projects we have coming up. I hope we can keep the momentum going and be strategic to make sure we meet everybody’s safety needs.

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#CHILLIN: Buffered by parked cars, #PopUpChandler cycletrack users enjoy their morning coffee on the way to CicLAvia!

Thank you for stopping by, Los Angeles! Over 1,000 of you rolled through the #PopUpChandler cycletrack yesterday!  In case you missed it, the City hosted a pop up demonstration cycletrack at Sunday’s CicLAvia – The Valley. The one-day installation was a collaborative effort by LADOT and the Department of City Planning to create a temportary cycletrack as a means to bridge the network connection between the Chandler Bike Path and the CicLAvia NoHo Hub. #PopUpChandler, located between Vineland and Fair, gave participants an opportunity to see and experience the low-stress bicycle facilities proposed in the City’s draft Mobility Plan 2035, hands-on and in-person.

Pedestrian Coordinator, Valerie Watson presents cycletrack information and explains elements of Mobility Plan 2035

Throughout the day, people of all ages rolled through the cycletrack, protected by a row of parked cars, on their way to the CicLAvia North Hollywood Arts District Hub. CicLAvia event participants were encouraged to travel through the pop up and pit stop at the City of LA booth prior to continuing on to the day’s festivities. Upon exiting the cycletrack, users were able to directly engage with the City’s mobility planners and active transportation engineers to discuss the nuances of the protected lanes and learn more about different ways to confiure streets for all types of users.

Residents from the Valley and beyond noted the added comfort and safety of the cycletrack concept, especially for the youngest and most vulnerable: children on bicycles. Passerbys noted that “flipping the bike and parking lane just makes sense and seems safer for everyone.” Many provided City staff with feedback and shared their experience on social media using the hashtag #PopUpChandler.

City staff were joined by USC Price School externs to perfom cycletrack outreach, collecting surveys, feedback and answering questions. Unlike the traditional planning process, pop up events allow community members to experience infrastructure and provide input based on that experience.

The temporary “pop up” design utilized traffic cones to designate space for people on bicycles, people parking cars, and people driving cars. In this cycletrack design, the parking lane has been flipped with the bike lane, maintaining street parking, while adding extra protection and reducing conflicts between people travelling on bikes and people travelling in cars.  This configuration is simple and provides benefits to all users.  Beyond serving those travelling by bicycle or car, cycletracks create shorter crossing distances for people walking.  

City officials also came out to enjoy the festivities and experience the cycletrack for themselves. “The San Fernando Valley’s CicLAvia was a stunning success, bringing thousands of people out of their cars and homes and onto the streets for the day,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian of District 2. “I tested out the Pop-Up Chandler Cycletrack, along with a lot of other happy cyclists, and I believe it showed people what is possible as we strive to make Los Angeles a more connected and bike-friendly city.”

CicLAvia attendees enjoy the low-stress nature of the Chandler demonstration cycletrack connecting their journey from the Chandler Bike Path to the event hub.

Sunday’s event is just the first step toward safer and more comfortable mobility network. Cycletracks are an important element in the City’s draft 2035 Mobility Plan, which emphasizes low-stress facilities as an important active transportation  mode that helps to reduce vehicle miles traveled throughout the city, as well other associated environmental benefits. The 2035 Mobility Plan is scheduled to be before the City Planning Commission in May, and you can find out more at an open house on Tuesday, March 24. Protected bike lanes are similarly included in LADOT’s Strategic Plan “Great Streets for Los Angeles“.

Keep an eye out for similar pop-up events in the future that will help us better plan and design more permanent bicycle infrastructure in your neighborhood!

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Today marks a very exciting step forward in our continuing effort to implement more cycletracks in Los Angeles. From 12-2pm this afternoon, we tested various cycletrack physical barrier options including armadillos and K71 bollards.  As a refresher, cycletracks, also known as protected bicycle lanes, are on street lanes that separate people on bicycles from motorized traffic by physical barriers such as curbs, planters, parked cars, and posts. They are a relatively new infrastructure that has become more and more popular around the nation.

K71 bollards and armadillos in the buffer zone await bicycles, a sedan, a truck, and the ultimate test: the LAFD fire truck!

Starting at 9 am, LADOT crews began installation of the cycletrack test materials. The installation served as a test for all road users, seeking to understand the various interactions the different types of barriers will face in their everyday contexts.

LADOT crews install an armadillo

Around noon, City employees, Mayor’s Office staff, folks from LACBC and the City of LA Bicycle Advisory Committee helped test the barriers with their bicycles, observing their perception of separation as well as the mountability of the materials.

Testing ridability over the armadillos

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On Sunday, March 22, CicLAvia is coming to the Valley from 9 am – 4 pm. Adjacent to the North Hollywood Arts District Hub, the City will host “Pop-Up Chandler Cycletrack,” a one-day, “pop-up” protected bicycle lane demonstration. The Chandler Cycletrack will be temporarily installed on Chandler Boulevard between Vineland Avenue and Fair Avenue. The pop-up will help visualize facilities proposed in the City’s draft Mobility Plan 2035 to create low-stress bicycle networks that safely connect people to places. Roll through on your way to CicLAvia!

What is a Cycletrack?

Cycletracks, also known as Protected Bike Lanes, are bike lanes that physically separate bicycles and cars, increasing safety and comfort-levels for all road users.

Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lanes 216

An example of a permanent cycletrack in Vancouver, Canada. Photo Credit: Paul Krueger

The pop-up event will feature one-way cycletracks on both sides of the street connecting the Chandler Bike Path to CicLAvia Lankershim Hub.

Why a Pop-Up?

Pop-up events give people an opportunity to see and evaluate public realm improvements during the planning process, hands-on. The pop-up technique is an incredibly useful tool in that it helps residents visualize the scale and appearance of potential improvements. While descriptions, mock-ups, and pictures help, first-hand experience can give people a fresh perspective that may be difficult to replicate through any other means.

Pop-up projects are comparatively low-cost and low-risk. Projects can last one day or longer, and they are easy to install and remove. Because not everyone has seen a protected bikeway, much less experienced the level of safety these facilities provide, this temporary reconfiguration can provide a venue to re-imagine Los Angeles as a safer more comfortable place to travel by any mode.

Project Goal + Benefits

The intent of this project is to be immediate, educational, and informative for the public and practitioners alike. It turns a standard public workshop into a real event for the community to interact with. It is more participatory than the traditional planning process, as community members are able to directly provide input, and impact future design and planning decisions in their neighborhood.

The physical separation provided by a protected bike lane makes people feel better about making trips on bikes.  It opens up the street to people of all ages, and makes bicycling low stress. Additionally, the road-diet helps to decrease the speed of motor vehicles. Protected lanes are especially great for families with young children; parents can have peace of mind knowing that their child can safely and comfortably ride their bicycle in their neighborhood. Ultimately, the hope is that people with all levels of biking experience who test out the pop-up lane will feel safer and more comfortable riding their bicycles, and thus support the introduction of this type of permanent bicycle infrastructure in their neighborhood.

Where else has this occurred?

A one-day, pop-up cycle track was created on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, CA last spring.

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People observe and discuss a block-long, pop-up cycletrack demonstration in Oakland, CA. The pavement markings and planters were all temporary for a one-day display. Photo Credit: @woolie

During the event, one participant commented: “it’s amazing to bike on Telegraph Avenue and feel so safe. I wish it was like this all the time.” To provide physical separation from vehicles, volunteers placed planters, and decorated boxes along a freshly painted line.

This past December, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to approve parking-protected bike lanes for Telegraph Avenue. Oakland brought conceptual designs from paper to the street, where the positive feedback provided by the community directly contributed to the measure being passed.

Other notable placemaking events include, Santa Monica’s Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway Project (MANGo), the pedestrianization of New York City’s Time Square, as well as the placement of plazas and parklets in the streets of Los Angeles. These cities have been able to successfully encourage bicycling and build support for infrastructural improvements through these temporary installations that demonstrate what actual changes can look and feel like.

Citywide Initiatives

Los Angeles is changing the way it thinks about safety. Under LADOT’s policy initiative Vision Zero, the city is making great strides towards eliminating traffic fatalities. As part of this effort to increase safety for all road users, LADOT has included protected bike lanes in its toolbox of options. Additionally, protected bicycle facilities are consistent with the long-term framework provided in the 2035 Mobility Plan, which emphasizes active modes of transportation, reducing vehicle miles traveled, low-stress facilities, and associated environmental benefits. The Mobility Plan recognizes protected bicycle lanes as an integral part of the Bicycle Enhanced Network, and details the benefits mentioned in the paragraphs above. Specifically, the plan sites enhanced bicycle infrastructure as a key element in making seamless connections from walking and biking to transit.

How to get involved?

Councilmember Paul Krekorian of District 2 says, “I encourage anyone biking to CicLAvia – The Valley to try out the Chandler Cycletrack pop-up. Test it out and let us know what you think about the idea. The input we get from riders will help make North Hollywood and the rest of Council District 2 more bike and pedestrian friendly, which is something I’m actively working to do.”

Participants are encouraged to document and share their experiences with staff during the event, as well as to post on social media websites throughout the event using the hashtag #PopUpChandler.

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