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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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This weekend, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) is going to get a little more SPINTACULAR! LADOT is a proud partner in the NELA BFBD Summer ride: The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour. The ride, sponsored by Metro and led by C.I.C.L.E. and the Bike Oven, will take place on Sunday June 28th from 5:00 – 8:00pm, and traverse 5 miles of Northeast LA’s bustling business corridors, taking riders to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center for a sparkle-filled evening of bicycles, fun, and games. Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this spintacular ride!

Along the way, riders learn about what makes Northeast LA a special place to walk, roll, and ride… The ride will stop at the York Boulevard Bicycle Corral for a Street Innovation Tour, led by Mark Vallianatos of the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI). The tour will highlight York’s public spaces and innovative street features.

Riders are encouraged to show their patriotic flare on their wheels and beyond in the Red, Ride, and Blue Bicycle Decorating and Costume Contest. Participants will have an opportunity to win even more prizes at the Spin the Wheel Trivia game, testing riders on their local knowledge and Los Angeles bicycle trivia.

Even the President knows how to get Spintacular for the Red, Ride and Blue Bike Decorating contest

“The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour highlights two local efforts I am passionate about – our 6th Annual Eagle Rock Concert and Fireworks Show and the NELA Bicycle Friendly Business District program,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The NELA BFBD is all about encouraging bicycle riders to support local businesses and enliven the public realm and the reason I brought back the fireworks show after decades without one in Eagle Rock was to encourage safe and family friendly public gatherings where people could also support local organizations and businesses. The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour is a perfect match and thanks to LADOT and all our partners for their support.”

Ride participants will travel at a casual speed, slowing down to stroll, take in the local scenery, and explore local businesses and culture. Riders should bring a helmet, water, bike locks, bike lights, cash for food, blankets, and jackets for the fireworks show. Secure bike parking and a reserved seating section will be provided at the Fireworks show for Spintacular Riders.

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I use a lot of different modes and methods for my commute to work. For the past two years I’ve been both a local and regional commuter for my jobs- two days a week, I drive to Cal Poly Pomona (I teach Urban and Regional Planning) and then I use a multimodal mix to get from Highland Park, where I live, to LADOT, Downtown. From home, all methods take roughly the same amount of time. Driving in morning traffic takes about 35 minutes. By train, I walk a couple blocks to the Metro Gold Line and then walk a few more, from the Little Tokyo Station to 1st and Main, which takes 40 minutes. And then biking takes around 37 minutes.

My trusty Schwinn World Tour road bike

I really love riding my bike to work. It’s actually the way I like to ride most. I think a lot of people prefer social rides- I like bike rides as a meditative time or else time I have one-on-one with a friend so we can talk.

Bike rides to work calm me down and wake me up. You might think those things opposite but if you ride a bike you probably know what I mean. On the mornings I ride in, I don’t really need coffee (and I am very dependant on coffee!) I’ve read studies that found that children who walk or bike to school performed at a higher level in their studies than children who were driven. I guess I’m just trying to nurture my inner child (and perform better at work!)

The magic of morning/Things about the ride

It’s just such a great way to start your morning, with all the visceral things you experience while riding a bicycle. The neighborhood smells different in the morning… trees and plants are just opening up, there’s still some dew in the soil and then there’s the birds, everywhere, making noise and singing their songs (if you’re familiar with Northeast LA, you know I really mean screeching parrots). Due to its hilly terrain and abundant historical streams, Northeast LA has a lot of microclimates. Often the moisture in the air makes for a magical foggy ride… totally into the magic bike ride!

People are also doing different stuff in the morning. Everyone’s getting going and starting their day, there’s an energy outside… When you ride a bike you’re making eye contact with all kinds of people. You’re seeing things around, you are the eyes on the street. This is a social experience that you don’t have when you ride in a car.

Safe routes to work

My scenic six mile commute

My route starts in Highland Park. My street is not very good for people because it’s also an on-ramp to the 110 Freeway. Since living at my place I’ve seen a cat, many cars, and even a person hit by drivers because it segues into the freeway on-ramp. Needless to say, the active transportation challenge starts with leaving my front door.

I have biked by myself to work but I prefer to bike with a friend because it feels safer. Normally I meet up with my friend Jamie and we bike-pool! Jaime and I went to grad school together for Urban Planning and she lives(ed) up the hill from me. We both work Downtown- Jaime works in Chinatown, which is on the way to my job. We’ve been biking to work together since 2013 which has been a great way to stay in touch after graduation. Jaime just moved further north and east, but we still plan on biking together, since she can multi-mode it on the Gold Line to Highland Park.

Me and Jaime biking to work circa 2013

Jamie and I meet at the intersection of Avenue 57 and Via Marisol where we then take back roads through Highland Park to get to Avenue 52 (which turns into Griffin, which is eventually a buffered bike lane). There’s no direct route other than the freeway, so we do this weird little jog through the neighborhood. This part of the ride is like the video game Paperboy: there’s a lot of stuff going on; a lot of people pulling in and out of driveways, debris, bad pavement, dogs chasing you, cats, trash bins… very scenic!

Then we get to the sweet, long stretch which is why we take this route. Griffin is a neighborhood street which is sharrowed, then becomes a bike lane, and then turns into a buffered bike lane, which is basically the Cadillac of bicycle facilities on the Eastside. This whole stretch on Griffin is very comfortable and pleasant. If the whole city had this kind of infrastructure and connectivity, I would bike everywhere.

But alas. Then comes the cold hard reality of Main Street. Oh Main Street… Main Street is in my opinion the best way to go because it doesn’t have as many cars (people commuting in the morning and the evening can get pretty agro, I like to stay away from them!) and the road is relatively well paved, unlike some of its parallels. The unfortunate piece is that cars that drive on Main St. drive very fast, which is scary for me… Taking the lane is pretty doable here and I definitely do this when I ride because the lane widens and narrows throughout and if you’re not taking the lane, it is possible that you might have a speed and space conflict with cars that would be driving between 35 to 50 miles per hour.  I don’t take that risk of fighting over space on the road, I just take it. These fast cars are another reason I primarily only feel comfortable biking with a friend; together we’re more visible as well as more justified to take the lane.

From Main, I drop Jamie off and then head on to Los Angeles Street which takes me straight to work in a buffered bike lane. Luckily my job supports me biking to work! I can get a monthly stipend if I walk or bike at least 50 percent of my trips to work. There’s also a shower I can use upon arrival with a day use locker for my clothes. This is especially important because I have a job where I need to look professional and go to meetings without looking like I rode my bike six miles to work. There are also multiple secure places to lock my bike. A bunch of people bike to work in the Caltrans building… my boss even has a bicycle locker on site, cause she’s the Bike Boss.

How I roll

There’s some stuff that I’ve learned to do in my time biking to work that I’d like to share. Early on, I realized two things: the first is that I don’t want to carry all my stuff on my body (ew, sweat!) and the second is that I need some jams to get me through the traffic. Like camping, biking to work is comfortable when you are well prepared. For me that means packing my panier (especially my clothes!) the night before so I don’t forget important things when I am sleepy in the morning. I keep a set of toiletries at work so I only have to carry my change of clothes. For the jams, I invested in a Jammypack, which all my friends will attest is the coolest part of my bike ensemble. A Jammypack solves the problem of wanting to listen to music but putting yourself at risk by wearing headphones (never do this, it’s very dangerous and illegal!). My Jammypack has a rechargeable battery and plugs into my iPhone’s headphone jack. More recently I got some serious bike-to-work clothes which includes a fluorescent yellow lightweight jacket and some really comfortable leggings. I noticed when I wear the jacket, people in cars do not come as close when they pass me.

My favorite bike commute accessories: my Ortlieb classic pannier, Jammypack with rechargeable battery, No 6 Clogs or Swedish Hasbeen ankle boots, lightweight fluorescent jacket, fun leggings, sunscreen, sunglasses, and of course my LADOT water bottle

The last thing I want to say about the ensemble is that biking in some kind of heels is actually really nice because it gives you pull that you would have if you had clip on shoes. I really like clogs and my clogs make great bike to work shoes!

These are just some of the things about my bicycle commute to work.

Elizabeth Gallardo is an Assistant Bicycle Coordinator in LADOT’s Active Transportation Division. 

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This young lady has really loaded up her cargo bike with the maximum shopping capacity!

In light of our participation in the upcoming holiday shopping event, SHOP – RIDE – NELA, we wanted to make sure everyone was totally ready to saddle up on their bicycles to go shopping!  Whether you need to pick up a few items at the grocery store or want to meet up with a friend at a neighborhood cafe for a day of brunching and shopping, arriving on a bicycle is a great way to go!

Shopping by bicycle is an easy way to run local errands, making your daily routine fun and active without leaving that nasty carbon footprint you would if you were driving. On a bicycle, you can make multiple stops on your trip without having to keep track of time, or potentially even receiving a citation for staying too long at your meter.  How many times have you wanted to try on that other pair of shoes or talk to a friend you bumped into on the street, but you had to go, cause your meter was almost up?  Too many times!  Bicycles are a liesurely way to shop and explore your neighborhood, making you more aware of what it has to offer, and potentially more receptive to spending time and money there.

In some LA neighborhoods, LADOT has even installed Bicycle Corrals, where you can park your bicycle right in the middle of a busy shopping corridor just like your fellows driving cars.  These perks are no small beans in a city where auto traffic is the norm and as mentioned before, finding parking can be tedious and frustrating. Plus, shopping on a bicycle is more efficient than walking and less cumbersome than carrying things onto the bus. Because shopping by bike is super practical, doing so can easily be combined with your bike commute or leisurely ride around the neighborhood.

SHOP – RIDE – NELA, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place this Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, with a ribbon cutting for the Colorado Bl Corral with Councilmember Jose Huizar at 12:30. The ride will explore 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. More details can be found in our recent blog post about the event.

So let’s get ready to shop! The set-up you choose will mostly depend on the purchases you’ll be making or the items you will be transporting. There are lots of carrying options out there for any budget, so here’s a quick guide to get you started:

Carrying things on your bicycle

 

Backpacks and Messenger Bags

Uses: small loads and personal items

Backpacks are probably the simplest and most affordable way to haul your shopping items while bicycling. These are excellent for carrying small, lightweight loads, but be wary of heavy items and the “sweaty back” on hot days or long rides. Backpacks and messenger bags that are made by bicycle companies tend to be weather proof and highly durable, making sure your valuables are protected.

Price range: $25-150

Backbacks can be a great way to carry small items and your everyday load, as seen here on Yucca St in Hollywood

Saddle, Frame, and Handlebar Bags

Uses: extra small loads and personal items

Saddle, frame, or handlebar bags are excellent rackless options for storing small items and are very popular for holding commuter tools like tire levers, spare tubes, first aid kits, or other bare necessities. The frame and handlebar bags are especially useful for items that need to be easily reached like chapstick or your cell phone.

Price range: $10-90

A woman and her child use a handlebar bag on the Orange Line Bike Path in Woodland Hills

Racks

Uses: all-purpose

If you choose to use your bike to do most of the work instead of your back, then you’ll need to add a rack to your bicycle. Racks serve a wide variety of purposes and can be attached to the front and/or rear depending on your bike and carrying needs. A rack is key because it provides a mount for panniers (bicycle mounted bags) as well as a platform on which to strap your goods. A simple bungee cord can be used with a rack to secure most objects, making racks one of the most necessary and effective ways of undertaking any shopping trip by bicycle. Racks also free you up from cumbersome bags that might cramp your style.  Most local bike shops sell bike racks and they can be aquired for as little as $15.

Price range: $15-45

Observed during our recent York Bl Bike Count, this man has a back rack and a basket, getting ready to do a water run via York Bl in Highland Park

Straps and Bungee Cords

Items can be directly placed on top of a mounted rack without a bag or container by using secure straps or bungee cords.

Price range:  $2-10

Baskets and Milk Crates

Uses: small-medium loads

Baskets are great for carrying items that don’t need to be enclosed or carefully contained. Generally, weight should be considered when using a basket, as heavy objects might affect your ability to steer your bicycle.  Milk crates can serve as an affordable DIY basket. To use a milk crate, find one that is not too large for the rack and make sure to use a lot of zip ties to securely attach the crate to the rack. Be careful to not load up too much weight into the crate otherwise shifting weight might cause the zip ties to snap!

Price range: $15-50

At CicLAvia, sometimes baskets are used to carry friends!

Trunk Bags

Uses: small loads and personal items

Trunk bags are strapped on top of the rack and are built with non-collapsible walls that stand up on their own. Some trunk bags come with side pockets that can expand into small side panniers for extra storage.

Price range: $30-60

The LAPD Bicycle Unit uses trunk bags to carry important items necessary for their police work

Panniers

Uses: medium-large loads

Panniers are bicycle-specific bags that attach to the rear or front rack. Most panniers work like saddle bags and carry 10-20 liters per bag. Panniers are a wonderful solution for large amounts of groceries.  They are your ideal candidate for shopping, commuting, or bicycle touring and are often sold in pairs in order to balance your heavy loads.  Panniers come in all forms and qualities- the more expensive versions contain special features like converting into a backpack, clip systems for easy removal, reflectivity, and all-weather proofing.

Price range: $40-160

Former Bike Program superstar, Eli Glazier shows off his paniers with his bike mounted on the York Bl Bicycle Repair Station in Highland Park

Cargo Trailers

Uses: large loads

Bicycle cargo trailers offer the largest storage capacity and can carry much bigger loads than the bicycle itself. Trailers normally attach to the bike frame, much like a tow hitch on a truck. Some trailers are even fashioned with a child seat inside so you can take your child with you while you shop!

Price range: $150-250

Cargo trailers like the one we use when we do outreach at CicLAvia can carry a LOT of swag…

 

More Tips

 

Balance your weight

When you pack up your bags, try to distribute the weight as evenly as possible. This will make riding more comfortable and also prevent your bike from toppling over while you wait at stop signs or lights.

Look for Bicycle Friendly Businesses

Shop local and support businesses that embrace bicycle-friendly practices! The Bike Program launched the Bicycle Friendly Business Program (BFB) earlier this year to promote businesses that encourage people to bicycle for short neighborhood trips and make their streets more pleasant and convivial places to be. For more information or to opt into the BFB Program, check out our BFB page and opt in form!

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Get your holiday shopping done in a jiffy in the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District

In case you were wondering what bicycles, Northeast LA and the local economy had in common with the holiday season, we wanted to bring a very exciting and fun event to your attention!

You may have been following our pilot project, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD), launched back in February in an effort to to bring more people to local businesses by bicycle.  The plan to achieve this includes implementing bicycle infrastructure enhancements to the neighborhood like bike lanes, corrals, and repair stations; offering promotional incentives to people arriving by bicycle; and overall, encouraging customers and employees to take local trips to business corridors on bicycles rather than in cars.

Since we last blogged about it, we have established a Steering Committee of local stakeholders including representatives from the Eagle Rock and Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Councils, the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institue, local non-profit organizations, and active transportation advocacy groups like C.I.C.L.E. and LACBC.  The NELA BFBD represents a collaboration and partnership between businesses, the community, and the City to accomplish shared goals of community building and economic development.

After many months of meetings, the Steering Committee has planned a kickoff event: SHOP – RIDE – NELA Holiday Edition.  The bicycle ride, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place on Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, and traverse 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. The ride will meet at METRO’s Highland Park Gold Line Station and make shopping and dining stops at LADOT’s two local business-sponsored Bicycle Corrals: the York Bl Corral located at 5000 York Bl (sponsored by Cafe de Leche) and the Colorado Bl Corral soon to be installed at 2136 Colorado Bl (sponsored by Core Club LA).  Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this leisurely ride!

(more…)

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Small businesses and bikes blend on N. Figueroa St., Photo courtesy Flying Pigeon LA

We are happy to announce that the City of Los Angeles is working on establishing its first Bicycle Friendly Business District in Northeast Los Angeles.  For the past year, the Bike Program has been developing a Bicycle Friendly Business District (BFBD) program to foster a broad and engaging range of bicycle friendly features in business districts or corridors.

The program aims to provide districts with adequate bicycle facilities including bicycle parking and repair stations, bikeways, creating maps of the bikeway network, installing signage, and facilitating bicycle wayfinding.  By cultivating bicycle friendly business practices in local businesses and developing local business districts to welcome patrons on bicycles, these districts seek to build community, increase physical activity, and make streets less congested while supporting Los Angeles neighborhood businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Districts – What are they?

A BFBD is a partnership between the City, neighborhood and business organizations, and local businesses that improves a business district’s Bicycle Friendliness through bicycle infrastructure and local business promotions to people travelling by bicycle.  The district encourages and promotes short, local trips, especially for shopping, dining and recreation.

The BFBD program complements complete streets and traffic calming objectives in order to capture local dollars and further neighborhood development in Los Angeles.  Districts cooperate with the LADOT, the Council Office, and local community partners to implement services already offered free of charge through the LADOT Bike Program.

These services, infrastructure, and other program elements combine with  local investment in bicycle amenities and programs privately funded by neighborhood and business partners.

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