A simple adjustment in biking infrastructure, part 1

I confess. I haven’t read the new bike plan yet.

Most of us need a little time to get through a plan that, with appendices, checks in just this side of War and Peace. And Tolstoy didn’t include complicated maps that have to be studied with near microscopic attention.

Or leave out street names, as on the Westside map.

So it’s possible that this could have been addressed in the plan, although a cursory look suggests otherwise.

Yet while city officials frequently cite a lack of funding as a primary reason why we see so few improvements in bikeways and biking infrastructure — even though they have a history of leaving money on the table — there are a number of things they could do that would cost almost nothing and have little or no impact on traffic.

Take Westholme Avenue in Westwood.

It’s currently a Class 3 bike route, offering a safe, quiet route from Santa Monica Boulevard to the UCLA campus — although the new plan shows it’s due to be downgraded to a “bicycle friendly” street. And according to the LACBC, it’s one of the streets that’s under consideration for the upcoming Sharrows pilot project.

Unfortunately, north of Wilshire Blvd, cyclists face a steep, three-quarter mile climb to get to campus. It’s not a problem when you’re southbound and down; not so much fun when you’re struggling to make it uphill.

Westwood-3-wayTo make matters worse, just as the hardest part of the climb begins, there’s a three-way stop at the intersection where Westholme, Glenmont and Le Conte come together.

From a driver’s perspective, it helps control a quiet, but confusing, junction. From a cyclist’s perspective, though, it forces riders to either ignore the law and blow through the stop, or lose all momentum at the base of the hill, just when they need it most — making it a difficult, if not impossible, climb for many riders, and deterring them from attempting it a second time.

And it’s completely unnecessary.

As the photo shows, there’s no parking in the intersection, which means that cyclists can comfortably ride to the right, out of the traffic lane, without risk to or from traffic in any direction. It’s as if we had our own little through lane there.

So why should we have to stop?

Westwood-3-Way-SignsLADOT could address the problem by adding another sign below the stop sign, reading “bikes yield” or “except for bikes.”

Problem solved.

Overnight, it becomes a much more attractive street for riders of all levels — at almost no cost to the city. And without inconveniencing a single driver.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

……..

Streetsblog has posted links to the bike maps released earlier in the summer for anyone wanting to compare the current draft of the bike plan. Why the lack of diversity at the recent Byrne panel discussion? The top 10 facts about cycling. Dallas police will no longer enforce the city’s mandatory helmet policy — the one that was put in place to stop drug traffickers (?!?). Portland police release their internal bicycle training video. Advice from Boston on avoiding the door zone. Delaware declares female bike commuters extinct. A ‘60s era video from GM gives a driver credit for avoiding an accident — caused when she nearly right hooks a cyclist. Women in the UK consider cyclists the most attractive males. Well, duh. A cyclist’s view of rush hour in Scotland. In case you missed it earlier this week, the UK’s Guardian asks if California will become America’s first failed state. Finally, this may just be the most heartbreaking photo I’ve ever seen.

4 comments

  1. Gary K. says:

    That photo is heart breaking. I just about started tearing up at work looking at it.

  2. Joe Linton says:

    Regarding <>: I don’t think that this is really a downgrade. I don’t think that the city has explained BFS very well, nor have they built the trust of cyclists to be comfortable with BFS…

    The way I understand it, the Bike Friendly Street (BFS) designation in the plan can be a few things: bike boulevard, bike route, sharrows, traffic calming, etc. BFS is broad and vague… but I can’t see that in any permutation it will be worse that a bike route.

    BFS is a broad term that, in my opinion, makes sense to put in the plan for now. This is mostly because the term “Bicycle Boulevard” sparked mis-informed controversy and resistance which ultimately nixed Bike Boulevards in bike plans in Santa Monica and in Burbank. I think the city is being cautious, but not in any way obstructionist on this. (Don’t get me started on bike lanes, though, where I think that the city is downgrading and obstructionist… but that’s another story… that I am telling at LA StreetsBlog tomorrow.)

    I think we approve BFSs in the plan. Then, during an implementation phase, bicyclists, neighborhood councils, other stakeholders can work with the city to determine the appropriate project for each street – in context. Maybe the bikes yield sign is what’s needed for Westholme Avenue. The BFS plan designation is not in conflict with that. Alternately it could be a traffic circle… or sharrows… or who knows.

  3. disgruntled says:

    Thanks for the plug (again). Before everyone rushes to emigrate to Scotland, I should point out that a) it’s a very rural part of Scotland and b) the pictures were taken on one of the rare days when it wasn’t raining…

  4. What the shit? Who the hell needs sharrows on that street? I’ve never ever had a problem with motorists on Westholme, and I used to ride it a couple times a week.

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