Do L.A’s bikeways exist where they’re supposed to — and are they actually ridable?

Some of the most interesting ideas pop up in my inbox.

Those broken lines mean dodging traffic once the bike lane ends.

For instance, a rider named Noah emailed me last month asking about the stop and start nature of the city’s bike lanes — something virtually every rider in the city has complained at one time or another.

I wanted to raise a quick issue about bike lanes.  The city has a document online that purports to inventory Bike Plan Designated Class II bike lanes — I am not sure if this is the 1996 plan, if it is an inventory of proposed bike lanes or what it is .  . . but I used it to plot a route home on Monday and did not find bike lanes where I had hoped (based on the list) to find them.  For example, the document lists a lane on Devonshire from Topanga Canyon to Woodman — there was some bike lane in that area, but it was not continuous, and I was forced to ride in traffic (on a heavily traveled street) for part of the ride.  Same thing on Woodman itself, and on Laurel Canyon — a lane is listed from Roscoe to Moorpark . . .  Perhaps I am reading this wrong, perhaps these are planned lanes, but if these are supposed to be existing lanes (and if the claim is that we don’t need more lanes because we already have all these wonderful lanes) then someone (LACBC? volunteers through your blog?) should go an do an independent audit of the actual existing lanes in LA . . .

Part of the problem stems from turning to the wrong source for information. Which is actually easy to do, since searching for online biking information in Los Angeles can be a confusing process, leading to as many wrong turns and dead ends as the routes themselves.

A better source for planning a route is Metro’s L.A. bike map, which — unlike LADOT’s map, which seems to assume you do all your riding within the city of Los Angeles — crosses city limit lines to show a complete picture of local Class I, Class II and the generally useless and often dangerous Class III routes.

But don’t be surprised if your browser crashes; you’re better off downloading it to your desktop and using your pdf software to view it.

A quick look confirms that the route Noah used stops and starts without offering any alternative other than dumping the rider into often heavy traffic on busy Valley boulevards.

Someone who’s comfortable taking the lane in traffic might not think twice about it — though there’s no guarantee that the drivers you’re sharing the road with would understand the concept. And someone who knows the local area might use an alternative route to bypass the areas that lack the magical few inches of paint that are somehow supposed to create a virtually impermeable barrier to vehicular traffic.

Not that some drivers understand that, either.

But even if you map out your complete route using the best maps available — or try plotting your way with Google’s promising but buggy biking directions — it won’t tell you anything about traffic conditions, signalization or what hills you might face along your way. And if you knew those things, you wouldn’t need a map to begin with.

So you plot out the best route you can plan, only to end up dodging buses or riding jackhammer streets that jostle your internal organs to the point that you fear a kidney or bowel could pop loose any moment.

And those are the good streets.

Then there are others where the bike lanes and paths are so cracked and broken as to be virtually unridable on a skinny-tired bike. Or barely even exist anymore.

Of course, the obvious solution would be to require that LADOT and similar transportation departments in other cities ride these routes on a regular basis to monitor the conditions riders face. And report back for anything that needs repair or improvement.

But with the current budget issues, and the 40% cut in staffing that LADOT’s Bikeways department has reportedly suffered, that’s just not going to happen. Even if it did somehow manage to make their radar.

So as Noah suggested, it’s up to us.

We ride these streets everyday. No one has a better idea whether a line on a map actually translates to a ridable bikeway. Or if it actually exists in what passes for the real world around these parts.

I’ve suggested some sort of bikeway survey as a project the LACBC might want to take on, and I’ll bring it up again as time goes on — maybe in conjunction with the deep pockets at the newly bike-friendly Metro. Maybe it’s a project L.A.’s Bicycle Advisory Committee might want to consider. Or it could be something Bikeside might do as a natural outgrowth of their current efforts to map collisions, near misses and harassment — after all, those are places you might want to avoid, as well.

Or just email me — biking in la at hotmail dot com — and I’ll track things on my own until we have a better system for it.

And I’ll mention the worst areas on here, so you can plan a route to avoid them.

Because if we don’t do it, it’s pretty clear no one else will.

You can find links to most of the area’s bike maps on at the LADOT and LACBC (scroll down) websites. And thanks for the reminder from Timur that you find some fully vetted bike routes on his excellent, though recently neglected site; other local cyclist-designed routes are available at MapMyRide.

And after wishing everyone a happy Passover the other day, how could I have forgotten to wish the rest of you a happy Easter? Whatever you believe, best wishes this weekend. And for those of you with children, do not — repeat, do not — eat the ears off their chocolate bunnies.

That’s just so wrong.

………

Oddly, when I take a day off to attend to other matters — like earning a living, for instance — the stories still keep coming. So settle in for a long list o’links.

………

A San Francisco cop in an unmarked police car threatens a cyclist, saying “Shut your fucking mouth or I’ll knock you off your bike.” Meanwhile, a New York cyclist gets doored — which is against the law in New York, just like it is here — and police respond by ticketing the cyclist for not having a bell and wheel reflectors.

………

One of L.A.’s best biking routes reopens after repairs due to rain damage. Dr. Alex rips LADOT’s new bike blog, and suggest that Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery fall on her sword. Will offers an exceptionally artistic photo of his bike, ad look who rolls through a stop into the path of his unblinking bike cam.  A Santa Monica writer and actor says the city could do a lot more to promote cycling. A Downtown street gets a mini-road diet, but oddly, no bike lanes. Gary argues that cyclists spend a lot of money in Santa Monica, so where is our bike parking? L.A.’s Anonymous Cyclist offers the story of a biking detention at LAX, and yes, one should bear yesterday’s date in mind. The 2.5 mile, LED-lit Elysian Valley Bike Path along the L.A. River Bike is coming soon, really. The Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association will hold its 21st annual Save the Trails pancake breakfast on Sunday, April 25th. Don’t forget Bike Night at the Hammer — featuring Pee Wee’s Big Adventure — April 8th. GOOD offers a video look at the Wolfpack Hustle’s roll through the L.A. Marathon course.

The California Bike Coalition pushes a vulnerable user law to protect all at risk road users. Mark Cavendish decides to break in his new dental work on the Tour of California, rather than the tougher Giro. NPR finds a grave problem with Google Bike Maps, literally. Is a bike a toy or a vehicle — or a device, as it’s defined here. Streetfilms looks at DC’s first Contraflow Cycle Track, while Portland releases a video explaining cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes. Consider the Better World Club sort of an auto club for bikes. Five cyclists win a $97,751 settlement in a 2007 New York Critical Mass excessive force and wrongful arrest case in which the arresting officer was caught lying under oath. Portland cyclists are asked to help get a road rage victim back on a bike. The New York Times asks what is bike culture? A Brooklyn cyclist cited for riding outside the bike lane in a police sting fought the law, and for once, the law didn’t win. A Holland, Michigan driver encounters a cyclist riding in the center of the lane on a multi-lane road “going about 5 mph” in a 45 mile zone, and despite honking several times, the bastard just wouldn’t get out of his way. Florida cyclists threaten legal action if bike lanes aren’t included in a major resurfacing project.

A team of Brit rowers teams up to compete in this year’s RAAM. A Royal Mail carrier says please don’t take my bike away. Constables charge a Leicestershire cyclist with murder following the death of a cyclist this week; British press restrictions mean no explanation for why he was charged. Get your bespoke Tweed Ride togs here. Finally, a bike lane even shorter than the one in Westwood.

Finally, take your pick:

1) A Team Sky cyclist lost the lead in the Tour of Oman due to a bizarre pre-planned pee experiment. 2) London’s biking mayor chases down a driver who threw something at his head; oddly, the press reports it as litter rather than an assault, while the driver responded, “Please Mr. Boris sir, this wasn’t meant to happen. We know you is the Mayor, man.” 3) Pearl Izumi tests their new chamois on Uranus.

2 comments

  1. timur says:

    It hasn’t been touched in a long while (too long, really, but this is my life these past few months), but there might be some helpful stuff at Los Angeles Rides. Maybe start here?
    http://labikerides.wordpress.com/los-angeles-rides/

  2. Steve A says:

    “no guarantee that the drivers you’re sharing the road with would understand the concept.”

    That being the case, it seems to me that it is up to the cyclist at risk to learn how to mitigate and direct his/her drivers to do safe things. Drivers ALL learn that they are not supposed to run into stuff and that message is reinforced in them every day. Take advantage of that and ride predictably and obviously!

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