Yesterday’s ride, on which I discover sharrows on Westholme Ave — or maybe not

Easy come, easy go.

Ever since they went down on Fountain and 4th, I’ve been on sharrow watch along the routes I ride on a semi-regular basis. Which means Westholme Ave in Westwood and Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, since they’re the only two Westside streets scheduled to get sharrows as part the current pilot project.

Notice the misaligned chevrons on top of this painted-over sharrow.

So imagine my surprise when I found one on the upper portion of Westholme, just below Hilgard Ave and the UCLA campus. Even more surprising, it had been painted over completely, just leaving a shadow of its former self.

Then just a little further uphill, I found another one.

And this one seems a little squished.

For a moment, I thought that maybe LADOT had put the first few Westholme sharrows down, then changed their mind for some reason.

Oddly, though, the paint appeared to be flat, rather than the raised thermoplastic favored by LADOT. Then there was the unusual shape of the blacked out shadows, with one showing misaligned chevrons and the other seeming a little… squished.

Which raised the question of whether these were official street markings that had somehow been misapplied. Or if the Department of DIY was back in action, unwilling to wait a moment longer for their Westwood shared lanes. Or maybe they just wanted to ensure proper placement on the street.

Which then raised the question of who painted them over. Was it LADOT trying to cover up a mistake or remove an illegal DIY application? Or had NIMBY-ism once again reared its ugly head and a local homeowner decided that bikes don’t belong on his street?

Inquiring minds want to know. So I reached out to a contact at LADOT to see if they knew the real story. As it turns out, they did.

Those sharrows had been applied over two months ago as part of the initial study to survey cyclists and examine driver behavior before the real sharrows are installed, so the city would be able to determine what effect they have on both. Then they were immediately painted over to avoid confusing anyone — other than me, that is — until the more permanent markings are installed.

So the question isn’t what they were doing there, or even who painted over them. But why the hell I hadn’t noticed them before — despite riding directly over them at least a dozen times in the weeks that followed.

On the other hand, it does bring up a good point.

As much as I’ve criticized LADOT for requiring a study to prove the effectiveness of shared lane markings that have already been shown effective in real-world conditions around the globe, that’s exactly what it is.

A study.

The six initial installations are part of a test to determine how L.A. drivers and cyclists respond to sharrows, and if they actually make the city’s streets any safer for riders. Or if they just end up further aggravating L.A.’s already impatient drivers.

And exactly how, where — and if  — they’re used in the future will depend on the results.

………

Alex David Trujillo has been convicted of 2nd degree murder for the October, 2008 death of 46-year old Catherine Busse, who was killed as she rode next to her 14-year old son. Trujillo, who had previously been convicted of drunk driving and attended 9 months of court-ordered alcohol awareness classes, had a blood alcohol level of .09 at the time of the collision — hours after he’d stopped drinking — as well as Oxycodone, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma in his system.

He now faces 15 years to life in state prison; sentencing is scheduled for August 20th.

………

More on Friday’s successful LAPD accompanied Critical Mass — LADOT Bike Blog says it was clear from the start it was going to be successful, Sirinya had the time of her life, Stephen Box says it turned into a Ride of Respect and Damien says we all rode as one, even though LAist says a cyclist was hit by a car in West Hollywood.

………

Flying Pigeon asks if the lessons learned by the Dutch translate to L.A. cycling. CicLAvia is halfway to their goal of raising $7,000. Bicycle Fixation finds a bike corral at the Farmer’s Market. L.A. cyclists tour Pershing Square and the Downtown area. Oakland is the latest city to host a ciclovia. A Santa Cruz bank is held up by a bicyclist, but at least he wore a helmet. A cyclist from Lodi is seriously injured in Idaho after being brushed by a passing SUV, then hit by the following pickup after falling in the roadway, evidently because the sun got in their eyes; fortunately, the police didn’t buy the first driver’s excuse. Biking just five minutes a day helps women keep weight gains to a minimum; of course you wouldn’t get very far. Instructions on how to fix a flat tire; something I’ve done way too much lately. Now there are at least two bands that tour by bicycle. LCD Soundsystem’s new video features Portlanders jousting on tall bikes. A new website launches offering advice for cyclists — as well as drivers. A Florida driver pleads not guilty of stabbing two cyclists following an argument. Bike share comes to the City of Big Shoulders. Cyclists pitch in for Habitat for Humanity. Cincinnati passes a new Bike Master Plan and bike safety ordinance. New York requires every bike to have a bell, even if it doesn’t do any good. The old myth of cyclists not paying for the road rears its ugly head in Southwestern Colorado. Bicycling says don’t bet on Lance in this year’s Tour unless maybe you are Lance. Does Toronto need blue bike lanes? A former driver wasn’t prepared for the absolute concentration required by bike commuting. Sheffield, England calculates that their bike training program pays off seven pounds sterling for every pound invested. A London cyclist is seriously injured by a truck belonging to the same company that killed another cyclist earlier this year. Riding with London’s bike bobbies. Scotland boosts bike spending by £4 million — about $6 million U.S. Israel tells soldiers to leave their bikes at home. Brisbane cyclists are ticketed for speeding and not having a bell.

Finally, Dave Moulton says mandatory helmet laws are like allowing people to walk around shooting guns, then making everyone wear a bullet proof vest.

7 comments

  1. First off, good article. Odd to do a study so close to UCLA where they already have Sharrows on some of the University’s streets, but whatever.

    Actually, two cyclists were hit by a hit run driver in a gray yaris. His license plate was sent along to WeHo P.D. Both cyclists seemed fine in the “they’re going to live” sort of way, but one of them seemed to have a broken bone in his shin area to my naked eye.

    The driver left a side mirror behind, so with that and the license info this should be an easy one for any cops that care.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks, Damien. Of all the streets planned for sharrows, Westholme is the one that would seem to need them the least since it gets so little traffic, especially above Wilshire. But I guess that’s part of the test, to try them out on all kinds of streets, busy and quiet.

      And it’s amazing, isn’t? Even on a ride accompanied by half the police department, cyclists have to deal with a hit-and-run driver. In light of Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling, maybe we need to arm ourselves for self defense.

      I’m joking, of course. Sort of.

      • Nancy says:

        Hmmm…You just got me thinking about armed bicyclists. You think that concept might even things out a bit, and change motorist behavior? ;-)

        I’m joking, of course…sort of.

  2. […] What's with the Covered Sharrows on Westholme? (Biking In LA) […]

  3. Johnathan Banks says:

    So what exactly is happening.The DOT is covering up these signs for drivers basically telling bicyclist to not ride on this street? On another note check out Yacht Exports.They are a excellent transport company that helped me transport my boat across country

  4. Omri says:

    So far my experience on the Other Coast is that it really doesn’t matter where the sharrows are. Bikers don’t use them to set their lane positions. Drivers meanwhile look at the bikers, not the sharrows. What they do accomplish, however, is inform drivers that the community at large supports biking, and they should deal with it accordingly.

  5. duracycle says:

    It’s hard to imagine if sharrows will impact motorist and cyclist behavior directly. But anything we can get DOT to put down to increase awareness of the growing presence of cyclists would be good, particularly with the less educated of LA drivers.

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