Sharrows hit the street on Abbot Kinney

Headed west on Abbot Kinney, the first sharrow appears just after crossing Venice Blvd.

Thanks to a tip from Eric B, I made a point of including Abbot Kinney Blvd on my most recent ride so I could to check out the new sharrows — the final link in the city’s new six-street sharrows pilot project.

Over all, they seem to do the job.

When there wasn’t a bike present, the cars rolled over the sharrows as if they weren’t there — unlike the response on Westholme Ave, where drivers didn’t seem to know what to make of them.

When there were bikes around, the drivers passed whenever the opportunity presented. But at least they all seemed to pass at a safe distance.

Riding beside the bumpy thermoplastic places riders dangerously close to the door zone.

Which, I suppose, is all we can really ask for.

There’s one oddly placed sharrow on the westbound lane about a block from Venice, where the street curves, which seems to direct riders off the roadway — although I didn’t get a photo of it, since I was a little preoccupied with trying not to get run over at the time.

Maybe it was directing riders to stop at the food trucks that frequent the parking lot at the Brig, since that seems to be where it’s pointing.

Choosing the bumpier ride puts cyclists in a better lane position.

And like the other locations, the raised thermoplastic makes for a bumpy ride, which may encourage cyclists to ride beside the sharrows rather than over them — giving riders less control over the lane and placing them at the edge of the door zone.

So now the final piece of the pilot project is in place.

While we may think sharrows are a no brainer, the question remains whether the city’s implementation of them will encourage cyclists to use them. Or if decisions made regarding their placement on the streets will make riders feel less safe.

Sharrows stretch out on both sides from Main Street to Venice Blvd.

How drivers will respond is also an open question. Especially without adequate signage or educational efforts directed at motorists.

As is whether historically risk-averse LADOT will use the results to improve future installations throughout the city. Or call it a failed experiment and throw in the towel if issues arise.

It’s going to be an interesting experiment.

The question remains how drivers will respond on a busier street like Abbot Kinney — especially without signage or driver education.

………

On the last day of the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish won the final sprint in Paris, while Alberto Contador won his third Tour by one of the smallest margins in TdF history — the same amount of time Andy Schleck lost when he dropped his chain.

In the penultimate stage of this year’s Tour, Schleck gave it his best in Saturday’s time trial, but it just isn’t enough as Fabian Cancellara won the stage and Contador clinched victory — but Schleck will be back in 2011. After Christian Vande Velde crashes out of the Tour, aptly named Canadian Ryder Hesjedal became an overnight sensation for Garmin-Transitions. Tyler Farrar should be back on his bike in time for next month’s Tour of Spain. For Lance Armstrong, his 13th Tour really was bad luck as he finished 23rd, and his team’s attempt to honor cancer survivors was disallowed, but at least the French are on his side for once.

And on Nightline, Floyd Landis said “I saw Lance Armstrong using drugs.”

………

A look at Saturday’s Walk and Ride for a Safer 4th Street. Make your plans for the first public meeting of the bike committee of the Santa Monica Recreation & Parks Committee on Monday night. Tuesday evening there’s a demonstration and press conference in Beverly Hills to protest the slap on the wrist given Celine Mahdavi for nearly killing Louis “Birdman” Deliz. Courtesy of my friends at Altadenablog, a USC neuropathologist rides 140 miles for Alzheimer’s research. Get your limited edition, hand-printed CicLAvia t-shirt. The former chairman of the Yucca Valley Planning Commission is ordered to stand trial for killing a cyclist while driving with a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit. Three NorCal cyclists are hurt in separate incidents on the same road just hours apart — two on the same spot. The cyclist killed in North Dakota last week was on her way to Casper WY to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. A DC area cyclist dies, apparently from the high heat and humidity blanketing the East Coast. A Brit Olympian is in stable condition after suffering a skull fracture when he was hit by a truck in Winslow AZ last Tuesday. A reminder that bicyclists have to follow the rules of the road, too; thanks, we didn’t know that. Everything you need to know to talk bikes in 27 European languages. Every bike means less traffic and one more parking space. Twelve reasons why vehicular cycling may not be the answer for everyone.

Finally, a conversation with London mayor and avid bike supporter Boris Johnson, who undoubtedly won a lot of fans with his stand on bike theft.

“Plainly, we will treat bike thieves with the utmost severity. I’m looking at a very draconian policy. Bring back the stocks!”

3 comments

  1. [...] over the years, suggesting drivers will take this new piece of bicycle infrastructure in stride. Biking in LA also has a great write-up on the new Sharrows. From Biking in LA, Sharrows outside the door [...]

  2. [...] For more information, check out BikingInLA. [...]

  3. Jim Smith says:

    The Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation has finally gotten around to painting bike sharrows on a Venice street. Abbot Kinney Blvd. now has the image of a bicycle here and there on the surface of the street. Is it a joke? What do they mean? There is no explanation to motorists about how they should alter their driving. Many drivers run right over them.

    Like some kind of cargo cult, the LADOT has taken a symbol to designate a bike lane and smacked it right in the middle of auto traffic. And smack is what is likely to happen to cyclists who think they have some measure of safety because of the sharrow. The sharrows are just the latest example of LADOT’s incompetence (or are they jokesters?) when it comes to tinkering with AKB. A few years ago, they re-stripped the street to include a center lane whose purpose seems to be to allow parking for UPS trucks when their drivers are making deliveries. Next came the bizarre cross walk connecting Rialto and Palms. Bizarre because it includes flashing lights for motorists which are invisible to those attempting to cross Abbot Kinney. Is the light on? Is it off? Let’s gamble our lives that it’s on. Here we go…crash.

    While LADOT’s ineptness might be funny, it is no laughing matter to those who have been hit by cars, either trying to cross the street on foot or biking down it. The sharrows will just make matters worse. They don’t provide room for a car and a bike side by side.

    What Abbot Kinney Blvd. needs is less cut through traffic and buffered bike lanes. The street is now classified as a secondary highway. But CalTrans, the state agency, has indicated that it would be willing to drop that designation and return AKB to the status of a street, where traffic calming measures could be used. Unfortunately, there is at present no city of Venice to ask CalTrans to make it so. And there is no way to impose a congestion tax on non-resident drivers for using our small streets as thoroughfares. Venice, after all, is in the coastal zone. It is a destination for those seeking recreation and relaxation. It is not a short cut for those going to and from their jobs in other cities.

    A buffered bike lane is defined as a part of the street devoted to bikes and separated from car traffic. The safest way to do this is to put the bike lane next to the curb and move the auto parking into the street. On Abbot Kinney, this would involve eliminating the UPS lane and having one lane for auto traffic in each direction.      Bikes would flock to the street and cars could still go their merry way.

    Again, the lack of a Venice city administration makes planning and doing something that makes sense for Venice a difficult undertaking.

    L.A.’s Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, suffered a broken elbow in a bike accident in July. He was riding on the bike lane when a taxi pulled out from the curb right into him. Had the bike lane been next to the curb, he, and many others in similar situations, would have avoided injury.

    Buffered bike lanes could also be used on some of our bigger streets like Grand, Main, Venice, Washington and perhaps Rose. If they are 50 feet or wider, they could have buffered bike lanes.

    -excerpted from the Free Venice Beachhead

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