Making the perfect case for Westwood bike lanes

This is how you win the fight for bikes on the streets.

For the past year, I’ve been following the fight over bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard.

Particularly since attending the single most unpleasant bike meeting in my experience earlier this year, as a group of Westside home and business owners railed against the loss of a single parking space to improve safety for those on two wheels.

Even though the upcoming Expo Line extension promises to vastly increase the number of riders on the street, as countless students, professors and other employees will take the train to the planned Westwood stop. Then bike the last couple miles from and from the station and the UCLA campus.

And even though the current proposal for a floating bike lane avoids the elimination of a single traffic lane or parking space.

I was impressed when I was forwarded a document written by Calla Wilmer last May to other members of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners’ Association laying out all the arguments in favor of accommodating bike riders on the boulevard.

And even more impressed this last week when I received a brilliantly researched follow-up document she’d written, offering the clearest, most detailed argument I’ve seen yet on why these lanes must be built.

Or any other bike project, for that matter.

With footnotes, no less.

So I asked for permission to reprint her email here, and she graciously agreed.

Wiemer has addressed every argument against the lanes, and made the case for them as strongly as I’ve ever seen. In light of this, if anyone can still oppose them, they’re going to have some serious explaining to do.

It’s not a quick read. But definitely worth your time.

And a perfect example of how to lay out an irrefutable argument in favor of bicycling infrastructure.

……..

Cyclist Endangerment on Westwood Blvd II:

A Response to Critics and Skeptics

Calla Wiemer*

Westwood Blvd has been designated a backbone of the LA 2010 Bike Plan and targeted for the extension of now segmented bike lanes.  The leadership of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners’ Association has opposed bike lanes for the stretch of Westwood Blvd that runs through the WSSM neighborhood between Santa Monica and Pico.  The case in favor of bike lanes rests on a desire to mitigate the dangers that now confront cyclists on Westwood Blvd.  I presented analysis of the safety issues (along with a design proposal for bike lanes and a discussion of the parking situation) in a previous report submitted to the WSSM Bike Committee, hereafter referred to as “Cyclist Endangerment I”.[1]  The report generated much discussion and criticism.  This follow-up report offers a response to points raised by critics and skeptics.

Both reports are motivated by a desire to help inform stakeholders as to just how dangerous cycling is along the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd and to encourage the WSSM HOA leadership to reach out to HOA members with information on the situation.

This report begins with a recap of highlights from the WSSM HOA’s history related to bike lanes.  It then takes up a number of topics that have proven controversial in an effort to bring greater clarity to the discussion.  Finally, it concludes with a safety based argument in favor of bike lanes for Westwood Blvd.

WSSM HOA Bike Lane Activity

In recognition of the complexity of the bike lane issue, the WSSM HOA formed a Bike Committee which held a series of meetings.  Committee members, as appointed by the President, are:  Margaret Healey (co-chair); Craig Rich (co-chair); Marilyn Cohon; Randy Garrou; Janet Garstang; and Calla Wiemer.

A timeline of main activities is as follows:

  • 5 March 2013    WSSM Board discusses Bike Committee formation
  • 22 April 2013     first meeting of the Committee
  • 15 May 2013      Wiemer’s “Cyclist Endangerment I” submitted to the Committee
  • 9 July 2013          last meeting of the Committee (to date)

Other than my “Cyclist Endangerment I”, no written documents have been prepared by members of the WSSM Bike Committee.

The WSSM leadership has disseminated a number of e-mail communications expressing opposition to bike lanes for Westwood Blvd.  The most recent communication on this subject, dated 15 October 2013, objected even to the LA Department of Transportation undertaking study of a design proposal for bike lanes.  The only mention of safety in this communication appeared in the statement:   “The safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers is a critical goal.”

Discussion of Cyclist Endangerment on Westwood Blvd

My further input on five aspects of the safety discussion follows.

1)  Safety of cyclists the focus.  The WSSM e-mail of 15 October 2013 lumps together the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.  Drivers are encased in steel and glass, and further protected by air bags that inflate on impact.  Their safety is not at serious risk at speeds characteristic of Westwood Blvd.  Cyclists and pedestrians, by contrast, are exposed bodily in spaces shared with motor vehicles.  Bike lanes have been proposed to address the problem of danger to cyclists specifically.  The three-year period 2009-2011 saw 12 reported collisions involving cyclists on the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd and none involving pedestrians.[2]  By absorbing cyclists into the broader grouping of “pedestrians, cyclists and drivers” the critical problem faced by cyclists is diluted.  The dangers faced by cyclists call for specific attention in connection with the debate on bike lanes. 

2)  Significance of cyclist collision data.  “Cyclist Endangerment I” reported data on the number of collisions involving cyclists by year for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd.  In 2011, six collisions resulted in police reports for this six block stretch of roadway.  A WSSM Board member responded to this information as follows (8 Oct 2013, e-mail):

“I personally think the raw number isn’t very meaningful. Some may see it as low, some may see it as high. I don’t think there’s enough context to interpret the value …”

Let us develop the context.

  • One way to provide context is to compare the rate of cyclist-involved collisions per mile for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd with the rate for a broader geography.  At six collisions in 0.8 miles, the per mile rate was 7.5 for WSSM Westwood.  For the county of Los Angeles in the same year, the number of collisions involving cyclists was 2219.  The number of non-freeway road miles in LA County is 20,245.[3]  That makes for a cyclist-involved collision rate countywide of 0.24 per mile.  Thus the per mile rate of cyclist-involved collisions for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd in 2011 was nearly 32 times that exhibited on LA County roads in general.
  • Another way of providing context is to examine the ratio of cyclist-involved collisions relative to all collisions for Westwood Blvd versus the same ratio for the county overall.  Conceivably, Westwood Blvd is so congested and treacherous that collision rates are high for all modes of transport, with cyclists just getting caught up in that broader milieu.  As it turns out, however, for WSSM Westwood, 43 percent of all collisions in 2011 involved cyclists while for LA County as a whole the ratio was only 9.0 percent.  This means collisions involving cyclists as a share of total collisions were 4.7 times higher for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd than for LA County generally.

Skeptics might still counter that the six collisions in 2011 were a statistical aberration.  Such a short stretch of roadway is subject to a high degree of variability in collision rates from year to year, after all.  But even if we take the average number of cyclist collisions over the three year period 2009-2011 to represent the statistically expected number of collisions in 2011, the count still comes to four.  On a per mile basis, that number yields cyclist collisions for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd at a rate 21 times higher than for LA County as a whole and a share of cyclist collisions relative to all collisions at a rate 3.2 times higher.

Bottom line, it is hard to imagine a standard by which six collisions involving cyclists (or even four) in six blocks in one year may be seen as low.

3)  Impact of bike lanes on safety.  The above statement from the WSSM Board member continues:

“… nor is it clear what will happen to that value in the future should the lane proposal succeed or fail.”

A 2012 academic study is instructive in this regard.[4]  The authors estimate the likelihood of cyclist injury associated with different infrastructure configurations using an inventive methodology to control for cyclist and environmental characteristics.  The most dangerous configuration for cyclists is identified as “major street with parked cars and no bike infrastructure”.  Other configurations are benchmarked against this standard.  The risk measure for cyclist injury was found to be lower by nearly 50 percent for “major streets with parked cars and bike lanes”.   Although interpretation of the statistical results is complicated,[5] the authors were heartened to discover that their results conformed closely with cyclist perceptions of the relative dangers of different infrastructure configurations.

Ultimately, if bike lanes are installed on Westwood Blvd, there will be no way of knowing just how much bloodshed is avoided.  Nor can we know exactly how many people will take to riding bikes on Westwood Blvd who would otherwise have been deterred.  But as Teschke and co-authors ascertained, danger is palpable when you’re in it on a bike.  Anyone who is out riding Westwood Blvd regularly can attest to how scary it is and to the difference bike lanes would make.

Among the six cyclists involved in collisions on WSSM Westwood in 2011, five were male, only one female.  This is consistent with gender proportions tabulated by the LA County Bicycle Coalition in its biennial counts of cyclists on LA roadways.  LACBC analysis of the data has revealed, however, that when bike lanes are present the share of female riders more than doubles.[6]  The interpretation offered is that females are typically more risk averse in their cycling choices than males, and that given safer conditions they are prepared to take advantage of the opportunities.  The upshot is that installing bike lanes on Westwood Blvd would make it a more inclusive biking environment for women.

4)  Complaints about cyclist behavior.  My reporting of collision figures at the June WSSM board meeting met with outcries over the perceived recklessness of cyclists.  There may be many reasons why cyclists do not consistently adhere to rules of the road as designed for motor vehicles:  attempt to avoid conflict; laziness; haste; capability to maneuver in ways that cars cannot.  There may also be many reasons why motorists violate the right-of-way of cyclists:  distraction; haste; didn’t “see” cyclist; “couldn’t help it”.  Fault is to be found on both sides.  Solutions are nevertheless more likely to be achieved through creating safer spaces for cyclists and motorists to coexist than through changing human nature.

For the six cyclist-involved collisions reported on WSSM Westwood in 2011, case reports show the motorist at fault in four and no party assigned fault in the other two.  In all six cases, the cyclist was injured while the motorist escaped unharmed.  To state the obvious, the contest between cyclists and cars is highly unequal.

5)  Collisions involving cyclists on an upswing.  Collisions involving cyclists have trended sharply upward in Los Angeles since the mid-2000s.  Between 2007 and 2011, the number rose citywide by nearly 70 percent.  Westwood Blvd has similarly seen a dramatic increase from only two cyclist-involved collisions between 2002 and 2007 to 15 between 2008 and 2011.  For the period since 2011, we do not yet have full collision data but we do have numbers on cyclist fatalities culled from news accounts, and these show an alarming leap.  The number of cyclist fatalities in LA County for all of 2012 was 22; for the first ten months of 2013 the count had already reached 32.[7]

BikeWestwoodII-chartBy contrast the incidence of collisions of all types has been declining, as has that for collisions involving pedestrians, as the accompanying figure shows.  A major factor in the increase in cyclist-involved collisions is presumably an increase in the number of cyclists on the road.  The LACBC bike counts show ridership trending strongly upward for Los Angeles generally.  A pattern of ever more cyclists on the road incurring ever more injuries is at the heart of the case for better cycling infrastructure.

Assessment

Current conditions on Westwood Blvd are extremely dangerous for cyclists.  This is a problem for two reasons.  One is that cyclists now braving these dangers are being injured in significant numbers.  The other is that people who would like to travel the corridor by bike are afraid to do so.

Westwood Blvd would present a very different atmosphere if bike lanes were installed and people in numbers gave up their cars to cycle.  For those getting around by bike, local shopping and dining would be more convenient without the stress of having to park a car.  No time would be wasted in transit as the time spent would double as exercise.  But even those traveling by car would be better off if freed of the frustration of getting trapped behind slow moving cyclists.  Cars and bikes would have their own spaces to move at their own speeds.

The problem of cyclists impeding motorists will only get worse with the opening of the Westwood Blvd Expo Line station.  This station will not offer parking for cars.  Cyclists and pedestrians will be its mainstay.  Many who now drive to UCLA or Westwood Village will find the combination of rail and bike an attractive alternative.  We need to prepare for this.

The decision whether to install bike lanes on Westwood Blvd, or even to study proposed designs, will be made by District 5 Councilmember Paul Koretz.  In reaching a verdict, he will take into account input from neighborhood stakeholders.  As a community, we must hope that the input he receives is well informed.


* The author is a member of the Bike Committee of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners’ Association.  This is a revised version of a report submitted to the WSSM Board of Directors at its 5 November 2013 meeting.  It reflects the views of the author alone and is not a product of the WSSM Bike Committee.   It can be found online at www.callawiemer.com/Documents/BikeWestwoodII.pdf.

[1] The full title is “Cyclist Endangerment on Westwood Blvd … and How to Mitigate It”.  The report is posted online at www.callawiemer.com/Documents/BikeWestwood.pdf.

[2] All collision data are from the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) of the University of California Berkeley, http://tims.berkeley.edu/page.php?page=tools.

[4] Kay Teschke, et al, “Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists:  A Case-Crossover Study”, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 102, No. 12 (December 2012).

[5] The reduction in the risk measure does not translate directly into an equivalent reduction in the probability of cyclist injuries, and the study does not present results in such a form.  The statistical significance of the results is sensitive to the confidence interval chosen.  Stronger significance in risk reduction is associated with a road configuration involving bike lanes and no parked cars than with bike lanes and the existence of parked cars.

[6] Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, “Results from the 2011 City of Los Angeles Bicycle and Pedestrian Count,” p. 21, https://lacbc.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/2011_labikecountreport.pdf.

36 comments

  1. I made two lists comparing Census Bureau American Community Survey results of New York City and Los Angeles to get an idea of how long it takes to get a significant increase in commuting by bicycle after installing 150 miles of bike lanes in the last two fiscal years.

    The rate of increase in commuting mode share of bicycling tends to correlate with the overall rate of increase in bicycling.

    Calla Weimer states that the number of collisions for cyclists in the city of Los Angeles rose by 70% from 2007 to 2011.

    The ACS data results show about a 65% increase in commuting by bicycle in the city of Los Angeles from 2007 to 2011. If this is reflective of the rate of increase in cycling in the city, then the collision rate per total number of people bicycling daily would remain about the same.

    Los Angeles started installing large quantities of bike lanes in the second half of 2011 and New York City started in the second half of 2006.

    Pdf of bike lane and path installation by fiscal year in NYC:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/bikeroutedetailsfy07-fy12.pdf

    ACS results for Los Angeles show no change for the mode share of commuting by bicycle other than within the margin of error from 2008-2012.

    Commuting by bicycle margin of error for NYC and Los Angeles are both 0.1%:

    ____Number of workers____Drove___Transit__Bicycle

    2005__1,662,238_________79.5%___10.3%__0.6%
    2006__1,721,778_________78.8%___11.0%__0.6%
    2007__1,742,084_________78.3%___11.3%__0.6%
    2008__1,799,639_________77.5%___11.4%__0.9%
    2009__1,748,419_________77.6%___11.3%__1.0%
    2010__1,706,116_________77.1%___11.2%__0.9%
    2011__1,719,980_________76.8%___11.4%__1.0%
    2012__1,749,180_________77.3%___10.9%__1.0%

    change from 2005-2012_____-2.2%___+0.6%_+0.4%

    Other than the higher results in 2007, which are within the margin of error, New York City started to get a significant increases in bicycle commuting mode share in 2010, four years after they started aggressively installing bike lanes. Hurricane Sandy may have had an influence on the 2012 results:

    ____Number of workers___Drove___Transit___Bicycle

    2005___3,429,194______29.7%____54.6%___0.5%
    2006___3,597,547______29.3%____54.2%___0.6%
    2007___3,683,489______28.8%____54.6%___0.7%
    2008___3,827,122______28.8%____54.8%___0.6%
    2009___3,731,917______28.7%____54.9%___0.6%
    2010___3,615,588______27.7%____55.7%___0.8%
    2011___3,646,436______26.7%____56.3%___0.8%
    2012___3,749,071______27.3%____55.9%___1.0%
    change from 2005-2012___-2.4%____+1.3%__+0.5%

    Increased commuting modal share for bicycling in both NYC and LA seem to be coming mainly from people who had been driving to work.

    Judging by these results, I’m guessing that LA will get a increase in commuting modal share for bicycling in the 2013 ACS results. I base that on LA installing 150 miles of bike lanes in 2-fiscal years and NYC taking 3-fiscal years to install about the same amount.

    The city of Los Angeles has increased the miles of bike lanes by 233% since 2009. This should lead to a large jump in the number of cyclists on the arterial streets.

    ACS results for 2013–expected release is Sept of 2014–will give a good indication of the rate of increase in cycling from 2012 to 2013 in Los Angeles.

  2. Craig says:

    I think there are a number of other variables in the discussion related to bike lanes on Westwood Blvd other than cyclist safety. I realize that is the primary focus of this blog, and of Calla’s article and with that in mind, I wish to point out another perspective.

    There seem to be opportunities to develop alternate routes for bike riders to get from the two Expo stations closest to UCLA to the campus. Those routes, if developed could run through the residential neighborhoods which parallel Westwood Blvd. Today, those north/south routes are blocked by major arteries like PIco, Olympic, Santa Monica, and Wilshire, but it seems an effort could be made to identify routes and build bike only crossings over those arteries. In fact, isn’t Veteran defined to be a Bike Friendly Street in the 2010 Bike Plan. Wouldn’t Veteran, if developed as a BFS, be an excellent alternate route for cyclists wishing to go from the two closest Expo stations to UCLA?

    Wouldn’t there be an increase in rider safety by simply separating the bike riders from the autos, trucks, and buses? And wouldn’t such separated routes, away from major traffic, encourage riding by not only savvy, daily bike commuters but also children, and the elderly?

    Ignoring all the other variables at play in this discussion, using neighborhood streets for the cyclists seems it could be a lot safer to cyclists than painted lines.

    • bikinginla says:

      Just like drivers, many bike riders prefer the most direct route — especially since their vehicles are human powered, and even a few blocks out of their way can tax the abilities of some riders.

      Veteran is a narrow street, and would require removal of parking for several blocks above Santa Monica Blvd to accommodate bike lanes. It also has a steep hill that would be difficult for many riders, while Westwood is relatively flat the entire way.

      And Veteran is a heavily traveled street, particularly at rush hour. As an experienced cyclist, I would much rather ride Westwood than Veteran, at least north of Santa Monica.

      The simple fact is, even if Veteran is made safer and more attractive to bike riders, many commuters traveling to and from the Expo Line and the UCLA campus will ride one Westwood whether or not bike lanes are installed on the boulevard. It will be a lot safer for everyone, and far less inconvenient to drivers, if we do what we can to accommodate them.

      • Craig says:

        I agree that Veteran is heavily traveled but there are other parallel streets (to the west, Midvale, Kelton, Greenfield, Camden, Bentley) which are not. Part of my point is to build the route to encourage bikes and discourage cars. The residents of those neighborhood would likely welcome such an effort.

        The candidate neighborhood side streets (Veteran being just one option) are anywhere from 1-4 blocks east/west from Westwood. So that’s maybe 1000 feet with no incline as far as I know to get from Westwood to a side street.

        I believe there is a decent uphill grade along Westwood when going north from the proposed Expo stations to UCLA which is ~2.5 mile ride from the Westwood station. That incline alone would seem to be taxing in and of itself.

        I don’t see how a 1-4 block add on to take what could be a much safer route would deter a rider who is willing to take on a 2.5 mile ride up hill to the campus. Particularly when the whole point of building out the bike network is to encourage more bike riding.

        Remember, even if the lanes go into Westwood, there will still be cars, buses, trucks, all fighting for position and no doubt speeding. Plus a rider has to be wary of parked car doors opening, autos turning from/to the major arteries, and cars going into/out of numerous driveways which feed onto Westwood. Taking on all that to avoid a few blocks of extra riding seems counter intuitive.

        Also, I don’t understand why you think the neighborhood routes I suggest would need bike lanes. If the crossings are constructed to be bike/ped only, the routes are effectively restricted to bikes/peds (across the major arteries). While there would be some local car traffic, isn’t it reasonable to expect that to be limited and slower in general?. Lane sharing (with Sharrows as are already present on some of those same streets) seems sufficient on such a route.

        Finally, as I said in my original post, there are a number of variables in this discussion. If you being to consider all the variables a compromise involving a few blocks detour seems reasonable.

        • Opus the Poet says:

          I ask you the reverse question, why not route the motor vehicle traffic off the direct route and onto the hillier indirect route? Leave the direct flat route for cyclists, move the vehicles that are so overpowered that their average speed and range are unaffected by hills to routes with the hills. Leave the commercial destinations and housing as they are now, of course.

          • Craig says:

            Do you mean route cars down the parallel residential streets? That would like make for a pretty terrible neighborhood environment. I thought the promotion of a bike network was supposed to make Los Angeles a better community as a whole.

            And while the focus of this blog post was to address the dangers of bike riders on Westwood Blvd. what about the danger of having all that auto traffic running down streets with families/children trying to enjoy their neighborhood? Its like Veteran is today. You don’t see many kids playing, or neighbors outside talking to each other on Veteran in my experience.

            This is one of my points about the numerous variables at play in this discussion. I like to think of West LA like an ecosystem. If you touch part of it (put bike traffic down Westwood Blvd.) it reacts (cars try to find the least path of resistance into the neighborhood streets). Even if you put the bikes down the residential streets there will be effects. The difficulty I see is finding the solution that has more positive than negative effects on the community as a whole. Focusing solely on safety, or what best suits daily bike commuters is too narrow a focus in my opinion.

            • Opus the Poet says:

              Aaannnd you miss the point entirely. I wasn’t suggesting that motor vehicle traffic be routed through residential neighborhoods, I was commenting on the point that the “solution” to bicycle safety always seems to be to inconvenience cyclists by making bike routes sub-optimal, while always making sure to never inconvenience drivers in spite of the difference being a minor inconvenience for drivers compared to a deadly status quo or a major inconvenience for cyclists.

            • Craig says:

              Opus the Poet,

              I apologize if I misunderstood your comment (which it seems I can’t quite reply to directly, so this may appear above yours…). As a resident of the West LA area, I’m very sensitive to the traffic (cut through or otherwise) which in my opinion plagues otherwise relatively tranquil neighborhood streets.

              I disagree with you that finding a route for bike riding other than Westwood Blvd. inconveniences bike riders. In fact, I see the point in reverse.

              I think of myself as an off and on bike rider, although not a daily commuter. My family owns 4 bikes (not counting my 3 year old’s) in various stages of service, including a nice, steel tube 1988 Bottecchia which by chance you may have seen in a Rosarita-Ensenada ride or two over the years. I cycle occasionally to local restaurants for lunch. My wife used to ride to her office (a 1/4 mile away) a couple days a week before the baby arrived. I want to see improvements in the community to facilitate more biking. I think utilizing the neighborhood streets is the way to make that happen. But it must be planned carefully, considering all the many factors in play. If such neighborhood routes existed, I would ride more. I think my wife would ride more. And hopefully my 3 year old would ride more.

              Lanes on Westwood Blvd just don’t seem to me like they are going to make it more convenient for the local West LA community as a whole to begin riding their bikes more.

              Does that help clarify my posts more?

            • Opus the Poet says:

              Craig, this isn’t about you. It isn’t even about these bike lanes. What it’s about is the supposition that cyclists don’t really want to ride the most direct and flattest routes that already exist for cars but should take the indirect, longer and hillier routes that don’t inconvenience drivers instead of making infrastructure that works for everybody. I’m not real familiar with the current lay of the land in L.A. since Nixon was president the last time I lived there and Reagan the last time I visited. There have been a lot of freeways built since then, but what would people think if I suggested that drivers be forced to take parallel freeways instead of surface streets? Only access surface streets when they couldn’t get any closer by freeways? Or deny access to surface streets completely if there was a freeway nearby?

              That’s the inverse of what people are saying for bicycles, that bicycles don’t really have the right to use the most direct route (or flattest route) because, cars.

        • bikinginla says:

          The problem with sharrows is that they offer cyclists no benefits that we don’t already have under the law. Any cyclist who chooses to ride those streets already can, and given the narrow width of those streets, can already legally ride in the lane.

          Improving crossings to be more bike friendly on those streets you suggest would help, and as you point out, could encourage more people from the neighborhood to take up bicycling.

          However, it’s not going to help someone who’s trying to get to class or work on time, or encourage them to go out of their way anymore than most drivers would under the same circumstances.

          Yes, many cyclists would prefer to ride a safer, quieter side street. But consider how many bicyclists ride Wilshire Boulevard to get to UCLA or Westwood, when they could go just a few blocks out of their way to take Ohio instead; or take Santa Monica through Beverly Hills instead of the much slower and less direct Charleville or Carmelita.

          Like motorists, many riders — and not always the most confident ones — choose the most direct route to their destination. Attempting to divert cyclists to a less busy street will succeed with some, and fail with others, who will continue to ride on Westwood, and in far greater numbers than now once the Expo Line opens.

          Failing to accommodate them — especially when it can be done with little or no impact on traffic — will result in far worse gridlock than we see now, as narrow traffic lanes force those riders take the lane in front of the already heavy traffic.

          If you want to ensure gridlock and a rapidly rising casualty rate, then simply maintain the status quo on Westwood Blvd.

          On the other hand, the proposal for a floating bike lane means that bikes can be safely accommodated without the loss of a single traffic lane or parking spot. While it might take a little getting used to at first, it promises to improve safety and provide the direct route many riders will want, while safely getting riders out of the traffic lane, so they don’t slow or further aggravate already stressed out drivers.

          Sounds like a rare situation where everyone wins to me.

          And remember, bikeways are not a zero sum game. Just because we put a bike lane on Westwood — as part of the Backbone Network that ordinary bike riders like yourself fought to include in the 2010 bike plan — does not mean we can’t also build a Bike Friendly Street or Neighborhood Greenway to accommodate the needs of other riders.

          The genius of the 2010 bike plan is that it includes bikeways that benefit all kinds of riders, with direct routes that take busy commuters and shoppers where they need to go, as well as routes that follow quieter, safer streets to serve more risk-averse riders, along with feeder routes that connect to the others.

          There is no need to choose one over the other. They serve different types of riders in different ways. And all are necessary if we want encourage bicycling and make LA the bike friendly city it should be.

          • Craig says:

            Opus,

            I appreciate your feedback and understand but with all due respect this discussion is about my community as I live in the area being discussed. I thought offering some personal insight might be helpful to show perspective. That is, someone who bikes (albeit not as much as I used to) could disagree with the premise that bike lanes on Westwood Blvd. are the best approach to supporting bicycling in West LA. I apologize if that was not how you interpreted the comment.

            Bike riders can use all the same streets as cars do today, including Westwood Blvd. The topic of the discussion as I see it is related to the tradeoffs associated with making accommodations on Westwood Blvd. specific to bike riders. I believe the author of the blog supports adding these accommodations in the form of bike lanes to enhance safety of bike riders traveling along Westwood. My point is, safety isn’t the only variable. And perhaps a better way to improve safety is to separate the bikes from the cars. That may involve a tradeoff of a non-direct route which may be a poor option to some people, but to others it may be well worth the price. In addition, many in the community feel there are further advantages to routing bikes through the residential streets rather than the main boulevard. Advantages which the bike lanes on Westwood Blvd do not offer.

            Also note, Westwood has a grade on it (uphill heading north) as do the parallel, neighborhood side streets.

            • Craig says:

              bikinginla

              I appreciate your points, but I don’t see how gridlock could be worse under current conditions, and better with the floating lanes. Not all streets are created equal. Just because Westwood Blvd is a straight line on the map, doesn’t mean its entire length makes sense as a bike backbone street. The portion where the floating lanes are proposed (from Pico to Santa Monica) is narrower which is why I believe the floating lane proposal was put forward. I recall the initial proposal *was to remove* a traffic lane using the same logic of improving safety, regardless of the effect of auto traffic and domino effect on the neighboring community streets. That seems to say that the focus is on getting those bike lanes in just because LACBC decided they should go in. It doesn’t feel like the effects on whole community are being taken into consideration (I know I’ve said that a few times now).

              I see much to debate on exactly how useful the backbone network is to the average citizen who likes to bike (such as myself). I am much more interested in short local bike rides, or getting to a bike path like the Expo pathway, or Ballona Creek, for a recreational ride. Yes I know the Backbone network could get me to those bike paths but so could local routes if they existed. I’m sure there’s another group of the population (like yourself and Calla) who looks to ride multiple miles for a errand type trips others would take by car. But I don’t think that group is large, and I don’t see it growing significantly just because you add bike lanes to a given artery. Perhaps, perhaps not.

              Putting aside my personal preference and belief in what’s best for my local community, you make the floating lane concept sound simple when you say “there’s no loss of parking and no loss of a traffic lane.” That simplified view seems to be because you support the idea. I don’t begrudge you for having that opinion even though I disagree with it. When I try to visualize how the actual floating lane concept will work, I expect it will far more complex and prone to confusion. Just one thought, consider people will park (or stay parked) in the lane when its supposed to be the bike lane (just as they do now on Pico and Olympic when the parking lane is converted to a grid lock traffic lane). Now you need a tow truck to come down and move them. All the while, the bikes are flowing around this mess, into the traffic lane. That could lead to a dangerous environment for the bikers and the cars. Perhaps more dangerous than it is now, and certainly more dangerous than if the bikes were taking another route (but I’m diverge back to my opinion on this matter…). Also, while that plan hasn’t eliminated parking, it does call for moving it. So now, anyone who wants to go to Matteo’s for early dinner (which is on the West side of Westwood) has to park on the East side, and cross over to the Westside (or they park in the neighborhood which the residents don’t appreciate but we generally try to tolerate to support to businesses). A good percentage will likely be crossing at Tennessee which is not controlled. That means they get to dodge cars and bikes flooding the boulevard. Note, during rush hour I’ve personally nearly been run down by a bike who didn’t yield to me and my daughter’s stroller in the cross walk, moving very fast compared to grid locked cars. That is a danger which exists today, and will not get better by adding those lanes. It would seem to get worse with the floating lanes in my opinion. I think its very hard to say what will come if this floating proposal goes into effect as I believe there is no precedent for such a lane in the City of Los Angeles.

              As for usage on the lanes by UCLA, Expo riders, do you know of any estimates on the number of cyclists who can be expected to take the Expo line and bike the last 2.5 miles to campus? I have thought it may be possible to estimate by figuring how many bikes a single Expo train car can accommodate combined with the frequency of trains arriving at the Westwood station. Thinking about it that way, it doesn’t seem like the rate its going to be very high (1-5 bikes per train?, 1 train every 20 mins? 5-15 bikes per hour?). For comparison, those same students/staff can take the Red Line down Santa Monica or Wilshire and ride there bikes a far shorter distance today with a similar limitation on the number of bikes that the Red Line bus can accommodate. Is that a common way for UCLA students/staff to get to campus (I ask that out of ignorance as I am not aware of a survey)?

              Lastly, on the topic of “zero sum” (e.g. backbone and neighborhood bike accomodations), since the neighborhood paths probably serve a wider audience, why not focus on doing them first? That could then lead to that drop in auto traffic on Westwood which is anticipated/predicated by the commuity pushing for the lanes on Westwood Blvd (although I personally doubt a reduction in car traffic will happen on Westwood anytime soon short of a lightrail or subway but north/south but that’s another topic). Then, if its found those neighborhood paths are just not capable of meeting the needs of the smaller, daily commuter community then consider what can be done to help then given the new conditions.

              I think the backbone is being focused on first because its easier/cheaper. And that is disappointing if true. Doing the backbone first, even if you succeed, you end up with a solution that is tailored to serve the smaller, daily commuters and leaves out a large portion of the rest of the community. And once that backbone is in place, it seems there will be less motiviation for the LACBC/LADOT to come in and work on the more complex, more costly neighborhood solutions. I may be getting way off topic now…

            • bikinginla says:

              Oh please, Craig.

              First off, the LACBC did not write the bike plan, nor did they originate the Backbone Network. That came from a group of bike riders who got together on their own to draw their own bike network after the city originally proposed a weak bike plan no one liked. And then successfully pressured the city to include that network in the revised bike plan.

              Yes, the LACBC supported that effort, but was not behind it. It was a grassroots effort that rose up from ordinary bike riders who simply wanted to get where they need to go, safely and efficiently.

              Secondly, I’m sorry a bike rider was once rude to you and your child, and nearly ran you both down. That should never happen.

              On the other hand, I’ve often had pedestrians step directly in front of me without looking, and have drivers act in a dangerous manner virtually every time I ride a bike, even on those quiet side streets you prefer.

              In fact, I once had a road raging driver deliberately run into me because she was angry that I was in her way on one of those quiet Westwood side streets.

              As someone who lives in the Westwood area myself — and have for 20 years — I generally have no trouble crossing Westwood Blvd. However, you make a better case for installing a traffic light at Tennessee than for not installing the bike lane; whichever side the parking is on, people will need to cross the street in both directions, just as they do right now with parking only allowed on the west side.

              You are correct that there is no other floating bike lane in Los Angeles; however, it has been successfully employed in San Francisco.

              It is clear that you are adamantly opposed to a bike lane on Westwood, even though the greatest inconvenience you can cite is that it will force people to cross the street in one direction in the morning after they park their cars, and the opposite direction in the evening, rather than a single direction both morning and night.

              On the other hand, if the bike lane did exist, it would encourage me to use it to patronize businesses on Westwood south of Santa Monica, which I currently don’t do know because I don’t feel safe riding on Westwood. In fact, I seldom patronize those businesses at all because I don’t even like driving that street, especially south of Olympic, let alone endlessly hunt for parking once I get there.

              Based on the experience of other cities, as well as elsewhere in Los Angeles, installing bike lanes will help create a more livable, walkable street that will tame traffic and encourage more people to come out an patronize those businesses.

              Call me crazy, but I’d think that anyone who lives or owns a business in the area would be in favor of that.

        • My suggestion of using Gayley Ave to Midvale Ave as a alternative to bike lanes on Westwood Blvd from Santa Monica Blvd to Pico Blvd would be useless if a motor vehicle lane cannot be removed on Westwood Blvd from Pico Blvd to National.

          Midvale Ave from Gayley Ave to Pico Blvd would be a disconnected island without a bike lane on a arterial street that would connect people via way of a low-stress route to the Expo Line. Any link in a route that is beyond a persons tolerance for stress makes the whole route too stressful. It would be a waste of time to try and make a residential stress a bicycle friendly street if it doesn’t get you to where you want to go.

      • It doesn’t matter what the brilliance is of the argument to put bike lanes in on Westwood Blvd, the community representatives are overwhelmingly against any change whatsoever. A politician will not be very likely to go against the will of the of the organizations representing the area, unless its a huge billion dollar+ project like the Expo Line.

        Waiting for the communities mindset to change could take years–if it ever happens. So, insisting that a bikeway route has to be on a arterial street in a area like this will essentially stop any progress in increasing the volume of bicycling.

        In the meantime, there are other alternative residential streets in the area that run parallel to Westwood Blvd. You have to get creative in finding other ways to increase the bicycling rate without using the arterial streets.

        What you have to bear in mind is that there are 1,800 miles of arterial streets out of 6,500 miles of streets in Los Angeles. The majority of those miles are residential streets.

        Another route to get from UCLA to the Expo Line, or Palms, is to go down Gayley Ave, then Midvale Ave until you hit Pico Blvd. There are medians that need to have cut troughs made, but that can be overcome.

        The cyclist is then directed from Midvale Ave at Pico Blvd to Westwood Blvd to complete the route to the Palms area or the Expo Line.

        Considering the length of the route, this detour would likely be acceptable to most potential cyclists. Not having to deal with the traffic on Westwood Blvd is a big plus.

        Stakeholders in areas like this will frequently not want their arterial streets touched, but they love traffic calming on their residential streets. They want to have no restrictions on their driving on arterial streets, but they don’t want people driving through their neighborhood residential streets. Creating a bicycle friendly street will tend to have much less resistance than trying to install bike lanes on arterials.

        • Craig says:

          Dennis,

          Other creative ideas on alternate routes…

          I have noticed Military is used by bike riders now, and thought it could be a great option. A possible route using Military to get from the Expo line to UCLA could be;

          Start: Expo station at Westwood or Sepulveda
          Ride along Expo bike way to Military
          Go North on Military up to Pico
          Utilize a bike only crossings (yet to be built) to cross Pico/Olympic/Santa Monica using the residential streets for the ride which parallel Westwood (e.g. Bentley, Camden, Greenvale, Veteran, Kelton, Midvale).

          North beyond Santa Monica, there seem many options. Westwood (which is wider now) and has existing lanes but I’m not a fan of using Westwood at all because of the concentration of autos/busses/trucks. But the lanes are there so some could choose that option. Making that transition onto Westwood would need some thought. Or keep following the same techniques to utilize the residential streets above with to be built bike only crossings at major cross streets.

          Once you get up toward Wilshire, I think it would be great to try and get into the VA given the existing underpass under Wilshire. The VA and cemetery grounds would eventually put riders right into the middle of campus.

          I also think the land around 405 has tremendous potential to be a bike/ped path with a starting point of the Expo Sepulveda station.

          I realize some of these ideas involve major planning and cost and there is controversy around using the VA grounds. But given the advocacy power of the LACBC and the bike community in general, I’d think some realistic ideas could emerge.

          I can only imagine what the possibilities are if an equivalent effort as is seen on the bike lanes on Westwood was put elsewhere.

          • Military is too indirect a route from UCLA to the Expo Line. Its sounds rather obvious that you do not ride a bike for utilitarian purposes. Also, Military is a very steep street for riding a bicycle on in several sections.

            Your quite clear in your viewpoint that Westwood Blvd s, and any other arterial street in the area, should be reserved for motorized transportation only. Streets were never intended to be used solely for motor vehicles.

            The problems with traffic along Westwood Blvd is that there are too many people choosing to travel by car at peak hours. Making sure that driving is the number one option for people to choose will never improve the situation over the long haul. Any other option takes up less space to move each person. Moving people around by car during peak hours in a large city is the most inefficient use of space.

            Westwood Blvd is the number one choice for bicycling for the same reason it is for motor vehicle drivers, its the most direct route. There are ways to make it safe and comfortable enough for most people to ride a bicycle on.

            • Craig says:

              Dennis,

              Military crosses Exposition in between where the Westwood and Sepulveda Expo stations will lie. I don’t see that as being very big detour for a rider heading to/from UCLA if you assume a rider is using the Expo line. Clearly, we differ in our opinions here.

              Not sure I get you on the steepness of Military either. What part of Military (from Expo either up to Pico or down to National) is too steep to ride? Is it much steeper than northbound on Westwood Blvd. around Santa Monica?

              Indeed I don’t ride a bike to commute to work (I actually work from home most days). I only take short rides from my home to local businesses for occasional lunch out or even less often, a quick errand. I also enjoy longer recreational rides although its been some time since I did that with regularity.

              I understand streets aren’t reserved for certain types of traffic. Although aren’t freeways effectively reserved for autos given the speed limits? I agree that Westwood has a lot of auto traffic because people choose to drive on it. Overland, Veteran, Sepulveda also seem pretty well jammed with cars during commute hours. I’m sure the residents on Veteran and Overland aren’t happy about it either. Without understanding these driver’s start and end points, its tough to imagine what other realistic options they have to get from point A to point B. Just because there’s a bike lane (or bike route through residential streets) doesn’t mean you turn a car trip into a bike trip. That premise seems a fundamental aspect to the argument that bike lanes on Westwood is good for the local community. I’ve not see it demonstrated beyond thought experiments so it may be true, but it might not be.

              If the premise is incorrect, and putting the bike lanes in doesn’t change the overall auto traffic through the area in question, the concern in the local community is that *should* the increase in bike traffic translate into any increase in delays for cars traveling along Westwood, that will result in more car drivers trying to use the residential streets as parallel routes. I’m sure I’ve beaten that to death here so my apologies for repeating myself multiple times.

              Getting off topic a bit, but I certainly have thoughts on better ways to move people around the city (for example I’m a big fan of public transit especially rail, subway, lighrail; I rode the Red Line daily for a year to get to work and loved it). But its become clear over time not everyone feels the same way. Cars are a reality. I wish their use could be reduced but cutting off their access in one place seems like it will just push them to another. Its a case of “path of least resistance” in my mind. If you make the path for cars down Westwood more resistant, they are going to look for less resistant paths elsewhere. What are the car driver options if not the residential streets?

              I just can’t agree with you that Westwood is the #1 choice for cyclists going north/south through our community particularly if there was an alternate route. Nor can I agree the top priority in any ride is a direct line from A to B.

              But again I really appreciate the civil conversation. Having different view points is important to finding a solution to a problem with so many variables.

            • To get a large volume of people out of their cars during peak hours there must be a alternative form of transportation available that is competitive in speed and convenience with the car.

              There are three direct means of transportation from A to B– walking, driving and bicycling. Walking is competitive with driving for no more than six blocks. Most people would not want to walk beyond that distance regularly.

              Bicycling will probably take you three times further than walking in the same amount of time if you move at a slow pace.

              The slower that cars go, then the more competitive walking and bicycling become in comparison.

              Using Veteran Ave to travel to and from the Expo Line takes at least 6 more blocks of travel compared to the most direct route–which is Westwood Blvd. That slows bicycling down, which you don’t want to do if you want to insure that bicycling is competitive with the time it takes to drive there.

              Bicycling for most people is a discretionary activity. Creating routes for bicycling that makes sure that the bicycle is the slowest form of transportation to get somewhere detours people from choosing a bicycle as their choice of transportation.

              The Netherlands has by far the highest bicycling rate in Europe at 27% of all trips.

              What makes the Dutch cycle? Flexibility, convenience, perceived safety, cost, health benefits, the fastest way to get around town and easy to combine with other modes of transport.

              The main requirements for bicycle infrastructure for the Dutch are: Coherence, directness, attractiveness, safety and comfort.

              If there were bike lanes for the entire length from UCLA to the Expo Line, then there should be absolutely no question that there would be several times more people choosing to ride a bike to Palms and the Expo Line. That’s simply because the bicycle would be the fastest way to and from these different destinations during peak hours.

              If bike lanes are put in where there is no capacity taken away from driving, then the maximum capacity for moving people on that street will have been increased. Keeping bike lanes off of that street does not increase the capacity to move people in cars.

              People who see long delays in car traffic can get a distorted picture of how to improve the situation and the worse the situation gets, the more that want it to remain the same. Its like the house is on fire and they don’t want the fireman to try and put it out, or they have a disease and they don’t want any treatment.

              To move more people on a street you have to increase the space devoted to driving, and, or increase the capacity by using more efficient ways to move people–like transit, walking or bicycling–in the same amount of space.

              Putting in bike lanes on Westwood Blvd by utilizing floating lanes would not diminish anyone’s ability to drive on that street. There would not be a increase in delays for motor vehicles either.

              Floating lanes on Westwood Blvd is a win-win situation for that corridor. No increased delays in driving and a increase in capacity by providing a safer bicycling route by providing some separation of bicyclists from traffic by installing bike lanes.

              The main reason that people are opposed to it is because it contains the word “change.” People in that area are all for change on arterial streets as long as it looks the same when you get done as it did before you started.

            • Craig says:

              Dennis,

              Thanks again for the interesting comments. I have to disagree with you ended your post with a stereotype saying any discussion about alternatives to the lanes is from people who are afraid of change. That’s a sweeping generalization which I think is unfair. But that’s not as interesting as the rest of your post, so I’ll leave it at that.

              I see some your points, but I think you left out mass transit as an option in addition to driving, walking, biking. For those going from A to B for work, there’s also the option of no trip (e.g. telecommute for those who can) but that’s splitting hairs I guess.

              I’m not sure what distances are considered reasonable for a typical person willing to bike commute. Seems there’s lots of criteria like biking skill, fitness level, weather, need for hygene (e.g. a shower after the ride), etc. Seems complex to determine but maybe you have insight into what percent of all commuters meet the criteria where they could possibly bike commute given a certain set of conditions (e.g. the route which is the focus here).

              Just my thinking aloud, but taking the set of people using Westwood Blvd. for their daily commute, I don’t see a high enough percentage of that set who are able to consider bike commuting that would in turn make a dent in the auto traffic. I could be totally off base here, just a gut feel.

              And from that same set, those who would bike probably wouldn’t see the additional 6 blocks (as you seem to reasonably generalize a detour using side streets parallel to Westwood Blvd.) as not an obstacle to their getting on the bike for this commute. For the brief time when I rode to work (and I had access to a shower at the office) while living in the Bay Area, 6 blocks wouldn’t have stopped me.

              In other words, having a bike route to commute isn’t going to reduce auto traffic. And having a longer route isn’t going to reduce the existing bike commute population.

              As for Amsterdam, I think there are probably vast differences between it and Los Angeles in terms of the layout of the city, the demographics of the population, the culture and perhaps other important factors which I’m not smart enough to take into consideration. I have to believe that all plays into decisions such as what mode of transport an individual chooses for their commute.

              I can see your logic about the Palms to UCLA route on bike being a good option, but I have a hard time seeing it as the fastest route, and that it would absolutely increase by a factor of X the number of bike commuters. Nor is it clear this would translate into a corresponding reducing in car driving. Some percentage must be students who are on the UCLA shuttles from Palms to UCLA now, so you’d take someone off the shuttle and put them on the bike. The shuttle still makes the route, so that’s no reduction in auto traffic. A poor example, but I hope you can see my perspective.

              Until someone actually tries to measure all of these variables, I think its very difficult to draw the conclusions. But I get your thought process and it makes some sense.

              Its not clear to me having the lanes in has no effect on car capacity. Is it safe to assume people don’t drive the same way when there are bikes nearby. In fact, I think bike riders want auto drivers to slow down, and be more cautious when riding near a bike. That 3 foot passing law is a case in point. If the lanes existed and a rider is in the outside edge of the lane (or if there are two riders riding abreast, and a better rider trying to pass another) is there enough room for a large car to continue and still maintain the 3 foot margin? Drivers are may overestimate that buffer, and simply slow to stay away from the bike rider. Now you’ve got a car, moving at the speed a cyclist, holding up the auto traffic. That is one possibility (I’m not saying its going to be the common case) of an effect on auto traffic due to the presence of bike traffic.

              Again its so hard to know what’s going to happen. And the “let’s try it and see what happens approach” is problematic for those of us who live around the area. What if it doesn’t go well, we have to deal with a lot of the consequences.

              I think its much more clear to imagine the impact of those bike riders along the parallel streets. There’s less going on. If the auto traffic slows or on the side streets because of the bike traffic, I believe the residents on those streets would be thrilled (I would be!). Better yet, if the auto traffic just doesn’t go down the residential streets anymore to avoid the bikes, isn’t that better for everyone? Same argument applies that you can’t know for sure what’s going to happen, but the secondary effects on the side streets seem easier to imagine to me.

              Plus, I still stand by the fact that putting the effort into the side streets makes for an area which more bike riders can utilize. I see only the commuters braving Westwood, lanes or not. I see a wider swatch of society using the residential streets to ride given the extreme, physical separation from the car traffic on the arterial.

              I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am. I know the blog author got a bit frustrated yesterday, but I think this kind of dialog is great stuff and can only have positive results if it doesn’t become emotional.

            • Your whole argument against using floating lanes to in install bike lanes on Westwood Blvd boils down to inconveniencing people who have parked on the street and increasing the odds of getting a parking ticket. You also state that this represents the viewpoint of many of the stakeholders in the area.

              How in the world can giving people another transportation option of bicycling on Westwood Blvd be overridden by the thought of inconveniencing people who have stored their vehicles on the street or increasing the risk of getting a ticket for storing a vehicle on the street? This would be the most minute change imaginable. Yet you say that I’m making a sweeping generalization.

              Funny how not having parking on one side of Westwood Blvd during peak hours is O.K. with residents in the area, but giving people another transportation option is not.

              Transit rarely takes you directly from your point of origin directly to your final destination. There are usually some blocks to travel to and from the transit to complete the route.

              Are you aware that commuting to work by driving has lost modal share since at least 2005 to bicycling, walking, transit and working from home?

              Times change, its not the 20th century anymore. There needs to be some reallocation of space devoted to driving over to the other forms of transportation that are gaining modal share which requires space on the streets. But of course, many residents along the Westwood Blvd corridor want to maintain the status quo even in the face of shrinking modal share.

              You haven’t come up with one single idea that would do anything other than make bicycling less convenient and less direct than driving from UCLA to the Palms area, or the Expo Line on Westwood Blvd.

              You also make the ridiculous claim that increasing the distance for bicycling by six blocks will not decrease the amount people willing to commute by bicycle. Nothing could be further from the truth.

              The average distance traveled by bicycle in the Netherlands is 1.9 miles and Metro found approximately the same average distance to the train stations and the Orange Line station.

              Forty percent of the trips made in Los Angeles are less than 2 miles.

              Bicycling doesn’t have to be a rigorous sweaty exercise. I’ve commuted all the way across the San Fernando Valley several times in 100+ degree weather in casual dress clothes and got to work pretty much dry.

              Riding a bicycle can be physically easier than walking.

              You can also carry two full brown bag sized grocery bags on a bicycle, or two children.

              Its laughable to say that weather would be a major deterrent to bicycling in Los Angeles. How much more perfect could the weather be for bicycling?

              Of the 90 largest cities in the U.S., three of the five highest bicycle commuting modal shares are: Portland–where it rains frequently, Minneapolis–which is extremely cold in the winter, San Francisco–one of the hilliest cities in the U.S.

              The ages for riding a bicycle are a much wider range than it is for driving. You can ride a bike at age 5 to 15, yet you are not permitted to have a drivers license. A person 100 years old is riding a bicycle daily in Long Beach. Its not uncommon for the elderly to still be riding a bicycle.

              By not creating bicycle infrastructure that will enable people to make their trips in a convenient, safe and direct route you are discouraging them from using a bicycle.

              Putting in bicycle infrastructure induces demand.

              Installing bike lanes does not reduce the maximum capacity for motor vehicles on a street if nothing else changed. The biggest effects on the flow of motor vehicles on a street is how many of them there are and traffic signals.

              All trips do not have to be made by bicycling. Most people would not try and drive to Catalina island or to New York City from Los Angeles, yet that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t use a car, or build roads to drive them on.

              Businesses are located on the arterial streets, not the residential streets. People who would choose to bicycle need to get to these destinations just like people who drive, use transit, or walk.

              Residential streets are usually not designed as a through street, or a direct route. That’s what keeps people from driving on them in great mass. Yet, you believe that the residential streets would somehow be the better option for those riding a bicycle. This has not been shown to be the case any place in the world.

            • Craig says:

              Dennis,

              I respect but do not agree with your statement;

              “Your whole argument against using floating lanes to in install bike lanes on Westwood Blvd boils down to inconveniencing people who have parked on the street and increasing the odds of getting a parking ticket.”

              I would say my initial posts to this thread can be better summarized as this;

              If safety is the primary concern, its safer to separate bike and car traffic by having them use different routes entirely than painted lines.

              I feel that is an oversimplification of my outlook on the topic in general. And if anyone is brave enough to read all my posts, I have many thoughts as to why I think alternate routes are a better solution than the floating lanes. Parking on Westwood is just one, but its not the whole arguement.

              I was not aware that commuting by methods other than single person car driving (I think that is what you mean) is on the decline. I think that is great and I hope it continues. I like to think of myself as part of that change as I work from home most days (and have since 2006).

              The main idea I have offered is alternate routes for north south bike riders which would serve a wider portion of the biking community. There are tradeoffs to that proposal, as there are with the bike lanes on Westwood, as there are with many decisions which affect a large number of people. The topic of this blog post was that safety was the perfect arguement for lanes on Westwood. Focusing on just one aspect of those tradeoffs (e.g. safety) and using that topic to solely justify the overall decision is too narrow in my opinion.

              An increase in a bike route is another one of the tradeoffs. I don’t find it ridiculous to discuss.

              The Netherlands is not Los Angeles. Its fine to reference that community as one data point, but it is not the end of the discussion. Ironically it seems, if you take the “1.9 miles” Netherland data point as the metric for determining the average distance for a bike ride, then the ride from the Expo/Westwood station (at 2.5 miles,and uphill by the way) means the average person would not use a bike to make that commute. But again, Los Angeles is different. The average bike riders here may consider a longer or shorter route reasonable for a commute.

              I do not agree that weather is “laughable” as a factor in determining if someone will bike/walk for their commute. Its a personal decision, and possibly a daily one for some people.

              I lived in San Franciso. I don’t recall seeing many bike commuters in my neighborhood. Perhaps they were elsewhere. Also, consider in SF a significant portion of the population commutes down to silicon valley (40-50 miles each way). This is a very long commute by bike although I had a friend who would do this length of ride weekly (down early in the week, back later in the week). The other colleagues I had who did that commute drove. Now, I believe employers like Yahoo and Google hire out buses to serve as mass transit. There are also for hire bus services (Bauer is the service I think) that do the same for those not working at Yahoo/Google. Maybe some of these commuters use their bike for the first/last leg of the trip but I can’t speak to if the circumstances of those commutes line up with Westwood Blvd. My point is, there’s more to the discussion than just saying “SF has lots of bike commuters”. You have to look deeper to understand the nuances.

              I would guess a 5 year old bike rider is going to be significantly in harms way trying to navigate any heavily used artery like Westwood Blvd. (the degree of danger would seem to vary by the time of day and amount of auto traffic). I would never send my child on such a ride whether I was nearby or not and whether there were lanes or not. There is too much going on, too many opportunities for a dangerous interaction with a car. And frankly, its not as enjoyable compared to ride on a tree lined residential street. Some may feel differently, but I would hazard to guess most parents agree with my viewpoint here.

              I will agree with you that residential streets aren’t (or should not be) designed as through streets for traffic (Veteran would seem to be an exception, which disappoints me often). LACBC references bike only crossings are viable options in some situations. I think we have such a situation. Its just such bike only crossings, along a residential street to enable bike only (not cars, very important) crossings of major east/west arteries which is key to my alternate proposal for a north/south route through West LA.

              Again, I appreciate the dialog. Thank you.

      • A big problem with those that advocate for bicycling is they are willing to ride on arterial streets with or without bike lanes. That is not representative of the general population.

        For every person that to ride on a arterial street with bike lanes there are probably ten people who would feel that would be too much traffic stress. The odds of getting more people to ride on a residential street compared to Westwood Blvd is quite high.

        • bikinginla says:

          Don’t blame bike advocates for being willing to ride on arterials. I know many bike advocates who refuse to ride busy streets, and other riders who insist on riding them and have never taken part in any form of bike advocacy.

          As for myself, I think most people would consider me an advocate. And yet, I prefer riding non-arterial streets such as Charleville or 4th Street when I can, and only ride busier streets when they provide the best — or too often, only — alternative to get where I want to go.

          However, one of the first rules I learned is not to judge the needs of other riders by my own standards. Some people like to ride the way I do, while others prefer arterial streets, some only ride bike paths and others never leave the sidewalk.

          Just as our street system accommodates all kinds of drivers, our bike network must support riders of all kinds. Which means a mix of all kinds of bikeways on all kinds of streets.

          And both your arguments and those of Craig are also based on the assumption that property owners would welcome bike-friendly treatments on their street. If that was the case, 4th Street would have been a bike boulevard years ago.

          To assume that most homeowners would welcome a Bike Friendly Street — or that masses of bike riders would prefer one — is unsupported speculation. It is entirely likely that such a route would be fought by property owners with the same vehemence they’ve fought lanes on Westwood.

          Military is already in the bike plan as a BFS, just as Westwood is included as a bike lane. There is no reason to chose one over the other when we’ve already been promised both.

          • Craig says:

            I can’t speak for neighborhoods other than my own, but I’ve talked with many people in my community (which is right where the floating lanes would go) and many would welcome more neighborhood street solutions as apposed to the floating lanes. Calla is an exception here I believe.

            We want the bikes to come to our streets partially with the belief that the presence of bikes will deter the cars. We want the cars to stay on the arterials. That way we can enjoy our community better on a daily basis.

            Other communities may have other thoughts and that is up to them to decide. I think the local community should be in a position to have the priority in deciding what happens in their area. Commuters who want changes made to accommodate their travel needs should have a smaller voice. The same logic applies to people in cars as well as those on bikes.

            • bikinginla says:

              Maybe you didn’t intend it that way, but that last paragraph sounds like the notoriously ugly NIMBYism Westwood is famous for. Yes, major arterial streets like Westwood have an outsized influence on the neighborhoods they run through, but they are built to serve the needs of everyone who use them, and all should have a voice in deciding how they are used.

            • By insuring that the cars have the most direct routes this makes riding a bicycle for commuting much less attractive. Why would anyone choose to ride a bicycle if they have to go a much longer distance and use a lot more time to do that?

              What you are advocating is essentially no change whatsoever to the streets. Which is also insuring that driving remains the number one choice to move around in the area. The problem that is causing traffic congestion in the area is too many people driving during peak hours. This is not caused by pedestrians, bicycles or transit users.

              If a person is riding a bicycle, then they are not in a car. The problem is that the decision makers in the area cannot contemplate how there can possibly be significantly more people riding a bicycle than there are now. Is has to be this way in the future, because, well, its that way now. Times have changed, more and more people want to ride a bicycle and take transit instead of just driving everywhere.

              How anyone can be against floating lanes to install bike lanes on a street where absolutely no space is removed from motor vehicles is beyond me.

              You don’t seem to grasp that there will be more people moved along that corridor by installing bike lanes without increasing the amount of cars. If no change is made, then bicycling is eliminated as a transportation option along that street for all but the fearless. That in effect would reduce the maximum potential capacity for the street and increase the amount of cars traveling along that corridor since bicycling would no longer be an option. It takes much more space to move a person in a car than on a bicycle.

              Your reducing the potential amount of commuters who ride a bicycle by not giving them any space on arterial streets–which are the destination points and the most direct way to get where you need to go. Residential streets are not usually designed as through streets, arterial streets are.

              UCLA encourages workers to choose any other form of transportation for commuting other than a car. You are countering that by trying to force people to choose driving by making it more inconvenient to use any other means of transportation.

              Your refusal to accept any changes is increasing the traffic problems in the area over the long haul.

              You cannot control who drives a car on arterial streets. Making driving the most direct and convenient way to travel encourages every adult to choose that as their main form of transportation. That is bringing the arterial streets to maximum capacity for motor vehicles during peak hours.

          • The main objection for homeowners along 4th St was having traffic signals installed at two main intersections. There was concern that this would attract more motor vehicles to use 4th St. It was not against bicycles going by their houses on this street.

            I was at the BAC which Jack Humphreville and another resident of Hancock Park attended to find out more about the plans for bikeways in the area. The woman who attended with Jack gave a response that she and the BAC were on the same page in wanting many of the same objectives.

            About the only focus has been on installing bike lanes on arterial streets. The percentage of the adult population who would be willing to ride under those conditions is about 7-8%, judging by a Portland survey. About 2/3 of the respondents would be willing to ride where there is a physical barrier separating them from traffic, or on a street with few cars that move slow.

            Portland did another survey a few years ago and found that the great majority of respondents would be willing to ride on a residential street, away from high speed traffic and not on arterial streets. Hence, Portland has been focusing on installing mainly bicycle boulevards on residential streets.

            The council member who represents the Westwood area goes with the flow of the majority of opinions of the organizations representing the area. If they say no, then that’s his answer. Or, if they want traffic calming, like on Motor Ave, then he’s for a road diet and the installation of bike lanes.

            I’m not against putting bike lanes on arterial streets. But its beating a dead horse in trying to get the majority of voices in the Westwood area to support putting in bike lanes on this street. It’s pretty clear that they are adamantly against changes to the arterial streets in the area.

            What will probably change their minds is if they seeing positive results from installing bike lanes in other areas of the city. In the mean time, your not touching those arterial streets in their mindset.

            I’ve gone to a Westwood Neighborhood council meeting about putting bike lanes on Westwood Blvd. It was not a pretty picture. There were concerns raised about having buses on that street and the impact of the Expo Line.

            Two community members from that area even went so far as going to the last BPIT meeting with the intention, it seems, of trying to find out the dastardly deeds that this group was up to.

            I suggested to them that it would be a encourage much more bicycling if Ohio Ave was made one-way in order to install bike lanes, since this is the only realistic way to get past the 405 freeway on a bicycle. You should have seen the look of horror over that suggestion.

            They were very interested in my idea for having the route along residential streets, instead of Westwood Blvd, and were eager to find out the details. One of them even thanked me for that information.

            • Craig says:

              Dennis,

              Interesting questions on why people drive. This would seem to go way beyond a discussion of bike lanes and down to more fundamental questions about society and personal choices. Not my background, but I do enjoy engaging in such discussions so I’ll give you my best here.

              Asking why a person takes a car versus a bike or mass transit seems like it has more to do than just the route. I ride and have ridden mass transit (in multiple forms bus/rail, as a resident in a few cities) and it almost always takes more time than driving. And its almost always more difficult. I like to tell people “You have to want it.” You have to appreciate the tradeoffs. For example, taking the MUNI in SF, I could go from my apartment to a night out, and get back without having to worry about parking, drinking, etc. But it took planning. It took more time. And there were the inevitable long waits in the cold SF night for the next bus to arrive. Taking the Amtrak to SD means I have to get up earlier to Union Station on time, and it takes much longer to get there than if I just drove (again factors like time of day have a big influence). But I enjoy it. I can relax on the train, read. Talk to people. I make the tradeoff because I value those things other than getting there as quickly as possible. Over being “in control” behind the wheel the entire time.

              I’m guessing bike commuters choose to ride for many reasons. The first would have to be, they enjoy riding a bike. The exercise, the different perspective you get than being in a car. For a lot of trips, its probably going to take longer to go from A to B if you bike it than drive it (many factors would influence this obviously). Yet still people ride their bikes.

              I’m advocating a change to our community streets to encourage biking in areas where a wider portion of our community would use it and the overall tradeoffs have more positives to the entire community (bike riders being just a portion of that). I don’t think lanes on Westwood Blvd. achieves these goals as well as neighborhood street routes.

              I can’t agree that its true more bike riders equals less car riders. Someone in a car or on a bike could have taken a bus instead. Certainly I agree, a bus is an automobile but if a large percentage of people started riding the bus rather than take their cars, the net effect would be less auto traffic, right? I think many who are driving now, and wouldn’t consider taking a bike because their trip distance is too long in their mind, or they would need to shower when they arrived at work, or any number of reasons, may take a bus.

              I am absolutely for encouraging alternate forms of transit. But I am a realist and understand that often its not possible for someone to do anything but take their car. And others just won’t choose any other option than car, no matter the cost to them and those around them.

              I am also not against bike lanes in general. I think lanes in this situation don’t make sense. Westwood Blvd. from SM to Pico is too narrow for the lanes. What makes more sense to me are the alternate routes. Which if thoughtfully conceived could address virtually the same need (with some detour) and also offer many other benefits than the lanes to the entire community.

            • If you are for bike lanes, then you would be for putting bike lanes on Westwood Blvd. Its that simple. Otherwise you are being a hypocrite.

              You are also not a traffic engineer. So, don’t profess to know whether there would be enough room to put bike lanes in.

              Your coming up with every lame excuse to discourage bicycling in your area and then you make up stuff to justify it.

              The most direct route from UCLA to the Expo Line is on Westwood Blvd. There is no car parking at the station, so that eliminates the need to only give drivers the most direct route to get there.

              Did you even bother to look at the ACS data I posted above. The modal share shift to bicycling is very likely coming mainly from less driving.

              Less than 1% of the adult population will ride a bicycle in mixed traffic on a arterial street. Preventing the installation of bike lanes will ensure that remains the case on Westwood Blvd.

              The highest bicycling rates in this country tend to be in communities with a large proportion of students. UCLA should hold the prospect of having one of the highest bicycling rates in Los Angeles, Unfortunately, that will not likely happen in the near future as the community is fighting the installation of bike lanes that would create a high cycling rate.

            • Craig says:

              Dennis,

              Its not as simple as “bike lanes work everywhere, in every situation”. Nothing is that black and white. Characterizing a viewpoint that bike lanes work in some areas, not in others as hypocritical is not justified. I am not interested in getting into a heated debate, so I hope this isn’t the start of a name calling exchange.

              Correct, I am not a traffic engineer. However, I am a engineer by education so I do have a significant amount of training in complex systems and optimizing over multiple variables. That is insight into how I look at all problems, like this one.

              I like to think of my approach as critical thinking. Its a bit offensive to read your characterization of some of my comments as a “lame excuse”.

              If you feel I’m trying to discourage bike riding in my area, it seems like you aren’t reading my posts. I want biking in my area. Based on which alternate route would be selected, I could in fact be arguing to have a alternate route run closer to my home than Westwood Blvd.

              I did read your through your posts (which I assume included ACS Data) but this conversation has been over multiple days so perhaps its not fresh. I assume that data shows your claim that less than 1% of population will ride on an arterial without a bike lane? What does it say about the percent of population which will ride on a non-arterial road?

              Serving the needs of UCLA students isn’t my main focus. My focus is to ensure that the needs of the community as a whole (of which UCLA students/faculty/staff are a subset and I’m not a part of that subset) are served. I just cannot agree with you that the entire cycling discussion in the area centers around lanes on Westwood. That is too narrow a focus in my opinion.

              I feel like this is starting to deteriorate into an “agree to disagree” situation. I do appreciate your thoughts on the subject however, but maybe its time to shake hands and move on. Hope you don’t see this as an attempt to “get the last word”, that’s not my intention.

              Thanks again

    • Veteran is too out of the way for a commute on a bicycle from UCLA to the Expo Line. That would be three blocks west of Westwood Blvd and then three blocks to get back to Westwood Blvd. For a seventh of a horsepower human engine that’s too indirect a route.

      There shouldn’t be a priority on arterial streets for those in motor vehicles over those choosing to ride a bicycle.

      Giving the most direct route to those that drive encourages driving and discourages bicycling. If there is too much driving, then that is not a good approach to improving the situation.

      Its a basic principle of industrial safety that you keep people away from danger. Sharrows suggest that you ride in front of that which can endanger your health and safety on a bicycle. Car manufacturers have been required to have airbags, safety belts, crunch zones, and safety glass. Yet, human beings have not developed a exterior skeleton to protect themselves from being hit by a solid object moving at 40 mph.

  3. Craig says:

    bikinginla

    I realize when using electronic communication it can be difficult to infer tone, but when I read sentences which begin with “Oh please, Craig.” and “Ah yes. And there’s the notoriously ugly Westwood NIMBYism.” it reads like antagonism. If that is the case, its unfortunate but I’m not inclined to continue conversing with you.

    Thank you for the exchange on these topics. I found it very helpful.

    • bikinginla says:

      Forgive me, Craig. What I was conveying was less antagonistic than exasperation.

      It’s very frustrating to me when the LACBC is painted as the bad guys, when all they are doing is working for the rights and safety of bike riders and a more livable Los Angeles. And I can assure you, while you may be on opposite sides this time, they will be firmly in your corner when it comes time to work for bike friendly streets in the Westwood area.

      Unfortunately, your comments appeared when I was dealing with another seemingly intractable problem, and I’m afraid I may have taken out my frustration on you. While I stand behind the meaning of what I said, the tone and wording I used was far harsher than intended — particularly the comment about NIMBYism, which I have reworked to be less negative.

      It’s clear that we are not likely to agree about the need for bike lanes on Westwood. However, I respect your opinion, and hope we can work together in the future on making our neighborhood safer and more ridable for everyone. My personal goal is a city where everyone who wants to ride a bike can, without fear, and that all who do will return home again safely.

      These aren’t problems we’re going to solve in the comments of this blog, however. But if you’d like to meet for coffee sometime, I’ll be happy to discuss these issues with you.

      If you’d like, I also invite you to write a guest post for my blog offering your side of the Westwood debate. While I may disagree, it’s a debate worth having.

      And again, my apologies for taking a harsher tone than I intended.

  4. Craig says:

    bikinginla

    Thank you. That was honorable of you to apologize. Who knows, maybe we’ll see each other from the saddle one day.

    And thank you for the offer to write a guest post. Let me think a bit and get back to you. Its easy to write post replies. I’m sure its not so easy to compose a coherent, and succinct article and then brace for the arrows. 8)

  5. B Clarke says:

    The solution is Dutch standard protected bike lanes combined with modern roundabouts. There is a ‘left turn/u-turn lane the entire length of Westwood Blvd except for 2 or 3 intersections in Westwood Village where it has converted to a median (but left turns still allowed from thru lane). Modern roundabouts remove the need for left turn lanes. Instead you just go 270 degrees for a left, or 360 degrees to uturn. Modern roundabouts are immensely safer and make for a huge reduction in congestion.

    The left turn lane is 10 feet, the same size as the thru lanes. That’s 5 additional feet for protected bike lanes behind narrow curbs and parked cars. Thru car lanes can also be narrower since top speeds in between intersections are reduced. Top speeds are reduced, but cars can travel down the boulevard in shorter time because waiting at stop lights and congestion in general is greatly reduced.

    Protected bike lanes, with Dutch standard intersection design, have more support from car drivers because they reduce interactions with bikes, make bikes more predictable, and, because they attract many more riders, are seen as being more worthwhile investments, and just as important, are seen by drives as something they or their families might actually use, as opposed to painted white line bike lanes.

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