Morning Links: Disappointment on 6th Street road diet, and new bikeways drop under new LADOT leadership

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This is why Vision Zero will fail in Los Angeles.

It’s no secret that LA’s 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea is one of the most dangerous streets in Los Angeles.

And not just for bike riders, but for pedestrians, drivers and even residents of the street, given the number of drivers who lose control and smash into the buildings alongside it.

In fact, according to the Beverly Press, collision data shows it’s three times as dangerous as the average street in Los Angeles.

Yet even though there’s a shovel-ready plan to fix it, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

LADOT has proposed a road diet for the one-mile stretch of street, reducing it to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane, and much-needed bike lanes on either side. It’s a plan that’s won significant community support, including the backing of the Mid City West Community Council that represents the area.

And it’s a proven solution. According to the Federal Highway Administration, road diets have been shown to reduce collisions as much as 47%, while retuning road space back to the community.

The resulting benefits include a crash reduction of 19 to 47 percent, reduced vehicle speed differential, improved mobility and access by all road users, and integration of the roadway into surrounding uses that results in an enhanced quality of life. A key feature of a Road Diet is that it allows reclaimed space to be allocated for other uses, such as turn lanes, bus lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, bike lanes, sidewalks, bus shelters, parking or landscaping.

Although at every community meeting where the results of any study are mentioned, someone will inevitably ask if it was conducted in Los Angeles. As if there is something magically different about this city that makes water run uphill and two plus two equal five.

But this time, the answer is yes.

Because the latest research shows that the needlessly contentious Rowena road diet accomplished exactly what it was supposed to do.

Since the road diet was installed more than three years ago, LADOT has been collecting data on traffic patterns. An analysis of that data makes it clear that the project has worked as intended: Average speeds dropped from 39 mph to 35 mph, and safety has significantly increased on Rowena, with no effect on overall traffic volume.

Let’s repeat that.

Despite the claims of local residents that cut through drivers have run roughshod over their neighborhoods, Rowena post-road diet carries the same number of vehicles as it did before. But far more safely.

But that’s where the good news ends.

Because the Beverly Press reports CD4 Councilmember David Ryu, who represents the area, questions the benefits of the road diet, preferring incremental changes to improve safety.

Like bollards, for instance.

And he’s concerned about how a road diet would affect other local development projects, such as a joint Metro/Los Angeles project to encourage transit ridership, new jobs and development along the transit corridor formed by the planned La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega subway stations, which won’t open until 2023.

So instead of trusting the people the city pays to design safer streets, he prefers to overrule their judgement, and that of the local community, and drag his feet for months, if not years to come.

So a lot of people could be needlessly injured or killed on the street in the next seven years.

And that’s the problem.

Just as we’ve seen with Westwood Blvd, Central Ave, Lankershim and North Figueroa, a single LA councilmember has the power to stop much needed safety projects, sometimes based on nothing more than their own personal whims.

Which means that safety can improve dramatically in one council district, and grind to a halt in the next.

Vision Zero will be impossible to achieve if individual councilmembers are allowed to carve their districts out, and keep the streets dangerous at the behest of constituents fearful of any change to what they consider their streets.

Even if it’s change for the better.

And even though the streets belong to all of us.

We had high hopes for Ryu, who professed to support Vision Zero, as well as encouraging bicycling and walking when he ran for office.

But based on this decision, as well as his votes in support of removing Westwood and Central from the Mobility Plan, we may be disappointed.

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If you thought bikeway construction had slowed down dramatically under Seleta Reynold’s stewardship at LADOT, you’re right.

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton took at deep dive into the department’s recently released annual report, and found that the city installed only 17.1 miles of bikeways in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. And that’s using the new lane mile metric, which counts each direction of travel separately.

So that 17 miles of bikeways represents just 6.5 miles of roads and pathways.

That compares to 38 lane miles in Mayor Garcetti’s first year in office, when Reynolds was appointed several months into the year.

And 120 lane miles in Mayor Villaraigosa’s final year in office, far exceeding his commitment to build 40 miles of bike lanes — 80 lane miles — a year.

As Linton points out, LADOT has a number of projects in the works for the coming year.

If all goes according to plans, FY2016-17 looks like it should be better. LADOT is poised to implement plenty of quality bikeway mileage during the current fiscal year, with protected bike lanes anticipated on Figueroa Street (MyFig), Venice Boulevard, Spring Street, Main Street, Van Nuys Boulevard and (newly announced in the report) Highland Avenue.

But he adds,

LADOT has recent accomplishments to be proud of, but, given Reynolds, a committed walk and bike champion at the helm, it is falling short of expectations. Cyclists, communities and advocacy groups will need to continue to press LADOT and L.A. electeds to ensure that progress continues.

Let alone if we ever hope to see even a fraction of the hard-fought gains reflected in the 2010 Bike Plan, now part of the Mobility Plan 2035, on our streets.

Minus Westwood Blvd and Central Ave, of course.

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Today’s common theme is ebikes.

An Escondido father tours Catalina Island on an ebike with his young daughter.

A British Columbia man takes a 1,553 mile ebike ride to next month’s Desert Trip classic rock festival in Indio.

Financial Review calls a new e-cargo bike the equivalent of a muscle car.

And if you like your ebikes to look like 1920’s motorcycles, this one’s for you. Then again, as Cyclelicious points out, America has a long history of making pseudo-motorcycle bicycles.

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The head of the Tour de France says cycling is shedding its image as the black sheep of the sports world as it cleans up its act, while other sports are rocked with doping scandals.

Although Deadspin says trusting anyone in cycling is a loser’s game.

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Local

The LA Times endorses Measure M to provide alternatives to LA’s soul-crushing traffic. However, a representative of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association urges a no vote, saying the plan isn’t perfect yet — in part because it doesn’t include a plan for parking. Which kind of misses the point of getting people out of their cars.

UCLA has established the area’s first online bike traffic school, allowing students to improve their knowledge of bicycle traffic regulations instead of having to pay a traffic ticket. Meanwhile, thirty years ago you could have ridden a pedicab through Westwood Village.

CiclaValley offers a video breakdown of the popular Nichols Ride.

Better Bike’s Mark Elliot points out that the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills set a new record for injury collisions involving bicyclists or pedestrians in August, with six and ten respectively — over four times the average number of bicycling injuries for the previous seven months.

Cycling in the South Bay goes back to third grade dealing with anti-bike Palos Verdes NIMBYs at a pair of city safety meetings, while including his notes of the various NIMBY uninformed comments.

 

State

Governor Brown signed a bill requiring ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of drunk driving, to keep them from operating their cars while under the influence. Not as good as impounding their vehicles until they get their licenses back, but it’s a start.

A bike path becomes a contentious issue in the Encinitas council election. Yes, a bike path.

Palm Springs uses bait bikes to bust two bike thieves.

A crowdfunding account has been established for the 88-year old grandfather who was killed riding his bike in Goleta last week.

A Monterey bicyclist jumps head-first into the great helmet debate, saying even hard-headed people should wear helmets while biking. Meanwhile, your next helmet could be made from a honeycomb of hollow neon green tubes.

 

National

A stoned Oregon driver gets six years and three months for the hit-and-run death of a bike rider while he was high on marijuana, which is legal in the state. However, driving under the influence isn’t.

There’s a special place in hell for anyone who would try to sell a Chicago ghost bike on Facebook.

Kindhearted North Chicago police buy a new bicycle for a seven-year old boy after his was destroyed in a collision.

A Minnesota writer reviews a new book that says Bike Lanes Are White Lanes, as bike advocacy too often leaves communities of color behind.

New York passes three laws guaranteeing bicycle access to commercial and residential buildings.

It takes a special kind of road raging jackass to pull a gun on anyone, let alone former pro and Lance lieutenant George Hincapie and his eight-year old son as they rode near their South Carolina home.

 

International

Momentum Magazine looks at three grassroots bicycle organizations shaking things up in cities around the world, including our own East Side Riders Bike Club.

Canada is creating a national task force to reduce injuries and fatalities to cyclists and pedestrians. That sound you hear is the silence of the US doing nothing.

Bicyclists in Edmonton, Canada already treat stop signs as yields, even without an Idaho Stop Law. As opposed to LA, where too many riders simply ignore them.

It’s official. The Right Bank of the Seine River through the heart of Paris will be taken back from cars and returned to the people.

Southern Germany features over 120 bike routes with 5,000 miles of dedicated pathways.

A Formula 1 driver wiped out while rounding a corner at nearly 30 mph on his bicycle when he ran over a Thai chicken.

 

Finally…

It’s not a bomb, it’s an inflatable bike helmet. The perfect bike for when you want to ride in a semi-Superman position, cape optional.

And your next bike tour could be led by a pair of porn stars.

 

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