Tag Archive for green bike lanes

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day — Main Street Santa Monica goes neon green

New green bike lanes below Pico in Santa Monica.

New green bike lanes below Pico in Santa Monica.

When the revelers stumble out onto Main Street in Santa Monica tonight, they may think the street has been dressed just for those who pretend to be Irish by getting fighting drunk for a night.

But they’d be wrong.

Even if the pavement matches the green beer they’ll soon be regurgitating onto it.

Because actually, the street has been repainted for your benefit. And not just for one night.

As of Friday, the much maligned door zone bike lane on the Santa Monica stretch of Main Street has been widened, and repainted in a vivid shade of green guaranteed to cause conniptions in a Hollywood location scout.

Or at least, that’s the effect a similar shade had in Downtown LA.

Intermittent patches of green lead up to intersections.

Intermittent patches of green lead up to intersections; you can see where the lane marker has been moved left.

Maybe that’s why the lanes are only intermittent south of Pico, where they match up with LA’s normally hued lanes through Venice. And full green only north of Pico, where they pass through the city’s civic center, where presumably, fewer film permits are in demand.

Or maybe Santa Monica just recognized the risk posed by all those drivers trying to access City Hall and the LA County Courthouse.

In fact, that’s long been on of the mostly likely places to get right hooked among my usual riding routes, as confused drivers cut across the bike lane to access Civic Center parking.

Broken lane leading to the entrance to City Hall/Courthouse parking lot.

Broken lane leading to the entrance to City Hall/Courthouse parking lot.

Whether a bright shade of green will help with that, or convince drivers they don’t belong there — despite the break in the paint — and make them more likely to turn across the lane rather than merge into it as the law and safety requires, remains to be determined.

I’d rather see the full green on the south section as a vivid reminder to drivers to look for riders before opening their doors or turning across the lane. We’ll have to see if the city’s spot job will do the job.

On the other hand, that extra foot of bike lane should make a huge difference by allowing cyclists to ride further outside the door zone without having to leave the bike lane.

Here’s a fast-forward view of the civic center lanes on both sides between Pico and Santa Monica Place.

Let’s just hope they hose them down in front of the bars Tuesday morning.

………

Just down the road and around the corner on Abbott Kinney, LADOT installed the City of Angels’ third and fourth bike corrals last week, on a street that has long suffered from a lack of adequate bike parking.

When every other parking meter has a bike attached — which is technically illegal, though rarely enforced — it suggests an unmet demand, which the city has wisely heeded.

Even if, on the day I checked it out, one had as many hipsters enjoying lunch in and on it as it did locked-up bikes.

Just out of the frame, one more bike and two more guys sitting on the railing having lunch.

Just out of the frame, one more bike and two more guys sitting on the railing having lunch.

A brand new bike corral, full on a Friday afternoon.

A brand new bike corral, nearly full on a Friday afternoon.

One of the new bike corrals adorned with the new LADOT #bikeLA sticker.

One of the new bike corrals adorned with the new LADOT #bikeLA sticker.

 

 

An open letter to the Los Angeles City Council — Don’t let LA down on Wednesday

You’re scaring us.

After putting off the motion from Councilmembers Huizar and Reyes to repaint the Spring Street Bike Lanes from last Friday, to Tuesday, to today, we have to wonder what’s going on.

Like whether negotiations have been going on behind the scenes that we haven’t been privy to. Or if the vote has been repeatedly postponed to reduce the number of bicyclists who can attend to argue for the motion; after all, it’s one thing to clear your schedule for a single day, quite another to clear it over and over again.

Paranoid, I know.

But that’s what happens when the lies — yes, lies — of the film industry seem to take precedence over the safety and preferences of the city’s citizens.

Starting with the absurd claim that a little bit of green paint is chasing thousands of film industry jobs out of the city, when in fact, filming in Los Angeles is up over the last year.

Then there’s the lie that no other city in country has green bike lanes, or at least this particular shade of green. When in fact they’ve been in use in cities across the country, from Portland to Chicago and New York, with more coming every day. And the new bike lanes on San Francisco’s Market Street seem to be a very familiar hue.

And don’t get me started on the ridiculous claim that the lanes are impossible to remove in post production. Or that the real problem is the reflected glow from the lanes; I can color correct video to remove unwanted tints in just a few minutes on my laptop, with a lot less computer power — and skill — than even the lowliest production house employs.

Then again, a little paint — or any of the attributes of a modern city, for that matter — never stopped the Hollywood of old, which knew how to hide problematic things before filming ever began.

John Ford, Frank Capra or Stanley Kubrick would have just covered the street with hay or a black mat to hide the offending paint. FilmLA could easily invest in a mat that could be rented to production crews on a daily basis for minimal cost.

Or just give me a couple of hours and a box of gaffers tape, and I guarantee there won’t be a hint of green in the dailies.

Then there’s the claim — okay, lie — that supporters of the bike lanes have repeatedly backed out of compromise solutions that would work for everyone, from changing the paint to a less reflective hue to dramatically reducing the surface area to be painted.

I’ve talked to people directly involved in the discussion. And each one has made it clear that it was the representatives of the film industry that backed out after everyone thought they had an agreement.

Which raises the question of what, exactly, they want.

The only answer that makes sense is they want the bike lanes to go away. Not because they actually cause a problem, but because the film industry wants to stop any future changes to what they consider their street.

But it’s not.

It’s not a Hollywood back lot. It’s our home.

We live and work here. We ride our bikes for transportation and recreation, to work and shopping, nights out and meetings — sometimes with you. And sometimes, just because it’s fun.

Those green lanes, as battered and faded as they may be, have been a huge success.

And even motorists support bike lanes, including, yes, green ones.

According to a letter you’ve already received from the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, the number of people bicycling on Spring Street increased 52% in the first year after the lanes were installed, with another 40% increase this year.

More impressive, the number of women bike riders on Spring increased 100% on weekdays, and 650% on weekends. Women tend to be more risk averse when it comes to bicycling; the fact that they are responding to this street to such a degree suggests just how safe they feel in the green lanes.

In other words, the green lanes are doing exactly what they were designed to do.

If you vote to let them die, as the film industry is selfishly demanding — and as we fear you will in the face of your continued silence —  you will send a clear message that the convenience of wealthy special interests outweighs the safety and desires of the general public.

It will also tell the bicycling community that the hard-won bike plan you approved a few years ago isn’t worth the ink on the pages. Let alone the paint on the street.

Because we’ll know that any bikeway, anywhere, can be removed on the whim of a few well-connected opponents. And that your support for our lives and safety, let alone the livability of our city, runs neither deep nor wide.

Please, I beg you, prove us wrong and dispel our fears.

Send a clear signal that you are sincere in your desire to end car culture and reshape L.A. into the livable, walkable, bikable world-class city it should be.

And that this is our city, not a Hollywood back lot.

Because Hollywood will survive, and thrive, with or without these bike lanes.

We, and the city we love, may not.

A little this, a little that — missing NY green lane, WeHo bike workshop, SaMo bike shooting suspect

Just a little light reading to get you through your Wednesday.

………

Remember those vivid green bike lanes that Hollywood says don’t exist anywhere else and are impossible to remove in post-production?

Evidently, not a problem in New York.

………

West Hollywood will host a workshop to help overhaul their bicycle and mobility plan this Saturday. The meeting takes place starting at 9 am at the WeHo library, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd; the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition encourages anyone who rides or walks in the city to attend to help make the plan as powerful as possible,

………

Sign the petition to keep the bike lanes on Westmont Drive in San Pedro; thanks to Jennifer Gill for the link.

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Santa Monica police have identified a suspect in the shooting of a bicyclist last Sunday. Oddly, they say it doesn’t appear to be related to the shooting of two men, one fatally, in the same area Tuesday morning — let alone the nearby shooting rampage on Friday.

You might want to avoid the area south of Pico Blvd in Santa Monica for awhile until things settle down.

………

A 13-year old L.A. boy has been missing since he was last seen riding his bike on Sunday. Bicycle Fixation looks forward to CicLAvia on the Miracle Mile. Bike Nation is seeking a Fortune 500 company to sponsor their bike share program; I could use one of those myself. A sponsor, that is. The Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee now has a Facebook page. It’s a busy bike weekend at Flying Pigeon, with a Streetsblog fundraiser on Friday, LACBC’s RideFigueroa Saturday, and a Get Sum Dim Sum ride on Sunday. A look at the World Naked Bike Ride, L.A. edition. The L.A. Sheriff’s Department is fixing unclaimed bikes — actually, the inmates are — to donate to kids throughout the county. The woman who helped put bike lanes in Rolling Hills Estates has passed away. A Sierra Madre cyclist suffers minor injuries when a motorist fails to yield; thanks to John Lloyd for the heads-up. How not to lock your bike.

More money for bike and pedestrian projects in the new state budget, but Safe Routes to School programs are at risk. Santa Ana will build two secure bike parking facilities holding a total of just 36 bikes; evidently, not many riders need secure parking down there. It seems the facts are however you spin them, as a San Francisco grand jury says the city must do more to prevent bicyclists’ deaths — but all a Bay Area website hears is a call to crackdown on scofflaw cyclists.

Nice read on being an unwitting role model for little girls. A new Tucson Walgreens didn’t eliminate a bike lane in front of the store after all. If you’re going to make your getaway by bike, try to steal one your own size. Traffic laws apply to cyclists, even in Idaho. The teams have been announced for this year’s USA Pro Challenge. Colorado man spots his stolen mountain bike on eBay, leading to the arrest of a serial bike thief. A lesson from Kansas for all drivers — don’t kill people with cars; damn good advice if you ask me. A new Cincinnati app allows cyclists to report harassment and collisions.

Brit drivers are more miserable than they’ve been in 25 years. If you really want to be seen, ride a Penny Farthing. An Irish writer demonizes cyclists — literally — in calling for greater courtesy around pedestrians. A look at bicycling in Paris. Johan Bruyneel, former sports director for Lance’s various cycling teams, denies being a demon or putting anyone’s health at risk.

Finally, a self-identifying cyclist criticizes a “small, tiny, sub-section of cyclists” — the cam-wearing, lycra-clad aggressively mentally ill subsection, evidently. Something tells me the conversation he relates may not have occurred exactly the way he tells it.

If it occurred at all.

Green bike lanes aren’t worth a damn if they’re blocked by Hollywood production trucks

This is me, post nuclear.

I went just this side of ballistic this afternoon, when news broke on the KCET blog that an agreement had been reached that would allow Hollywood productions to continue shooting on Spring and Main Streets in Downtown L.A.

Those pretty green bike lanes were already as good as gone, victim of a claim that they would prevent the twinned streets, which had previously been among the most popular filming locations in the city, from continuing to pass for Anytown, USA.

In fact, the story quoted Paul Audley, President of FilmLA, saying that filming was already down 10% to 15% since the green lane was installed. Even though green is the color most easily removed in post-production.

But not this particular shade of green, evidently. At least not according to the filmmakers.

And even though the green lane was already doing a pretty good job of removing itself.

Still, it had become quite clear in recent days that the color-testing LADOT had promised us to ensure the green paint would last for more than a few days was not going to happen anytime soon. And while the bike lanes would remain, the green paint would soon be a thing of the past.

Of course, as the late, great Dale Carnegie once wrote, there are two reasons for anything a man — or a film industry, for that matter — does. One that sounds good, and the real reason.

And in this case, it didn’t take long for the bike-hating LA Weekly to ferret out the reason behind the reason.

While they weren’t happy with the city’s choice of USDOT-dictated green, the studios were actually upset that they’d lost their access to free curbside parking. Because, you know, all those Hollywood studios and production companies can’t manage to find offstreet parking for their massive production trucks.

Or afford to pay for it out of their mutli-multi-million dollar budgets.

Even though Downtown L.A. has more parking per acre than anywhere else on earth, according to UCLA parking maven Donald Shoup.

So having already won the Great Downtown Green War, there was only one battle left to fight.

According to the KCET story, Hollywood declared victory with an agreement permitting film crews to park those trucks on our beloved bike lanes. And nothing in that article suggested that it was limited to Spring and Main, implying that film crews could now park anywhere they damn well pleased, on any bike lane in the city.

And that, my friends, is when my head exploded.

For a change, though, I didn’t go ballistic. Instead I reached out to the people who should actually know what was really going on before going off on here. And used all my self control not to go off on them, either.

First to respond — in a matter of just minutes, in fact — was LADOT Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery, who assured me that permits would still be required to block any traffic lane, bike or otherwise. And that lane closures for film shoots should be limited to the minimal amount required for actual shooting, and not simply to provide parking for cast and crew.

I could feel my blood pressure dropping already.

A few hours later, I got a response from Paul Audley himself, who said the article got it wrong.

Dear Ted,
The article headline is incorrect.
The DOT is allowing film vehicles in the parking lane next to the bike lanes.
Nobody wants to injure bikers!  :)

Good to know. Although my own experience on the roads might suggest that at least some L.A. drivers might disagree with that last line.

Personally, though, as nice as they were, I don’t really give a damn whether the bike lanes are green, blue, black or pink. As long as they’re clear from obstructions and safe to ride.

But the problem is, a blocked bike lane is worse than no lane at all. Because drivers will expect you to ride in it regardless of whether or not it’s actually ridable. And aren’t likely to give you an inch if you dare to venture outside the lines.

So if Hollywood needs to change the color scheme, be my guest.

Just don’t park your trucks where they block our bike lanes.

And that goes for your little orange cones, too.

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