Morning Links: An open letter to David Ryu, Mar Vista CC is at it again, and motion could remove LA bike lanes

Dear Councilmember Ryu,

As a resident of LA’s 4th Council District, I have long been concerned about the risks that drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists face in our district.

One area of particular concern is 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea. As you are no doubt aware, 6th is a two-lane street west of Fairfax, then becomes four lanes between Fairfax and La Brea.

Once it widens to two lanes in each direction, the character of the street changes dramatically. Speeds increase while drivers jockey for position, often shifting lanes without warning to go around stalled traffic or turning vehicles.

As a motorist, it is an unpleasant street to drive, and one requiring constant concentration. As a pedestrian, it is a difficult, and at times dangerous, street to cross. And someone who used to bicycle to Downtown when I lived in West LA, it was easily the most dangerous part of my commute.

This is borne out by the two pedestrian deaths and hundreds of crashes that have been recorded on the street over the last several years, as well as statistics showing 6th Street is three times as dangerous as the average LA arterial.

Fortunately, there is a proposal from LADOT which would address these issues by removing a traffic lane in each direction and adding a center left turn lane, with bike lanes on each side from Fairfax to Cochran.

Lane reductions like this have been shown to improve safety up to 47%, with an average of 30% improvement in cities across the US. Those same results have held true with previous road diet projects here in Los Angeles, as well.

Further, this is a project that has the full support of the surrounding community. The Mid-City West Community Council voted unanimously to back this project over a year ago.

Before you were elected to office, you told the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition that you start and end any decision with the community. In this case, the voice of the community is clear.

It is long past time to improve safety on this dangerous street. I urge you to immediately support this project as recommended by LADOT.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers, BikinginLA.com

If you want to write in support of the proposed 6th Street road diet, send your email to [email protected], and CC [email protected][email protected], and [email protected]. You can find a brief sample email you can use as a template here (pdf).

………

Mar Vista Community Council’s bizarre bike “safety” motions and efforts to roll back the Venice Great Streets project will be back on the table when the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meets tonight.

Among the motions under consideration are one that would require bike “night lights,” even though front and rear bike lights and side reflectors are already required under state law for any bike ridden at night.

It would also require mandatory bike helmet use for all riders, regardless of age, even though that would conflict with existing state law, which means the city has no authority to mandate their use.

Another motion calls for restoring the two traffic lanes that were removed from Venice Blvd as part of the Great Streets Project by removing the center median, or placing a center bike path there. Both of which show a clear lack of understanding of traffic calming, as well as bikeway design.

Center medians are used to slow traffic and prevent unsafe left and U-turns, as well as head-on collisions with speeding drivers who cross the center line.

Meanwhile, center bikeways create multiple conflict points at every intersection, dramatically increasing the risk of injury collisions. Which is why existing median bikeway on Culver Blvd failed.

As alternative, they suggest restoring the traffic lanes by removing street parking, and replacing it with parking garages every three blocks — with no hint of where to put them or how to pay for it.

A final motion simply calls for removal of the entire Venice Great Streets project in order to restore three lanes in both directions.

Clearly, someone on the committee has a fixation with doing everything in their power to keep Venice Blvd dangerous. And at the same time, allowing traffic to continue destroying the fabric of the Mar Vista community, reverting back to a virtual highway to keep peak hour traffic flowing, with excess capacity the rest of the day.

All of which suggests a complete and total ignorance of state bike laws and traffic safety planning, as well as the benefits of road diets. Which is what happens when you put people in charge who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Instead of the misguided, illegal and impractical motions on the agenda, maybe they should replace them with a single motion requiring every member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to actually learn something about the subject.

If you can make it there tonight night, maybe you can try to explain it to them.

Thanks to N.E. Farnham for the heads-up.

………

A new motion from the usually bike-friendly 12th CD Councilmember Mitch Englander (pdf) could potentially halt all new bike lanes in the city of Los Angeles, as well as rip out many existing lanes.

The motion comes in response to the latest city settlement with an injured bicyclist, as the LA city council voted to pay $7.5 million to a man who was left paralyzed from the neck down after hitting a ridge of pavement that had been lifted four inches by a tree root. And which the city had previously been warned about, but done nothing to fix.

Never mind the 17 other lawsuits that have been filed against the city by injured bike riders, or the relatives of those killed, this year alone. Many, if not most of whom, weren’t riding in bike lanes when they were injured.

Englander’s motion, which was seconded by the 2nd District’s Paul Krekorian, would require that new bike lanes only be installed on streets with a pavement quality grade of A. Which sounds good, until you consider that LA’s streets average a C plus.

So basically, new bike lanes could only go on new pavement.

To make matters worse, the motion calls for closing or removing bike lanes from any street with a pavement grade of B or lower. Which would mean most of the bike lanes in the City of Angels would be unceremoniously stripped off the pavement.

The practical result would be that people would still ride those same streets, and be subject to the same bad pavement, but without the separation from traffic that bike lanes provide. So any falls, or swerves to avoid cracks or potholes in the pavement, could be catastrophic.

And by removing a proven safety feature, the city’s exposure to liability could be exponentially higher when, not if, someone is injured on one of those streets.

The motion isn’t all bad, however.

The requirement that pavement quality on current bike lanes be inspected is something that should have been passed into law decades ago. As anyone who has ever ridden the 7th Street bike lanes leading to and in DTLA can attest.

And pavement quality should be considered before installing new bike lanes, rather than just slapping paint down on failing streets, as has been the practice in the past.

If the motion advances, which is not a given, it must be amended to so that only the bike lane would be required to have an A grade, which would allow just that portion of the roadway to be patched or repaved to bring it up to code, rather than the entire street.

Although that would give drivers one more reason to hate us.

And the misguided requirement that existing bike lanes be closed or removed should be stricken, period.

Thanks to T.J. Knight for the tip.

………

In what they describe as a win-win for everyone, the San Diego State University Police Department has teamed with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the San Diego County Bicycling Coalition and Cycle Quest Bicycle Store to fight bike theft.

The groups worked together to register 150 bicycles with the university’s bike registration program, which is open to students, faculty and staff. Everyone who registered their received a free Kryptonite lock and mount, as well as free bike repair, and bike lights and literature from the SDCBC.

Which is almost enough to make me want to go back to college.

Including these 150 bikes, the university has registered 476 bikes so far this year, ensuring that the information will be available if anything should happen to the bikes.

They report that 81 bikes have been reported stolen since the first of the year, most of which were secured by just a thin cable lock or locked to the rack by the front wheel alone.

And yes, they also instruct students on how to lock their bikes properly when they register them.

………

VeloNews considers how the Vuelta became cycling’s most dramatic grand tour.

Like father, like sons. A Lithuanian cyclist has been suspended following a positive drug test, 15 years after his father tested positive for EPO after finishing third in the 2002 Tour de France, and just months after his brother died as a result of suspected doping.

Spain’s Samuel Sanchez got fired from the BMC team after his B sample confirmed his positive doping test prior to the Vuelta.  But really, the doping era is over, right?

………

Local

Everyone has an opinion about the proposed restoration of the Ballona Wetlands. Including an environmental advocate who says reversing the Playa del Rey road diets will mean more roadkill. Hopefully, she doesn’t mean us.

Manhattan Beach approves new bike route signs, buts holds off on sharrows over fears that they make bike riders “more assertive about occupying road space.” In other words, they’re worried about those uppity bike riders wanting to ride exactly where the markers on the road say they’re supposed to ride.

 

State

San Diego won’t be changing their sidewalk policies, even after a man was awarded $4.85 million when he was severely injured riding his bike on a tree-damaged sidewalk the city had known about, but failed to fix. Sound familiar?

Over 1,000 bicycles have been stolen in San Diego this year.

A Los Altos writer offers five rules to live by as a cyclist. Although he says not to ride three abreast, even though it’s perfectly legal on non-sharable lanes, as long as you stay within a single lane; however, you should always allow drivers to pass when it’s safe to do so.

San Francisco advocates discuss the status of Vision Zero in the city.

The North Bay Area’s new SMART trains are dealing with an unexpected crush of passengers boarding with bicycles. Which shows who the smart ones really are.

Someone please tell the Mountain View city council that removing a crosswalk is not a safety improvement.

Sacramento’s mayor tries out a new three-day pop-up parking protected bike lane.

 

National

A lifelong roadie turns to dirt jumping at the age of 44, as Bicycling asks if it’s too late him to catch big air. Easy answer: If you’re not dead, it’s not too late.

New York’s Citi Bike bikeshare reaches its 50 millionth ride.

 

International

A UK writer says it’s time to modernize the country’s traffic laws, but adding offenses for bicyclists is not the place to start.

A British cyclist urges others to get trained in CPR; he was revived after his heart had stopped for 30 minutes while riding.

A London journalist captured a month’s worth of close calls on his bike cam to show how dangerous riding in there can be.

 

Finally…

Who says you can’t eat or drink on a bike? If you’re a convicted felon illegally carrying a handgun on the spokes of your bike, put a damn light on it — the bike, that is, not the gun.

And if you’re riding your bike with two outstanding warrants, don’t use your knife to threaten a driver who honks at you. Or a hatchet.

Or better yet, just don’t. Period.

 

8 comments

  1. David Drexler says:

    Two areas the City of LA pays out millions every year unabated: Road injuries and damage to property And Molestation and abuse by teachers at City schools.

  2. X says:

    The bike lane portion of a road needs a bike oriented inspection which the current grading system might be far from optimal for. Shutting existing paths would require banning bikes the stripes are not a warranty etc. removing them does not emphasize as is.

    If riding in them is dangerous then a warning on them makes sense, such routes would have taking the lane our duty and get fixed faster.

  3. X says:

    The bike on train is interesting the ability to have bike returned daily to boarding station from day location to deal with return trip on congestion occurs as a longshot idea as empty seats couod take it during day despite absurdity of cost versus two lockers.

    A bike relocating truck couod collect bikes by robotic control afffordably and valets store them the few hours at most.

    I do think special hangable if not foldabke bikes r reasonable burden, the folding train seats not for large German bikes but for off peak groups.

    Robots ability to work at odd hours, split shifts, can help us be silly but in good ways, could even make walkijg home option if wheeels get delivered overnight from work via bike return only trips and or flat bed cars.

    The train is labor aaver, robots can restore some avoided labor at low cost.

    Mainly capital, avoided car garages translate to many hours a day of shared robot time, the bikes can be flown by blimp back home for less. Robots, by creating johs, can spare building costs.

    Robots recreate horses when ubering and horses never got paid enough but have cost too much for a century. They could of steered high speed cars but just cost too much. For all that we have always been too expensive to do, robots are welcome. The affordability of driving and much of what we call work is illusion.

    Smart peopld let robots work all day for them. Buying robots is a good way to spend wages not spent on cars, roads, garages, it can make bikes more like horses then ever also, needing no stables not just no wages.

    Train fares are so subsidised we must be careful though or pedestrian only riders will not fit on so hoooks or bikes can be or ride. Better to find cheaper transit that serves far more, far far more people, all mile bikes do that, they just need the train capital to afford by society.

    The train capital is where biking gets cheated. Buy bikes, expensive bikes, for commuters instead, and cars will fail.

    We can drop bikes off at bike drop off stations. No tracks needed.

    We have to imagine more. See trains as waste, fresh air, no cage, is bettter, cheaper, fsst enough.

    Trains in frisco may import bodies that is not transit. Local labor is all transit can afford to deliver. Federal funds should not help rich car owners access foreign even bike owning labor…. thats not transit!!

    Transit is not to make more car use. The trains risk costing more then the using workers earn. Unsustainable robotics should go out of fashion already…. yet we grin and clap.

  4. David Wolfberg says:

    Re the Bike Lane Removal motion, it sounds like a huge undertaking (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavement_Condition_Index). The PCI method is an “Index” of samples. It is not a check against every inch of the bike lane nor identifying every pothole. A bike lane that comes back with an index of 88, for example, might still have a dangerous condition that the City’s been made aware of that causes injury or death, for which the city is still liable.

    I would rather see the expense of implementing this motion go toward spot checking and fixing bike lane sections that obviously need attention. Additionally, the wording of “bike lanes” in the case of this motion doesn’t really work as I believe it was intended. It could be interpreted to mean that a 10 mile bike lane with a single crack along the way should be removed. Should the city also remove all the sidewalks?

    Finally, we as bicyclists should step up our reporting to the MYLA311 system. I have seen numerous pavement issues fixed within a day or so of my reporting it to MYLA311.

    • Jonathan says:

      David, something else to consider on the impracticality of determining the PCI of an entire bike lane is that the system has to be regularly calibrated for each street’s run. It still takes a fair amount of time just to develop a PCI based on samples. A complete surface would require an exponential amount of time to be sure it is regularly calibrated correctly.

      A better solution would be regular, in-person inspection by district engineering staff. PCI is used to determine pavement quality for vehicle use. What is considered safe or acceptable for a vehicle (with 6 to 10-inch wide square tires) could still be very dangerous for cyclists. For example, the seam between almost every bus pad and surrounding asphalt in LA County is squarely down the middle of bike lanes on the street. Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock comes immediately to mind, but there are too many other instances to count citywide.

  5. keith says:

    Removing bike lanes … we’re still gonna ride – where we ride. Are we talking bike lane stripes or the Bike icons painted on the streets? I don’t really pay much attention which routes I take have lanes or not. I know some effort’s been made over the years to get streets lined and/or signed such as 4th & 7th.

  6. Ralph says:

    Hey, I’ve been on that road in Rimini. Nice town but go in the shoulder seasons.

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