Here at Flying Pigeon LA, we sell bicycles made for regular folks to get from A to B without a wardrobe change and a bunch of extra gear. When it comes to reducing car trips, making people healthier and happier, and keeping local retail areas vibrant we can do a lot – but only so much. Without quality bike facilities, and support from the government, regular transportation bike use will stay a niche interest of enthusiasts and those returning from trips to Amsterdam or Copenhagen!
We want it to be normal for a mom or a dad to haul their babies to the market in a nihola or a WorkCycles bakfietsen. We want professionals to cruise peacefully to their meetings astride a good city bike alongside auto mechanics, housewives, students, and others – all cycling on the right bikes for day-to-day riding with bike lanes that keep them safe and comfortable.
Sadly, the City of Los Angeles has a car-centric approach to street design. This car-first slant means that the current Los Angeles Bike Plan is very car-oriented, and not bike friendly at all.
The LA Draft Bike Plan makes no provision for cyclists on the major thoroughfares in East and North East LA. This despite the MTA’s 2004 study showing that:
“Bicyclists need access to the same destinations as drivers of automobiles. Origin and Destination Survey results show that the most common destinations for bicyclists are concentrated along major arterials, especially in areas with intense commercial activity”
– Findings, Arterials, Recommendations, MTA Enhanced Public Outreach Project for Metro’s Bicycle Transportation Strategic Plan, September 2004
On N. Figueroa St., in front of the Bike Oven and Flying Pigeon LA bike shop, a “Major Highway Class II” is said to run. This dream highway carries a minimum of 30,000 to 50,000 average daily trips on it, and at peak hours has a Level of Service “D” (road in the U.S. are graded A through F).
The reality is that N. Figueroa St. actually carries between 22,000 and 28,000 average daily trips, at a Level of Service better than “D” at peak hours. This means that, while N. Figueroa St. has the space for 30,000 to 50,000 car trips, it barely scrapes the bottom of that mark – there is, in fact, “extra” space on N. Figueroa St. This is an ideal situation for a pilot project to implement transit, pedestrian, and bike-friendly roadway improvement.
The consultants hired by the City of LA to survey N. Figueroa St. for the Bike Plan noticed this gap between the actual traffic count data on N.Figueroa St. and what it is “supposed to” carry. Their recommendations (acquired thanks to a Stephen Box Freedom of Information Act request) were to implement a “road diet” on N. Figueroa St. A road diet is:
“… a treatment given to an urban roadway in which the number of lanes is reduced, and the freed space converted to parking, bike lanes, landscaping, walkways, or medians.”
– “Road Diet“, Streetwiki, cited November 30, 2009
In other words, the consultant the city hired used data and sound engineering principles to recommend bike facilities on N. Figueroa Street: the road is wide enough, traffic volumes are well below the minimum, and business and safety will be improved by slowing cars down a bit.
And you’ll never guess what happened next.
Bike facilities have been deemed “infeasible” on N. Figueroa St. in the current Draft Bike Plan.
How can the “Green Mayor” of Los Angeles stand for this type of stuff? It would appear that his environmental policies have butted up against his transportation policies – and the health and safety of his citizens lose out to automobile sewer-pipe street designs his Department of Transportation loves so dearly.
I certainly won’t stand for this, and I hope you won’t either. Join the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop, Councilman Ed Reyes, C.I.C.L.E., the LACBC, the Bike Oven, and local merchants and community members in fighting to correct this error in the bike plan.
[A big thanks to bikinginla for is "open comments" post! I never would have written this without the inspiration his blog gave me.]