In the Zone

Bike commuter on 8th & La BreaWhat we hope to see more of!

Tuesday brought big doings to bike life in Los Angeles, what with the passage of the the much-amended bike plan as reported by Josef this morning, and the second meeting of the Bike Plan Implementation Team (BPIT) that I’ve been nagging about in these and other pages.

I couldn’t get to the first event, but I didn’t want to miss the BPIT meeting, so I rolled into downtown from my morning stop in South Pasadena a little early, found a rack that didn’t look too dicey (especially as Josef’s Batavus BUB was locked there already), and wound my way through security checkpoints and Art Deco corridors to the Planning Department’s modest little meeting room on City Hall’s seventh floor, where Planning’s Claire Bowin and Jane Choi presided..

An entire wall was lined with stolid LADOT engineers, while the rest of the room swarmed with bike advocates and the odd suit from LACBC (Alexis Lantz and Allison Mannos), Bikeside (Alex Thompson), and CicLAvia (Joe Linton), neighborhood council folks (including the ever-astute Jeff Jacobberger from Mid City West and the Bicycle Advisory Committee, which also sent Glenn Bailey), a representative from the Mayor’s office downstairs, a few city council deputies, and assorted others, including Bicycle Fixation (me), BikeBlogChris and Michelle Mowery from LADOT, and of course, Josef.

The Number One project discussed was Seventh Street, first in line for a road diet from Catalina in Koreatown to Figueroa just inside the official downtown border; road widths, facilities design, bike parking, and local outreach were all hot topics. This was followed by a study of a Flow Chart (what would a meeting be without a flow chart?), and suggestions for smoothing the flow it represented, and a discussion of who’s in charge of what on the literal physical streets themselves–since everyone from LADOT and CalTrans to DWP, Sanitation, Bureau of Street Services, and the LAPD engage in activities that affect the street surface and its users (some of which involve very large holes in the roadway).

My own contributions, if you can call them that, raised the following questions:

  • Are we going to provide increased bike parking to accommodate the increased bike riding we anticipate, so that the street changes will actually benefit the merchants along the street? (7th St.)
  • Is there a way to accommodate the constant flow of bobtails and large vans delivering inventory to the front doors of stores between Alvarado and Union? (7th St.)
  • Is there a way to tie the various city department databases together so that projects that affect a street surface are immediately and publicly flagged on a web site so that they can be vetted against the bike plan as required at the proposal stage?

But the point I later felt was my most important, though in truth I made it semi-sarcastically at first, is this; What proportion of these five-foot bike lanes lies within the door zone?

The lead LADOT engineer said they didn’t have a standard for door zones yet–actually answering me seriously.

But as I rode home after the meeting, I thought: “Why not?

We should have a door zone incursion standard in our planning. How much is tolerable, if any? Should door zones be marked in a bike lane? Should a “standard” bike lane be wider than five feet?

Most of the facilities envisioned are, after all, just striped bike lanes next to parking–and we’re going to expect inexperienced riders to use them.

The door zone matters.

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2 Comments

  1. amanda
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    The question I wanted to ask but wasn’t quite insistent enough with my hand-raising was whether or not the feasibility of reversing parking and bike lane was considered. I understand that complicates intersections, but if we’re at the point where LADOT is drawing up templates for future use, I hope that something more than the standard 5 ft bike lane/door zone minefield btw traffic and parking is at least coming into consideration. Given complaints about crosswalks that were mentioned in that area, it also seems inefficient to treat ped safety as a separate issue when drawing up these potential street plans. Also wondering what role speed limit/speed limit enforcement on 7th can play wrt safety.

  2. Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    amanda – While separated bike lanes are pretty great (bike lanes between street parking and sidewalk – also called Cycle Tracks), they aren’t currently approved as a standard treatment in the CA Manual of Traffic Control Devices (CA MUTCD) which tells cities what they can and can’t do with their street configurations. There is a federal pilot project program with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to install non-standard treatments in order to measure their effectiveness for possible adoption into the MUTCD (that’s what SF did when they first installed Sharrows years ago – which are now MUTCD approved).

    Pilot programs (while they have the added benefit of the feds providing technical assistance and legal liability coverage) can be a time-consuming process. While the City should definitely start looking at where they could implement pilot projects (especially now that the new bike plan’s technical design handbook carries many of the non-standard treatments that qualify for pilot projects), this project probably isn’t the right one to go after since it’s on such an expedited approval/construction timeline.

    Since pilot projects are often one-offs (Long Beach has 1 green sharrow lane, 1 bike boulevard, 1 separated bike lane, etc) we need to be strategic about where our limited pilot projects will go to create the largest impact and get the biggest bang for our buck. Though 7th Street may be a worthy candidate, I’d hate to shoehorn a pilot project in without giving it the time and attention it would deserve.

    Now, that doesn’t preclude a pilot project coming to 7th Street in the future, but for now we’re focused on getting the bike lanes on the pavement on 7th Street. We’ll bring more attention to bear on 7th even after the lanes go in, but that’s priority #1.

    Thanks for coming to the BPIT! Bring your friends!

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Bike Plan Implementation Team.  (You can catch earlier coverage of the BPIT meeting at LACBC, Flying Pigeon (twice), and Orange 20.) The lead topic for the 2nd BPIT meeting was the proposed bike lanes on […]

  2. […] Risemberg says the door zone matters. GOOD provides an in-depth examination of what the new plan means. City Maven says doubts remain […]