Yes, even half-baked efforts such as sharrows or the city’s numerous Door Zone Bike Lanes (known widely as DZBLs), all need to be kept up. The photo shows one such lane on York Boulevard in Highland Park.
This lane was installed as part of a road diet, a retuning of a street to reduce speeding. Bike lanes are seen as an essential part of such projects; they provide visual narrowing of the lane space, which slows drivers down without the need for signs and cops; they add capacity by encouraging street users to switch from cars to bikes for their local travel; and they improve safety for pedestrians by reducing the distances one must walk through motor traffic lanes to cross. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration touts road diets as a “proven safety countermeasure,” saying that “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.”
Road diets often even shorten travel times for drivers, believe it or not, by moving left turners out of the way and preventing drivers from hurrying themselves into jams under the mistaken belief that driving hard gets them through busy commercial areas faster. There have been hundreds of studies now proving that road diets reduce crashes, boost biking, enhance street life, and support local merchants far better than untrammeled four-lane highways, cutting through neighborhoods, can ever hope to do.
But if you let the paint fade away, none of that happens.
Los Angeles, when will you grow up? You can’t just throw down a stripe and walk away. That weary dribble at the top of the photo is all that’s left of the outer boundary mark of the bike lane. The visual narrowing no longer works; cyclists, walkers, and drivers are no longer safe; and even while I was pulled over to snap the picture, I saw motorists drifting over the almost-vanished line and into the bike lane.
Pant it afresh, LADOT! That is your mandate: keeping the streets safe and effective. Likewise the lost striping on the Venice Boulevard bike lanes, the sharrows on Fourth Street, and the deterioration of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other facilities in our city. This is not major reconstruction work; this is the same cheap paint jobs you did before because they were cheap. Well, they’re still cheap, so do ’em again!
Readers, post comments listing your own local faded bike lane, since the DOT doesn’t seem interested in checking up on them itself.