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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