Here Come the Bus Lanes….

It’s taken a while, but the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit lanes are coming to Midtown.

These will be rush-hour only lanes that will be reserved for buses from 7AM to 9AM and from 4PM to 7PM every weekday. They will reach from Park View downtown to the border of Beverly Hills, and then again from Westwood to Centinela in West LA.

And they will be open to bicycles!

While some folks may say, “Whoa, I don’t want to share the road with buses,” you gotta bear in mind that the counterintuitive is often–in fact, usually–truer than the gut reaction. Bus/bike lanes have been used in Germany, France, and some US cities for years, and the safety record for cyclists is good–and in London the two test corridors reported a 44% reduction in cyclist crashes.

And besides, if you’ve ridden downtown during rush hour, you’ve probably already used them–Spring and Main both have shared bus/bike lanes. That’s where I snapped the photo.

Bus drivers, testy though they may sometimes be, are professionals, whereas most car operators are amateurs. Bus drivers are also watched by onboard cameras and occasionally by Metro employees.

And the lanes would be repaved to smooth the rides for both buses and bikes.

All in all a pretty good deal.

Of course, I got a little worried over some ambiguous language I saw on Metro’s promotional material online, so I teamed up with the LACBC’s Alexis Lantz, and we shot a few emails and phone calls downtown asking for clarification. It came same day, with LADOT’s Kang Hu stating that the Wilshire Bus Lanes will be open to bicyclists, just as the Downtown rush-hour bus lanes are. He adds, “We will make sure all the signs reflect that regulation.”

Kang Hu, by the way, is the engineer who revealed that Metro’s buses carry 20% more passengers down Wilshire at rush hour than do all the private motor vehicles put together–despite having to fight their way through jams caused by hordes of single-occupant cars. That’s 29,000 points for the bus, versus 24,000 points for cars, leaving Metro the clear winner!

And with Wilshire a clear shot for cyclists twice a day soon, we’ll be able to add to those numbers, showing which modes are truly effective in moving folks to work and back in LA, and so deserving of better treatment than they’ve had in the past.

Bus/bike lanes–coming soon to a traffic jam near you!

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