A dozen quick cheap L.A. projects inspired by Janette Sadik-Khan
In March 2010, New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan visited Los Angeles, telling success stories about how quickly her department is making NYC streets safe and convenient for bicycling and walking.
Inspired by Sadik-Khan’s call for quick inexpensive projects, I bounced ideas off my cyclist colleagues to brainstorm some projects that L.A. can implement. Thanks to Stephen Villavaso, Bobby Gadda, Ramon Martinez, Ayla Sharp for advice to me in shaping this list. Note that this list isn’t approved by them or the CicLAvia folks, or anyone other than myself.
Here’s the rough criteria that I used to compile this list:
- Inexpensive: at least an initial phase of each of these projects can be done for the more-or-less the cost of “paint”; no million-dollar projects where the city would need to see outside funding.
- Walkable/Bikeable: located in urban areas with relatively high levels of walking, biking and transit usage.
- Quick: doesn’t require major traffic studies; likely implementable by the end of calendar year 2010.
Projects are listed in alphabetical order. This is certainly a subjective list, biased toward places where I ride and walk in central Los Angeles. There are hundreds more similarly viable projects – in places where I don’t spend as much time. Feel free to list your ideas in the comments!
1. Alumni Avenue – Public Plaza
Location: West end of Alumni Avenue, where it meets York Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard – in Eagle Rock
Council District: 14 – Councilmember Jose Huizar
At the end of Alumni Avenue, there is an existing small poorly-landscaped mostly-asphalt-paved island. Though it does have two magnolia trees, it resembles more parking lot than park. The site is an opportunity for the creation of a people-centered mini-plaza at this spot. Creating a larger plaza could entail closing a portion of the end of Alumni Avenue to cars, but keeping bike and pedestrian through access. An initial phase plaza project could be done with bollards, paint and inexpensive seating. Subsequent phasing could include removing the impermeable asphalt, and relocating the existing Eagle Rock Boulevard bus stop from its current location at the adjacent gas station (south-east corner of ERB and York.)
2. Chinatown Station – Public Plaza
Location: Small unnamed street below the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station – street extends from Alameda Street to North Spring Street just south of College Street in Chinatown
Council District: 1 – Councilmember Ed Reyes
Below the elevated tracks of the Metro Gold Line, there is a small unnamed street – sometimes called “West Bruno” because it’s more-or-less a continuation of the nearby Bruno Street. The unnecessary street segment could be closed to cars, and the space could be used to augment the existing south plaza below the Chinatown Station.
3. CicLAvia – Recurring Walking and Bicycling Open Streets Festival
Council District: various (September pilot planned for 1 – Reyes, 4 – LaBonge, 9 – Perry, 10 – Wesson, 13 – Garcetti, and 14 – Huizar)
Readers of this blog are familiar with CicLAvia – a planned street festival modeled after successful programs already proven in Bogota, New York City, and many dozens of places throughout the world. CicLAvia, currently planned for its L.A. debut on Sunday September 12th 2010 will create a safe convenient fun way for Angelenos to walk and bike and explore our city. The expectation is that the low-cost program will include one 7.5-mile event this year, then be expanded to multiple ciclovias in different parts of the city in 2011.
4. Devonshire Street – Bike Lanes
Location: from Reseda Boulevard to Hayvenhurst Avenue – in the San Fernando Valley
Council District: 12 – Greg Smith (additional Devonshire gap in 7 – Richard Alarcon)
The city’s current (1996) bike plan designated bike lanes for Devonshire Street from Topanga Canyon Boulevard to Arleta Avenue. Portions of this project are complete, and Devonshire is a very useful bicycling corridor for riding east/west in the north end of the San Fernando Valley… but, 14 years after approval, the lanes remain unfinished. The city can work to finish the bike lanes in this corridor, beginning with an approximately two-mile gap closure between Reseda Boulevard and Hayvenhurst Avenue.
5. Figueroa Street – Bike Lane
Location: Figueroa Street from 3rd Street to Olympic Boulevard in Downtown Los Angeles
Council District: 9 – Councilmember Jan Perry
Approved in 2009, the city’s Downtown Street Standards designate a bike lane be added to the one-way Figueroa Street downtown. This is a very wide street with few driveways, which makes it a possible candidate for a protected bikeway. The initial phase, approved and feasible today, would be to add a standard 5-foot bike lane. Future phases could convert it to a protected bike lane.
6. First Street – Bike Lanes
Location: First Street from Glendale Boulevard to Central Avenue – in Downtown Los Angeles
Council District: 9 – Councilmember Jan Perry, with 1 – Councilmember Ed Reyes
Bike Lanes from Glendale to Central on 1st Street were approved in the city’s 1996 bike plan. These would be very high-profile, passing along many of downtown Los Angeles’ iconic sites, including City Hall, Disney Hall, Caltrans, and others. With (in my opinion counter-productive) recent road-widening along the recently completed Edward R. Roybal High School and Vista Hermosa Park, there’s even more space and more need for making this street safe for bicycling.
7. Flower Street – Bike Lanes
Location: Flower Street from 3rd Street to Venice Boulevard in Downtown Los Angeles
Council District: 9 – Councilmember Jan Perry
This is the northbound component that pairs with the one-way southbound Figueroa listed above. Approved in 2009, the Downtown Street Standards designate a one-way bike lane on Flower Street. This is also a good candidate for a protected bike lane, though the city can very inexpensively initially proceed with striping a standard bike lane there today.
8. Hoover Street Triangles – Public Plaza
Location: Hoover Street at Reno Street in the LaFayette Park neighborhood
Council District: 1 – Councilmember Reyes (though at the border where CD1 meets CD4 – Councilmember LaBonge)
Similarly to the way that Janette Sadik-Khan spoke about creating pedestrian plazas in the irregular intersections where Broadway intersects New York City’s regular street grid, Los Angeles has opportunities where offset grids intersect. The Spanish grid of downtown Los Angeles abuts the British (north-south) grid along mainly along Hoover Street. This juxtaposition results in various oddball intersections – quite a few relatively large triangular road spaces. One good-sized triangular space, easily convertible into a mini-plaza/park space is at the intersection of Reno and Hoover. Others are at Vendome/Hoover/3rd, Hoover/Occidental, LaFayette/Hoover/7th, Rampart/Hoover/8th, and many more. These spaces currently contain various unnecessarily wide swaths of asphalt – and are generally inhospitable and unsafe for pedestrians.
9. Reseda Boulevard – Bike Lanes
Location: Reseda Boulevard from Devonshire Street to Parthenia Street – in Northridge
Council District: 12 – Councilmember Greg Smith
In the city’s current bike plan, bike lanes were approved for the entire 14 miles of Reseda Boulevard as it crosses the San Fernando Valley. Much of the northern and southern ends of the project have been completed (including a couple of miles of bike lanes striped in late 2009), but there’s still a gap in the middle. While there are a few blocks near Sherman Way where width may be an issue, it’s very feasible to extend the existing northern stretch a couple more miles from Devonshire Street to Parthenia Street. This project would serve the Cal State Northridge Campus, and numerous Valley businesses and residents. (Note: this project is already shown on the city’s LADOT bikeways work plan, so it’s expected to be implemented soon, hopefully this year.)
10. Seventh Street – Bike Lanes
Location: Seventh Street from San Pedro Street to Catalina Street – from Downtown to Wilshire Center/Koreatown
Council Districts: 9 – Councilmember Perry, 1 – Councilmember Reyes, and 10 – Councilmember Wesson
The approved Downtown Street Standards designate bike lanes for 7th Street from San Pedro Street to the 110 Freeway. This treatment would include a “road diet” – converting the existing 4-lane road (two travel lanes each direction) into a 3-lane road (one travel lane each direction, with center turn lane and added bike lanes.) The road diet would help the street to serve more local traffic and serve less as a thoroughfare. While the road diet is approved for the downtown portion of 7th, I assert that it could be straightforward to extend it west all the way to Catalina – across from the Ambassador Hotel site. (Also, possably east to Soto.) 7th currently supports a great deal of bicycling and walking, as it connects dense population centers with downtown’s job and transportation destinations.
11. Westwood Boulevard – Bike Lanes
Location: Westwood Boulevard from Wilshire Boulevard to Le Conte Avenue – adjacent to UCLA in Westwood
Council District: 5 – Councilmember Koretz
Extending the existing Westwood bike lanes all the way to UCLA was already approved in the city’s 1996 bike plan. The utility of these bike lanes is tremendous for students, staff and faculty to commute to the university. Additionally, these lanes would help to create a safer environment for pedestrians in Westwood.
12. York Boulevard – Bike Lanes
Location: York Boulevard from Eagle Rock Boulevard to San Pascual Avenue – in Northeast Los Angeles
Council District: primarily 14 – Councilmember Jose Huizar, with a small portion (south side of York on both sides of Figueroa) in 1 – Councilmember Ed Reyes
The city’s current bike plan designates bike lanes on York Boulevard from Eagle Rock Boulevard to the city’s border with South Pasadena. Like many major streets in Northeast Los Angeles, York is a former streetcar right-of-way, hence has more width than is necessary for its current traffic volumes. It also has a lot of Main Street type development that makes it very walkable and bikeable. The LADOT Bikeways’ workplan shows a portion of the York bike lanes (from Figueroa to Avenue 56) is scheduled to be designed and implemented in 2010.
These are just a sampling of projects, that, in the words of Janette Sadik-Khan, can be done with paint… and some political will. There are a lot of other great potential projects not yet approved – bike lanes/road diet on Temple Street, to extending bike lanes on Martin Luther King Boulevard, 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard… and many many more. Green L.A. Transportation Working Group‘s Living Streets campaign is compiling other examples – and moving forward with pilots in Boyle Heights.
I hope that we can take inspiration from Sadik-Khan and move these projects forward here, very soon.
(by Joe Linton)