What will the LADOT’s bike lane plans do to traffic at Avenue 26?

About 60 single occupant cars (and two empty buses) jam the southbound side of North Figueroa at Avenue 26 and N. Figueroa St. during morning rush hour on December 17, 2013.

What will the LADOT’s bike lane plans do to rush hour traffic at Avenue 26?

Nothing.

That is right, you read it correctly: nothing.

How can this be?

It is pretty simple really: the LADOT is going to keep two lanes of car traffic in each direction at Avenue 26.

Click this image to see a larger version.

In the LADOT’s original bike lane plans, North Figueroa was going to lose one car lane on the north side of the street. The traffic modelling the LADOT did showed that, with this configuration, at rush hour car drivers would have to wait an additional 95 seconds (1.5 minutes). Ruh roh.

This southbound stretch of North Figueroa Street will lose 7 parking spaces in order to install a bike lane. This will allow cars to flow at current rates alongside the bike lane.

How did the LADOT deal with this projected delay? They re-designed the project from Avenue 28 to Avenue 26 and kept car lanes in both directions in their new designs. Instead of taking away a single car lane, the LADOT’s new plans remove 7 parking spaces adjacent the Yum Yum Donuts/Big Saver shopping center. This new configuration would mean that bike lanes would have no impact on traffic at Avenue 26 – no added delay (!) at the expense of 7 parking spaces.

Want to see the LADOT’s original delay projections for the bike lane project on North Figueroa? You can read the city’s original traffic delay report here (see Figure 3-11).

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22 thoughts on “What will the LADOT’s bike lane plans do to traffic at Avenue 26?

  1. It’s a real shame that DOT didn’t make (or wasn’t allowed to make) a bigger point of this change and what it meant. I noticed the change when they presented at Nightingale, but they just kind of breezed through it. Below Ave 26 is the only area there was ever any legitimate concern about traffic impacts anyway. In this area, the extra lane just acts as a holding corral for cars going on to the 110 so they don’t back up onto Fig farther north. It doesn’t promote speeding or anything else dangerous like the normal thru lanes.

    I don’t know if it’s too late to really educate the people who’ve been arguing about this at this point. But we should make sure that everyone who is out there canvasing/advocating for the bike lanes understands this change and can say “the only area there was ever any potential for traffic backups was below Ave 26 and they’re not going to make any changes there. If anything, it will be faster and safer without people trying to parallel park on the street.”

  2. Depending on the location, I’m not sure I favor bike lanes over parking. Bike lanes over travel lanes always, but parallel parking provides a much-needed buffer between the pedestrian zone on the sidewalk and moving traffic. Walking along a narrow L.A. sidewalk with 40 mph traffic zooming by inches away is a huge killer of all attempts at creating a livable city.

    • Malcolm, I agree with you. Car parking also can mean a lot for local businesses. This intersection design is quite awful for bike riders and puts us in direct conflict with turning vehicles. The bike lane design on Figueroa is about as car-friendly as possible and this reflects the politics in our area now that we have a local councilman who is determined to stop this project.

    • In general I think you’re right. But in this specific location, I’d say it’s the right choice. Also, traffic won’t be “zooming by inches away”. There would be a 5′ bike lane.

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  5. Avenue 28??? The southbound traffic backs up to Avenue 43. That makes no sense at all!!
    What about those going North in the morning to Franklin High School?

    No removal of car lanes!! No Road Diet!!

    And, what about emergency vehicles that come from Cypress Ave going toward Highland Park northbound. One lane can be very dangerous with lower response times.

    Susan Rocha

    Susan Rocha

    Cypress Park

  6. You can not argue with someone that is selfish enough to just want their way and not consider the whole community. Things need to be fair for everyone. Bike lanes, yes. Removal of car lanes, NO!!
    Put bike lanes where cars are not in a major traffic area.

    • Susan, it should be safe enough on our streets for someone to walk or bike to local businesses, school, work, etc. It isn’t selfish to advocate for that!

      Cars back up to enter the freeway at Avenue 26 now, and they will back up to enter the freeway after the bike lanes go in – with no added delay. Why kick up such a verbal fuss? Countless studies of the before and after affects of car travel times with road diets show that car travel is often the same as it was before the diets went in, and in some cases has been improved.

      But you’ve heard all this before. People in this community have posted links to those studies and many others over the years discussing this issue online – but you are not interested in any of that. It’s like I said, you can never win arguing against a crazy person.

    • Susan, well meaning as I’m sure you are, the benefits of improving traffic safety through a road diet outweigh the benefits of being able to quickly respond to car crashes caused by the high speeds Figueroa encourages. Colorado Boulevard and York Boulevard have both undergone road diets and the world has not collapsed. In fact, if you have spent any time on foot on the two streets you’ll quickly realize the two feel and are much safer since cars have been tamed. These two streets also remain the most desirable and vibrant commercial streets in the neighborhood.

      Since you’re giving us your usual mantra of “yes bike lanes, no to road diet” can we be assured you support bike lanes south of Avenue 28 since the road diet will end at Ave 28?

      Also, no northbound lanes are being lost so northbound traffic is completely unaffected (so no problems with “emergency vehicles that come from Cypress Ave going toward Highland Park northbound”)

      “What about those going North in the morning to Franklin High School?” They will suffer no delays as all northbound lanes are being preserved.

      I have no doubt you are concerned with community safety, but how can you argue that a faster moving street is safer?

  7. UB, as long as you call me crazy we can not have a respectful conversation. And, you will just get more backlash with the name calling.

    NE, I appreciate your being respectful. The lanes on Colorado do seem to be working fine. However, i see very few bicyclist using them. Actually I never see any. One problem there is car motorists do not know there is a bike lane and are always driving in the bike lane. There should have been some kind of education by DOT to let drivers know how to drive out of the bike lanes and what they are. This is an accident waiting to happen just because bike lanes were thrown in and car motorist knew nothing about it and still don’t. While motorists now know the bike lanes are there they do not know where they can change lanes or move in and out of the car lanes. Again, unless some education is done ASAP this is an bad accident waiting to happen. This situation is extremely dangerous. This is not safer than before even for bicyclists.

    And, York has backed up with the traffic. Traffic is slower and more congested. That means longer waiting times to get home and to stores.

    Now to North Figueroa. The problem is with sever traffic problems especially in the morning from Avenue 43 to Avenue 22. Yes, it is with the freeway backups. But it is also with the parents dropping off kids at school at Cypress Avenue. The traffic at Nightingale Middle School is horrible. It is bumper to bumper traffic. And, taking out a lane at Cypress Ave will not improve traffic or remain the same. Without a lane will simply back traffic up even more. Drivers will find alternitve routes along small streets around Figueroa just like they are doing on York and homeowners do NOT like it.
    Except down on North Figueroa there are NO alternitive routes. North Figueroa is the only way to get to Nightingale Middle School and the Freeways. That will not change. People have to get to school and work.

    Cypress Park has very few businesses. There are no major supermarkets. A car is needed to get to a decent supermarket and any other service, doctors, dentist, ect. There are very few services and stores in the area. This is part of the problem why people can not just walk or bicycle. Stores and services are not right around the corner.

    Taking away a car lane will not make traffic safer. And, making traffic slower means more traffic conjestion, more sitting in traffic, more time away from other things.

    Driving is necessary. The traffic not only backs up because of freeways. Traffic backs up at Cypress Avenue because of Nightingale Middle School and parents dropping off their kids at school. You are missing part of the picture. Nightingale Middle School is a traffic problem too. The traffic backs up to Avenue 43.

    I KNOW. I LIVE THERE!!

    • You are right that it is not ONLY traffic related to the freeway. But I don’t understand how an additional traffic lane makes it easier for parents to drop their kids off at school. Presumably, they are pulling over to the curb to do so anyway. Multiple lanes allow a higher volume of traffic to move through an area when traffic is flowing. The don’t make choke points like a school or freeway entrance move faster. Those back ups will remain regardless of what is done to the street.

      More broadly, the backups that do occur on Fig last for about 20-30 minutes a day. The other 1400 minutes per day the street has way more capacity than is needed and this results in a lot of high speed driving, people having to run across the street, collisions, etc. Everyone understands that the street needs to serve commuters that drive through there once or twice a day, but it also needs to serve those of us who live, shop, and travel through the area.

      While you may not feel that bike lanes on other streets improve safety, there is a lot of evidence from numerous projects that road diets do decrease peak speeds, decrease auto/auto collisions, decrease pedestrian and cyclist collisions, and significantly improve over all safety.

      As to alternate routes, you are missing a big one. Right now a lot of traffic on Fig is people paralleling the 110 so they can do 50 mph on our street and jump on the 110 farther down. If even a small percentage of people get on the 110 farther up (43rd, 52nd, etc. etc.) instead of bombing down Fig, the congestion around 26th will actually improve. If that means adding 30 seconds to their commute, I think it’s a fair price to pay.

      We all understand that not everyone can get around without a car (though there is actually a decent supermarket less than a mile from Cypress Park FYI). No one is saying “get rid of all cars” or trying to make it difficult to drive. What we’re saying is that saving a few seconds for a tiny percentage of people for a brief period each morning is not a good trade off for making a street far more dangerous than it needs to be for the vast majority of time. Nor does it make sense to keep street designs that actively discourage the people who can/want to ride the train/bus/bike/walk from doing so because their local roads are set up to be strongly hostile to getting around this way. We feel this way because we also live here and despite the accusation that opponents to change constantly through around, the people fighting for this plan also live, work, and study here.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Susan. It would be great if we could make the streets safer enough for children to walk and bike independently to school, this would massively reduce the traffic. But how can we accomplish this? On days where school is not in session, the traffic is visibly lighter.

      We all want a safe street and we all want solutions to our current traffic woes but keeping things the same is hardly a solution, especially if we can agree climate change exists and that we need to collectively reduce the amount of driving we do.

  8. Right now there is no way to speed down North Figueroa in the morning. Traffic is at a standstill and nothing will change that. Removing a car lane will make that situation worse. Taking the freeway at Avenue 43 or before is not an option either. Many people avoid the freeway because the 110 is an unsafe freeway not because they can speed down North Figueroa. They can’t. Backing up North Figueroa will not put more people on the freeway. Even if it did, what difference would it make to back up North Figueroa or back up the freeway? Same thing.

    Only decent supermarket is more than one mile away, Smart and Final in Lincoln Heights or Vons in Eagle Rock or Ralphs in Silverlake. All are 3 miles away or more.

    Lots of traffic comes into Nightingale Middle School for parents to drop off their kids. If you want to reduce traffic do a push at Nightingale for kids to ride bikes to school. That may relieve some traffic. But kids will not do it. Raise some money and give out some free bikes to kids. How about that? If you want to relieve traffic and want people to ride bikes give some away. Buy some used ones from local thrift stores and some new ones and do some promotions to give bikes away.

    I don’t see any outreach to the community. You reach out for bike lanes. But you don’t try to get the community any bicycles. Cypress Park (the actual park) is a great resource to use. There are programs for kids there, especially low income that could use some bikes. Ask for the park director. I don’t see any outreach to them or any where else in the community.

    There was a traffic study done on Cypress Ave. It suggested the speed limit be increased. That was not done. But it should be done to improve traffic.

    Safety studies are misleading. They only give numbers. They do not give who was at fault for an accident. They do not give information why something happened. People crossing the street and jumping in front of a car or walk on a red light are at fault for their injuries. Bicyclist that do not stop at stop signs, red lights or change lanes without signaling are at fault for their injuries. Motorist are not always to blame. Anyone not obeying the law could be considered at fault for an accident. It all comes down to how an accident happened to figure out who is at fault. Statistics don’t tell the whole story. They only give numbers. That is why insurance companies do not go solely by police reports. That is just police writing down 2 parties different stories. They were not there to witness the accident. Insuance companies make their own decisions. They base them on facts. They can tell how an accident happened by where the damage is to the vehicles.

    There are already bike lanes on Cypress Ave. Bicyclist should never bike on San Fernando Road. It is extremely dangerous. But I still see them there. Many years ago a bicyclist was hit and killed there. Don’t use San Fernando Road. There are bicycle lanes on Cypress Ave and they are NOT used.

    Taking away a car lane will make traffic even worse. There is no solution except to find an alternative route.

    • There are student groups at Nightingale that are actively trying to encourage more of the kids to walk and ride to school. They have worked directly with the Bike Oven and other local groups to help get bikes together, teach students about safe riding and maintaining their bikes. Cypress Park actually has one of the older groups that explicitly works to help make bikes available to kids and those in the neighborhood who can’t afford to buy something expensive. Nightingale’s student group has directly tried to contact and work with the City Council, Mayor, and our neighborhood councils to make it safer to ride in the neighborhood. The city council agreed, the mayor agreed, our old councilman agreed. What’s blocking progress is not that no one is trying to do this, it’s that Councilman Cedillo has put the brakes on a plan that was carefully put together over nearly ten years despite his claims that his main concern is “safety”.

      I’m not saying that every accident that happens is a driver’s fault. But regardless of fault, fast cars kill, moderate paced cars injure. Slower, steady traffic makes it safer for everyone, even other drivers, regardless of why any particular collision occurs. We’re not trying to “punish” drivers. The point is to make the street work better and safer for everyone.

      You’re point about seeing more cyclists on San Fernando than Cypress I think is actually important. Cyclists are not out riding for fun, they’re trying to get places just like everyone else. So they will ride in the areas that go where they need to go. Putting bike lanes on back street that don’t have anything on them and aren’t convenient to work/school/stores/etc. don’t get used as much as ones that are on the streets where people need to go. That is why Fig is important. This is a busy road because it is where people need to go. That includes people walking, riding, taking the train, bus, etc.

      I don’t know why so many people get on the freeway at 26th but they can’t get on at 43rd because it is an “unsafe freeway.”

      Look, at the end of the day, reducing the lanes on some parts of Fig is going to have some impact on car traffic. DOT estimates that the typical delay will be about 30 seconds. DOT is highly experienced in doing this kind of study and they are anything but “pro-bike” so I think it’s safe to assume their estimate is at least a reasonable one. The question is do you think asking some people to wait an extra 30 seconds is worth the payoff – safer streets, bike lanes, better pedestrian access, and a better environment for our local businesses. I think it is. I don’t think the people on the road for 1/2 an hour using our neighbor as a freeway onramp are the only ones that count and should be able to veto everyone else’s right to live in our neighborhood. If you disagree, I don’t think you’re “crazy”, but I don’t think we’re “selfish”, nor are we not considering “the whole community”.

    • Thanks again for sharing your thoughts in such detail, I think you have shared some valuable ideas worth considering to enhance community outreach and involvement. However, there has been a great deal of local outreach, but of course the efforts can always be made better. I hope someday you will see the value of slower streets that make walking and bicycling more appealing.

      There really is no evil hidden agenda, the advocates simply want a safer Figueroa, not necessarily a bike route. Bike lanes aren’t the only solution but road diets (which provide space for bike lanes) happen to be some of the most cost effective ways to improve overall safety conditions for everyone. Take for example this study of York put together by the LADOT http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/york-blvd-road-diet-traffic-safety-analysis/ crashes, injuries, and hit-and-runs all went down following the road diet. Surely that’s good news, isn’t it?

  9. The photo makes the case that removing car lanes will make traffic worse. You are not helping your cause by showing that photo or the video. It really helps to prove that the traffic is bad and will only ge worse.

  10. I never heard of those student groups at Nightingale Middle School. I am happy to hear there is such a group. I was on the board of the Greater Cypress Park neighborhood council. They never attended even one meeting. And, I don’t think they have attended any meeting since I am no longer on the board either. And, neither did any other bicyclists.

    It would be great if at least one member of the student group would attend the neighborhood council meeting or better yet be a board member. They need to educate the community to what they are doing. Even the bike oven, which I totally respect, does not connect with the community as far as attending neighborhood council meetings and other community meetings. But now I believe there is at least one bicyclist supporter on the board now for the first time EVER. That is great, but it is a little bit late to come now just because you are in favor of removing car lanes. But better late than never. More community outreach is needed by your organizations. You are still seen as outsiders. If you want to connect more with the community, more community outreach is needed by your organizations.

    What about connecting with Cypress Park, the actual park? What outreach is there for kids in the community that attend park functions?? Are you letting kids in the park know about your free and help to get bikes stuff?

    I know there is a need for bicyclist to be safe, the same way motorcyclists need to be safe. I wish we could get a lane just for motorcycles. There are way more accidents in motorcycles than in bicycles. There just isn’t enough room for everything we want to have. . There need to be bike lanes, but in the right places. We agree on that.

  11. How about a bicycle committe for the neighborhood council where people can figure some of this stuff out? Alternative bike routes are the only answer.

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