LADOT compromises on North Figueroa Street bike lanes

Rendering of LADOT proposed N. Figueroa bike lane looking north towards Avenue 26 near the intersection of N. Figueroa Street and  Avenue 22. By Nathan Lucero.

It is easy to come away from a discussion about bike lanes on North Figueroa Street thinking that this is a “bikes vs. cars” issue. Heck, our local councilman, Gil Cedillo, had his entire office working on that tired narrative the past 3 months (prior to ignoring the issue after being elected in May of 2013).

When you look closer at the facts, this narrative breaks down completely.

The way the LADOT has designed the North Figueroa Street bike lanes will not have a noticeable impact on peak hour car travel times, and will have no impact whatsoever during off-peak hours.

Why is that?

Rendering of LADOT proposed N. Figueroa bike lane looking south towards Avenue 22 and the 5 Freeway from just past the Avenue 26 intersection with N. Figueroa Street. By: Nathan Lucero

The most car-congested intersection of North Figueroa is where it meets Avenue 26. It is common to see a clump of 40 to 60 cars waiting at Avenue 26 to enter either the 5 South or the 110 South in the morning on weekdays.

The LADOT’s planned bike lanes will keep all the existing car lanes on North Figueroa from Avenue 28 down to the intersection with the 110 South – which means that there will be no added car delay in this portion of North Figueroa when bike lanes are installed.

Is this what Figueroa For All wants? Not really. We would prefer a cycle track and much better intersection design running the length of North Figueroa.

Here is an example of what Figueroa For All would like to see:

You can read more about cycle tracks and protected intersections by clicking here.

Now that the LADOT has compromised on its original vision of a buffered bike lane running the length of North Figueroa Street, will those opposed to the lanes accept this compromise? Will Councilman Cedillo call off his staff on their crusade to scare people away from safer streets?

Figueroa For All members outside a community meeting called by Councilman Cedillo on June 12, 2014.

For the sake of quality of life and safety on North Figueroa let’s hope the LADOT’s compromise design and these renderings get a bike lane installed soon.

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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).

What are we fighting for?

This Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at Franklin High School in Highland Park Councilman Gil Cedillo will hold a public meeting regarding the LADOT’s proposed road diet and bike lanes on North Figueroa Street. After the meeting, we have been told by Cedillo’s staff in personal communication, the councilman will render his verdict.

Such a strange “process” we’ve been through to get here! The bike lanes and road diet are already legally approved by the full LA City Council, they are already funded through a bicycle program set-aside in Measure R sales tax revenue, and they are already designed by the LADOT – how can Cedillo’s “approval” even matter at this late stage?

We’ll leave that one to the Larry Mantles, Warren Olneys, and Raphael Sonensheins of Los Angeles County to figure out.

In the meantime, what is it that we’re fighting for? What I mean is, what is the LADOT’s proposed road diet going to look like? Is it really that radical of a departure from what we have now on North Figueroa Street?

Take a look for yourself at these volunteer-created renderings of North Figueroa Street:

North Figueroa at Avenue 28 in Cypress Park as the LADOT plans it. Please note: the buffer for the bike lane disappears and a car lane re-appears heading South to allow more cars to access the 110 South and 5 South freeway entrances nearby.

A photoshopped image of the what the LADOT’s proposed buffered bike lanes would look like at Woodside and North Figueroa (running alongside Sycamore Grove Park) heading South towards Downtown LA.

A photoshopped image of what the LADOT’s proposed buffered bike lanes would look like just past Cypress Avenue and North Figueroa (across the street from Nightingale Middle School) heading North towards Highland Park.

Here is one more image, this one is a bonus. This is an image of what Figueroa For All would like to see. That is, not just a buffered bike lane but a protected cycle track (!) with pocket parks, more crosswalks, curb ramps, bus pull-in areas, and some programs in local schools to get more kids walking and biking. We realize you can make a rendering of all that! Anyway, here is something to think about:

North Figueroa at Avenue 28 as Figueroa For All would like to see it: a design for everyone! Safety first! Humans and the best of city life at the heart of the design.