News
03.21.2011
Two-Wheelin' Ambition in Los Angeles
Bike plan reimagines urban design for a city where the car is king.
The proposed s-shaped 'diverter' for Los Angeles' Koreatown.
Aaron Kuehn

Early this month, LA City Council voted unanimously to adopt a revised Bicycle Plan, radically improving its bike infrastructure. The latest iteration—the plan hasn’t gone through a comprehensive update since 1996—outlines a 1,680-mile network of interconnected bikeways, with about 200 more miles to be added every five years. Bike boulevards or “traffic-calmed quiet streets where bikes are a priority” were also introduced, deploying signage, street adjustments and traffic diverters, which slow cars down and create a safer biking environment.

The plan introduces three new bicycle networks for LA with a citywide system of bike boulevards, shorter neighborhood paths, and “Green” paths near beaches, parks or other recreational areas.

 
Proposed bike station.
Deborah Murphy

“In the past the city has only done about 8 to 12 miles a year, so the commitment to do 40 miles a year is a great step forward,” said Alexis Lantz, Planning and Policy Director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, one of the major voices that shaped the plan. The city currently has only 378 miles of existing and planned bikeways.

 

Major road changes could begin as soon as July on 7th Street from Koreatown to Downtown and will include a “road diet” with a car lane in each direction replaced by a bike lane. The city’s first bike boulevard will likely be on 4th Street and Catalina, also in Koreatown. While there are no final designs, a rendering from Aaron Kuehn of AARLINE shows how an S-shape “diverter” would move cars off the bike boulevard. The city is looking at using part of the Measure R local return earmarked for bicycle and pedestrian projects to fund it.

 
2010 Los Angeles Bicycle Plan.
Courtesy City of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan
[Click to enlarge.]
 

“Mobility hubs” offering various travel options and services, are also on the table, said Claire Bowin, a planner at the LA City Planning Department. One station is already planned for the plaza fronting the Los Angeles Convention Center. Contracted by LA’s Community Redevelopment Agency, Deborah Murphy Urban Design + Planning designed a one story, 2,300-square- foot facility with a generous 4,800-square-foot canopy and an LED display wall with integrated photovoltaics. Its amenities include restricted long-term parking, bike lockers, a repair shop, as well as changing areas and showers. The station is being funded through the Metro’s 2009 call for projects and may be implemented in 2012. Others are planned, but are still in very early plan stages.

 

Other policies in the works to make LA more bike-friendly are lobbying the state to include bicycles in its definition of “traffic,” mandating more bike parking spaces in neighborhoods, and starting awareness-education programs.

Carren Jao