Silver Lake drivers discover new way to bypass traffic – the Rowena bike lane

The city earlier this year put a section of Rowena Avenue between Hyperion Avenue and Glendale Boulevard on a “road diet,” restriping the Silver Lake street to remove a lane of traffic in each direction and make room for bikes. But that has not stopped some drivers from using the bike lanes to get around congestion, especially during the rush-hour when traffic is backed up for two blocks and more.  Jim Hughes of Eagle Rock  shot the brief video clip above this week as a car glides down the eastbound bike lane, bypassing the traffic congestion. Said Hughes via email:

I take Rowena every day coming home from work and this isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone in a car using the bike lane. In fact I see more cars in the bike lanes than bikes.

Cars are not the only motor vehicles to use the Rowena bike lane. Hughes has also spotted motorcycles and, last week, a full-size pickup.


  1. This was so predictable. Unfortunately, now that that lane has been designated for bikes, this is also dangerous, and at some point, someone is going to get hurt. While the driver is in violation, I also blame any accident that results from this on the people who pushed for this stupidity and imposed it. It was the outright intention of many to create a traffic nightmare in the misguided belief that people will just leave their cars behind and choose to bicycle. That is fantasyland thinking and just plain stupid — and dictatorial.

    Previously the reports were that the traffic was cutting through on local streets because of the nightmare this moronic “road diet” has created. Yet, I have driven down there regularly, and I have hardly ever seen anyone bicycling there! (I tend to go at late morning or midday.) I’m sure the advocates will speak as they always have, asserting that tons of people are bicycling there — but again, anyone with eyes can see that just is not so. And it will never be so. Oh, lots of people are in favor of bicycling — the problem is that hardly any of them are in favor of THEM bicycling.

    While a reversion to bicycling and its Third World transportation status will never happen, this push WILL be and is being used by overdevelopment proponents to justify that overdevelopment, claiming such overdevelopment will have no impact on traffic — because everyone will bicycle instead. That is, the misguided bicycle proponents are being exploited by those with ulterior motives. Those people — who pretend to be supporters — don’t care about bicycling, only about overdevelopment. Every time you put in a bicycle lane — which will get hardly any use — you are voting for overdevelopment.

    • This comment has been brought to you by the AAA, the National Oil Industry, and the Smog Lovers of America Association.

      • No, the comment was brought by someone who actually contributes to the economy with a real job.

        • Today I learned that I don’t have a real job because I try to do my part for the environment by using a bike to get around. I guess I just paid for my new condo with monopoly money.

    • Let it be known that not everybody that reads this blog thinks this way. I, for one, feel safer biking down Rowena than I ever have before.

      My guess is that this person never rides a bike.

    • Please explain how the situation prior to the road diet was any less “dictatorial” than the current situation. Do you realize that the status quo (majority of people driving) is NOT the result of a neutral environment– it is in fact “social engineering” just as much as any efforts to get more people to choose the bicycle (the more efficient, healthy, equitable and clean mode of travel)

  2. They need to put in the green strips to properly display. Steve rados/dwp needs to clean up their work and help that lane out as well.

  3. I have to add a positive comment…….I see that they have changed the traffic light on Rowena at Glendale to include a much needed left turn signal.

    Now if they would only make u-turns legal at the intersection/signal light at Glendale Ave (going south) and Allesandro, to give us easy legal access to the 2 freeway North.

  4. A nice and eager ticket writing presence would help too.

    I’ve timed it. It does take longer to go down Rowena. Almost 90 whole seconds. Can you imagine waiting an extra minute and a half so that the people who do bike down Rowena – mostly in the AM – can have space. We must be crazy!! 90 seconds is such a long time…oh wait…

    Now, to be fair, it has been a nightmare this week because of extra construction. I did have to wait about 4 minutes to get down all of Rowena.

    You don’t like it? Take Riverside when you get off the 5 fwy. That’s a corridor. This is a street with houses and two schools.

    • I’ve timed it, and found that it takes several extra minutes to go down Rowena. But for the sake of arguing, say it only takes 90 seconds extra. That might not be the end of the world if your commute was only the length of Rowena. Unfortunately, most people have to commute several miles a day. If the road diet fanatics get their way, every other street in Los Angeles will take an extra 90 seconds.

      • Thinking ahead, I like it! If price of gas is about $4 today, in a few years it could easily be close to $6– more bike lanes, light rail, and BRT please! I don’t want to waste time AND money commuting by car, do you?

        • I definitely see both sides to the argument. No single mode of travel is optimal (or even doable) by all people, so we must make multiple modes viable… ie we can’t sacrifice bikes in favor of auto, or vice versa.

          For me personally, one with conservative leanings and very environmentally conscious, I like to bike when I can. I ride to work most days of the week; however, I live in an area that is reasonably hilly, so I can see how most people would not want to bike there.. in addition, there are large gaps in the bike network that force me onto some pretty scary sections (high speed drivers w no shoulder and skinny lanes). My wife and nanny have to shuttle around three kids between school and activities. Bikes, bus, and rail don’t work for them, so auto is really the only option.

          Our biggest issue, really, is the fact we keep cramming more and more people into a space where there’s not enough infrastructure to support them. Very few people can live car free here, because of lack of transit infrastructure.. and other modes (bus/ rail/ bike/ walk) aren’t sufficient for many…

          The best built out infrastructure is for auto. So we need to focus on improving the other modes… minimizing the impact on auto (there will be some impact) and minimizing population growth (good luck with our high density pro-builder mentality).

    • Oh I agree an eager ticket writer who cites motorists and bipeddle offenders with equal gusto!!!

    • Spoken like someone who clearly does not live in the Hyperion corridor, from which you have no choice but to use Rowena to get to the freeway, or to Riverside — Riverside is not an option to avoid the section of Rowena at issue here, it is an option to avoid the section that was NOT part of the “road diet.” What has been done to Rowena is a very serious burden on all the people living in the Hyperion corridor.

      I will also add to those who think that if you make traffic a horror — which is the goal for many advocating “road diets” — people will revert to bicycles: If that were so, they would have reverted to bicycles decades ago as the freeways became parking lots, but they have not done so. That is to say, your experiment was proven a failure long before you even stated this “road diet” idiocy.

      • Tom, all perpetual gridlock shows is the failure of is a car-centric society and transportation system– congratulations. We’ve tried just focusing on automobiles and it has failed, unless you call gridlock a success. People will start cycling when it is safe and pleasant, which it is not at the moment. Road diets have a demonstrated effect, even here in LA, of reducing traffic collisions, increasing the rates of cycling (even when the new bike lanes don’t connect to a network of bike lanes– the biggest deterrent to cycling for most people), and reducing trips made by automobile.

      • Ps. Tom– how much are you willing to pay for gas, and how much gridlock are you willing to sit in, before you demand better transportation alternatives?

  5. So i am not the only person to notice this, DWP needs to clean up there mess. I use rowena to go to work either by bike or car, the wait to get down Rowena is not life changing, but a car running over a cyclist certainly will be

  6. i have driven this stretch 2 times this week at rush hour and it’s pretty much a mess. it took about 20 minutes to get from hyperion to glendale yesterday, and about 3 minutes to get to fletcher (which is about the same distance).
    I saw a lot of unsafe driving (people making spastic last minute turns to avoid the bottleneck, driving in the bike lane, using the bike lane for unsafe passing,..). I saw 2 bicyclists: one who looked pretty tense in the bike lane, and another who gave up and just used the sidewalk (and made better time in the end).

    it also messes up traffic on Glendale in the other direction as cars back up the hill who can’t make it through the light at Fletcher to get into the road diet bottleneck. The Ralphs parking was all backed up as those people can’t leave. Many people (myself included) will just drive around the back side of the block on Silver Ridge to get out; this just makes those poor people have to deal with it.

    i don’t know if this is working out. I like the idea, but maybe there should be 2 lanes in each direction during rush hour. the rest of the time it can be bike lanes. compromise is always healthy.

    • That doesn’t make any sense – when do you think the most people use bike lanes? During rush hour. Remember, bicyclists are just commuters too.

      • it does make sense as I was on that strip of road for 20 minutes in traffic and saw 2 cyclists in total (one who was riding on the sidewalk to avoid the mess). and they were endangered by the reckless driving of people who were enraged over the whole traffic mess. not saying that their behavior is excusable, just stating what I saw.

        if it’s a tangled mess that affects traffic not even in the neighborhood, and the numbers of cyclists are low, then it would seem to make sense to open up lanes during rush hour. I’m all for bike lanes, and am not advocating for their removal. it’s just such a mess over there.

  7. I’m positive this is almost entirely due to the road work ruining all of the new striping. During the brief stint that the new setup was open before construction started again, I never saw anybody driving in the bike lanes. But now that the road is all torn up you can’t even tell it’s supposed to be a bike lane and I see people crossing over all the time.

  8. It’s nice to have a bike lane on Rowena, but would it be too much to ask for it to connect to one of the three other major bike lines within a couple blocks of it? The LA River Trail, Silver Lake Blvd. lane, and Griffith Park Blvd. are all right next to this but there’s not an actual interconnected system of bike lanes. I love bike lanes and use them frequently but I don’t understand the point of this one on Rowena as it only lasts about five blocks and then drops off. Could we at least get something to connect the Silver Lake bike lane to the river. It wouldn’t have to be on a major street.

  9. Hmm…. a single bike lane does not make a network. Want to see more people cycling? Create a network of high quality bike paths.

    Aside from people never agreeing on the levels of cycling, how about we embrace the safety benefits of the road diet? Give it time, folks, if you’re lucky Rowena will soon flourish and be safer like York Blvd and its road diet in Northeast LA.

    • Impressive pictures of Mexico except for the strategic ads. Rowena is not a boulevard. I drove by today at approx. 4:00 and it was jammed. The traffic from St. George and Hyperion seemed impassable. These streets should totally be avoided after 3:00. Take Waverly or go over the hill and pick up a less traveled street to avoid this mess.

      • The same people who brought us the road diet also brought us no left turns during rush hours and various other prohibitions to keep us from finding alternates routs through their pristine residential streets.

        I have seen motorcycles and scooters using the Rowena bike lanes since the first week they opened. Cars are using the center turn lane to pass, sometimes ending up nose to nose. Anyone who spends any time on Rowena knows that bicycle sightings are rare.

        LeBonge is up for reelection and should be punished for this abomination!

      • Yes, I was VERY impressed with Mexico’s bike lane separation system. They also have a bike sharing rental system which seems to working very well. Even New York has a similar separation with posts. LA needs to get with it here!

  10. I did this once only because I didn’t know it was a bike lane. It’s not clearly marked.

  11. Traffic everywhere is increasing and getting more gnarly because of people on their phones, especially texting. Look around and take note of how many drivers are looking into their laps because their attention spans have been reduced to that of gnats. Traffic moves and their still looking down into their laps. For fun: lay on the horn next to someone texting in their lap and watch their head snap up.

  12. I’ll happily bike to Ralph’s and back whenever I figure out how to take about eight bags of groceries back, and my kid travels with me.

    • Yes, how could we forget that everyone does all their grocery shopping in bulk for their family of five?

      C’mon– don’t be silly and try to do that. How about you shop more frequently and make smaller purchases? Or how about just bike the times you need one item from the store, like a carton of milk? Or do you load up the kids and end up buying eight bags of groceries when you go for just a handful of items? My bicycle can easily carry 2 large paper bags and can transport a child on a rear seat.

      Also, not everyone has kids, as I’m sure you know. Lots of single people and childless couples could start cycling without the excuse you present. If the single people and childless people cycled to Ralphs there’d be more parking spaces for the people such as yourself who claim you cannot cycle for any kind of trip for any purpose.

      If you need inspiration, check out this woman who “does it all” by bike… and with six kids


      But let’s continue making excuses, it’s fun– and relieves us of having to do ANYTHING about climate change, which will impact our kids more than us. When I cycle and advocate for bike lanes, I can tell future generations I give a damn and want them to have a cleaner, and healthier future. What do you tell your kids?

      • The same people who brought us the road diet also brought us no left turns during rush hours and various other prohibitions to keep us from finding alternates routs through their pristine residential streets.

        I have seen motorcycles and scooters using the Rowena bike lanes since the first week they opened. Cars are using the center turn lane to pass, sometimes ending up nose to nose. Anyone who spends any time on Rowena knows that bicycle sightings are rare.

        LeBonge is up for reelection and should be punished for this abomination!

        • LaBonge will be termed out in 2015. Punish someone for trying to put a little less car in LA’s culture and make the road a little safer?

          • 3 round trips today on Rowena. 1 Harley, 1 old Triumph & 1 Vespa type scooter & 4 cars in the bike lanes plus 4 cars in the shared left turn lane. No bikes. This can be dangerous and should be constantly policed as long as this idiocy continues.

            LeBonge will run for another office and will be remembered for the Rowena abomination!

            I drive the road dietary Griffith Park Blvd often and have no problem with it or Broadway in Santa Monica. They are not main connectors and have parallel streets which remove some of the traffic pressure. My problem is not with appropriate road diets. Like it or not, Rowena between Glendale & Hyperion is a main thoroughfare connecting neighborhoods, shopping, freeway access, stadium & downtown access.

            A suggestion I’ve heard mentioned is to have no street parking during rush hours so that those who commute on bikes will have the curb lane whilst 2 auto traffic lanes remain.

      • Well put Syzlark! here, here. I agree, excuses, excuses, just like a butt hole, everyone’s got one!

      • I have one child so I NEED to have a gas guzzling, space hogging Navigator.

  13. Is there any possibility that an access road from Hyperion to Riverside can be built? Riverside should be the relief street for Rowena, but because you can’t get there from Hyperion, everyone has to take Rowena. I’m sure something could be figured out. Especially since getting to Los Feliz and then to Riverside is just as crowded during rush hour.

    • Barb, put it in the city’s suggestion box, (city counsels’ toilet) it will never get addressed unless you know “people” or have $$$

  14. Although it’s nice to see the city put in bike lanes… I wonder how much consulting they really do with actual bike riders. I live in Hollywood and they put a bike lane on Fountain Avenue… and as an occasional bike rider myself, I cannot think of a less desirable street to bike on. It’s always packed with cars, is very narrow and stinks with exhaust! Rowena is not really that great either. I also drive a scooter and I used to use the bike lane to bypass cars, until I got popped with a $350 ticket (by a bellicose cop, no less). Besides all of this mishegoss, can anyone please explain to me why automobile drivers almost exclusively are one person per car? Each car belches approximately 5 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere! Am I the only one who thinks this is short sighted, selfish and utterly stupid?

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