City engineers recommend more room for bikes but eliminating sidewalk on Glendale-Hyperion bridge [update]

The Bureau of Engineering has come out in favor of adding bike lanes but removing one of two existing sidewalks across the Glendale-Hyperion bridge as part of a $50 million renovation of the historic L.A. River span.

The long-awaited recommendation would also retain four existing lanes for motor vehicles despite efforts by cycling and pedestrian activists to eliminate one traffic lane. Losing a traffic lane would have preserved sidewalks on both sides of the bridge that connects Atwater Village with Los Feliz and Silver Lake.

The recommendation was immediately criticized by biking and pedestrian activists who had pushed for preserving the two existing sidewalks and creating more room for cyclists on the bridge that spans the L.A. River and 5 Freeway.

The bureau, in a recommendation that was first made public by Streetsblog LA, said that the “daily low count of pedestrians” across the bridge did not warrant keeping sidewalks on both sides of the span while reducing one lane of traffic at this time. Instead, the bureau recommended:

* Eliminating the five-foot wide sidewalk on the east side of the bridge because it cannot be “safely” accessed on either end.
* Widen the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge to six feet
* Add raised bike lanes to the east and west sides of the bridge
* Adding a pedestrian crosswalk

The Bureau of Engineering’s recommendations are scheduled to be reviewed by the Board of Public Works on Friday.

The city engineers had been weighing several options after a lengthy and contentious public review that pitted cycling and pedestrian activists with many Atwater Village business owners and residents who opposed eliminating a traffic lane.

Word that the recommendation had been made spread this morning during a press conference held by councilman Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell to promote a long-stand proposal to build a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists next to the Glendale-Hyperion span. The pedestrian-bike bridge would be built on top of the concrete columns that once supported a Red Car trestle across the river.

But, as Streetsblog noted, the focus of the press conference shifted to the bureau’s recommendation, with O’Farrell declining to say if he would support it*. Deborah Murphy, a Silver Lake resident who is executive director of L.A. Walks and serves on the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee,  was quoted by Streetsblog as saying:

Everybody walks, but not everybody drives. Yet the city wants to build a bridge that only allows you to walk on one side of the bridge.”

Murphy’s group is asking its supporters to show up to Friday’s Board of Public Works meeting to push for the proposal that includes two sidewalks but reduces the number of traffic lanes.

O’Farrell’s office recommended Murphy for a $25,000 contract last year to conduct a pedestrian safety plan for Hollywood.

Update @ 7:36 p.m.:  O’Farrell’s spokesman, Tony Aranaga said that the councilman  “is going to fight for protected bike lanes and a pedestrian activated signalized cross walk.” However, he did not say how he stands on eliminating one sidewalk.

A rendering released last year of our motor vehicle lanes, two bike lanes and one sidewalk.


  1. Great, build it.

    • The issue here has been dishonestly framed as one of cars being evil and should be scaled back to make way for bicyclists. But that is a false issue, a cover up.

      If the issue were really about providing for bicyclists, even though well more than a decade after bicycle lanes have been in and spread all over yet hardly anyone uses them, then the simple and much better solution here to accommodate all forms of transit would have been to argue to add a bicycle lane on the outside of the bridge, where it could accommodate all the bicyclists who clearly don’t exist and also be separated from the cars by the side wall of the bridge. Viola, everybody could happy, everybody could be safe.

      But this is not what has been argued, what instead has been fought for is what the bicycle lanes have been twisted to be used for all over: A very misguided war on cars, get rid of traffic lanes, everybody wants to ride a bicycle.

      This compromise the city has come up with is actually almost as good. Everyone is accommodated. Pedestrians are not being squeezed out, they simply use only the one side instead of either – so what? Yet, here we have people furious that car lanes are not being eliminated – clearly because that is the only reason they argued for bike lanes in the first place. After all, a pedestrian and bike bridge is also going toe built just north and just south of the Hyperion Bridge, which mean that many fewer pedestrians and bicyclist would use the Hyperion bridge anyway – even if the huge overload of bicyclists that do not exist really existed.

      Hey, we can accommodate them all. The bike lobby just showed its cards about all these bike lanes when it raised hell about this plan.

      I am happy if cars, bikes, pedestrians, roller skates, mountain lions and coyotes, everybody can have opportunity. But the lies and deceit of the bicycle lobby and its determined attack at every turn to do every last thing possible to hamper cars is wrong and selfish. People like that are just poison, do not deserve to be accommodated because they are just dishonest.

      And frankly, as is clear to anyone who looks, hardly anyone uses the bicycle lanes, certainly as compared to how many drive cars. The residents of Los Angeles have indisputably voted about bicycle lanes vs. cars by NOT changing over to bicycles even though bicycle lanes are now all over. The assertions by the bike lobby that everyone wants to ride bicycles if they only could has clearly been shown false. The public is generous and is happy to help make way for bicycles, but they don’t want to bike themselves – and they don’t want to be under attack for their consideration of bicylists. But the bicylists who are not out there all want to attack the drivers.

      • The cyclist lobby term “Road Diet” is very clear: slow motor vehicle traffic by reducing traffic lanes in order to protect pedestrians, reduce traffic accidents, and most importantly, hand over the roads to bicyclists! This is LA, not a small village in Europe. Not everyone wants to, or is capable of cycling !

        • Heaven forbid we try to reduce accidents and encourage walking.

          • A road diet does not reduce accidents!

          • Says who?

            According to USDOT and the FHA, they do. They looked at a couple different studies in suburban and urban settings, and found around a 29% average reduction in collisions on streets before and after a road diet.

            Also, here in LA, the York road diet was studied by LADOT with similar outcomes.




          • cornersoul, that’s probably because 29% of the cars gave up on the road diet road and instead cut through on residential streets. That’s what happened around Rowena — and it was very predictable, was warned about in advance. Heck, that’s exactly what I had to to the other day when trying to go down Rowena at midday, as the one lane was just stopped and backed up the entire length of the street all the way back to Hyperion and going no where. So I cut through on the residential streets instead. It is not surprising that there are no accidents when traffic is not moving.

          • actually you didnt “have to” cut through a residential street you could have just relaxed and waited your turn, or you could have chosen another mode of transportation, or you could have waited for a better time to drive. just because you have a car, does not mean that the roads always need to be free and clear for you.

      • Simply put, you fail to recognize that the vast majority of people who bicycle also drive cars. It’s not either/or. There is no war on cars.

        And many people who bicycle are happy with this design plan. It’s not a horrible compromise. However, there are LOTS of people (who aren’t part of this scary-sounding bike lobby) who lended their support to a different design plan. And our leaders chose to ignore the wishes of these many many people.

        “The issue here has been dishonestly framed as one of cars being evil and should be scaled back to make way for bicyclists.” You’re right – that is a dishonest framing. But…. that’s your framing. Like, that’s what you are repeating throughout your comment. Stop being so dishonest about the issues.

    • Compromise people! This resolution seems to offer the best set of alternatives for all. Plus with the red line pier bridge at some point everyone can win with this solution. The wider sidewalk will also enable walkers in both direction.

  2. Honestly, how many people do you ever see walking across that bridge? This of you who use it regularly please let us know.

    • If you build it, they will come.

    • Maybe pedestrians would use it if it was difficult to.

      • … or less difficult to.

        • …Or not. It’s a loooong walk, nearly half a mile, between any two destinations. It’s a relatively steep incline on both sides, tough on anyone without pretty good cardiopulmonary fitness and knees. For example, take a high school kid who lives at the corner of Valleybrink and Glendale and goes to Marshall… it’d be a walk of more than a mile, taking 20+ minutes, vs. a 3-minute drive. Bikes, maybe, and every proposal for the bridge has bike paths.

          But really, we’re arguing about whether to have a sidewalk on the *east* side of the bridge IN ADDITION TO the west side. Not about whether to have one or not. Every single proposal has *dramatically* improved safety and access for pedestrians and cyclists over the current situation, while also addressing the seismic issues. But instead of starting construction last year, we’re still arguing and not due to break ground until 2019. It’s ridiculous.

          • A mile walk is not that far or difficult… most Americans could use the exercise.

            In my experience, a lot of times in LA, the problem is not the physical distance between two places, as much as it is the traffic engineering and land use between those two places.

            Drop an Angeleno in London or Paris and they’ll walk 3-4 miles in a day without giving it much thought.

          • loooooong walk for fat walmart americans yes.

      • If they build the walking path across the river on the old Red Car piers, it satisfies the need for another path, and for people who don’t want to go up the hill.
        The bit issue for pedestrians is that there is nothing between the Hyperion ‘strip’ (TJs, Gelsons, etc.) and Atwater Village.
        If I’m in Atwater and need something…I’ll stay in Atwater. And if in Silverlake, vice versa. so it isn’t a super desirable walking area anyway.

        • I walk the bridge every other day to TJ’s up the ramp to Waverly without a problem. I can’t see all the concern about walking. I see 1 or two people and they aren’t having panic attacks. One sidewalk is just fine.

    • how about the kids that have walk to school, one example being students at Marshall? oh wait, kids have a hard time voicing their opinion because they are often taken for granted and they can’t do things like go to every community meeting, and throw their support and money at people to then vote for such people. so therefore they don’t matter,

      see how ridiculous i sound? this is almost as ridiculous as their idea that taking out a sidewalk to keep all 4 lanes (and combine minimum widths) will be beneficial and most importantly, safe.

      • Sergio Lambarri, the leader of the anti-sidewalk group has been quoted as calling those Marshal highschool kids “lazy.”

      • Where are you from that you didn’t know that Marshal is not nth r side of the bridge WITH a sidewalk. Stop drinking the cycle late baby coolaid already.

    • I’m not sure the number matters. If people need to walk over the bridge, for whatever reason, we, as an allegedly egalitarian society, need to provide a relatively safe means for them to do so.

  3. This is great news. I hope it’s the final decision.

  4. This plan only makes sense to me if there are crosswalks immediately on both sides of the bridge. Otherwise, people may walk to the bridge only to realize that the sidewalk ends, then they have to backtrack to cross.

    • Yup, and with signals… people drive this bridge like it’s the freeway.

      • People drive on this like its a 4 lane road, which is what it needs to be to accommodate the amount of car traffic it gets, regardless of your opinion. Enjoy your victory instead of griping about it like a brat, it’s more than you deserve.

        • LOL, another entitled motorist pointing the finger at everyone else. The nerve of me to ask that since we’re all paying taxes to maintain this bridge, maybe we can make it safe and accommodating for everyone while we’re at it. You guys need to get out of your cars more often and walk or ride a bike around this city. It’s dangerous and it’s unpleasant, and that’s putting it mildly.

          • Another entitled snob bike rider who thinks they know what’s best for everyone else, but all you do is ride a bike and get in productive people’s way and try to slow cars to a crawl. If we’re all paying taxes and you’re getting a bike lane in this deal it doesn’t sound like you have much to gripe about… yet there you are.

          • Did you even read my original comment?

            We’re talking about putting signalized crosswalks at both ends of the bridge for pedestrians (in light of the fact that the new bridge will only have sidewalks on one side)… try to stay on topic.

    • Rather than have two unsafe sidewalks like our is now, I believe the plan is to build one safe one.

    • Plans all have a crosswalk that crosses Glendale from its west side to the bridge. There’s been debate about whether to have a crosswalk that actually crosses Hyperion. Unless you have one that crosses Glendale at the same point on the east side, there’s zero reason to… people still have to go to Glenfeliz/Glenhurst to cross safely, so they’re already on the west side of Glendale at that point.

      The problem with having a signalized crosswalk at the base of the bridge is that it can really mess up the signal timing upstream. It cuts the capacity of the bridge a *ton*. It may be worth it, but it’s a serious consideration.

      Ideally, we *would* have a signalized pedestrian crossing all the way across both directions of Glendale and Hyperion at the base of the bridge, because frankly, people *will* try to cross whether or not it’s there, and we might as well make it safe. But if we’re talking about 15 people a day crossing the street, when activating the signal *one* time might add 60 minutes total delay to the much heavier car traffic (just a few seconds per car adds up FAST, and that’s a lot of extra tailpipe emissions in addition to the time lost for the drivers)… it may just not make sense.

      • I think it makes sense.

        The safety of the local communities should come before the slight inconvenience of commuters (many of which don’t live in either neighborhood, or even pay taxes for the bridge, if they live in a different municipality alltogether.)

        For decades LADOT and CalTrans have been removing crosswalks, widening local streets, and maximizing traffic speeds at the expense of public safety and property values. It certainly hasn’t made traffic better (some would argue worse, because now it’s so painful to get around most neighborhoods on foot or by bike, people are practically forced to drive for every trip, short or long.)

      • “The problem with having a signalized crosswalk at the base of the bridge is that it can really mess up the signal timing upstream. It cuts the capacity of the bridge a *ton*. It may be worth it, but it’s a serious consideration.”

        orrrrrrrr all you have to do is put in Option 3.

  5. A sane compromise. It looks like cooler heads have prevailed.

  6. I love this plan! Congrats to the engineers for getting it right! Reducing a car lane was a ridiculous idea in the first place!

    • Based on the traffic counts, it’s not that ridiculous.

      • Based on traffic counts, almost all bike lanes are ridiculous. Giving “road diets” to streets that serve thousands of daily automobile commuters, so that a couple of bike riders have their own lane they can occasionally use, is a terrible waste of limited resources.

        • Gotta agree with Bill on that one.

        • Yeah, I’m sure there’s no confirmation bias whatsoever in your assessment. Numbers or GTFO.

        • Hear Hear! Hardly see cyclists on either York in HLP or Colorado thru Eagle Rock. There is simply not enough demand to take away traffic lanes on major streets!

          • Yet everywhere these road diets are implemented throughout LA, traffic collisions decrease and property values climb.

            What’s more important: safe and prosperous urban neighborhoods where traffic flow slowly buy smoothly at about 20mph, or blighted ones where you can hit 50mph before slamming on your brakes at the next light?

            Frustrated suburban commuters with windshield perspective might never do the math, but you better believe the city is starting to realize which side it’s bread is buttered on.

          • Using your same argument of “not enough demand” we could remove a lane in each direction on Hyperion. There is not enough demand to justify 4 lanes. The environmental impact report for the bridge states as much.

            This is the whole argument FOR road diets: there really is a gross oversupply of road space for cars and we would be safer, move traffic at slightly faster average rates, with less space dedicated to speeding between red lights.

          • You’re absolutely right eastsidearts, these bike lanes sit empty a majority of the time, but there’s always cars on the street that could use the space to decrease congestion, and they’ll share lanes with bikes like they always have. Noisy bike rider activists gripe that it isn’t enough, but even when they get everything they want or close they still gripe that it isn’t enough.

            The minority of a minority of bike riders are packing town hall meetings and getting these bike lanes put in and all it does is inconvenience everyone else. They flood sites like this one with their rhetoric and lies that they’ll improve economics. All these people want to do is ride bikes and slow down cars to their speed. Call them on it and they move on to another subject like property values.

          • Zumba, in general extra driving lanes do not ease congestion. Induced demand means that when a new lane is built, people use it (see any freeway expansion) and congestion stays the same or increases.

            No one here wants to just ride bikes and slow down cars to their speed. Slowing down cars to the speed limit, though? That would be nice. Probably a pipe dream, though.

            The primary goal of people advocating for more sidewalks, more bike lanes, more crosswalks, and speed mitigation is SAFETY. The second goal is providing people with more viable travel options. Travel by bicycle becomes viable when 1) it’s perceived to be safe, and 2) there’s a complete network of routes. Closing gaps in the network is like pulling teeth…

          • LOL!!!!!

            You, like many delusional people living in NELA have lost the bike lane battle — get over it.

            There is NO TRAFFIC on Colorado, compared to 99.9% of the roads anywhere west of Eagle Rock.

            Complaining about 1 less lane of traffic, when it takes no time at all to traverse Colorado through ER at a reasonable 30mph, sounds like a cry for attention.

            You just like to complain, is that it?

            Well, complain away — while everyone else in ER and HLP enjoy nicer blocks full with less cars driving way too fast.

          • Where are you from that you didn’t know that Marshal is on the side of the bridge WITH a sidewalk. Stop drinking the cycle late baby coolaid already.

  7. “The ‘daily low count of pedestrians’ across the bridge did not warrant keeping sidewalks on both sides of the span …”

    Wow, some serious circular reasoning here. Has the BOE considered for one second that this might be due to the bridge being a horrible place to walk across right now? Yes, we made the place crappy to walk on, so let’s double down on that!

    The bridge straddles two great pedestrian areas (Silver Lake and Atwater) and has access to the paths along the L.A. River. Improve that access, make good sidewalks that are ADA compliant and safe on both sides and people will walk them.

    • I second this.

    • 1 big nice sidewalk is better than 2 crappy ones.

      • That’s true. This new plan isn’t horrible! However, something like 30 businesses in Atwater, a ton of residents, many neighborhood groups, and the CAC signed their support for a different plan. So, you can imagine the frustration.

        It’s still really unclear what the crosswalk situation is for this new plan. And that seems crucial to me.

    • Agree wholeheartedly. With no guard rails separating pedestrians from traffic, it is a bit daunting especially to kids (or to be more precise, their parents), or elderly people.

    • There is only the one sidewalk now as the one one the south side is only about a foot wide at its narrowest. Stop framing this as Option 1 is getting rid of a sidewalk. Have you ever even seen the bridge?

  8. While I don’t like the recommendations, I can see the city’s point. The city likes and wants date to support their recommendations. There is no way to quantify how many people do not walk or ride on the bridge to show DOT or other city agencies the need for sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. But, there is a way to quantify the number of cars who speed on this bridge, the number of bike riders, and the number of people who actually do walk on the bridge.

  9. bathing at baxter

    …..that class is at the core of the bridge controversy. He says rebuilding Glendale-Hyperion Bridge with a single sidewalk, on the north side of the structure, provides good access to north Atwater Village — which happens to be a higher-income area than south Atwater.

    While it may be a class issue for some, it’s an ideological issue for others — and ideology doesn’t always align with class.

    Many present at the press conference were young white men, including one who rides across the bridge with his golf clubs tucked into his pannier. Whether it’s hipsters on bikes versus business owners in cars, or the wealthy versus the working-class, one thing is evident. As Cleary says, this bridge plan is “dividing the community.”

    • There aren’t any golf clubs so stop with the class warfare. This is about people getting to work and first responders responding without stop dead traffic. Hyperion already suck for miles don’t kill it altogether.

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