Monday, October 24, 2016

City Council rejects road diet for Glendale-Hyperion bridge

The City Council voted this morning in favor of a proposal that will add bike lanes to the Glendale-Hyperion bridge but leaves out a controversial road diet for the span linking Atwater Village with Los Feliz and Silver Lake.

The proposal unanimously supported by the City Council  will add two bike lanes, preserve the four existing motor vehicle lanes but remove one of the bridge’s two sidewalks under a  $50 million seismic and highway safety improvement project. Engineers have said that the bridge is not wide enough to safely accommodate four lanes of traffic, two bike lanes and two sidewalks – something had to give.

Cycling and pedestrian advocates had been pushing for a proposal that included a road diet, which would have eliminated one lane for motor vehicles crossing the bridge. That plan would have created enough room to preserve the two existing sidewalks and the new bike lanes.

But many businesses and residents feared that the loss of one motor vehicle lane would worsen traffic congestion on both sides of the historic L.A. River bridge. Meanwhile, city engineers said that the number of pedestrians who currently cross the bridge does not warrant preserving sidewalks on both sides of the span, especially if that meant reducing the number of lanes for cars and trucks.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell welcomed the addition of bike lanes but came out forcefully against the road diet.
“The support in my district is overwhelming opposed to an unecessary road diet,” O”Farrell said before today’s vote.  “To needlessly create a regional traffic jam five days a week because of a road diet is just folly.”

Pedestrian and cycling advocates expressed disappointment with the vote, saying it failed to take pedestrian safety into account while undermining the public process.

“I was involved the process from the beginning of this issue until the end,” said Matthew Mooney, Co-Chair of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee. “I really do feel that the process has not worked. We did extensive outreach at the behest of the council members but yet we were still not listened to.”

The $50 million project funded  by state and federal funds is intended primarily to make the Glendale-Hyperion bridge, which is actually made of several spans and structures, stronger to withstand earthquakes. It is also intended to improve traffic and pedestrian circulation and restore the structure’s historic character.

Officials have pointed out that the two current sidewalks on the bridge don’t meet the standards set by the American With Disabilities Act and do not provide an uninterrupted connection between Atwater Village and Silver Lake and Los Feliz. A new pedestrian-bike crossing will be built next to the Glendale-Hyperion bridge as part of the project.

Related Link:

  • L.A. OK’s bridge plan opposed by bicyclists and pedestrian activists. L.A. Now

A cross section of the bridge with one sidewalk, two bike lanes and four lanes for motor vehicles.

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  1. Reasonable compromise. If you are walking, you ain’t trying to get there fast anyway. Cross the street, and be safe out there everyone.

    • Yeah, that is a long walk across the viaduct, with just cars whizzing by you – It’s a 1/2 mile of bridge to cross.
      If they build a pedestrian crossing on the old Red Line foundations that gives a much shorter river crossing alternatives for pedestrians just trying to get across the water.
      A good compromise.

    • I agree. Compromise is good and results in some degree of resolution and progress. We’ll now be able to tell by which side whines and complains the most who is pushing an agenda rather than addressing an important community need.

    • They ARE building a pedestrian, bike and horse bridge just north of Los Feliz, and another pedestrian and bike bridge south of Hyperion. The bike advocates failed to mention that when they argued about this bridge – clearly that would have undermined their argument, so they didn’t want to mention it.

      As for cars “whizzing” by, they are not whizzing by any faster on the bridge than any other street. That’s a specious complaint.

      Proper Dos, you are so very right about an agenda being pushes – and it has been full of an unconscionable amount of deceit and distortion.

      • You’re right about that Susan… there’s absolutely an agenda being pushed. It’s called “safety”. Quite the radical concept in Los Angeles, apparently.

        • It appears my comment about distortion is proved too. The speeds n the bridge are already safe, as determined by the state-required scientific studies of the safe speed. Nothing radical about it at all. Your biased opinion and twisting a fact – you always do in your comments — is not a substitute, it is a smoke screen.

          The second sidewalk you scream for would subject the walkers to a dangerous street crossing on the one side of the bridge – but you ignore than when you demand it and cite safety.

          • Cars routinely travel well above the posted speed limit on this bridge (40-50mph is common, even the city’s engineers admitted as much.)

            And traffic engineering in the US is, at best, a crude pseudo-science. If it were even remotely about safety, like you claim, we wouldn’t have tens of thousands of traffic fatalities in this country every year.

            The speed limit is set to maximize traffic speeds, nothing more. Pedestrian safety and property values don’t even enter into the conversation (unless your idea of safety is to simply discourage walking alltogether… mission accomplished!)

            And yes, it is hard to cross the street. We should put in a signalized crosswalk. If that’s “biased” of me so be it. I happen to think our neighborhoods should be safe and accessible to everyone… not just those passing through in a hurry.

      • Cars are definitely driving faster over the bridge than other streets. LAPD doesn’t enforce the 35mph limit so people fee l free to drive 45-50 over that bridge all the time. I don’t support a road diet at all, but the fact is that cars routinely go over that bridge at dangerous speeds

      • The report from BOE clocked cars crossing the bridge at AVERAGE speeds of 50Mph if some drivers, like me, drive 35-40, that means others are doing 60+.

        The Red Car Pedestrian Bridge does not connect Atwater and Los Feliz. Hyperion bridge crosses THREE MAJOR BARRIERS–LA River, 5 Freeway, Riverside Drive. The new pedestrian bridge only crosses 1. It is a recreational amenity, not a valid transportation option.

        Its disgusting to me that driving is so effortless yet people like you always expect the most vulnerable road users (pedestrians) to shoulder the burdens of safety on their own.

        You could just as easily drive up to Los Feliz Blvd or down to Fletcher to cross and waste less time than a law abiding pedestrian will likely have to spend to get across the bridge in this new configuration if they live south of Hyperion.

        It’s not about whining, it’s about building a future where its a PLEASURE to walk and cycle, as opposed to risky possibly life threatening endeavor.

        • What Ezra said.

          Also, speaking for myself, unless he manages to reverse this somehow, I’m definitely going to look for someone else to vote for when Mitch O’Farrell comes up for reelection. Climate change means that there is no room for business as usual, lack of vision, and thinking that is stuck in the 20th Century.

  2. Good. Now let’s fix Tom Lebonge’s folly and get undo the Rowena road diet as well.

    • Yes, the perfect example of a failed experiment. Nearly no one biking there, and traffic snarled, with the backup going all the way down Hyperion to Fountain at rush hour – because of course, it is the ONLY route to the freeway from the Hyperion corridor.

    • I agree Bill! Rowena and Virgil

    • Nope, not going to happen.

      As it has been mentioned on this blog and others, the Rowena road diet is a success. The point of the change was to SLOW TRAFFIC DOWN — which it has.

      People cross that street, and the don’t want to die doing so. Which has happened many times before, which the road diet was designed to solve for. And it has.

      It never has been, and never will be about adding bike lanes. It’s about making people safer. And if that in inconveniences a few drivers, well then GOOD. Some of those drivers have been killing people.

      I’ve taken Rowen many times since the road diet, and while it can be congested, it’s never more then a few minutes to make it through. And as a pedestrian, I no longer fear for my life trying to cross the street.

  3. We wouldn’t want to do anything that might slow speeds down to the posted 35mph limit.

    • That’s what people do now. I go over the bridge all the time, and that is the speed people go – or less. The road-diet crowd just constantly alleges that everyone is speeding down all the streets like they are freeways and it just is not so, it is a fake argument. But what the argument does show is that the issue is not that bikes are wanted, but that some people want to do whatever possible to mindlessly thwart cars as evil.

      • Lived in Atwater for 15 years and cars routinely go 45-50mph over the bridge (especially eastbound). It was even noted in the engineering reports for the options. I go 35 and am passed every time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone go less than 35. I look forward to some enforcement on the bridge regardless of the configuration.

        • The word “am” should ALWAYS be used with the word “I”.

          I go 35 and I’m passed every time.

        • Well, sorry Rich, but I’ve been here for 35 years and go over the bridge all the time. I’m sure someone goes 50 mph over there, but you will be hard pressed to find them doing it.

          • The traffic studies done for the bridge show the average speed is well above 35. But to confirm it I took my radar gun (yep I own one) to the bridge today. 90% of the cars I clocked coming into AV (over 60 min) were going 45+

  4. If more Angelinos rode their bikes or walked, they wouldn’t need to diet. I just saw a show on Amsterdam where a huge majority of their citizens ride bikes and ALL of them were fit and looked healthy unlike your typical American.

    • Alex, have you been to Amsterdam? It’s a small city and very flat.

      • Been there twice. This is LA, not San Francisco.

        • The hills near my house are steeper than those in San Francisco. And there is no amount of money you could pay me to routinely bike in this town. All drivers care about is themselves, there is little to no defensive driving. The hyperion bridge needs pedestrian access, and if there is going to be only one sidewalk, it needs a way to safely cross one side to the other on both sides of that long bridge.

    • I think you’re confused as to what a “road diet” is.

  5. It’s what most people want. Democracy works sometimes.

    • LaBonge rammed this through before his successor could do something about it. All top three vote-getters to replace him in CD4 (O’Grady, Ramsay, and Ryu) were vocal supporters of Option 3. Sounds like the will of the voters didn’t get much consideration here.

  6. No big surprise here… LA is city lacking in progressive leadership. The first hit-and-run is on O’Farrell.

    • And the next dozen hit and runs? Who are they on?

      I understand that people are afraid of losing a traffic lane, but the community support for the Option 3 alternative wouldn’t have been so strong if the city’s own analysis hadn’t shown that the real traffic impact is the intersection at Glenfeliz, not the travel lanes on the bridge, and that reducing the northbound car travel lanes from 2 to 1 would have no impact during construction and no foreseeable impact in the future, except a future in which car travel continues increasing, even though it has been stagnant for a decade on this bridge.

      This is not just on O’Farrell. It’s on LaBonge. It’s on the bureau of engineering. It’s on Garcetti for failing to show leadership. And it’s on all of us for being players in a farce.

      • I’ve never seen congestion on the bridge itself in either direction. Glenfeliz is indeed the problem and preserving the four lanes or losing one will likely have no effect whatsoever. But hurray, cars can now get to the bottleneck a little faster.

        There was a proposal to allow a left turn from the Glendale Blvd exit of the 5 toward Riverside, but I’m not sure where that stands. It would alleviate some of the disruptive flow of cars having to merge quickly left to make a U turn at Glenfeliz (for those simply wanting to get to Silverlake). Furthermore, with a little bit of work, the rarely-used Glendale Blvd U-turn lane (south of the river) could be used funnel north-bound-5 traffic with a traffic-light controlled left turn. It would still leave Hyperion traffic making a U turn to get onto the northbound 5, but at least it doesn’t have to traverse multiple lanes.

        I would love to hear from more knowledgeable people what proposals are being considered to deal with the Glenfeliz U-turn bottleneck.

        • Your parents must not let you out of their basement very often. I’ve seen lots of congestion on the bridge itself in both directions.

          • Define “congestion”. I’ve never had to slow down or stop my vehicle on that bridge in the 7 years I’ve lived and driven in LA. Perhaps you and I have different ideas about congestion? Also, which direction was it in? Because remember, the road diet would have only affected the Eastbound side. So any westbound congestion is irrelevant.

          • I agree, Ezra. Only by defining the bottom of the northbound road near Glenfeliz as “the bridge” can one make the case for congestion, and by then it’s 4 lanes wide and congested by traffic from 2 sources. Southbound congestion on the bridge? Doesn’t exist.. Either way, no lanes will be removed so its pointless for Bill to insist that it was justified because of congestion and even more simple-minded to believe that it will make a difference to automotive traffic flow.

            Removing a northbound lane might have resulted in the traffic backup being extended over a greater distance (and that can cause its own problems) but it’s not clear that flow would have been impeded, especially with other remediation efforts, Furthermore, one of the more unsettling parts of the merging of Glendale and Hyperion traffic is the dangerous lane jockeying that goes on as a result of higher downhill speeds and multiple route options. It would be nice if everybody could get to work or back home 5 minutes earlier, but it’d be better if we could make things safe, first.

        • The issue about the loss of a lane isn’t that there IS congestion, but that there will be congestion and it will only exacerbate the huge problems the road diet on Rowena has caused on Hyperion. And if you instead relegate the one line to the side coming out of Atwater, you would be taking three lanes of Glendale Boulevard traffic and making it merge into one, another guarantee of traffic backups.

          But then, the real idea behind these road diets has never been anything but to create traffic nightmares in an effort to bludgeon people out of cars against their will.

          • Don’t oversimplify, Mark. The issue is finding the right mix of safety, diversity, and efficiency. And don’t exaggerate by calling the Rowena problem “huge” without quantifying it.


    Driving the speed limit is for pussies and narcs.

  8. The “road diet/traffic calming” plan on Rowena is a nightmare. If there’s one thing gained from it, it’s that we’ve learned from that well-intentioned screw-up and not imposed it on the Hyperion Bridge. I just wish there was a plan for street-level pedestrian lighted crosswalks on either side of the bridge to make this work for BOTH cars and peds.

    • Total BS. It’s made the street safer and has not affected travel times at all. What evidence do you have to support your scare words?

      • The Rowena road diet has made the street safer, but has also caused a lot of unintended problems on the surrounding streets. It has definitely affected travel times during rush hour and at the time it was implemented it was known that it would do so. However, the delay is only a few minutes so if the ancillary problems caused by Rowena could be solved I think there would be a lot fewer complaints.

      • Well, I find myself more often than not having to get off Rowena and cut through the local streets instead – and I now find too many cars on those neighborhood streets, which tells me I’m definitely not the only one finding that re-routing necessary.

        No impact on the traffic flow? Would you please try to be honest — I realize it will hurt to do so, but please try.

    • There is not enough room on the bridge for 2 bike lanes, 2 side walks and 2 lanes of traffic in each direction. So the choice has always been either eliminate a lane of traffic to accommodate the bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge or maintain the traffic lanes but lose a sidewalk on one side. That being said, having one safe and buffered sidewalk is definitely better than the current situation – 2 extremely dangerous pedestrian sidewalks.

      • Pedestrians want sidewalks in each direction. Bicyclists want a single bike lane in each direction. Only drivers are asking for 2 lanes in each direction. If only drivers were willing to “sacrifice” one lane in one direction (while still maintaining 2 lanes in the other) then EVERYBODY could have plenty of room.

        Sure one quality sidewalk is better than two crappy sidewalks but aren’t 2 quality sidewalks better than 1 quality sidewalk?

        • Limited public resources need to be allotted to the majority. Way, way more people are served by two car lanes in either direction, than are served by bike lanes.

          • Yeah. Who the fuck would want to support healthy, progressive decisions anyway?

          • Nothing healthy about idling cars stuck in traffic that’s gridlocked by ill advised road diets.

          • @Bill: I don’t think you understand what the word “gridlock” actually means. Look it up.

      • SLPapa: actually, the choice never discussed was to add the bike lanes on the outside of the existing bridge, on the other side of the wall. Either add two bike lanes — one in each direction — on one side, or add one lane on each side of the bridge.

        By adding those lanes on the outside, that would leave more on the inside for other things, such as a second sidewalk to go unused as one sidewalk is already more than needed for the usage it gets.

        Sure, that would cost more. But it was never even considered. Still, with the apparent real reason behind road diets being to thwart cars, not make way for bikes, I’m sure such a proposal would have been opposed by the bike crowd anyway.

        • Mark, part of the bridge project will be to restore the historic appearance of the bridge so adding bike lanes to the outside of the bridge would not be on the table for this reason alone.

  9. “the number of pedestrians who currently cross the bridge does not warrant preserving sidewalks on both sides of the span”

    This is coming from engineers? Jesus Christ.

    While we’re at it, the number of people currently traveling between LA and SF by train is pretty small, so we should probably the cancel the high speed rail project.

    • There doesn’t seem to be an appetite for road diets right now in the city (thanks to Rowena, Virgil, etc). Things change, leadership changes, attitudes change over time. But right now O’Farrell just doesn’t want to do it. Not sure why people don’t go talk to him and ask him WHY. Everyone is speculating. No one in the bike community seems to know him or ever talk to him directly.

    • High speed rail? please fill us in on how 45 MPH is high speed? If you don’t know that this train project is a jobs project for Jerry Brown’s cronies, you are certainly ill-informed.

  10. With this, Mitch O’Farrell has revealed his true colors: just another cheap political hack pandering to the lowest level of discourse. He COULD have pointed out that the congestion in Silver Lake/Atwater is from a basic traffic engineering standpoint, completely unrelated to the bridge portion of the system: it’s all about the awful U-turn at Glenfeliz to access I-5 North, and the signals on Hyperion. Moreover, he COULD have pointed out how comprehensive mobility solutions will change not just the traffic, but the nature of our neighborhoods and the quality of life, going forward for the next decades.

    Now we know where he’s at. And now is the time for a true candidate for City Council to begin the work to take him on in the next election cycle.

  11. Silver Lake Resident

    I was skeptical of plan 3 until I paid close attention to my commute over the bridge for a few months. I also didn’t see the point in making room for pedestrians on an empty bridge. As I paid more attention, I noticed pedestrians all the time. I also noticed they were often school aged around rush hour. It’s criminal that some members of our community would rather place kids at risk than risk being delayed by a few seconds, even though apparently the traffic engineers don’t believe it would cause a delay. I have a few (imaginary) lost seconds of drive time in one hand and the lives of minors in the other hand. Which do I choose is more important?

  12. Sanity prevails in the city council by its unanimously approving Exhibit 1. Reducing a traffic lane would be an unmitigated disaster for the area causing major traffic back-ups, congestion and all the attendant misery that that entails. Let’s get this retrofit going already so we an enjoy its benefits. We’ve suffered with the current dilapidated, weed-choked eyesore long enough!

    • Silver Lake Resident

      An unmitigated disaster is a pedestrian dying. Losing a few seconds on your commute barely reaches the standard of inconvenience.

      • It will surely be more than a “few seconds” and I certainly don’t think the alternative will result in “pedestrians dying” in any more frequency than they already are.

  13. @Bom: the signalized intersection at the OFFRAMP of I-5 will improve that dangerous part of the complex, but the project does nothing to address the need for access to the I-5 NORTH ONRAMP. And the unused underpass that might have been useful isn’t included. It’s a tough problem for the engineers. The only way to improve the situation is to create better mobility solutions. That’s what proponents of more bike and pedestrian safety were advocating.

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