Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ideas for a more bike-friendly Echo Park

Echo Park bike rider on Sunset


ECHO PARK — Riding a bike is Vanessa Gray’s primary way of getting around. That’s not too surprising since the Echo Park resident is the executive director of C.I.C.L.E (Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange), a non-profit that promotes bikes for everyday transportation. How would Gray make her own neighborhood safer and more attractive to cyclists? Below is her wish list:

  • Move Bike Lanes Closer to the Sidewalk: “The first thing I would change is to have the parked cars protect bicyclists on Sunset rather than have the bikes protect the parked cars as it is now.”
  • Fix Glendale Boulevard: Glendale needs a protected bike lane that connects to the bike lane that runs through the 2nd Street tunnel into Downtown. “That street needs a lot of help; it’s the most miserable stretch of road in Echo Park.”
  • Calm Down: “I think traffic needs to be calmed on Glendale and Echo Park surrounding Echo Park Lake. The freeway entrance/exit at Echo Park should be removed. It should be a pleasant place to recreate, not a stressful one if someone decides to use a bike.”
  • Better Connections: Close the gaps between existing bike lanes and major venues. A good example is the lack of a connection between the bike lane on Sunset and Dodger Stadium.

Jacqueline Fernandez is a Los Angeles-based reporter who’s written for various media outlets such as Los Angeles Wave, The Miami Herald and WLRN-Miami Herald News.

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  1. If you want to be pragmatic, bike lanes should always be separated from vehicular traffic, whether through a dedicated right of way or by putting them on the correct side of parked cars, between the sidewalk and cars.

    The key to successful bike infrastructure (and everything else) is through incremental improvements. Getting rid of a freeway entrance isn’t a good place to start.

    • Actually, it is insane that a bike lane would be to the right of a car lane. The only reason we haven’t had a lot of serious injuries or deaths from accidents with bicyclists when cars make a right turn is because nearly no one uses the bike lanes. If they were ever heavily used, those injuries and deaths would happen, whether the lanes were separated by concrete barriers or cars. In fact, putting parked cars between them only makes things more dangerous, as there would be no hope the right turner would see a bicyclist in their blind spot with parked cars only making that view even more blind.

      There is a very good reason why the state’s traffic laws require right turns be made only from the right-most lane.

      If you goal is to kill bicyclsts, then putting them to the right of right-turning cars is a good idea.

      • Actually, it’s very common practice for those dedicated lanes to have more than adequate buffers that allow visibility through intersections. It’s typically 2-3 car lengths right before the intersection and fortified by a planter. If you’re blind to a biker in those conditions, you’re driving way to fast.

        Even without the parked car barrier, curbside parking is also separated by a length of cars. You’ll see that everywhere in LA, there is no parking within 50 ft of an intersection.

        But you keep hating on bikes and puttin around in your car.

        • It will have nothing to do with speed; all drivers have a blind spot from their own cars, we’re not talking of what is outside the car for that. And, a mere 2-3 car lengths isn’t much, the driver has to look in 20 different directions at one and take note of 20 different objects and people at once. If you want to risk your life on the driver seeing everything at once, including something behind him/her in the blind spot, then go ahead. But wishful thinking isn’t a very good substitute for common sense. From your argument, if it were safe to do that with a bicycle, it would be safe to make that turn from the left-most lane in front of another car.

      • It’s actually much safer… the Dutch have been building them that way for half a century, and they have some of the safest streets in the world.

        This video explains how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlApbxLz6pA

        And here’s another to see it in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpQMgbDJPok

      • “22100 (a): Right Turns. Both the approach for a right-hand turn and a right-hand turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…”

        If a bike rider can fit between the car and the curb, it means the driver wasn’t as close as practicable — and they are at fault. It’s why bike lanes are dashed leading up to an intersection.

        Check your mirrors, signal, merge right… then turn right. It’s really not that difficult.

  2. Yeah, losing a freeway entrance is not great to include in your first round of ideas of you’re trying to garner the support of non-cyclists.

    • Waz mo’ important to Echo Park/Angelino’s/Society: 101 northbound freeway entrance/exit or Echo Park lake? The 101 already cut the park in two the least Caltrans could do is close that shit.

  3. Glendale Blvd needs serious attention. Not only is it very uncomfortable being so close to cars, the condition of the road is absolutely horrible. One small pothole could send you into traffic. I tend to ride very slowly on the sidewalk (which is also in abysmal condition) in the most apologetic way possible, but I’m not risking my life on that street.

    Agree with the others, you won’t get anywhere demanding to close the freeway entrance. Just take Alessandro, it’s quiet and spacious.

  4. I truly hope these changes happen. I’m not even a bike person, but I admire those that are dedicated enough to ride as a form of transportation or whose only choice of transportation is a bike because these people are making the environment better, not car drivers like me!

  5. “Bike lanes” do not work in LA – Period !! We need seperate elevated bike paths – Pedestrian/bike paths away from cars .drivers are idiots in this city . Face it . Better to be nailed by a bike than a car. I grew up in LA and Europe – and LA is the only fukcin city on this mudball that has perfect weather year round for biking everywhere . . Try biking in 30 degree weather / high winds and rain in Copenhagen. No thanks . Wake the eff up people .

    • Now that is a very good idea. Elevated bike lanes not only would make everything much safer, they also would solve the dispute over closing traffic lanes in “road diets.” Perhaps they could be in the space for a car to park, above that, maybe 8-feet high.

      Actually, I called for similar for the Hyperion bridge project, saying the bike lanes should simply be added on the outside of the bridge, providing the bridge wall for protection for cars, not interfering with traffic lanes or anything else. But no one wanted that, all they wanted was to get rid of car lanes, which they now have filed a lawsuit to accomplish even though they got their bike lanes in both directions.

  6. I’m a woman and I probably commute by bike about 70% of the time and I think our area is great for it. I really take issue when people claim how incompatible LA streets are with bikes. I don’t think people are an worse drivers here than in Washington, DC, another city where I primarily bike commuted. Add perfect weather and moderate flatness and you can’t complain. That said, here are my improvement requests:

    -Yes to more bike lanes, protected or otherwise, but paint them bright green like they do in Santa Monica. This makes them more visible as bike territory.
    -Instead of lame ads reminding us that Metro exists, use some billboard space to remind people of the laws when sharing streets with bikers, and the same for bikers riding the roads. Traffic laws foster predictability and keep anyone on the road safer if they’re followed, and I have as many gripes about this with fellow bikers as I do cars.
    -Yes to fixing the streets. Vermont Ave between K-town and Hollywood is a death trap in the right lane for a stretch. I have no idea how they managed to pave a wave into the street, but they did and I can’t ride over it without risking injury or a flat tire.
    -I totally disagree with moving the freeway entrance/exit. Give us a bike lane, it’s not a problem.
    -Look into anti-bike theft programs. Other cities have pilots with hidden GPS devices and better places to lock up, let’s find some best practices in those.

    • Uh, first, bike riders need to obey the laws just as motor vehicle drivers do! And, stay off the sidewalks.

      • That’s true, but the burden should be on the obedience of motorist. Since those pesky bikers are only small percentage of the commuting population AND the potential for harmful impact of a bike is a tad less than that of 3000 lbs piece of metal flying down the street, I think it’s far more important that motorists are following the rules.

        As for the sidewalks, why don’t you try riding a bike on glendale before making such a demand. It’s downright deadly to attempt biking there.

        • No, the burden is on the bike rider to obey the laws, bike safely, and STAY OFF THE SIDEWALKS! Or, don’t ride a bike. I hope that the police will start enforcing the laws and take some bikers off to jail. Fewer bikes mean safer streets.
          Also, learn to write as a literate person would.

          “…but the burden should be on the obedience of motorist.”

          “… try riding a bike on glendale…”

          • FWIW, sidewalk riding is actually legal in many places in Los Angeles (provided you slow down and yield to those on foot.)

            Motorist, cyclist and pedestrian – we all bend the rules time and again. But the burden of safety is highest for those operating heavy machinery in the public right of way. That’s why you need a license, registration and insurance. You have the potential to kill, maim and destroy property in great numbers.

            The problem this article points out is we’ve given motorists privileged status in the public realm, designing streets that are very convenient and forgiving of motorist error — while ignoring those basic concepts for everyone else.

            We should just design streets that are attractive to all users. Not only is it much safer, but it increases capacity in congested areas, and overall tends to create more productive neighborhoods by promoting local investment at the block level.

            Just look at the streets around town where traffic calming has been put into place (York, Virgil, 7th, Spring, Main, Broadway, etc.)… small business is booming! Nobody wants to stroll from shop to shop, or enjoy an outdoor meal if the street is designed like a mini-highway. Instead, you just get a few muffler shops, drive-thrus, and businesses set back from the street by acres of surface parking (trapping heat, alienating those on foot and limiting the tax base.)

            This is why more and more cities are pursuing complete streets… it’s in their best interest (safer neighborhoods, healthier citizens, attractive to the business community.) If you want to live in a car-oriented town have at it – no shortage of those outside the city.

          • You sound like a troll If you think bikers and pedestrians are at odds. Jail is for errant drivers, not those who decide to walk or bike instead of destroy our city with car infrastructure or dependency.

            Nothing wrong with my grammar… On glendale as in Glendale Blvd. If you belonged to the community you’d understand the reference.

          • Silver Lake Resident

            It’s legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in the city of LA.: The City of Los Angeles allows riding a bicycle on the sidewalk unless it is done “with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”(LAMC 56.15).

        • Mike, as far as the suggestion that the burden to obey the law should be on the motorists, not the bikers, I suggest if the biker is under great threat because of the weight of a car, the biker better be VERY mindful, not ride like your safety is someone else’s concern. If you don’t watch out for your own safety, you are a fool to think someone else should. In fact, you better go the extra mile beyond the legal requirements to protect your safety, and yield whether you are supposed to or not. I think it is insane to argue that someone else should follow the laws, not oneself.

  7. How many times do I have to remind myself not to read bike article comment threads? #bikeLA!

  8. Please educate bike riders, they also need to follow the rules of the road, bike rider doesn’t mean you have the right to shoot pass STOP SIGNS. You male riders are jerks to scream at minority women, throw bottles at the car cause YOU don’t obey the law. Educate yourself, take a drive to Santa Barbara, observe, most friendly drivers, bikers ever.

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