Monday, November 24, 2008

LADOT Reality Check

The LADOT Bikeways staff reported to the City's Transpo Committee that their three most significant bikeways "successes" are:

1) The LA River Bike Path. Apparently by success, the LADOT was referring to:

a) Successful litigation! The City of Los Angeles is flush with victory after fighting all the way to the State Supreme Court to avoid taking responsibility for the design and maintenance of the LA River Bike Path. The City of LA rejected the claims of an injured cyclist who was injured on the gate/chain link fence at the Victory end of the bike path. The City of LA fought the claim arguing that the City of LA is immune from any liability for the bike paths, that anyone who rides on a bike path does so at their own risk and that they are recreational facilities and not transportation facilities.

(No attempt was made to reconcile the fact that the LADOT apparently calls the LA Bike Path a transportation facility when seeking funding and then a recreational facility when looking for immunity.)

The bottom line is this; cyclists riding the LA River Bike Path do so at their own risk, (there's a sign just N of the Los Feliz bridge informing cyclists of this limitation) and the LADOT has argued successfully that riding a bike is a recreational endeavor inherent with the risks that come with such dangerous pursuits. Hunting bear? Jumping out of a plane? Swimming with sharks? Wrestling Gators? Riding a bike on the LA Bike Path? You are a daredevil and you are on your own!

b) Successful communication! Cyclists on the LA River Bike Path often find themselves at odds with other user groups and mistakenly take the term "Bike Lane" to mean "Bike Lane." That's not the case. The LA River Bike Path is actually the LA River "Mixed Use" Path and is fair game for dog-walkers, roller-bladers, joggers, pogo-stickers, ballroom dancers, hop-scotching, jump-roping, shopping cart pushing, picnic basket carrying, non-motorized vehicular travelers of all flavors and speeds! Of course, that's a mouthful to put on a sign so the LADOT continues to post "Bike Path" signs because it's simpler that way.

c) Successful eradication of light pollution! Apparently the wildlife in the LA River were kept awake at night by the pesky Bike Path illumination. No Worries. Freelance wildlife fans liberated all of the copper from the bike path electical system (twice!) leaving the Bike Path in the dark and the wildlife free to do whatever they do when it's dark.

2) The Orange Line Bike Path. Apparently by success, the LADOT is referring to:

a) The Metro's successful Orange Line Bike Path. In a classic demonstration of "Success has many parents, failure is an orphan." the LADOT is more than willing to glom onto the success of the Metro's OL Bike Path when discussing success but when it comes to taking responsibility for the maintenance of the Bike Path, the LADOT fought for two years to avoid signing the paperwork, insisting that the Metro hasn't completed the project.

b) The Chandler extension which consists of bike lanes (yea for magic paint and the BSS who actually did the work!) and the Chandler Bike Path which was in the news recently as the location of the collision between a roller blader and two League of American Bicyclist licensed instructors, resulting in broken bones for both cyclists and yet another confusing debate over the use of the term "Bike Path" vs. the use of the more appropriate term "Anybody-but-that-motorist-Path." The LA section of the Chandler Bike Path is distinguishable from the Burbank City section in that the LA side features drought resistant (dirt) landscaping while the Burbank section uses reclaimed water and is actually landscaped and green and feels like a parkway.

3) The Expo Line Bike Lanes/Path. Apparently by success, the LADOT is referring to:

a) The future? Is the list of accomplishments so short that by #3 the LADOT has to start pulling out the list of hopes, dreams and good intentions? The report started off with "We've been doing a number of things..." and then shifted into the future of the Expo line, a facility that is a Metro project. Telling other agencies how to do their business seems to be the major "success" of the LADOT Bikeways Department.

b) The opportunity? Perhaps this time around, the cycling community will have the opportunity to forge a relationship with the Metro, developing and refining on the bikeways design standards and establishing safe and effective accessibility to the Expo line for cyclists. As for the role of the LADOT in the development of the Expo Line, one need only look to the streets surrounding the Orange Line and Van Nuys Blvd. for a demonstration on the LADOT's commitment (or lack of commitment) to connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians. (Busted curb lanes, missing crosswalk, parking for 18 wheelers? Is this an industrial zone and traffic sewer or a transit hub?)

At the end of the day, it is excruciatingly apparent that the LADOT operates with little if any accountability or obligation to lay down real goals, actual accomplishments and any sense of accountability. This meeting, just like all the others, included an LADOT call for more staffing in order to continue with the Transportation malpractice that is inflicted on the people of Los Angeles.

All totaled, there are 11 people currently working on the secret projects that purportedly are the future of LA's Network of Bikeways. As our City leadership is scrambling to find opportunities to cut the City budget, the Bikeways department brazenly steps up to the mic and acknowledges that they can't think of three things they have done that would justify their existence. Bold, cavalier and utterly contemptible!

This would be a great time for the LADOT Bikeways Department to start preparing the "stuff-we-did-this-year" report for the upcoming Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. As usual, we'll be "Storming the Bastille" and asking for accountability in measurable terms.

"See you on the Streets!"


Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Great job of cutting through the crap and obfuscation to get to the reality of the situation.

My question is, do we have any idea how many of those 11 people are cyclists? Based in results, I'd have to think the actual total is somewhere around zero.

Anonymous said...

Where can I send an email to Steven Box? I have some info. on a local project.

Homegrown Evolution said...

Well said! It's time to begin the work of creating a real bikeways department.

Anonymous said...

The LADOT giveth and the LADOT taketh away!

Email sent to LADOT:

I have been waiting for the bids to go out for the Sepulveda Blvd widening, turn lane and reversable lane project. I just noticed the project description on the Bureau of Engineering website. Below is a link:

I have read all the documents and it is pretty clear to me (from the documents)that the bicyle lane will only be constructed between Skirball and Bel Air Crest
Road. I hope the description is incomplete, because this is far from the most dangerous section of Sepulveda for bicyclists.Traveling southbound from Skirball to Bel Air Crest Road, a cyclist "take the lane" can travel at the
posted speed limit on the steep downhill. It is after Bel Air Crest that it is most dangerous for cyclists. It is especially dangerous around the entrances
(northbound and southbound) to the 405. In addition there are some very dangerous sections between Morago and Montana. I hope this is just an error on the project documents and not an error in the project itself. Thank you for any
clarification you can provide.

Reply from LADOT:

Due to the reduced Scope on the RL project the overall project limits (distance) have been reduced and thus the overall length of the bike lane has been reduced as well.

So before you go thinking the LADOT is on the side of the bicyclist examine this project. They are doing the absolute minimum they can for bicyclists on a very dangerous bike route. What they have done with this project is make the route much more dangerous for cyclists.

David in Tarzana

SoapBoxLA said...

Anonymous - email me at