Wednesday, May 27, 2009

LADOT to Cyclists "There's no more room for cyclists!"

The LADOT's Bikeways Division, aka "the Department of No!" has a presentation that should be entitled "Why you can't have what you want."

For years now, Bikeways staff has been offering up excuses for their lack of innovation and progress, explaining "LA is simply built out. There's no more room for cyclists!"

This month's Bicycling magazine quotes the Bikeways Division's spokesperson as saying "What I need is roadway. Right now, all I can do is try to find places to squeeze bikes in."

The LADOT has repeated this for so long it starts to sound like the truth. Over and over, Bikeways Reps claim there's no more room. This goes unchallenged by real debate or discourse, leaving a wake of bobbleheads behind, all chanting "There's no more room!"

Then along comes reality...

The streets of Los Angeles are actually pretty wide. Especially if you get the parked vehicles off the main streets.

Sunset Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd. are notorious for 18 Wheelers and Commercial vehicles, all parked for long stretches, not for deliveries, not for errands, not to simply stage them between runs but for days on end. Best part, they're parked illegally!

Let's ticket them! Let's tow them! Let's open the streets up for the movement of goods and people! Let's get LA moving!

Or not.

Even when there is already a bikeways facility in place, the LADOT is hesitant to enforce. In fact, the LADOT Parking Enforcement Division still doesn't even enforce CVC 21211(b) which prohibits a vehicle from blocking a bike path or a bike lane.

Wilco Tango Foxtrot!

Yep, it's true. This past week, the Captain of the LADOT's Hollywood Division of Parking Enforcement informed me that the department did not enforce the prohibition because they had not been trained in the procedure. (I think it involves writing a ticket. It used to involve a paper and pen but now they have those little machines and maybe it really is complicated)

Two years ago, Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Greuel initiated a motion that would modify the existing law and penalty schedule so that the City could enforce the ban on blocking bike lanes in the City of Los Angeles.

I was there as the Department of Transportation's Michael Uyeno stepped up and said that things were fine the way they were. Uyeno oversees the Bikeways Division. This moment of "fuhgettaboudit!" was quite the reveal.

His advice was roundly ignored and the motion made its way through the Committee and the City Council and on May 14, 2007 San Antonio himself signed the City of LA ordinance #178794 establishing penalty provisions applicable to CVC 21211(b). In other words, if you park a car so that it blocks a bike lane, it's gonna cost $70 and $150 the second time!

Or is it?

Here's an idea. Let's all chip in and get some bikes for the folks over in the LADOT's Bikeways division. Then let's get them to ride with us from downtown, through the 2nd street tunnel (it's fun! Howl, we all do!) up Glendale Blvd., then west on Sunset Blvd. and then Hollywood Blvd. Then let's attack the fallacy of "there's no room!" and let's seriously go after some solutions.

Why aren't there Sharrows on Glendale Blvd? It has parking on both sides, there's loads of room and it's posted for 35 mph, complete with speed zone certification and eligible for radar/laser speed limit enforcement. It even has a body count that would seem to indicate the need for some traffic calming support. Keep in mind it's also alongside a park, a church and loads of residential.

Why are the bike lanes on Sunset Blvd. blocked by vehicles and where is the LADOT's Parking Enforcement? Why aren't they fully trained on the enforcement authority of the prohibition against blocking a bike lane. It's been 2 years! Write the tickets, tow the vehicles, support those who need your help!

Why is Hollywood Blvd. used as storage for 18 Wheelers, in clear defiance of "Anti-Gridlock" signs and "1 hour parking" signs and red curbs and all sorts of prohibitions? Why is all of this ignored by LADOT Parking Enforcement officers who can not possibly claim to not notice these monstrous lane blocking trucks? After all, they also have to swerve to miss them!

Seriously, there is plenty of room in this city for us to all get along, for us to all use the streets and to do it safely and equitably.

Let's get the LADOT up to speed on this concept and then let's get them up to speed on the enforcement of LAMC and CVC and then let's get them up to speed on the innovations that will make our streets safer and more effective for everybody.

"See you on the Streets!"


Patrick Miller said...

I agree 100% its such bullshit.
There are a lot of cities a lot older than L.A. that are way more bike friendly. Not because of more favorable existing infrastructure, or better geography, or even better weather. But out of conscience decision to make those cities more bike compatible.

Keep up the pressure Mr. Box. Its a slow ugly battle and it not going to be any easier in this economic climate.

The struggle to have bikeways added as part of the expo-line planning prove that this is not a problem that L.A. has inherited. It's a problem that we made for ourselves and continue to make worse, by considering bikeways as less than an afterthought.

There should not be one inch of light rail or freeway built put in without mandatory co-existing bikeways.

Rhode Bloch said...

great ideas and it will generate extra revenue for the city..... #LACITY HATES BIKES

Erik said...

Berlin, starting with the Western sectors in the late 1980's and then, after unification in 1990, the East as well, added excellent bicycle facilities to a large, very spread out, 750 year old city (though most of it was built only since 1945 thanks to WW2).

L.A. can't mimic its sister city?

Therese S. said...

Put the bike lanes on sidewalks, that's what Portland, Oregon did. If they're too narrow, as they appear to be in some areas "chopped off" for street widening, then take back enough inches to accommodate the bike lane. Bicyclists shouldn't have to compete with cars, trucks, etc, it's unhealthy, uncomfortable, and unsafe. Also, we could have bike lanes along the LA River and other similar places that bypass streets and get people from one part of the city to the other faster.

Anonymous said...

As someone who doesn't even own a bike...yet...Part of my hesitation to ride a mere 1.4 miles to work each day is the crappy streets in Hollywood; this includes bumps, loose black top and traffic.

But, I've been doing some research and think I'm gonna get a bike. I don't know if I'll ever be a FULL time cyclist, but I'd like to give it a go!

Now to find a bike :)