Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Los Angeles' 7th Street Earns its (Bicycle) Stripes

The first roads in the LA Bike Plan have gotten their stripes. At 7th and Alvarado streets this morning, LA city leaders including Counciman Ed Reyes will inaugurate new commuter bike lanes by pedaling into Macarthur Park with other bicyclists.

To be clear, the lanes already exist. Bicycle activists and city leaders will be celebrating the end of the first 2.2 miles of downtown bike lanes for commuters - maybe city workers will actually paint the last of the lanes today (and then blow on the ceremonial painting so that it dries faster, presumably). In the next phase, the City of LA will add nearly 3 miles of bike lanes through downtown to Soto Street in Boyle Heights. Measure R money - LA voters approved a half-cent sales tax 3 years ago for transportation projects - is paying for the paint and the manpower.

The LA County Bicycle Coalition is massing riders to show solidarity for the progress. They see the new ability of Westlake riders from Catalina and Figueroa as a victory for the years of advocacy that have preceded the lane painting. Some LACBC riders are doing their own ride to the press conference, to show approval.They're meeting at Mariachi Plaza in half an hour.

It's worth remembering that these numbers, while welcomed as good news by cyclists, are tiny compared to the totality of the city's plans - 1680 miles of bikeways in the long, long, long run. The city has committed to two hundred miles of routes painted and provided in city streets every 5 years, which is far more than it does now. Not everybody is happy with the broad and detailed plan.

In the LA Weekly, Ryan Deto pointed out last month that "[s]ome 1,300 of the 1,684 promised miles are still incomplete, and the city is limping along, completing 40 miles of bike lanes per year." Deto argues the plan would take 35 years to finish, even if someone stuck with it. (One reader wrote in to say that bike riders already have enforceable rights on LA's roads.)

Is the city of LA doing what it should do to support bikeways and bicyclists? 


(Photo courtesy LACBC.)