Despite May being recognized as “Bike Month” in Los Angeles, virtually no bicycle improvements were celebrated, installed, or announced in the greater Northeast LA area or adjacent neighborhoods. But this month was not without continued gradual progress, and NELA’s Councilmember Huizar championed several of the improvements or forward momentum in month’s headlines, so kudos to him for his continued focus on sustainable transportation.
New(ish) All-Way Stop at Oak Grove Drive and Nolden
It’s unclear when this all-way stop was installed, according to Google Maps Streetview it was likely in the last few months but it didn’t make any headlines…until now! The intersection has limited visibility and Oak Grove Drive has increasingly become a victim of cut-through traffic so all told the stop signs are a welcomed addition to allow for safer maneuvering and to curb speeding. (Bonus: If you walk up the public stairway along Nolden here, there’s a nice little pocket park with a bench a free little library, well worth checking out if you’re in the area).
Councilmember O’Farrell Investigates Opportunity for Bicycle Infrastructure
For better or for worse, Mitch O’Farrell is one of few councilmembers that engages with constituents on Twitter. So when twitter user @Bike_LA asked if the recently resurfaced Bellevue Avenue could get bike lanes, O’Farrell said he’d look into it. He responded that Bellevue, at 42 feet wide, is “too narrow” for bike lanes. Go figure. That didn’t stop @Bike_LA from showing that there is indeed room for at least a bike lane in one direction.
Baxter Street Receives Traffic Calming in Record Time
In April, LA Times writer Steve Lopez brought attention to growing cut-through traffic on Baxter Street, a notoriously steep hillside street. The article subsequently went viral with news stations and blogs picking up the article. Since the article was published, Mitch O’Farrell met with residents and city departments, and made addressing the issue a priority. Now, less than two months since Lopez wrote his article, Baxter Street and several other streets in the vicinity have received traffic calming measures to deter cut-through commuters. No public hearings, no months long debate. Baxter Street was recognized as a real safety issue and transportation officials acted at the urging of Councilmember O’Farrell. So yes, the best way to get an issue addressed is to have Steve Lopez write an article about it. If only he could write about local impacts of climate change, traffic deaths, and unjust transportation system, maybe we would see some progress in those areas.
DTLA 7th Street Bike Lane Improved, Hope for Bike Lanes on 5th and 6th Street
One block of the 7th Street bike lane in Downtown LA received an unexpected upgrade, providing a minor bit of protection and high-visibility green paint where none existed before. The recently completed Wilshire Grand tower was supposed to pay for protected bike lanes along all of 7th Street in Downtown, but it’s unclear if that will still happen. Meanwhile, advocates in Skid Row have campaigned admirably for bike lanes on 5th and 6th Street, and their efforts appear to have paid off. Councilmember Huizar introduced a council motion to have the two streets added to the Mobility Plan’s Bicycle Enhanced Network. With a formal designation in the City’s Mobility Plan, it will be easier to direct resources and planning efforts toward actually implementing infrastructure. Thank you to the advocates of Skid Row and to Councilmember Huizar for listening.
Car-Free LA River Bridge Breaks Ground, Metro Advances Efforts to Extend LA River Bike Path
The long-anticipated, multi-modal Kretz Bridge crossing the LA River finally broke ground in May. The bridge will accommodate horses, pedestrians, and bicyclists, helping improve access to the LA River and adjacent park spaces. Meanwhile, Metro is making progress toward closing the current gap in the LA River bike path through downtown LA.
Updated “High Injury Network” Includes Glendale Boulevard
The City’s “Vision Zero” program prioritizes traffic safety improvements along the most dangerous transportation corridors in the City. The enormously wide portion of Glendale Boulevard in Atwater was added to the City’s list of priority corridors known as the “High Injury Network,” the series of streets were most fatal and serious traffic collisions occur. While this is a dubious honor, it means limited transportation dollars can be leveraged to improve safety on the NELA street, which is a good thing (in a backwards kind of way).
Livability in Los Feliz and Beyond
- Vermont Avenue Dedicated Bus Lane: Metro is weighing options for a dedicated bus line along Vermont Avenue. The northern end of the line would be in Los Feliz.
- New Burbank Airport Metrolink Station: A new Metrolink station has opened up at the Burbank airport, improving connections to and from the airport via transit.
- A regional plan for bike and pedestrian paths throughout the San Gabriel Valley is seeking input on some draft recommendations for improvements.
- City May Fund Environmental Study for Arts District Metro Station: Councilmember Huizar introduced a council motion asking the City to fund an environmental study for expanded Metro rail service to the Arts District neighborhood.
- Ground-Breaking for Boyle Heights Safe Routes to School project: Traffic safety improvements in Boyle Heights, funded through a “Safe Routes To School” program, had a ground-breaking ceremony. Improvements include mini roundabouts, sidewalk widening and repairs, and new traffic signals.
- Fashion District Pedestrian Improvements Completed: Curb extensions, sidewalk repairs, new street trees, and pedestrian-scaled lighting were introduced to a stretch of Los Angeles Street in Downtown LA. (There are some great quotes from Councilmember Huizar about his vision for Downtown LA in the Downtown LA News coverage of the project!)
- Possible Hollywood Boulevard Master Plan: Frustrated by a patchwork of inconsistent repair and maintenance work along Hollywood Boulevard, Councilmember O’Farrell is looking to fund a “Master Plan” for the City’s famed Hollywood Boulevard. It’s unclear what the Master Plan will entail, but at it’s best it could lay out a vision for a more pedestrian friendly boulevard. At it’s worst, this will be little more than an aesthetic and maintenance plan.
- Parking Meter Revenue on North Broadway in Lincoln Heights to be Returned to Community: The City will pilot a program that allows a portion of revenue generated by parking meters along North Broadway in Lincoln Heights to fund local transportation improvements. With rush-hour parking restrictions recently removed along the commercial corridor, this is an excellent complementary measure that could perhaps fund the build-out of existing temporary curb extensions at intersections.