By Edwin Folven, 7/12/2012
Cycling advocate and local resident Jeff Jacobberger knows the fastest ways to get around the Wilshire area on two-wheels, and one of the many routes he uses is San Vicente Boulevard. But many times while riding on San Vicente, even during periods of light traffic, Jacobberger said he gets very nervous.
“I ride on San Vicente a lot, and that can be a scary street because there are no bike lanes,” Jacobberger said. “What is strange to me is that you have three lanes in each direction and I’ll be riding when there is no traffic on the street, and there will be a car riding up right behind me and laying on the horn because I’m not going fast enough.”
The City of Los Angeles is looking to give cyclists some relief on San Vicente Boulevard by installing bike lanes between Venice and Wilshire boulevards, and between Wilshire and Beverly boulevards. The city is in the midst of a multi-year implementation of its Bicycle Master Plan, which would make it easier for cyclists to get around, while also reducing vehicular traffic. The initial planning for the Bicycle Master Plan began in 2008/09, and some bike lanes and sharrows — which are markings on the road designating a street as a bike route — were installed in 2010. A majority of the work is still to come, with city officials hoping to install 1,680 miles of bike lanes throughout the city by 2035.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation is currently working on “shovel-ready” projects that can be created within the next year, including new bike lanes on San Vicente Boulevard between Wilshire and Beverly boulevards. Jonathan Hui, a transportation engineering associate for the LADOT, said the bike lanes on that stretch of San Vicente Boulevard do not need an environmental review because there would be no changes to parking or traffic lanes. In addition, new bike lanes will be installed on Burton Way, from San Vicente Boulevard to the Beverly Hills border, within the next year.
“There are potential projects scattered all around,” Hui added. “We have already put sharrows on Fourth Street and Fountain Avenue, and there have been some completed recently downtown.”
Adding bike lanes on San Vicente between Wilshire and Venice boulevards would require an environmental impact report (EIR). The idea is to create a continuous cycling route from the Mid-City through West Hollywood, where bike lanes were recently installed on San Vicente Boulevard from Beverly Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard. Bike lanes are also being considered for 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea avenues.
At a meeting on Tuesday, officials identified streets where bike lanes could be installed. The new bike lanes may be a couple of years away, but the city wants to get the project rolling so that funding and can be identified and plans can be formulated, said David Somers, a bicycle planner for the Los Angeles Department of City Planning.
“It’s a first crack at what’s next for the facilities,” Somers said. “We are looking to fill in the gaps in the system, and they are creating a draft list of locations.” Council President Herb Wesson, 10th District, represents the area where the San Vicente Boulevard bike lanes are proposed. Ed Johnson, a spokesman for Wesson, said the council president is supportive of bicycling, but added that there is a concern about safety on San Vicente Boulevard. Bicycle safety is a big concern throughout the city. A cyclist was struck and killed on Pacific Coast Highway the same day city officials were considering the new streets for bike lanes.
“A lot of people use [San Vicente] when they commute, and although the speed limit is thirty-five, it’s not surprising to see people doing forty or forty-five miles per hour,” Johnson said. “[Bicycling] is something that ought to be encouraged, but we have to make sure it is safe.”
Paul Michael Neuman, a spokesman for City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, added that Koretz is also supportive of bicycling, but is opting to take a “wait-and-see” approach as to specifically where he would like to see bike lanes installed.
Jacobberger is optimistic new bike lanes will be created soon, and said they will make cycling safer. He also stated that new lanes on San Vicente Boulevard would make cycling a more attractive mode of transportation to reach the subway once it is built under Wilshire Boulevard, and new bike lanes on 6th Street would make it easier to bike to the Farmers Market or Museum Row.
“It would be great for this neighborhood,” Jacobberger added. “There is stuff that is a walkable distance, but a lot of people are afraid to ride and are waiting for the infrastructure.”