Update on MyFig

Last week, LACBC staff participated in a bike ride with LADOT engineers to tour the new protected bike infrastructure on Figueroa Street. This has the potential to be a vital transportation corridor that could safely and efficiently move people on bikes from downtown to Exposition Park. We’ve heard from our community, and experienced it riding it many times, and we feel that there are gaps that keep MyFig from operating properly as a complete street that works well for people on bikes.

Image courtesy Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Below are some of the points that we’ll be bringing up with a meeting we have with LADOT staff next week, and we invite you to add your own suggestions for us to include in the comment section below. MyFig will be a blueprint for how bike infrastructure will be implemented in the future, so we need to make sure the schematics are functional and intuitive, and work for the community.

 

  • Community Engagement. LADOT needs to meet with constituents for feedback as these projects develop. Projects like MyFig must retain input concerning the human element, and can’t just be about engineering. Our communities are the experts when it comes to using our streets, so they must be engaged in building them
  • Cars Parking in Bike lanes. There are portions of Figueroa that, despite the line markings and green paint, often have drivers in the bike lane. This problem was a big issue in front of the Convention Center, and LADOT addressed this by adding bollards. There are clearly other areas, especially between MLK & Exposition, that need addressing.
  • Confusing Signalization. For the portions where motorized traffic has turn arrows, the additional bike signals are confusing. Understanding the sensor locations, phasing, and demand-based timing for cyclists isn’t intuitive. Not knowing if or when the signals will change can lead to confusion and can lead to people running the lights. The latter can lead to increased enforcement, particularly targeted at low income communities and people of color. In addition, the cycles are not usable for large groups, and bad timing can “trap” cyclists at every intersection. The dialogue for how cyclists are supposed to interact is confusing for all users of the roadway, which leads to unsafe streets.
  • Tighter Turn Radii for Cars. There are a few portions of MyFig where drivers making right hand turns into driveways can be sharp and endanger people on bikes. We recommend adding bollards closer toward the driveway to make drivers slow down more before making their turn.
  • Aesthetics. Most of the street furniture is comprised of bollards making Figueroa look utilitarian. More medians and planting will make the space more human.
  • Consistent Infrastructure. MyFig fluctuates between protected, buffered and standard Class II bike lanes. The inconsistency of providing uniform protection for cyclists may curb ridership.
  • Signage and Language Accessibility. While the current informational signs along Figueroa are helpful in explaining the new configuration, they are all in English. We know that many low-income riders (and drivers) in our City speak Spanish, and signs should be translated for these road users as well.

6 Comments

  • lauren gallagher says:

    Thanks for addressing these issues. As a resident of DTLA/Figueroa St., and a regular user of the corridor, I’m thankful for the improvements but also have faced some new issues particularly between Exposition Blvd & Pico Blvd.

    The “protected” by parked cars bike lane causes total unawareness of bikers to drivers when they turn right into parking lots, especially near USC. 90% of the time Im riding there, I have to slam on my brakes at least once for a driver who wants to make a quick right turn that passes through the bike lane, because they don’t/aren’t able carefully slow down in the main flow of traffic to look without taking their action w/o being honked at etc.

    Drivers don’t know what a yellow flashing right arrow means. Overall its unclear in play.

    Drivers also now use the bike lanes as a place to wait in before they take a turn into traffic left or right. At that moment when the bike lane is blocked, the biker has to make a choice to swerve or stop. Its unclear what the safest move would be in this scenario.

  • Karen says:

    I hope in the future that bike lines are wider and paved so that you don’t have to consistently ride in the seam of the pavement between the gutter and the narrow asphalt you’re allotted. If something is meant to be a major bike corridor, it should be wide enough for bikes to actually pass slower traffic. It would also be nice if they paved over all the little potholes right in the middle of the bike lane, and the gutted/rough pavement caused by trucks and other large vehicles parking in the bike lanes before they were protected.

    Ultimately it would be great if the lanes were grade-separate, in a way that encouraged drivers of cars to view entering them the same way you would view driving over a sidewalk or raised crosswalk–keeping them at road level just encourages drivers to view them as part of “their” street that they can use as they please.

  • Evan B. says:

    I agree with these points, as I have experienced a lot of the issues expressed. Dealing with drivers who pull out at driveways only to sit there until traffic moves is something I don’t see ever changing, unless drivers improve their habits. Also, I think Figueroa Way needs to be closed, or improved, because every car/bus just doubles up and blocks bikes/peds from crossing.
    Why wasn’t Figueroa made to be all one-way? It turns one-way at 7th, and Flower St is one-way in the opposite direction? I think it would’ve addressed a lot of issues.
    Also, the bus stop at Fig & Washington Blvd by the Chevron is really dangerous.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate says:

    How about the repeal of mandatory use laws (e.g. CVC 21208). A faster/more experience cyclist will only get frustrated by this infrastructure. The last thing you want to do is compound the cyclist’s frustration with harassment from law enforcement officers. At a minimum, sharrows should be painted in the right hand general purpose lane.

  • cbernstein says:

    The complication of the bike only signal is prohibitive. Why do we need this? I’ve never understood why non-car traffic must press a button to activate a largely meaningless walk/bike signal. In most cities the walk symbol is activated automatically with the car traffic green light. It doesn’t change anything for the cars. The pedestrian button in most cities actually interrupts the car traffic to give the green light to the pedestrian quicker. Perhaps some day.

  • John says:

    I tried riding the new path for a week between 7th and Jefferson (almost the entire length), and I gave up and switched back to Grand Ave, where I feel much safer and that shaves 5 minutes off my commute compared to Figueroa. A number of problems made me switch:

    1) The southbound lane has no bus islands, and the bollards box you in until just before bus stops, so you’re constantly in conflict with buses. “Complete streets” is a nice idea in theory, but I’m much happier in bike lanes on streets with no buses. I used to feel safer around buses than most other vehicles, because drivers seemed to be well trained to look for cyclists. But over the past eighteen months, something seems to have changed, such that I now have almost daily close calls with buses changing lanes directly into me. Now I’d rather the city/county separate bike traffic from bus traffic.

    2) The southbound lane also has no good street markings for when the lane disappears and runs into a right turn lane for cars–you’re just ejected into traffic, and there’s not even a dotted line in most places to suggest to drivers that they should be aware of cyclists that have to merge across the turn lane. This is part of the “consistent infrastructure” point that you make, but it’s more than that. The streets need more paint/signage alerting drivers to look out for cyclists (and things to prevent them from doing certain things–like the idea of forcing tighter turning radii).

    3) Most people have focused on taxis parking in the bike lanes (especially near the convention center), but I also saw empty LAPD vehicles (not in emergency situations) parked in the middle of the bike lane every day I rode. (This is rampant everywhere, not just on Fig, of course.) This is demoralizing, because it signals that no one is going to enforce the right of cyclists to use the lanes.

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