Springing Forward in DTLA

Earlier this month, Spring Street saw a beautiful transformation through Downtown Los Angeles.  As phase one of Councilmember Huizar’s DTLA Forward project, the thoroughfare went through a new complete street redesign and now features a car protected bike lane on the left side of the street, and reduced bus-bicycle conflicts.

From the project site: “In coordination with City departments and civic and community organizations, DTLA Forward is an initiative launched by Councilmember Huizar to improve traffic flow, pedestrian and bicyclists’ access and safety, as well as increase green and public space in Downtown Los Angeles.”

Last Thursday, members of LACBC attended the ribbon cutting for the project, where Deputy Executive Director of Advocacy Cesar Hernandez spoke on behalf of the bicycle community. He thanked the Councilmember for prioritizing safe streets for people walking and biking, and for working with LACAN and LACBC in bringing bike lanes to Skid Row. Other speakers included Councilmember Jose Huizar, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, and Bureau of Street Services Director Adel Hagekhalil. Councilmember Huizar noted that the improvements are a big step forward for LA, and that the new design prioritizes people, rather than moving cars.

As the LACBC office happens to be on Spring Street between 6th and 7th, we’ve gotten the chance to ride the new lane multiple times a day. The lane is wide, and being able to ride free from bus traffic is a real boon. There’s a bit of getting used to regarding the pedestrian and bicycle signal timing on 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th streets, as the left-turn arrow gets priority over pedestrians and bicyclists.

Drivers are still getting used to the new configuration, and while cars and delivery trucks in the bike lane are certainly an issue, we’ve seen LADOT out on the streets often throughout the day, informing drivers of the new design. The street also has some temporary informational signage hung for pedestrians, in both English and Spanish.

Future phases of the project will see improvements to Main Street, permanent concrete barriers in place between car parking and the bike lane, and concrete islands at intersections to increase pedestrian safety. As this project evolves, below are some of the recommendations LACBC staff will be bringing to a meeting with LADOT regarding the project. Have you ridden the new Spring Street? What do you think? Have suggestions to add for our meeting? Add your comments below!

  1. Place bollards between car parking spots and the bike lane. While many bollards are now in place, LADOT needs to make it more difficult for people to drive or park in the bike lane. Parking enforcement alone has its limitations, and is not a scalable solution.
  2. Make sure valets know where to properly set up. Blocking the bike lane is not limited to Spring St. Main & 4th and Main & 2nd also often have valets set up in the bike lane.
  3. Communicate new street design to film crews. Bike lanes are not parking spaces and the parking division should not have the ability to grant permits to block off the bike lanes in the first place.
  4. Paint the bike lane green. If the bike lanes were painted green, like just about everywhere else in the US, it would be even more obvious to drivers that they are parking in a spot where they shouldn’t be.
  5. Add permanent signage and street markings. For those new to the area, guidance to this unique configuration is needed as people get used to parking away from the curbs and identifying the markings. Some loading zones are painted both yellow on the curb and in the bounding box for marking. We’d like to see this done in other places, especially in red zones.

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