Did you know that the city of West Hollywood is planning a huge redesign of La Brea Avenue? It’s is an amazing opportunity to fix a street that currently suffers from some of the worst congestion and hazardous intersections in West Hollywood. Fortunately, La Brea also enjoys a high concentration of great destinations, diverse growth, and proximity to pleasant neighborhoods. A bike lane would be an easy, inexpensive way to capitalize on West Hollywood’s easternmost assets, and effectively reduce the inconveniences of a city that’s growing by leaps and bounds.
Sound the Alarm
WeHo’s Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration incorrectly claims that LA plans to paint sharrow stencils on La Brea. But the city of LA has proposed bike lanes — not sharrows — for La Brea Ave in its 2010 bike plan.
If West Hollywood’s portion of La Brea isn’t built with connectivity to LA’s future bike lanes, it could cost a lot of money to fix — and it could even cost lives.
So what can you do?
Contact the City of West Hollywood and let them know that we need bike lanes. The comment period for the Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration closes very soon: 5pm on February 28.
Follow the Existing Guidelines
As luck would have it, the city of West Hollywood has already conducted a study that calls for bike lanes on La Brea. The recommendations of the Bicycle Task Force include the installation of Class II (that is, non-buffered) bike lanes on La Brea Ave. The report was unanimously approved by City Council in December of 2011.
La Brea bike lanes are also indicated by West Hollywood’s Climate Action Plan, the General Plan, and even the request for proposals for this very project.
Wouldn’t Bike Lanes Just Slow Traffic Down?
No. It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but when done correctly, bike lanes can help move traffic along faster.
How’s that? Well, bike lanes keep cyclists separated from faster-moving traffic, eliminating the need for cars to change lanes or suddenly slow down to pass bikes. They also reduce conflicts between bikes and cars at intersections. And dedicated lanes allow bikes to move safely forward through traffic, rather than swerving hazardously between stopped cars.
And of course, the biggest benefit of all: with more bike lanes, more people bike instead of drive, so there’s an overall reduction in traffic on the road.
Safety Over Aesthetics
What’s more important for La Brea: a giant landscaped median that simply looks nice, or bike lanes that can actually save residents’ lives?
There’s no argument that bike lanes will make La Brea safer for everyone — not just cyclists, but pedestrians and motorists, too.
When Long Beach installed bike lanes, bike accidents decreased by 80%, vehicle accidents decreased 44%, and sidewalk-riding decreased from 70% to 28%. LADOT’s own study showed that bike lanes can reduce accidents by 35%. That reduction isn’t just for cyclists — it also includes collisions between cars.
With numerous new pedestrian-oriented projects under construction on this already-busy street, bike lanes are an easy, cost-effective way to reduce accidents and injuries. If the street’s wide enough for a median, it’s wide enough for bike lanes.
- May 2010: La Brea Streetscape Plan
- City of West Hollywood Operating Budget, 2012-2013 & 2013-2014
- “The concept is to bring the streetscape enhancements previously installed through the Santa Monica Blvd Reconstruction Project and La Brea Gateway Redevelopment Project to the rest of La Brea Ave.”
- 3/1/2011: Los Angeles 2010 Bicycle Plan
- Page 14 of the plan specifies that the Los Angeles portions, which are immediately to the north and south of West Hollywood’s portions, are slated to be backbone bike lanes.
- 9/6/2011: City of West Hollywood Climate Action Plan
- Page 3-13: “West Hollywood will improve streets to provide better support for bikes, busses, and pedestrians. Other steps the City will take to influence resident travel behavior include improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure throughout the City, encouraging transit improvements, and managing parking demand and supply.”
- Page 3-15: “the City will coordinate with the City of Los Angeles and City of Beverly Hills to connect West Hollywood bike routes to existing and planned routes in these cities“
- 9/19/2011: West Hollywood General Plan: Mobility
- Page 6-25: “Utilize the City’s planning processes, such as street improvements or area plans, to identify areas where better bicycle route connections can be implemented and increased bicycle parking can be provided.”
- 11/1/2011: West Hollywood Bicycle Task Force Report
- “La Brea. Class 2 — bike lane (unprotected) — North/South from Fountain to Romaine to connect with planned LA bike plan class 2 upgrade.”
- 3/13/2012: Request for Proposals
- “There is a possibility in the future, that a regional bike lane will be installed on this section of La Brea Avenue. The consultant will be asked to do an evaluation the road geometry and lane width configurations to see if future bike lanes can be accommodated on La Brea Avenue. If so, the width of the median islands shall not be designed so large that this future bike lane cannot be accommodated in the future. The idea is for the consultant to design the project in a way that bike lanes can be installed in the future with simple striping modifications.”
- 2/7/2013: Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration
- “…the project will NOT have a significant impact on the environment.”
- 2/7/2013: CEQA Initial Study and Negative Declaration
- “The project looked into incorporating dedicated bike lanes into the project, however the public right of way and the geometry of the street did not allow for it. There is room for a future share the lane arrows (sharrows) for bicyclist that can be installed. This is consistent with what the City of Los Angeles has identified for La Brea Avenue north and south of the project in their 2010 Bicycle Plan Component of the City of Los Angles [sic] Transportation Element.”
- According to the study, here are the ares in which the plan would have “No Impact:”
- “an applicable plan, policy or regulation adopted for the purpose of reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases“
- “an applicable plan, ordinance or policy establishing measures of effectiveness for the performance of the circulation system, taking into account all modes of transportation including mass transit and non-motorized travel and relevant components of the circulation system, including but not limited to intersections, streets, highways and freeways, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and mass transit”
- “an applicable congestion management program, including, but not limited to level of service standards and travel demand measures, or other standards established by the county congestion management agency for designated roads or highways”
- “Substantially increase hazards due to a design feature”
- “Conflict with adopted policies, plans or programs regarding public transit, bicycle, or pedestrian facilities, or otherwise decrease the performance or safety of such facilities”