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LA Starts Process to Close Gaps in the Backbone Bike Network

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More forward progress on the city's work to transform its streets into safer places for bikers and pedestrians: yesterday, the Planning Department sent out a notice that they're preparing an environmental review for the first year of the Five-Year Implementation Strategy (pdf) of Los Angeles's 2010 Bicycle Plan (pdf)--it lays out a schedule for creating more than 40 miles of bike infrastructure. LA City Planner David Somers tells Curbed that "Every facility on there is shown to complete a gap in the network"--the "backbone" network of the massive system of bicycle infrastructure envisioned in the 2010 plan. Projects in the first year include north-south corridors on the Westside along Bundy/Centinela, the Avenue of the Stars, Westwood Boulevard, and Sepulveda Boulevard; a connection from the Valley to Hollywood on Cahuenga Boulevard; and extensions of east-west corridors around Downtown, such as Cesar Chavez/Mission and Venice Boulevard. Somers also explains that the projects listed in the forthcoming environmental impact report for the Five-Year Implementation Strategy require an extra level of environmental review. In contrast, recent bike lanes in Downtown, including a connection to Union Station, were deemed to not have any "additional environmental impact, such as an increase in bicycle traffic."

As promised by LADOT in earlier reports, the Bike Plan EIR is bundled with the environmental review for the Figueroa Streetscape (MyFigueroa) Project. The MyFigueroa project could include the city's first separated cycle track: "a combination of one way bike paths (in the direction of adjacent traffic) within the existing roadbed and next to the curb, separated from vehicular traffic lanes by physical barriers, and standard bike lanes with painted buffers along a 3-mile stretch of Figueroa Street through Downtown and South Los Angeles from 7th Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd." And of course, none of those additions would be possible without a little subtraction: "Vehicular travel lanes would be reduced where necessary..."

Although the current version of MyFigueroa only achieves the "Good" designation of the "Good," "Better," and "Best" possibilities presented in initial stages (as designed by LA-based design firm Melendrez) the NOP for the MyFigueroa environmental review doesn't just cover the buffered bike lane between Downtown and Expo Park. Here are more of the details about the facilities that will be studied in the EIR:

-- "This project would also include a one-way westbound bicycle facility [along six blocks of 11th Street in Downtown Los Angeles from Broadway to Figueroa Street]." This facility is especially notable because it would coexist with the "Downtown LA Streetcar project, as currently envisioned, [including] track service on both 11th Street and Figueroa Street."

-- "Bill Robertson Lane, from Exposition Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will remain two way, with one travel lane in each direction. Bike lanes with a painted, striped buffer will be provided northbound and southbound on Bill Robertson Lane. On-street parking on the west side of Bill Robertson opposite the Roy A. Anderson Recreation Center between Leighton Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard would be retained." A possible sidewalk extension on the east side of Bill Robertson Lane would create a "more generous pedestrian promenade."

-- "...streetscape improvements, including pedestrian scale street lighting, street trees and planting areas [which could manage and cleanse stormwater from the roadway], repaired sidewalk paving and enhanced paving at transit stops, enhanced crosswalk treatments [using materials such as Streetprint], transit furniture, and public art."

The NOP says that the "Installation of the bicycle lanes is anticipated to take less than 12 months and would begin sometime in 2012 or 2013."

· Figueroa Street Overhaul Back on the (Separated Cycle) Track [Curbed LA]