A growing body of research underlines the many safety benefits of physically-protected bike/rollways, not just for people on bikes, but for everyone on the road. ActiveSGV thus applauded a March 5, 2019 motion from Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis directing the Department of Public Works to assess the feasibility and cost of converting the County's existing network of Class II Bike Lanes to Class IV Protected Bikeways.
Los Angeles County as a whole continues to suffer from troublingly high rate of serious roadway injuries and fatalities. The very clear safety issues on our streets remains a significant barrier to greater adoption and normalization of healthy, sustainable, zero-emission modes of transportation such as walking, biking, skateboarding, and scooting. Making matters worse, for decades LA County has criminalized the use of low cost, sustainable modes of micro-mobility on County sidewalks. In contrast to many other cities in the region, it remains illegal to ride a bike, skateboard, scooter, or other wheeled device on any sidewalk in unincorporated County, regardless of age of user or the continued lack of streets designed to safely accommodate these modes. As a result, people of all ages, including students, are faced with the choice of putting their own lives in harm's way, or risking a several hundred dollar ticket, to get from home to school or work while on a bike, skateboard, or scooter. Not surprisingly many choose the latter, and every year some of these individuals are cited for doing so. Since launching a "Traffic Diversion Program" with the El Monte District Count in 2017, ActiveSGV has helped dozens of residents have their citations and court fees waived for sidewalk riding. In most cases these individuals rely on low-cost modes of active transportation as their primary means of mobility, and cannot easily afford the high cost of these citations.
Buffered Bikeways: a Golden Opportunity?
One of the primary reasons ActiveSGV was founded almost a decade ago was to support the development of a cohesive network of protected bike/rollways. The County's review of existing bikeways within the 2010 Bicycle Master Plan, which lacked protected, on-street bikeways, was therefore warmly received by staff, volunteers, and members who live, work, shop, or just pass through one or more of the many unincorporated communities within the San Gabriel Valley.
As the image above illustrate, Class II buffered bike lanes offer separation for people on bikes from moving vehicles via a striped buffer generally several feet in width. Over the past decade multiple studies have shown that vertical infrastructure such as bollards, delineators, or even parked vehicles provide a safer environment for people on bikes than painted lines alone. By reducing the likelihood of high-speed rear collisions, protected bikeways result in fewer severe injuries and fatalities when collisions occur.
July 2019 - County Recommends PBLs
In July the Department of Public Works released the results of its protected bike/rollway study (the full report can be downloaded here, or viewed above). Of 46 miles of existing Class II bike/rollways in unincorporated LA County, staff determined that 6.4 miles could be feasibly converted to Class IV protected bike/rollways at this time. A number of other lane miles were identified as requiring further study due to existing parking and driveways, or not having sufficient space for a buffer. None of the recommended conversions included a parking-protected lane at this time, a potential opportunity for further review and analysis given the widespread adoption and use of this treatment in other cities across the United States and world.
If you would like to see the County advance protected bike/rollways and safer streets, we strongly encourage you to contact your County Supervisor and let them know. Unsure what district you live in? Find out here.
Contact Information for LA County Board of Supervisors
District 1 - Supervisor Hilda Solis
District 2 - Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
District 3 - Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
District 4 - Supervisor Janice Hahn
District 5 - Supervisor Kathryn Barger
Want to learn more? Check out ActiveSGV's new podcast, ActiveLab