10 active transportation ideas for the next Councilmember in District 5
Once Councilmember Paul Koretz terms out in 2022, the self proclaimed “environmentalist” who has worked to block bike and bus lanes for over a decade — including Uplift Melrose — will be gone. And with this change, we have an opportunity to make real progress in Council District 5.
Here’s a list of suggested projects for the next Councilmember:
1/ Let’s start with a soft ball — physically protect the bike lanes on Santa Monica Bl. from the Beverly Hills border to Sepulveda from moving cars without losing anything. Yes, traffic lanes would need to be narrowed, but that doesn’t take away car capacity, it just makes cars drive slower, which can be a good thing on a street that feels like a highway. By narrowing each 11' lane by just 1', the following configuration becomes possible:
While the city will probably use plastic bollards, if a little more money was found, it would be nice to have a proper concrete curb or even some greenery. This project just requires money to scrape up the thermoplastic paint, re-stripe the street, and protect the bike lane. Politically speaking, it would be a win-win — make people on bikes safer without taking anything away from people driving.
2/ Next up, let’s head over to Westwood — we need to add bike lanes on Westwood Bl between UCLA and the Expo Line. Paul Koretz worked to specifically pull the Westwood Bl. bike lane from the Mobility Plan, and despite vague promises of a facility on Gayley, it never materialized. With the incoming Purple Line extension station at Westwood and Wilshire, it’s more critical than ever that we get a bike lane between that intersection and the UCLA campus, as well as further south to the Expo line.
In Westwood Village, Westwood Bl. is 80' wide, which is wide enough to have a protected bike lane, maintain street parking, maintain a center turn lane, and still have one vehicle traffic lane in each direction. Also, this configuration would help revitalize Westwood Village, which has an awful 32% vacancy rate. When streets feel like a Main St vs. a highway, people are more likely to walk around and patronize businesses — and many would arrive by bike or scooter, bypassing the stress of dealing with parking.
Further south, we need to plug the gap between Westwood/Santa Monica and the Rancho Park Expo line station. This ~1 mile gap is dangerous for UCLA students trying to get to/from the Expo line. At 60' wide, we could add protected bike lanes on each side, maintain a center turn lane, maintain street parking, and still have one vehicle traffic lane in each direction. And while we’re at it, if we continued this treatment for just another half mile, it would connect with the existing bike lanes at Westwood/National, giving Westwood Bl bike lanes for its entire stretch!
3/ Now let’s head over to Century City — it has no street parking on nearly every street, and very few cars on very wide streets — a great opportunity to add bike lanes to/from the future Purple Line Metro station, and fix a “black hole” in our bike network. Avenue of the Stars has a planned bike lane on the City’s mobility plan. Century Park West and Century Park East both have more lanes than they need for the amount of vehicle traffic. Adding a protected 2-way cycle track on the west side of Century Park West and a protected 2-way cycle track on the east side of Century Park East would be easy/quick wins on streets that are overbuilt and have very few driveways. On Avenue of the Stars and Constellation, two vehicle traffic lanes in each direction is sufficient — making enough room for protected bike lanes on both sides. In addition to helping people get to/from the Purple Line station, it would also help get people to the Century City Mall without having to drive — increasing foot traffic to businesses.
4/ Let’s talk about the Sepulveda Pass — we need to implement the Mobility Plan’s bike lane on Sepulveda. Sepulveda is the only reasonable way to bike between the City and the Valley on the westside of Los Angeles. It also already has bike lanes between Montana and Sunset, and Mountaingate and Valley Vista. Plugging this 3.7 mile gap is critical to getting people to/from the Valley safely outside of a car. Then, extend the bike lanes further south from Montana to National, where existing bike lanes pick up and go all the way to Venice Bl. While some may say that “no one” is likely to use this route as it’s too hilly for the average rider, e-bikes are changing that very quickly.
5/ Wilshire Blvd from Comstock to Selby already has a bike lane on it, and there is plenty of room on Wilshire to physically protect the existing bike lane. At 95' wide in most sections and little to no street parking, we can maintain the 3 vehicle traffic lanes in each direction and the center turn lane and still have the needed 16' to have protected bike lanes on both sides of the street. We also need to extend the bike lanes past where they end at Selby Ave. further west to the VA. Getting past the 405 on Wilshire is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in CD5 for people on bikes — and the VA provides a safe and easy way to connect with San Vicente’s bike lane. Lastly, let’s extend the bus lane West from Selby to the VA, so it can connect with CD11’s red painted bus lanes.
6/ Melrose has a protected bike lane on our 2035 Mobility Plan from Virgil to La Cienega — in other words, for the entire street within the City of Los Angeles. It’s time to implement the 2035 Mobility Plan within CD5, and revive Uplift Melrose. The project has wide support in the community, including from the Mid City West Neighborhood Council, the Melrose BID, all schools along the route, and most businesses and residents. Melrose has also been suffering from blight and crime lately, and this project would give it a positive boost in the right direction. And while we’re at it, let’s see if we can find funding to extend the Uplift Melrose treatment further west, from Fairfax to La Cienega, giving Melrose an “Uplift” for its entire section in CD5.
7/ Venice Bl, at the south end of the district, has protected bike lanes in the 2035 Mobilty Plan for the entire section in CD5. At over 100', the street is also incredibly wide, thanks to the red cars that used to run down its median. Let’s implement something like Venice Blvd For All, and bring protected bike lanes to the only street that goes from the ocean to DTLA entirely in the City of Los Angeles. Adding dedicated bus lanes (per the mobility plan) would be great, too. There is plenty of room to do both and still leave 2 vehicle traffic lanes on both sides.
8/ San Vicente Bl/Burton Way are two other streets that are over-wide compared to other major LA streets, due to them previously having street cars in the middle. Having excessively wide streets is a net negative for people that drive — it encourages speeding and can lead to deadly crashes. Burton Way already has bike lanes on it (LA ends at Doheny), and San Vicente has them for portions. Now is the time to physically protect the bike lanes and add them where the don’t yet exist, and make this unusually shaped street a key east/west and north/south corridor for people on bikes.
9/ Ohio Ave has protected bike lanes on the 2035 Mobility Plan from the 405 to Westwood Bl, and CD11 is already implementing improvements West of the 405. It would be great to add protected bike lanes from the 405 to Westwood on Ohio.
10/ There is a small section of the LA River in CD5 — and it would be great to add a bike path on it between White Oak and Lindley. Eventually, of course, there will be a continuous bike path from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach along the LA River.