New bike lanes create new tensions in L.A.

We all know Los Angeles is one of the most car-centric world cities. But L.A. also has a tiny but growing population of people who choose to commute on their bicycles instead of in their cars.

To encourage that trend, the City of Los Angeles is moving forward with an ambitious plan to create hundreds of miles of new bicycle lanes over the next 30 years. Planners at L.A.’s Department of Transportation hope the new lanes will both make cyclists safer and help congestion by encouraging people to leave their car in the garage and pedal to work. That, in turn, is supposed to improve people’s health and the environment.

But not everybody is happy with L.A.’s expanding bicycle lane system. As the system grows, some neighborhood groups and merchant associations believe the bike lanes will only worsen congestion and parking by taking away valuable pavement from cars.

Los Angeles currently has about 300 miles of bike paths, which is a big increase over past years. But there are plans to do even more. L.A. would like to establish a 1,600 mile bike path system over the next 30 years. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Los Angeles currently has about 300 miles of bike paths, which is a big increase over past years. But there are plans to do even more. L.A. would like to establish a 1,600 mile bike path system over the next 30 years. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

 

Depending on the place, bike lanes come in different designs and colors. More elaborate ones are painted green to better catch the eyes of motorists, the thinking being if you see the color, you'll see the cyclist. More expensive bike paths create a physical barrier between the lane for bikes and the lane for cars. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Depending on the place, bike lanes come in different designs and colors. More elaborate ones are painted green to better catch the eyes of motorists, the thinking being if you see the color, you’ll see the cyclist. More expensive bike paths create a physical barrier between the lane for bikes and the lane for cars. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
L.A.'s regular cycling population is now fairly small, but city transportation planners hope that making more bike lanes will lead more people to choose their bikes over their cars for their daily commuting needs. Planners are focused on creating new bike paths along busier city boulevards, where less confident cyclists now fear to pedal because of the automobile traffic. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Transportation planners hope more bike lanes will create more cyclists. Planners are focused on creating new bike paths along busier city boulevards, where less confident cyclists now fear to pedal because of the automobile traffic. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
As L.A.'s bike lane system has grown, so have concerns about how the lanes affect local residents and merchants. Some fear creating new bike lanes on busy city streets will further slow traffic and make it harder to find parking. In response to such concerns, transportation planners and elected officials are holding community forums in neighborhoods where concerns have been raised. This sign is in L.A.'s Eagle Rock neighborhood. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
As L.A.’s bike lane system has grown, so have concerns about how the lanes affect local residents and merchants. Some fear creating new bike lanes on busy city streets will further slow traffic and make it harder to find parking. In response to such concerns, transportation planners and elected officials are holding community forums in neighborhoods where concerns have been raised. This sign is in L.A.’s Eagle Rock neighborhood. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Although more people are cycling in Los Angeles, according to a survey by the League of American Bicyclists, less than one percent of people in L.A. cycle to regulalrly commute. U.S. cities with the largest number of cyclists include Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Washington D.C. Studies show more people bicycle as cities improve their cycling infrastructure. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Although more people are cycling in Los Angeles, according to a survey by the League of American Bicyclists, less than one percent of Angelenos cycle to commute. U.S. cities with the largest number of cycling commuters include Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Washington D.C. Studies show more people bicycle as cities improve their cycling infrastructure. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)