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For downtown cyclists, this green also means go

The Los Angeles Times: For downtown cyclists, this green also means go

The bright green bicycle lane on Spring Street is aimed at reducing collisions and helping cyclists feel safer navigating downtown Los Angeles.

By Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times
November 20, 2011

The latest bicycle lane in Los Angeles has an interesting twist: It's bright green.

The color is aimed at reducing collisions and to help cyclists feel safer on their north-south commute on Spring Street through bustling downtown, where two-wheeled travel is on the rise.

At 1.5 miles long — from Cesar Chavez Avenue to 9th Street — the lane is the first in downtown and the first full-color lane in the city.

"The really exciting thing with this bike lane is it goes right past City Hall. It links with Olvera Street … and down to the downtown core," said Alexis Lantz of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. "Our leaders will come out and see it every day."

City leaders planned to unveil the lane Monday. Work crews over the weekend, battling a downpour, were able to complete most of the lane with only a few touch-ups outstanding, officials said.

The lane is 6 feet wide and next to a 4-foot buffer zone, leaving an 8-foot parking lane on the west side of the street. Buses are allowed to cross over the buffer and green lane to make a stop but are not permitted to drive along stretches within the area, city officials said.

Cycling advocates say they hope to extend the lane to Venice Boulevard near the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Lantz said the recently completed 1.6-mile bicycle lane on 1st Street in Boyle Heights also has a green thermoplastic coating at merge areas such as intersections or driveways, but that the majority of the Spring Street lane is solid green.

Lantz said she is interested "to see how the different treatments work and how both bicyclists and motorists respond to it."

Cyclists are required to stay in the lane except to avoid debris or to make a left turn, said Tim Fremaux of the city's Department of Transportation.

Motorists wanting to turn into a driveway on the bike-lane side of the street should turn from their lane, not the bike or parking lane, after yielding to cyclists, Fremaux said. Those who want to make right turns should stay in the vehicular lane until near the intersection, where there are breaks in the bicycle lane, and use recently implemented right-turn lanes, he said.

Bicycle lanes generally cost between $50,000 to $100,000 per mile; Fremaux estimated that the green paint added $50,000.

The lane might also benefit downtown businesses because bicyclists often ride on sidewalks, sometimes creating a hazard for pedestrians.

The lane is part of the city's master plan for a 1,680-mile bicycle network and more than 200 miles of new routes every five years.

"We're looking for — at the same time we expand our transit network — how do we also expand our active transportation network to link up with that?" Lantz said. "It's about providing more options for people across the city."