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Swap Street Parking for Bike Lanes, Committee Says

The city's Bicycle Task Force issued initial proposals last week to make West Hollywood more bike-friendly. Removal of street parking along much of Santa Monica Boulevard is likely to be the most controversial.

Santa Monica Boulevard, from La Brea west to Kings Road, could lose most of its street parking in a new plan that would see the creation of bicycle lanes in place of those parking spaces.

That’s what a subcommittee of the city’s Bicycle Task Force proposed this week. Charged with figuring out ways to make West Hollywood more bicycle friendly, the 20-member task force created in January announced some of its ideas at its monthly meeting last week. 

Each of the task force’s three subcommittees presented initial reports to the task force as a whole. The top priorities of the Infrastructure subcommittee are creating bike lanes along Fountain Avenue, San Vicente Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard.

Of those three streets, their plan for Santa Monica Boulevard, the city’s “Main Street” as the report calls it, is likely to be the most controversial with residents.

Saying that parking is sufficient in the area between La Brea and Vista/Gardner streets, the subcommittee suggests removing street parking on Santa Monica Boulevard in that stretch and installing bike lanes.

Thanks to Plummer Park, the subcommittee says, the Gateway Center (site of the Target store), the proposed Casden mixed-use development at Movietown Plaza (site of Trader Joe's) and the proposed Monarch development on La Brea (site of Carl’s Jr.), there will be enough off-street parking in the area that eliminating street parking would have “minimal impact on businesses.”

For the portion of Santa Monica Blvd. between Vista/Gardner and Fairfax Avenue, street parking would remain, but bike visibility would be improved by adding green striping and creating “sharrows," lanes cars and bikes share equally. 

The report recognizes parking is limited in that stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard and therefore is not recommending elimination of street parking.

The segment of the boulevard between Fairfax and Kings Road would see street parking removed and bike lanes created. Between the and the Kings Road parking deck, the subcommittee says there should be enough off-street parking available in that area to justify removal of the street parking.

Santa Monica Boulevard between Kings Road and Almont Drive already has bike lanes. And for the short segment between Almont and Doheny (the city’s western border with Beverly Hills), the committee is recommending narrowing the extra-wide median (currently being used for ) and creating bike lanes. The street parking in that segment would remain.

Fountain Avenue

For Fountain Avenue, the subcommittee proposes reducing the four lanes of traffic to three – one lane in each direction with a dedicated center left-turn lane.

Parking along Fountain would remain, but would be moved three feet away from the curb to create a “protected bicycle lane” beside the curb.

The subcommittee is recommending installing a partial curb barrier between the parking zone and the bike lane to protect bikers.

The report notes that bike lanes on the Weho portion of Fountain would then connect with planned bike lanes in the Los Angeles portion of Fountain.

San Vicente would also have bike lanes installed. The report recommends increasing visibility by adding signage and stripped lanes for bikes.

The subcommittee is also recommending creating bike lanes on Fairfax and Vista/Gardner. These would connect with bike lanes that the city of Los Angeles is proposing for those streets.

Bike sharing

Creating a bicycle sharing program is also among the recommendations. Bike sharing, which has proved successful in Washington, D.C., London and Paris, would allow people to rent generic bikes for a nominal fee.

These bikes would be picked up and dropped off at anytime at locations throughout the city. Bike sharing removes the cost of purchase, burden of maintenance and threat of theft from the individual, thus making bike riding more attractive to residents, the subcommittee says.

Installation of many more bike racks around town is also viewed as a necessary portion of the infrastructure, which would make West Hollywood more bike friendly.

Other ideas

The Safety and Education subcommittee proposes creating events where certain roads in the city are shut down for a day to encourage biking. Committee members also want to lead by example by having city council members seen riding bikes.

To help educate people, the committee would include bike-safety information when residents pick up parking permits for their cars.

Creation of a bicycle cooperative to offer safety classes, bike maintance classes, etc. was also suggested. To fund the bike co-op, the committee proposed passing the costs to developers, who would also need to install bike racks at their buildings.

An Implementation and Funding subcommittee report has suggested creation of a Bicycle/Pedestrian Mobility Coordinator position in city hall. This person would oversee all bike-related operations and activities in the city.

Measure R, the 2008 voter-approved initiative which raised the Los Angeles County sales tax by a half cent to fund transportation projects, has funding available for bike/pedestrian projects according to that subcommittee.  

The Bicycle Task Force is scheduled to present its final report to the West Hollywood City Council in November.

William Margold August 06, 2011 at 07:21 PM
You might as well create a "Bike Cemetery" in West Hollywood because from my many experiences with those who peddle throughout our neighborhood in a manner that suggests that they think that they own the road, are in peril the moment that they plant their ample bottoms on their defenseless mode of transportation. Suggest that they get be give their own (Dog) Park and then they can ride around in circles until they all turn into butter. And the same thing goes for those damn skateboarders. Only narrow visionaries create narrower lanes.
Kate M August 06, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Creating a dedicated left-turn lane on Fountain would drastically increase the safety of the road. I live just north of Fountain in the City of LA and must make a left hand turn everyday to turn on to my street. Everyday traffic is slowed, accidents are narrowly avoided, cars honk, and everyone is less safe. Drivers treat all lanes of Fountain like a highway and forget that every 20 yards, someone has the right to turn left. Regardless of your feelings about bicyclists, it is undeniable that a dedicated left hand turn lane will keep traffic moving safely. As a bicyclist myself, I am excited that the city is considering protected bike lanes, a move that protects everyone, bikers, pedestrians, and drivers.
William Margold August 06, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Speaking now as a pedestrian...walking around West Hollywood used to be fun and was an excellent way to get well needed exercise. But now it has become considerably riskier as blissfully addled bicyclists think that they own the sidewalks as well. They act amused when they speed up on you, yell "Look Out!"...and then look back at you with simian-faced innocence...or simply whiz by impervious to the fact that many pedestrians have incurred life-long leg injuries that if exacerbated by reckless two-wheeled transportation jockeys, might not ever be able to walk again.
Paul August 06, 2011 at 08:20 PM
I love scaring people while bike riding on the side walk saying loudly, MOVE IT!!!! COMING THROUGH!
Peter Bonilla August 07, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Cowardly cyclists who peddle on the sidewalk putting pedestrians at risk, need to "man up" and mix it up with cars, trucks and Selfish Useless Vehicles on the streets. Ban bicycles from the sidewalks! I agree with ALL of the Bicycle Task Force's recommendations. They're long overdue. Fountain is like a freeway and we need to make our city as civilized and bike friendly as those in Europe, Canada, etc.
Paul August 07, 2011 at 10:36 PM
It's to dangerous riding on the street. Buses are REALLY scary! Pedestrians walking on the side walk need to be mindful of all the bike riders and move out of our way as we come through.
Matt Baume August 08, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Fantastic suggestions all-around from the Bike Task Force. Can't wait to see their ideas implemented. I do worry about the loss of on-street parking, though -- not because it's sorely needed (it isn't), but because some people might use it as an excuse to try to derail the bike lane improvements. On-street parking is expensive for the city and can only serve a small number of people per day -- in contrast, bike infrastructure would reduce congestion, improve street life for everyone, and make WeHo an all-around nicer place to live.
lampshade August 08, 2011 at 03:14 AM
There should be a bike lane from end-to-end along SMB in West Hollywood. We need to stop making excuses and just finally embrace a pedestrian friendly model. No street parking along the road and have a barricaded (with ballards not a wall) bike path. You'll see the community blossom in a good way. Then move that to Sunset, Fountain and Melrose, Robertson and La Cienega. WeHo should be a pioneer when it comes to public transit. Just because LA is stuck in the gridlock shouldn't mean we can just "deal" with it too.
Wesley McDowell August 08, 2011 at 03:36 AM
Has anyone thought about doing a study to see just how many bicycles traverse the streets (particularly Santa Monica) before we eliminate the parking? Studies are done all the time to determine vehicular flow so doing this for bicycles could help inform a decision rather than base it suppositions. In doing a study it would also be helpful to know how many bicycles are on the sidewalks west of La Cienega as well as in the dedicated bikeways. I've been almost hit numerous times. A couple of years ago there as a big effort made towards enforcement but is that being done? It should be easy to find out how many tickets have been written. And can anyone explain why bicyclists don't obey the "rules of the road"? They don't stop at signs/lights, and act as though they are somehow entitled (like Beemer drivers!). There should be no doubt as to why drivers get annoyed, not with the idea of bikes or lanes, but the way so many cyclists show callous disregard and arrogance.
Matt Baume August 08, 2011 at 04:09 AM
To answer Wesley's question, a regular bicyclist count is among the recommendations that the task force is likely to make. Of course, those numbers are likely to change significantly as routes are made safer. Regarding scofflaw cyclists, a lot of that behavior can be attributed to a lack of education and outreach about safe, legal cycling. The task force is working on specific improvements in that arena as well.
LAofAnaheim August 08, 2011 at 07:29 PM
"narow visionaires create narrower lanes". Quite the opposite buddy. The world's greatest cities - London, New York, Paris, Chicago, etc.. have narrower lanes than Los Angeles and they're far from the "narrow visionaries". Creating smaller streets helps create and foster a better urban environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. People who can just pull over and shop. Whereas driving is moreso for those who just want to bypass the town. By the way, the bike cemetary is happening due to the countless cars killing bikes; especially over the last month. There's already enough bike deaths this year with total 2010. Scary. And people blame bike riders.........
LAofAnaheim August 08, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Get us on the pavement by giving us a dedicated bike lane and we won't ride the sidewalks. Too many times cars graze near me, especially west of La Brea and I have to get on the sidewalk. I hate sidewalk riding...but I need to think about my life as well. You don't like it as a pedestrian when a bicyclist approaches on a sidwalk, I agree. But remember, a bicyclist can be killed in the same situation on the road, unlike a sidewalk bike-pedestrian crash which would at most be some bandages.
LAofAnaheim August 08, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Don't confuse street parking as being "anti-urban". Street parking is GOOD for urbanists. It slows down traffic and creates a buffer between the pedestrian and the cars. Compare that to streets with no parking and see what area feels safer. I feel safer as a pedestrian on Wilshire when street parking is in place (the street feels smaller) than when there is restricted parking and cars zoom by at 40 miles per hour. The best urban areas have dedicated street parking and I would be hesitant to remove this; even as much as I love biking.
Ali August 09, 2011 at 12:10 AM
I would like to voice my opinion against eliminating street parking. The elderly and disabled need the ability to park as close to the establishment they are going to as possible. Many of the smaller storefronts on SM Blvd do not offer off street parking. There is also the matter of cost.
Matt Baume August 09, 2011 at 12:21 AM
The proposal wouldn't eliminate ALL parking, just the excess parking. The elderly and disabled (and everyone else) will still be able to drive their cars and park reasonably close to their destinations. As far as cost goes -- free parking is actually rather expensive, so non-parking usage is likely to be a more efficient use of public space. Parking spaces require huge "invisible" subsidies when compared the the true market value of the land. (For example, think of how much square footage of public land is devoted to car storage -- lots! And imaging how much it would cost the city if it wanted to buy an equivalent amount of square footage for, say, a park or a school.) West Hollywood can maximize the efficiency of that public space by devoting it to active uses, rather than needlessly over-using it for car storage.
William Margold August 09, 2011 at 09:31 PM
Perhaps Teddy Roosevelt foresaw the future of pedestrians vs. sidewalk bike riders in 2011 West Hollywood, when he said "Walk softly but carry a big stick." Indeed...a "big stick" can do a great deal of damage to the spokes of those who don't stay in the gutters where they belong. And if they are so damn scared of big bad buses and callous car drivers, then maybe it's time for them to start thinking about peddling elsewhere...while they still have something left to think with.
Pandora August 09, 2011 at 10:03 PM
eh, biking can take it or leave it but PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST ALMIGHTY get rid of the bikers on the sidewalk. how are they allowed to be on the sidewalks? this is a tragedy waiting to happen.
John Huan Vu August 10, 2011 at 08:42 AM
I think that's the whole idea, to get bikes off the sidewalks and on the streets, where they belong.
John Huan Vu August 10, 2011 at 08:52 AM
"And can anyone explain why bicyclists don't obey the 'rules of the road?'" It's because you only remember the ones who flaunt the laws, not the ones who ride safely.
John Huan Vu August 10, 2011 at 08:58 AM
It's nice to see West Hollywood embrace safer streets for all road users and make an already walkable city even better. Certainly the residents of Fountain will get a boost from their street not being used as a highway. This will also help get bikes off the sidewalks, which seems to be a sore point here. It will be a boon to business as well. It's been proven that pedestrians and cyclists notice and patronize local businesses more often simply because they can see them better.
joninla November 03, 2011 at 07:55 AM
WHAT IS THIS 'CITY BICYCLE TASK FORCE'? IS THE SAME AS CITY'S PLANNING COMMISSION? IF SO ... THAT MEANS IT IS JUST THE 'ALTER EGO' OF THE CITY COUNCIL TRYING TO MAKE IT APPEAR THERE IS SOME RESTRAINT ON THE COUNCIL DOING WHATEVER THEY FEEL LIKE DOING WITH OUT CITY. ================= FROM OFFICIAL WEHO CITY SITE: Planning Commission The Planning Commission was created on December 5, 1985 and consists of five (5) members, appointed by individual Councilmembers, and two (2) members appointed by the Council as a whole (at-large). Each member of the Commission shall serve a two-year term commencing June 1st following a general municipal election. Members shall be residents of the City and shall not be officers or employees of the City. The Planning Commission shall have and exercise all of the powers, duties, rights, privileges and authorities of City Planning Commissions as set forth in the State Planning and Zoning Law. =========================================== to summarize: 5 members appointed, one by each of the individual Council Member's. 2 members by vote of the whole 5 Member City Council (majority I assume)

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