Los Angeles eliminates entire car Lane for safer bike travel

September 21st, 2011 by Beth Buczynski

Bike lane sign goes up in Los Angeles (click image to expand - image courtesy of Los Angeles Department of Transportation Bicycle Program)

Despite its reputation for horrendous traffic, officials from the City of Los Angeles recently decided to transform a lane normally used by cars into a thoroughfare for bike commuters.

If you’re an L.A. citizen that normally gets around by car, you might think the decision is outrageous, or even a joke, but it’s not. And if you’re a bicycle commuter, well, it just might be the best news you’ve ever heard.

“Hold on to your hats, folks, we’re actually removing a lane for a car — in favor of a bike lane — in Los Angeles,” City Councilman Ed Reyes said during a news conference at MacArthur Park. “By doing so, we, as a city, are changing the way we see bicycles, as not only a recreational vehicle but as a legitimate form of public transportation.”

The new bicycle lane is located along a 2.2-mile stretch of 7th Street from Catalina Avenue in Koreatown to Figueroa Street downtown.

Cycling advocates hailed the decision as revolutionary and long-overdue. Some say it will set the standard for other metropolitan areas that have been slow to accommodate the growing cycling culture.

It’s been said that the establishment of bike lanes in urban areas is a signal of gentrification, but it seems that L.A.’s newest bike line fails to uphold this theory.

Cyclists are not only middle-class white urbanites who can afford a car but choose to not always drive, but also transit-dependent residents in low-income minority communities such as Westlake, Allison Mannos of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition told the L.A. Times.

MacArthur Park bike lane in Los Angeles (click image to expand - image courtesy of Los Angeles Department of Transportation Bicycle Program)

Mannos also said the 7th Street proposal emerged from conversations with laborers who frequently use the thoroughfare to commute.

The decision to convert the lane is part of Los Angeles’ Bike Master Plan which calls for more than 200 miles of new bike routes every five years. Although bike lanes are one of the cheapest types of transportation infrastructure, costing approximately $50,000 to $100,000 per mile, some fear that the City lacks funding to achieve this aggressive goal.

For more information please visit the Los Angeles Department of Transportation Bicycle Program blog.


Beth‘s article was published originally on Care2 make a difference.  Beth is also publisher of The Ecospheric blog.


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