A review of the City of Los Angeles' Master Bike Plan predicts that most intersections along major thoroughfares in Highland Park and Eagle Rock would experience significant traffic delays as a result of installing new bicycle lanes.
However, business owners and bicycle advocates are split on the issue of whether those delays would be harmful to local communities.
The graph below shows the current wait times for vehicles at major intersections along Figueroa Street and Colorado Boulevard as calcuated by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), and the level of service grade for each of those intersections. According to the LADOT, "level of service" is a qualitative measure used to describe the condition of traffic flow, ranging from excellent conditions at LOS A to overloaded conditions at level of service F. Level of service D is recognized as the minimum acceptable level of service in the City of Los Angeles."Street Intersection Current Grade A.M Current Time at Intersection A.M. Current Grade P.M. Current Time at Intersection P.M North Figueroa Colorado C 25.7 C 20.6 North Figueroa York C 24.9 C 28.8 North Figueroa Pasadena B 19.7 B 13.2 North Figueroa Avenue 26 D 54.1 D 38.9 North Figueroa San Fernando B 15 B 16 Street Intersection Current Grade A.M. Current Time at Intersection A.M. Current Grade P.M. Current Time at Intersection P.M. Colorado SR-2 NB Ramps B 17.2 B 16.7 Colorado Broadway B 13.2 B 17.1 Colorado Sierra Villa C 29.4 F 246.6 Colorado Eagle Rock D 37 F 264.4 Colorado SR-134 Ramps C 23.3 B 14.7 Colorado North Figueroa C 25.7 C 20.6
The following two charts show the increase in traffic stop times along North Figueroa and Colorado, and the change in level of service grade.Street Intersection Potential Grade After Bike Lanes A.M. Potential Time at Intersection After Bike Lanes A.M. Potential Grade After Bike Lanes P.M. Potential Time at Intersection After Bike Lanes P.M. North Figueroa Colorado E 56.2 D 40.1 North Figueroa York E 66.4 D 46.1 North Figueroa Pasadena C 25.3 B 13.4 North Figueroa Avenue 26 F 149.3 D 45.7 North Figueroa San Fernando B 14.3 C
21.6Street Intersection Potential Grade After Bike Lanes A.M. Potential Time at Intersection After Bike Lanes A.M. Potential Grade After Bike Lanes P.M. Potential Time at Intersection After Bike Lanes P.M. Colorado SR-2 NB Ramps B 17.3 B 16.7 Colorado Broadway B 12.8 B 17 Colorado Sierra Villa F 94.7 F 471.5 Colorado Eagle Rock F 111.4 F 453 Colorado SR-134 Ramps B 19.4 B 19 Colorado North Figueroa E 56.2 D 40.1
According to report, which was released earlier in January, the installation of bike lanes on North Figueroa Street would result in "potentially significant" traffic impacts at the intersection of Colorado Boulevard, York Boulevard and Avenue 26.
The LADOT data shows that all but one North Figueroa intersection--San Fernando Road--would experience at least some increase in traffic stop times as a result of the bike lane installation. Many of those intersections, including Colorado, York, Pasadena and Avenue 26, would see their level of service grades drop as a result of the bike lane installation.
Colorado Boulevard would also experience delays. For example, the intersection at Eagle Rock Boulevard would be downgraded from a D to an F grade. However, the report also predicts some improvement along Colorado, with bike lanes leading to minor decreases in stop times at Broadway and the SR-134 Ramp.
Data in Dispute
Mark Vallianatos, a professor of law and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College, said that the data provided by LADOT appeared to be flawed in at least two instances in the EIR’s “Transportation, Traffic, and Safety” section.
“They’ve clearly made some mistakes on two intersections on Colorado,” said Vallianatos, pointing out that that the average delay during peak rush hour in the evenings on Colorado and Sierra Villa Drive (near Eagle Rock Plaza) is 246.6 seconds (4.11 minutes), and the delay on the Colorado-Eagle Rock Boulevard intersection is even higher: 264.4 seconds (4.40 minutes). The figures Vallianatos refers to are in bold above.
“To me that’s clearly an error because you don’t have to go through four lights to go through Eagle Rock and Colorado,” said Vallianatos. “It’s just incomprehensible. We think they messed up and moved up a decimal point.”
In fact, two hours after Vallianatos received a stakeholders’ copy of the draft EIR from the Department of City Planning on Jan. 17, the professor e-mailed David J. Somers, of the department’s Policy Planning and Historic Resources Division.
“Is there is an error in table 4.5-2 for Eagle Rock Blvd. and Sierra Villa Drive in the PM peak hours?” Vallianatos asked Somers, according to the e-mail correspondence that the professor forwarded to Patch.
“The stated delays of 246 and 264 seconds are ten times higher than the rest of Colorado Blvd. delays and almost ten times higher than the AM peak delays for those intersections,” Vallianatos added in his e-mail. “They also do not make sense based on experience driving on Colorado for more than a decade. Perhaps the figures are supposed to be 24.6 seconds and 26.4 seconds?”
Although Vallianatos has not heard back from Somers, the professor said that Jeff Jacoberger, a consultant with Eagle Rock’s Take Back the Boulevard initiative, has been in touch with the Department of City Planning to see if it can “clarify the figures because they seem to suggest that Colorado is more horrendously backed up than many places in West L.A., which is not the case.”
What the Data Means for Locals
Just what the increased traffic delays along North Figueroa's and Colorado's major intersections will mean for local commuters and business owners is still very much up for debate among bicycle advocates and local proprietors.
Richard Risemberg, a Los Angeles based cycling advocate and the proprietor of Bicycle Fixation, said that many residents favor slower traffic on their streets.
"Residents and business usually want traffic to go slower on their streets," Risemberg said. "It creates less noise, it creates less pollution unless it's stop and go. It allows for more possibility to see something interesting and pull over."
He added that the increased traffic time would serve to slow down drivers who use North Figueroa Street and Colorado Boulevard as a thoroughfare to destinations outside of the neighborhoods.
"The ones who want to speed are usually cut through drivers who want to exploit local streets as alternatives to freeways and arterial streets," Risemberg said.
Risemberg also noted slower traffic flow would result in better safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
"Drivers using surface roads as if they were freeways are where the problems start," he said.
John Neese, owner of Galco's Soda Pop Stop, who recently wrote about his opposition to bike lanes on York Boulevard, took a different stance from Risemberg. He said bike lanes have been "very bad" for business on York.
He disagreed with Risemberg's argument that slower traffic would encourage motorists to more frequently stop at local businesses.
"The bike lanes on York Boulevard are causing problems for business because when people see traffic backed up, they just drive on to Meridian Street to bypass it," he said.
Neese also took issue with the lack of input business owners had in determining whether bike lanes were right for York Boulevard.
"One day, it just happened," he said.