Call for Waste 2011

Every two years, Metro issues a Call for Projects to provide funding for local transportation improvements. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation applies for funding across a range of projects, one of which is Bikeways. This year, Bikeways applied for funding for two outreach programs and six infrastructure projects. Four of the six infrastructure projects are bike paths. The other projects are a bundle of fifteen bicycle friendly streets (BFS), an outreach program for those BFS, a Car Free Day, and two bicycle corrals in each council district. A map of the projects can be found


In November, the City Planning Commission rejected the draft bicycle master plan, largely because the plan’s commitment to bicycle lanes was too weak. It was only after adoption of the Backbone network of lanes that the plan won approval. Furthermore, without a strong commitment to lanes, the plan would never have received support among the cycling community. The inclusion of the Backbone was a ringing endorsement that bicycle lanes are the most important facility for creating a supportive environment for cyclists in Los Angeles.

Metro’s 2011 Call for Projects was LADOT’s first test to back up that endorsement and show it was serious about implementing facilities that would be both useful and have strong community support. LADOT failed this first test.

The 2011 Call for Projects application contains zero bike lane projects. Instead, LADOT submitted projects that are more of the same-old facilities that don’t do much of anything for anyone. The biggest example of this is a project to add a section of bicycle path along Ballona Creek. The section goes less than a mile, from Fairfax Ave to Venice Blvd. It is “stand-alone” and won’t connect to the existing Ballona Creek path. It also duplicates a facility less than a fifth of a mile away on Venice Blvd. For this project, LADOT applied for 2 million dollars. LADOT also applied for funding of a 1.25 mile section of path along the LA River headwaters and a mile-long bridge and path across the LA River downtown. Total facilities: 3.25 miles. Total funding applied for: 16.1 million dollars. By LADOT’s own numbers, the same amount of funding would stripe 575 miles of bike lanes.

Looming larger, though, is the fact that LADOT’s projects are so removed from Metro’s application guidelines. Metro’s materials stated particular projects would receive priority: lanes and paths that are gap closures, facilities close to transit hubs, sharrows, road diets, enhanced bicycle routes, bike parking, wayfinding and signage, and bike sharing.

This is a list of useful projects that the community would certainly support. Yet, it seems LADOT decided to ignore these guidelines almost entirely. Only the bike corrals and the bicycle friendly street projects come close to any of the priorities. There are no lanes, no transit access, and no sharrows. Can it really be that Bikeways had no projects that satisfied these priorities and were suitable for application?

It seems unlikely that Metro would approve funding for facilities as useless as the stand alone Ballona Creek path and as expensive as the Taylor Yard bridge. The LADOT Bike Blog stated that those two projects were included at the request of councilmembers. That fact is what leads us to the real problem with these projects—LADOT Bikeways is afraid of fighting to put in useful facilities. They would rather do a politically easy and useless project like Ballona Creek than a politically hard but worthy project like continuing the lane on Santa Monica.

I want to have faith in LADOT. I want to have faith that, as a cyclist, they care about my needs and safety. I want to have faith that, as an Angeleno, they are working towards a healthy, safer, sustainable city. I want to see LADOT emboldened by community engagement, roll up its sleeves, and fight for a worthy project. For now, though, it seems we will have to wait.

Ed. note: This post originally stated that the 2011 Call did not include bike parking projects. The 2011 Call includes an application for bike corrals to be installed by council district.

Dan Rodman

Dan Rodman is a cyclist and Bikeside member. You can find him most Thursdays at the Bikerowave.

8 thoughts on “Call for Waste 2011

  1. Insightful article, Dan. I look forward to reading more of your blog posts in the future.

    As a point of clarification, you state that the LADOT’s Call For Projects applications have “no parking, no transit access, and no sharrows”.

    The bike corral application would bring approximately 300-360 new bike parking spaces in the form of on-street bike corrals.

    The two Bicycle Friendly Streets applications would include sharrows (sharrows being one of the minimum requirements for BFS’s) and, depending on their location (the specific streets have yet to be determined), may contribute to transit access.

  2. Thanks for the catch on the parking, it’s been corrected. Even those, though, are being distributed by council district.

    I agree that sharrows are a component of a BFS, but sharrows should not have been limited to BFS in this Call. For example, there are no projects like the Reseda sharrows–a gap closure on a Citywide Network street.

    The ideal project is a sharrowed street that leads from a bike lane to a bike corral that’s proximal to a Metro Rapid stop, not an undetermined BFS that may or may not enhance transit access.

  3. I’ll admit that I’m not an expert on which bike facilities produce the most safe biking for the dollar, but this is just so much obvious facepalm:

    “Total facilities: 3.25 miles. Total funding applied for: 16.1 million dollars. By LADOT’s own numbers, the same amount of funding would stripe 575 miles of bike lanes.”

    Thanks for keeping tabs on this, Bikeside.

  4. Having a freeway network of bike paths is important to me, a long distance commuter. I travel from Los Feliz to Northridge on the regular and I use the LA river bike path and the orange line bike path. I am thankful every time I get to ride those incredible facilities.

    I wish someday to see a bike path connect the valley, through DTLA to Long Beach, with branches leading up arroyo seco to pasadena, a branch connecting to the ballona creek path.

    Spending what seems like a lot of money on this is ok here is why.

    Bike lanes on the streets can be implemented for free with re-pavement. But by that same token, painted bike lanes can be removed as we are seeing a very real threat of such happening in Northridge… In other words bike lanes are vulnerable to the whims of residents and the city with every re-pavement. By contrast, the LA River bike path and paths like it last 20-50 years and become institutions of transportation. Once they are in, they are in so the cost spread over 20-40 years makes them worth the initial investment. Bike paths are the starting point for a lot of beginners and a major facilitator of safe long distance commuting. At the end of the path people get out onto… the streets where I fully support installing bike lanes for free – with each re-pavement.

    BOSS promised to release the repavement schedule to the BAC. Have they come through on this? As safe streets/bike advocates, we should be pounding away at BOSS to get that schedule and get the LADOT to commit to striping in lanes at every possible opportunity whilst supporting a city wide bicycle highway in the form of bike paths.

  5. Sometime ago… perhaps in the 70’s? Perhaps earlier a chunk of money was given to create the LA River bike path… Some of the happiest moments growing up was riding with my mom and dad on that bike path near our home in Hollywood. That the bike path is still there today and that it has increased in functionality is one of the awesome things about LA. Lets keep pushing for more of these Netherlands style bicycle highways.

  6. Don Ward makes some very compelling points. In the East Bay, where I currently reside, popular commuting rails-to-trails path ‘Ohlone Greenway’ suffers from lack of maintenance so there are various cracks and deterioration from plant growth along the path. However, the LA River Bike Path seems like it is less prone to this issue as there isn’t much nature directly adjacent to cause such cracks. Right? I could be wrong as I seldom ride the LA River Path.

    I wholeheartedly agree we need to continue connecting the LA River so that those paths can be equally fulfill recreational and travel needs. It would be nice to ride to Long Beach via the separate bike path for most of the entirety.

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