Evaluating LADOT’s Bad Roadway Design

In a report titled “Evaluating Changes in Roadway User Bad Behavior” (PDF), LADOT once again shows that it:

1) does not excel at planning for multiple modes of transport,
2) skillfully deflects all responsibility for its failures.

On page 26 of this report, LADOT speaks of Wrong Way Cycling. I have no idea what the 3 other locations were, but the Jefferson/McClintock intersection is a perfect example of failing at designing for bikes. The problem originates a block West, at Jefferson and Orchard, where the mass of students that lives north of USC is funneled into the terribly-designed, car-centric McClintock gate into campus.

I used to commute through that exact intersection, and I did what was easiest for me as a cyclist – come down Orchard, then ride against traffic in the road (on Jefferson), or ride on the sidewalk and weave through people. It wasn’t always that way, I’m fairly certain that portion of Jefferson was redesigned in the early 2000s. I do recall whatever changes they have made to Jefferson, it made the USC campus more inaccessible.

Let’s see, you put in the uncrossable median to allow car traffic to flow more freely, impeding pedestrians and cyclists, and now you’re complaining about wrong way riders?

True, the average beach cruiser bike rider at USC has no idea what the rules of the road pertaining to bikes are. Most female cyclists in that area are trying to juggle a cell phone, coffee cup, and look through their bag all while riding. Some males specimens are equally aloof. I can see why there was a move to ban bikes on campus, although that is clearly a knee-jerk reaction by narrow-minded people.

Given this scenario, LADOT (or whomever wants to step up and genuinely claim responsiblity for our roads) should have designed simple, free flowing bike paths to campus and maybe thrown some funds into cyclist education. But it’s easier to shift the blame instead of accepting the responsibility.

If LADOT’s goal truly is to “reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities” as it claims on page 4 of this report, then all it has to do is reduce the speed limit on all thoroughfares and start treating the non-motorist public like they exist.

Here’s some interesting tidbits about Orchard Ave from a USC PolySci alum who currently lectures there.

  • Before the median was put in (which forces southbound traffic on Orchard to turn right), that intersection was open, Jefferson Bl just had a double yellow line
  • A metal fence was added to the median to prevent pedestrians from “jaywalking” across Jefferson at Orchard
  • Supposedly Orchard used to extend into campus in the first half of the 20th century
  • According to their 2030 plan, USC is going to gobble up the area North of campus in order to “provide badly needed additional student housing, provide new academic space, and to create a vibrant retail space that will serve both our surrounding community and our academic community”

    Orchard at Jefferson - looking East on Jefferson Bl.
    Orchard at Jefferson - looking East on Jefferson Bl. As if USC wasn't fenced in enough already...

    Of special interest is page 7 of the USC Village Project Overview, which mentions that in the future, Jefferson Bl will have parking removed in favor of a widened sidewalk and a bike lane (!)

    Jefferson Bl - Widened Sidewalks + Bike Lane
    Jefferson Bl - Widened Sidewalks + Bike Lane

Mihai Peteu

Software Developer, Bike Safety Instructor, Amateur triathlete

13 thoughts on “Evaluating LADOT’s Bad Roadway Design

  1. I want to hear from folks that know more about which other locations were studied.

    I’d like to get some feedback on the Jefferson / McClintock, or Jefferson / Orchard mess. I know USC ridership has increased greatly, and I’d like to hear ideas on how the bike flow into campus can be improved.

  2. I, too, am curious about the other streets observed–particularly the “one-way Downtown street.” Why wouldn’t the report identify them? Odd.

    I could see the DTLA street being Figueroa between 2nd and 3rd where many commuters and messengers are essentially forced, due to bad design and a complete failure to consider the significant bike traffic through the area, to ride on either the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalk across several dangerous high-use driveways. This entire population of road users (cyclists) has been completely ignored and their safety put at risk.

  3. Kudos! Timely report only if we were back in 2006. This report is 4 years old. Keep up the great investigative reporting!

  4. @Fleameister – I have been loosely following what has been going down at my old alma mater, and I honestly haven’t seen much change for the last few years. So I wouldn’t consider it all that outdated.

    You did just give me a great idea for an “investigative” article though, so thank you for your comment.

  5. @C – I got one more for you, since you were so offended by my so-called “stereotyping”:

    “These students ride against traffic, on the sidewalks, and without their hands so they can talk on the phone. This is very dangerous for pedestrians, motorists, and the cyclists. Please, please USC, stop hiring people to be hall monitors and have them EDUCATE the students on riding safely instead.” — graffipassion

    also from http://laist.com/2010/09/13/with_10000_to_15000_bicycles_a_day.php

  6. @C – just one more, for fun, then I’ll leave you alone.

    In a survey of USC students, a majority had reported being struck by a bicycle 2 or less times in the past year. DPS blamed the safety problem on the enormous growth in bicycles over the past few years and attributed the rise in accidents to bicyclists “texting and sipping a latte while riding through campus”.’

    from http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/usc-bans-bicycles-on-bike-lane-more-restrictions-to-come/

  7. Mihai, I think the issue was that you claimed ¨most¨ female riders were clueless, while only ¨some¨ male riders were of a similar nature. The issue is the inequal division of responsibility between genders despite your references not distinguishing between male and female riders.

  8. Point well taken. I’ve crossed out that sentence.

    To move the discussion forward, I’ve also added feedback from a USC alum at the tail end of the post.

  9. I don’t know this very specific site, but it seems like there are quite a few ways to encourage walk/bike connections… but it would take political will – ie: the college and the city need to support prioritizing bicycling and walking, in this, the area of the city with the highest percentage of bike usage.

    Instead of blocking bike and ped crossings at Orchard, the road design should make them safer. Some sort of bike boulevard choker treatment would probably make sense – give bikes/peds a crossing and an entrance into the campus.

  10. Mihai,

    You’ll be happy to know that the USC administration has reached out to the planning school to form an advisory task force to create campus-wide bicycle solutions. Hopefully, it will result in a more progressive attitude towards bicycling. Better late than never, I suppose.

    Also, you may be interested in a bicycle circulation plan written by USC alumni and current BAC member Jeff Jacobberger which was offered as an amendment to the USC Master Plan. Sadly, it was not adopted.

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