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Bicycle Lanes Planned for Figueroa, Flower, Spring and Main Streets

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, at 07:16AM
CicLAvia Eric Richardson / blogdowntown

Cyclists ride on 7th Street just west of Figueroa during Los Angeles' first Ciclavia in October of 2010.

Bicycle lanes could soon be coming to Downtown's Financial District and Historic Core, but just how cyclists and autos are going to share the road is still being worked out.

Within the next year, lanes should be headed to Figueroa between 7th and Cesar Chavez, Flower between 3rd and 7th, Spring between Cesar Chavez and 9th and Main between Cesar Chavez and Venice. According to a Tuesday presentation by the city's Department of Transportation, finalizing the design of those lanes and their impact on traffic will take more study.

The traffic studies have serious implications for when the lanes could show up on the street. If a short initial study shows that the addition of any lane would exceed allowable impacts on traffic, a full environmental review of the project would be required. That could take up to a year to complete.

Initially, the design team was studying two lanes on Figueroa, one that would run in the direction of traffic and another that would run in a contraflow configuration on the stretch of one-way street between 3rd and Olympic. While all options are still on the table, that plan should likely give way to a revised option that would put a northbound lane on Figueroa and a southbound lane on Flower south of 3rd Street.

Heavily-congested Figueroa would keep almost all of its traffic lanes, with the bike lane taking part of an existing lane and occasional parking spaces. North of 1st Street, one lightly-used southbound lane could be taken away to add the pair of bike lanes and keep on-street parking.

By contrast, planning for Spring and Main streets would most likely involve the removal of one lane of traffic through most of Downtown. Bike lanes would be placed on the left side of the one-way streets to limit their conflicts with buses. DOT would like to see a design that would physically separate the bike lane from traffic by placing it outside of the parking lane, but cost considerations are likely to place the lane in its more traditional place between the parked and moving cars.

Either scenario could mean that peak hour restrictions on parking would be eliminated for the left side of the street, potential good news for businesses stymied by a lack of parking and loading spaces during morning and evening rush hours.

While more complete traffic analysis still needs to be done, the team from DOT believes that Spring and Main would do just fine with the removal of a lane or two. Main Street has a peak traffic flow of approximately 1400 vehicles per hour, volume that could be supported by just two normal lanes of traffic. Spring Street's traffic is slightly less, with the street moving approximately 1200 vehicles per hour during its peak period.

The four streets presented to the neighborhood council's planning committee on Tuesday are not the only Downtown streets getting bike lanes. DOT plans to install lanes on 7th Street west of Figueroa before October, and Figueroa could get lanes between 7th and USC as part of the My Figueroa project currently under study.

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