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Spring Street Going Green for Bicycles

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, October 27, 2011, at 11:28AM
Spring Street Bike Lane Valerie Watson / DLANC

A conceptual rendering by Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council board member Valerie Watson shows Spring Street with its full-time parking lane and buffered, green bike lane.

Downtowners could soon be seeing green on Spring Street as the city moves forward with plans to remove two vehicle lanes, adding a green bike lane to the roadway and setting the stage for future mini-park plans.

The Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition and the city's Department of Transportation are now kicking off final outreach efforts for the plan, which has been in development for several years. Spring and Main streets were identified for lanes in the city's recently-released bike plan, and this summer LADOT said that the two could see lanes within a year.

While traffic studies for Main Street are still underway, Spring Street plans are moving forward much more quickly and the new configuration could be in place by the end of November. An initial lane would run from Cesar Chavez to 9th Street.

Studies on Spring showed that even the removal of two lanes—one dedicated to traffic and the other a curbside peak-hour bus lane—would not impact congestion levels.

Planners are taking advantage of that by converting the curbside lane to full-time parking use and using the remaining space to add both the bike lane and a buffer that will separate cyclists from the cars driving next to them.

Part or all of the bike lane will be decked out in bright green paint or thermoplastic designed to increase visibility and encourage cyclists to make use of the lane. The city is currently testing potential materials for the markings.

Tim Fremaux, a planner in the transportation department's bikeways section, says that current plans involve painting the entire lane green, in part as a test to see how well the paint stands up in a real-world environment.

"There's really no better way to find that out than to install it," he noted.

Spring Street is seen as a key step for future planning efforts.

"It's such a symbolic, important facility for L.A. because it goes right by City Hall," explains Valerie Watson, who chairs the neighborhood council's Parks, Recreation & Open Space committee. She will be among those going door-to-door to explain the upcoming changes to buildings and businesses. "We want to make sure it goes well for people."

Watson and the neighborhood council played an important role in advocating for more than just a simple, painted lane along Spring Street. Those efforts got a big boost in September, when the Dutch-led Think Bike! workshop brought a flurry of ideas to local bike lane planning.

The involvement of the neighborhood council and the bike coalition, as well as feedback from the Think Bike! workshops, came together to create a "perfect storm," Fremaux said, helping to convince the department of the importance of "going the extra mile and doing a better facility where you have protection."

The Spring Street plans also set up the necessary conditions for "parklets," mini-parks that would be created in the parking right-of-way. One of those spaces is planned for Spring between 6th and 7th.

An exact construction schedule for the Spring Street changes has not yet been set, but work to re-stripe and lay down the green paint would likely only take a few days to complete.


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