This afternoon, L.A. City Councilmember Bob Blumenflield hosted a celebration of the city’s newest bike lanes on Winnetka Avenue. The bike lanes extend 0.5 miles from Vanowen Street to Victory Boulevard. They were installed this week.
Half a mile may not sound like much, but, as Blumenfield stressed today, this new half-mile gap closure has plenty of important connectivity. These are the first bike lanes in the city of L.A. that connect to the L.A. River bike path. The new lanes also connect to the Orange Line Bike Path. They extend the existing Winnetka bike lanes; installed in 2010 which already went 4.4 miles from Devonshire Street to Vanowen. The new bike lanes also connect to Pierce College and to the West Valley Occupational Center LAUSD adult school.
The lanes are part of the Winnetka Avenue Street Improvements project, which has been the subject of more than a year of community engagement, including open house meetings, workshops, and a public hearing. The city Transportation Department (LADOT) did a traffic study which showed that the new bike lane configuration could result in modest delays to drivers.
The reason for the slight driver delay is that adding these bike lanes removes peak-hour parking restrictions north of Victory. Until this week, rush-hour parking was not allowed in order to provide three car lanes (southbound in the morning peak hours and northbound in the evening peak.) Now, peak-hour – and all-hour – car traffic has just two lanes in each direction. The parking restrictions are no more, allowing for more street parking serving local residents and businesses.
One key goal for the project is addressing safety issues. In April 2017, Ignacio Sanchez Navarro was bicycle-commuting along the stretch where the new bike lanes are now. A driver killed Sanchez Navarro and fled the scene. The driver was later apprehended. The tragic hit-and-run crime led the community and the councilmember to focus on improving safety.
And a half mile is not all. The councilmember announced that phase two of the Winnetka Avenue Street Improvements will extend the lanes an additional 0.4 miles to Oxnard Street, where they will connect with two miles of bike lane from Winnetka to Topanga Canyon Boulevard. There is no specific timetable for the second phase, but the new striping with coincide planned street resurfacing.
This new bikeway connectivity addresses the concern that many cyclists express that bike facilities just end without connecting to anything. The short new Winnetka lanes are not just low-hanging-fruit put-them-wherever-they-fit-easily bike lanes, but instead a key gap closure for forming a network of interconnected safe and convenient bicycling in the West San Fernando Valley.
One bittersweet note of interest to some Streetsblog readers: It was good to see friend-of-the-blog and Blumenfield Legislative Deputy Jeff Jacobberger at today’s celebration. Jacobberger is a longtime advocate for safe and bicycle-friendly streets. He was recently injured when a driver crashed into him. He was rear-ended while on his bike commute in the Chandler Bouelvard bike lanes. Though the driver appears to have veered into the bike lane to pass to the right of a car, he remained at the scene and was not given any citation. Jeff – it’s good to see you’re on the path to recovery. Thanks for all your great work, including playing an important role in making these Winnetka bike lanes happen.