Los Angeles Dedicates Car Lane to Bicycles

Los Angeles is expanding its network of bicycle lanes by removing car lanes. Photo by Mark Hogan.

Last week, officials in Los Angeles unveiled the city’s newest bike lane, reports the Los Angeles Times. The 2.2-mile bike lane along 7th Street from Catalina Avenue in Koreatown to Figueroa Street in downtown eliminates an entire car lane and instead dedicates the space to the approximately 27,000 bicyclists who ride in Los Angeles every day.

“Hold on to your hats, folks, we’re actually removing a lane for a car — in favor of a bike lane — in Los Angeles,” City Councilman Ed Reyes said during a news conference at MacArthur Park. “By doing so, we, as a city, are changing the way we see bicycles, as not only a recreational vehicle but as a legitimate form of public transportation.”

“It’s really symbolic,” said Allison Mannos of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “It’s not only showing that L.A. is changing overall and becoming more bike-friendly as a city … [but] we’re able to bring [bike lanes] to areas where people are depending on their bikes every day,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

In the article, Mannos explains that the 7th Street bike lane proposal emerged out of conversations with laborers who rely on the thoroughfare to commute. According to Mannos, cyclists are not only middle-class white urbanites who choose to cycle despite being able to afford private vehicles; cyclists are also low-income minority communities who depend on mass transit and affordable commutes.

Tim Fremaux, a traffic engineer at the Department of Transportation in Los Angeles, explained that the transformation of the street is in line with the city’s Bike Master Plan, which calls for more than 200 miles of new routes every five years. In fact, Fremaux adds, 7th Street was an ideal site for the transformation because of its low traffic.

The 2.2-mile bike lane is only the beginning of 7th Street’s transformation. Officials hope to add another 2.9 miles through downtown and into Boyle Heights, the article reports. These efforts are all in line with other bike lanes popping up around Los Angeles. Early in September, the city unveiled two new bicycle lanes: a 1.6-mile path on 1st Street, between Boyle Avenue and Lorena Street; and a 0.6-mile path on Chuenga Boulevard, between Odin and Yucca streets.

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