Beautiful New Green Bike Lanes in Santa Monica!

City Hall Green Lanes
Santa Monica City Hall Green Lanes, a proud commitment to biking!

New Green Lanes are Beautiful – but are they what was promised? What’s been left out and are their shortcomings?

There is no doubt the new green lane markings going in on Main Street and Broadway in Santa Monica are beautiful – however they are not what we were anticipating based on the Bike Action Plan (BAP) and the subsequent discussions of improved implementations.

First lets applaud the use of Thermoplastic bikeway markings! This is a wonderful more durable marking solution that although more expensive lasts much longer over standard painted road markings and are reflective which help to provide additional visibility at night. Next is the proactive implementations of what is referred to as the low hanging fruit from the BAP in coordination with regular road maintenance. Choreographing the installation or updating bike treatments to take advantage of this cost saving implementation the city has added miles of bike infrastructure since adopting the Bike Acton Plan. Kudos and compliments to staff!

But where are the green carpet lanes that were promised and are outlined in the Bike Action Plan?

Yes indeed Green Carpet Bike Lanes in front of City Hall make a GREAT VISIBLE STATEMENT of the City’s commitment to supporting biking – however those lanes do not extend the length of Main Street as they were outlined in the Bike Action Plan, and the ones on Broadway are the same way. What does that say about the city’s commitment?

What was outlined in the BAP

  • Main Street: Green carpet buffered bike Lanes on Main Street from Colorado Street south to city limits.
  • Broadway Bikeway: From 6th Street to Centinela Avenue green carpet buffered bike Lanes, from Ocean to 6th Street varied treatments with Sharrows

For these implementations the old markings were to be removed and the new revised markings (adding buffers) filled with green were to be installed. NOTE: This process has been quite destructive to the road surface and has created some substantial grooves and uneven road surfaces not conducive to safe and comfortable bike lane conditions. This problem has been identified and acknowledged by engineering department staff and they are looking into it.

What has happened….

  • For this implementation most of the old markings were removed and road space was slightly reallocated to widen bike lanes with a door zone buffer.

— However the new white striping is EXTREMELY thin – to the point that it is actually opaque in many places. This substantially reduces the visibility of the lane markings and we anticipate they will wear off within weeks as have similar markings installed recently, quickly becoming nearly invisible. What is also puzzling is that many of the old white lines were thick and visible but were ground off and remarked in the exact same position with this single thin layer of white paint. Is there a second phase of this white striping that would correct this current situation or is this the intended end result?

  • On Main Street much of the vehicle lane was narrowed or reallocated slightly and new white striping provides a buffer to encourage people on bikes away from the door zone hazard of parked cars.
  • On Broadway it appears that only the parking lane may have been slightly narrowed and a similar buffer looks like it will be applied with some sort of markings?
  • Old bike symbol markings were ground off. Some blocks had two bike symbols within a block. New bike symbol markings are now primarily limited to one per block, at entrance to bike lane only. These new symbols are a further distance from the corner, this reduces the visibility overall but particularly for right turning vehicles which now tend to turn into the bike lanes then merge over into their vehicle lane.

— Extending the green closer to the corner would help mitigate this reduced visible cue for turning vehicles and encourage them to turn into their own travel lane.

  • Overall number of bike symbol markings have now been reduced. This reduces the visual cue and specificity of a bike only lane. The expectation here was that we would standardize to at least 2 symbols per block with additional bike symbol markings on longer blocks.

— Also very key and not (yet) implemented is the addition of bike symbols at alleys so that cars exiting alleys will have an important visual cue they are about to cross a bike lane.

  • On Broadway the “green lanes” were supposed to be extended from 6th Street to 5th Street.
  • Why do we still not have Sharrows in Bus/Bike lanes as approved in the Bike Action Plan and as allowed by state law? They were there for quite sometime, and were removed with no explanation or discussion. This is not a Bus Corridor like the Metro Orange Line but a shared use lane that only extends a max of 2 or 3 blocks contiguously with multiple bus stops per block. In other words it will not slow bus flow. Putting bikes in vehicle lanes in this area where cars are usually backed up to enter parking facilities adds to vehicle/bike conflicts and the potential of being squeezed between stopped vehicles and busses when passing. Bus/Bike lane implementations are in use around the US & Canada for this very reason and were supported in previous conversations with LA DOT.

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