Monday, September 29, 2008

Sepulveda Pass Bike Lane... Not a Bike Lane Actually.

Sepulveda Pass. In Los Angeles it's a commonly traveled by-way by both cars and bikes. Sepulveda Blvd extends from south of Los Angeles international, north to Mission hills. The section that I'm most familiar with is the section of Sepulveda Blvd between Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles and Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. It's this section that shadows the 405 freeway, passes the Getty and the Skirball Cultural Center and has multiple exits and entrances onto the 405...

Like many cyclists, I have a route that includes this section of Sepulveda Pass, and I travel it often. On one of my many travels including Sepulveda Pass I was rolling south nearly under the 405 underpass. My friend Chris and I were waiting at the light when I woman in a car said "Don't you have a bike lane?" To which Chris replied, "This is my bike lane", pointing in a way that indicated that the right lane was our bike lane. The woman looked thoroughly offended in her white Jaguar and sped off when the light turned green. Chris and I had a laugh as we continued on our ride.

Since then there has been the L.A. Bike Master plan meetings, ridiculous increases in gas prices and a lot of efforts by a lot of folks to try and get more people on their bikes more often. It got me thinking about the Sepulveda Pass "Bike Lanes" so I decided that this weekend, on this ride, I would pay attention to the markings on the roads and the "bike lanes" as well as the signage. I figured the Sepulveda Pass "Bike Lane" would have the required pavement markings, bike lane signage and "No Parking Anytime" signage as well despite the deplorable conditions of the Sepulveda Pass "Bike Lane".

So on Saturday I rode my Mulholland ride and caught Sepulveda Pass south to head to the beach. As I was on Sepulveda Pass I noticed that even the south bound "Bike Lane" fluctuated in width pretty wildly, but for the most part the lane is only 18 wide, which is NOT wide enough for it to be considered a bike lane. Additionally, there were a number of obstacles, like this one:

On the way down the road, I saw that there were a few green "Bike Route" signs but there was no markings on the road denoting a bike lane, nor were there any "Bike Lane" signs. Even after the 405 free way underpass there are a number of "Bike Lanes" that begin and end, but no Bike Lane signs or bike lane marking on the pavement. There were also a number of cars parked in some of the different sections of "Bike Lanes". On the way up San Vicente I noticed that there were proper double white lines with bike lane markings on the pavement. I noticed it, as did a few other people I'm sure. This guy missed it though,

I'm sure he had things that were way more important than the well being of cyclists though which makes his blocking the bike lane totally acceptable. But back to the point. On the way back, heading north on Sepulveda Pass I decided to take some pictures of the "Bike Lane" since it's the north bound "Bike Lane" is well known for kind of just disappearing when it's needed the most. Here is a quick pictoral break down:

This is about how the "bike lane" on the NB Sepulveda side starts, a couple feet wide

Then it get's really wide

Then it goes back to the way it was

Then it goes down to about a ft or so

Then it basically disappears

After doing this ride and paying attention I realized that the Sepulveda Pass "Bike Lane" isn't a bike lane at all. There are no bike lanes on Sepulveda Pass, none, not one, any where. Sepulveda pass is a "Bike Route" but there is definitely no bike lane. I'll tell you this, from one cyclist to another... If you have to take a lane to get around a hazard or obstacle, do it... take the lane, because that single white line denotes a shoulder, an unmaintained shoulder that you are simply not required to stay in. Take the lane.

For cyclists everywhere else, Don't let drivers bully you onto an unmaintained shoulder because it's your "Bike Lane". If it's not an actual, marked bike lane, then you have a right to the road, to a lane and the right to use it. Even if it is a bike lane, but there is debris or an obstacle you have the right to exit the lane to go around it. You should still do as the law says and follow the rules of the road, but don't let yourself be pushed around.

On a somewhat unrelated note, just because you drive a Prius doesn't mean you get to stop paying attention to the road because you're being slightly more eco friendly than someone in a 95 Geo. It doesn't mean that you're automatically not a D-bag either, like this guy, who almost hit me on riverside despite having two completely empty lanes and zero competing traffic, other than me of course

D-bags come in all shapes and sizes, but all have license plates


beardsarefun said...

Hey, great site you have here! I saw your post regarding the anti-dooring campaign. Try for some stickers.
Keep up the good work.

Sheehan-P said...

thanks for the information! great article