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My Figueroa: Day One

Last Thursday, the public was invited to the official opening of the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project, also known as MyFig. The ceremony included Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Jose Huizar, Councilmember Curren D. Price Jr., LADOT, the Department of City Planning, and Metro, and we heard from advocates, as well as residents and business owners.

This event started off with a walking tour highlighting MyFigueroa improvements in Council District 14, followed by a press event and celebration outside of USC’s Galen Center. The festivities wrapped up with a bike tour north on Figueroa to explore the new streetscape features of MyFig. LACBC staff and interns were at the event, riding the new lanes with Councilmember Huizar,

Riding My Figueroa with LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar & Bike Metro

We also experimented with our 360 camera. Move the YouTube video around with your mouse to see 360 degrees of MyFigueroa!

Prior to the event, LACBC worked with LADOT staff, Michael MacDonald, Deborah Murphy, CD 6, CD 14, the Mayor’s Office, and LA Walks to address some initial concerns. These discussions culminated in a large meeting held last Monday with city staff and safe streets advocates. We are happy to see the Council offices getting involved with this project, and helping to provide a forum to help resolve issues in advance of the ribbon cutting event.

Here is a summary of the next steps to improve MyFigueroa that were identified during the meeting:

1. The recently installed pedestrian push buttons at the intersection of 7th and Figueroa were not eliminated, but are still in place for the visually-impaired. No longer would they be needed for actuation.

2. Bike and pedestrian signals to default to green at the beginning of each signal cycle at Olympic & 9th St.

3. During press conference, the City announced an ongoing commitment to engage with a community working group to continue to improve project.

4. Implement maximum duration timed (non-demand actuated) bike & ped greens for the section of the project from Olympic to 7th to be in place for October 1st NACTO Conference.

5. Convene a working group meeting in mid-October to evaluate project adjustments and determine the next steps for further project improvement, inclusive of representatives of Bicycle Advisory Committee, Pedestrian Advisory Committee, LA Walks, LACBC, Bike the Vote, and project champions.

Overall, the meeting was successful in identifying steps to collaborate and improve the experience of those who bike and walk on Figueroa. You can read is LADOT’s response to the meeting here:

While riding MyFig last week, LACBC has some more recommendations to make to improve safety and functionality of the corridor. Please add your own suggestions in our comment section below!

1. Green conflict paint at driveways is not consistent. The City should paint the driveway segments regularly along the entire corridor.

2. Add “hashed” green paint in areas where motor vehicles are expected to merge into the bike lane before turning right. Hashed green paint exists in some areas of MyFig, mainly where motor vehicles are expected to merge or cross the bike lane to turn right. These hashed green areas should extend across each intersection, including where protected lanes are installed. The City of Pasadena has done something similar on Marengo Ave. in Pasadena, and we think it’s effective in defining the bike lane across the intersection (see attached street view).

Green Bike Lanes on Marengo in Pasadena.

3. Improve signal timing for bicycles. Signal timing for bicycles can definitely be improved. Sensors should be placed further back in the bike lane, so green signals are given to bicyclists as they approach the intersection without them having to hit the brakes. Sensors should not operate on an automatic cycle. Rather, the signals should change based on if – and how many – vehicles or bikes are being sensed on the road, thus responding to actual traffic conditions.

4. Prevent people from parking in the bike lane against the curb. Put more bollards in place to help ensure this. We encountered people parked in the lane going southbound right at Pico.

5. Mandatory Left Turn Box Signs. A lot of the intersections on myFig have mandatory left turn boxes. This is a new street marking which only has interim approval from the FHWA. There is an optional sign that can be used, but the city chose to use the mandatory sign. We’d like to know why the mandatory sign was chosen: a bicyclist who is comfortable leaving the bike lane and turning left from the left turn lane could be subject to a traffic citation for disobeying the signage. The mandatory justification in the FHWA interim approval is very broad. We think the city should have installed the optional signage, not the mandatory.

Two-stage bicycle turn box examples

6. Increase education opportunities. A protected bike lane with bike signals and two stage left turn boxes, among other things, is exactly why bicyclist education is so important. The City should fund robust educational programming to help people learn the unique qualities of riding MyFig and other protected bike lanes. The assumption that you can just jump on a bike and know exactly what to do in this new streetscape is false. There is an educational component to it that must be addressed. While training is more common in other countries, American bicyclists are not accustomed to bike signals or two stage left turn boxes, there will be a learning curve if we expect more of this type of bike lane to be installed.

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