Highland Park cyclists who ride into South Pasadena have likely noticed the new stretch of bike lanes recently painted on Pasadena Avenue, right after the termination of the York Boulevard Bridge.
Writing for Flying Pigeon's blog, Los Angeles cycling advocate Richard Risemberg suggests that the short stretches of bike lane could become the first step in creating a bicycle way that connects Highland Park to South Pasadena.
The one obstacle, however, is the York Boulevard bridge spanning the Arroyo Seco. The narrow and craggy bridge is a harrowing ride for cyclists and, on first blush, doesn't appear to be a great candidate for a bike lane given how narrow it is.
Risemberg's solution? A road diet:
... yesterday I looked again, and thought, Why not a road diet?
It could work—if you rethink the way you use the lanes just a little bit.
In the usual road diet, you make room for bike lanes and sidewalks by turning a four-lane road into a three-lane road, with the center lane being a continuous left-turn channel. This removes cars waiting to turn left into side streets or driveways from the traffic flow, greatly reducing accidents and often actually improving automobile throughput, since the smoother, albeit slower, traffic doesn’t jam up any more.
Now, no one who isn’t suicidal is going to turn left on the bridge, so you’d think a road diet makes no sense at all there.
But: What if the center lane were a reversing traffic lane instead of a left-turn lane?
After all, rush-hour traffic goes one way in the morning, and the other way after work. So one of those lanes is barely in use even at peak hour!
What Risemberg proposes is a little complex, but it has worked in other cities. Flashing signs would be installed to inform motorists of when the center lane was available to them, and when it was intended for motorists heading in the opposite direction. As traffic is rarely heavy in both directions on the bridge, it's unlikely that a road diet of this type would have a major impact on motorists, once they got used to the new configuration.
Risemberg argues that businesses would in the area would also benefit from the extended bike lane, as cyclists are more likely to stop and enter shops than motorists are.
What do you think? Does the York Boulevard Bridge need a Road Diet?