Caltrans Can Do Better By Cyclists

Sepulveda and Ohio corner 2012-8-2
Looking west to Ohio from Sepulveda: how things look today.

Streetsblog SF recently highlighted our country’s disregard of cyclist safety in construction zones by showing where machinery is imprudently placed. It drew an explicit and unfavorable contrast with Copenhagen (heaven for cyclists where bike travel is the priority). We can’t agree more. But it’s not just the one-off hazard but the $1 billion slaps that really sting. Like our I-405 construction madness. Motorists feel put upon but in truth it’s the cyclists who suffer the most: we squeeze through portals designed only for cars and now compromised by poor signage, bad pavement and, of course, angry motorists.

405 fwy at Ohio signage
How things looked in April….

We’ve complained about it before:the I-405 underpasses seemingly designed not for humans but for some autonomous single-occupancy auto beast that snakes underneath the freeway and brays loudly in discomfort at every am/pm rush hour (about six hours out of the day). We regularly traverse the Wilshire, Santa Monica, Olympic & Pico corridors and it’s no exaggeration to say they vary from unpleasant to harrowing. Wilshire gets the gold as most treacherous (owing to the continuous freeway ramps) but SM Blvd. gets the silver for pent-up motorist angst (precisely because the ramps are not continuous).

Sepulveda and Ohio 2012-8-2
Where the going gets tough for westbound cyclists. Much more room for improvement!

What cyclists don’t have is a safe means of conveyance. When we brought this up to Caltrans District 7 rep Dale Benson, he was on the scene with the LA DOT to address our concerns about contradictory bike route signage on Ohio. And to his credit the cruft was stripped away immediately leaving a…well…a poor passage for cyclists heading westbound. There is no bike lane there (unlike eastbound) and the on/off sidewalk action makes for a confusing and potentially dangerous situation. Thing is, it’s been like that since construction began.

On the Caltrans BAC7 agenda for 8/23 is an information item concerning how Caltrans and local DOTs work together on just kind of circumstance. We’ll be there to learn more: where to file a complaint; to whom to look for redress; and some insight into how a $1 billion project can so take for granted the basic safety of the road’s most vulnerable wheeled users. That’s this Thursday at 1:30 pm at Caltrans HQ 100 S. Main Street. We’ll see you there!

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