Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de Leon may be an impediment to bringing bus rapid transit to Eagle Rock, but the prospective Mayoral candidate has lined up a new suite of transportation proposals designed to appeal to his constituents living and working in Downtown Los Angeles.

At the Council meeting on October 6, the former state legislator introduced a motion which calls for setting new standards for bus stop amenities in the Downtown core.

Potential bus shelters on display at North Hollywood StationStreetsLA

"While [Downtown] has many bus lines, the adjacent bus stops are inadequate for meeting the ridership demand that exists," writes the Councilmember.  "Many do not have benches, lighting, or shade - elements which have been shown to increase bus ridership."

His motion, seconded by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, directs various city departments to report on comprehensive policies and criteria for bus stops and use them to new standards for the transit stops.  The potential passenger amenities could include curb extensions, bus pads, designated boarding and drop-off areas, signage, safety lighting, street trees, furniture, trash cans and more.  The motion also directs staff to consider existing infrastructure and the NextGen bus plan as part of its efforts, and to develop an implementation plan for both Downtown and the city as a whole.

A second motion, also seconded by Blumenfield, considers the city's beleaguered efforts to expand its dedicated cycling infrastructure - with a particular eye on the sloping streets that line much of de Leon's 14th Council District.

"One of the major challenges of installing bicycle facilities is the limited amount of curb-to-curb width that inhibits adding new space for cyclists without repurposing space dedicated to other uses, such as driving or parking," reads the motion.  "This has created many conflicts in neighborhoods where community concerns over these tradeoffs has led to bicycle facilities not being installed at all."

Sharrows in TorontoWikimedia Commons

The proposed solution, according to de Leon, could be the installation of bike lanes only on uphill directions of streets, while using sharrows (where cyclists "SHARe the Right-Of-Way) on the downhill direction."

"Doing this would allow cyclists to have a dedicated lane when they are going uphill, usually when they are going slower and require dedicated space, and sharrows when they are going downhill, when they are more likely to move with the speed of traffic and can more safely share a vehicle travel lane," explains de Leon.

The Councilmember's instructions direct the Department of Transportation to report back on a possible pilot location for the scheme within Council District 14, and to develop criteria for implementing similar set-ups across the city.

The final motion with Downtown-specific implication relates to potential street closures in Bunker Hill, the Arts District, and the Historic Core.

View of Conrad Los Angeles, The Grand LA, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall looking north on Grand AvenueRelated-CHEC

The proposed sites, all located near activity clubs would include:

  • Grand Avenue between 1st and 2nd Street (the section which sits between The Grand and the Walt Disney Concert Hall)
  • Broadway between 3rd and 4th Streets (adjacent to Grand Central Market); and
  • Traction Avenue between 3rd and Hewitt Streets.

The proposal, which will first require a feasibility study, could be first attempted on a trial basis, with intermittent scheduled closure paving the way for making the changes permanent.

Proposals for street closures in the Downtown area are not a new phenomenon.  In one of his final acts prior to his ejection from the Council, former 14th District Councilmember had proposed converting Broadway into a pedestrian mall between 1st and 12th Streets.  Outside of Downtown, other iconic corridors such are Hollywood Boulevard are poised to decrease vehicle travel lanes (though not close entirely to vehicle traffic) through new streetscape plans.