Bicyclists still can't cross LA on marked bike lanes

Craig Barry via Flickr Creative Commons

Despite years of effort to make Los Angeles streets safer for bicycles, biking across the city remains not just difficult, but actually impossible for those who want to stick to designated bike streets.

Even simple trips—like the journey from Echo Park to Downtown—aren't possible using existing cycling infrastructure (Metro's most recent data is from 2012).

See for yourself. This KPCC map shows a cyclist's Los Angeles:

It's the city's road map, stripped down to just bike infrastructure. It includes both bike lanes and streets where bikes and cars share the road, as long as there are signs indicating it's a bike route (we ignored off-street bike paths).

Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said bike infrastructure is up by 17% across Los Angeles County since 2012. Metro was not immediately able to break down that number for the City of Los Angeles.

L.A.'s efforts to improve biking infrastructure typically draw criticism from all sides: bicyclists complain some projects are actually dangerous to cyclists, businesses and motorists complain about the loss of traffic lanes and parking. The result is a lot of stalled bike projects.

The entertainment industry has even made a cameo, stepping in to remove green bike lanes downtown because the distinct color made it harder to use storytelling magic to transport audiences to other locales while really filming in Los Angeles.

But before you start complaining, Los Angeles is far from alone.

The Washington Post's Wonkblog took a look at bike lanes and paths in Washington, D.C., Boston, Seattle and Miami, and found those cities were impossible to cross on just bike infrastructure, too.

Here's how the Post characterized the bike network in D.C.:

Bike commuting throughout the city is often like this: cobbled together out of a bit of bike lane here, an unprotected shoulder there, a scrap of sharrow and some silent pleas that cars won't run you over. Bike lanes occasionally appear and vanish multiple times on the same street. Sometimes they last just a few hundred feet. It feels as if someone striped the city with dozens of quarter-mile commutes in mind.

Data for the KPCC map comes from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Agency, and reflects the bike grid as it existed in 2012. That's the most recent data Metro has released. The agency released a bike map last year.

This story is part of Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.  To read other Transportation Nation stories, click here. Let us know what you think in the comments below, on KPCC's Facebook page or on Twitter (@KPCC).