New Plan Seeks to Improve Bike and Pedestrian Safety in Downtown Los Angeles

In an effort to make the downtown Los Angeles area more suited for bicycles and pedestrians, city officials are putting into place a new plan called DTLA Forward that will make bike lanes protected and separate from traffic.

On Wednesday morning, Councilman Jose Huizar was joined by a group of pedestrian, bike, greenway and downtown advocates to announce the plans for a revamping of downtown streets. The plan aims to use street configuration to better suit pedestrians and bikers in a car-heavy city.

The city has already installed "head start" crosswalks, which give pedestrians four seconds of green light to walk before drivers get a green light themselves.

The biggest change, however, could come with these protected bike lanes that would give bikers an exclusive lane that prioritizes their safety by keeping them away from both moving and parked cars.

"The majority of people who are scared to commute to work, it's only because there's not a bugger," said Rodney Masjedi, of DTLA Bikes.

Biker and San Francisco transplant Sara Shortt applauded the plan.

"I want to ride my bike everywhere and I know a lot of friends who actually prefer to do that but they feel too unsafe," she said.

The initiative's main improvements will be on Main and Spring streets in the downtown area.

Huizar believes some drivers will be skeptical, but he is sure they will realize the benefit of making downtown LA more biker friendly.

"The more people get out of their cars to bicycles the less traffic we have," said Huizar. "That person that was first complaining about that bicycle lane in a couple of years may say, 'Hey, hey, this is a lot smoother here.'"

According to a city spokesman, Los Angeles currently has $11 billion worth in ongoing developments and expects an influx of over 80,000 new residents in the next five years. 

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