A dedicated six-foot-wide emerald green bike lane in downtown Los Angeles officially opened to the public Monday.
Contractors worked through the weekend to transform the 1-1/2 mile lane of Spring Street, painting it with a layer of green paint and adding reflective glass sand that helps improve traction and visibility. The lane also features a four-foot buffer from vehicle traffic.
The project is one of several that was installed in downtown Los Angeles this year after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city council dedicated $3.2 million in transportation sales tax revenue to pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.
"Unfortunately, most of our city was built with cars in mind,'' Villaraigosa wrote in an opinion column last year. "It's time to recognize that bicycles also belong on L.A. streets.''
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After traffic engineers evaluate the Spring Street lane, the city plans to install a similar northbound bike lane up Main Street, according to city officials.
Earlier this year, a four-lane stretch of Seventh Street was reduced to two car lanes in each direction, a center turn lane and bike lanes on each side.
The city is also painting bicycle sharrows on numerous streets to remind drivers that cyclists have the right to use traffic lanes.
In a related story Friday, the city of Santa Monica opened a massive bicycle parking facility, the first of its kind in the nation, which offers attended bike valet, bike rentals, showers, lockers, self-service repairs, vending machines and restrooms.
Villaraigosa called the Bike Center a key link in connecting transit hubs around the city.
"It is exactly the type of project our region needs to help make L.A. a more bike-friendly community," Villaraigosa said.
The project, which is part of Santa Monica's Bike Action Plan, aims to increase bicycle use in the city from 3.4 percent to 14-35 percent of trips.