What’s Wrong With Sunset Blvd?

The “new” Sunset Boulevard bike lanes were installed and positioned a constant distance from the curb. (left side is 12′ from the curb, right side is 7′ from the curb) This moved the bike lanes closer to the curb in seven different locations between Lucile and Alvarado!

I note in the MUTCD that the standard is to position the bike lane a constant distance from the outside vehicle lane, not the parking lane or the curb.

Bicycle Lane Markings on Class II Bikeways (Bike Lane) – page 9C-3


Bicycle lane markings on Class II Bikeways (Bike Lane) should be placed a constant distance from the outside motor vehicle lane.

Placing the bike lanes a constant distance from the curb results in the #2 lane varying in width as Sunset Boulevard varies in width. Yet the MUTCD indicates that the variation would occur in the distance the bike lane is positioned from the curb.

Bicycle Lane Markings on Class II Bikeways (Bike Lane) – page 9C-3


Bike lanes with parking permitted (3.3 m (11 ft) to 3.9 m (13 ft) between the bike lane line and the curb) should not be directed toward the curb at intersections or localized areas where parking is prohibited.

Positioning the bike lanes a constant distance from the curb (and the parking lane) instead of the #2 lane prevents cyclists from riding a travel line that is consistent with the outside motor vehicle lane. This “variable” travel line is further exacerbated when the bike lane ends and the 7′ parking stalls are replaced with 8′ parking stalls which moves the cyclist closer to the #2 lane on the approach to an intersection.

Bicycle Lane Markings on Class II Bikeways (Bike Lane) – page 9C-3


Such a practice prevents bicyclists from following a straight course. Where transitions from one type of bike lane to another are necessary, smooth tapers should be provided.

I propose that the Sunset Boulevard bike lanes should be positioned in constant position in relation to the outside travel lane and that this would be consistent with the MUTCD as well as the existing bike lanes in Los Angeles.

I have attached pictures taken on Eagle Rock Boulevard that show the distance between the bike lane and the curb as the variable while the travel lanes and the bike lane are of constant width and are in a constant relation to each other.

I have also attached pictures taken on York Avenue of a single lane of travel and the shoulder. (with parking) The travel lane is of constant width and the shoulder is of variable width.

In light of my concerns for the “new” Sunset Boulevard bike lanes, I would like to review the striping plan. May I get a copy of the plans used for the most recent work on Sunset Boulevard and the work order that defined the scope of the work to be performed as part of the recent “improvements” to the bike lanes on Sunset Boulevard.

Thanks for your help!

Stephen Box


Eagle Rock Boulevard @ Ave. 40, the bike lane is quite some distance from the curb. The parking lane is quite wide. The three travel lanes and the bike lane are in a constant relationship from the crosswalk on, even as the width of the street gets narrower.


A cyclist in the bike lane will maintain a consistent travel line with the traffic in the #1, #2 and #3 lanes. The space for parking vehicles and turning onto the Boulevard varies.


As the street gets narrower, the parking lane gets narrower…


…and narrower…


…and narrower…


…and finally evens out.


Eagle Rock Boulevard @ Ave. 36 is extremely wide but the variable width does not effect the #1, #2 lanes or the bike lane. The width is absorbed by the curb lane, (right-turn only of approximately 18′) This leaves the through lanes in consistent relationship and position and width even as the street fluctuates in width.




This is Eagle Rock Boulevard with an unmarked parking lane that is very wide. The bike lane is positioned in relation to the outside travel lane, not the curb. The variable width results in a wider parking lane, not a variable #3 lane width. The travel lanes should be of consistent width and the variable street width is absorbed by the parking lane or the shoulder.


Approaching Glassell Park the Boulevard is wide and varies in width but the travel lanes are in a consistent position relative to each other. The bike lanes are NOT positioned a consistent distance from the curb.


This is York Boulevard in Eagle Rock. There is only one lane of travel but you can see that the lane width has been standardized resulting in a variable shoulder/parking lane width. This section was actually restriped to standardize the travel lane. This is what should have happened on Sunset Boulevard.







Even when the street narrows, the travel lane is a constant width, the parking lane/shoulder just gets narrower.


“Bike lanes are established along streets in corridors where there is significant bicycle demand, and where there are distinct needs that can be served by them. The purpose should be to improve conditions for bicyclists in the corridors. Bike lanes are intended to delineate the right of way assigned to bicyclists and motorists and to provide for more predictable movements by each. But a more important reason for constructing bike lanes is to better accommodate bicyclists through corridors where insufficient room exists for safe bicycling on existing streets. This can be accomplished by reducing the number of lanes, reducing lane width, or prohibiting parking on given streets in order to delineate bike lanes. In addition, other things can be done on bike lane streets to improve the situation for bicyclists, that might not be possible on all streets (e.g., improvements to the surface, augmented sweeping programs, special signal facilities, etc.). Generally, pavement markings alone will not measurably enhance bicycling.

If bicycle travel is to be controlled by delineation, special efforts should be made to assure that high levels of service are provided with these lanes.”

Highway Design Manual – Topic 1002.1 (3) page 1000-3

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. 1

    Thanks for the great article. I’ve included some of your information here on this write-up that I did about bike lanes in Los Angeles.

    Ride safe!

  2. dale benson #

    The bike lane width on WB Sunset at Edgecliffe is actually 4 feet, 1 foot shy of minimum standard for this situation. The HDM manual recommends wider than minimum for streets with high speeds and volumes, and a great parking turnover, which Sunset has. The roadway is on such a crown (looks like about a 5-6% cross-fall) , that the effective width is actually less…more later…

5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Storm the Bastille! - December 4th 03 12 07
  2. Storm the Bastille! - February 5th 31 01 08
  3. LA Bike Plan – Bike Lanes in Los Angeles Are Not For Me! 27 10 09
  4. Streetsblog Los Angeles » If L.A. Is Going to Invest in Bike Lanes, Then Do It Right! 12 01 10
  5. illuminateLA » Storm The Bastille! – August 19 02 10

Your Comment