Playa Vista & bicycle network fail

Playa Vista & bicycle network fail

Playa Vista is booming thanks to what is being called Silicon Valley South. Yahoo! is moving its 400 current employees south from Santa Monica, with room to grow further. They’re taking space in The Collective, a five building office complex which will be completed this year. At the end of 2014, Google bought 12 acres in Playa which, according to the LA Times, is zoned for “nearly 900,000 square feet of commercial space.” This could house over 6,000 employees. Google’s YouTube studios, already occupies a 40,000 square foot space in the area. There are already over 6,000 residents in the area with more live/work/shop places to come, including the new Cinemark theater which opens this month.

While there is obviously far less green space than before all the development, there are numerous small parks in the area within walking distance of offices and apartments. Completed streets which don’t have major construction taking place have been outfitted with bike lanes from one end to the other. My hope is that the current gaps are simply construction gaps, with the gaps filled in once construction is done.

So it seems great if you just want to cycle around Playa Vista. But what if you’re one of the thousand employees trying to get to work? Or one of the residents trying to get down to the beach? The reality is not so great for cyclists.

For starters, the closest main street is Jefferson. It’s one of those six lane super-highway streets with a 45mph speed limit where cars routinely break 55mph. It is not fun to ride on. There was a perfect opportunity before all the development and increase to add protected cycling lanes on Jefferson between Lincoln and Inglewood. I’ve been on that section of road a lot, and seldom (if ever) is there a need for three full ¬†lanes in each direction.

Both the Ballona Creek and Culver Boulevard bike paths are tantalizingly close with Centinela being an easy straight shot right into Playa. Well, it would be easy, apart from the drag strip that Centinela becomes between the 90 intersection and Jefferson. And if you want to take the sidewalk (as I’ve tried in the past), good luck with that. Light poles in the middle of the sidewalk leave little room for pedestrians, let alone cyclists.

A little further east, Inglewood could be an alternative but on the south side at Playa you get dropped into a wide car-friendly intersection that can be pretty intimidating for cyclists. Further west, you have Lincoln. And that’s certainly not a good route for cycling.

Bike advocates are making sensible progress in providing better bike routes for riders, but this seems to be a missed opportunity. I’m curious what you think…

  • KentinLA

    Aye, an island indeed. I lament that widenings done to Centinela and Inglewood didn’t include bike lanes, but that happened in an era when it was still all about cars. The explanation offered was that the lane capacity was added on those streets to offset new trips generated by Playa Vista, a mitigation tied to the project’s EIR. Same for the lack of bike lanes on Jefferson. A lame excuse since the developer had gobs of land and was improving Jefferson anyhow.

    There has been talk of creating a bicycle-pedestrian bridge somewhere just east of Lincoln to make the connection to the Ballona Creek trail from Playa Vista. However, Caltrans is still pining to rebuild the Lincoln bridge over Ballona so I think planners are hoping that that will provide the bike-ped access to the trail. We need to keep an eye on concept plans for that bridge so we get more than striped lanes next to high speed traffic. Protected lanes would be more in order, with well-designed connections to the trail.

    Additionally, Playa Vista remains in a transit island as well. Oh sure, a couple bus lines pass by at the edges, but this is hardly the quality of transit service that a development of this scale needs if it is to offer access to transportation options consistent with city goals for VMT reduction, greenhouse gas reduction and mobility options. Sadly, we see the city approving a similar scale project not far away with the LAX Northside commercial development, also glaringly devoid of bicycle and transit access.