I've written about bicycle boulevards a fair bit lately, especially in relation to 4th Street here in LA, so I was glad to pedal nearly its full length after dinner tonight, despite being somewhat weary, to attend a meeting put on by Joe Linton, Dorothy Le, and other good folks from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. We wanted to see what we might do to make 4th Street a genuine bicycle boulevard, rather than just a scenic but rather badly-paved signed bike route.
Now, my feeling lately has been that the term "bicycle boulevard" might not be the best one to use, as it will imply to many people that you are trying to take a street away from drivers to give to cyclists.
Not that I think that's a bad thing, at all! But it's not going to happen soon, especially on a street ill-served by transit. And it's not what a bicycle boulevard is, which is a street that allows through bicycle traffic, but only local motorized traffic, using various filters and traffic calming devices to do so.
For example, cars might be directed off the street by right-turn-only barricades at regular intervals, while gaps would let cyclists through; and bulb-outs, roundabouts, and medians serve to slow all traffic to reasonable speeds.
Since the burgeoning concept of "complete streets" posits protocols that often result in pretty much the same effect, and uses inclusive rather than (seemingly) exclusive language, I'm hoping we'll go with the newer term, especially as it is becoming widespread. However, the rose will still smell as sweet if we can get 4th Street smoothed, calmed, and prettied up under any other name, and that's what we were trying to figure out tonight.
So I ended up volunteering to do a little writing and contact my local community council, for whom I'm doing a small web job now anyway.
I've been riding 4th Street regularly for nearly twenty years now. I hope it's not another twenty before it finally realizes its potential. We'll see what we can do!