- Happy Bike Month (Santa Monica Next)
- L.A. City Councilmembers Question DTLA Pedestrian Stings (LAT)
Councilmember Huizar Introduces Four Motions For DTLA Livability (DT News)
- West Hollywood Residential Street Blames Waze For Traffic (WeHoVille)
- Bike the Vote Endorses Carolyn Ramsay In L.A. CD4 Run-Off Election
- OC’s 405 Freeway Expansion May Cause Long Beach Bottleneck (KPCC)
- Hermosa/Redondo 2-Way Protected Bikeway To Open June 13 (Easy Reader, Beach Reporter)
- WeHo Ped Safety Campaign Wins Govt Social Media Award (WeHoVille)
- Santa Monica Officials Respond To Governor’s New GHG Reduction Targets (Santa Monica Next)
- 3-Bike Racks Pilot On S.F. Buses (SF Bay)
I’m pleased to welcome the newest member of the Streetsblog collective: Starting Monday, you can get news and commentary about safe streets, effective transit, and walkable development in the Mile High City by pointing your browser to Streetsblog Denver.
Streetsblog Denver arrives at a pivotal moment. The city is growing at an incredibly rapid pace, and it desperately needs streets and transportation policy that respond to these changes with intelligence and foresight. While there’s a huge grassroots appetite for walkable, bikeable neighborhoods and excellent transit access, for the most part the city’s streets remain stuck in the cars-first status quo. Working with an energetic advocacy community and the support of dedicated readers, Streetsblog Denver aims to change that.
Streetsblog Denver is run by a new, Denver-based non-profit of the same name, under the umbrella of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center. The site is possible thanks to the generous support of The Gates Family Foundation, the New Belgium Family Foundation, Zeppelin Development, Joel Noble and Julie Hock-Noble, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Editorial guidance and technical support come from Streetsblog’s main office in New York. Many thanks to Streetsblog founding editor Aaron Naparstek for getting the ball rolling.
Leading Streetsblog Denver is editor David Sachs, who lives in Congress Park. David brings a background in journalism, communications, and political organizing to the job. As editor-in-chief of the Alexandria Times in Virginia, he regularly covered transportation and development. David’s been hard at work cultivating sources and generating story ideas, and starting next week he’ll be cranking out posts every workday.
Denver came of age in the highway era, and its streets still reflect that. Wide, car-centric roads like Colfax, Broadway, Colorado, and Federal feel more like Autobahns than functional urban streets. Key measures of street safety are heading in the wrong direction, with pedestrian deaths on the rise. While the city has a reputation as a bike-friendly place, the truth on the ground doesn’t measure up — bicycling on Denver’s high-speed streets will get your pulse pounding for all the wrong reasons.
While transportation planners have done well connecting the region’s suburbs to downtown via rail, it’s not enough. The Regional Transportation District still caters to Denver’s suburban past. Its rail lines circle the city but barely penetrate it. For city dwellers, Denver’s neighborhoods remain fragmented by a landscape designed for cars, without effective transit to connect them.
But as a young city, Denver is also very capable of envisioning a new way of doing things.
The House’s current transportation spending bill calls for reducing the share of federal spending that goes to TIGER, a grant program for sustainable transportation projects in cities, from $500 to $100 million. The budget, meanwhile, holds highway funding steady.
TIGER is an enormously popular program. In its second year, it received close to 1,000 applications totaling $19 billion from communities in every U.S. state. At that time, there was just $600 million in funding available. Last year it was reduced to $500 million.
Despite its overwhelming popularity, TIGER is constantly in jeopardy. Yet transportation project austerity does not seem to apply to highways. To illustrate, we thought it’d be interesting to compare the cost of a few highway projects to total TIGER funding. Keep in mind that TIGER funds about 50 innovative projects annually, from the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to Cleveland’s University Circle Rapid Station. The result is in the graph above.
Now, a little about those highway projects:
Streets that safely accommodate everyone, from motorists to cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users — complete streets — have become policy for many American communities, having been implemented in more than 700 local jurisdictions and states around the country. A new bill in Washington attempts, again, to make complete streets the federal standard as well.
Maybe the time has come. Jeri Mintzer at Smart Growth America explains:
Late yesterday, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2015 (HR 2071), a bill which would require all new federally-funded transportation projects to use a Complete Streets approach to planning, designing, and building roads.
Joining them is an impressive bipartisan coalition of co-sponsors, including Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), David Valadao (R-CA), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Israel (D-NY), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Dina Titus (D-NV), John Lewis (D-GA), Andre Carson (D-IN), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
Smart Growth America urges readers who don’t see their representative on that list to take action:
In the coming weeks Congress will debate this and several other transportation issues as the May 31 deadline for new transportation funding draws near. Your representative needs to hear from you that this is an issue you care about and support.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Streets.mn says trail users shouldn’t be forced to stop at every intersection on some of Minneapolis’s most widely ridden commuter cycling routes. ATL Urbanist wonders what it would take to really make a dent in the share of American commuters who drive to work. And Transportation for America details the extent of Minnesota’s deficient bridge problem.
- Metro Receives Five Electric Buses, 20 More Soon (LAT, The Source)
- New Book Explains L.A. Street Grid Irregularities (Curbed)
- Can Express Lanes Solve L.A. Freeway Problems? (KCET)
- DTLA’s The Bloc Getting A New Tunnel Subway Portal (Curbed)
- Six Ways Los Angeles Is Already A Bike City (Ron Milam)
- Walk Down Wilshire Boulevard (KPCC)
- Not So Handsome Design For New DTLB Seaside Way Development (LongBeachIze)
- Shared Spaces: Safer? More Chaotic? or Both? (CityMetric)
Today was the April meeting of Metro’s board of directors. There was nothing earth-shatteringly controversial on the agenda, but below are a handful of updates.
Crenshaw / LAX Construction Work Stoppage
As mentioned on SBLA Twitter and explained in this headlined L.A. Times article, safety violations caused Metro to take the unprecedented step of stopping construction on the Crenshaw/LAX rail line. Metro issued a stop work order to contractor Walsh/Shea, which paused work on April 9 and resumed on April 13.
Interim CEO Stephanie Wiggins used her report to allow Metro staff to explain the Crenshaw/LAX situation. Metro Risk Management staff reported “two leg fractures” and a “culture situation” of insufficient attention to worker safety on Walsh/Shea’s part.
Walsh/Shea project manager Joe Lee responded, saying that the contractor’s safety record was better than industry standards, but admitting that they had had “a bad March… with a number of close calls.”
The Metro board was not buying Lee’s account. Boardmembers Eric Garcetti, Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, and Mark Ridley-Thomas all expressed displeasure with the contractor. Ridley-Thomas was the most vocal critic, suggesting that Walsh/Shea performance might be a “breach of contract.”
Ridley-Thomas put forward a motion directing Metro to further audit and review the situation, to create a corrective action plan, and to have legal counsel review the matter. The motion passed unanimously.
All-Door Boarding Pilot
Beginning May 18, Metro will test all-door boarding in some locations on Wilshire Boulevard. The details of the pilot have not been made entirely clear yet. The board passed a motion [PDF] by directors Mike Bonin, Eric Garcetti, and Sheila Kuehl to further study all-door boarding and off-board fare payment, initially on Wilshire.
Metro Policing Contract
With his extensive law enforcement background, Inglewood mayor and new Metro board member James Butts is taking a lead board role in overseeing Metro policing. Though he clashed with a Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department (LASD) representative in committee two weeks ago, relations were more polite today as the board received a Metro Inspector General (IG) review of options for when Metro’s transit policing contract comes up for a decision later this year. The IG staff report [PDF] is recommending more-or-less a new extension of the current LASD contract. Read more…
If they weren’t going to let us in, said an elderly woman in Spanish, then why did they send us cards inviting us to the ceremony?
She had shown up to the groundbreaking for the Vermont Entertainment Village project at Vermont and Manchester yesterday with her daughters and their young children only to be told that it was a private ceremony. She and the other curious residents would have to stay outside the fencing while a host of dignitaries spoke about how wonderful it was to see such positive change on the 23rd anniversary of the 1992 riots and what a hard-fought victory the project represented for the community.
A man outside the fence recalled having been hired to do clean-up work on the lot several years back. Another man said he rushed down to the site on his bike after seeing mention of the groundbreaking on the news that morning. A woman standing with her daughter — who had been born shortly after the riots — recalled watching the swap meet burn. A young man sporting tattoos marking his affiliation said he knew it was a great day for them to begin the project because it was his birthday. And a man who had been managing the residential hotel across the street for the last 5 years said he couldn’t wait for the project to be finished — it was needed in the community.
They pored over the extra brochures I snagged for them to look at.
“Ooh, it’s beautiful,” “We need this,” “We have been waiting so long for this,” “We will be able to walk to the grocery store and won’t have to go to the Ralph’s [on Western and Manchester] anymore…well, you’d have to go into that Ralph’s to understand…” and “Universal City Walk gonna be jealous!” were just some of the many comments in favor of the project I heard.
But just as common as the praise for the two-block retail destination center, promenade, and performance space were the questions about jobs and how quickly the residents could have access to them.
No one was more adamant about ensuring jobs went to locals than 53-year-old Dana Gilbert. Read more…
This week on the podcast we’re bringing you the keynote address from the 2015 National Bike Summit, hosted by the League of American Bicyclists. The LAB’s Liz Murphy introduces Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who talks about how he took his city from being rated as one of the least physically fit to one of the fittest.
Cornett also discusses how people came together after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and how at one point a business told the city it would not locate there because “they couldn’t imagine employees living in Oklahoma City.” Hear his stories about losing weight, building bike lanes, and getting a second crack at a magazine that had shamed his city years earlier.
Cornett touts Oklahoma City as a place of change, and his speech takes us through all the ups and downs.
The rise of private transit operators like Bridj, Leap, and Uberpool has raised questions about equity in places including the Bay Area, where such services are fast replicating. A related issue is the impact they will have on traditional public transit systems.
Private transit vehicles have been described as “like a lounge on wheels,” with amenities like leather seats, refreshments, and Wi-Fi for those who are willing and able to pay.
Jarrett Walker, a transit consultant who blogs at Human Transit, says he thinks the ultimate impact — good or bad — depends on a few factors.
If microtransit co-ordinates with conventional big-vehicle transit, we get (a) lower overall Vehicle Miles Traveled, emissions, and congestion, and (b) stronger cases for transit-oriented land use and thus (c) better, more humane and inclusive cities. If they compete with it, drawing away customers from big vehicles into smaller ones, we get the opposite.
If it turns out to be a fight, the playing field would have to be leveled in terms of the overwhelming public sector cost drivers such as workforce compensation and Federal regulatory burden before we have a fair fight. (And I mean leveled upward, toward fair wages and policies that respect the civil rights agenda encoded in Federal transit regulations.)
If it were a fair fight, high-volume urban transit (not just rapid transit but also high-volume frequent local bus lines) would continue to prevail where it’s the best use of both labor and scarce urban space. My fear is that it’s going to be an unfair fight, one that’s only made worse when the media frame it as ‘little enterprising’ upstarts vs ‘big, old’ agencies. In such an unfair fight, the upstarts can too easily win through means that are destructive to justice and the environment (low wage “contractors”, replacing space-efficient big vehicles with smaller ones) rather than through finding the most efficient equilibrium for all the transport needs of a city.
Elsewhere on the Network today: The Wash Cycle pushes back against the notion that rides per bike is the best way to measure the success of bike-share systems. Bike Walk Lee reports that while no one is paying attention, southwest Florida is making big strides on sustainable transportation. And Streets.mn critiques Minnesota’s habit of removing crosswalks.
- @streetsblogla Tweeting Today’s 9 a.m. Metro Board Meeting – Agenda (The Source)
- L.A.’s Love-Hate Relationship with Waze (CityLab)
- Parking Fines Unchanged in New Garcetti Budget (Daily News)
- Community Groups Work To Transform South L.A. Vacant Lots to Playgrounds (KPCC)
- Flying Pigeon Suggests Where Beverly Hills Might Put Bike Parking
- Big Differences Between Students and Non-Students Around USC (Curbed)
- Facing Housing Crunch, AirBnB Further Limited By Santa Monica (Santa Monica Next, KPCC)
Editorial Board: There Are Better Ways To Limit AirBnB (LAT)
- Malcolm Gladwell on How Engineers View Car Safety (New Yorker)