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Breaking: Last-Second Bill Would Increase Active Transportation Funding

This just in: Active transportation is finally getting some love in Sacramento. A bill was introduced today to double the funding available for projects and programs that encourage people to walk or ride bikes by making streets and paths safe and comfortable for them.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 2.41.04 PMAssemblymembers Eduardo Garcia, (D-Coachella), Autumn Burke (D-Los Angeles), and David Chiu (D-San Francisco) introduced A.B. X1-23 this afternoon. The last-minute bill, part of the special session on transportation called by Governor Brown to discuss transportation funding in California, is the first one to directly address making streets and roads safe for people who don’t drive cars. It’s so new it’s not even up on the state’s legislative information website yet.

“We believe that, in the ongoing conversations about generating dollars for transportation, we cannot forget the nonmotorized portion of our stakeholders,” said Garcia. “As we discuss future funding for transportation, we want to make sure we recognize that nonmotorized transportation plays a key role. It’s important for climate change policy, it’s important for public health–including obesity–and it’s important for folks with disabilities.”

The bill would double the amount of money in the Highway Transportation Account that is allocated to the Active Transportation Program, which funds projects that encourage and promote walking and riding bikes. The bill also incorporates assurances that the funding would be available to disadvantaged communities.

“This bill has a direct correlation with other state policies,” said Garcia, including climate change policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Caltrans goals to double the portion of trips made by bicycling and walking.

The bill seeks to do a number of things: Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Open Thread: Governor Brown’s Plan to Fund Transportation

Yesterday, word leaked that Governor Jerry Brown was finally submitting his own plan to try and fill the state’s looming $59 billion funding hole. His plan, a mix of fee increases, tax increases and funding from the state’s cap-and-trade funds, would raise roughly $3.6 billion per year.

Brown

Not from yesterday. Via

Critics on the left say the plan is not enough, business interests say the state needs to raise at least $6 billion per year.

Critics on the right refuse to support any plan that includes new taxes and fees.

For a new fee to pass, it needs the support of two-thirds of the legislature, meaning Brown needs a couple of Republicans to join the Democratic majority to pass the increase.

Here’s a breakdown of how Brown will raise the fees, if his plan goes through. Leave your thoughts in the comments. Oh, and the legislative session ends on September 11; so whatever is going to happen has to happen soon.

  • $65 annual fee for motor vehicle owners,
  • 11 cent increase in the diesel tax,
  • 6 cent increase in the gas tax,
  • pinning the gas and diesel taxes to inflation so that it rises with inflation,
  • $400 million annual allocation from state’s cap-and-trade funds.
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Talking Headways Podcast: The Urban Displacement Project

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This week my guest is Miriam Zuk of UC Berkeley’s Center for Community Innovation, who discusses how the team at the Urban Displacement Project has studied and mapped out gentrification and displacement risk in the Bay Area. We talk about the relationship between transit and rising property values, as well as the widespread portrayal of gentrification in the media as a rapidly occurring short-term process.

Miriam also shares case studies of places like Concord, California, where data indicated the community was declining, but residents and speculators were betting on the future because of proximity to a BART station. We get into the regional job market and the pressure it creates for neighborhoods, and we consider the definition of gentrification, a favorite topic in policy circles.

Join us for a discussion of complex topics you won’t want to miss.

Streetsblog USA
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Binge Watch This Video Series Profiling Unsung Bike Heroes

From the creative minds of bike activist and filmmaker Joe Biel and feminist bike ‘zine writer Elly Blue comes a new project that I bet you’re going to love.

Groundswell is a series of videos that spotlight grassroots bicycle activists who don’t normally get much glory. Eight videos have been completed — the one above is the first and only to be posted online so far — with four more in production, and the duo has dreams of doing several dozen more. Biel and Blue have been showing the videos to audiences on their Dinner & Bikes tour, but they haven’t published any until now.

“The idea behind Groundswell was to recontextualize bicycling as a social movement and also to look at all the different people that have been excluded from that,” said Biel. “It is often people at a ground level that are the ones that create social change around bicycling movements.”

In the first published video, above, Groundswell introduces its themes by looking at the formation and disintegration of the League of American Bicyclists’ equity initiative.

“It seemed like a good centering point to begin with, because we’ve heard that same story so many times,” Biel said. “Admittedly, by their own words, the League is trying to catch up with where the national conversation about race, class, ability, and gender is already at.”

While Biel and Blue prepare to roll out the next batch of Groundswell videos, they put together some short clips to give Streetsblog readers a preview of what they’re doing. First up: Meet Portland’s Dave Griffiths, whose disability led him to depend on his hand-cycle like others depend on a wheelchair.

Read more…

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The Public Funds Sports Teams, But Teams Won’t Fund Transit to Games

Fans pack Metro train after a Nationals game. Photo: Wikipedia

Fans pack Metro train after a Nationals game. Photo: Wikipedia

Professional sports stadiums put a strain on transportation networks. While good transit service to games can lessen the traffic burden and help everyone get to sports venues more easily, this often imposes additional costs on transit agencies. Despite all the public subsidies pro sports teams receive, they rarely help pay for this service.

It doesn’t have to be this way, says Richard Layman at Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space.

Layman reports that, of DC’s NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB teams, only the basketball and hockey arena has an agreement to pay WMATA for added transit service necessitated by games.

He writes:

The Washington Nationals have refused to put such an agreement in place, despite the city’s preference that they do so and the fact that the city is paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the team’s stadium. The city didn’t put a provision for transit coverage in the contract so the Nationals, see no reason to do so.

The result, says Layman, is uneven transit service to and from games, which is frustrating for fans who can’t or don’t want to drive. It also puts the onus on WMATA to accommodate the teams — which, as Layman notes, may already benefit from taxpayer subsidies.

Layman recommends that cities include “transportation demand management requirements” in stadium contracts, and zone for stadium construction only in areas already served by transit.

Of course, many communities are so eager to get a team that transit service and station adjacency ends up being, at best, an afterthought.

For example, the Atlanta Braves baseball team is moving out of the city to the suburbs, to the Galleria district of Cobb County, located at the intersection of I-285 and I-75, which is an area not served at all by MARTA’s heavy rail transit system.

Elsewhere on the Network: Spacing Toronto tours rail stations that were built and never used, and TheCityFix looks at the growth of bike-share systems worldwide.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Brown Jumps into the Fray Over Transpo. Funding. Should CA Raise the “Car Tax”? (LAT)
  • Will LA Benefit from Late Entry to Bikeshare Game? (City Lab)
  • A Look at the Mailers Battling Over Climate Change Legislation (LAT)
  • “Mall Trolley” Coming to Warner Center in the Valley (Daily News via Curbed)
  • Scared by Underperformance of ARTIC, OC Register Opposes Streetcar Study for Anaheim
  • As Foothill Transit Prepares to TAP, Paper Offers a Primer (SGV Tribune)
  • Hollywood Reporter Reviews “Bikes v Cars” Documentary Film
  • Donor Funds Bikes for Cops in Glendale (News-Press)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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Is Bikelash Spreading to Some of the More Progressive Neighborhood Councils?

Last night, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council voted to “reconsider” its support of the recently-passed Mobility Plan for the City of Los Angeles. The plan, which places safety at the center of all transportation decisions instead of vehicle travel speed, has been a favorite target for conservative talk radio hosts, “Fix the City,” and now some Neighborhood Councils who favor the reverse.

LACBC has made bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard connecting to Expo and to UCLA a priority for years.

The LACBC has made bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard connecting to Expo and to UCLA a priority for years.

The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, located in newly-elected David Ryu’s 4th Council District, isn’t the first Neighborhood Council to reconsider support for the Mobility Plan. The Mar Vista Neighborhood Council considered, and rejected, a motion from one of its transportation committee chairs to change its position from support for the mobility plan to opposition. Mar Vista’s vote, which occurred hours after the City Council passed the plan, was good politics given that their Westside City Councilmember was one of the leading forces in getting the plan passed.

However, there is still an opportunity for mischief.

Three Councilmembers are pushing amendments that would gut the plan in their districts. Councilmembers Curren Price and Paul Koretz are each proposing removing planned bike lanes from Central Avenue and Westwood Boulevard. Both of these streets are designated as “Great Streets” by the L.A. Mayor’s Office. Taking bike infrastructure off the table on Westwood and Central seems a direct challenge to Vision Zero and Great Streets and the soaring rhetoric of Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Gil Cedillo has slipped into self-parody and is actually proposing to remove all planned infrastructure in his northeast Council District.

These amendments were tabled in August, but a report on their projected impact is due later this month. Because the last City Council Transportation Committee in September has been cancelled, and its schedule falls on the first night of Yom Kippur, these proposals will likely be debated again in October. Read more…

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The Sound and the Silence, Hyperion Bridge Controversy Moves Behind the Curtain

Don Ward at today's press conference. Photo: Damien Newton

This July 7, 2015, press conference announcing a lawsuit was the last public update on the Hyperion Bridge controversy. Photo: Damien Newton

For almost two years, the controversy surrounding the redesign of the Hyperion Bridge has been a leading story at Streetsblog. However, with the battle over the future road design of the bridge being decided by lawyers and judges rather than planners and politicians, the story has moved from the public spotlight to inaccessible private meeting rooms.

For those just joining us, the city has long planned a seismic retrofit to the bridge, but when the Bureau of Engineering released a plan for the bridge that featured no bike lanes and reduced pedestrian access on the already dangerous bridge, advocates sprang into action. Over the course of two years and a lengthy public process, the bridge design was improved, but not fixed. When the City Council approved the plan, at the behest of termed-out Councilmember Tom LaBonge and over the objections of his successor, a lawsuit was filed claiming that the lack of an environmental impact study rendered the approval illegal.

I know it is not uncommon for legal discussions to happen behind closed doors — it is why the legislative bodies are exempted from the Brown Act to discuss legal matters. However, the difference between the sound and fury of the public battle between October of 2013 and July of 2015 and the silence of now is stark.

Last week, the two sides in the lawsuit met in private. Sources close to the meeting confirmed the meeting, that the two sides discussed different options for the road design, and that they agreed to meet again. On the record, nobody would say anything. The two Council offices that represent the districts the bridge traverses declined to comment. LADOT wouldn’t even confirm if they were at the meeting. The Bureau of Engineering sent me to the City Attorney’s Office for comment. The City Attorney has yet to return my calls. I called on Monday.

While environmental laws were written and are enforced to protect communities from the blundering of governments and elected bodies, it is a shame that we are at this point.  Read more…

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“Share the Road” Signs Don’t Work

Delaware got rid of its “Share the Road” signs about two years ago. Though the signs were designed to affirm cyclists’ rights to the road, they were widely misinterpreted — by both motorists and cyclists — as an exhortation to cyclists to stop “hogging” the road, or as a recommendation that drivers and cyclists share a lane (leading to tight squeezes and close passes).

Bike Delaware concluded that “Share The Road” is just “‘feel good’ signage that placates an interest group but has no safety benefit.” And the state dumped the confusing message in favor of a less ambiguous one asserting that bicycles “may use full lane.”

A new survey confirms that Delaware had the right idea — and other states should follow suit. In all 50 states, cyclists have a right to the road — including the center of the lane, if that’s the safest place for them to be.

Researchers George Hess and M. Nils Peterson of North Carolina State University conducted an online survey of nearly 2,000 people to find out what various road signage means to them. On the screen, respondents were shown pictures of various traffic scenarios and street designs, and asked to interpret different signs and markings in those contexts.

When confronted with a “Share the Road” sign, a “Bicyclists May Use Full Lane” sign, or a sharrow painted on the roadway surface, did respondents think the cyclist should cede position to let the driver pass in the same lane? Should the driver wait for an opportunity to pass in the adjacent lane? Did they think it’s legal for the cyclist to take the lane? Did they think it’s safe?

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • The Source Does a Great Job Recapping Olympic Headlines and Talking 2024 Transportation
  • Skelton: Driver’s Deserve Fix for Road Mess, Republicans Wake Up (LAT)
  • Dems. Have Lots of Ideas on How to Spend Cap and Trade Funds (KQED)
  • Silver Lake Pedestrian Tunnel Set for Closure (LAT)
  • Here’s the Timeline for the Pershing Square Renewal (Curbed)
  • Caltrans Moving Ahead with “Natural Crossing” (LAT)
  • Funding Approved for Anaheim Streetcar Funding (OC Register)
  • Mother Jones Gives S.B. 350 a Big Thumbs Up
  • Is the Tide Turning Against Cedillo Over Opposition to Traffic Calming? (Flying Pigeon)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA