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CycleHop Plans for Regional System for All Their SoCal Bike Shares

Santa Monica’s bike share program uses a smart bike technology that allows users to unlock a bike by entering account information into a keypad at the back of the bike. Images by Saul Rubin

Santa Monica’s bike share program uses a smart bike technology that allows users to unlock a bike by entering account information into a keypad at the back of the bike. Images by Saul Rubin

Santa Monica’s launch of its bike sharing program last year did more than just provide an environmentally friendly way to get around the city. It set in motion a shift in thinking throughout the Los Angeles region as many other communities followed Santa Monica’s lead and added their own public bike rental programs.

The new challenge is merging all these community programs into one integrated system, bike share proponents say. Riders could then seamlessly travel between cities and communities without being confused by conflicting regulations or charged extra fees for leaving bikes too far from their home stations.

Under current rules, for example, if users rent a bike in Santa Monica and drop it off in West Hollywood, they are charged a penalty fee for returning the bike to an area out of Santa Monica’s hub.

The distinctive bright green bikes of Santa Monica’s bike share program are ready for use at a rental station on Ocean Park Boulevard. Santa Monica’s program s offers 500 bicycles located at 85 different locations throughout the city and Venice.

The distinctive bright green bikes of Santa Monica’s bike share program are ready for use at a rental station on Ocean Park Boulevard. Santa Monica’s program s offers 500 bicycles located at 85 different locations throughout the city and Venice.

An integrated system that would eliminate those fees isn’t just a bike share pipe dream. It’s a plan “far along” in development, according to Ron Durgin, Southern California Regional Manager for CycleHop, a national bike share operator. “The challenge going forward is if the technology can deliver on what everyone thinks is the best solution.”

Durgin said the regional plan would involve community bike share programs operated by CycleHop, including Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Long Beach and UCLA.

CycleHop is reaching out to Culver City, which appears poised to begin its own bike share program, as well as South Bay cities, hoping to bring them into its fold. A South Bay network would be important for CycleHop, as the company would then claim a coastal network of bike sharing programs stretching from Santa Monica to Long Beach.

Kyle Kozar, coordinator of Santa Monica’s Breeze Bike Share program, said a regional system might be in place early next year.

One challenge to a broad bike-sharing network across cities throughout Los Angeles is that two competing technologies are being used.

CycleHop uses smart bikes in the cities where it operates. Bike share users create an account and passcode and then unlock available bikes by entering their information in a keypad located at the back of the bike.

But a bike share program begun this summer by the Metropolitan Transit Authority in Downtown Los Angeles uses an entirely different system. Riders have to return bikes and lock them at designated docking stations. Metro has plans to expand the program into Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley.

Back in Santa Monica, the first city in Los Angeles County to offer a public bike sharing, the city’s program is still growing in popularity.

The city’s program is sponsored by Hulu, which has a five-year agreement to feature its logo on the city’s fleet of bright green bikes for an annual fee of $675,000.

Santa Monica has 500 available bikes located at 80 locations throughout the city, and five more rental hubs in Venice.  Under Santa Monica’s plan users sign up for monthly or annual memberships that entitle them to 90 minutes of riding a day.There is also a pay-as-you-go option that costs $7 an hour.

Several Santa Monica communities that at first resisted the idea of a bike share station are now requesting one, according to Kozar.

“People were skeptical at first. Now that we are coming up on the first year, they are more used to it,” said Kozar. “Hopefully there is room for expansion. That’s something that has to be looked at.”

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It’s Not Good Transit If the Streets Nearby Aren’t Good for Walking

All transit stops aren’t created equal. The street environment around the station — especially safe, convenient pedestrian access — has a major influence on how people use transit.

A wide road with strip malls on the way to a transit stop in San Diego. Photo: Edward Russell/GGW

Edward Russell at Greater Greater Washington compares two stops that offer very different walking environments — one in San Diego and one in Washington:

The 1.1-mile walk from the Grossmont Trolley station in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa to my family’s house takes you through a strip mall parking lot, along the six-lane major arterial Fletcher Parkway and then up the overly wide four-lane Jackson Drive before you turn into their neighborhood. It’s not pleasant, as the picture above shows.

As a result, my family only drives to the station when they ride the Trolley, and I — someone who likes to ride transit — think twice about making the walk when I’m there.

The crazy thing is that this is a comparable distance to what I walk a couple of times a week from the Shaw-Howard U Metro station to my house in Eckington.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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California Legislative Wrap-up: Session Over, Bills Signed

bikeatCapitollabel2Today is the deadline for California Governor Jerry Brown to sign or reject any bills passed by the legislature this session, so there has been a flurry of activity in the last few days. Here’s a quick look at few freshly signed laws pertinent to sustainable transportation and the climate.

Transportation Safety

We’ve written about A.B. 1785 a few times, and watched it get watered down as it moved through the legislative process. In its final form, the bill by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) prohibits the operation of any handheld electronic communication device while driving a vehicle. They can be used, however, if they are attached to the dashboard, so distracted driving is not going away any time soon.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving was happy that Senator Jerry Hill’s S.B. 1046 was signed. The bill extends a pilot program requiring convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices if they want to get their drivers licenses back. The bill also lets someone who’s been convicted avoid the punitive license suspension if they install the locks right away. Our culture so strongly believes that driving is a necessity that we fail to imagine how useful it might be for someone to have to forego driving for a while.

Planning, Environmental Justice, and Climate Change

S.B. 1000 from Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) is a really solid bill that requires cities to consider environmental justice when updating general plans. Cities have to do so either by adding a new element to their general plans, or incorporating environmental justice into the entire plan. The new law specifically calls for cities to look at which communities are unduly burdened by health risks or pollution, to find ways to promote civil engagement in decision making, and to prioritize the needs of disadvantaged communities.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

Chart of LADOT's new bikeway mileage implemented by year - via @bikethevote based on data from yesterday's SBLA article

Chart of LADOT’s new bikeway mileage implemented by year – via @bikethevote based on data from yesterday’s SBLA analysis

  • Rowena Road Diet Carried Same Car Volume, Improved Safety (LAT)
  • Sixth Street Road Diet Back-Burnered By Councilmember Ryu (Beverly Press)
    Biking in L.A. Frustrated L.A. Does Implement Proven Safety Solutions
  • Metrolink’s Positive Train Control Prevents Crashes Like Yesterday’s In NJ (KPCC)
    …Train Crashes Get Press (SGV Tribune, SGV Tribune)
    …But Train And Transit Travel Way Way Safer Than Driving (Clean Technica)
  • UCLA Now Has On-Line Traffic School For Bike Citations (Daily Bruin)
  • L.A. Traffic Horror: the Nightmare Unprotected Left Turn (KPCC)
  • Mixed-Use TOD Tower Planned For Hollywood Ametron Site (Urbanize)
  • Many Homes Around Quemetco Not Tested For Lead (KPCC)
  • So Cal Had Largest Electric Railway In the World (Ahbe Lab)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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LADOT Releases Annual Report, New Bikeway Mileage Declining

Cover of LADOT Annual Report Fiscal Year 2015-2016 [PDF]

Cover of LADOT Annual Report Fiscal Year 2015-2016 [PDF]

Last week, the L.A. City Department of Transportation (LADOT) released its Annual Report for the 2015-2016 Fiscal Year [PDF]. There are plenty of worthwhile accomplishments detailed in the annual report, but some disappointing news in that LADOT bikeway implementation has slowed.

Among the good news are some features that Streetsblog readers may be familiar with: the Hollywood/Highland scramble crossing, Cesar Chavez Avenue bulb-outspedestrian head-start signals, expansion of Express Park to Westwood, protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street, and groundwork laid for downtown L.A.’s Metro Bike Share, which launched at the start of the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Only a decade ago, it was difficult to imagine these kinds of projects ever being installed here. Despite advocate pressure for protected lanes and bike-share, these were just not a possibility for LADOT circa 2006.

There are also some excellent accomplishments that flew under SBLA’s radar during the past year:

  • LADOT has implemented 13 new school safety zones where speed limits are reduced to 15 mph.
  • LADOT has fought disabled parking placard abuse by conducting 74 stings, issuing 1,278 citations, confiscating 819 placards, and working to change state law.
  • LADOT has laid the groundwork for reinstituting the city’s speed hump program and for implementing electric vehicle car-share. Both coming soon.

Vision Zero chart of L.A. traffic violence trends. Image via LADOT Annual Report [PDF]

Vision Zero chart of L.A. traffic violence trends. Image via LADOT Annual Report [PDF]

Interwoven with all this is LADOT’s work to take Vision Zero from approved policy to on-the-ground improved safety for all road users. The annual report touts LADOT’s analysis of collision data to inform future safety improvements. Some of this data mapping was presented at recent community meetings, where LADOT previewed maps for its forthcoming Vision Zero action plan, which was due to be released last August.

On the bike facility front, though, implementation has been sparse, even as new research shows that adding bike facilities improves ridership and safety.

It is telling that in her introductory preface LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds credits her department’s accomplishment having “designed 12.43 protected bike lane miles.” (emphasis added) Last year’s report touted bikeway miles implemented. When asked for a comment on the decreasing bikeway mileage, Reynolds emphasized that LADOT is continuing to improve the streets for people biking and walking, though “we have a long way to go, and our interest remains raising the bar to build the safest, most organized infrastructure we can.”

Some bike advocates evaluate LADOT’s performance less generously. Michael MacDonald of Bike the Vote asserts that diminished bikeway implementation points to a lack of leadership:

Despite more and more Angelenos using bikes to get around, we still see little leadership and vision from our politicians to make streets safer. While other major cities such as New York, Chicago, Denver, and Washington D.C. are delivering on promises to build miles and miles of bikeways each year, Los Angeles is clearly falling behind.

Many Los Angeles politicians keep saying they support safer streets, but when it comes time for the paint to hit the road, we’re not seeing the courage to make it happen. Striping bike lanes to improve safety isn’t rocket science, but it does require leadership that we aren’t seeing from Mayor Garcetti and many members of City Council.

L.A. County Bicycle Coalition’s Executive Director Tamika Butler was also critical of L.A.’s elected officials. Butler stated that the LACBC is pushing “to uplift the voices of our communities to push elected officials to be accountable to the many Angelenos who deserve improved access, connectivity, and infrastructure. Investing in people who walk and bike is an investment in a better Los Angeles. Right now, some of those elected to protect us are fighting needed investments and putting our most vulnerable road users at risk.”

In FY2015-16, LADOT implemented 8.8 miles of bike lanes, 1 mile of protected bike lane, 6.5 miles of bike path, and 0.8 miles of sharrowed bike routes. LADOT continues to count mileage using their new “lane miles” metric, which essentially double-counts most facilities, compared to pre-FY2014-15 statistics. Below is the entire list of new bikeways implemented last year, per LADOT:  Read more…

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Adieu, Cars: Paris Riverfront to Be Permanently Returned to the People

A rendering of the Right Bank of the Seine -- sans highway. Rendering: Luxigon

A rendering of the Right Bank of the Seine — sans highway. Credit: Luxigon

After years of experimentation, the Paris City Council this week committed to the permanent conversion of two miles of the Georges Pompidou expressway along the River Seine into a waterfront park.

The 1960s expressway carried two lanes of traffic and about 43,000 vehicles a day along the Right Bank of the river. But beginning in 2011, the highway had been converted for part of the summer each year to a beach and waterfront promenade. The “Paris-Plages,” as it was called, was popular with tourists and locals as well, seeing as many as four million visitors annually.

The Georges Pompidou expressway carried about 43,000 vehicles daily. Photo: Preservation Institute

The Georges Pompidou expressway carried about 43,000 vehicles daily. Photo: Preservation Institute

During the past few months, Mayor Anne Hidalgo piloted a temporary closure to test conditions for permanently opening the space to pedestrians and cyclists.

Although there was some outcry from motorists, they were overshadowed by supporters of the conversion. According to the UK Independent, 55 percent of Parisians supported the conversion plan. Support for the project reflects Paris’ progress in shifting away from motor vehicles. According to Slate‘s Henry Grabar, 60 percent of Parisians do not own cars. That’s up from 40 percent just 15 years ago.

The conversion to a park will cost about $50 million, an investment that is expected to benefit the city’s tourism-based economy.

The park plan is part of a wider set of efforts by Mayor Hidalgo aimed at reducing air pollution and dependence on cars. She has also presided over the city’s first car-free days and intends to eventually limit the famous Champs-Élysées to electric vehicles only. Her predecessor, Bertrand Delanoë was the original proponent of converting the highway into a park, and was responsible for beginning the “Paris-Plages.”

Read more…

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Portland Cracks Down on a Old Urban Scourge: Drive-Throughs

Drive-through services at restaurants and stores can be a real headache for pedestrians. They generally require multiple curb cuts across the sidewalk and generate a lot of conflicts with motor vehicles.

Drive-throughs in Portland will have to serve people on foot or bike if the walk-in enterances are closed. Photo: Bike Portland

Drive-throughs in Portland will have to serve people on foot or bike if the walk-in entrances are closed. Photo: Bike Portland

Many chains also forbid people without cars from using the drive-through windows, citing liability concerns.

Now Portland is tackling both of those issues in a new zoning proposal. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports:

Last June City Council adopted the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Policy 4.24 prohibits drive-through facilities in the entire Central City and limits their development in close-in commercial districts in order to “support a pedestrian-oriented environment.”

The commission’s Comp Plan Early Implementation Package Recommendation (avaliable here) includes two new zoning code changes we’ll likely be hearing about a lot more in the weeks to come: An outright ban on new drive-throughs east of 80th Avenue, and a policy that would require businesses to serve customers who show up on bike, foot, or mobility devices. (You can see the language starting on page 192 of this PDF.)

One of the many subtle forms of discrimination that exists in our transportation system is how some retail businesses close to certain customers based soley on how they get around. You might have experienced this before at your local pharmacy or fast food restaurant: Only the drive-through window is open but you get denied service simply because you’re not in a car. This common practice discriminates against customers who show up via their feet, a bicycle, or a mobility device.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

New piano key crosswalks at Long Beach Boulevard and Bixby Road. Image via city of LB Facebook

Eyes on the Street: new piano key crosswalks at Long Beach Boulevard and Bixby Road. Image via city of LB Facebook

  • LAT Opinion Endorses Measure M To Give Alternatives To Soul Crushing Traffic
    …Garcetti Stumps For Measure M Freeway Expansion (Downey Patriot)
  • Let’s Go L.A. Considers Ride-Hailing, Slugging, and Carpooling
  • L.A. Pays $3M To Settle Lawsuit Over Cyclist Injured On Valley Bike Route (LAT)
  • Santa Monica Expo Bike Path Gets Crappified With Dismount Gates (Biking in L.A.)
  • Mixed-Use TOD Planned At Wilshire/Normandie Purple Line Station (Urbanize)
  • For Safer Streets, Design Is More Important Than Enforcement (Pedestrian Observations)
  • L.A. and S.F. Take Different Paths To Civic Innovation (Fast Coexist)

Get National Headlines At Streetsblog USA
Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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Equity 101: Bikes v. Bodies on Bikes

Ceebo Tha Rapper shoots a video near 65th and Broadway, where 25-year-old Ezell Ford was shot and killed by the police, answering critics that thought his first video called for violence against the police. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Ceebo Tha Rapper (at right) shoots a rap video near 65th and Broadway, where 25-year-old Ezell Ford was shot and killed by the police. The video was to answer critics that thought his first video called for violence against the police. Ceebo (DaMonte Shipp) was arrested later that summer on a burglary charged and sentenced to 17 years.  Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

“You’ve Been Whitesplained!”

“Maybe you didn’t catch that you jumped into a convo specifically about transportation/police issues?” the self-described “police/community relations specialist” and bike advocate tweeted at me.

“You’ve been whitesplained!” announced the cheery AOL-style voice in my head.

It’s the voice I hear every time I am told by a white person that race and class have no bearing on a conversation. Which happens way more often than you probably think, by the way.

But to answer her query, I was very much aware that I had jumped into the #moveequity conversation to engage the prompt, “How can community groups and residents partner with law enforcement to build trust and create safer, fairer communities?”

I did so specifically because the thread, part of a national Twitter chat hosted by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership last week, was quickly racking up semi-vague statements about the importance of building relationships.

The vagueness, to be fair, was partially due to the fact that the medium was Twitter, and you can only go so deep in 140 characters. Also to be fair, none of the suggestions offered up were necessarily wrong. Stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they police must absolutely be forged if the country is to heal and move toward a more just state.

But in a week when we had all watched yet two more Black men die in a hail of bullets on our screens, the absence of depth, urgency, and specifics in the conversation felt jarring.

So, when I spotted the tweet arguing the best way forward was to “Develop trust and engagement via long-term relationships based on mutual respect. Can’t just make demands,” I decided to ask the most logical and pressing question: How do we do that?

In communities where there has never been any sort of trust, where the relationship is so toxic and so suppressive that residents speak of law enforcement as the equivalent of an occupying force monitoring any and all movement through the public space, and where young men join gangs because they feel so vulnerable and unprotected in the streets, how do you begin to undo that harm?

We had to go beyond bike corral projects and barbecues with officers and collaborate with city agencies to transform the culture of policing from the top down, I argued. Preventive police work and meaningful community engagement had to be valued over the number of drug or gun busts. And any and all work had to be grounded in the understanding that the deep distrust stemmed from the suspicion and brutality with which African American and Latino people were regularly treated in the public space, not the fact that they were on bikes when they were mistreated.

“Please go troll someone else,” came the reply. “I work every day to make my city better for Everyone. Peace out.”

Bikes v. Bodies
That I would essentially be #AllLivesMatter-ed and subsequently blocked by a bike advocate in a conversation specifically dedicated to transportation and policing was somewhat strange, but not surprising.

There exists a pretty significant chasm within the mobility advocacy community when it comes to issues of equity and justice. At the heart of it lies the question of where one anchors the frameworks that guide their thinking: on the bicycle or on the body moving through space on those two wheels. Read more…

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Why Are American Traffic Fatalities Rising So Quickly?

What's causing the steep rise in traffic fatalities? Graph: State Smart Transportation Initiative

What’s causing the steep rise in traffic fatalities? Graph: State Smart Transportation Initiative

Summer is barely over but this much is already clear: Traffic safety on American streets is taking a big step backward in 2016.

During the first five months of the year, traffic deaths rose 9 percent over 2015 levels, reports Bill Holloway at the State Smart Transportation Campaign. It’s even worse if you compare to 2014 — traffic deaths have increased a staggering 17 percent since then.

One factor is that people are driving more as gas prices plunge and the economy grows. But the increase in mileage isn’t large enough to fully explain the mounting death toll. And in a disturbing related trend, pedestrian and cycling deaths are rising faster than overall traffic fatalities.

What is going on? Holloway searches for potential explanations:

Although there is no good data available on bicycle and pedestrian miles traveled, the number of bike and pedestrian commuters estimated in the American Community Survey shows the rough magnitude of changes in bike and pedestrian activity in recent years. Between 2010 and 2015 the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. increased by 30 percent, climbing from 685,000 to 890,000; while the number of people walking to and from work increased by 8 percent, from 3,834,000 in 2010 to 4,153,000 in 2015 — a roughly 11.5 percent gain in total non-motorized commuters. However, during this same period, while total annual VMT climbed by only 4.9 percent, the number of fatal crashes involving bikers and walkers climbed by 27 percent, according to SSTI’s analysis of FARS data.

Read more…