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The Future of Bike-Share: An Interview with NABSA’s Matt Martin

Matt Martin

Matt Martin

Matt Martin is the Project Manager for the North American Bikeshare Association and the Director of Rosewood Bikes, a nonprofit program bringing bike resources to a poorly served area of Portland, Oregon. Prior to NABSA, Matt led the Community Bike Project Omaha, an Omaha nonprofit focused on transportation equity issues, where he helped bring bike-share to Omaha and served as Omaha B-cycle’s bike-share Managing Director. 

The interview took place over email earlier this month.

Streetsblog L.A.: Tell us a little about your background. How did you come to the North American Bike Share Association?

I got into focusing on transportation policy expanding opportunities for bicycling in 2008, after a career of working in international security issues, as the perspective of my interests turned from global to local. While directing the Community Bike Project Omaha, I teamed together with a local health advocacy organization to create Omaha B-cycle and bring bike-sharing to Omaha. As a result of that, I met more of the national bike-share community. When NABSA reached out to me in 2015, I was happy to come aboard.

What is the North American Bikeshare Association? What do you do?

The North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA) exists to further bike-share and to support its members in North America and beyond. We host an annual conference that brings together bike-share system operators, local officials, vendors, and people seeking to learn about bike-sharing to share best practices, learn about new innovations, and gain insights on international trends.

We provide a range of services for our members – including expert webinars; a repository of guides, RFPs, contracts, and other documents; an internal discussion group; and daily support for the immediate questions and issues that can arise when planning or operating a bike-share system.

What is exciting about bike-shake? Explain some examples of the benefits that bike-share cities are seeing.

Whatever your usual way of getting around, bike-share can offer a convenient, green, inexpensive, and healthy option. Bike-share provides an alternative to single-occupancy vehicles and the problems they create for both the user and the city—cost, parking, and congestion. We’ve also seen them act as an alternative to public transit—when trains are offline for maintenance, those users can and do switch to bike-share.

Bike-share is often a “last mile” solution, used as part of a mix with other transportation modes. Users drive or ride transit in from the suburbs and use bike-share to complete their journey from the parking garage or bus stop. Even bicyclists can benefit, as bike-sharing eliminates the concerns over private bike maintenance and theft, when leaving a personal bike locked up outside.

Beyond these direct benefits, cities have enjoyed other urban planning benefits as well. As cities redesign their urban landscapes to encourage bike-share and active transportation, we have seen a virtual explosion of new pedestrian plazas, greenways, and urban renewal that has not only made our cities more efficient, but more beautiful as well.  Read more…

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Cheap Gas, More Driving Make 2016 an Especially Deadly Year on U.S. Streets

Graph: National Safety Council

Traffic fatalities on American roads are rising faster than driving mileage. Chart: National Safety Council

The number of traffic deaths in America each year is so staggering, it almost defies comprehension — about 35,000 lives lost is the norm. But 2016 is shaping up to be even worse.

Emma Kilkelly at Mobilizing the Region reports on newly-released data from the first half of 2016 showing a disturbing increase in traffic deaths:

The National Safety Council (NSC) recently estimated that motor vehicle fatalities rose 9 percent in the first six months of 2016 compared to 2015, and 18 percent compared to 2014. At this rate, 2016 is shaping up to be the deadliest year for driving since 2007. This Labor Day weekend is on track to be the nation’s deadliest since 2008, with 438 fatalities projected over the three-day period.

The jump in traffic fatalities coincides with sinking gas prices and an uptick in driving. During the first half of 2016, U.S. motorists collectively drove 3.3 percent more compared to last year, reaching 1.58 trillion miles traveled. The recent upswing in miles driven has been linked to the availability of cheap gas and a sharp increase in traffic deaths.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • L.A. Urban Core Is Full (Archinet News)
  • Uber Lost $1.2 Billion In First Half Of 2016 (Bloomberg)
    L.A. Market Has the Most Uber Drivers (RideGuru)
  • Low Rise Housing Planned Near Culver City Expo Station (Urbanize)
  • Deadly Reseda Hit-and-Run Driver Surrenders To Police (NBC4)
  • Metro’s Upgraded Student Transit U-Pass A Hit At Rio Hondo (The Source)
  • Dangerous Santa Fe Springs Rail Crossing To Get Upgrade (SGV Tribune, LAT)
  • Walk Eagle Rock Makes the Case For Keeping DASH On Secondary Streets
  • How To Get To L.A.’s Under Construction Expo Park Soccer Stadium (L.A. Magazine)
  • Lines Drawn In L.A. Anti-Growth Initiative Debate Of 2017 (L.A. Weekly)
    …Developers Funding Anti-NII Efforts (Curbed)

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Via Streetsblog California
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Opposition Grows To Problematic Assembly Taxicab Bill A.B. 650

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Will A.B. 650 create a more level playing field for taxis? The city of L.A. doesn’t think so. Photo by Boris Dzhingarov via Wikimedia

It is no secret that taxis and ride-hail companies (Uber, Lyft) are in need of a more even playing field. California’s taxi industry is regulated tightly by local municipalities, generally cities. Ride-hail, also called TNCs (Transportation Network Companies), are regulated relatively laxly by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC). But proposed state legislation that would theoretically put the taxi industry on a more even footing is ruffling some feathers, especially in southern California, where the city of Los Angeles this week voted to formally oppose the legislation.

Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) is the author of A.B. 650, called the Taxicab Transportation Services Act. The bill is working its way through the legislative process, currently awaiting approval of the Senate Rules Committee, and expected to be voted on by the Senate soon. If approved by the Senate, the bill will then have to go to the Assembly where it would need to be approved before Wednesday.

A.B. 650 would remove local control of taxis, shifting responsibility to the PUC.

Theoretically the bill would apply to the entire taxi industry statewide, but there is a carve out so it does not apply to San Francisco. San Francisco’s taxis operate on a medallion system, which serves as a sort of retirement benefit, so upending that system could constitute a “taking.” City of L.A. taxis operate under a franchise system, which does not feature a similar retirement benefit for drivers.

One big issue in Los Angeles’ opposition to A.B. 650 is the city’s bottom line. The city currently charges a fee of $30 per month per taxicab, totaling $360 per year. Under A.B. 650, cities’ or counties’ taxi permit fees may not exceed $50 per year per taxicab. L.A. uses the current funding stream to enforce restrictions against taxi’s other competition: “bandit” or unlicensed cabs. Bandit cabs are not subject to consumer protections including approved fare structures and disabled access.

L.A. City Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds is critical of A.B. 650 because the city would lose the ability of ensuring taxis serve Los Angeles’s transportation, labor, equity, and environmental goals. Reynolds stated,

Local control matters because of what’s coming next–our ability to regulate an increasingly autonomous fleet of rides for hire. For the present, we lose the ability to require lifeline services for people with disabilities, equitable service to every neighborhood in the city, and a green taxi fleet. For the future, we lose the ability to encourage ridesharing through pricing and to prohibit things like empty taxis circling the street. Read more…

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Seattle Doesn’t Need a Highway on Top of Its New Underground Highway

As if Seattle's buried replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct weren't bad enough, it's planning to top it with another high-speed, overly-wide road. Photo: Seattle Bike Blog

Seattle is planning to top its underground highway with another high-speed, very wide road. Photo: Seattle Bike Blog

The construction of Seattle’s budget-busting underground waterfront highway has been a great reminder of why car-based urban megaprojects are such a bad idea.

The one advantage of the tunnel is that it would allow for better walking, biking, and transit connections on surface streets by the waterfront. The trouble is, Seattle is on track to waste that opportunity by building another highway-like road right on top of the sunken highway.

The southern portion of the road will be 96 feet wide, with two travel lanes in each direction, a turn lane, two lanes for ferry loading and two 12-foot bus lanes, reports Next City. Marshall Foster, director of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront, told Next City that the waterfront road needs to be that wide to avoid “throwing someone off the island.”

Seattle Bike Blog is not buying it:

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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CA Assembly Passes Bills to Extend Greenhouse Gas Targets to 2030

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella Valley), flanked by Governor Jerry Brown, addresses the press after two major climate change policy bills passed.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella Valley), flanked by Governor Jerry Brown, addresses the press after two major climate change policy bills passed.

Today, the California Assembly passed A.B. 197, the companion bill to the Senate’s greenhouse gas reduction target bill, S.B. 32, which it passed yesterday. A.B. 197 will now go to Governor Jerry Brown to sign into law, which he has said he is eager to do. S.B. 32, which extends greenhouse gas reduction targets out until 2030, passed the Senate later in the afternoon and is also headed to the governor’s desk.

Proponents hail the passage of the bill as a historic moment, continuing and expanding California’s precedent-setting climate change efforts. Senator Fran Pavley’s S.B. 32 extends her original 2006 bill, A.B. 32, which called for California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The new bill sets new targets of 40 percent below those 1990 levels by 2030.

S.B. 32 leaves it up to the California Air Resources Board to adopt rules and regulations “in an open public process” to “achieve the maximum, technologically feasible, and cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”

The passage of S.B. 32, which did not look like a sure thing a year ago, was surely helped by being connected to its companion bill, A.B. 197 from Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella). That bill gives the legislature oversight stronger oversight over the Air Resources Board, something that critics of A.B. 32 and its resulting rules about cap and trade have complained is needed.

Oversight is provided through the addition of two members of the legislature to the Board as well as by creating a Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies, to include at least three Senators and three Assemblymembers. The bill also requires the ARB to make its emissions data available to the public, and to report on each method and alternative methods it considers for reducing greenhouse gases.

Garcia, presenting his bill to the Assembly today, addressed charges that the two bills do not “go far enough.” But “doing nothing keeps us in the same position, with our hands tied behind our back, continuing to complain about ARB being out of control and losing our ability as a legislature to do anything about climate change,” he said. “I feel confident about the oversight this will bring.”

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Metro’s Measure M Has Its Own Website (voteyesonm.org)
  • A Communitarian Case For Zoning (Lisa Schweitzer)
  • Metro Extraordinary Innovation Office Working On Expo Signal Preemption (The Source)
  • Carnage: Motorcyclist Killed In Reseda Hit-and-Run (LAT)
  • Parking Meter Bike Parking Arrives In Westwood (LADOT LeapLA)
  • California Legislature Approves Extending Climate Change Laws (KPCC, SGV TribuneLAT)
  • Denver Chooses Housing Cars, AKA Parking, Over Housing People (SB Denver)
  • Self-Driving Taxis Debut In Singapore (LAT)
  • Video: How Stockholm Solved Traffic Congestion (Ted via Price Tags)

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L.A. Eco-Village Buying Property, Planning New Car-Free Mixed-Use Building

Interested party note: I, Streetsblog Los Angeles Editor Joe Linton, live at L.A. Eco-Village and am an owner in the Urban Soil/Tierra Urban housing co-operative. I don’t have any direct fiscal stake in the new development, but am nonetheless an involved party and very interested in seeing it improve my neighborhood. 


Los Angeles Eco-Village is purchasing its fourth building. The property, at present in escrow and expected to close in early September, is currently home to an auto shop with a very small cafe. LAEV intends to develop the site into a four-story mixed-use building. Eco-Village is seeking livability-minded investors to loan money to help purchase and develop the site.

L.A. Eco-Village is purchasing this site at the corner of First Street and Bimini Place in Koreatown. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

L.A. Eco-Village is purchasing this auto repair site in Koreatown. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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The new property being purchased is at 3554 West First Street, at the corner of First Street and Bimini Place.

Sketch of development concept for new L.A. Eco-Village mixed-use building. Image via CRSP

Sketch of development concept for new L.A. Eco-Village mixed-use building envisioned for the site. Image via CRSP

The eco-village project is managed by a handful of non-profits which include the Cooperative Resources and Services Project (CRSP), the Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust (BVCLT), and the Urban Soil/Tierra Urbana housing co-op (USTU). CRSP is the organization spearheading the new purchase.  Read more…

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The Stress of Navigating Unwalkable Bus Stops With a Wheelchair

How is a person who uses a wheelchair supposed to access this bus stop? Photo: Urban Review STL

Pedestrian access to transit is important. A recent study by TransitCenter found that people who use transit most often tend to walk to the bus or train. But as our “Sorriest Bus Stop in America” contest highlighted, there are some very serious challenges on this front in American cities.

The problem of lousy walking access to transit is compounded for riders with disabilities. In a recent post, Steve Patterson at Network blog Urban Review STL offers a personal account of the obstacles he faces navigating the bus system in St. Louis using a power wheelchair:

Part of the implied contract when taking a bus to a destination is when you’re dropped off at your stop, you’ll be able to get to the corresponding stop in the opposite direction for the return trip. Seems simple enough, right? But in many parts of the St. Louis region being able to reach a bus stop in the opposite direction is impossible if you’re disabled. I don’t go looking for them, I run across them just going about my life.

Patterson recently took the bus down Manchester Avenue to a shopping center, only to find himself nearly stranded, trying to reach the stop shown in the above photo. Two and a half decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted, these are the conditions for transit riders using wheelchairs in St. Louis:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Long Beach Needs More Housing, Less Parking (LongBeachIze)
  • KCET Looks At Team Designing L.A. River Bike Path Across Valley
  • Angelenos Are Willing To Pay More For Walkability (LAT)
  • New LA County Bike Coalition Campaign Reaches Out To Families (CiclaValley)
  • Granny Flat Debate Comes To L.A. City Council (CityWatch)
  • L.A. Great Streets Challenge Grants To Return In September
  • Some Venice Residents Want To Secede From L.A. (KPCC)
  • New Bike Lanes Striped On Fletcher Driver (@hippierunner Twitter, earlier SBLA preview)
  • Neighborhood Integrity Proponents Oppose Everything (LukeSpeaks)
  • Mixed-Use Building Planned For DT Santa Monica Near Expo (Urbanize)
  • Orange County Lowering Fares To Increase Ridership (OC Register)
  • Fast Coexist Looks At the Difficulties Of Achieving Vision Zero

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