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Editorial: My Unsolicited Advice for City Councilmember David Ryu

Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu. Photo via

Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu. Photo via

It’s July. That means a new budget year for government agencies, where there is some turnover: some new faces, new officers, and new committees.

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is the new chair of the Metro Board of Directors, replacing L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The Los Angeles City Council has two new members. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson replaces Bernard Parks, representing L.A.’s 8th Council District [map] in South Los Angeles. Councilmember David Ryu replaces Tom LaBonge, representing L.A.’s 4th Council District (CD4) [map] which extends from Van Nuys to Griffith Park to Miracle Mile.

New L.A. City Council committee assignments [PDF] were announced yesterday. There are a lot of Streetsblog issues before a wide range of committees, from Public Safety to Parks to Budget, but the two committees that SBLA tends to follow most closely are Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM.) Both of these committees’ chairs continue to be chaired by the same excellent livability leaders, Mike Bonin and Jose Huizar, respectively. The make-up of the committees have shifted in positive directions, in part merely due to Parks and LaBonge leaving. Though they occasionally supported worthwhile initiatives, neither Parks nor LaBonge consistently supported the needs of Angelenos who get around via transit, walk, and bike.

The new Transportation Committee will be: Mike Bonin (chair), Jose Huizar, Paul Koretz, Nury Martinez, and David Ryu. New members Huizar and Martinez, with Bonin, give the committee a progressive forward-thinking majority, likely to embrace a healthy balance of transportation modes. Ryu does not have a track record here, but cannot possibly be worse than LaBonge. And perhaps Koretz will some day make the connection that the transportation sector is responsible for about half of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, reductions of which he has championed.

The new PLUM Committee will be: Jose Huizar (chair), Gil Cedillo, Mitch Englander, Felipe Fuentes, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Returning chair Huizar has an excellent livability leadership track record at PLUM. Councilmember Englander has a good, if slightly-mixed, record. Though he represents arguably the most suburban council district, and was first introduced to Streetsblog readers in 2012 as the villain of the Wilbur Avenue Road Diet controversy, more recently he has been very good, including championing the Reseda Boulevard protected bike lanes. Fuentes and Harris-Dawson are both very likely to champion community-minded planning that goes beyond just accommodating driving.

SBLA will likely have suggestions for new Metro Chair Ridley-Thomas and new Councilmember Harris-Dawson in the near future… but today I present my unsolicited advice for Los Angeles Councilmember David Ryu. First off, congratulations to honorable Councilmember Ryu! Perhaps you already know all this stuff, and I look forward to actually getting to speak with you, but here are five of my recommendations to help make CD4 streets great, safe, healthy, vibrant places and to improve the lives of people who live, work and breathe in Los Angeles.

1. Question Tom LaBonge’s priorities

In a crowded field, you won on your merits… but it helped that you are a city hall outsider, without ties to LaBonge. Though some of the media perceived LaBonge as a cyclist, because he infrequently hosted bike rides and spoke at press conferences for bike-friendly events, most Angelenos who get around every day by bike and by foot were very frustrated with him.

Tom LaBonge supported a 20th century transportation system long after much of L.A. had moved away from it. LaBonge favored cars, freeways, parking, and the policies that make them proliferate. I don’t expect cars to go away tomorrow, but LaBonge’s policies result in place-less gridlock that does not serve anyone well. If you will just question the policies that LaBonge supported reflexively, it will go a long way to advancing livability in our city.

2. Support safer, multi-modal streets, especially in the most population-dense and transit-oriented parts of your district

One size fits all solutions are unlikely to serve your district well. You know that CD4, like Los Angeles, is a big diverse place. Read more…
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Killing a Transit Project Isn’t Going to Fix Your City’s Parking Crunch

Broad Street in Richmond. Photo: Jeff Auth/Wikimedia Commons via GGW

Yesterday we ran a post from Michael Andersen about how Newark fixed the glut of parked cars on Mount Prospect Avenue, the first street in New Jersey to get a protected bike lane: Instead of letting people park in the bikeway, the city started charging for parking. With a price on parking, people stopped storing their cars on the street all day long, and there was finally some turnover. Problem solved.

The same approach makes sense any time free or cheap on-street parking gets stuffed with cars, but street redesigns often intensify the need to get parking prices right. Canaan Merchant at Greater Greater Washington reports on another case in point — a Bus Rapid Transit project called The Pulse in Richmond, Virginia.

On some sections, The Pulse will run on dedicated bus lanes along the median of Broad Street, and the city will remove some parking spaces to make room. That has a neighborhood association in the nearby Fan District riled up, but as Merchant points out, parking dysfunction can’t be pinned on the transit project:

It may be harder to park in the Fan in the future, but the Pulse won’t be to blame if that happens. Lots of people park on the street because parking there is usually convenient and cheap, or even free. In most cities, parking is drastically underpriced given how valuable the space spots take up is.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • Debate Over Who Should Pay For L.A. Sidewalk Repair and Maintenance (LAT)
  • CBS2 Tracks Down Hit-and-Run Driver Who Hit 12-Year-Old Cyclist On Reseda
  • Metro’s Proposed Bus Service Cuts/Consolidations (Calwatch – Reddit)
  • LADOT Audit: Dept Didn’t Collect $1.8M In Event Costs (Sac Bee, LAT)
  • Is A Streetcar Really Needed To Spur DTLA Investment? (Downtown News)
  • Walk Eagle Rock Redesigns NELA DASH Route In Highland Park
  • Best Way To Explore L.A. Food Is Via Public Transit (L.A. Weekly)
  • L.A. Is Lagging Behind Long Beach In The Livability Competition (Flying Pigeon)

Happy Independence Day! SBLA will not publish Friday, tomorrow, and will be back on Monday.

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Leimert Park People St Plaza Opens; Stakeholders Debate Building a Cultural Center

Leimert Park Village's People St Plaza officially opened for business this past weekend. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Leimert Park Village’s People St Plaza officially opened for business this past weekend. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

“Don’t tell anybody I’m using these,” Councilmember Herb Wesson said of the blue art scissors he wielded as the moment came to cut the ribbon on Leimert Park Village’s People St Plaza project this past Saturday.

The enormous pair of wooden scissors held by Institute for Maximum Human Potential President/CEO Delores Brown — the fiscal sponsor of the plaza project — were only ceremonial.

The cutting of the ribbon on the People St Plaza. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The cutting of the ribbon on the People St Plaza. Councilmember Wesson is flanked by (l-r) Johnnie Raines, Empowerment Congress West (ECWA) member-at-large, ECWA Chair Danielle Lafayette, Institute for Maximum Human Potential President/CEO Delores Brown, Leimert Park Art Walk co-founder Ben Caldwell, LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds, Director of Special Projects for the Dept. of Cultural Affairs James Burks, Urban Design Center founder Sherri Franklin, Manager/Program Director of Great Streets, Nat Gale, and Metro Boardmember Jackie Dupont-Walker. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The ribbon-cutting marked the end of the first stage in a long process for Leimert Park Village stakeholders.

A year and a half prior, at the first community-wide design charette, they had talked about the possibility of converting part of 43rd Pl. into a plaza space.

With the Leimert Park Metro station due to be finished in the next few years, they had felt the time for deciding what face they wanted to present to the world was now.

Situated directly in front of the beautiful Vision Theater, the KAOS Network, and part of Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice campus, the site looked to be the perfect anchor for the rebranding of the community as a hub for black creatives and the celebration of the African diaspora. Read more…

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Newark Clears Bike Lane of Cars, Solves Parking Problem With Meters Instead

walk bike jersey good lane

Newark’s stopgap solution to a parking crunch was to allow parking in the bike lane (see upper right). Since then it’s found a more sensible option: meters. Photo: WalkBikeJersey

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Three months after Newark drew national attention for considering removal of New Jersey’s only protected bike lane in order to allow illegal double-parking, the city has found a different solution.

Instead of designing the Mt. Prospect Avenue commercial strip around letting people park their cars two rows deep along the curb, the district is installing parking meters.

“Simply by adding parking meters and limiting parking to two hours, legal parking spots are now freed up for shoppers, rather than being occupied for hours or days at a time by residents and shop owners,” reports the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition. “As a result, bike riders regained access to New Jersey’s first parking-protected bike lane, and newly-enacted street parking regulations will ensure that there is an ample supply of parking for customers of businesses along Mt. Prospect Avenue.”

Read more…
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Your City Has a Complete Streets Policy. But Does It Have Complete Streets?

Is this a complete street? Image: Google Maps via Urban Indy

Is this a complete street? Image: Google Maps via Urban Indy

Indianapolis passed a Complete Streets ordinance in 2012 to much fanfare. Three years later, how well is the city designing streets for walking and biking?

Mayor Greg Ballard shepherded the fantastic Indianapolis Cultural Trail through to completion in 2013, but Emily Neitzel at Urban Indy says recent street revamps outside the downtown area are hit and miss.

The Emerson Avenue project between Shelbyville Road and I-65 brought a sidewalk to the east side of the road where there previously was no sidewalk, and in this case a strip of grass if not a tree well was added to separate the sidewalk.

However, sidewalks are still lacking on the west side of the street. Furthermore, at the intersections where major businesses like Target, Aldi, and Home Depot are located on both the east and west sides of Emerson, there is no crosswalk to go from east to west. The intersection at Emerson and Southport Road, where more businesses are located on both sides of the street, also lacks an east-west pedestrian crosswalk.

The project document from DPW notes that traffic along this corridor has increased by 600% in two decades, and the project’s increase from two lanes for automobile traffic to five makes this a priority. In fact, the summary of the benefits listed in the document does not even include benefits for pedestrians or bikers; instead highlighting “reduced traffic congestion and better driving conditions” in addition to a longer life for the roadway.

Neitzel notes that, per Smart Growth America, a complete street corridor should “make it easy to cross the street” and “walk to shops.” Indianapolis’s Emerson Avenue project doesn’t do that.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Amended Hit-and-Run Alert System Bill Sails Through Committee

After last week’s warning that Assemblymember Mike Gatto’s legislation to create a “Yellow Alert” system was imperiled by Senate Transportation and Housing Committee staff and the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) objections, there was a feeling of a looming showdown before today’s committee hearing. Assembly Bill 8 would create a system to use electronic road signs and the emergency alert system to notify people when a deadly hit-and-run crash occurred to help apprehend suspects. A similar system has proven effective in Colorado.

Screen grab of Asm. Mike Gatto at today's Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

Screen grab of Asm. Mike Gatto at today’s Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

However, the fireworks were kept to a minimum. A.B. 8 advanced with a unanimous committee vote. The committee chair, Senator Jim Beall, was not present, somewhat nullifying the announcement that he was urging a “no” vote on the legislation.

As for the CHP, Gatto staff had worked with the department to amend the legislation to address “95 percent of their concerns.” While the Highway Patrol was officially urging a “no” vote, its lobbyist all but stated that the CHP would support an amended bill but had not had a chance to review it yet. Under the amended bill, it will be the California Highway Patrol, not Caltrans, that determines whether or not variable message signs broadcast information about deadly hit-and-run drivers in the area near where the crime was committed.

Similar legislation passed with overwhelming support last year, but was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown, who cited the recently created “Silver Alert” following unexplained disappearances of senior citizens or people who are physically or mentally impaired. Brown was worried that adding the “Yellow Alert” in addition to the “Silver Alert” to the four pre-existing alerts could overwhelm the system.

Senator Ted Gaines brought up the Governor’s concerns to discover if Gatto had any insight on whether or not it could cause a second veto. After brief discussion, the committee and Gatto asserted that they had never personally seen a Silver Alert on the highway signs. Statistics backed their anecdotal accounts. There are some areas of the state that have not had a single “Silver Alert” campaign.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • KPCC Looks At UCLA Parking Guru Don Shoup’s Legacy
  • Foothill Gold Line Train Testing Underway (Pasadena Star News)
  • Cedillo and Garcetti Look To Curb Ellis Act Evictions (Don411, L.A. Weekly)
  • Metro And Others Receiving CA Cap-and-Trade Intercity Rail Funds (The Source)
    Includes New Metrolink Cleaner Emission Locomotives (Inland News Today)
  • Highlights Of CA Cap-and-Trade Affordable Housing Funded in L.A. (L.A. Thrives)
  • Former Auditor Now Suing Metrolink For Improper Firing (LAT)
  • Complicated Formula Means Slightly Lower CA Gas Tax Effective Today (Mass Transit)
  • UCLA’s Roger Sherman Wants To Make Sure Smart Phone Doesn’t Kill City (Next City)
  • In 1900, L.A. Was A Bike Infrastructure Leader (Vox)

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Eyes on the Street: Downtown L.A. Has Three Great Bike Corrals

Downtown Los Angeles' first bike corral - in front of Blue Bottle Coffee. Really. Photos by Joe Linton

Downtown Los Angeles’ first bike corral (really) in front of Blue Bottle Coffee. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

A couple weeks ago, I reported that the great new bike corral on Main Street at 5th was the first in downtown Los Angeles. Commenter Steven White correctly pointed out that there are indeed two other on-street bike corrals in the Downtown Arts District. So although it is the first in the historic core, the Main Street corral wasn’t the first downtown L.A. bike corral, nor was that my first or or likely to my last error to appear in writing.

I checked in with Elizabeth Gallardo, L.A. City Department of Transportation’s (LADOT) assistant bicycle coordinator, and the brains behind LADOT’s bicycle-friendly business programs. According to Gallardo, the the bike corral on Willow Street at Mateo Street was the first in downtown L.A., having been installed in October 2014. That corral serves and is sponsored by Blue Bottle Coffee‘s cafe at 582 Mateo Street.

Downtown L.A.'s third great bike corral in front of Pie Hole.

Downtown L.A.’s third great bike corral in front of Pie Hole.


On June 15th, LADOT installed both the Main Street corral, sponsored by Peddler’s Creamery, and a third corral on Traction Avenue at Hewitt Street, sponsored by The Pie Hole. The Main Street corral edged the Traction Avenue one out by a couple hours to claim the vaunted second-corral silver medal.  Read more…

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America Could Have Been Building Protected Bike Lanes for the Last 40 Years


The latest in bikeway design? Nope, these intersection treatments are from early American bikeway planning documents. Sources: Fisher, 1972; City of Davis, 1972; Smith, Jr. 1974

Salt Lake City is on track to implement the nation’s first “protected intersection” — a Dutch-inspired design to minimize conflicts between cyclists and drivers at crossings. For American cities, this treatment feels like the cutting edge, but a look back at the history of bike planning in the United States reveals that even here, this idea is far from new. In fact, the protected intersection concept appeared in every foundational document for bike planning in the early 1970s. But no American city ever installed one until now — here’s why.

First, some background. The first modern on-street bike lanes in the United States were installed in Davis, California, in the fall of 1967. Of these three bike lanes, one was a parking-protected bikeway on Sycamore Drive. That’s right: The first on-street bike lane in the United States was a parking-protected bikeway.


A woman rides on Sycamore Lane in Davis, CA.

As word of the Davis bike lanes spread across the country, cities all over the United States began improvising their own designs. In response, the Federal Highway Administration funded the publication of four key planning documents between 1972 and 1976 that provided diagrams and guidelines to help cities (and ultimately the FHWA) create a uniform design for bikeways. There are many similarities in all of these documents, but it is clear that with each subsequent report, the design of on-street bike lanes slowly drifted toward designs that treated the cyclist more like a motor vehicle than a human.

Just as the bikeways movement was gaining steam and formalization was taking shape, physically separated bikeways were challenged by a new movement of vehicular cycling advocates — many of whom still challenge bikeways today. Throughout the 1970s, these fit men who self-identified as “cyclists” attended meeting after meeting to decry the designs that engineers were supposedly building for them. Quibbles in the wording of laws or details of a design became arguments and headaches for city staff. Anyone who was not already riding a bicycle on busy car-dominated streets was drowned out by the vehicular cyclists who claimed to speak for all bicycle riders.

Of course, surveys of riders showed these individuals to be in the minority — with 72 percent of riders saying separated bikeways provided good protection and 59 percent saying “signed routes” offered poor protection:

Read more…