The 2009 Los Angeles Streetsies – The Worst of Times

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(I didn't say it yesterday, so let's say it today.  Thanks to Dorothy, Mark, Marybeth and Matthew for being on the panel.)

Worst News of the Year

Panel's Pick: Despite State Budget Crisis, State Won't Raise Gas Tax But Will Cut Transit
My Pick: Despite State Budget Crisis, State Won't Raise Gas Tax But Will Cut Transit

This story qualifies for a number of reasons.  First, of course, there's a budget crisis and that stinks, especially for state workers who are losing their jobs or getting furloughed.  But of course the real reason for its inclusion here is because the massive cuts to transit agencies around the state, including OCTA, and Metrolink as well as future cuts coming to DASH and Metro.

Of course, there's also the sad state of affairs for our legislature.  They talk tough on the environment but still cut transit while expanding highways across the state.

Honorable Mention: City Does Nothing to Stop Speed Limit Increases, Metro Installs Turnstiles for No Apparent Reason


Worst Law Enforcement Story That Doesn't Involve Andres Tena

Panel's Pick - LAPD Tackle Cyclist at Critical Mass
My Pick - LAPD Teaches USC Security How to Enforce Non-Existant Crosswalk Ban on Cyclists

There's nothing worse than the police poorly enforcing laws...unless it's the LAPD enforcing non-existent laws and teaching private security to do the same.

Honorable Mention - LAPD in Mid-Wilshire - Ticket Bikes and Peds in the Crosswalk, Ignore Red Light Runners, LAPD Doesn't Know Crosswalk Laws, Sherrif's Start Checking Bags at Train Stations, Metro Station's No-Man's Land at Night



Worst Commercial

Panel's Pick: Jack in the Box Parodies a Pedestrian Getting Creamed by a Bus
My Pick: Audi Makes Fun of Alternative Transportation

As much as I'd like to believe the panel was just having my back against the noxious Jack in the Box Spammers, I have to confess that I forgot about this Audi ad or I'm sure they would pick that.  It's perhaps the most obnoxious car ad I've ever seen.

Honorable Mention: Mercedes: Wreckless Driving is Awesome, Toyota's Ransom Note to America

Most Disheartening Statement by LADOT at a City Council Hearing

Panel's Pick: City's Racial Diversity a Reason for Lesser Outreach on Bike Master Plan
My Pick: LADOT Is "Out of the Loop" on BMP Release Date/Strategy

By now, news of LADOT Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery's gaffe has reached Portland, New York and beyond.  Yes, she really did say that the reason our bike planning is so far beyond Portland is because we're not white enough.  I still can't believe that's what she actually meant, but she said it so there it is.

I'm going with the LADOT complaining on being "out of the loop" on the Bike Plan release last summer because it's something they clearly meant.  If it's just an example of the LADOT blowing gas, it's disheartening they're trying to wash their hands of the plan before it was even fully released.  If true, it shows a shocking lack of coordination on a document that could end up being more important to cyclists in Los Angeles over the next decade than any other.

Honorable Mention: Concerns Over Slipperiness of Paint a Reason for Not Painting Sharrows, City doesn't have the bike facilities to make bike share worthwhile

Worst Press Coverage

Panel's Pick: Times' Rutten Hands Out Misinformation on Congestion Pricing
My Pick: Media Refuses to Ask Questions on Road Widening of 405

Wow, re-reading that Rutten piece it's hard to believe he got paid to write that.  And they can't afford Steve Hymon?  Jeesh.

That being said, the media's inability to be more than stenographers when it comes to writing a story about a highway expansion project and how awesome it's going to be is a more disturbing trend.  It seems that if a state official, elected or otherwise, says that a widening is going to be good for the environment and congestion, well, that's good enough for the press.

Honorable Mention: LA Now Complains about Traffic "Snarls" in Calmed Santa Monica, WaPo Features HSR Hack Job, Everyone Has a Laugh at Shemar Moore's Bike Crash, ABC 7 Asks Drivers if They're Scared of Cyclists, Industry Rag Is Shocked That CAA Wants Nobodies to Pay for Parking


Story That Never Seems to End

Panel's Pick: Metro Spends Entire Year Debating AnsaldoBreda and Long Range Transportation Plan, Orange County Cutting Transit, Expanding Highways, The Pico-Olympic Plan Stumbles Forward
My Pick: Metro Spends Entire Year Debating AnsaldoBreda and Long Range Transportation Plan

What we really can learn from this category is that bad ideas never die in government, they're just waiting to pop back up and bite us again.  That being said, for me the story that sucked up more oxygen was the Metro Board's inability to make the hard choices on AnsaldoBreda or passing the Long Range Transportation Plan after Measure R pretty much made all the long term planning decisions for them.

The AnsaldoBreda saga was just too pathetic for words.  Month after month the Board was faced down by an army of hard hats despite overwhelming evidence that AnsaldoBreda was the wrong company to make the Measure R rail cars.  The promise of building a factory locally was too much for the Board to ignore, even though legally they couldn't consider it if they want to keep receiving federal funds.  Mercifully, after nine months of political spinlessness, AnsaldoBreda decided they could get a better deal by going through an open bidding process than bullying a bunch of politicians.  Hopefully, I'm not going to have to type the words AnsaldoBreda too many more times, but we'll see what the bids to construct Metro's rail cars look like when they come in.

Honorable Mention: City to Spend 10% of It's Measure R Local Return on Bike/Ped., Villaraigosa Thinks About Privatizing Parking, Everybody Hates the Bike Plan


Bad News from Sacramento

Panel's Pick: Governor/Legislator Screw Everyone and the Environment in the Name of Building Football Stadium
My Pick: Governor/Legislator Screw Everyone and the Environment in the Name of Building Football Stadium

Yeah, they actually exempted a 100,000 seat NFL football stadium from having to undergo a full environmental review.  Honestly, how anyone involved in this debacle can ever claim to give a damn about the environment and air quality without getting laughed at ever again is beyond me.  Because the only review for the stadium was approved only by a political body who's members will benefit financially from the stadium's construction; we'll never see an honest assessment of what damage will be done by the traffic and construction of this football megalopolis.  It's too bad Ed Roski doesn't care as much about people dieing on the streets because of speeding drivers as much as he does conning the legislature into giving him a sweetheart environmental deal.

The only good news out of this is that my Assemblyman didn't vote for the exemption.  I'm going to pretend it's because I called their office everyday and complained about it.  It makes me feel better.

Honorable Mention: Safe Streets Legislation Bottled in Committee, CALPIRG/Smart Growth America Slam State's Stimulus Priorities, Governor Rejects Legislation Requiring 710 Expansion to Run Underground

Biggest "Duh" of the Year

Panel's Pick: Bike Counts Hint at Chronic Under-counting of City's Cyclists
My Pick: City "Opens Crosswalk to Pedestrians"

I get that it's not a surprise that the city has no idea how many people are biking; but c'mon...it was a crosswalk with a no pedestrians sign!

Honorable Mention: Widening Highways Lead to Faster Speeds

Dumbest Quote

Panel's Pick: Attorney for Man Who Ran Over Pedestrian with Hummer Before Beating Him, "random interactions of diverse people in a city as frenetic as Los Angeles can lead to disastrous consequences."
My Pick: Villaraigosa Cites Congestion as a Reason to Subsidize Cars

The best thing about these two quotes?  They weren't off the cuff or parts of extemporaneous comments, they were out of the press release in the Mayor's case and court filings in the attorney's case.

Honorable Mention: Frank McCourt Derides City's $300,000 investment in transit for Dodgers as "not real transit" and "a few buses", Boxer Floats "Honor System" As Best Way to Have VMT Tax, Opponent of Highway Memorials Doesn't Want Highways "Cluttered" with Memorials, Rita Robinson Rips City Council to Distract Communities from LADOT's Lame Outreach

Best Example of Screwing the Community

Panel's Pick: Traffic Calming Ripped Out in Westwood
My Pick: Traffic Calming Ripped Out in Westwood

I know there's two sides to every story, but in this case the city actually took out traffic calming because people on adjacent streets were complaining the traffic calming was working.  Sounds like an open and shut case that the rest of the community needs calmed streets to divert traffic on to the arterials.  The city didn't see it that way.

Honorable Mention: Locals Hate Locally Preferred Alternative for Route 2 Terminus, Fans of the Transit Hating Dodgers Pack Local Streets to Avoid Paying for Parking, Burbank Removes Street Parking to Increase Car Capacity