Streetsies 2010: It Was the Best of Times

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If someone had told me a year ago that we would be celebrating a Bike Plan that the cycling community loved, that Metro would have already received some 30/10 money from the federal government and that the LAPD was being praised for its bike-friendly efforts at the end of the year I wouldn’t have thought them crazy.  I just would have ignored them.  Heck, even CicLAvia seemed like a pipe dream at the start of the year because the Mayor’s Office wasn’t on board.  Now I have contacts in City Hall joke that we’re the only people that still like him.

So here we are, the 2010 Streetsies, the Best of Times.

The Turning Point

2010 Streetsie Award Winner: CicLAvia

Reader's Choice: What was the Livable Streets Turning Point of 2010

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This year was full of events that would have been unthinkable a year ago.  From a contrite Chief Beck promising to do more for bikes at a City Council Transportation Committee Hearing to Mayor Villaraigosa standing on a podium announcing that Metro received a $543 million interest free loan for the Crenshaw Corridor Project, the first 30/10 funds to be allocated to Los Angeles.  In between was an inspirational speech by New York’s game-changing DOT Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, the LAPD/Critical Mass rides, the Mayor’s Bike Crash and CicLAvia.  The year was full of events that began to re-shape Los Angeles.  2010 was a good year.

But even amongst all these events, one towers above the rest: CicLAvia.  Hundreds of thousands of Angelenos taking to the streets for a car-free festival?  Three an a half months later CicLAvia seems like a great memory.  12 months ago, it seemed unthinkable.  With more of these events planned for 2011, L.A.’s car-free parties offer a chance for everyone to get out of their houses, and their cars, and experience L.A.’s streets as the public space that they could be instead of the traffic clogged-sewers they too often are.

Best Advocacy Campaign

2010 Streetsie Award Winner: All Hands on Deck to Fix the Bike Plan

Reader's Choice: Best Advocacy Campaign

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The year was full of efforts to improve Los Angeles’ transportation future from our wonerfully diverse advocacy community.   The LACBC’s City of Lights Campaign produced a bike planning manual, opened a co-op and saw better bike parking getting placed around the Pico-Union area, the Backbone Bikeway Network managed to move from advocacy daydream to a major part of the Bike Plan.  And let’s give credit to Friends 4 Expo who saw the certification of the final environmental documents for Phase II of the Expo Line.  Speaking of transit advocates, Move L.A. helped turn “30/10″ from a confusing jumble of jargon to a national platform for transit funding.

The Bike Coalition also was at the center of two other successful campaigns.  One campaign saw Sharrows placed on city streets throughout the city, even if some may not have been placed in the right area.  The second was the push to get 10% of the city’s Measure R Local Return funds to be dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian projects.

But not every advocacy movement is successful.  The Bus Riders Union made a lot of noise, and even had some members get arrested, but failed to even get a real hearing about the fare hikes and service cuts that plagued Metro this year.  But hey, you have to admire the passion.  And, we still don’t know the fate of the high-profile campaign to construct a High Speed Rail line to connect Northern and Southern California.

But for me, the best campaign was the entire bike movement coalescing around a shared vision for the future and working with the city to create a Bike Plan that everyone is proud of.  Its not often that everyone in the diverse, crazy, dysfunctional family that is our city’s bike advocates all working together; but when they (we?) do, the sky is the limit.

Best Decision By Metro

2010 Streetsie Award Winner: Board Saves 30/10

Reader's Choice: Best Decision by Metro

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Metro takes a lot of lumps here on Streetsblog.  Sometimes its easy to forget how many of the people working there, and even some of the members of its Board of Directors, really care about moving forward to a clean and green transportation future.  Or, to put it snarkily, sometimes they get it right.

The Board of Directors faced its largest challenge when some of the more provincial Board Members argued that 30/10 unduly placed the 20% of Measure R that was set aside for highway expansion at the back of the bus, so to speak.  They pushed for the agency to embrace a 30/10 for highway projects as well.  The Board managed to find a way to placate those members while still making it clear that Measure R and 30/10 are about moving Los Angeles away from its car-culture reputation.

Of course, that wasn’t the only good news coming out of Metro’s Taj Mahal.  The agency took a big step towards embracing true multi-modalism when it announced that it would end its rush hour bike ban on trains.  The Board also selected Locally Preferred Alternatives for the Westside Subway and Regional Connector, outlining the routes that will one day be the backbone of our transit network.

Last, amidst the sad news that bus lines were being slashed around the county, Metro managed to give some good news.  A new rapid line was finally installed along Venice Boulevard, a pet issue for Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl, and early ridership numbers are promising.

Best Move from the Mayor’s Office

2010 Streetsie Award Winner: Mayor Becomes Lobbyist for 30/10

Reader's Choice: Is Villaraigosa Better for Bikes or Transit?

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Mayor Villaraigosa has long been seen as a friend to transit riders, but following a bike crash caused by an inattentive taxi driver; he also became the new BFF to the bike riding community as well.  All of a sudden he’s out in front promoting CicLAvia, shooting bike P.S.A.’s, leading the way on a poster contest and even programming a Bike Summit.  Sure, the focus on a mandatory helmet law for all riders seems an odd strategy, but I don’t think there’s any cyclist who doesn’t feel that we made progress with the Mayor’s Office.

But the best move has to be what he’s done on the transit front.  Villaraigosa has been a tireless advocate for the 30/10 initiative whether he’s bending Obama’s ear on the tarmac or traveling to the Capital to lobby for a funding package that rewards areas that are helping themselves.  It’s smart politics and it’s good policy.  If Villaraigosa’s ambitions are larger than a move to Gloria Molina’s supervisor seat, he’s going to need a signature issue.  Being the man who helped L.A. kick it’s car addiction would be a great calling card.

Best Traffic Calming Project

2010 Streetsie Award Winner: Judge Rules that Westwood Calming Measures Need to Go Back

Reader's Choice: Best traffic calming project

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All of a sudden, it seems like slowing down traffic is the hottest trend in transportation planning.  Road diets are popping up around the city and county.  Desperate for slower traffic on their streets, communities are even asking for the rights to pay for their own calming plans.  Looking ahead to 2011, the trend looks to continue.  Pasadena is already considering a diet of their own.

Of course, not all the news is good.  The Wilbur Avenue Road Diet in the Valley is under intense scrutiny from the local City Council Man, Greig Smith, and a Neighborhood Council that has no representatives living on Wilbur.  Their reaction makes the hysteria over the loss of some street parking on James M Wood street for its diet positively tame.  Of course, there are some areas where the diets are universally popular, such as the one on Verdugo Ave. in Burbank.

Meanwhile, not all of the Valley has an aversion to slow traffic.  In April, Councilman Richard Alarcon celebrated the completion of traffic calming plans around nine schools in his Council District.  We have a way to go before declaring that access to our schools are safe, but a Council Man holding a press conference to celebrate safe streets is a great sign.

But the winner has to be the Holmby-Westwood community that fought hard to keep temporary measures placed on their streets to protect local streets from traffic created by the Palazzo development.  Bowing to the wishes of the surrounding community, who didn’t want traffic diverted to their street or their own traffic calming measures, LADOT removed the humps and other diverters.  However, this year the LADOT’s decision was overturned in court and the traffic calming will remain on the streets in 2011 and beyond.

Best Legal News

2010 Streetsie Award Winner: Angelina Everett Gets Jail Time for Hit and Run Crash of Ed Magos

Reader's Choice: Best Legal News

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It’s hard for cyclists or pedestrians to get a leg up when it comes to the courts.  But this year saw a couple of high profile cases where justice was at least partially served.  Two cases that were covered extensively on Streetsblog were the cases of “Roadblock v Gritzner” and Ed Magos.  Bikeside and Biking In L.A. also spent a lot of time covering different cases, but the Magos case, with all it’s twist and turns and bumbles and fumbles, perhaps best shows the problems that cyclists face in the fight for justice and that it is possible to win your day in court.

It’s hard to remember all of the eye-rollingly bad decisions made by the LAPD and City Attorney until finally the city was shamed by the LACBC to pushing forward with a prosecution.  Once they were willing to go to trial, it was surprisingly easy to get a conviction and jail time for Christine Everett, a woman who left Magos bleeding and bloody in the street as she drove away in a Porsche.  Remember when the LAPD accidentally handed a non-approved press release to Carlos Morales, a community newspaper publisher who doubles as head of the Eastside Bike Club?  Jeesh.

While the Magos case was a comedy of errors, there was nothing remotely funny about our runner up.  In 2009, the Southland was horrified at the story of a hit and run crash where the driver, Claudia Cabrera drug one of the victims twenty feet before her boyfriend dislodged the victim.  The two drove off with their son riding in the back.  In May, they got the maximum sentence for their crimes, up to eight years.  On one hand, it was good to see them get the book thrown at them.  On the other, that’s an awfully light book for a duo that killed one person, maimed another, and showed cavalier disregard for human life when they drove off.