March Transpo Committee Recap: SRTS, Counts, Parking and Commish Bayne

Yesterday’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee meeting featured a number of livability issues that deserve more in-depth attention: Safe Routes to School, bicycle and pedestrian traffic counts, parking privatization, and more. SBLA will do a brief re-cap, and will track and report on these issues more in the future.

SRTSmap
Map of the Top 50 LAUSD Schools with most need for safer routes to school. From LADOT SRTS Fact Sheet. Click to view entire fact sheet.

The Top 50 List You Don’t Really Want Your School On: Department of Transportation (LADOT) staff reported on progress made in the city’s Safe Routes To School (SRTS) program. In the past, for a number of reasons, the city of L.A. has been unsuccessful at receiving its fair share of SRTS grant funding. LADOT’s two new pedestrian coordinators have done a lot of work to begin to remedy this: building relationships with LAUSD and using actual data to determine which schools make sense to prioritize. This Transportation Committee meeting was the first broad public vetting of the city’s new data-driven list of 50 schools with “greatest need.” The 50-school list will be used to target some city applications for the upcoming state Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant cycle.

Advocates from about a half-dozen non-profits commented on this item, urging two main requests: more LADOT resources be directed toward SRTS, and SRTS efforts be more open and collaborative.

Committee members expressed some concerns (see below) over the criteria behind the 50 school ranking, but accepted it, pending full council approval. They requested that LADOT return to the committee in 60 days (after this ATP cycle submission) to further examine the criteria.

Most Likely to be Undercounted and Undervalued: City councilmembers requested that LADOT review their traffic count methodology to include bicycle and pedestrian data. LADOT staff responded with a draft policy, including an annual count, which moves forward to a vote of the full city council. It’s unclear whether city counts will augment or replace those currently conducted by L.A. County Bicycle Coalition volunteers, though the Bike Coalition’s Eric Bruins voiced support for city counts, stating that the Coalition “wants to get out of this business.”

Most Likely Use of Public Parking Resources to Turn Private Profits: During a recent fiscal crunch, the city of L.A. looked to emulate Chicago’s disastrous short-sighted parking privatization scheme. Luckily, L.A. didn’t go quite so deeply as Chicago, but did begin the process of private contracting for 24 city-owned and -operated parking lots. This may result in some increased efficiency, some increased city revenue, and even some appropriate parking pricing strategies. On the flip side, it also means fewer living-wage city jobs and less city control over parking policy. Even though the city appears to have been fairly prudent in just dipping a toe into this privatization scheme, parking privatization is so lucrative that there were plenty of suits (apparently lobbyists and lawyers) in attendance to make sure this cash cow proceeds to a full council vote soon.

Most Ironic Moment: This is a tough one. There two great ironic moments to choose from:

Irony 1: During the parking discussion, Councilmember Paul Koretz expounded at length about Westwood’s parking woes. Koretz explained that whenever Westwood begins to experience a revival, “parking becomes the primary problem.” Maybe Koretz wants the city to manage metered parking effectively, like, say, Pasadena or Santa Monica or San Francisco? Naw. Koretz continued that the quantity of “free parking” was the issue. Hmmm. If only there was some way to make it safer to bike and walk to Westwood… oh yeah, Koretz opposed that.

Irony 2: During the SRTS discussion, Councilmember Paul Krekorian questioned why the San Fernando Valley was “excluded” from the top 50 list, where only two Valley schools appear. Clearly Krekorian is looking for more public dollars to be invested in the Valley, but his request could be mis-interpreted as wanting more cars to collide with Valley cyclists and pedestrians, which is what it takes to make the top of this list. Krekorian also appears lukewarm on Valley bike safety improvements that would cause minor delays to drivers.

(Kudos to Transportation Committee Chair Councilmember Mike Bonin who appeared to spot both of these ironies, and responded to them subtly and constructively.)

Transportation Commission appointee Tafarai Bayne being questioned by Committee Chair Mike Bonin. Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA
Transportation Commission appointee Tafarai Bayne being questioned by Committee Chair Mike Bonin. Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Best New Transportation Shot-Caller: SBLA congratulates Mayor Garcetti’s latest appointee to the city’s Transportation Commission: Tafarai Bayne. Bayne is a cyclist, bus rider, and pedestrian. He has been a stalwart in efforts to make South L.A. streets safer and more livable, and one of the people who makes CicLAvia great. The Transportation Committee approved Bayne, sending his appointment along to the full council.

  • VeniceBeachPress.com

    Privatization of our city parking lots will only make parking prices go up while lining carpetbagger pockets and future political campaigns.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Council member Paul Krekorian stated at the 1:12:44 mark in the audio recording of the meeting:

    http://lacity.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=103&clip_id=12908

    “The big problem with annual counts is that they’re widely publicized and widely known. And if there are active efforts to get people to come out and walk and ride during the count its not useful data, its skewed data…To me it’s not useful information if it can be skewed by participants. So I would much prefer in doing a count throughout the year. You know an intersection on this week and another intersection another week and so forth rather than saying bicyclists get ready because we need you to come out and ride on a beautiful spring day during the count.”

    The assumption on his part seems to be that the results of the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition counts have to be skewed.

    There were 120 streets counted at the same time at 60 intersections. How are you going to get a significant number of people to ride or walk at all of these intersections at the same time during peak commute hours to “skew” the results?

    In determining whether a count result is fairly accurate or not you should do a cross check. There has been several other sources that can give a general idea of the accuracy of these counts.

    There were also LACBC bicycle and pedestrian counts conducted in 2009, 2011 and 2013 to cross check the data for wild swings up and down in the counts at the same intersections.

    Metro conducted a count of the bicycle boarding’s at rail stations during 2010, 2012 and 2013. The results showed a 42% increase in bicycle boarding’s for 2013 compared to 2012. In council member Krekorian’s own district there were 4.6 times more bicycle boarding’s counted at the North Hollywood subway station in 2013 compared to the 2010 results. This indicates a sharp increase in bicycle boarding’s. That is unlikely to happen without significantly more people riding during those hours. Many of those additional bicycles were probably coming from piggybacking on the Orange Line buses. There was a Orange Line extension added during July of 2012 and several bike lanes were installed in the last two years that intersect the Orange Line.

    The Census Bureau conducts a annual American Community Survey (ACS) that asks a random selection of people what their primary means of transportation to work was the previous week. Bicycle commuting for the city of Los Angeles has had a result of either 0.9% or 1.0% from 2008 through 2012 (margin of error is 0.1%). An increase to 1.1% or more in the 2013 results that will be released in September would bolster the accuracy of a significant increase in the LACBC results in 2013 compared to the same intersections in 2011.

    Another cross check would be to send a staff member to do a count of one of the intersections or for Paul Krekorian to do one himself to see if his results resemble those of the LACBC.

  • Salts

    LACBC has every incentive for the counts to be honest. They never tell people to ride somewhere to beef up the counts. In fact, several bicyclists aren’t counted when the LACBC conducts counts because they are volunteering their time counting other (not advocate) cyclists. That said, we definitely should do more than annual counts.

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