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Posts from the LADOT Category


Eyes On the Street: Scramble Crosswalks Debut At Hollywood And Highland


A big X marks the spot: pedestrians scramble yesterday at the newly revamped intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

It may be one of those made-up statistics, but there is a repeated truism that millions of people visit Hollywood Boulevard every year, and they spend an average of about fifteen minutes there. Sure, there are the Walk of Fame, some beautiful historic theaters and other noble buildings, Metro Red Line subway stops, costumed performers, street musicians… but Hollywood Boulevard is mostly tacky souvenir shops, museums in name only, and sad restaurants one would never return to, all along a massive car-choked stroad.

Despite millions of tourists milling around on foot, there is no place to sit, or to hang out. There are hardly even places to shoot respectable selfies.

All that has not changed overnight, but the city implemented a pedestrian upgrade yesterday at Hollywood’s most prominent intersection: Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds, a marching band, and tens of thousands of pedestrians (most of whom just happened to be passing through) opened the city’s latest pedestrian scramble crosswalks.

Similar to intersections in downtown Pasadena, fronting USC and UCLA, and elsewhere, Hollywood pedestrians can now cross diagonally during a phase when all cars are stopped. The upgrade is part of the city’s inter-departmental Vision Zero improvements program, in which L.A. has committed to ending all traffic fatalities over the next ten years.

Hollywood and Highland

Lights. Camera. Scramble.

Read more…

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Variable-Priced L.A. Express Park Expands to Westwood

Express Park xxx

Map of the L.A. Express Park system for Westwood. Image via L.A. Express Park

At a press event yesterday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Councilmember Paul Koretz celebrated the expansion of L.A. Express Park to Westwood.

Westwood has long had a reputation for being a difficult area to park. Express Park should, over time, make finding a parking space there easier. This is good for number of reasons, including reducing traffic congestion exacerbated by drivers “cruising” for a parking space. A study that appears in Donald Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking found that, during peak hours, 68 percent of Westwood drivers were cruising for parking.

For readers unfamiliar with L.A. Express Park, it is a “performance-based parking” pricing program. These programs are also sometimes called “variable-price parking” or “demand-based parking.” The way it works is that the city monitors how full on-street parking spaces are, then adjusts parking meter prices with a goal of keeping between 70 and 90 percent of spaces occupied. On blocks where less than 70 percent of meters are occupied, hourly rates are made cheaper. On blocks where it is very difficult to find an open space, hourly rates are made more expensive. Meter rates also vary by the time of day and the day of the week.

Express Park was initially implemented in downtown Los Angeles in 2012. The program manages about 6,300 curb parking spaces there. Initial expansions include this week’s roughly 500 spaces in Westwood and about 900 spaces in Hollywood, expected around 2017. The Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee recently directed L.A.’s Transportation Department (LADOT) to look into accelerating Express Park implementation in Hollywood, Venice, the USC area, and eventually to all parking meters citywide.  Read more…


Parking Reforms Advanced By L.A. City Council Transportation Committee

Parking reform will likely including citywide expansion of L.A. Express Park

Parking reform will likely including citywide expansion of L.A. Express Park

As expected, a suite of far-ranging parking reforms was heard by the Los Angeles City Council’s Transportation Committee yesterday. The committee was broadly receptive to the reforms, directing the city’s Transportation Department (LADOT) and other departments to further investigate a number of key reforms. What was perhaps most revealing was individual city councilmember attention to specific parking issues.

As previewed earlier this week, the reforms were proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Los Angeles Parking Reform Working Group in a report [PDF] entitled “Proposals for Parking Reform in the City of Los Angeles.” They include:

  1. Dedicate all parking revenue for mobility and parking purposes only
  2. Change zoning code to address problems created by minimum parking requirements
  3. End handicap placard abuse
  4. Expand use of performance-based pricing
  5. Charge drivers for only the amount of time parked
  6. Charge tiered fines for parking tickets
  7. Adopt a freight parking program
  8. Re-evaluate street cleaning parking restrictions
  9. Re-evaluate Preferential Parking Districts (PPDs)
  10. Use technology to improve parking

None of the proposals were at a point where the committee could just vote to put them into effect immediately. Instead, largely at the direction of Transportation Committee chair Mike Bonin, numerous items are moving forward with departments evaluating them and reporting back to future Transportation Committee meetings.

The committee moved forward with the following reforms, numbered as they are above:

1. Dedicate all parking revenue for mobility and parking purposes only

In city parlance, a dedicated fund is called an “Enterprise Fund” (as opposed to the General Fund.) Bonin and the committee directed LADOT and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to report on the benefits and costs of establishing a Parking Enterprise Fund, including a proposal for a pilot that would return a portion of local meter revenue to the locations where it was generated for transportation improvements.

Additionally on a separate but related item, the committee laid the groundwork for using city parking revenue to finance expansion of Express Park, a “Code the Curb” inventory (see 10 below), and a pilot enterprise fund.

Councilmember Jose Huizar asked a couple of questions on how a Parking Enterprise Fund could be targeted toward improvements specifically in the areas that generate the revenues.

4. Expand use of performance-based pricing

L.A. already does variable or performanced-based pricing as part of L.A. Express Park, which has been in effect for most of downtown Los Angeles for a few years, and is expanding to Westwood later this year. Bonin and the committee directed LADOT to report back on what is needed to accelerate Express Park implementation for Venice, Expo/USC, Hollywood, and to expand it to all parking metered streets “citywide.”

7. Adopt a freight parking program Read more…


Today’s L.A. Transportation Committee: Speeding, Bikes On Parking Meters

Flowchart on addressing speeding issues. Image via Strong Towns

Flowchart on addressing speeding issues. Image via Strong Towns

This afternoon the Los Angeles City Council was scheduled to hold its first hearing on motion 15-1006 aimed to reduce speeding and curb unsafe speed limit increases. Unfortunately the item was postponed to a future Transportation Committee meeting. 

Longtime readers of Streetsblog will recall that the city of Los Angeles is, to a large extent, at the mercy of car-centric California laws (outlined in the Department of Transportation – LADOT – staff report [PDF]) that essentially mandate ever-increasing speed limits. For L.A. to enforce speed limits, it must study existing speeds and raise speed limits to align with any speeding behavior encountered.

From the motion [PDF] put forward by City Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Mitch Englander, and Joe Buscaino:

The current mechanisms for setting speed limits and conducting speed enforcement were developed in an era that did not have Vision Zero as a guiding principle. Additionally, technology has evolved since the traditional methodologies were developed. Speed enforcement should reflect modern policy objectives and technological tools.

I THEREFORE MOVE that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) in consultation with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) report to the Transportation and Public Safety Committees on the current impediments to agile and effective speed enforcement and recommendations for how to enhance Los Angeles’ ability to enforce safe travel speeds; and

I FURTHER MOVE that LADOT in consultation with LAPD report back on potential pilot projects that can be implemented quickly to reduce speeding. The analysis should include but not be limited to: innovative speed zoning practices, signal timing, enforcement practices and changes to state legislation.

The committee did approve preferential parking districts, no-vehicle-sales areas, and motion 15-0701 which will allow bike parking at parking meters in Westwood. Parking meter bike parking is currently against the law in Los Angeles. Bicycle Advisory Committee chair testified that the scope of the motion should be expanded to just allow bikes to park at all meters citywide.

Committee items will need to be approved by the full City Council before taking effect.


City Hall Vision Zero Forum Foreshadows Culture Change for L.A.

National Vision Zero advocate Leah Shahum speaking at L.A. City Hall last night. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

National Vision Zero advocate Leah Shahum speaking at L.A. City Hall last night. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last night, the city of Los Angeles welcomed national safe streets advocate Leah Shahum at a forum discussing what Vision Zero will mean for Los Angeles.

For the uninitiated, Vision Zero is a road safety policy that adopts the goal of zero traffic deaths. That zero applies to everyone: people walking, driving, riding, etc. Vision Zero stems from the principle that traffic deaths are preventable and unacceptable.

The concept originated in Sweden in the 1990s and has spread to many cities in the United States. When the City Council approved Mobility Plan 2035 last month, Los Angeles became the 9th U.S. city to adopt Vision Zero. The reach of L.A.’s Vision Zero policy was extended to all city departments by Mayor Eric Garcetti via a recent mayoral executive directive. Garcetti’s directive mandates that numerous city departments work together with community groups to reduce L.A. traffic deaths to zero by 2025. The directive also includes an interim goal of reducing traffic deaths by 20 percent by 2017.

Yesterday’s forum was introduced by livability champion Councilmember Jose Huizar, who sounded an optimistic note about changes underway in the city. After adoption of Vision Zero in the Mobility Plan, Huizar declared that new ways of thinking mean “no more pilots.”

Leah Shahum heads the national non-profit Vision Zero Network. Below are some key points in her presentation:  Read more…


A Look at LADOT’s Annual Report and Bike Lane Implementation

LADOT's 2014-2015 Annual Report [PDF]

LADOT’s 2014-2015 Annual Report [PDF]

The city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) released its fiscal year 2014-2015 Annual Report [PDF] last week.

From the LADOT General Manager’s message introducing the report:

This year alone, we responded to 18,381 citizen requests, installed 38.2 miles of bikeways, helped Angelenos get to 300 special events, and kept Metro on track to deliver 26 new miles of light rail transit.

Our Strategic Plan calls on us to deliver safe, beautiful, and comfortable streets for all modes of transportation. We depend on community champions and partners to be our eyes and ears on Los Angeles’ 7,500 miles of streets. Please consider this annual report a heartfelt thank you to the hundreds of community organizers, business leaders, academics, and residents who help us achieve the City’s goals.

There is a lot in the report. LADOT’s commitment to improving safety, under the Vision Zero framework, leads off prominently. There is information on slurry-to-striping turnaround time (greatly improved) plus CicLAvia, leading pedestrian intervals, parking signage, outstanding employees, coordination with Metro rail construction, complete streets, green taxicabs, and much more.

In their critiques, some cyclists have focused on the fact that LADOT is counting bike lane mileage differently than it had in the past. Commentaries by BikeLA and Biking in L.A. suggest that LADOT’s counts appear to be a way of obscuring the lack of bikeway implementation.

In the past, LADOT reported one mile of “center-line” bike lane which actually meant two bike lanes, one mile in each direction. Now LADOT is measuring bike facilities as “lane-miles,” so one mile counts as two.

The response from LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds on the new counting method is that “LADOT is now measuring by the same yardstick as other urban bicycling cities like NY and SF. More importantly, it is a more refined and accurate measurement of our bikeway assets and it allows for better planning of our resources.” The higher bikeway numbers may be interpreted as more momentum and more to celebrate.

Nonetheless, the pace of bike lane implementation is down somewhat.

And this might be OK.  Read more…


Rowena Avenue Forum Reveals Significant Common Ground

Silver Lake's half-mile Rowena Avenue road diet. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Silver Lake’s half-mile Rowena Avenue road diet. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

In 2012, Ashley Sandau was walking across Rowena Avenue and was hit and killed by a motorist. Then-Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge spearheaded efforts to make Rowena safer. The city Transportation Department (LADOT) implemented a road diet on Rowena. The street had two travel lanes in each direction. These were reduced to one travel lane each direction, plus a center left turn lane and bike lanes. LADOT studies have found that post-diet Rowena supports roughly the same volume of cars as pre-diet, but does so with reduced speeds and fewer collisions.

A group of Silver Lake residents are frustrated with the Rowena road diet and urging the current Councilmember David Ryu to undo the safety improvements. Road diet opponents have a website and petition, and have attracted the attention of the L.A. Times.

Last night, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council held a town hall meeting to discuss the Rowena road diet. The event was held at Ivanhoe Elementary School. Approximately 200 people attended.

Attendees initially directed questions to a panel of city representatives – LADOT, plus police and fire representatives – plus pro- and anti-road diet leaders and Councilmember Ryu’s Chief of Staff. The questions were mostly fielded by LADOT, represented by engineer Tim Fremaux, who stressed that the diet was a proven safety measure intended to slow speeds and make crossing safer, with bike lanes that “do not connect to anywhere” just “icing on the cake.”

After the questioning, the meeting shifted to public comment. While there were certainly vocal road diet opponents expressing comments, the sentiment ran about two-thirds in favor of the road diet, with many Silver Lake residents expressing that they do bike and walk, and do want to make the neighborhood more conducive to these modes.

While one couple that live on Rowena described the post-diet street as a “living nightmare,” most commenters expressed that Rowena had been improved and could be made even better – more of a commercial village “more like Larchmont.” The largest quantities of critical comments were mostly not focused on Rowena Avenue itself, but on cut-through traffic impacting nearby parallel streets, especially Angus Street to the south, and Waverly Drive to the north. One Angus resident decried that calming Rowena had “pushed millions of drivers onto our street.”  Read more…

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This Week’s L.A. Transportation Committee: Vision Zero, Parking, CicLAvia

Los Angeles leads big cities in crash deaths. Image via L.A. City Vision Zero report [PDF]

Los Angeles leads big U.S. cities in crash deaths. Image via L.A. City Vision Zero report [PDF]

Yesterday’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee touched on a number of items related to Los Angeles livability. Below is a brief recap of highlights. All these committee actions still need to be approved by the full city council before going into effect.

Vision Zero and Pedestrian Enforcement – Council File 15-0546

This is the second committee hearing (June coverage here) for the laudable Bonin-Huizar motion that seeks to curb LAPD’s “fish-in-a-barrel” ticketing of pedestrians who violate antiquated state crosswalk laws.

Given that Mayor Eric Garcetti’s recent Vision Zero directive has brought departments together to focus on reducing collision deaths, committee time for this item was dedicated to a Vision Zero presentation by L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds.

Reynolds’ presentation was compelling, drawing from the city’s extensive Vision Zero report [PDF]. City departments are engaging a consultant to do a “detail dive into crash data.” The internal city Vision Zero Task Force will meet for the first time on Thursday, September 24. Also on Thursday, the city will host a public event featuring Reynolds and Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the national Vision Zero Network. Event details here.

The pedestrian enforcement aspect of the motion will be heard at a subsequent committee meeting.

Expansion of Express ParkCouncil File 13-0586

The committee approved extending Xerox’s contract to administer the city’s demand-based parking program, L.A. Express Park. Express Park will continue in downtown Los Angeles. It will also expand to Westwood (in the “next two months”) and to Hollywood (in about three years.)  Read more…


Why LADOT Won’t Have Its Portion of the Expo Bikeway Done Anytime Soon

LADOT is responsible for bike lanes and other road markings for this area connecting the Expo Bike Paths in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Recently, the city announced it has no timeline on when this bikeway will be completed.

LADOT is responsible for bike lanes and other road markings for this area connecting the Expo Bike Paths in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Recently, the city announced it has no timeline on when this bikeway will be completed. Image: LADOT

I am City Councilmember Paul Koretz’ appointee to the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC).

Former councilmember Jack Weiss (no relation) appointed me in 2006; Paul Koretz kept me on. The BAC charter says, “The purpose of the BAC is to act in an advisory capacity to the Mayor, City Council Members, and the various agencies of the government of the City of Los Angeles in the encouragement and facilitation of the use of the bicycle as regular means of transportation and recreation.”

In 2008, City Council required “Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) and the Department of Recreation & Parks (DRP) to jointly staff the BAC, with City Planning staff.” I’ve never seen a DRP representative at our meetings, and LADOT stopped keeping our minutes years ago. So much for that. Every city department is underfunded and understaffed (okay, maybe not LADWP). What I’m reporting here – it would seem – results from the staffing and budget problems.

Since I’m also understaffed (just me here), I’ve chosen to skip one of our bi-monthly BAC subcommittee meetings (where I could listen to staff reports about projects stalled or delayed or cancelled for lack of staff/funding). Instead, I will share my impressions of what my Palms/Cheviot Hills area has gotten from an LADOT Bikeways division relying too heavily on part-timers, short-timers, and interns.

By the way, I personally like most of the city employees. But when things go wrong, they circle the wagons. Many are dedicated civil servants, yet all of them are also working to keep their jobs and their relationships with others in government. That said, I see no point in naming (many) names.

Expo Bike Path

The city of L.A. had Metro funding for the Expo bike path. The path will belong to the respective cities it traverses: Santa Monica, L.A., and Culver City. The responsible politicians promised the bike path would be planned and built contemporaneously with the train. I was not so sure. As a 20-plus year pro-train veteran of the light rail train wars, I warned LADOT of my neighbors’ scorched earth approach to stopping the train and everything associated with it. For instance, “Neighbors for Smart Rail” sued all the way to the California Supreme Court to stop the Expo Line, challenging its environmental clearance. (They were probably technically right. But that’s another story.)

Fortunately, despite the legal challenges, the Expo Construction Authority moved forward with train construction, creating facts on the ground the Court was less likely to undo. But Expo’s approach to the bicycle/pedestrian path was different. The Construction Authority was created to build a train, not a bike path. Sure, they could do both, but, trains!

Unfortunately, when LADOT’s environmental clearance was challenged in court by my litigious neighbors, the bike path was unhitched from the train project. The city had to hire an outside contractor to redo the environmental documents and, by that time, Expo had contracted with Skanka-Rados to build the train alone. That resulted in a more costly, inferior, and indefinitely unfinished bike path. Read more…


First Round of Great Streets Improvements Continue on Cesar Chavez; City Says Community Engagement on Horizon

The intersections slated for improvements are St. Louis, Chicago (south), Breed, Soto (in limited fashion), Mathews (just the crosswalks), and Fickett (south). Click to enlarge. Source: Great Streets

The intersections slated for the first round of improvements along Cesar Chavez include St. Louis, Chicago (south), Breed, Soto (in limited fashion), Mathews (just the crosswalks), and Fickett (south). Click to enlarge. Source: Great Streets

Tracking the Great Streets program as it has begun to unfold around town has, at times, been a bit of an exercise in frustration. Which never fails to strike me as odd, given Mayor Eric Garcetti’s declaration that the transformation of the 15 chosen streets into gathering places would happen via a “bottom-up and community-based process” in which the city “[worked] with neighborhood stakeholders to develop a vision for each corridor.”

But the incredibly robust public engagement process seen in Mar Vista — one in which the district’s very enthusiastic City Councilmember Mike Bonin used the plans as an opportunity to engage his constituents about how Venice Blvd. could be re-imagined, the neighborhood council created a Great Streets ad hoc committee, and community members were asked their opinion on a variety of potential improvements — has yet to be replicated elsewhere. [See the kinds of options offered to Mar Vista residents on everything from bikeways to crosswalks to bus amenities to street furniture to events/programming, below.]

Instead, the experience in other districts has been decidedly more uneven.

Along Central Avenue (South L.A.), there was practically no outreach early on; when outreach did finally get underway, it was to let folks know what had already been decided upon for their street, not to solicit their ideas on the options for how to transform the area.

The selection of N. Figueroa (Highland Park) as a Great Street seemed to give Councilmember Gil Cedillo the opening he was looking for to re-route the bike lane planned for the corridor, regardless of what some in the community wanted (and possibly inspiring Councilmember Curren Price to do the same for the bike lane planned for Central Ave.)

And along Cesar Chavez Ave. in Boyle Heights, curb extensions were first striped at St. Louis in early June — well before the neighborhood council was approached about what was happening in their neighborhood.

The wider community was also only introduced to the plans during a few outreach sessions — one on the corner where installation of the bulb-outs had already begun in late June and at a couple of open houses held in mid-August, long after installation was complete and work was already underway at another intersection on the street.

A planter, some paint, and plastic bollards create curb extensions at Cesar Chavez and St. Louis. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A planter, some paint, and plastic bollards create curb extensions at Cesar Chavez and St. Louis. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

When asked about the discrepancy in the processes, the mayor’s office responded via email that, “The work on Cesar Chavez was focused on pedestrian safety improvements and was accomplished through a partnership between LADOT [the L.A. Department of Transportation], Councilmember Huizar, and the Great Streets Studio. These kinds of basic improvements, similar to filling a pothole or fixing a sidewalk, may be made on a Great Street segment separately from the visioning process with the community.” Read more…