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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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A Look at Downtown L.A. Parking Enforcement Riding with LADOT

Officer Guerra and Sgt. Smith ticketing a parking violation on Spring Street. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Officer Guerra and Sgt. Smith ticketing a parking violation on Spring Street. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Earlier this week, I accepted an invitation to do a downtown Los Angeles bike-along with City of L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) parking enforcement officers. LADOT also uses bicycle officers to do parking enforcement in the Valley, West L.A., and Hollywood. The parking enforcement staff downtown is 30 strong, all on bicycle.

Traffic Officer Michael Guerra has been doing parking enforcement in downtown Los Angeles for 17 years. Also accompanying us was his supervisor Sergeant Rodney Smith.

Officer Guerra rode Los Angeles City bike number 75

Officer Guerra rode Los Angeles City bike number 75

The officers rode on Giant brand bicycles, complete with the city seal and vehicle numbers. This got me thinking that there’s a system in place for managing a city bicycle fleet, perhaps other city staff could use a city bike fleet for short trips.

My first question to them was about handicapped placards. Is handicapped placard abuse really as prevalent as I’ve read? Parking expert Don Shoup has asserted that widespread abuse of handicapped placards is a serious barrier to making variable pricing work in downtown L.A. The officers responded that handicap placards were typically on 75 to 80 percent of cars parked in the Little Tokyo and Historic Core, where we were going. And they said it’s worse in the Financial District.

This was confirmed during our ride. Many blocks on streets we rode, including on First Street and Third Street, had all but one or two cars displaying a handicap placard. It’s difficult to tell if some or all of these are legitimate. Other LADOT officers have been involved in placard enforcement sting operations typically headed by the DMV. Based on the headlines, both media and law enforcement have little trouble finding widespread abuse. Sgt. Smith mentioned that, in the past, LADOT had tried to push for placard reform via the state legislature, but that it had not yielded any results, and it was no longer a top priority.

I also asked about how the city’s L.A. Express Park variable pricing program has affected their work. Though they were aware that prices were sometimes changing, the program had not really made things perceptibly different from an enforcement end. I thought to myself, perhaps the placards do impact managing pricing; with so much placard use, most drivers pay nothing and it doesn’t matter how much the going rates are.

It didn’t take long for the officers to find and ticket illegally parked vehicles. Guerra said that it varies a lot, but that he writes 20-30 tickets on a typical day, though typically a lot fewer when it’s raining, and sometimes more around the holidays when drivers frequently park illegally to run in to get last-minute shopping done. On weekends, he writes more tickets, typically 40-50 per day, but that is because there are fewer officers deployed than on weekdays.  Read more…

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Metro Planning Committee Approves Bike-Share Contract

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter rides Indego bike-share. Image via Streetfilms

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter rides Indego. Metro is in the process of approving Philadelphia’s vendor, Bicycle Transit Systems, to run its bike-share system starting in DTLA in 2016. Image via Streetfilms

As expected, at yesterday’s meeting the Metro Planning and Programming Committee approved the contract for the first phase of Metro bike-share. The final approval is now expected at next Thursday’s meeting of the full Metro board of directors.

The initial phase of Metro bike-share will be located in downtown Los Angeles, extending from Union Station to USC. There will be 1,000+ bicycles at 60+ docking stations. The system is expected to open in early 2016. Once established, the system is expected to expand to Pasadena, other parts of central Los Angeles, and additional areas. See details at this earlier SBLA article.

The vendor selected is Bicycle Transit Systems, which implemented and operates Philadelphia’s Indego bike-share system.

Metro bike-share will likely be the largest, but when it opens for business in early 2016, it will be the third bike-share system in L.A. County, after the systems already being implemented in the cities of Santa Monica and Long Beach. Both Santa Monica and Long Beach use a different operator, CycleHop, than the one being approved by Metro. At yesterday’s Metro meeting, the city of Santa Monica’s Strategic and Transportation Planning Manager Francie Stefan testified that multiple uncoordinated systems could “chill” the spread of bike-share throughout the region.

Both State Assemblymember Richard Bloom (AD-50), whose district includes Santa Monica and other Westside cities, and Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown submitted letters (PDF, PDF) to Metro advocating for Metro to prioritize interoperability between systems.  Read more…

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Interview with Luke Klipp of Jaydancing

Come Jaydance in DTLA this Saturday. Image via Luke Klipp

Come Jaydance in DTLA this Saturday. Image via Luke Klipp

For as long as I can remember, Streetsblog Los Angeles has been lamenting the L.A. Police Department’s targeted ticketing of pedestrians. LAPD “jaywalking” enforcement occurs mostly in downtown Los Angeles, but also outside various central Los Angeles Metro rail stations. I am excited that Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Jose Huizar recently introduced a motion to begin to examine these stings, but it looks like the archaic walking law will probably need to changed at the state level.

If the LAPD’s misguided pedestrian enforcement bugs you, too, then you’ll probably like Luke Klipp. I met Klipp at a meeting where he testified in favor of full sidewalks on the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. This Saturday, he is organizing “Jaydancing L.A.” a fun demonstration using artistic flair to protest the LAPD’s jaywalking stings. I interviewed Klipp over email late last week.

Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background? What led you to get involved in livability issues?
I grew up in Detroit, which probably doesn’t explain why I care so much about livability, except perhaps that Detroit was the antithesis of that, because it was both the Murder Capital and the Motor City. After college, I moved to California and to L.A. a few years later for love. And a few years ago, when my husband and I bought a home in Los Feliz, we found a place that was walkable, close to lots of amenities, neighborly, and still plugged in to the city.

I’ve always cared not only about livability but sustainability. When I see how we’re building our transportation network and developing our city, I think about the implications for me as I age, for our generation’s kids as they start to create their own families, and for our city’s ability to be a good steward of the environment that makes Los Angeles so livable to begin with. I was raised with the core value of leaving the world a better place, even if only in some small measure, for my having been a part of it. That’s at the heart of my passion around livability and livable cities.

What is Jaydancing? What can people expect to see? What do you hope to accomplish?
#jaydancingLA is an art protest in response to the LAPD’s ongoing targeting of people walking in Los Angeles. When the Mayor recently attempted to increase parking tickets as a revenue-generating measure, Angelenos were up in arms. And that’s for $70 tickets. In marked contrast, for at least the past four years, LAPD has been issuing jaywalking tickets at a rate of 12 per day, every single day, in downtown alone. That’s not a public safety measure, that’s a public gouging. I see an LAPD officer on average once a week posted right outside the Metro station at 7th St and Figueroa, waiting on the corner for unsuspecting pedestrians who make the mistake of stepping out into the crosswalk after the ticker has started its countdown. That’ll be $200.

So, on Saturday, June 20, from 2-3 p.m., people are invited to dance their way across, over, and through the crosswalks (legally, mind you) at some intersections in downtown LA along 7th Street. We’ll have music, signs, and a gathering afterward to celebrate. People are encouraged to post to social media using the #jaydancingLA hashtag with messages that continue to draw attention to the LAPD’s tactics.

Why dancing? This is downtown transportation – shouldn’t we be taking this very seriously?
Seeing stories of people who can barely afford the rent getting slapped with $200 tickets is maddening. I’ve wanted to scream at the folks at City Hall for their slow take-up of this issue. But it doesn’t matter how loud you are; it matters how effective you are.

We’ll be dancing BECAUSE it’s fun. Because it’s unusual. Because people will take notice. It’s not another protest with people marching and holding signs and chanting slogans; it’s tapping into Angelenos’ creative energies and having fun because you can only get so mad at the way things are. At some point you just have to channel that frustration and that anger into something beautiful, that makes people smile, and that gives people hope about what could be.

How can people get involved?
Go sign up on the Facebook event page and also on Eventbrite. Invite your friends, and show up on June 20 at 2 p.m.  Read more…

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Metro Tunnel Under DTLA 7th Street Expected Complete Late 2015

Rendering of what the new 7th Street Station portal will look like from inside The Bloc.

Rendering of what the new 7th Street Station portal will look like from inside The Bloc. Image via Studio One Eleven

Step aside, North Hollywood. Keep chugging along, Purple and Crenshaw lines, and Regional Connector. Wait a while, preferably a long, long while, South Pasadena.

The first of new Metro’s new tunnels underway is expected to be completed late this year. It will be under 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles. It may not be long or expensive, but it represents an interesting change in the orientation of L.A.’s downtown landscape. It expands downtown’s connection with the Metro Red, Purple, Blue, and Expo Lines. When the current subways first arrived in downtown L.A. in 1992, downtown businesses and development were perhaps a bit standoffish, not fully eager to embrace transit access. Now, downtown development, in the light of demographic shifts toward transit, walking and bicycling, and is re-orienting itself to better connect.

The 1970s mall on the south side of 7th Street from Flower Street to Hope Street is getting a $180 million mixed-use makeover. It will no longer be Macy’s Plaza, but The Bloc. Though it will still have a lot of that ’70s-era parking, new residents and retail customers will have easy access to Metro’s subway lines.

Streetsblog mentioned the tunnel briefly in April, when the Metro board approved the agency’s $4.6 million portion of the project budget [PDF], representing roughly half of the cost of the tunnel. Metro also approved the terms of the agreement that assigns responsibilities for construction, maintenance, etc., and that mandates the tunnel be open to the public at least from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Now that the construction is underway, expected to be completed by the end of 2015, here is a more detailed post to show readers more of the how, where, and when of the tunnel.  Read more…

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Metro To Vote On Bike-Share Contract With Vendor Bicycle Transit Systems

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter rides Indego bike-share. Image via Streetfilms

Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter riding Indego bike-share. Image via Streetfilms

At its June 25 monthly meeting, the Metro Board will be voting on the contract for the initial phase of what is now optimistically called “Metro Countywide Bikeshare.”

SBLA previewed the regional bike-share system in this earlier post. The initial phase is planned to include 1000+ bicycles at 60+ docking stations in downtown Los Angeles, expected to be operational in early 2016.

According to the recently posted board agenda look-ahead [PDF], Metro has selected bike-share vendor Bicycle Transit Systems. The $11.8 million contract is “contingent upon the execution of an MOU between the City of Los Angeles and Metro” and “future phases will be brought back …for Board approval contingent upon successful completion and operation of the Phase 1 Pilot.”

Bicycle Transit Systems is a somewhat new presence in the bike-share industry, though captained by experienced leadership. The company is based in Philadelphia and headed by former Alta Bike Share CEO Alison Cohen, who led NYC CitiBike during its rocky start-up. To date, the company’s big bike-share implementation success has been Philadelphia’s Indego, which launched in April 2015 with 600 bikes at 60 stations.

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Applause for Bonin-Huizar L.A. Council Motion to Rein in LAPD Ped Stings

Brigham Yen/DTLA Rising

2013 LAPD pedestrian stings. Photos via Brigham Yen/DTLA Rising

Last Friday, May 1, Los Angeles City Council livability leaders introduced a motion [PDF] to get the city family to examine the effectiveness of LAPD’s ongoing pedestrian sting operations. We would like to think that SBLA’s recent article critiquing these stings paid off, but probably the excellent recent Los Angeles Times articles by Steve Lopez and Catherine Saillant got just a tad more exposure.

Motion 15-0546 was moved by Councilmember Mike Bonin, and seconded by Councilmember Jose Huizar. Huizar was pretty busy pressing for downtown livability last Friday, introducing five “DTLA Forward” proposals “to increase, promote and protect pedestrian access, improve traffic flow and improve neighborhood connectivity in Downtown Los Angeles.” Note that the LAPD crosswalk sting operations do extend beyond downtown into MacArthur Park and Koreatown.

SBLA does not often cover the fairly simple process of introducing motions, as there is a lot of follow-through needed before the City Council actually passes one… but we are pretty happy to have some activity on these wrongheaded stings that we have been writing critically about since 2008.

Bonin had this to say in describing the situation:

It defies common sense to ticket someone who is entering a crosswalk as the countdown begins when they still have time to cross the street safely without disrupting traffic. We need to be and we will be a Vision Zero city, and pedestrian safety is paramount. But if we are going to be doing ‘crosswalk stings,’ I want to be sure we are focusing on busting drivers who don’t yield to people in the crosswalk.

Excessive and expensive tickets disincentivize walking in Los Angeles. We want people to be safe, but we do not want ‘Do Not Walk’ to be the message we send Angelenos.

The motion critiques the outdated state law that serves as the basis for stings:  Read more…

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Cyclists Wanted for Pedal L.A. Installation for L.A. State Historic Park

David xxx demonstrates xxxxx photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

David Gauch demonstrates Pedal L.A. – all photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

I recently got a preview of Pedal L.A. – a fascinating new bicycle-themed interactive art installation for the Los Angeles State Historic Park. What I saw was the work-in-progress prototype. The installation’s creator, David Gauch, is looking to Southern California’s diverse cycling community to get involved in using his project to tell our stories.

If you are interested in volunteering your L.A. cycling experiences, go to the Pedal L.A. website and fill out the participation form. All kinds of cyclists from all walks of life are needed to capture the experience of riding a bicycle in all corners of the city and with as much diversity as possible. Gauch will be interviewing all volunteer participants, and will provide equipment to document a route that you bicycle from time to time.

Visitor orientation center building under construction at L.A. State Historic Park

Welcome center building under construction at L.A. State Historic Park

Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP), formerly known as the Cornfields Yard, is the under-construction state park that connects downtown L.A.’s Chinatown with the L.A. River. The site-specific art installation is tailored to fit at LASHP’s under-construction Welcome Center, which orients visitors to the park and the Los Angeles histories that the park interprets.

xxxx David Gauch

Pedal L.A. creator digital media artist David Gauch

Gauch is an undergraduate studying Interpretive Digital Media at UCLA’s Film School. His focus in Interactive Art. As he describes the project: “I am excited to create a participatory platform from which people from all over the city and country will visit the Los Angeles Historic State Park and will have the opportunity to engage with this interactive project whose content is created by Angelenos that bicycle. It is my hope that this project raises continued awareness and discussion about alternative transportation options in our city, continuing the momentum that has been building thanks to so many in our community.”

Gauch continues, “As a Filmmaker this project has pushed me beyond the traditional tools used in traditional media forms. It’s exciting to be working in the future of media. Media in the traditional form has been a passive experience (we sit in a theater, we sit on our couch, we read a book). Pedal L.A. is using current motion sensing technology to create an interactive experience. Meaning visitors to the park will participate in creating a communal experience by physically moving their bodies around the interior of the Welcome Center.”

Interactive media installations are a bit difficult to describe. Or even to photograph.

The video below gives some sense of what to expect. Read more…

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What Should Downtown L.A. Do to Get Ready for Bike Share?

New bike lanes on 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New bike lanes on 3rd Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro regional bike share is coming soon. If all goes as planned, a year from now, downtown Los Angeles will have system on the ground. It will include about 1,000 bikes at 65 docking stations. The system will extend from Union Station to USC. For more detail, see SBLA’s earlier preview.

It’s not too early to ask Streetsblog L.A. readers — are Downtown Los Angeles streets ready to make bike share a big success? If not, what changes should L.A.’s Transportation Department (LADOT) prioritize in the coming months?

Let’s start by celebrating. Downtown has come a long ways in the last half a decade.

Back on October 10, 2010, there was this event called CicLAvia that flooded central Los Angeles streets with bicycles. At that time, there were no bike facilities in downtown Los Angeles.

In fact, there still were no bikeways downtown through July 2011. In August 2011, the 7th Street bike lanes arrived, dipping their toes across the 110 Freeway into downtown.

Green pavement bike lanes soon followed on Spring Street. Then, buffered bike lanes on Los Angeles Street and First Street.

In 2012, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar and LADOT announced the coming Downtown L.A. Bikeway Network. Other than a few facilities that the city spent a lot of time and money to study (Cesar Chavez Avenue and Venice Boulevard), the downtown network was built out. And then some — downtown now boasts one of the most complete bikeway networks in the city. 

It’s not Wilmington, but downtown is a great place to bike. Even when LAPD vehicles park in some of the lanes some of the time.

Downtown’s increased bikeability is a subject of some controversy. Read more…

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Metro Regional Bike Share Expected To Open In Downtown L.A. In 2016

What does bike share have to do with walkability?

Metro is about to receive bids for its bike share system anticipated to arrive in Downtown Los Angeles in early 2016. Photo of NYC Citibike bike share by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro is moving forward with its regional bike share system, expected to debut in downtown Los Angeles in about a year. Metro released its bike share Request for Proposals (RFP) in December 2014, with bids due January 27. A bike share contract is expected to be awarded by June, with full implementation of a 1,000-bike system in downtown Los Angeles nine months later.

Metro’s RFP is for an initial two-year contract, with possible extensions up to seven years and expansions to nearly 4,000 bikes in expanded service areas.

Though the initial two years are funded, the overall funding picture is not entirely clear. Metro is soliciting competitive bids, so the agency cannot be too specific regarding system funding and cost. In July 2014, Metro’s board allocated $3.8 million for downtown L.A. bike share capital; those funds are from ExpressLanes tolling revenue. Metro officials also mention unspecified state and federal monies.

The initial two-year contract is likely to run somewhere in the ballpark of $10-$16 million. 

Metro will own the system, brand it, and manage it, via contractors, but the system will be located in host cities, which Metro will require to share costs. Initial capital costs are split 50/50 between Metro and the host cities. Operations and maintenance will be split, with 65 percent paid by the host city and 35 percent by Metro. The funding is already in place for the initial two-year downtown L.A. pilot, entirely in the city of Los Angeles. The split funding process could complicate later expansion to other municipalities, which tentatively include Huntington Park, Pasadena, West Hollywood, and unincorporated county communities of East L.A. and Marina Del Rey. (See expansion map below.)

Rounding out the funding picture will be some additional bike share system revenue from system users, including memberships (typically single-use, daily, monthly, and annual) and usage fees. Metro’s RFP specifies that “[a]dvertising or sponsorship revenue shall not be considered or included” (RFP, page 2-102) in the proposals.

What the Downtown L.A. Bike Share System Will Look Like

If the stars align, downtown Los Angeles could possibly see the first bikes on the ground in this calendar year. Read more…