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Now It’s Long Beach Who Could Be 1st to Get Bike-Share

BikeShareFIN

It looks like Long Beach will be the first city in LA County to have a bike-share program as the City let go of its former contract with the defunct Bike Nation, handing it over to German company Nextbike. This follows the announcement earlier this year that the City would bid for a Downtown bike-share program.

According to the contract signed by the City of Long Beach last March, Nextbike will be responsible for installing “up to two hundred fifty (250) bike stations comprising three thousand seven hundred fifty (3,750) bike docks with two thousand five hundred (2,500) bicycles[.]”

Nextbike owns the world’s largest bike sharing network (20,000 bikes) with a presence in more than 30 German cities and in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Dubai, Hungary, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The contract specifies that both docking stations will be installed over four installation periods, with an initial implementation supposed to have occurred last month with a launch of 100 bikes.

The second installation, set to be deployed in November of this year, will include a proposed 70 smart docking stations with 700 bikes.

“The launch of this deployment may be contingent upon the success of the prior deployment at Nextbike’s discretion, Nextbike receiving additional public and/or private capital funding, and/or obtaining a major program sponsor,” the contract said.

The third installation increases to 80 stations with 800 bikes with a deadline of April of 2016; once again, implementation of this depends on the success of the previous deployment.

Come April 2017, Nextbike is scheduled to deploy an additional 90 stations with 900 bikes, bringing the grand total to 250 stations with 2,500 bikes.

Both physical docking stations and “virtual docking” stations are set to be installed. Virtual docking stations are areas which the GPS tool on the bike can be read within a certain vicinity and you can simply lock your bike to a Nextbike rack or on a regular rack.

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For Goodness’ Sake, Stop Widening the 405

Albert Einstein says that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I have bad news for transportation planners at OCTA and Caltrans. You’ve gone insane. And the disease is spreading.

http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm100.htm

It’s common knowledge that freeway widenings accomplish little besides encouraging sprawl and increasing driving, yet OCTA, Caltrans and Metro want to do it.

The Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans are banding together for another 1950’s style environmental disaster, widening the 405 between the 605 and the 73. The massive expansion project would add two lanes in each direction from Costa Mesa to Long Beach, an addition of over 80 miles of highway lanes. One of the lanes in each direction would be a toll lane.  The project’s total cost is only $1.7 billion.

And this isn’t just insanity, it is also schizophrenia. After all, Caltrans’ Strategic Management Plan calls for ending road widening projects even as the branch office wants to triple down on massive 405 expansions from Orange County through the Sepulveda Pass.

KPCC reports that the City of Long Beach, frustrated with the low amount of mitigation funds being offered for a massive freeway widening planned for the 405 that will dump thousands of new cars on local roads, is planning a lawsuit.

The bad news is the reason why:

Sanchez said Long Beach would like for Orange County to slow down the expansion project to give Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority time to come up with a similar expansion of the 405 on the L.A. side.

The MTA is reviewing a feasibility study that could add one or two lanes to a five-mile stretch of the 405 in Long Beach, between the I-605 interchange north to Cherry Avenue. But that project is in the early stages, MTA officials said.

Oh, for the love of… Read more…

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Long Beach To Put Downtown LB Bike Share Program Out To Bid

Someday my docking station will come.

Someday my docking station will come.

We have been waiting for bike share—for over two years. And it seems, Long Beach, that we are finally in the more tangible stages of receiving it.

According to Nathan Baird, Mobility Coordinator for the City of Long Beach, the City will be going out to bid in the next six weeks to pursue a bike share program that will be launched in Downtown. 50 stations, 500 bikes. The cost? $2.2M through a federal grant.

But what about Bike Nation, Long Beach’s proposed bike share vendor? The company had announced in August 2012 that they would invest some $12 million into a bike share program here in Long Beach was met with astounding cheers. At the time, they had expected some 250 kiosks—yes, 250—with the first ones to be installed in downtown by early 2013. It was touted as a free—yes, free—investment.

As for that whole thing, Baird responded succinctly: “That’s about as much info as I can provide right now.”

That we are now in 2015 and still have yet to find a single kiosk is more than eyebrow-raising. LA had to ditch Bike Nation after it was discovered that the bike share company did not know the advertising parameters set by the second-largest city in the U.S. This also follows their abrupt leave of their bike share program in Anaheim, where the City of Anaheim claimed Bike Nation “chose to walk out themselves.” This all precedes the cryptic photo of a skirt guard of one of the bikes for the long-anticipated bike share program promised to Long Beach. The caption on the skirt guard—”Long Beach, your bike is waiting”—silently and automatically creates a plethora of jokes. Then yet another photo, albeit still cryptic, of an array of permits issued to Bike Nation by the City of Long Beach. The caption? “Station permits for Long Beach have been issued. Stay tuned[.]”

Let us not forget that Bike Nation was finally kicked out of OC after lacking any form of viability: it generated a measly $5K in a year but cost about $100K.

Long Beach will apparently being joining Santa Monica, also pursuing its own bike share program, and Metro, who announced that they will be creating a county-wide bike share program.

Here’s to hoping, Long Beach.

 

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The Debate Over CA’s Cap-and-Trade Funds Is Not Over

From left to right: California Mayors Robert Garcia (Long Beach), Chuck Reed (San Jose), Jean Quan (Oakland), Miguel Pulido (Santa Ana), and Ed Lee (San Francisco) at a press conference in Sacramento, yesterday. Photo: Melanie Curry

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti led a group of California mayors on a trip to Sacramento to push for legislation on a number of issues that impact cities before the final, frantic weeks of August that mark the end of the legislative session. On their agenda was getting assurance that cap-and-trade funds would be available to help cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.

While the fate of cap-and-trade funds has been decided for this budget year, the mayors said they want to be certain that the program operates as intended and that funds are allocated fairly to urban areas down the line. With hundreds of millions in cap-and-trade funds generated this year, and tens of billions in the years to come, it is hard to blame them.

Garcetti said cap-and-trade funds should support new construction as well as operations of existing mass transit and affordable housing in California’s cities, “and not just in the coastal, wealthy areas of the state.” Of the $850 million in cap-and-trade funds allocated in this year’s budget, only $50 million go towards transit, including capital improvements, intercity rail, and operations.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said 10,000 potential residents could be housed along transit corridors in Oakland, adding that investment in transit and affordable transit-oriented development could address issues of wage equality and diversity.

The current state budget allocates $130 million from cap-and-trade funds to a new program, Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC), aimed at concentrating affordable housing in transit-rich areas to encourage new residents to make more trips by transit rather than driving. Read more…

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RFP Goes Out for Terminal Island Freeway Removal Project; Marks SoCal’s First Freeway Removal Project

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Will the Terminal Island Freeway be Southern California’s first freeway removal?

It’s been named one of the top “Freeways Without Futures” in the nation and described as a “perfect example of obsolete infrastructure.” Its removal has been fought for by City Fabrick founder Brian Ulaszewski since 2010, long before the existence of Fabrick itself. It has been a blight on a neighborhood that sees some of the least amount of park space in the entire city.

Now, nearly half a decade later, the project to remove a large portion of the Terminal Island (TI) Freeway in West Long Beach has officially gone out to bid in an RFP with an estimated bid value of $225K. It marks a major event in Southern California’s urban design history, being the first freeway removal project that mirrors existing projects such as the removal of both of San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway and Central Freeway.

The project is simple: the existing northern length of the freeway, following the development of the 20-mile long Alameda Corridor and the still-underway modernization of the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) by Union Pacific Railroad, is redundant. Not only do shipping companies use it less and less, the traffic itself matches those of 4th Street along Retro Row (some 13,700 AADT). And if plans for ICTF follow through, you can drop that down to 8,700 AADT–less than the traffic 3rd Street receives in the quiet neighborhood of Alamitos Beach.

According to the bid, the “TI Freeway Transition Plan will define the community’s vision for replacing an underutilized freeway to mitigate pollution impacts to address long-standing community health concern” while giving “qualified candidates the opportunity to produce a plan for one of the most heavily impacted communities in Southern California.”

They are not exaggerating when calling West Long Beach “heavily impacted”: west side residents have a paltry acre per 1,000 residents or what amounts to about a soccer field. This is far below the National Recreation and Parks Association’s standards for a Healthy City, set at a minimum of 10 acres of parks for every 1,000 of its residents. In fact, it’s legally deemed “park poor,” particularly compared to the East Side, a portion of Long Beach that averages a staggering 16.7 acres/1,000 residents thanks to the massive 650 acre El Dorado Park.

With overwhelming evidence that suggests accessibility to green space not just encourages physical activity but actually contributes to the overall health of a community (lower rates of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, on and on), this project is both reasonable and ethical in its development given that it will increase park space on the West Side by some 50% with the addition of 20 to 30 acres of park space. This is not to mention the elimination of many trucks passing by west side schools, specifically Cabrillo High, Reid High, and particularly Hudson Elementary, which sits toe-to-toe with TI’s edge.  Read more…

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Thanks Everyone, for a Great #LBMayoralForum Last Night

Image: Baktaash Sorkhabi

Image: Baktaash Sorkhabi

Last night, over 100 residents attended a mayoral candidates forum focused on livability, active transportation, and public health at the ART Theatre in Long Beach. Video from the event will be available on Streetsblog’s YouTube channel later this week and a review of the forum written  will be on LongBeachize a little later as well.

But for now, some heartfelt thanks.

First and foremost, thanks to everyone who attended the forum, posed questions on social media, watched on Streetsblog TV or will watch/read our “after the event coverage.”

Thanks to our five participating candidates: Richard Camp, Robert Garcia, Bonnie Lowenthal, Doug Otto and Gerrie Schipske. We selected which of the ten candidates would join us by looking at the top five fundraisers. We needed an objective metric because we believed that 10 candidates would be too large to be an effective forum. After Damon Dunn bowed out, citing a scheduling conflict, Camp doggedly pursued us to take his spot. Given that he was one of two candidates that biked to the event, we feel confident we made the right decision.

Now allow me to thank the people and groups that made the event possible. Read more…

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Redondo Avenue in Long Beach Receives $2.2M Facelift

Redondo

Shortly after the groundbreaking of a massive redevelopment project focused on downtown Long Beach’s Pine Avenue, the east-meets-west arterial that is Redondo Avenue broke ground on a $2.2M street improvement plan that stretches from the 2nd to the 4th District.

One of the stretch’s largest intersections—Redondo and Broadway, home to one of Broadway’s most beloved hub of businesses—will install concrete bulb-outs and what was described as “enhanced crosswalks.” The crosswalks could be simple international-style paint or could be the cobblestone-style crosswalks that 7th Street received in its improvement development last year. The intersection will also receive a new stop light.

Additionally, 122 tons of diverted and recycled material—ranging from sand and asphalt to concrete, rock, and recycled waste ash—will provide a new but sustainable road surface on Redondo between 2nd Street and Anaheim Street.

The project, expected to be completed in May, was funded through Prop C, passed by county voters in 1990.

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CNU Deems Terminal Island Freeway Top 10 ‘Freeway Without Future’

Image: Baktaash Sorkhabi

Image: Baktaash Sorkhabi

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU)—the country’s premiere organization which is founded on creating walkable, neighborhood-based development—released its 2014 “Freeways Without Futures” report, listing Long Beach’s own Terminal Island (TI) Freeway amongst its top 10 prospects for removal.

Calling it a “perfect example of obsolete infrastructure,” CNU echoes the time-consuming efforts put forth by local nonprofit City Fabrick and its founder Brian Ulaszewski’s efforts to remove TI since 2010.

“There’s much interest in reimagining perhaps the most impacting infrastructure in West Long Beach as something that serves the community,” Ulaszewski said. Read more…

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Mark Your Calendars for 2/25 to Hear LB Mayoral Candidates Discuss Livability

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Longbeachize will be hosting the Livable Streets Mayoral Forum at the Art Theatre on February 25 at 7PM. This forum will be a chance for the top contenders for mayor to discuss everything from how they would increase transportation options to improving air quality to bicycle rights. Essentially, it is a forum to discuss how they plan to make Long Beach a better place to live, work, move, and play. The event is free and open to the public.

Confirmed candidates include: Robert Garcia, Bonnie Lowenthal, Doug Otto and Gerrie Schipske; Damon Dunn was also invited but had to decline due to a scheduling conflict. Spanish translation will br provided on site by the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities.

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We recognize that not everyone can make it to the Art, so our sister-site Streetsblog Los Angeles will be Live Streaming the event at Streetsblog TV. Bookmark this link to watch the event live. The following day, Streetsblog will post the entire debate on their YouTube channel.

Questions from readers and the public are encouraged and can be done by leaving a comment below or hopping on either Twitter or Facebook and using #LBMayoralForum. The topics we are focusing on are: Parks, open space, & the environment; Bicyclist rights & infrastructure; Streets, urban design, and public infrastructure; and Sidewalks, transit, and pedestrian rights. Read more…

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LongBeachize: BYD Electric Bus Procurement Further Delayed

Image created by Baktaash Sorkhabi

Image created by Baktaash Sorkhabi

The BYD Motors drama is quickly becoming the novela of the transit community in Southern California, as the bus manufacturer—via Long Beach Transit (LBT)’s Rolando Cruz—is expected to delay the delivery of LBT’s electric bus fleet.

The troubled bus manufacturer, whose North American offices in Los Angeles are operated by China-based BYD, controversially scored the contract with LBT this past year over South Carolina-based Proterra; additionally this year, it also won an electric bus contract with Metro, making BYD home to the nation’s two largest electric bus contracts. The controversy was rightfully raised, if not a flat-out given provided the many questions that arose in the RFP process.

“This delay in Altoona [testing] could adversely affect our deployment schedule because we have contractually agreed to not accept any buses before the Altoona testing is completed,” Cruz said.

For one, Proterra’s electric buses—already approved through the fed’s testing program, Altoona—were already on the ground in Foothill and have since then hit the ground in San Antonio while BYD’s buses hadn’t even hit the line for Altoona testing. This isn’t to mention the company’s falsifying of who had contracted buses with them.

Then things really started to hit the fan: the recent admission at a LBT board meeting that seven of the nine subassemblies for the new fleet were not approved for use; the welding issues that were discovered in the frames and bracket installation; the cracks that were discovered near the rear of the BYD bus undergoing Altoona testing; accusations of failed promises in regard to job building and bus manufacturing in North America…

And the frosting on the curb? Two major national stories—one for the New York Times and the other for the Los Angeles Times—has uncovered that the State of California is investigating BYD for labor violations that amount to 112 citations and nearly $20K in back wage violations after it was discovered that BYD had employed Chinese nationals with a $1.50/hr wage. All this has ultimately resulted in the state fining BYD some $100K.

The most recent LBT meeting brought forth the fact that a Chinese-made bus had undergone 6,000 of the required 15,000 miles of testing at Altoona but now BYD wants the feds to test a new model. This new bus is referred to as the LBT pilot because it represents how the entire new electric fleet for LBT will be made: parts from China, assembled in US. Read more…