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CicLAvia XIII: Pasadena Open Streets Open Thread

Yesterday was Pasadena's first CicLAvia. How did it go for you? Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday was Pasadena’s first CicLAvia. How did it go for you? Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia touched down in the City of Pasadena for the first time yesterday. The route, centered on Colorado Boulevard, showcased the city’s great walkable historic core, preserved because the City of Pasadena stopped the destructive and costly practice of street widening and reformed parking, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Yesterday, Pasadena saw plenty of smiles, music, dogs, families, long lines at eateries, crowded Gold Line cars, and – yes – tens of thousands of bikes.

Readers – what did you think? Did you walk, skate, or bike? At 3.5 miles it was the shortest CicLAvia yet. Was the distance too long, too short, or just right? Did you take a feeder ride? Or the Metro Gold Line?

Ciclovía afficionados don’t even need to wait a week for L.A. County’s next open streets events. Long Beach is hosting its inaugural Beach Streets event this Saturday June 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be the first local ciclovía not run by the organization CicLAvia. Explore L.A. County’s leading bike-friendly city and keep cool as the summer heats up. Who’s heading for Long Beach?

CicLAvia Pasadena cruises past the landmark Castle Green

CicLAvia Pasadena cruises past the landmark Castle Green

More CicLAvia Pasadena photos at The Source, Boy on a Bike, and Randomness from Unbored Hands.

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Donald Shoup Interview, Part 2: Pasadena, Ventura, Mexico City, A.B. 744

Joe Linton and Donald Shoup. Photo: Streetsblog L.A.

Joe Linton and Donald Shoup. Photo: Streetsblog L.A.

Donald Shoup, parking’s one and only rock star, is retiring from UCLA this year. Tomorrow, the college is sending him off with a fundraiser retirement dinner atop parking structure number 32. You can attend, and hobnob with Shoup himself, by donating to the Shoup Fellowship fund for future UCLA planning students.

Below is part two of my big exit interview with Don Shoup. Part one is here. The interview took place at the UCLA Faculty Center on Friday, May 15, the day after UCLA’s Complete Streets Forum, where Professor Shoup had been impressed with a presentation on the soon-to-be phased out car congestion metric, Level of Service.

Joe Linton: Many progressives want people to do the right thing for the right reason. If you look at New York City and how healthy people are, it’s because they walk. They’re not healthier because they’re choosing some healthy option. They’re healthy because the neighborhood around them was built for walking. I think you’ve managed to avoid that pitfall. 

Don Shoup: When it comes to public policy, doing the right thing is more important than doing it for the right reason. The best way to get people to do what’s right collectively is to make it the best thing for them to do individually. You have to give individuals a personal incentive to do what’s right for society.

When it comes to parking, you have to figure out how to stop giving everyone incentives to do what’s wrong for society. Removing subsidies for parking is one of the best ways to convince people to walk, bike, or ride the bus rather than drive solo.

For example, employer-paid parking is an invitation to drive to work alone. Parking cash out is a policy that makes it individually rational to consider all the alternatives to driving to work alone. I studied employers who began to offer commuters the option to choose the cash value of free parking rather than the parking itself. At these firms, 17 percent of the solo drivers shifted to carpooling, biking, walking, or riding the bus to work.

For many people, the only reason to do anything is that it’s best for them individually. And I think that’s why planners have to be more realistic about devising policies so the stakeholders will say, “I see what you mean – that’ll help me.” I think expecting people to do the right thing for the right reason leads to a lot of failure in public policy.

Most people who ride a bike do so because they enjoy it and want the exercise, not because it’s a sacrifice for humanity. But many people don’t mind driving or even like to drive, and parking subsidies increase the incentive to drive.

In my retirement, I want to live the way hobbits did; they spent all their time visiting all their friends who lived within a half a day’s walk. And if you are lucky, you can live almost that way in L.A. I live near campus and usually don’t leave Westwood. When I do go to other places like West Hollywood, Culver City, or Pasadena, I see there’s a whole other ecosystem going on in each neighborhood. There are a lot of little villages and you can have a wonderful life without traveling far from them. I’ve even seen real estate ads for houses saying “Park on Friday, walk all weekend.”

Because of traffic congestion I think more people are leading their lives in their own villages. But I do think we can greatly reduce traffic congestion. I’m a big fan of congestion pricing – which I think is the only thing that will reduce congestion.

Linton: Where do you see congestion pricing taking hold in Los Angeles?

Shoup: It already has taken hold – the High Occupancy/Toll (HOT) lanes on the Harbor Freeway. Solo drivers can use the ExpressLanes if they pay. The tolls adjust up and down to prevent the lanes from getting congested.

Linton: What’s interesting to me is that it was working really well as we were emerging from the down economy – the speeds were actually averaging above the speed limit – which they were proud of – those scofflaw motorists. This year and late last year, as the economy has picked up, they’re increasingly closing those lanes. They’re too packed.

Shoup: Yes. It’s because there is a cap on the congestion toll – $1.40 per mile. They now run up against that cap often. The price cap was politically necessary to begin with but there’s no reason to have a cap now, especially because the toll revenue provides many amenities on and alongside the freeway. Better lighting, better bus stops, and more frequent bus service.

Linton: Bike-share, too

Shoup: That’s right. So what’s the objection to raising the tolls now? The ExpressLane tolls provide about $2.3 million a month to run the extra bus service, bike-sharing, better bus stops, and things like that. If that’s what the tolls are providing, what’s the problem with raising the price for solo drivers when the freeway gets congested?

Linton: Where else do you think L.A. can expand congestion pricing? Additional freeway lanes? Other applications?

Shoup: They didn’t need to add lanes to the El Monte Busway and the Harbor Freeway for congestion pricing. I think we should convert more HOV lanes to HOT lanes. On the 405, we just spent a billion dollars to put in one new HOV lane. It took five years of construction with nightmarish traffic – and just think of the carbon emissions that created. It would be more sensible to convert one free lane to a HOT lane.

After the Level of Service talk [at the prior day’s Complete Streets forum] a consultant from Orange County asked “if they don’t use Level of Service metrics, how will they know where to build new freeways, new capacity?” I said if you have a congested freeway, you could try converting free lanes into HOT lanes rather than build more free lanes. I think Orange County made a bad choice in expanding freeways and keeping them free.

If we manage freeways better – the lanes that we have – we wouldn’t need any more. And they would provide revenue.

We ought to have signs on the bike stands, in the buses, and at bus stops saying “paid for by the ExpressLanes revenue.” People will see the toll revenue at work. The revenue goes to specific places for specific things. If we didn’t have the congestion tolls, we wouldn’t have these bicycles, this bus, this new street furniture, or something like that.

Variable parking prices are like congestion tolls, except instead of aiming for the right speed on the road you aim for the right occupancy rate for on-street parking –one or two open spaces on every block. It’s a lot easier to charge for parking than it is to charge congestion tolls. But most cities have the same price for curb parking all day long, or no price at all.

Linton: Have cities done a good job of adopting your recommendation to use parking meter revenue for improvements on metered blocks?

Shoup: Pasadena is a great example of using parking meter revenue to improve an area. You are probably too young to remember what Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena was like before the parking meters. It used to be a skid row.

There were wonderful buildings in terrible condition. Much of it had been urban renewed. The city tore out three blocks of Old Pasadena on Colorado Boulevard for an enclosed mall. Look at it from the air. What we think of as Old Pasadena is only what’s left of Old Pasadena – before freeways and redevelopment removed most of it.

Most of the buildings were empty above the ground floor. The rest of them were pawn shops, porn theaters, and tattoo parlors – there’s nothing wrong with that but it shouldn’t be your only land use. The city wanted to put in parking meters. The merchants said “no way – it’ll chase away the few customers we have – down to this enclosed mall you subsidized.” They argued for a couple of years. Finally the city said “if we put in the parking meters, we’ll spend all of the revenue for added public services on the metered streets. We’ll rebuild all the sidewalks and clean up the alleys.” The merchants said “why didn’t you tell us that before? Let’s run the meters until midnight. Let’s run ‘em on Sunday.” They were so excited when they knew they would get the revenue instead of going into the city general fund.

Linton: Revenue return is just one of the three main parking reforms that you recommend for cities. Explain those.

Shoup: I recommend three basic policies:  Read more…

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Metro’s North 710 Freeway Tunnel Study Meetings in High Gear, Pasadena Working Group Offers Brainy Alternatives

Last Saturday's SR-710 study meeting at East L.A. College. 710 Freeway meetings continue tonight in Pasadena. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last weekend’s SR-710 North Study meeting at East L.A. College. 710 Freeway meetings continue tonight in Pasadena. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Smart people live in Pasadena. Some of them work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and send probes to Mars. Others spend their days figuring out quantum mechanics at Caltech. And still others dabble in transportation. A study group formed by Pasadena’s Mayor Bill Bogaard and its City Manager has a smart idea in response to L.A. Metro’s study to link the stub end of the 210 with the end of the 710: instead of closing this “gap” in our freeways, rip out the 210’s stub along Pasadena Avenue.

That’s just one recommendation in a recently completed white paper written by the Pasadena SR-710 Alternative Working Group (PWG), in response to Metro’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on linking the 710 with the 210. Metro is holding a series of public meetings on its EIR. The next one is tonight at the Pasadena Convention Center.

The connection between the 710 and 210 would be 6.3 miles long and would include a 4.2-mile tunnel. It will cost between $5.7 billion and $3.2 billion, depending on options. Measure R, the 2008 ballot measure authorizing a sales tax to improve mobility, committed $780 million for the project.

During a 710 debate held at Cal State L.A., Barbara Messina, a Councilmember for the City of Alhambra, echoed Metro’s studies when she called the “gap” the “missing link that does not allow our
freeways to operate at maximum efficiency.” And if you believe that, I have a recently widened 405 to sell you. Messina said the tunnel will reduce pollution. “There’s no way adding fifty-thousand cars can improve air quality,” said Michael Cacciotti, a Councilmember for the City of South Pasadena and another panelist, adding that the tunnel is an Eisenhower-era solution. “Why waste billions on a short little tunnel when you can connect the region with Light Rail?”

Indeed, the Metro study does present transit “alternatives.” But they don’t seem credible.

Take the Bus Rapid Transit option. Outside rush hour, the “bus-only” lane reverts to a parking lane. It is dubious that such a watered-down BRT differs enough from the “no build” alternative
to qualify.

The Light Rail option in the study is more tangible: it would run from the Fillmore Gold Line station to the East LA Civic Center Station at a cost of $2.4 billion. The segment in Pasadena
would be underground, continuing on a viaduct for the trip through Alhambra. “Who wants to see an LRT three miles up in the air like the Disney Monorail!” said Messina at the Cal State L.A. debate. “LRT will devastate East L.A.”

Messina’s hyperbole aside, Metro’s rail alternative also raises questions.  Read more…

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When the Justice System Failed Alan Deane, It Failed Us All


The music in this time-lapse video by William Campbell captures the solemn mood of the bike community following Deane’s death. This ride was completed on September 27, 2011. Five days after Deane’s death.

On September 22, 2011 Alan Deane was riding his bicycle on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, perhaps on his way to the Crawford Family Forum for a public event. While crossing Terrace Drive, Siddhartha Misra struck Deane with his car. Deane was rushed to the hospital where he died form injuries sustained in the crash. Deane had turned 61 that day.

KPCC wrote a heartfelt farewell to Deane, a regular attendee of events at their Crawford Family Forum, after his passing.

On Tuesday, after pleading guilty to reckless driving, Mirsa received his sentence. Judge Steven Monette sentenced Mirsa to 10 days of community labor, 400 hours of community service and $4000 in restitution and other fines. At Biking In L.A., Ted Rogers referred to the judgement as a “gentle caress on wrist.”

Cyclists and safe street advocates were outraged, not just at Mirsa who appeared by all accounts genuinely contrite; but by a system that treats driving as a right and not a privilege  The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Colin Bogart, who shared the Streetsblog 2011 advocate of the year award, was quoted in the Pasadena Star News, KPCC and other outlets giving a variation of a statement that said that the punnishment for killing a person through negligence should at least include loss of driver’s license.

There have been a lot of eulogies for Deane, a man who chose to eschew most personal possessions, played music, rode his bike and participated in civic life. But it’s not just his life and personality that make this a tragedy, but that the justice system and society as a whole too often look the other way when it comes to the carnage that occurs on our streets.

As Streetsblog worked on this euology, our inbox has been active. One reader writes asking how many tickets and reckless driving infractions is it going to take before Justin Bieber has his toys taken away. Another reader sends a “Roadshow” column that appeared in the Daily News featuring both a traffic columnist and a letter from an insurance investigator who blame cyclists, especially children, for crashes when a car driver can’t be bothered to look both ways before running them down while exiting their driveway.

On Tuesday, Mirsa apologized to Deane’s friends and families. But after the sentence was handed down, apologies were also needed from Monette and society itself.

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Divide and Conquer on the 710 Big Dig

A packed house at a June public meeting on I-710 alternatives in Pasadena. Photo:Dan McGuire/Metro

Last week, Metro finished its most recent public meetings outlining twelve proposals to fill the so-called 4.5 mile “gap” on the I-710 between Alhambra and Pasadena at the I-210. The public response to the twelve alternatives presented was near-uniformly negative. Anger was particularly high at new proposals to connect the I-710 to the I-210 including, a tunnel connecting the 10 Freeway to the 134 Freeway, a surface route that would widen Avenue 64 and a highway route along Huntington Drive, Fair Oaks Avenue and Pasadena Avenue.

The newer proposals were viewed by many communities, including Alhambra, East Los Angeles, La Canada Flintridge and Pasadena as so ludicrous that it pushed the proposal to build a tunnel underneath several San Gabriel Valley Communities off the front pages.

Maybe that was the point. No media coverage of the Big Dig option. No media coverage of the flood of trucks that would dominate San Gabriel Valley Streets. Little mention of that any expansion of the I-710 or surrounding freeways is a giant subsidy to the port and shipping industries.

On August 29, a Metro Technical Advisory Committee will meet to pair down the list of twelve alternatives to just a “handful.” The smaller list could be presented to the full Metro Board of Directors next month or the month after. Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena) firmly believes that the fix is already in for a certain route, despite protests from Metro that it’s totally not. He tells the Daily News, “I think the folks in downtown L.A. are going to try to put on a show to justify a predetermined conclusion…Fundamentally, this is a flawed process.”

If the agency wishes people to believe that the short list of projects that will be studied in a full environmental impact report hasn’t been pre-determined, it would do well to not present the alternatives next month. Read more…

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After Oregon Woman Is Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver in Pasadena, a Ghost Bike Is Planted

There are few things more moving and powerful than a ghost bike planting.  Last night, the Eastside Bike Club, cooks from the Bike Oven and other cyclists made the somber ride to the spot where Jocelyn Young was struck by a hit and run driver in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Photo: Carlos Morales/Eastside Bike Club

Young’s tragic story was picked up by Bike Portland, because she graduated from University of Oregon and lived in Portland.  Bike Portland adds the life details to the story missed by the local press and shows how much the world has lost from Young’s passing.

Andrew Plambeck attended UO with Young and reacted to her death today. “We had a lot of close mutual friends. She was such an always-on wonderful presence. Always warm and cheerful. So, so sad. Another wonderful, unique person killed senselessly in the road.”

Meanwhile, Nicholas Avila, who was booked on suspicion of hit-and-run and driving under the influence and was released from the Pasadena Police Jail yesterday pending charges.  Unless charges are filed, the police cannot hold a suspect and the Pasadena Star-News reports that the police are making sure their case is airtight before presenting their case to the District Attorney’s office.  There’s no stated reason why Avilia isn’t charged with vehicular manslaughter.  The police are currently interviewing witnesses and collecting video information.

Young was riding with her boyfriend when she “fell off her bike” for unknown reasons.  Avila then allegedly ran over Young, causing injuries that would kill her in the hospital.  While Young lay dieing in the street, Avila fled to his house in Alhambra, where he was arrested after another driver followed him to his residence.

Last night, Young’s memory was memorialized with a ghost bike.  While the bikes are a powerful reminder that we still have a long way to go to make our roads safe for all road users, I think we can all agree it’s a type of traffic calming that we could do with less of.

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Pasadena May Be More Bike Friendly Than L.A., But It Needs More Parking!

(This is the last part of our Bike Week 2011 Series on people’s biking experiences in different corners of L.A. County.  Our last entrant is from our “Pasadena Correspondent” Brigham Yen, who is a little different than our other writers this week in that he doesn’t represent a formal biking organization but still brings a wealth of information to his writings. – DN)

I rode my bike over to US Bank, located at Colorado and Oak Knoll, the other day and found myself scrambling to find a place to lock my bike as there were no bike racks on the block. I wasn’t alone. There were numerous other bikes haphazardly locked against anything resembling something solid, such as tree trunks and lamp posts. I assume most of these bikes belonged to people who were patronizing Sabor² Cafe adjacent to US Bank.

Because there are few places to lock one's bike on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, this person locked his/her bike to a tree. Photo: Brigham Yen

I eventually found a bike rack inconveniently around the corner in the back on Oak Knoll (by the entrance to a parking garage) and had to walk back to the bank, which made me wonder why there weren’t bike racks in front of the building to begin with (where the businesses were located). Read more…

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Streetfilms Rocks Pasadena. Click Through for a Bike Week Film Fest

For the second time this year Streetsblog rolled in to Pasadena to take to a stage and talk Livable Streets.  We didn’t quite pack the house as we did back in January, but we did have a fun night showing Streetfilms to roughly 50 people with CICLE, New Belgium Brewing, and REI as part of Bike Week Pasadena.  Thanks to a raffle, we even made a couple of bucks off the fun.

Unfortunately, due to some technical difficulties we ended up bouncing between a couple of DVD’s to sho          w a series of the best bike Streetfilms.  Since we jumped off script, I’m embedding all of the films we were scheduled to show with a brief comment after the jump. Read more…

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Join Streetsblog for Our Bike Week Events – May 14 and 16th

It seems as though everyone is releasing their calendars for Bike Week, it’s time for Streetsblog to release ours.  In addition to our regular coverage throughout Bike Week, Streetsblog will actively taking part in two events.

The first is actually a pre-Bike Week ride for the Westside.  Over the years we noticed that there were no Bike Week events for West Los Angeles outside of a handful of stations on Bike to Work Day.  Thus, Streetsblog will be hosting the first annual Westside Ride to the Pier on Saturday, May 14.  We’ll start at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church at 11555 National Boulevard and ride down Barrington to Venice Boulevard.  From there, we’ll head east to Abbot Kinney and turn left down to Washington Boulevard.  From there it’s a straight shot to the ocean.

We’ll meet at 10:30 at St. Andrews.  Anyone who is interested in returning back to the Westside instead of hanging out at the beach, there will be a return ride that leaves about a half hour after we arrive at the Pier.  At the start of the ride, we’ll have some goodies from Clif Bar, Luna Bar and Trader Joe’s.  There’s no charge for the ride, but I certainly won’t stop someone from donating for Streetsblog.

Our second event is a night of Streetfilms hosted by C.I.C.L.E., REI and the Pasadena Playhouse District as part of Bike Week Pasadena on Monday, May 16 at 6:30 P.M. The DVD’s for the event arrived last week, and I watched through the series this weekend.  Join us at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 North Mentor Avenue in Pasadena at 6:30.  You bring the streets, I’ll bring the films.

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How Can We Increase Pedestrian Activity on South Lake Avenue in Pasadena?

Most of South Lake Avenue functions like a strip mall, with parking in the back and stores with "convenient" back door entrances that siphon pedestrian activity away from the actual South Lake Avenue itself. There's many more pictures of South Lake after the jump.

For awhile now, I’ve contemplated the perplexing question of “What can improve South Lake Avenue (an underperforming shopping district)?” and I’ve come up with my own conclusions as to why the moribund district performs so poorly.

Let me also start off by saying “Thank you” to those who took the time yesterday to email me their thoughts expressing their very valid concerns over the unfortunate news that Borders will be closing their location on South Lake Avenue due to their recent bankruptcy and reorganization (a Borders store associate on South Lake Avenue told me “one to two months”).

I was just as bummed about the news, and as a result of those emails I received, I felt compelled to go out and “exam” South Lake Avenue today by doing my own little research. I asked myself the obvious question as I walked up and down the street: “Why are there so few people walking on South Lake Avenue?”

The answer in my opinion is quite “simple” and boils down to two major drawbacks that hamper South Lake Avenue: 1) The tenant/business mix is uninteresting in its current configuration, and 2) the back entrances to the businesses from the Shoppers Lane parking lot is insidiously harmful to South Lake Avenue in the front. Read more…