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City of L.A.’s First Parking-Protected Bike Lanes: Reseda Boulevard

New parking-protected bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New parking-protected bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, the city of Los Angeles installed its first ever parking-protected bike lanes. They’re on Reseda Boulevard in Northridge, part of the mayor’s Great Streets Initiative.

As of this morning, the project is roughly one-quarter complete. The new protected lanes, also known as cycletracks, are mostly complete on the west side of Reseda Blvd from Plummer Street to Prairie Street. The full one-mile protected lanes will go from Plummer to Parthenia Street.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-April.

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Standard bike lanes put cyclists between parked cars and moving cars. These protected lanes flip the parking and the bike lane, so cyclists are next to the curb, and parked cars and next to moving cars.

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Nearly every other pole along Reseda Boulevard features this sign explaining the new striping.

Read more…

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Reseda Boulevard Getting Its Great Street Improvements (Updated 5:30pm)

Reseda Boulevard now has parking-protected bike lanes! A Los Angeles first! Photo via @LADOTBikeProg Twitter

Reseda Boulevard now has parking-protected bike lanes! A Los Angeles first! Photo via @LADOTBikeProg Twitter

Update: LADOT Bicycle Program just tweeted photos of the Reseda Boulevard protected bike lanes! Woot! Wooooot! 

LA-Más crews spiffing up Reseda Boulevard sidewalks yesterday. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

LA-Más crews spiffing up Reseda Boulevard sidewalks yesterday. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Great Streets improvements are underway on Reseda Boulevard in Northridge.

Streetsblog previewed Reseda Blvd’s exciting upgrades last week. It is just one of fifteen priority streets identified for makeovers under Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative. The upgrades will extend one mile from Parthenia Street to Plummer Street. Kudos to Garcetti, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch Englander, and the city’s Transportation Department (LADOT) for taking advantage of street resurfacing and the upcoming State of the City address to pilot some innovative new street designs in Reseda.

The big big big exciting news is that Reseda Blvd will, very very very soon, have the city of Los Angeles’ very first parking-protected bike lanes.

I took the train-BRT-bike trip to Northridge yesterday, hoping to witness and tweet the tectonic shift of parking spaces from sidewalk-smooching to sidewalk-arm’s-length. Unfortunately the parking-protected bike lane has not been striped. Yet.

Reseda's regular bike lanes are missing after re-surfacing, as LADOT converts them into protected bike lanes. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Reseda’s regular bike lanes are missing after re-surfacing, as LADOT converts them into protected bike lanes. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

I did notice that Reseda Boulevard’s striped median and inner travel lanes do appear a little narrower. So even if L.A.’s first mile of protected bike lanes is not there yet, it is clear that LADOT is making room for them.

This is your parents two-way turn median. Narrower median and turns preliminary striping on Reseda Boulevard. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This is not your parents two-way center turn median. Narrowed median and inner lanes preliminary striping on Reseda Boulevard. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Reseda Boulevard does have groovy new sidewalk patterns.  Read more…

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Englander Touts Reseda Great Street Upgrade, Includes Protected Bike Lanes

Parking protected bike lane improvements coming to Reseda Boulevard. Diagram via SFMTA

Parking protected bike lane improvements coming to Reseda Boulevard. Diagram via SFMTA

The city of Los Angeles will receive its first parking-protected bike lanes this weekend. The new parking-protected lanes are part of a Great Streets upgrade to Reseda Boulevard in Northridge. They will extend one mile from Parthenia Street to Plummer Street, replacing existing conventional bike lanes. If readers are unfamiliar with parking-protected bike lanes, also called cycle tracks, this Portland video can help.

plan via LAGreatStreets Tumblr

Reseda Boulevard plan configuration via LAGreatStreets Tumblr

At a community meeting last night, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch Englander expressed his enthusiasm for Reseda Boulevard’s new street design, stating, “Wait ’til you see the striping, it’s never been done before in Los Angeles.” Englander, responding to a common critique, added, “People say that the Valley is always last. Here, we’re first!”

L.A. City Councilmember Mitch Englander announces Reseda Boulevard Great Streets improvements. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

L.A. City Councilmember Mitch Englander announces Reseda Boulevard Great Streets improvements. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Councilmember Englander explained that the new street design had grown out of the Northridge Vision Plan. The plan, adopted in 2013, calls for improving “the Reseda Boulevard area traffic flow so that it is a safer environment for vehicles and a pedestrian/ bicycle-friendly environment for shoppers, students, and tourists.”

Englander stressed the new striping as a safety improvement. According to the city’s Transportation Department (LADOT), this portion of Reseda Blvd had 209 car crashes reported over the past five years. LADOT has done baseline surveys before implementing street improvements, and will be returning to record post-improvement behavior in early 2016.

Englander seized the opportunity to advance Reseda Boulevard upgrades under Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets initiative. In June, 2014, Mayor Garcetti chose Northridge’s Reseda Boulevard as the site to announce his first fifteen priority areas, including Reseda, targeted for Great Streets improvements.

Englander announced that the current phase of street improvements will be completed by April 14, the same day that Garcetti will deliver his State of the City address at the Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University Northridge. That event will include a walking tour of the new Reseda Boulevard improvements. Englander stated that this will be the first time a Los Angeles mayor has chosen to make his State of the City speech in the San Fernando Valley.  Read more…

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CicLAvia XII Open Thread: Viva the Valley!

CicLAvia touched down in the San Fernando Valley for the first time ever yesterday. Cyclists, skaters, and pedestrians share Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia touched down in the San Fernando Valley for the first time ever yesterday. Cyclists, skaters, and pedestrians share Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

With a winning formula that attracts tens of thousands of participants, spurred on by funding from Metro, Southern California open streets programs are not just for central and Downtown L.A. any more. Coming soon, inaugural ciclovías will take Long Beach and Pasadena. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Yesterday, CicLAvia opened Lankershim and Ventura Boulevards for nearly six miles of car-free San Fernando Valley. Studio City and North Hollywood were bikes on bikes on bikes, with skates, scooters, wheelchairs, and walking shoes all tossed in for good measure.

The weather was cool. The streets, hubs, restaurants, and trains were crowded. The smiles were plentiful.

How was your CicLAvia – The Valley? Was this, the 12th CicLAvia, different than the rest, or just the same old CicLAvia magical awesomeness? How was your experience getting there, moving through, and getting home? What did your kids or your parents enjoy most? Did you see new and intriguing features: the pop-up protected bike lane? NoHo’s new plaza? another face of the Los Angeles River? a glimpse into the future of the San Fernando Valley?

After the jump, a few photos. Followed by your comments.  Read more…

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CicLAvia – The Valley: Tips For Fun, Families, Getting There, and More

CicLAvia will wow the San Fernando this sunday. Pictured: Spring 2014 CicLAvia on Wilshire. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia will wow the San Fernando this Sunday. Pictured: Spring 2014 CicLAvia on Wilshire. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia – The Valley takes place this Sunday, March 22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CicLAvia is L.A.’s open streets celebration – a free, fun, family-friendly festival – where streets are closed to cars to allow people on foot, skates, and bikes to take over.

There are already a handful of great guides available online. They’re all worthwhile, and there’s plenty of overlap.

GENERAL TIPS

As always, do not bring lunch. Bring money and buy lunch. Maybe breakfast, elevenses, and dinner, too. The route includes lots of great eats, from artisan cheese, sushi, Middle Eastern cuisine, delis, Dupar’s, to more than a dozen pizza places. Mom-and-pop proprietors along CicLAvia routes tend to be worried about their bottom line, and many of them think that car parking spaces pretty much equate with customers. Show these Valley businesses that walking and bicycling are great for business.

That tip is one of twelve CicLAvia tips that SBLA recommended last year, most of which are still applicable. Especially if you haven’t been to a CicLAvia event before, read these tips to get a sense for what to expect.

Keep cool under the shady trees at Weddington Park South, next to the Universal City CicLAvia hub.

Keep cool under the shady trees at Weddington Park – South, next to the Universal City CicLAvia hub.

KEEPING COOL

It looks like another hot day, with the forecast calling for full sun and 85 degrees. Here are a few tips for keeping cool:

  • Go early (especially useful if you’re taking transit), then spend the midday heat inside a restaurant.
  • If it gets really hot, take a break in the shade at a nearby park.
    Weddington Park – South (at Valleyheart and Lankershim, Google map) is right next to CicLAvia’s Universal City Hub, plenty of grass and mature tree cover.
    – Two blocks west of the NoHo hub is North Hollywood Park (11430 Chandler Boulevard, 91601, Google map). Also plenty of shade.

TIPS FOR FAMILIES

CicLAvia is a great place for families. There are lots of kids on training-wheeled bikes, scooters, skates, skateboards, and on foot, as well as in bike trailers, cargo bikes, and all kinds of bike seats. It is a great and safe environment for kids on bikes – and also for cycling parents to try out and get more accustomed to our kid-carrying accoutrements.  Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: North Hollywood Station Tunnel Construction

North Hollywood station mural ready for departure. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

North Hollywood station mural ready for departure. February 2015 photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last December, Streetsblog L.A. reported that construction had gotten underway for Metro’s new tunnel below Lankershim Boulevard. The $22 million North Hollywood Station Underpass will connect the Red Line subway with the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit. Full details and diagrams at the earlier article.

Visitors to this Sunday’s CicLAvia – The Valley will not be able to go through the actual tunnel, but sharp-eyed transportation-infrastructure-spotters may be interested to see evidence of the construction in process. There is a fenced-off surface construction zone on the west side of Lankershim.

Perhaps more interesting is the spot inside the Red Line station where the tunnel will soon connect. At the mezzanine level, just west of the elevator (on passengers’ left when disembarking), there was a semi-circular mosaic mural, one part of series of colorful kaleidoscopic pieces throughout the subway station.

What the mural looked like in late 2014. Photo via Metro

What the mural looked like in late 2014. Photo via Metro

The mural was installed on a knock-out panel. The panel was recently isolated (see above), then removed.  Read more…

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No Pitchforks as LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds Addresses West SFV Forum

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds speaking at yesterday's forum. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds speaking at yesterday’s forum. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

I was a little worried that there might be pitchforks at last night’s transportation town hall. The event was hosted by L.A. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and held at the Tarzana Recreation Center.

The main speaker was Seleta Reynolds, the new General Manager of the Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT). I know that Seleta Reynolds has received a lot of praise from us here at SBLA, and from others who are excited about a walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented future… but how would she play in the suburban West San Fernando Valley?

I took the Metro Red Line subway, transferred to the Metro Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit, and bicycled the first and last mile. I locked my bike up against a playground fence, no bike parking in evidence.

While I was waiting for the event to begin, I overheard attendees talking about parking problems, and how a planned two-story school seemed too tall. When Councilmember Blumenfield touted the success of the Orange Line, the man next to me, under his breath, proclaimed it to be “a waste of money.” I responded, whispering, that “I rode it to get here.”

Councilmember Blumenfield was refreshingly multimodal in his opening remarks. He decried the West Valley’s transportation challenges, from being stuck on the 101 Freeway to too many buildings surrounded by “a sea of parking” that makes it difficult to walk or bike. His vision for the future would include grade separation for the Metro Orange Line, making the West Valley a place where millenials can “live-work-play,” and following a “more pedestrian-friendly way of planning.”

Reynolds was applauded and started in on a somewhat stock presentation, mostly focused on LADOT’s recently released strategic plan. She spoke of how previous well-intentioned strategies have drained the life out of our streets, and that now we’re thinking creatively about each street and the purpose it needs to serve.

In summarizing her department’s priorities, the GM cited two critical points: “provide choices” and “lead.”

Providing choices is, of course, a multimodal approach. DOT needs to not just move cars, but also to make walking, transit, and bicycling viable and safe.

Her second point, “lead,” is a bit more complicated. Reynolds explains that LADOT doesn’t do freeways — that’s Caltrans. LADOT doesn’t do buses and trains — that’s Metro. LADOT doesn’t even build bridges or curbs, fix potholes, or re-surface streets — that’s the city’s Public Works bureaus. LADOT does, as she puts it, “hold the bag on all these things,” so DOT needs to be a leader in partnering with these agencies to work together to make mobility seamless for people moving through the city.

Reynolds deprecated L.A.’s notoriously confusing parking signs, mentioning that she had heard from an actual rocket scientist who couldn’t figure them out. She also related that even she had already received two parking tickets since arriving in L.A. last August. She didn’t pull any strings; she paid them both. It is in her strategic plan to re-vamp these signs.

I was a little worried that Reynolds’ photos of Downtown L.A.’s Broadway Dress Rehearsal might not resonate with a suburban Tarzana audience. I was wrong. Among the audience questions were two different ones about how the Valley’s Sherman Way could be made more walkable. One asked if Sherman Way could be closed and become a “walk street like in Santa Monica.”

This man asked Seleta Reynolds if DASH service could work more like really effective circulators at Yosemite.

This man asked Seleta Reynolds if DASH service could work more like really effective circulators in Yosemite.

Also among the audience questions were concerns over improving Valley DASH service and providing places to sit at bus stops. Her response to the latter: “I want to make transit reliable, comfortable, and fun – to thank people for making that choice.”  Read more…

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San Fernando Valley Prioritizes Freeways, Then Bemoans Lack of Transit

The Daily News cites a dearth of "major Measure R projects" in the San Fernando Valley. Does Measure R's portion of the $1.3 billion-dollar 5 Freeway widening projects count as a major project? Image via Caltrans

The Daily News says there are no “major Measure R projects” in the San Fernando Valley, other than the Orange Line Extension. Does Measure R’s portion of the $1.3 billion-dollar 5 Freeway widening projects count as a major project? Nearly $1 billion goes to improvements in the SFV. Image via Caltrans brochure [PDF]

This seems to be the week that the news is that nothing happened in the San Fernando Valley. Last Thursday, SBLA reported that Metro Orange Line speed improvements are not happening yet. On Sunday, the Daily News ran a piece by Dakota Smith entitled, Lack of new San Fernando Valley rail lines draws complaints. Here’s an excerpt:

“The Valley clearly has been shortchanged by Measure R,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents parts of the Valley and serves on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board.

Narrowly approved by voters, Measure R launched a flurry of construction projects and helped raise federal dollars to pay for new rail lines. The sales tax is expected to raise about $38 billion over 30 years.

With the exception of a new Orange Line busway extension, which opened in 2012, no major Measure R projects have broken ground in the Valley. Instead, studies are being conducted on a rail or bus line along Van Nuys Boulevard. A new Sepulveda Pass transit line is in the early planning stages.

Metro's $B capital program, including Valley freeway improvements. Image via Metro

Metro’s $14 billion capital program, including Valley freeway improvements. Image via Metro

Clearly the article is about transit investment, but I’d like to debunk this “[Except for the Orange Line,] no major Measure R projects have broken ground in the Valley” a bit. Perhaps the editors removed the word “transit,” making the sentence inaccurate?

Measure R has a reputation for being money for rail construction but, as many SBLA readers know, Metro rail capital is only 35 percent of the overall estimated $40 billion. Wholly 20 percent of Measure R goes to freeways. Metro is providing $1.5 billion to pay for 5 Freeway widening in L.A. County. Specifically, in the San Fernando Valley, according to Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero, Measure R contributes $271.5 million for the 5 Freeway improvements from the 134 to the 170, which total over $700 million.

According to Sotero, in addition to that $271.5 million, Measure R provides $90.8 million for the $161 million project improving the to the interchange between the 5 and 14 freeways.

Measure R is building transportation infrastructure in the Valley, just not so much transit infrastructure.  Read more…

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Orange Line BRT Speed Improvements Caught In Inter-Agency Delays

Metro Orange Line Stop in North Hollywood.  Photo:##http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisyarzab/##Chris Yarzab##

Metro Orange Line passengers are waiting for improvements on the way. Photo:Chris Yarzab

I was hoping to write a couple of happy stories this week about the Metro Orange Line. The San Fernando Valley’s highly-regarded workhorse Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) opened in 2005. Lately, a new pedestrian tunnel and faster bus speeds seemed imminent. These facilities would save time for the Orange Line’s 30,000 daily riders.

Earlier this week, I reported that the tunnel, which I like, but L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne does not, is under construction. The construction site is not so friendly for pedestrians. Also, per Metro’s clarification, the heavily-used surface crosswalk across Lankershim Boulevard is being moved to a less convenient location. The crosswalk was at the south side of Chandler Boulevard North; in the future (and during construction, now) it will be on the north side of Chandler North. This means pedestrians will need to cross Lankershim and Chandler North, instead of just Lankershim. Perhaps, in front of the Metro station, pedestrian prioritization is called for. Perhaps include crosswalks at all the legs of the intersection? Maybe a pedestrian scramble? But that’s another story.

Today, I am disappointed to report that the bus speed improvements that appeared to be imminent seem instead to have fallen into a limbo of inter-agency delay between Metro and the Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT).

The Orange Line BRT runs on its own busway: basically a bus-only street built on former railroad right-of-way. The busway runs generally east-west and, at signalized intersections, crosses numerous north-south streets. In its first few months of operation, the Orange Line ran faster than it does today. There were a handful of car-bus collisions on the route, reportedly due to drivers failing to obey traffic signals. The excuse that has been repeated is that the drivers were not used to seeing any traffic on that long-abandoned right-of-way.

After these collisions, Orange Line bus speeds were reduced. Today Orange Line buses slow to 10 mph when crossing intersections.

Now that, at least, local drivers are more aware of the presence of Orange Line buses, there is movement afoot to improve the Orange Line by bringing its buses back up to speed. 

As both the Los Angeles City Councilmember representing neighborhoods along the Orange Line and a Metro Boardmember, Paul Krekorian is uniquely situated to champion Metro Orange Line improvements. With Council colleague Bob Blumenfeld, Krekorian authored council motion 14-1352 [PDF], which instructs LADOT to work with Metro to figure out how to improve Orange Line service, including increasing speeds.

The Krekorian motion was heard at the October 22 meeting of the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee. During the Orange Line motion discussion (audio – at 0:40.), the following exchange took place:

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian: Well, maybe we can make this very easy then. Is it the city’s position that Metro can unilaterally change the speeds at intersection crossing points on the Orange Line without approval of the city?

Bill Shao, Senior Transportation Engineer, LADOT: Yes, it is.

Krekorian: Great. Less need to collaborate then, I guess. [laughter]

Shao: We – the city – we have to understand what the new speeds at crossings are so that we can align our signals to their needs.

Krekorian: Which actually becomes a bigger issue but that’s an issue that can happen after these changes take place.

Shao: That’s correct.

Krekorian: Great.

For many years, LADOT resisted increasing speeds on the Metro Orange Line BRT, as it would mean that some people in cars will sometimes experience minor delays in crossing the Orange Line. Shao’s October testimony was the first clear message that LADOT is fully on board, and now the ball is in Metro’s court to improve Orange Line speeds. My hunch is that this change can be attributed to Seleta Reynolds’ leadership.

At the October committee meeting, Metro Interim Executive Officer Jon Hillmer said that Metro was planning to increase Orange Line bus intersection speeds from 10 mph to 25 mph, which Metro expects will save cross-Valley commuters 4-8 minutes per trip. The next day, I reported that Metro Orange Line speed improvements appeared to be coming soon.

Last week, I inquired of LADOT and Metro regarding the timeline for these Orange Line speed improvements. Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero responded that he would check but that they “may be the bailiwick of LADOT.”

Read more…

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NoHo Ped Tunnel Construction Underway, To Connect Orange and Red Lines

Diagram of North Hollywood Station Underpass project. The new tunnel connect the NoHo Red Line subway station with the Orange Line BRT station across the street. Image via Metro

Diagram of North Hollywood Station Underpass project. The new tunnel will connect the NoHo Red Line subway station with the Orange Line BRT station across the street. Image via Metro Fact Sheet [PDF]

Construction is underway for a new tunnel that will make it easier for riders to transfer between Metro’s Orange and Red Lines. Per Metro’s fact sheet [PDF], the new tunnel, officially the North Hollywood Station Underpass project, is expected to be completed in Spring 2016. Riders are already detouring around the pedestrian-unfriendly construction site barriers.

The North Hollywood Station Underpass is a $22 million capital project, funded in part by a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation Bus Facility Fund grant. According to a Board report [PDF], Metro estimates that the project will save riders approximately 44 seconds as they transfer between the Red Line subway and the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

According to the Metro project page, once the tunnel opens, “pedestrian traffic will be deterred from crossing Lankershim.” I hope this doesn’t mean that the surface crosswalk at Chandler Boulevard North will be removed. If this is the case, so much for the 44-second savings, as bus-to-bus connecting passengers will have to walk further to get to another surface crosswalk, or go down into the station and then come back up to the surface to catch the Orange Line.

Eliminating the existing crosswalk would also be inconvenient and possibly dangerous for cyclists heading west from the Burbank-Chandler bikeway onto the Orange Line bikeway. Like too many Southern California livability projects, instead of creating the kind of redundancy that is found in local car transportation systems, it sounds like one walkway will open and another will be closed. 

(Updated 4:45pm – Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero requested that SBLA note that the crosswalk across Lankershim at Chandler North will “remain permanently to facilitate pedestrian/bicyclist crossings.”)

Diagram of the xxxxxxx

Diagram of the North Hollywood Station Underpass. In the foreground are the existing escalators, stairs, and tri-color arched shade structures at the NoHo Red Line Station. Diagonally through the middle are the Red Line tracks running below Lankershim Boulevard. In the upper right are the existing Orange Line station (not pictured) and new tunnel, escalators, stairs, and elevator. Image from Metro

The tunnel will connect to the mezzanine level of the North Hollywood Red Line Station, next to the existing elevator that connects the mezzanine with the train platform.  Read more…