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Posts from the "Bicycling" Category

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Eyes On The Street: Second Street Tunnel’s Semi-Protected Bikeway

The sorry state of L.A.'s only protected bike lane. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Down. Missing. Missing. The sorry state of L.A.’s first and only protected bike lane. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Sahra Sulaiman, SBLA’s Communities Editor for Boyle Heights and South L.A. took this photo last Sunday, showing the flattened and missing pylons in the Second Street Tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles. This is Los Angeles’ first and only protected bikeway.

Just last night, she spotted two cars that had collided parked in the westbound bike lane, with a tow truck parked just ahead of them and a cop car parked behind them. They were able to stay out of car traffic that way, but it made things a little dicey for anyone biking westward. There was a substantial trail of reflector and other debris left in their wake later that night, but, miraculously, the pylons in that vicinity remained upright and in place.

Sahra’s email alerting us can be found after the jump.

Readers: Let us know your ideas! Is there something that the city of Los Angeles can do to keep the Second Street “candlesticks” in place? Video surveillance? Razor wire? Air bags? Concrete barriers? relocate some Metro turnstiles? A traffic study? Relocating the Great Wall of Los Angeles? Emotionally intelligent signage? Maybe just build a protected bikeway elsewhere to take the debilitating pressure off of this brave tunnel?

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San Fernando Votes To Move Forward With Pacoima Wash Bikeway

Salvador Valentin, of Bikesan@s del Valle collective, and his son Isaac testify in support of the Pacoima Wash Bikeway. The San Fernando City Council approved moving forward with pursuing state funding for the project.

Salvador Valentin, of Bikesan@s del Valle collective, and his son Isaac testify in support of the Pacoima Wash Bikeway. The San Fernando City Council approved moving forward with pursuing state funding for the project.

Last night, the city of San Fernando moved a step closer to constructing a new bike path along the Pacoima Wash. The city council voted unanimously, 5-0, in favor of seeking California state Active Transportation Program (ATP) funding. If everything goes smoothly, the Pacoima Wash Bikeway would open to the public in early 2017.

The bike path will extend the full 1.6-mile length of the Pacoima Wash within the City of San Fernando, from roughly San Fernando Road to Foothill Boulevard. It will also connect with the city’s existing rail-with-trail bike path that runs between San Fernando Road and the Metrolink railroad tracks. That bike path is currently being extended eastward, with construction underway within the city of Los Angeles.

The Pacoima Wash is a tributary of the Los Angeles River. It runs more-or-less north-south through the San Fernando Valley, through the city of San Fernando and neighborhoods within the city of Los Angeles including Sylmar, Pacoima, and Arleta, where it joins the Tujunga Wash. Like many southland creeks, the Pacoima Wash is encased in concrete and fenced off.

In 2000, the city of San Fernando adopted a plan for parks and bicycle and pedestrian paths along the Pacoima Wash. The city sought and obtained project funding from Metro’s 2007 Call for Projects. In 2008, the nonprofit Pacoima Beautiful obtained County Public Health PLACE grant funding to extend Pacoima greenway planning to San Fernando’s adjacent city of L.A. neighborhoods. Pacoima Beautiful spearheaded the planning process for the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan, which calls for a 2.6-mile bikeway connecting with the Angeles National Forest.

There are two new small Pacoima Wash parks already underway, both collaborations between cities and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA.) The city of San Fernando’s 8th Street Park is complete and ready for its grand opening, anticipated very soon. Nearby downstream, in the city of L.A.’s Pacoima neighborhood, El Dorado Park is funded and currently being designed.

Things appeared to be moving along well, albeit slowly, for Pacoima Wash revitalization. Then Metro pulled back its funding, requiring that San Fernando instead apply for state ATP funding. This triggered the need for a new vote at the San Fernando City Council, where elected officials and staff are almost all new since the 2007 Metro funding was obtained. Read more…

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Bike San Diego Wins National Advocacy Award, Sets Sights Higher

bikeSDBike San Diego won this year’s Advocacy Organization of the Year award from the Alliance for Biking and Walking at the National Bike Summit earlier this month in Washington, D.C. Pretty good for an all-volunteer-run organization that has only been around for a little over a year.

During that year, however, BikeSD shifted from being an influential blog by founder Samantha Ollinger to an active representative of bicycle riders in local planning efforts and politics.

“It hasn’t really sunk in that we won,” said Ollinger of winning the award. “It’s an incredible honor. National recognition is very gratifying, and having that tangible acknowledgment is a huge deal. Our volunteers work hard, I work hard, our board works incredibly hard. And we’re all volunteers.”

In addition to her day job as an accountant, she is on the planning board for her neighborhood, works with city agencies and local organizations on planning efforts including the San Diego Bicycle Plan, and just applied to be on the police Citizens’ Review Board.

“My social life is all about BikeSD,” she said. “If you want to have drinks with me, we’re going to talk bike policy.”

Last year the group’s focus was largely on advocacy efforts, targeting city officials and local organizations to make sure the concerns of bicyclists were taken into account. One of the organization’s big achievements was convincing planners that car Level of Service (LOS) was not an appropriate measure for bike infrastructure proposed in the new San Diego Bike Plan.

Read more…

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California Biking, Walking, Transit Use Up Despite Little Investment

Caltrans' latest Household Travel Survey report shows significant increases in walking and bicycling

The news from Caltrans’ 2012 California Household Travel Survey is not too surprising: Californians are making more trips by walking, bicycling, and transit than they were in 2000. The survey found the percentage of trips by these modes doubled in ten years and make up nearly 23 percent of all trips in the state.

That means car trips decreased dramatically, from 86 percent of trips to 75 percent. This includes trips where people are passengers in cars — for drivers only, the decrease is from 60 percent of trips to 49 percent. This confirms a recent US Public Interest Group (PIRG) report that got a lot of media attention about millenials choosing to drive less and being more interested in active forms of transportation.

“The California data is the first new travel survey since the last federal National Household Travel Survey in 2009, so it’s very significant that it shows such a steep decline in driving and a doubling in the share of transit, biking and walking,” said Phineas Baxandall of USPIRG. “It shows the last federal survey wasn’t a fluke.” The national survey showed a jump in walking trips, a slight increase in transit trips, and an increase in “other” modes, under which bicycle trips would fall.

“The fact that we’re seeing this in California, the heart of the former car culture, is also delicious,” he added. Read more…

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The Wheels of Justice Slowly Begin to Turn in the Hit-and-Run that Killed Andy Garcia

She made the decision to drink. She ran over me and my two friends, and she fled. She killed a friend of mine. My back and other bones were broken, and I was out of work for three months, recounted Mario Lopez (in Spanish, above), to a reporter from Canal 22 yesterday.

He was one of several victims hit by 21-year-old Wendy Villegas in the incident that killed Luis “Andy” Garcia last September.

Villegas had come flying up the bridge on Cesar Chavez that fateful night, knocking Lopez aside, slamming into Garcia and dragging his bike several hundred feet underneath her car, and launching Ulises Melgar into the air so high he nearly flew over the bridge railing to the river below, all while friends Richie Berumen and Jose Vasquez watched helplessly.

But, I am going to keep fighting, Lopez continued, and I am going to campaign so that people know that we are here and we are going to achieve justice for Andy.

And, with that, the riders that had gathered at dawn at Montebello City Park pedaled off toward the courthouse in downtown L.A. to confront Villegas once again.

It was about time.

Garcia’s family had flown in from Texas last month only to see the preliminary hearing postponed for the second time.

New evidence had been entered that both parties needed to review, Garcia’s mother had explained.

At the time, she also said that, while she understood that this was how the justice system worked, it was still very painful. Not least because they had seen no expression of remorse from Villegas. In fact, the only regret they heard from her seemed to be linked to the requirement that she wear an ankle monitor; her lawyer had complained this was a hardship — sartorial and otherwise — for a young college student to endure.

Thursday’s hearing brought hope that Garcia’s family and friends might finally see justice. Read more…

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Times: City Blew it on Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race

In a land where he once stood with pride / But he'll find his way by the morning light / How will the Wolfpack survive?  2012 Wolfpack Hustle L.A. Marathon Crash Race. photo: Waltarrrrr

In a land where he once stood with pride / But he’ll find his way by the morning light / How will the Wolfpack survive? 2012 Wolfpack Hustle L.A. Marathon Crash Race. photo: flickr Waltarrrrr

The Los Angeles Times weighed in on the fire fight over the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race cancellation. While the Times pretty much treats the city’s version of events as fact, it still finds the city at fault for forcing the cancellation of a fun, low-cost event that attracted thousands of Angelenos to a safe and healthy event. For a brief history of the Hustle, visit this story on Santa Monica Next.

From the editorial:

But why was Ward notified less than a week before that he would be violating city codes? A spokesman for the Department of Public Works — which includes the Bureau of Street Services — said his agency was only informed Monday about the safety issues. The agencies raising them, he said, included the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Transportation. And it takes about 45 days to get a permit for a special event like this.

It’s a shame that city officials didn’t sit down and talk with Ward about this, oh, at least 45 days ago. Everyone has known for months that the race was coming up, and no doubt an arrangement could have been reached that would have allowed it to go forward under safe conditions and under reasonable city supervision.

I have a few quibbles with the editorial: Why focus on the race’s popularity with people out-of-town instead of the thousands of Angelenos that take part? Why not point out that neither Wolfpack Hustle or Ward barely break even on the race considering the amount of time and resources they put into it? Overall, though, the focus is correct.

There was little reason for the city to do this other than it can.

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Federal Changes Causing Metro to Withdraw Previously Approved Funding for Bike and Ped Projects

These planned bike and walk paths are among xxx projects that Metro was going to fund, but not any more.

This planned Pacoima Wash greenway is among 49 bicycle and pedestrian projects that Metro is “transitioning.” Metro had approved, but now cites a funding shortfall, and is encouraging this project to instead seek state funding.  See full list of projects below. Image: Pacoima Wash Vision Plan courtesy of Pacoima Beautiful

At last week’s board meeting, Metro weighed the future of its commitment to funding active transportation: walking and bicycling. Changes in federal government funding are leading Metro to withdraw from its past bike and ped programs.

Right now, 49 projects, totaling over $90 million, are on Metro’s list for “transition.” Metro had approved funding for these, but is now requiring project sponsors to seek other monies.

For a couple of decades, Metro’s every-other-year Call for Projects (Call) has been the major source of funding for bike and pedestrian projects throughout L.A. County. Federal transportation funding passed to Metro. Local cities applied to Metro to receive funds. Relatively expensive bike/ped transportation projects, including completed portions of the L.A. River bike path, received Metro Call funding.

In 2012, the federal government passed its new transportation bill, called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21. The feds changed the rules for funding bicycle and pedestrian projects. Funding used to be through a program called Transportation Enhancements (TEA), which was eliminated. Now bike and ped funding is channeled through Transportation Alternatives (TA), which funds more types of projects with less money than was available under TEA. These federal changes have taken a while to work their way into California’s rules. In response to the federal changes, the state consolidated and retooled its bike and pedestrian funding into a new Active Transportation Program (ATP.) The ATP has a few pots of money (more on that in future articles), with the largest share being a statewide competitive process.

Metro, through its Call, had already approved funding for projects scheduled well into the future–through the year 2019. Federal and state changes have eliminated funds that Metro anticipated would pay for these future projects.

At the February 27th Metro Board meeting, Metro staff presented a report and presentation regarding transitioning to the state Active Transportation Program. In essence, Metro is looking to withdraw its previously-approved Call funding for 49 bicycle and pedestrian projects in various local cities. These projects (listed below) total $90 million in projected Metro funding. The 49-project list only represents around half of the Metro Call’s future bike and pedestrian project obligations–the ones that appear most likely to get state funding. So, there will likely be more hand-offs still to come.

Read more…

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Pomona City’s First Bike and Pedestrian Plan Approved

Pomona cyclists celebrate the passage of the city's first Active Transportation Plan. photo: Twitter @PVBike

Pomona cyclists celebrate the passage of the city’s first Active Transportation Plan. photo: Twitter @PVBike

The Pomona City Council was pretty busy last Monday night, March 3rd 2013. According to the Daily Bulletin, the council passed a General Plan amendment, a Corridors Specific Plan, an Active Transportation Plan (ATP), and a Green Plan. Pomona cyclists celebrated the passage of the Active Transportation Plan, a plan to make the city of Pomona a safe and convenient place to walk and bike.

Streetsblog wasn’t there on Monday night, so this interview with Eve Sanford will tell some of the story. Sanford is a cyclist, a self-professed “infrastructure enthusiast” and is studying planning at Cal Poly Pomona. She interns at the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department, where her duties include writing for the LADOT Bike Blog.

What’s the Pomona Active Transportation Plan? Bikes? Peds? Facilities? Programs? other stuff?

The Pomona Active Transportation Plan evaluates existing conditions and proposes key bicycle and pedestrian improvements for Pomona. The plan also overviews the types of programs that can support active travel in the city (community resources, bicycle parking) and identifies potential funding sources.

Read more…

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Locals Nominated for National Bike Advocacy Award

Santa Monica Spoke's Cynthia Rose and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom cut the ribbon.  Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyseven/sets/72157629669284695/with/7013165951/##Gary Rides Bikes/Flickr##

Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom cut the ribbon. Photo: Gary Rides Bikes/Flickr

Congratulations to Cynthia Rose, founder and director of Santa Monica Spoke, and Samantha Ollinger, Executive Director of BikeSD in San Diego. These two local activists are among the ten finalists for the 2014 Advocate of the Year Award to be given by the Alliance for Biking and Walking today.

The award is for an individual leader at a bicycling and/or walking advocacy organization “who has shown tireless commitment to promoting active transportation at the state and/or local level” and who goes “above and beyond the call of duty” with the “highest standard of excellence.”

Cynthia Rose founded Santa Monica Spoke, the first local chapter of the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, five years ago. “My mission is to make the LACBC local chapters program a reality,” she said, “to make sure that those connections and that collaboration happens.”

She sees her job as one of connecting people: local to regional to statewide to national advocates working on similar issues. “Everything else I do is regional,” she said. “My job is to work with our elected officials to make projects that we hope will be models for others.” She was particularly excited about the MANGo project, which will turn Michigan Avenue into a greenway to connect the beach with the new Expo line.

Read more…

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Editorial: Your Thoughts on L.A. Times “Roadshare” Series?

Cue the foreboding music, someone's on a bke! Screen capture of L.A. Times #RoadshareLA video - click to view at Times website

Someone’s biking, queue the foreboding music! Capture of L.A. Times #RoadshareLA video – click to view at Times website

The L.A. Times has been running a series of opinion articles under the tag #RoadshareLA. The pieces are “an online exploration of the seemingly sudden arrival of cyclists as not just a cultural but a political force in California.” Yesterday #RoadshareLA concluded with a pair of videos showing what scares bicyclists and what concerns drivers. You can tell the videos apart  because the bicycling one has foreboding music, while the driving one sounds more happy – exactly the opposite of my own experience.

As a cyclist, I welcome the L.A. Times coverage of bicycling. As the saying goes, all press is good press. These pieces let the L.A. Times readership know that cyclists exist. I remember in my early years with the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition (1998-2003) it was difficult to get the Times to devote any space to bicycling issues. The #RoadshareLA articles and videos do serve to further a healthy and needed debate. Streetsblog has shared these articles via our headlines. If you’re a cyclist, you’ve probably seen them in your social media feeds. Anecdotally, from my own cyclist-heavy Facebook feed, it seems like many L.A. cyclists have a positive impression of the series.

I find a few of the #RoadshareLA pieces pretty off-putting – including this article telling us that “Wilshire Boulevard… is not for bicyclists.” Some of them don’t feel newsworthy, including this one about the guy who moved to L.A., rode a few times, then stopped bicycling. Wow. Hold the presses. Some are inane - this one boils down to more-or-less “I read somewhere that driving burns calories.” On the other side of the coin, the series has also featured L.A. livability leadership, including Jen Klausner, Ted Rogers, and Streetsblog’s own Damien Newton.

Looking at  whole picture, though, I think it’s good that the Times speaks with multiple voices, reflecting  a diversity of opinions.

Now that it’s over (and, hopefully that doesn’t mean that the Times will forget the word bicycle for the next few years), Streetsblog wants to hear your comments on #RoadshareLA. What do you think? What was good? What irked you? What was missing?  Read more…