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Meet the new Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director, Tamika Butler

Last night, the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition met to approve the appointment of their new executive director. This morning, via email, they introduced the bicycling community to their new leader, Tamika Butler.

Image via LACBC.

Image via LACBC.

“I’m really proud of the process and results of the search and couldn’t be more excited about Tamika as our next Executive Director,” says LACBC Board President Steve Boyd in a press statement. “Tamika is the ideal leader to write LACBC’s next chapter.”

While Butler’s name might be new to many in the bicycling advocacy community, her resume is full of impressive advocacy experiences. Currently, she works as the first Director of Social Change Strategies for the Liberty Hill Foundation. During her career she has also served as employment lawyer at the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and as California Director of the Young Invincibles, an advocacy organization aimed at improving the lives and opportunities for young Americans entering the workforce.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege to become the next Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and look forward to continuing the success, growth, and cutting-edge work of the organization. Biking in Los Angeles County has personally changed my life and deepens my love of the region every time I go for a ride,” writes Butler in the same press statement.

“We’re lucky to live and bike in a county full of diverse communities that motivate this talented staff and me to push towards building a healthier, more vibrant Los Angeles County. I am excited to start pedaling, dig deep, and get to work with our members and partners, within and across sectors, as we race to the front lines of the nationwide movement to create bikeable, safe, and sustainable neighborhoods.”

For more on Butler, read the press statement put out by LACBC here or read this interview with Butler when she started her work with Liberty Hill.

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San Gabriel Valley Regional Bike Plan Faces Two Hearings Tonight

The 5-city San Gabriel Valley regional bike plan is currently making its way through a complicated series of city approvals. Two important bike plan hearings are taking place tonight in the cities of El Monte and Monterey Park. Specific details on those hearings after the jump. Folks who live, work, bike, or breathe in the San Gabriel Valley are encouraged to attend in support of plan passage.

Like much of Los Angeles County, the ~30-city San Gabriel Valley sees itself as a car-oriented and traffic-congested place. It has plenty of cyclists and a few prominent well-loved bicycle facilities: Temple City’s excellent protected bike lanes on Rosemead Boulevard, and the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo river bike trails.

El Monte and South El Monte bike plans. Click for larger images. Image from SGV Bike Master Plan

El Monte and South El Monte bike plans. Click for larger images. Image from SGV Bike Master Plan

The central SGV cities of Temple City and Rosemead are ahead of the curve; they approved their Bicycle Master Plans in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Five SGV cities are in the process of approving individual portions of the new inter-connected plan: Baldwin Park, El Monte, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, and South El Monte. This regional effort was shepherded by BikeSGV working with the bicycle planning consultants Alta Planning + Design, with funding from the L.A. County Department of Public Health. 

BikeSGV Program Director Javier Hernandez acknowledges the broad spectrum of parties responsible for the latest plan:

The SGV Bike Plan is the culmination of a much greater force at play in the San Gabriel Valley, collaboration! The SGV Bike Plan is a prime example of a systematic, all-inclusive and transparent regional planning effort that has unified families, students, youth, seniors, non-profits, government agencies, businesses, school districts, and everything in between to address many of the regions public and environmental woes. A united San Gabriel Valley sets the stage for deeper, more profound regional impact with respect to improving health, reducing our carbon footprint, reducing auto/bike collisions, and sustainable development.  

Few bicyclists, pedestrians, transit-riders or drivers actually know when they have crossed municipal boundaries, so it is important that adjacent jurisdictions plan and implement livable streets together. The overall SGV bike plan features bike facilities that cross city boundaries; examples include Garvey Avenue and Ramona Boulevard. In addition to facilities, the plan includes policies and programs.

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City of Monterey Park bike plan. Click for larger images. Image from SGV Bike Master Plan

Here is the status of each of the five cities in the current SGV regional plan process:

  • The city of San Gabriel approved its bike plan in September.
  • The city of Baldwin Park approved its bike plan [PDF] earlier this month.
  • The El Monte City Council votes on the city’s bike plan tonight – details below.
  • Monterey Park’s bike plan will be heard at the city’s Planning Commission tonight – details below. Assuming it passes the commission, it will go to the Monterey Park City Council later this year.
  • The South El Monte City Council is expected to vote on its plan in December.

Read more…

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No, Sacramento is NOT Seriously Considering a Bicycle License Law

A sign near the California State Capitol directs bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk, a sight which may remain common until Sacramento’s streets are made safer for bicycling. Photo: Melanie Curry

After a woman was hit by a bicyclist riding on a Sacramento sidewalk, she threatened the city with a lawsuit, and her attorney is pushing the city to pass one of the most restrictive bicycle licensing laws in the country.

Last Thursday, an attorney for Sacramento Bee writer Hilary Abramson submitted a proposal for an ordinance that would outlaw riding on sidewalks to the City Council’s Law and Legislative Committee.

But the proposal went beyond just bikes on sidewalks. It would also have required bicycle riders to buy a city-issued license for $10, take an unspecified test, and register their bikes with the city.

Local station KCRA’s first over-excited response to the story was that the committee now had to decide “whether to take this proposed ordinance to the city council.” But the bike regulation idea got no traction at the meeting, and discussion among committee members focused on the original goal of the meeting, which was to clarify the city’s rules on sidewalk riding.

Randi Knott of the City Manager’s office, introducing the item for discussion, said that the city’s top goal in updating its bicycle ordinance is to encourage the current growth in cycling in the city.

That, several speakers pointed out, is a goal that would not be met if the city imposed a ban on sidewalk riding. Jim Brown of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA) pointed out that unsafe conditions on Sacramento’s street network often make bicyclists feel that riding on the sidewalk is their only safe alternative.

Read more…

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Motion to Move Forward on Rail-to-River Bikeway Project up for Vote Thursday

The tracks at Crenshaw, looking east. Sahra Sulaiman/StreetsblogLA

The ROW which would form part of the Western Segment of the proposed Rail-to-River bikeway. Photo taken at Crenshaw, looking east. Sahra Sulaiman/StreetsblogLA

In a motion before the Metro Executive Management Committee last Thursday morning, County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas cited the successful “transformation of unused or abandoned rail right-of-ways into pedestrian access and bicycle routes” around the country and here in L.A. as support for his call that the Board direct Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy to move forward on the recommendations found in the 212-page feasibility study on the proposed Rail-to-River Bikeway.

Sited along an 8.3 mile section of the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor right-of-way (ROW), the project would connect the Crenshaw/LAX rail line to multiple bus lines (including the Silver Line), the Blue Line, the river, Huntington Park, Maywood, and/or Vernon via a bike and pedestrian path anchored along Slauson Ave.

Screenshot of proposed bikeway corridor. Phase 1 (at left) represents section that Metro could move on immediately. Phase 2 would proceed more slowly, as Metro would need to negotiate with BNSF to purchase the ROW.

The proposed bikeway corridor. Phase 1 (at left) represents the section of the corridor that Metro could move on planning for immediately. Phase 2 (at right) would proceed more slowly, as Metro would need to determine which routes were most appropriate and negotiate with BNSF to purchase a section of the ROW. (Source: Feasibility Study)

The active transportation corridor (ATC) project, first proposed by Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor and Metro Board Member Gloria Molina in 2012, has the potential to effect a significant transformation in a deeply blighted and long-neglected section of South L.A.

So, it was not surprising to see Ridley-Thomas ask that, when the full Board meets this Thursday, October 23, at 9 a.m., it approve his motion directing Leahy to identify and seek funds from Measure R, Cap and Trade, and other sources to facilitate the environmental, design, and outreach efforts recommended by the Feasibility Report.

Even though Ridley-Thomas’ strong support for the project was expected, the motion to move it forward still made me sit up a little straighter.

When I attended the two public meetings held on the corridor project, representatives from both Metro and Alta Planning + Design (consultants on the project) were firm in their suggestions that we not get our hopes up too high. There was no funding attached to the project, they said, and they were only looking at questions of feasibility. These were also the reasons, I was told, for the limited outreach and engagement of the neighbors that live along the corridor.

Not to mention that including the community might have brought other problems with it. Read more…

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Report: “Multi-Modal Level of Service” Metrics Not Quite Up to the Challenge

UCLA researchers found that new Multi-Modal Level of Service metrics are not so great for measuring what's helpful for people walking and bicycling. Photo via Flickr user pranavbhatt

UCLA researchers found that Multi-Modal Level of Service methodologies are not so great for evaluating what’s good for people walking and bicycling. Photo via Flickr user pranavbhatt

Livability proponents celebrate that car-centric Level of Service (LOS) is finally on its way out, at least in California.Wouldn’t it be great if there was a similar bike- or walk-centric metric that could be used instead? UCLA Lewis Center and Institute for Transportation Studies researchers have studied some of the published metrics for evaluating how well streets serve pedestrians and cyclists. The researchers’ conclusion: in all of the bike and ped metrics they reviewed, there is no silver bullet. Moreover, adapting LOS doesn’t look like a fruitful approach.

Level of Service is a standard, simplistic engineering measure that uses car throughput to assign streets a letter grade from A to F. For nearly 60 years, LOS has been the predominant way that planners and engineers quantify streets. LOS guides policy and investment, justifying making streets wider and more car-centric. Because LOS only considers cars, LOS justifies widening roadways, adding turn lanes, and other so-called improvements that degrade conditions for people using bikes, their feet, or transit. To remedy this, transportation professionals have created new metrics designed to grade other modes. These include Pedestrian Level of Service (PLOS) and Bicycle Level of Service (BLOS), both of which are components of Multi-Modal Level of Service (MMLOS.)

There are some inherent problems with adapting a car-centric measure like LOS to bicycling and walking. Where people driving tend to see other cars as obstacles, pedestrians often prefer to walk where other people are out walking. Cyclists experience a safety in numbers effect, where LOS tends to just find congestion in numbers.

Though there are now many metrics from various parts of the world, UCLA researchers Madeline Brozen and Herbie Huff focused primarily on the following three metrics:

  • Multi-Modal Level of Service, included in the 2010 Highway Capacity Manual (HCM), the official federal evaluation tool developed by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index (BEQI and PEQI), developed by the San Francisco Department of Public Health
  • Urban Street Design Guidelines performance measures, developed by the city of Charlotte, North Carolina

Huff and Brozen used these tools to score sections of streets in the city of Santa Monica. They subsequently evaluated the sensitivity of the tools by comparing scores for existing condition to scores for potential improvements, including bike lanes, road diets, medians, etc.

In comparing existing sites to multiple potential improvements, the models showed “little variation,” with none of the improvements appearing ideal or raising the score to an “A.” Therefore, the models were ineffective for deciding between potential designs.  Read more…

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SCAG Staff Release ATP Bike/Ped Project Funding Recommendations

Rendering of one of the ascend-able arches and the soccer field Councilmember Huizar is pushing for below. Source: 6th St. Viaduct Replacement.

Recommendations have been released for the latest round of Active Transportation Program funding. Included in the recommendations are pedestrian and bicycle components of the Sixth Street Bridge replacement project, rendered here. Source: 6th St. Viaduct Replacement.

The first year of the state’s new Active Transportation Funding (ATP) program is drawing to a close. ATP is the main source of funding for walking and bicycling projects and programs in L.A. County.

In the past, L.A. County bike and ped projects were primarily funded by Metro’s Call for Projects. Changes at the federal level reduced this funding, and gave control over it mostly to the state, but also partially to regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). For the 6-county Los Angeles metropolitan region, the MPO is the Southern California Association of Governments, known as “SCAG.”

Projects vying for the statewide competitive ATP grants were announced and approved in August. Those that did not succeed at the state level would have one last chance at the regional level.

This week SCAG staff released its recommendations. The final set of projects is expected to be approved by the agency’s Transportation Committee when it meets this Thursday. View the agenda [PDF].

There are no big surprises in the recommendations. SCAG appears to have adhered the state ranking, so the next few projects in line are recommended to receive funding. See the full SCAG list [PDF], some highlighted L.A. County projects appear after the jump.  Read more…

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Happy New Year, See You Tomorrow

It’s Rosh Hashanah. Streetsblog L.A. will publishing lightly today and tomorrow.

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What the Latest Census Data Says About L.A. City Bicycle Commuting

Recent census data shows that commuting by bicycle has increased in L.A. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Recent census data shows that commuting by bicycle has increased in the city of Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last week, Streetsblog L.A. ran a national Streetsblog Network story DC and New Orleans Closing the Bike Commute Gap with Portland which summarized this BikePortland story. Those stories examined recently released Census data to shows trends in bicycle commuting.

Since 2008, about 6 percent of Portland commuters traveled primarily by bike. The Census shows that bike commuting in Portland and Minneapolis (two places with reputations as being among the most bike-friendly larger cities in the U.S.) has mostly leveled off, while Washington D.C. and New Orleans are seeing increased percentages.

What about Los Angeles? What does the latest Census data tell us about travel patterns here?

Luckily, friend of the blog and L.A. City Bicycle Advisory Committee chair, Jeff Jacobberger downloaded and crunched the numbers. As Jacobberger clarifies below, these are Census data for work commute trips only. They can be useful for tracking changes over time, but they tend to mush complexities, to under-count low-income communities, and to underestimate overall actual percentages for walking and bicycling (by not including trips to school, the store, the gym, etc.). For example, if I bike a mile, then lock up and take a train for two miles, then disembark and walk a quarter mile to get to work, that would show up only as one train trip.  

With those caveats in mind, the city of Los Angeles commuting mode share data is as follows:

  • Driving Alone: 67.1 percent
  • Carpooling: 9.9 percent
  • Riding Transit: 10.8 percent
  • Walking: 3.6 percent
  • Bicycling: 1.2 percent
  • Other: 1.9 percent (includes taxi, motorcycle, other)
  • Work at Home: 5.4 percent

From an email communication, Jacobberger goes into greater detail about bicycling:

The US Census Bureau has just released data from the 2013 American Community Survey regarding bicycle commuting in [the city of] Los Angeles for 2013: 1.8% of men usually bike to work, but only 0.6% of women, for an overall 1.2% bike commute rate. The wide disparity in male vs. female bike commuting is a clear sign that L.A.’s streets are not perceived to be safe places to ride.

That is a 33% increase since 2010; and a 100% increase since 2000.

Looking at that 1.8 percent number, Jacobberger mentioned some interesting comparisons to me when we talked at the Mid City West Park(ing) Day park. Read more…

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Wilmington’s New Bike Lane Network, and What It Does and Doesn’t Do

Bike lanes on Broad Street in Wilmington

Bike lane on Broad Avenue at Avalon Boulevard, in the southern end of Wilmington. Visible in the distance (middle left horizon) is the Vincent Thomas suspension bridge over one of the main channels of L.A.’s harbor. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Where is California’s most concentrated bike lane network? Long Beach? Davis? San Francisco? Santa Barbara? San Luis Obispo?

How about Wilmington?

Some readers may be wondering: just where is Wilmington?

Wilmington is a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles.  It is directly inland from the Port of Los Angeles. San Pedro is west of the port, Long Beach is east, and Wilmington is to the north, just inland. Long Beach and San Pedro have waterfronts. Wilmington has more of an industrial truck-front, with no connection to the water.

According to the L.A. Times convenient neighborhood mapping tool, Wilmington takes up 9.1 square miles and, in 2008, had a population of 55,000. Within Wilmington’s borders there are port-related industrial areas more-or-less surrounding a central residential district which includes a few commercial corridors. 87 percent of Wilmington residents are Latino; over 60 percent are renters.

Wilmington has some of the worst air quality in Southern California. Ashley Hernandez, Wilmington Youth Organizer for Communities for a Better Environment (CBE,) tells how heavily polluted air becomes harder to breathe on hot summer days; families stay indoors and keep their windows closed. Jesse Marquez of the Coalition for a Safe Environment calls it the “Diesel Death Zone.”

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest port complex in the U.S., move goods using diesel-powered ships, trains, and trucks. If the ports themselves were not enough, Wilmington is surrounded by four freeways. Then there is a great deal of oil industry in and around the area, including eight refineries and numerous active oil well sites.

And Wilmington also has a dense network of bike lanes. Read more…

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Event Promotes Awareness of CA 3-Foot Passing Bill In Effect Next Week

From this morning's #IGive3Ft press event. The 3-foot long pink bar demonstrates the three feet passing distance, though, legally, drivers shouldn't pass to the left of a bicycle. All photos by Joe Linton

A display from this morning’s #IGive3Ft press event. The 3-foot long pink bar indicates the new three-foot legal minimum passing distance space between cars and bicycles. Legally, though, cars should generally never pass to the right of a moving bicycle as this display seems to indicate. All photos by Joe Linton

This morning, California legislators, law enforcement representatives, cycling advocates, and the Automobile Association of America (AAA) gathered to promote awareness of the state’s new 3-foot passing law. Long in the works, the Three Feet for Safety Act, A.B. 1371, goes into effect next Tuesday, September 16.

As the campaign has shifted from passing the law to enforcing it, the promotional hashtag that used to be from a cyclist’s perspective, #GiveMe3, has now appropriately given way to one from a driver’s perspective, #IGive3Ft.

Here is the summary of the new law, from its legislative preamble:

The bill would prohibit, with specified exceptions, the driver of the motor vehicle that is overtaking or passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway from passing at a distance of less than 3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. The bill would make a violation of these provisions an infraction punishable by a $35 fine. The bill would also require the imposition of a $220 fine on a driver if a collision occurs between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist causing bodily harm to the bicyclist, and the driver is found to be in violation of the above provisions.

The well-attended press event took place in front of Serious Cycling bike shop in Northridge. Most speakers, including the law’s authors, Assemblymembers Steven Bradford and Matt Dababneh, emphasized that the new rule will make streets safer for everyone. 

Assemblymember Bradford explains California's new 3-foot passing law.

Assemblymember Bradford explains California’s new 3-foot passing law at this morning’s press event in Northridge.

Read more…