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Posts from the "Bicycling" Category

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LADOT Announces 20 Miles of New Sharrows for 2014

Are new sharrows really coming to this stretch of 4th Street? Sharrow at 4th and Norton this morning. Joe Linton/LA Streetsblog

Existing sharrow on 4th Street just east of Norton Avenue this morning. Joe Linton/LA Streetsblog

Via an article published yesterday in the LADOT Bike Blog, the department announced that it would be adding “approximately 20 miles” of  ”new sharrows… over the course of the next year.” The article includes a spreadsheet listing of where these sharrows will be implemented.

In case readers are unfamiliar with them, Sharrows are shared lane markings. They designate lanes that are shared by bikes and cars. Sharrows are generally the lowest of the low-hanging-fruit, useful where squeezing in a more robust bike facility is difficult. They don’t take any parking, any lanes, any inches, any time away from cars. They are just a reminder to drivers that bicyclists will be on the street and tell bicyclists where to ride to stay out of the “door zone.”

Streetsblog used Google to map the 20 mile list – click here or on the images to go to the actual Google Map. Here’s most of L.A. City:

Screenshot of streets where LADOT announced new sharrows for 2013. Click to go to Google Map.

Screenshot of streets where LADOT announced new sharrows for 2013. Click to go to Google Map.

And here’s a detail for San Pedro, which is receiving plenty of the new sharrows:

San Pedro detail of streets where LADOT will implement sharrows in 2014. Click to go to Google Map.

Screenshot of San Pedro detail of streets where LADOT will implement sharrows in 2014. Click to go to Google Map.

Streetsblog hasn’t had time to bike out and measure all of these streets, but, after a preliminary review, it looks pretty good.  Read more…

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Partnerships Offer Chance for New Riders to Join Ride 4 Love in Watts

The Ride4Love has always been about family, community, and service. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

The Ride4Love has always been about family, community, and service. Here, founding member Tony August-Jones (right) introduces his youngest kids to the ESRBC way of life. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

I won’t be able to be at the Ride4Love in Watts this weekend, and I am more than a little bummed out about it.

The Ride4Love is the East Side Riders‘ (ESRBC) biggest event of the year.

Timed to fall around Valentine’s Day, it is a special event that the ESRBC has long used to highlight both the strengths and challenges in their community.

Founding members John Jones III (president) and his brother Tony August-Jones, who grew up in the area, were taught to give back from a young age. Even while their own family had faced a number of struggles, their mother had always worked hard to offer the needy a place to find shelter or food, or both. It was not unusual for their four-bedroom house to have as many as fifteen people living in it at once, sometimes more.

Once the bike club was launched six years ago and Fred Buggs Sr., Ronnie Parker, and others were brought into the fold, giving back soon became a core part of the club’s activities. So much so that the founders’ children have all cited helping others as one of the things they like most about participating in the club.

Fred Buggs Jr. and Joshua Jones cite feeding the homeless as one of the activities they enjoy. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Fred Buggs Jr. and Joshua Jones cite feeding the homeless as one of the activities they enjoy. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

In doing the work that they do, the ESRBC is well aware of the unfortunate stereotype that paints Watts as a dangerous place. Certainly, I haven’t been shy in dedicating pages to airing some of the deeper intransigent issues that plague the area and impact access to public space. But, even in acknowledging these realities, the ESRBC, as do I, want outsiders to understand that Watts is so much more — it is full of wonderful folks who care deeply about community. Read more…

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Spend the Sunday of Your Holiday Weekend at the Bicycle Commuter Festival

It’s been nearly four years since the “Streets Summit” called together many of the city and county’s leading bicycling advocates to discuss advocacy, safety, and how the Livable Streets Community can move forward. While the movement has made great strides in this time, I miss the camaraderie and fun an event similar to the 2010 Street Summit and 2009 Bike Summit created.

BCIEnter the “Bicycle Commuter Festival.”

On February 16, the Bicycle Culture Institute (a relatively new non-profit helmed by Nona Varnado) and AIDS/Lifecycle are holding the first Bicycle Commuter Festival to “entertain, educate, connect and inspire bicycle commuting in Los Angeles.” You can sign up for the festival, here. A full schedule is available at the end of the post.

“The best way to inspire new ideas, confidence and loyalty is through a great time! No one wants to go to a conference, but everyone wants to go to a killer festival,” exclaims Varnado.

“By creating a festival environment and making learning fun, we’ll be able to cross boundaries that traditional sports, advocacy and promotion can’t. Our workshops are like parties with an open festival environment of bicycle advocacy, culture and brands; rivaling the greatest lifestyle fairs happening in Europe or other major cities.”

The festival includes both indoor and outdoor workshops, and two open air festival areas. Festival areas encourage talking directly with people representing local bike groups: from CicLAvia and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to L.A. Bike Trains and SoCal Cross; cycling brands BERN, Abus and Lezyne; local favorite commuter bike shops Orange 20, Flying Pigeon and many more.  Oh, and Streetsblog will be there too. Read more…

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Op/Ed: Will Metro’s Turnstile Fetishism Damage the Expo Bikeway?

Anyone who reads my tweets as well as my posts and comments on this blog and elsewhere knows I am hardly a fan of the Los Angeles Metro’s Board of Directors decision to install turnstiles at its unmanned rail stations.  Needless to say, I pay attention to any developments on the issue, and while Damien might not have noticed this report on this week’s Metro Board of Directors’ Committee Meetings, I did.  Even if you don’t care one way or the other about the turnstiles, if you are interested in complete streets, you may want to pay ongoing attention to this.

Because this fetishism may end up ruining a newly created bikeway for cyclists in Los Angeles and Culver City.

In response to a request made in July last year by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and joined City of Santa Monica Councilmember (and current Mayor) Pam O’Connor and City of Glendale Council Member Ara Najarian, all three of whom currently sit on the Metro Board of Directors, Metro staff was directed on July 25, 2013  to come up with a report describing the feasibility of installing turnstiles and fare gates at all stations including those stations on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) network (Blue, Gold and Expo Lines)* which being by definition “Light”, had not been designed to accommodate fare-collection barriers.

This was done using the presumption, quoted from the Motion by Yaroslavsky, O’Connor and Najarian, (See Page 12) that:

As we’ve seen since we implemented gate latching in late June, the system is working smoothly and without incident.  Moreover, revenues are up and we are now able to obtain true ridership numbers, where people are going, and where people are coming from, etc.

That is an interesting presumption since the initial latching of turnstiles had only happened some 34 days prior, the entire Subway or “Heavy Rail” System (Red and Purple Lines) was not latched until eleven days later on  August 5th, 2013 and no conclusive data about revenues or ridership was yet available.

But since “the Emperor has a fine set of new clothes” and apparently we must order more to “take this issue head on”, so the report discussing the work that will have to be done to add turnstiles and at least one Americans with Disabilities (ADA)-compliant faregate plus the alarmed (?) emergency exits to every station and related fencing has been produced. (Each must be 60% accessible which means if the station has two entrances, then both must have the ADA-faregate).

Cycle-users will please take note the number of times the words “Lane Takes” and “incur” or “intrude” or “encroach” plus “lane” appears in the report.   (The “Find” tool found under the “Edit” menu on Acrobat Reader can be used for this purpose). Read more…

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Literally a Half-Step: Metro Motion Would Add Bicycle and Pedestrian Expert to Advisory Committee

One of the major advisory committees to Metro is seeking Board approval to change it’s by-laws so that there are two dedicated spots for bicycle and pedestrian professionals.  While this move is a welcome step in the right direction, advocates who have lobbied for the policy change find themselves underwhelmed even as the motion moves to a full Board vote at next week’s meeting.

Crossing the street isn't always easy...but joining Metro's TAC can be impossible for regular citizens. Unless they're employed by AAA. Photo:##http://www.losangeleswalks.org/join-our-call-to-action-for-the-hyperion-bridge/##L.A. Walks##

Crossing the street isn’t always easy…but joining Metro’s TAC can be impossible for regular citizens. Unless they’re employed by AAA. Photo:L.A. Walks

In 1977, Metro created a technical advisory committee (TAC). This state mandated board is a major component of Metro’s project creation, as staff and the Board regularly solicit input  from this body. The structure and membership is intended to represent LA County’s diverse geographic and modal interests with a combination of government agencies and non-government organizations. The TAC will weigh-in on everything from the Call for Projects project sheet to the design of new train stations to changes to the bus service offered by MTA.

Currently, the TAC has 32 members, 28 of which have voting power. Assuming the Metro Board passes the motion amending the TAC’s by-laws, it will then have 34 members, 29 of which have voting power. For a change that is supposed to show Metro’s commitment to creating a truly multi-modal transit system, the path this motion has traveled could lead one to question this commitment.

Here’s some of the ways Metro’s TAC changes went “off the rails.” Much of this context was first discussed last November on the Safe Routes to Schools California website.

Last summer, the Streets and Freeways Subcommittee of TAC, requested that TAC add one pedestrian expert and one bicycle expert as voting members to its committee.  After months of discussion, the TAC decided there should be one voting and one non-voting member. The Streets and Freeways Subcomittee disagreed but were eventually overruled.

For historical reasons, the Automobile Club of Southern California, a lobbying group for the auto-industry, also has a voting seat on the TAC. Despite this precedent, only city or county staff could apply to be on the TAC for the bicycle and pedestrian positions. While Metro received seven applications for the two spots, it seems an odd move to deny entry to an advisory committee to the likes of Deborah Murphy, Jessica Meaney, and other professional advocates who have both the knowledge and perspective to excel in such a position. If it’s good enough for AAA, why isn’t it good enough for any other non-governmental organization? Read more…

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Reflections on Reflectors: Should They Be Updated Now That More People Are in the Streets?

Screen shot of Liikenneturva webpage, where you can get a look at how well drivers can see you at night from various distances. http://extrat.liikenneturva.fi/heijastin/en/

Screen shot of the Liikenneturva webpage, where you can get a look at how well drivers can see you at night from various distances. http://extrat.liikenneturva.fi/heijastin/en/

Although the shortest day of the year has come and gone (FINALLY), we’ve only gained an extra six and a half minutes of daylight since the solstice.

Which means it still gets dark too darn early and will continue to do so for a while yet.

I am not afraid of riding my bike in the dark. I do, however, dread the winter rush-hour commutes which are made more stressful by the unhappy combination of more intense visual noise and less overall visibility.

Over the past few winters, I’ve been finding that hard-to-see bicyclists have been adding to that stress.

On more than one occasion, I’ve been riding a busy street like Main or Central (in South L.A.) and found myself narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with another cyclist coming directly at me out of the dark.

Because they are almost never wearing light-colored clothing, sporting any kind of reflective gear, or using lights, I sometimes don’t see them until we are almost on top of each other. And, as most are on cruisers or shoddy mountain bikes and are not particularly nimble riders (save a few fast-moving kids on fixies), I tend to be the one that has to make the last-minute panicked maneuver into traffic or in between parked cars to give them space to pass.

While bicycle traffic is kind of a nice problem to have, it puts us both in danger and I could probably do without the added adrenaline rush.

My beef is not with the bicyclists, however. Read more…

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Win Your Holiday Arguments: Bicyclists Are a Menace

So tempted to use a picture of Critical Mass, but I’ll stick with CicLAvia Photo: CicLAvia

I have a great family. When we gather at holidays, my family (be they immediate, aunts and cousins, or in-laws) avoid baiting me into an argument about bicycles in any way shape or form. That’s one reason I love them.

But not every cyclist is so lucky. Thanks to the great strides that have been made in recent years, bicycling and bicyclists have become boogeymen to segments of the population. Spurred on by craze talk radio, grandstanding politicians, biased media or the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowner’s Association; many car culture warriors have made bicyclists and bicycling a priority.

Here’s what most bike haters don’t get. Bicyclists don’t want to force them from their car, mock them for their lifestyle choices, or anything else. What most want is to be left alone so they can ride safely. Even the biggest boogeyman of all, Critical Mass, has morphed more into an expression of solidarity and safety from its (successful) confrontational advocacy roots.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be an angry uncle or concerned grandmother that has been fed misinformation. Here’s what you need to win the inevitable holiday argument.

Argument 1: City streets are being taken over by bicycle lanes.

I asked LADOT to provide figures on how much asphalt is on the street and how many miles of bike lanes are on the road. To get a conservative figure, I phrased the question in such a way to get them to over-estimate the amount of bicycle lanes, I made it seem as though we were going to criticise them for a lack of bike infrastructure. I then made this handy graph to illustrate just how much bicycle infrastructure is taking over. Read more…

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Dear Santa, Please Bring Us an Active Transportation Corridor Along Slauson. But Don’t Forget the Community in the Process.

The Slauson corridor that runs through South L.A. is not as empty as we imagine. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

The Slauson corridor that runs through South L.A. is nowhere near as empty as people passing through might imagine. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

If you’ve ever driven or ridden the bus along Slauson Ave., you are familiar with how much of a wasteland the corridor appears to be.

Flanked by industry or warehouses on either side for much of its trajectory, and running parallel to defunct and unkempt railroad tracks that are liberally adorned with debris, graffiti, and enormous mud puddles when it rains, it doesn’t seem like the most human-friendly place.

And, if you’ve ever felt reckless enough to ride the street on your bike, you would probably attest to that observation. There is no shoulder, traffic moves fast, regardless of the time of day, and on the north side (along the tracks), the road can be rough on your tires and quite dark at night.

Empty and desolate as it may appear to be, however, Slauson actually slashes its way through a series of neighborhoods that are chock full of families. You just don’t see much evidence of them thanks to the 30,000+ cars, buses, and trucks that rumble through there daily, lack of mid-block crossings and other pedestrian infrastructure, poor lighting, graffiti, and general filthiness of the corridor. The unhealthy and unsafe conditions serve as yet one more strike against community cohesiveness by discouraging residents from being out and about in their neighborhoods.

The bike and pedestrian paths would run along the Harbor Subdivision tracks, starting just north of Vernon, at Washington, heading south parallel to Santa Fe, heading west at Slauson, and taking a turn southward near Western. It would end at the Crenshaw Line stop at Florence. (map taken from 2008 Harbor Division study)

The bike and pedestrian paths would run along the Harbor Subdivision tracks (in black), starting at Washington, heading south parallel to Santa Fe, turning west at Slauson, and taking a turn southward near Western. They would end at the Crenshaw Line stop at Florence (map taken from 2008 Harbor Subivision study).

So, it is incredibly exciting to know that plans are slowly moving forward on the proposal of County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina to convert the 8.3 mile corridor between Huntington Park and Crenshaw into an active transportation corridor.

Not just because transforming the right-of-way along the tracks into bike and pedestrian paths would make passage safer for the thousands of people who want to connect to transit in the area (i.e. the Vermont/Slauson stops see more than 3700 boardings per day).

But because, if built with the surrounding community in mind, it could be a tremendous boon to those who must traverse the corridor on a regular basis and who have few safe and welcoming recreational spaces available to them.

With those aspirations in mind, I attended the first public briefing announcing Metro’s feasibility study for the project last Thursday.

I came away with somewhat mixed feelings. Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: UCLA Counts Bikes with Modern, Automated Counter

BikeCounter_1Web

Image from Friday’s opening celebration via UCLA Transportation.

Last Friday, UCLA celebrated the placement of a digital bike counter on its campus on  Strathmore Place, west of Westwood Plaza and just east of the Strathmore Bridge. The placement is something of a historic moment. While popular in major bicycling cities throughout the world, it is only the second of its kind in California, the first in Southern California and the first of its kind on any college campus.

“We’re very excited about the counter’s benchmarking possibilities,” said UCLA Planning, Policy & Traffic Systems Senior Associate Director David Karwaski. “But more importantly, we see the counter as a gateway sign to our campus cyclists, letting them know they are welcomed and that they are an integral part of a larger UCLA bicycling community.”

Bicycling has become an increasingly popular commute option at UCLA, despite what you may hear at a Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowner’s Association meeting. With the installation of the Strathmore Bike Counter, UCLA  will count in real-time the number of cyclists who enter the campus through the Gayley Avenue/ Strathmore Place corridor.  It visibly counts daily bike riders through a digital numeric display and also indicates the annual number of cyclists with a scaled barometer. Read more…

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Homeowners Kill Study of Westwood Blvd Bike Lanes, as Councilmember Koretz Caves in

Westwood Blvd 1

There’s no room for bikes on Westwood Blvd, but many bicyclists are forced to ride there anyway.

Last week, CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz announced that he was opposed to any efforts to install a bike lane on Westwood Boulevard, despite earlier promises to study the issue.

Westwood resident Calla Weimer has been an insightful and outspoken dissenter to the local Homeowner Association’s opposition to the bike lanes. Today she voices her reaction to Koretz’ backpedalling, as bike lane supporters prepare to storm today’s city council meeting in protest of the decision.

An urban transportation system must function as a network.  What are the implications for that network when the leadership of a neighborhood homeowners group can influence their city councilmember to dictate to LADOT that a six block stretch of roadway should not even be the object of study for bike lanes?  That is exactly what has happened with the segment of Westwood Blvd that runs between Santa Monica and Pico.  In response to pressure from the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners’ Association (WSSM HOA), Councilmember Koretz declared in a letter dated November 13, 2013 that he “will not be supporting the exploration of the floating bike lane concept nor other options for bike lanes along this crucial commercial corridor.”  This reverses his previous authorization for LADOT to proceed with study of the floating bike lane design, as announced to the WSSM HOA at its annual meeting in June.

Westwood Blvd 2

Bike riders forced to take the lane at rush hour.

As dangerous as this segment of Westwood Blvd is for cyclists, you would think transportation planners would give serious consideration to any proposal that could improve safety.  In 2011, six cyclists were involved in collisions with motor vehicles along this 0.8 mile stretch.  Westwood Blvd is already a major cycling corridor leading to a terminus at UCLA, and its importance for cycling will soon get a boost with the opening of an Expo Line station right on Westwood Blvd little more than two miles from the university campus.  The station will offer no car parking, so the bicycle connection is fundamental to its purpose.  All the more reason, you would think, that planners should focus on this stretch of roadway now, with an eye to how it integrates into transit upgrades.

In halting the study, Councilmember Koretz gave reasons that echoed concerns voiced by the WSSM HOA leadership.  He worries that the floating bike lane design is “far too confusing”.  The design has in fact already been implemented and judged successful in San Francisco.  I hope we can reject any suggestion that Angelenos are more prone to confusion than our neighbors to the north.  The Councilmember further cited his “realization that even this concept would have substantial negative impacts on the movement of traffic, and would cause significant changes for parking conditions along this corridor.”  The impact on parking is clear enough – the only change is that parking during the evening peak shifts from the west side of the street to the east side.  While east side businesses may appreciate this parking windfall, they have long managed without it, and their west side counterparts should be presumed no less adaptive.  Many businesses on the street close by 5pm anyway.  As for “substantial negative impacts on the movement of traffic”, this is precisely the kind of assessment that should be taken on by the professionals at LADOT, not left to the “realization” of a casual observer eyeballing the street (even if that observer is a councilmember).

The problem here is one of process.  Rightfully, the Councilmember at the outset promised community members a study to be followed by informed discussion.  His deputy for transportation urged members of the WSSM HOA bike committee to refrain from outreach activity until the study was completed.  The Deputy’s e-mail of June 18, 2013 reads as follows: Read more…