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Oakland Proposes Parking-Protected Bike Lanes on Telegraph Avenue

Bikes and buses jockey for position along Telegraph Avenue in Temescal. Planners say protected bike lanes are “likely” options on most of Telegraph in Oakland — except for this stretch. Photo: David Jaeger / Jonah Chiarenza,

The City of Oakland has released preliminary design options [PDF] for a redesign of Telegraph Avenue, which include parking-protected bike lanes, improvements to speed up AC Transit lines, and pedestrian safety upgrades. Planners will hold open house meetings to collect input on the design options starting next week.

“We’re very excited they’ve released a lot of different options,” said Dave Campbell, advocacy director for Bike East Bay. “It’s a very robust set of choices and allows people to make an informed decision on the best ones.”

This is the first time Telegraph is being revisited for a redesign since it was taken out of the East Bay Bus Rapid Transit route that begins construction this fall. The proposal to extend BRT on Telegraph to Berkeley was dropped after merchants fought to preserve car parking.

The Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Implementation Plan looks at the stretch from 57th Street to 20th Street, a few blocks short of Telegraph’s end at Broadway in downtown Oakland, where the Latham Square pilot plaza was prematurely removed. Under some of the proposals, much of Telegraph could get parking-protected bike lanes (a.k.a. “cycle tracks”) by re-purposing traffic lanes and preserving parking lanes.

Oakland’s project website notes that “despite the lack of bike facilities, Telegraph Avenue is one of the most heavily traveled routes for cyclists, with over 1,200 daily cyclists.”

Bike East Bay is “super delighted to see proposed cycle tracks for a good segment of the street, and think there are some good options as well through the section with the freeway underpass,” said Campbell.

Read more…

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TransForm to Host Third Transportation Choices Summit in Sacramento

TransFormLogoTransForm, an organization that advocates for sustainable transportation, smart growth, and affordable housing throughout California, will host its third annual summit next week to discuss the state’s transportation priorities. The Transportation Choices Summit will take place in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 22, and feature speakers from advocacy organizations including the Greenlining Institute, Move LA, and Safe Routes to Schools, as well as state legislators and representatives from state agencies.

The summit’s agenda includes panel discussions on opportunities and challenges in 2014, including cap-and-trade funds and Caltrans reform. Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), the keynote speaker, will discuss the connection between climate change and equity issues. De Leon authored S.B. 535, passed in 2012, which requires that at least 10 percent of funds earmarked for greenhouse gas reduction go directly to disadvantaged communities, and that 25 percent of them be spent in a way that benefits those communities.

Other highlights from the conference include a breakout session on increasing funding for walking and bicycling, led by Jeanie Ward-Waller, the California Advocacy Organizer for the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership. Another session will feature Kate White, Deputy Secretary of Environmental Policy and Housing Coordination at the California State Transportation Agency, who will talk about Caltrans reform with TransForm Executive Director Stuart Cohen. You can see the other speakers listed on the agenda [PDF].

Two related events will bookend the summit: On Monday, the day before the summit, Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates Executive Director Jim Brown will lead summit attendees on two local bike tours. One will showcase the innovative bicycle master plan in West Sacramento. The other will focus on issues around new infill housing in the city.

On Wednesday, after the summit, Transportation Choices Advocacy Day will bring advocates and volunteers to the offices of legislators to talk about biking, walking, transit, and affordable, accessible housing near transit. This event is free and all are invited, but pre-registration is required.


NACTO’s “Cities for Cycling” Road Show Comes to Oakland

Image of a bike box from the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide.

Image of a bike box from the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide.

Today and tomorrow, Oakland will host the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Cities for Cycling Road Show, which brings experts on NACTO‘s Urban Street Design Guide to Oakland to meet with city planners, engineers, and elected officials.

The event is an opportunity for Oakland city staff and decision-makers to gather together to discuss the challenges and solutions in completing creating a network of safer streets for biking. They’ll receive guidance from representatives of New York City, Chicago, and Boston, all cities that have extensive experience using the NACTO guide and putting its bike infrastructure designs on the ground.

The NACTO Urban Street Design Guide is being adopted by more California cities, though Caltrans hasn’t endorsed it yet.

“Chicago and New York have the highest number of miles of protected bikeways in the United States,” said Dave Campbell, advocacy director for Bike East Bay. “And Boston has expertise in bike share, which will be coming soon to the East Bay.”

The Urban Street Design Guide shows how streets can be redesigned to be safe for all users — bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and drivers. Oakland is one of 28 cities and three state departments of transportation that have endorsed the guide as a resource for designing its streets. San Diego, Davis, and San Francisco are the only other California cities that have endorsed the guide.

Caltrans was also urged to endorse the NACTO guide in the recent report calling on Caltrans to reform its car-centric culture, conducted by the State Smart Transportation Initiative.

Since 2009, NACTO Cities for Cycling Road Shows have taken place in eight NACTO cities. Road Shows take on the specific issues and projects of their host cities. For example, in Atlanta NACTO provided comprehensive training on protected bikeway design, and in Boston the focus was on how to build out the city’s bike network over time.

In Oakland the focus will be on two projects: Telegraph Avenue and 14th Street. The city is currently working on the Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Project, developing alternative designs for bicycle facilities along the popular biking street. Bike East Bay has pushed for protected bikeways like the ones featured in the NACTO guide. Read more…

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Community Voices on LA Mobility Plan – LAEV’s Arkin, Bikesanas’ Hernandez

Streetsblog L.A. is continuing coverage of Los Angeles’ draft Mobility Plan 2035. The draft plan is out for comment; SBLA profiled it here. The public is encouraged to submit comments via email, or at a series of Planning Forums taking place through April 12th. The next forum is this Saturday March 29th, 9 a.m. to noon, at Boyle Heights City Hall, 2130 E. First St., L.A. 90033.


Streetsblog has asked some local livability leaders to respond to a few simple questions telling us their opinions of the city of Los Angeles draft Mobility Plan 2035. Yesterday we published responses from Bicycle Advisory Committee chair Jeff Jacobberger and Multicultural Communities for Mobility chair Betty Avila. Today’s respondents are L.A. Eco-Village’s Lois Arkin and Bikesan@s Del Valle’s Carlos Hernandez

We’ll have even more community voices on the Mobility Plan later this week.

Los Angeles Eco-Village's Lois Arkin photo Somerset Waters

Los Angeles Eco-Village’s Lois Arkin photo Somerset Waters

Lois Arkin lives and works in the Los Angeles Eco-Village demonstration neighborhood, which she co-founded in 1993.  She is the Executive Director and founder of CRSP (Cooperative Resources and Services Project.) She is the co-author and editor of two books on urban sustainability and cooperatives, and represents the Western U.S. on the Council of the Ecovillage Network of the Americas.

What’s your overall opinion of Mobility Plan 2035?

Arkin: I am very pleased with much of the attention to pedestrian and bicycle strategies, with good quality-of-life language. It makes one appreciate that city planners are actually transitioning from 1950s thinking, seen especially in the LADOT.

What do you like best in the plan?

The ideas expressed regarding safety and happiness. Possibilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, kids, seniors, disabled.  The beginnings of language that suggests that there are too many cars and trucks and that a multi-modal approach is gaining acceptance.

What do you think is missing or needs work?  Read more…


City Leaders Shepherding MyFigueroa Stakeholders Toward Consensus

Graphic from Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition's analysis of the past 10 years' traffic injuries and fatalities. Car collisions seriously injured 1453 persons and killed 2. Source: LACBC

Graphic from Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s analysis of the past 10 years’ traffic injuries and fatalities on South Figueroa Street in the MyFigueroa project stretch. Car collisions seriously injured 1453 persons and killed 2. Click graphic to enlarge. Source: LACBC

The long-anticipated MyFigueroa project made another appearance at the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee yesterday. With more than a hundred supporters in attendance, a great deal of staff work, political leadership, and a stakeholder summit process underway, it appears that MyFigueroa may be on track to break ground some day in the not too distant future.

The PLUM committee heard from staff and the public, made requests based on recommendations that came from a stakeholder working group, and pushed the item off for three more weeks.

MyFigueroa is expected to include the city of L.A.’s first significant stretch of protected bike lanes, as well as various improvements to make all road users’ experiences safer and better. The project extends from Downtown L.A. into Exposition Park. In the works since 2008, the project snagged on auto dealership (Shammas Auto Group) opposition in 2013, and has been stalled, churning its way through City Council committees ever since

Yesterday’s PLUM hearing began with a presentation by staff from the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the Department of Transportation (LADOT.) Staff responded to L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price’s motion (13-1124) directing staff to analyze “[a]lternatives … to removing traffic lanes on S. Figueroa Street.” My Figueroa proposes removing one southbound travel lane on South Figueroa (from 7th Street to Martin Luther King Blvd) to add two-way protected bikeways. Price and others have expressed interest in a paired couplet of one-way bikeways instead: northbound only on Figueroa Street and southbound only on adjacent Flower Street. DCP and LADOT reported that they had analyzed this Flower couplet possibility, but advised against it, as it would require removing two travel lanes on Flower, resulting in “more traffic bottlenecks” than the MyFigueroa project as planned.

Following the staff presentation, Councilmember Price’s Deputy Chief of Staff Paloma Pérez-McEvoy and Mayor Garcetti’s transportation staffer Marcel Porras stepped to the podium. Pérez-McEvoy and Porras related that, last week, Price, Garcetti and Councilmember Jose Huizar had convened a 4-hour “summit” meeting of Figueroa corridor stakeholders and bike advocates. Pérez-McEvoy expressed that the meeting had gone well, but that there were still some “small” issues including ingress and egress,  traffic impacts, and procedures for closing lanes for filming. Porras reported that the summit was pulled together quickly, had gone well, and that parties were all working together.  Read more…


If Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, Surely it Should Also be a Component of “Complete”-ness, No?

Bus stop, bus goes, she stays, trash grows... Olympic Blvd., Boyle Heights. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Bus stop, bus goes, trash stays, trash grows on Olympic Blvd.  Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

As folks were preparing to cut the cake in honor of the Complete Streets Day motion put forth by Councilmember Jose Huizar at City Hall last week, I was getting geared up to volunteer at a high school located in his district, around which many of the streets are decidedly incomplete.

I had run into Roosevelt High School teacher extraordinaire Jorge Lopez a couple of weeks prior; students from his food justice class were helping give a tour of two corner markets that had received healthy makeovers courtesy of Public Matters. When he heard I was interested in interviewing the students involved in the project, he suggested I stop in his classroom instead and assist the students in reworking their own interviews with food activists and workers in the area into articles.

Hell, yes! I thought.

Teens — besides being inspiring to work with — are often incredible, unfiltered informants about the unique dynamics of their communities and how those dynamics impact mobility, health, and access to opportunity.

When I first worked with his English class two years ago, students were writing speeches about things they would like to see improved in their neighborhood. Given the myriad challenging circumstances that the youth came from, immigrant rights, living wages, affordable housing, protection from gang activity, and access to healthy food and other health resources unsurprisingly figured prominently into their discussions.

But, I was also struck that one of the recurring themes was an inferiority complex many expressed with regard to East L.A.

It was so much cleaner, they complained.

Complete Streets should also encompass clean streets. Couch on Rivera St. (just off 1st), a frequent dumping site. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Complete Streets should also encompass clean streets. Couch on Rivera St. (just off 1st), a frequent dumping site. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

When we think of “Complete Streets,” we tend to focus on ways to facilitate mobility by “design[ing] and operat[ing streets] to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.”

But, for these students, it was clear that having streets that looked clean, inviting, and safe was important for mobility and access, too.

In comparing their neighborhoods to East L.A., many voiced a belief that people in East L.A. took more pride in their community because the sidewalks and streets there were well taken care of. Boyle Heights streets’, they said, felt run down and forgotten.

It was something that bothered them a lot. Read more…


It’s Complete Streets Day!

Complete Streets Day has yet to catch on with the kids.
Assuming the City Council doesn’t miss perhaps the easiest public relations win since nearly all of them managed to avoid having their pictures taken with Toronto’s crack-smoking, bike hating, misogynistic, homophobic mayor earlier this week, today will be the first official Complete Streets Day in Los Angeles.

Later today, there's going to be a picture of a cake here. UPDATE: HERE IT IS!

Later today, there’s going to be a picture of a cake here.

The motion declaring Complete Streets Day, which is still awaiting Council approval was introduced by Councilmember Jose Huizar. And to make sure it passes, the Councilmember is bringing in some of the biggest lobbying guns he can: Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Los Angeles Walks, East L.A. Community Corporation, CicLAvia, neighborhood associations from throughout his district and not one, but two Streetsblog daddies with Streetsblog babies in tow. And there’s one reason we’re going to be there: the free cake to celebrate the progress the city is making on re-thinking the city’s streets as more than just places for cars.

But here’s the thing: on holidays I expect presents. On Christmas, I got a personalized Streetsblog phone case. On Valentine’s Day I got a new bike helmet (a week after my dooring…subtle!). On CicLAvia, I get CicLAvia. Heck, on Park(ing) Day I even got a present: a painted rock from an eight-year-old at Pacoima Beautiful’s space up in the San Fernando Valley.

So what do I get on Complete Streets Day? What should we get on Complete Streets Day? Leave your thoughts in the comments section. Read more…


Streets and Creeks, Part 1: Why Fish Need Bicycles

Given all the coverage and advisories about Los Angeles receiving heavy rains today, Streetsblog is kicking off an occasional series that makes the connections between rain, streets, creeks and people. 

Woman-Man-Fish-Bike quote on a T-shirt via Etsy

Woman-Man-Fish-Bike T-shirt design via Etsy

There’s an oft-repeated phrase that emerged during the 1970s Feminist Movements that states “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” It’s credited to Irnia Dunn, and appears on posters, T-shirts, and even in a U2 song. Overall it’s a great quote for rethinking women’s independence and agency.

It appears that when trying to imagine two entirely unconnected things, Dunn perhaps seemed to think that there just weren’t any connections between fish and bicycles. Certainly fish can’t ride bikes.

Streetsblog asserts that fish do need bicycles.

Fish need pedestrians too.

And transit.

Also complete streets, parking reform, freeway removal, and pretty much the whole livability agenda that Streetsblog is known for.

What’s the problem?

Streetsblog readers are familiar with the most obvious problems inherent in the present car-heavy transportation system. Cars kill lots of people. They cause air pollution, including greenhouse gases. In addition to health problems from toxic air, over-reliance on cars makes for a sedentary lifestyle, leading to obesity and chronic disease. That’s a short summary, leaving a lot out.

What may be somewhat less intuitive is that cars are also a primary cause of water pollution.

Read more…

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Consensus Builds for Complete Streets as Metro Plans County-Wide Policy

This video is pretty impressive in that it features over half of the Metro Board basically repeating Complete Streets talking points. You can find the rest of the materials from the meeting here.

At their Board Meeting this June, Metro will pass a Complete Streets policy in accordance with state law. While the first official hearings won’t be held until later this year, the process was unofficially kicked off yesterday, with the Los Angeles County Active Transportation Collaborative Complete Streets Meeting held just north of Union Station, at the California Endowment.

The meeting was not just a choir-preaching session comprised of the usual suspects.

Packed to overflow capacity, the room held staffers from a number of local advocacy groups, including TRUST South L.A., Pacoima Beautiful, and Community Health Councils. The very Metro staff that will work on the Complete Streets policy were also in attendance. In addition, three Metro Board Members, Glendale City Council Member Ara Najarian, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor, and Mayoral Appointee Jackie Dupont-Walker, were joined by staff from the offices of Mayor Eric Garcetti and Metro Board Chair Diane Dubois.

By the time the conference was over, nearly everyone was in agreement that a forceful Complete Streets policy — one with both teeth and incentives — is needed in L.A. County.

“It appears we do have significant cities in the county which don’t have Complete Streets policies. We need to find ways to encourage those communities to come up with Complete Streets policies very quickly,” said Dupont-Walker in a phone interview following the meeting. ”We want policies that don’t just penalize those that don’t comply, but ones that provide incentives for those that do.”

In this, L.A. County is somewhat behind in the game.

Most counties have already passed their laws in line with the Complete Streets Act of 2008, which requires all municipalities, counties, and regional governments to institute policies ensuring that transportation agencies design (or retrofit) roadways to accommodate all users. Such streets should have wide sidewalks, marked lane crossings for pedestrians, bicycle markings, and appropriate speed limits to support anyone that wants to use the street, not just those that wish to drive on it.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Even as the ink from the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing pen was drying, Dave Snyder, the Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition, warned that the effort to bring Complete Streets designs to California wasn’t over. As always, the devil would be in the details.

But, with meetings to solicit public feedback in the works for February and April (dates TBD), Metro is now taking the lead in creating the L.A. County program.

Better known as the region’s largest transit agency, Metro is also the state-designated Regional Transportation Planning Agency. As such, it is Metro’s job to help regional cities come into compliance with state law on Complete Streets.

“LACBC is excited to see Metro step into its natural role as a transportation policy leader for Los Angeles County,” writes Eric Bruins, the Planning & Policy Director for the Bicycle Coalition. ”Walking and biking are implemented locally, but there’s still a need for strong support, coordination, and funding at the county level to help cities build good projects. This policy will help Metro catch up with Caltrans, SCAG, and cities that are already doing Complete Streets, while setting an inclusive vision for L.A. County’s transportation system.” Read more…


The Movement Against the Highway Friendly Redesign of Hyperion Grows

Garcetti,  LaBonge and O’Farrell promote the  redesign and ask for public comment.

It started as a note from contacts at the Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), turned into a mini-series on Streetsblog and now the movement to stop the redesign of the Hyperion-Glendale Complex of Bridges that would turn one of the region’s most iconic structures into one of its prettiest freeways has gone viral so to speak.

The new design excludes bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks, the city’s Bicycle Plan be damned, and increases the size of the four mixed-use travel lanes to accommodate traffic driving over 55 miles per hour. Space that could be used for sidewalks and bicycle lanes and sidewalks is being used for creating stronger crash barriers. The $50 million project’s stated purpose is a retrofit to better handle seismic events and is expected begin construction in 2016 and should take three years to complete.

Since Streetsblog last covered the bridges ten days ago, things have been moving quickly. In response to letters demanding a public hearing of the proposal, outreach meetings with city staff were cancelled so a hearing can be scheduled (details TBD.) Two neighborhood Councils, in Atwater and Silverlake at the west end of the complex are hearing motions to oppose the redesign as it exists. The Silver Lake motion was heard by their Transportation Committee last night and moved near-unanimously to the full Council. Assembly Member Mike Gatto, who also represents part of the project area, promised on Twitter to write a letter opposing the current design.

While there are certainly some who are worried about the lack of bicycle lanes in the project, there is a greater concern that increasing the vehicle speeds on a major entryway into their communities will lead to more dangerous conditions, more traffic, more air pollution and lower home values.

Meanwhile, bicycle advocacy is working on two connected but somewhat coordinated tracks. The LACBC submitted formal comments that outline the problems with the current planned design and other advocates are organizing on Facebook to maintain a steady flow of public pressure. To stop the redesign, rethink the project plans, and design a project that works for all vehicle users and the surrounding communities.

But while the absence of bicycle lanes is what angered cyclists and created resistance to the redesign plan, its the idea of designing the bridge to freeway standards that really upset the community groups.

“This is the same video that was presented at the meeting,” writes Don “Roadblock” Ward, one of the leaders of the movement to stop the current redesign of the video at the top of the post which now appears on Council Member Mitch O’Farrell’s blog. “..and the whole time I kept thinking of the 110 parkway bridge a few miles south with the 110 bike path and freeway crash barriers. This bridge will one day look that crappy.” Read more…