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Posts from the "Walking" Category

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Eyes On The Street: Broadway’s Got New Bulb-Outs

Work is underway for Downtown L.A.'s Broadway "Dress Rehearsal." The street has fresh new striping for bulb-outs, also new zebra crosswalks. photo Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Work is underway for Downtown L.A.’s Broadway “Dress Rehearsal.” The street has fresh new striping for bulb-outs, also new zebra crosswalks. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Crews are out this week doing striping and new crosswalks for a project called Broadway’s Dress Rehearsal. Broadway is, arguably, Los Angeles’ most heavily pedestrian street. The current project reallocates former car-lane space to make way for pedestrians. It’s no secret that the transformation here is inspired by NYC’s relatively-inexpensive street plazas, including Times Square.

Streetsblog L.A. reviewed the overall project earlier, and subsequently reported on implementation timelines. There’s plenty more project details at Bringing Back Broadway.

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L.A. City’s Ten Million Dollar Sidewalk Repair Program Turns Inward

Broken sidewalk on Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Roger Rudick

Don’t expect L.A. City funding to fix Alameda Street’s broken sidewalk any time soon. Photo: Roger Rudick

At Monday’s Los Angeles City Council Budget and Finance Committee, the city’s proposed $10 million sidewalk repair program took a turn inward. After closed session deliberations over sidewalk lawsuit liability, Committee Chair Paul Krekorian relayed the committee’s action to focus on “damaged sidewalks abutting city facilities.”

According to city estimates, L.A. has a $1.5 billion sidewalk repair backlog. Per the staff report, the city’s 2013-14 budget approved $10M for a Sidewalk Repair Program, specified as follows:

Sidewalk repair will be limited to sidewalks damaged as a result of street tree root growth at various locations throughout the City. Priority will be given to sidewalk locations identified in claims for damages filed with the City, with locations and size of repairs to be determined at a later date.

L.A.’s departmental staff worked with electeds to determine how to spend these funds. The proposed “limited sidewalk repair plan” would have split the funding into three equal categories: 1) locations where lawsuits have been filed, 2) iconic streets, and 3) a “50/50 program” where the city and property owner split sidewalk repair costs.

There are two wrinkles that further complicate this proposal. There are ongoing sidewalk lawsuits, prominently including Willits Vs. City of Los Angeles – a class action lawsuit over L.A.’s failure to make the public pedestrian right-of-way accessible to disabled people. There’s also a longstanding contention over who is responsible for paying for sidewalk repair: the property owner or the city? 

The clock is ticking for the $10 million approved, because the city’s fiscal year ends June 30th. The monies don’t need to be completely spent by June, but if the program, inadequate as it is, doesn’t get underway, it’s difficult to justify continuing city budget allocations.

Read more…

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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…

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Walk Bike Glendale Tours Yummy Armenian Pastry Shops

The pastry shelves at Oledina's Cake Factory, the second stop on Walk Bike Glendale's Pastry Walk event last Saturday.

The pastry shelves at Oledina’s Cake Factory, the second stop on Walk Bike Glendale’s Pastry Walk event last Saturday. all photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Last Saturday, Walk Bike Glendale hosted its second Pastry Walk event. Walk Bike Glendale advocates for a safe places to walk and bike in the city of Glendale. They host events and workshops, and press the city for new facilities, including Glendale’s Glendale Narrows Riverwalk park and its new planned bridges, and future bike lanes being studied for Chevy Chase Drive. Walk Bike Glendale recently became a local chapter of the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition.

pastry walk

Bike Walk Glendale’s Pastry walk split into two groups, which converged in this crosswalk

Glendale is the third most populous city in Los Angeles County. The city has a genuine popular walkable downtown, but is more characterized by its car-centric suburbs. With elected leadership and a County Public Health PLACE grant, the city made some good strides toward encouraging walking and bicycling, but Glendale hasn’t quite embraced livability enough to be considered among of L.A. County’s livability leaders.

The city of Glendale is home to one of the largest Armenian populations in the United States; roughly 40% of Glendale’s population is Armenian. This means Glendale is also home to a significant density of great Armenian bakeries.

Walk Bike Glendale’s Pastry Walk only covered two city blocks, Glendale’s East Broadway from Chevy Chase Drive to Belmont Street, but visited four different bakeries there. I found them all to be excellent. 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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Bill Suspending Hit-and-Run Drivers’ Licenses Passes Assembly Committee

Last week, the Associated Press released a video of a hit-and-run crash in Orange County. The video is available to view here.

The California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve A.B. 1532, which would require an automatic license suspension for drivers who flee the scene of a crash where a person is hit, even if that person is not injured.

That unanimous vote marks an exceptional win for the bill, which was introduced by Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles). Typically, bills which increase penalties for existing crimes or increase the burden on law enforcement are subject to extra scrutiny and face an uphill battle gaining committee votes.

CA’s current hit-and-run laws require drivers to stop when they are involved in crashes, and drivers who kill or seriously injure others and flee the scene can face severe penalties. A.B. 1532 would add penalties for cases where the injuries are minor, including automatic license suspension.

“The bill’s key aspect is that it increases minimum penalties so there is no less than a six-month mandatory license suspension,” explained Damian Kevitt of FinishtheRide.org. “That way prosecutors can no longer mitigate a hit-and-run down to a $500 misdemeanor fine, which is a slap on the wrist.”

“Hit-and-run drivers should be penalized, as this legislation requires,” said Nicole Schneider, executive director of Walk San Francisco, who applauded the bill as “a good step towards creating a culture where people respect each other.”

“This addresses the middle ground for those hit-and-runs that aren’t severe, making a statement that it’s not okay to leave the scene of a crash.”

Read more…

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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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March Forth Demo Pits Super-Pedestrians vs. Giant Metal Machines

Why did the Superhero walk across the road? To be on the safe side. photo: Joe Linton/LA Streetsblog

Why did the Superhero walk across the road? To be on the safe side. photo: Joe Linton/LA Streetsblog

Superheroes were spotted late yesterday afternoon assembling across from Union Station. Could it be another X-men sequel? Nah.

Yesterday was March 4th, the only day of the year that actually forms a sentence. At least when it’s said out loud. Since that two-word sentence is an exhortation to walk, Los Angeles Walks celebrated the day by taking to the streets.

The March Forth Pedestrian Day of Action was a somewhat light-hearted way to take on some very serious issues.

L.A. Walks has reviewed car-ped crash data and identified several areas around Metro stations where there are large numbers of both pedestrians and collisions that harm them. Last October, the organization staged superhero interventions in Hollywood and MacArthur Park areas; yesterday’s walk signal in the sky drew the heroes downtown. In downtown L.A., Recent LAPD stings of scofflaw driver behavior… never happened. Volunteers gathered at street corners outside of Union Station and later the Red/Purple Line Civic Center Station. 

L.A. Walks Steering Committee member Alexis Lantz emphasized that L.A. Walks volunteers weren’t out to stop traffic, but just to keep pedestrians safe from cars making illegal right and left turns in front of pedestrians. In addition to stunts like yesterday’s, Lantz mentioned that L.A. Walks is taking on bigger policy changes, including ending “right turn on red.”

It shouldn’t take a superhero to get across the street safely, but it looks like may take some heavy-lifting to realign local street policies and practices to value pedestrian lives over car through-put.

A few more action shots after the step, er, jump.

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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L.A. City Council Eliminates Sidewalk Repair Permit Fees

Los Angeles took a very small step forward on the issue of sidewalk repair.

Hopefully that metaphorical step forward doesn’t too closely resemble the very real steps L.A.’s pedestrians are taking on the city’s treacherous and lawsuit-ridden buckling sidewalks. Estimates place L.A.’s broken sidewalks at more than 4,600 miles.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved Councilmember Joe Buscaino’s motion 13-0941. The Buscaino motion, one of a handful of sidewalk measures under consideration, proposed eliminating permitting fees for sidewalk repair. In the past, these permit fees have applied to property owners who fix their own sidewalks.

In addition to the cost of actual repair, a private party fixing her own sidewalk would pay permitting fees to the city. Minor construction “A-permits” for sidewalk repair cost a $265 flat fee plus 85 cents per square foot.

For sidewalk repair, the permitting fee is no longer.

This fee-elimination lowers a barrier, but it doesn’t mean that hordes of property owners will now rush to repairs. A much more comprehensive (and comprehensively funded) sidewalk maintenance system is still needed. Maybe something that resembles the systems that are in place to keep streets operating as well as they do for automobiles.  Read more…