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Posts from the Jose Huizar Category


Downtown L.A. Celebrates New Protected Bike Lanes On Los Angeles Street

Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero and LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds take a celebratory ride in the Los Angeles Street protected bikeway. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero and LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds take a celebratory ride in the Los Angeles Street protected bikeway. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Downtown L.A. now has protected bike lanes! Woooot! Wooooot!

Not just a block-long tunnel, but full-on grown-up Euro-style protected bike lanes. The newly opened half-mile-long Los Angeles Street protected bike lanes feature bicycle signals, floating bus stop islands, neon-green merge zones and two-phase left turn markings, not to mention freshly resurfaced pavement. All just in time for the launch of Metro bike-share on July 7.

Councilmember Jose Huizar and other city leaders officially opened the new facility yesterday afternoon. Huizar connected the low-stress bikeway with his DTLA Forward campaign, which will include additional protected lanes on Spring and Main Streets. Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds spoke of the symbolic importance of these lanes connecting with early Los Angeles’s focal plaza, plus Union Station, City Hall, and even Caltrans’ Southern California headquarters. The ribbon-cutting event even featured a small fleet of Metro bike-share bikes available to test ride.


L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar addressing the crowd assembled at El Pueblo

Read more…


Councilmember Jose Huizar Promotes a More Bikeable Downtown L.A.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar is excited about the future of bicycling in downtown Los Angeles. At a press event yesterday, Huizar took a test spin on one of Metro’s bike-share bikes. SBLA Streetsie-winner Huizar sees bike-share as one key feature of “a snowball effect” virtuous cycle for central Los Angeles: more bikes on the street will trigger more safety-in-numbers, which will prompt more city investment in bikeways, which will lead to even more bicycling.

Metro’s 1000+bike 60+station bike-share system is coming to downtown “this June – though it might slip,” according to Huizar.

Huizar recently announced that protected bike lanes will be coming to downtown’s Spring and Main Streets. These improvements are part of an umbrella “DTLA Forward” initiative for a more walkable, bikeable, livable downtown Los Angeles. DTLA Forward includes these two bikeways, pedestrian head-start signals, green alleys, street trees, and a handful of other worthwhile (but not quite transformative) downtown initiatives, plus a (quite transformative) “Your Downtown L.A. Vision Plan” [PDF]. The Vision Plan, created under the auspices of the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council with support from the So. Cal. Association of Governments (SCAG), calls for all downtown streets to be complete streets.

Spring and Main Street currently feature a couplet of buffered bike lanes. The Spring Street lane was the city’s first (somewhat controversial) green bike lane, and now its first partially-green pavement bike lane. The protected bike lanes are expected to be implemented in late 2016, after a handful of community outreach meetings.  Read more…


DTLA Pedestrians Get Expanded Head Start Signals

Red light plus walk signal means a leading pedestrian interval. Photos by Joe LInton/Streetsblog L.A.

Red light plus walk signal means a Leading Pedestrian Interval. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Downtown L.A. is getting a little safer for walking with some new traffic signals that give pedestrians a head start. Officially, these are called “Leading Pedestrian Intervals.” The concept is that when pedestrians get the walk signal a few seconds before drivers get a green light, they can walk into the intersection and be more visible, and therefore safer.

The new signals are part of an initiative by Los Angeles City Councilmember and livability champion José Huizar. Huizar and LADOT incorporated them as a feature in street improvements that are accompanying Metro’s Regional Connector construction. Huizar, via a press release, touted the new signals: “Complete Streets improvements, like Pedestrian Headstart Signals, make our streets safer for pedestrians while encouraging foot traffic in Downtown Los Angeles’s increasingly dynamic urban environment.”

In 2014, the L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) installed Leading Pedestrian Intervals on Broadway at 3rd and 4th Streets.

Over the last two weekends, LADOT added over a dozen new head start signals, bringing the total to 16 downtown L.A. intersections, all in the Historic Core and Civic Center areas. Leading Pedestrian Intervals are currently installed at these intersections:  Read more…


Whittier Boulevard to See Up to $1 Million in Streetscape Improvements

Trash accumulates under an underpass along Whittier Blvd. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Trash and debris accumulates under the 60 Freeway along Whittier Blvd. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Complaints about the condition of Whittier Boulevard are common among youth that regularly walk from the southern end of Boyle Heights to Roosevelt High School and back. And they’re only one of several groups of schoolkids that must cross and/or move along Whittier on a daily basis — a handful of schools and recreational centers straddle the three-quarters of a mile between Lorena and Soto Streets.

The section of Whittier slated for improvements is in gray. (Google maps)

The section of Whittier slated for improvements is in gray. (Google maps)

The fast-moving and heavily trafficked boulevard serves as a cut-through connection for those commuting or transporting goods between East L.A., downtown, and beyond. So, crossing it on two feet can be hazardous. Drivers tend not to slow down for folks trying to use the crosswalk at Orme, for example, and can take corners quickly in their eagerness to get to the freeways.

The way in which the street alternates almost randomly between industrial, residential, commercial, and school zones can make things even more uncomfortable for pedestrians. Some sections of sidewalk are pleasant and active, while others are in poor condition, are poorly lit, and are strewn with debris and trash. Students who must walk the lengthy underpass where the 60 Freeway stretches diagonally over Whittier have reported being disconcerted by feeling so isolated, especially when they have been hassled by homeless folks struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse issues.

The street could use some help, in other words. And help appears to be on the way.

On January 20, the City Council approved Councilmember Jose Huizar’s motion to use up to $1 million in bond monies to launch a redesign of the corridor between Boyle Avenue and Indiana Street.

It’s an investment that is long overdue. Read more…


The Butterfly Effect: Privileging Form (and Speedy Implementation) over Function Yields Semi-Obsolete Street Furniture in Boyle Heights

A butterfly bike rack perches on 1st St. in Boyle Heights. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A butterfly bike rack perches on 1st St. in Boyle Heights. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

When the butterflies, flowers, and decorative benches first started popping up along 1st Street in Boyle Heights last year, reviews were mixed.


That’s not really true — the reviews I heard were largely not that great.

Particularly from business owners that had been given some advance notice — but no choice and no recourse — about what would be appearing outside their front doors.

A large yellow butterfly stakes out space in front of Espacio 1839. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A very large yellow butterfly stakes out space in front of Espacio 1839. Staff there said they had originally been told they would be getting a flower bike rack. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

After the large ficus trees that had destroyed the street’s sidewalks had been ripped out, the sidewalks repaired, and new trees planted, the colorful bike racks that appeared soon after were a bit incongruous with the new landscape.

The reference to the natural world served to point out just how devoid of greenery the street now was.

The arrival of bike racks mimicking elements of the natural world served to point out the lack of nature along the street. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The arrival of bike racks mimicking elements of the natural world served to point out the lack of nature along the street. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

And while complaints did tend to highlight how garish the yellow butterflies were, the kicker, for many, was that the new racks and furniture were poorly placed and not particularly functional.

Some people didn’t know what they were or preferred relying on parking signs.

The parking sign pole is preferred by some to the butterfly rack outside Espacio 1839. Source: Espacio 1839 instagram

The parking sign pole is preferred by some to the butterfly rack outside Espacio 1839. Source: Espacio 1839 Instagram

Others (myself included) found the racks hard to use — the awkward shape of the butterfly and the shortness of the flower coupled with the roundness of its center make them both complicated to lock up against, depending on the type of bike you have, how you lock your bike (I take off my back wheel), or whether another bike is already locked to it.

The flowers, especially this one at a little sitting area at Bailey (behind Mariachi Plaza) are kind of adorable in a setting like this. But not that easy to lock up your bike to. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The flowers, especially this one at a little sitting area at Bailey (behind Mariachi Plaza), are kind of adorable in a setting like this. But they’re not that easy to lock up your bike to. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

But the thing that made the least sense was the placement of the furniture. Read more…


Tonight! Eagle Rock! Streetsies! Huizar! Lucero!

Tonight! We’re riding and celebrating in Eagle Rock with two of our 2014 Streetsie winners: Elected Official of the Year Jose Huizar and Journalist of the Year Nathan Lucero.

Photo: Alex Thompson

Councilmember Jose Huizar. Photo: Alex Thompson

Councilmember Jose Huizar set a Streetsie record by garnering over 5,000 votes in his race against Joe Buscaino for the 2014 Streetsie award. Heck, Huizar got more votes for his Streetsie than Molina did in the City Council election. The award is well-deserved, as Huizar’s Council District 14 is home to many of L.A.’s “firsts”: first green buffered bike lane, first parklets, first bike corral, etc…

Lucero on the left with 2011 Streetsie winner Colin Bogart in DTLA. Photo: ## Al##

Lucero on the left with 2011 Streetsie winner Colin Bogart in DTLA. Photo: Erik Al

Nathan Lucero is the Northeast Los Angeles videographer who hosts the On My Bike in L.A. YouTube channel. He has been actively documenting bicycling issues, sometimes posting raw footage of important meetings, sometimes producing more polished Streetfilms-esque short documentaries.

We’ll be meeting at 5:30 at Organix, 1731 Colorado Blvd. for a quick photo shoot before the short ride to Eagle Rock City Hall where the Farmer’s Market will be hosting a brief award presentation at 2035 Colorado Boulevard. We’ll have a short presentation and people can feel free to hang out for as long as they want at the Farmer’s Market.

Unlike pretty much every nonprofit in the world, Streetsblog doesn’t use its awards as a pitch for a major fundraising event. However, if you want to make a donation to support our work or to celebrate the great work done by Huizar and Lucero you can do so here. Remember to designate your donation to Los Angeles.


Applause for Bonin-Huizar L.A. Council Motion to Rein in LAPD Ped Stings

Brigham Yen/DTLA Rising

2013 LAPD pedestrian stings. Photos via Brigham Yen/DTLA Rising

Last Friday, May 1, Los Angeles City Council livability leaders introduced a motion [PDF] to get the city family to examine the effectiveness of LAPD’s ongoing pedestrian sting operations. We would like to think that SBLA’s recent article critiquing these stings paid off, but probably the excellent recent Los Angeles Times articles by Steve Lopez and Catherine Saillant got just a tad more exposure.

Motion 15-0546 was moved by Councilmember Mike Bonin, and seconded by Councilmember Jose Huizar. Huizar was pretty busy pressing for downtown livability last Friday, introducing five “DTLA Forward” proposals “to increase, promote and protect pedestrian access, improve traffic flow and improve neighborhood connectivity in Downtown Los Angeles.” Note that the LAPD crosswalk sting operations do extend beyond downtown into MacArthur Park and Koreatown.

SBLA does not often cover the fairly simple process of introducing motions, as there is a lot of follow-through needed before the City Council actually passes one… but we are pretty happy to have some activity on these wrongheaded stings that we have been writing critically about since 2008.

Bonin had this to say in describing the situation:

It defies common sense to ticket someone who is entering a crosswalk as the countdown begins when they still have time to cross the street safely without disrupting traffic. We need to be and we will be a Vision Zero city, and pedestrian safety is paramount. But if we are going to be doing ‘crosswalk stings,’ I want to be sure we are focusing on busting drivers who don’t yield to people in the crosswalk.

Excessive and expensive tickets disincentivize walking in Los Angeles. We want people to be safe, but we do not want ‘Do Not Walk’ to be the message we send Angelenos.

The motion critiques the outdated state law that serves as the basis for stings:  Read more…


A Changing South Park Plans for “Livable Alleys”

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from ## Alleys South Park Visioning Report## prepared for the South Park Business Improvement District

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from Green Alleys South Park Visioning Report prepared for the South Park Business Improvement District

Through cinematic distortion, alleys are seen as hubs where criminals engage in drug dealing, whacking, and even murder.

In reality, most city alleys are wasted, often unkempt spaces cluttered with toilets and mattresses due to illegal dumping.

Despite this reality, alley spaces offer great, unrealized potential, says the South Park Business Improvement District (BID).

As part of the BID’s focus on “bettering the physical and social environment for residents, property owners, and businesses of the area,” Executive Director Jessica Lall and Director of Planning and Communications Amanda Irvine have undertaken the task of transforming South Park’s alleys into livable green spaces as part of a larger plan to revitalize and rebrand South Park.

Bringing livable green alleys to South Park will help foster community, allow for greater recreation opportunities, reduce crime, and will offer expanded retail opportunities, Lall and Irvine claim.

Green alleys, as defined in the Green Alleys in South Park Visioning Report [PDF], are alley spaces that have been transformed and rebuilt to include “materials and features that reduce environmental impacts” and/or spaces that have undergone transformation via the addition of “plantings and landscaping.” Environmental impacts of the green livable initiative include rainwater capture and filtration and relief from the heat island effect. Read more…


Utility Relocation Costs Not a Death Sentence for Downtown LA Circulator

A funny thing happened on the way to a downtown Los Angeles streetcar. According to the Los Angeles Times, the initial cost estimate of $125M excluded the costs of utility relocation, which could total $166M in additional costs, and $295M in operating costs over 30 years. That’s quite a bit compared to the $62.5M voters authorized when approving a community facilities district last November.

Few transit experts have met a streetcar they’ve liked. This doesn’t mean the projects aren’t justified – they can be superb economic development catalysts when complemented with smart land use strategies and targeted incentives. However, streetcars are rarely the most effective option for mobility, and any accessibility benefits are generally brought about by smart land use strategies rather than the streetcar itself. Downtown’s streetcar proposal was a significant cornerstone of the Bringing Back Broadway Initiative, a larger strategy to overhaul the downtown boulevard.

Most mobility benefits can be accomplished more cost-effectively with a bus than a streetcar.  Having researched how users, planners, and policymakers perceive transit, I’m quite aware that many people prefer rail to buses, even when buses provide an identical service.  I’m also aware that bus service avoids the environmental impacts of rail construction, which can be a significant portion of the project’s total impact, and that electric-propulsion (even using LADWP power) is far cleaner than natural gas or diesel.  As such, I’ve gained an admiration for the trolleybus as a transit mode.

A modern trolleybus in France, from Wikimedia Commons.

Read more…


Showdown or Compromise? All’s Quiet in Advance of Tomorrow’s Hearing on the Spring Street Green Bike Lane

Tom LaBonge (white shirt) leads a ride down the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane as part of Tour LaBonge.

(An earlier version of this story featured a picture we believed showed an image from a film shot in New York that had a green bike lane removed. The location did not include a bike lane, we fell for a twitter joke. Sorry. – DN)

For awhile, it seemed as though everyone had something to say about the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane. The pilot project became a hotly debated item around town after the Film and Television Industry’s lobbying group decried the lane’s impact on local filming.

But tomorrow, the City Council will decide the fate of the green painted lane. The Council will hear, and vote on, a motion by Council Member Jose Huizar, who represents the area that the lane runs through. And after a year of non-stop chatter, Los Angeles Times editorials calling for compromise, and an ongoing debate that happened in public and private; all of a sudden nobody is talking.

Huizar’s office has delayed commenting. Council Member and Mayor-Elect Garcetti, who is partially responsible for the lane not being repainted, has refused to comment. Streetsblog didn’t reach out to Council Member Tom LaBonge, who also opposes the lanes, because he is the only person who is commenting…and commenting to anyone who will listen. He still thinks the lane should lose all its color. In fact, he’s starting to question this whole bike-lane thing in a more fundamental way.

Even advocacy and community groups are being shy. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition pointed me to their letter to the City Council. Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council President Patti Berman pointed me to an April resolution by the Neighborhood Council stating succinctly,

“NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) re-iterates is support for retaining the Green Bike Lane on Spring Street, and urges the City work with DLANC, FilmLA, and the cycling community to find a solution to any complaints whilst retaining the integrity of the Green Lane program.”

One reason for the public silence is that nobody is completely sure where Film L.A. stands anymore. Industry representatives reportedly “walked away” from the most recent “compromise” the same day the Los Angeles Times patted itself on the back for supporting it.

So, with perhaps the final showdown occurring tomorrow morning, here is a primer of what you need to know about the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane controversy.

1) The Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane was a pilot project, and ultimately a very successful one. Spring and Main were chosen for a buffered bike lane pilot program because they are streets bustling with multi-modal and pedestrian activity, and perfect candidates for more than just green highlights at designated conflict zones. Ridership alone indicates this was a successful application of this traffic control device. Collision data over time should also prove similar results.

The green bike lane has become part of the cultural fabric of Downtown Los Angeles.

Read more…