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This Week’s Metro Committees: All-Door Boarding, Bike-Share, Parking, More

Metro's all-door boarding pilot is underway. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro’s operations committee is expected to approve all-door boarding for the Silver Line BRT this week. Photo of the agency’s 2015 Wilshire all-door boarding pilot: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This week’s big Metro announcement, expected Friday, will be the fall ballot measure expenditure plan. Some early Measure R2.1 outlines are already foreshadowed here and at the Los Angeles Times.

That expenditure plan will be huge news, but there is other important Metro business going on at Metro board committee meetings this week. Dollar for dollar, this week’s committee business may not match the budget for the November ballot measure, but, from ciclovías to bike-share to all-door boarding to parking to joint development, these agency decisions can add up to make a difference for the region’s livability.

Below is a run-down of key items on this week’s Metro committee agendas:

Planning and Programming Committee – today 2 p.m. – agenda

  • The committee is expected to authorize an all-paid parking pilot for nine rail stations. This is an excellent step to stop costly-to-provide free parking from hemorraging away Metro’s budget, and for managing parking to better foster equity, improve air quality, and encourage active transportation.
  • The committee will hear a proposal to discount Metro bike-share fares for low-income folks, seniors, and students. This should be one helpful step toward making bike-share service more equitable. More details here.
  • Metro is proposing to fund CicLAvia-type open streets events, similar to the agency’s prior open streets funding cycle. The overall allocation would be $4 million, with $2 million per year for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.
  • The committee will consider joint development plans for parcels at First Street and Soto Street in Boyle Heights, and at Fourth Street and Hill Street in Downtown L.A. (rendering below).
  • Additional committee items include the Union Station run-through tracks (called the Southern California Regional Interconnector Project or SCRIP), double-tracking a portion of Metrolink’s San Bernardino line, and evaluating a proposed Metrolink Station for Rio Hondo College.

Proposed 4th and Hill development in downtown Los Angeles

Proposed 4th and Hill development in downtown Los Angeles would retool Metro Red/Purple Line Pershing Square Station portal. Image via Metro

Construction Committee – tomorrow 9 a.m. – agenda Read more…

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CicLAvia XVI Open Thread: CicLAvia in Panorama City, Arleta, Pacoima

Kids take to the streets in Pacoima, during yesterday's CicLAvia. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Kids take to the streets in Pacoima during yesterday’s CicLAvia. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Each open streets event is excellent, and each has its own variations. Yesterday, L.A.’s 16th CicLAvia touched down in the north San Fernando Valley communities of Pacoima, Arleta, and Panorama City.

As I mentioned in a preview, this was the first CicLAvia without a Metro rail station on the route, though there were still plenty of ways to get there, including special Metrolink service.

I would guesstimate that this “CicLAvia – The Valley” route looked perhaps 30 to 40 percent less crowded than a “Heart of Los Angeles” downtown L.A. CicLAvia. There were tens of thousands of people out enjoying themselves, but with a less central location combined with wider roadways, the crowds looked a bit thinner.

What was fun, though, was that it looked like lots of neighbors made their way out into the streets. People hung out in front of apartment buildings, some on narrow lawns, some sitting on the curb. Families walked, strollered, scootered, and bicycled; there were lots of small girls and boys on bikes with training wheels, with parents walking behind. From tax preparers to restaurants, local businesses spilled out into the streets.

How was your CicLAvia day, readers? How did you get to yesterday’s CicLAvia? Let us know in the comments below.

More photos (and upcoming open streets dates) after the jump.  Read more…

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What This Gold Line & CicLAvia Weekend Says About So. Cal.’s Future

I am looking forward to this weekend.

My 2-year old daughter Maeve and I will be attending the opening festivities for the Metro Gold Line tomorrow, and we’ll be heading up to the northern San Fernando Valley for CicLAvia on Sunday.

The Foothill Gold Line opens tomorrow!

The Foothill Gold Line opens tomorrow!

If I were transportation investment king, I would not have prioritized building the Gold Line; it is not quite a corridor with high ridership projected. There is too much in the way of free parking. Some of the public art investment is directed more toward freeway drivers than rail riders.

The time for this criticism is in the past, though.

As I attended the Azusa station celebration, and I got to ride a press preview train, I kind of got the bug. Now, I confess I am excited about this shiny new rail infrastructure.

I am glad that the Gold Line will mean that I can much more easily visit my niece and nephew who attend college in Azusa. I am glad more of L.A. County will be within easier reach of my typical bike-transit trip. And I am really glad to see that Foothill Gold Line communities are embracing these stations as opportunities for transit-oriented development and downtown revitalization.

Metrolink will run extra trains to this Sunday's CicLAvia - The Valley

Route map for this Sunday’s CicLAvia – The Valley

This Sunday’s CicLAvia breaks new ground in bringing open streets to San Fernando Valley communities of Pacoima, Arleta, and Panorama City.

If I were CicLAvia king, this wouldn’t be where I would have picked for an open streets event. It will the first CicLAvia route that is not located along a Metro rail route. I think that this might mean more people will drive to get there.

This will be the first, but not the last. Thanks to Metro funding, there are lots and lots of L.A. County open streets events are coming up this year. Not all of them will not be rail-connected; examples include Downey (May 1) to Lawndale (April 25).

I used to think that CicLAvia would have a difficult time working in the San Fernando Valley.

I remember, when I was one of the organizers of L.A.’s first CicLAvia, we were told by a senior law enforcement officer that this kind of event just wouldn’t work in downtown Los Angeles. “This isn’t San Francisco” were his words. Later, many early CicLAvia doubters, including my local senior lead officer, expressed their wholehearted support for CicLAvia after seeing how successful the event was.

Hopefully CicLAvia will change my mind, the way it has changed so many people’s minds. I am looking forward to being proven wrong – to seeing how successful the Valley’s second CicLAvia will be.

All this to say that, despite lots of loud critics in NIMBY factions and the mainstream media, projects like the Foothill Gold Line and CicLAvia – The Valley show me that livability works not just in L.A.’s population-dense pedestrian- and transit-centric core (where I live) but in our farther-flung more car-centric suburban communities, too. These communities want more transportation choices, more health, more walkability, more livability – the same way mine does. Southern California is really undergoing a transformation under our noses, even if I feel like I am slogging through the rearguard trenches many days.

It is weekends like this one that give me hope for my city. And for the city my daughter will move through.

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Metrolink Adds Train Service to San Fernando Valley CicLAvia this Sunday

Metrolink will run extra trains to this Sunday's CicLAvia - The Valley

Metrolink will run extra trains to this Sunday’s CicLAvia – The Valley. Map via CicLAvia

Good news! Metrolink will be running extra trains this Sunday so folks can get to CicLAvia – The Valley. This Sunday’s event will the first CicLAvia without an on-route connection to Metro rail. Participants can bike to CicLAvia from the Metro Red Line North Hollywood Station, but that is a 7-mile ride (about three miles on the Orange Line bike path) to the southern tip of the CicLAvia route at Van Nuys Boulevard and Roscoe Boulevard.

The added Metrolink service means CicLAvia participants can board trains at downtown L.A.’s Union Station, get off at Van Nuys’ Metrolink Station, then bike (or walk) just 0.8 mile to CicLAvia.

Per Metro spokesperson Brett Thomas:

Metrolink will operate limited service on the Ventura County Line between Union Station and Van Nuys Station on Sunday, March 6, 2016, in support of CicLAvia – The Valley. The train will make all stops between the two stations and will offer two “Bike Cars” on each train. Ambassadors will be on the platform to guide participants to the event.

The Ventura line trains (which normally do not run on weekends) will operate on the following schedule this Sunday:  Read more…

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Your Friday Video of Zen: DTLA Street Futures (Featuring CicLAvia)

What will the future streets of Los Angeles look like? And what sorts of innovations, interventions, infrastructure, interconnections, and events will help us get there? And can we get there in a way that is sustainable, grounded in community experiences, and does not displace residents of communities that have experienced historical disinvestment?

Digital artist, filmmaker, and Ph.D. candidate at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Karl Baumann raises many of these questions using lovely drone footage of CicLAvia: Heart of L.A. and the voices of a handful of younger planners and advocates who ponder a future where “experience [is] driven by two wheels rather than four” and “design [is] driven by real issues of sustainability, livability, and affordability.”

“With the passing of LA’s Mobility Plan 2035,” Baumann believes, “we’re seeing the bright glimpses of a new paradigm shift for the city. The future of LA will be about local placemaking, pedestrian culture, and sustainability. The emphasis on private cars speeding from one neighborhood to another will become a thing of the past. It’ll become a fading dream of an old utopian impulse, laid out by GM’s ‘Futurama’ exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair.”

Any paradigm shift, he acknowledges, always comes with a backlash. And L.A.’s experience has been no different. Behind Fix the City’s lawsuit and bizarre characterization of bike- and transit-dependent folks as seeking to “steal” lanes from beleaguered drivers and the concerns of more moderate opponents who fear transit will never be able to meet their needs is a common desire to defend and only lightly amend the known evil, Baumann says, rather than “rally around a not-yet-built imagined infrastructure.”

Events like CicLAvia, Baumann argues, give us a common point of reference from which to begin to rethink how our city should be designed. Experiencing safe, car-free streets firsthand, he says, can help skeptics imagine a more bike-centric future. Rubbing shoulders with the diverse mix of Angelenos seen at CicLAvia can also help to dispel the myth that cycling is the purview of well-to-do hipsters. And seeing the extent to which cyclists at open streets events outnumber those commuting on a daily basis might make it easier for skeptics to understand the role protective bike infrastructure can play in emboldening those who are currently too afraid to cycle L.A.’s mean streets.

The video focuses on Downtown, Baumann says, because it has become a vital test lab and potential crystal ball for the redesigning of the city. And also because, he adds, the development there also hints at the “dark side of our bright future.” Read more…

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CicLAvia XV Open Thread: 5 Years, 15 Events, And A Little Rain

CicLAvia XV takes over downtown L.A.'s 7th Street. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia XV takes over downtown L.A.’s 7th Street. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia hosted its 15th Open Streets festival yesterday. The Heart of L.A. route was similar to the now-familiar and always-a-hit initial October 10, 2010, route, with hubs at MacArthur Park, City Hall, and Hollenbeck Park, plus an added spur up into Chinatown. The route included plenty of great architecture, excellent transit connections, and of course tens of thousands of smiling faces.

This was the first CicLAvia to be blessed with a bit of rain. Early arrivals experienced scattered showers, which cleared up just before the 9 a.m. start time, leaving the air clean and the route damp. Attendance was abundant, but may have been slightly off due to the rain.

Below are a few photos highlighting the opening ceremonies and the latest great CicLAvia event.

One pleasant and unusual site was the Portraits of Hope art installation at MacArthur Park.

One pleasant and unusual site was the Portraits of Hope art installation at MacArthur Park.

Read more…

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This Week’s L.A. Transportation Committee: Vision Zero, Parking, CicLAvia

Los Angeles leads big cities in crash deaths. Image via L.A. City Vision Zero report [PDF]

Los Angeles leads big U.S. cities in crash deaths. Image via L.A. City Vision Zero report [PDF]

Yesterday’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee touched on a number of items related to Los Angeles livability. Below is a brief recap of highlights. All these committee actions still need to be approved by the full city council before going into effect.

Vision Zero and Pedestrian Enforcement – Council File 15-0546

This is the second committee hearing (June coverage here) for the laudable Bonin-Huizar motion that seeks to curb LAPD’s “fish-in-a-barrel” ticketing of pedestrians who violate antiquated state crosswalk laws.

Given that Mayor Eric Garcetti’s recent Vision Zero directive has brought departments together to focus on reducing collision deaths, committee time for this item was dedicated to a Vision Zero presentation by L.A. Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds.

Reynolds’ presentation was compelling, drawing from the city’s extensive Vision Zero report [PDF]. City departments are engaging a consultant to do a “detail dive into crash data.” The internal city Vision Zero Task Force will meet for the first time on Thursday, September 24. Also on Thursday, the city will host a public event featuring Reynolds and Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the national Vision Zero Network. Event details here.

The pedestrian enforcement aspect of the motion will be heard at a subsequent committee meeting.

Expansion of Express ParkCouncil File 13-0586

The committee approved extending Xerox’s contract to administer the city’s demand-based parking program, L.A. Express Park. Express Park will continue in downtown Los Angeles. It will also expand to Westwood (in the “next two months”) and to Hollywood (in about three years.)  Read more…

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CicLAvia Culver City Venice Open Thread

CicLAvia – Culver City meets Venice was another massive CicLAvia. Despite the usual fears from some businesses, the event was attended by huge numbers of cyclists, plus plenty of people on foot, skates, blades, skateboards, and more.

What was your favorite part of Southern California’s 14th CicLAvia? Shark and banana bikes? Little girls riding pink training-wheeled bikes? Impromptu front yard parties? Auto dealerships handing out fruit and water? Bike-share demos from coming-soon Metro and Santa Monica systems? Metro Board of Directors Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and fellow boardmember L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin taking bike-share demo bikes for a spin? Added: Supervisor Hilda Solis too! L.A. Great Streets pop-up parklet announcing protected bike lanes coming to Venice Boulevard?!? Hard-shell tacos? Live music? Farmers Market? LADWP tap water refill stations? Spotting something you never noticed before? Beautiful Angelenos of every shape, size, and age smiling in the streets together?

photo-87

CicLAvia increases the capacity of Venice Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A. except where specified.

Read more…

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Tito’s Tacos Comes Around, Welcomes Culver City CicLAvia Participants

Screenshot of Tito's Tacos Facebook post today.

Screenshot of Tito’s Tacos Facebook post today.

Today, Tito’s Tacos posted on Twitter and Facebook that they will be open during this Sunday’s CicLAvia – Culver City meets Venice. Tito’s emphasized that many of their employees take public transit and ride bikes to work every day. CicLAvia tweeted that they’ll be helping Tito’s out with bike and car parking that day.

This put to bed a surprisingly escalating controversy. It is perhaps not much as far as controversies go, but Tito’s had kicked a hornets’ nest by publishing a strongly-worded anti-CicLAvia piece at Culver City news outlet The Front Page. Tito’s owner Lynne Davidson stated, in part:

… immediately cancel the CicLAvia event or, at a bare minimum, that the streets surrounding Tito’s Tacos [not be] closed to through-traffic on Aug. 9, which traditionally is one the biggest days of the year for us.

If this ill-conceived event happens, Tito’s Tacos plans to file a claim under the Government Code against the City of Culver City and CicLAvia to recoup all damages the event causes to Tito’s Tacos.

The Front Page also published a response quoting extensively from City Councilman Jim Clarke in defense of CicLAvia. The discussion quickly degenerated into a volley of comments like, “Their tacos suck anyway.”

I first saw the controversy mentioned at Biking in L.A. The Militant Angeleno playfully referenced an earlier incident where a driver had crashed into Tito’s, temporarily shutting it down, “Rest assured that unlike your car-oriented customers, we won’t be crashing into your wall.”

Further articles ran in LAist and the L.A. Weekly. The controversy even reached national livability circles in the form of an article published this afternoon at The Atlantic‘s CityLab declaring Tito’s to be “on the wrong side of history.”

As one of the people who went door-to-door notifying businesses about CicLAvia from 2010 through 2012, I have to say that Tito’s response is just not that out of the ordinary. Read more…

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Activist Profile: Tafarai Bayne

Tafarai Bayne, then with T.R.U.S.T. South L.A. takes in a mural along the RideSouthLA route before a ride in 2012. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

South L.A. community organizer and streets advocate extraordinaire Tafarai Bayne was often seen exploring the vast landscape of Los Angeles on “The Flash,” his recently retired bicycle.

Despite The Flash’s retirement, Bayne’s passion for the cycling community remains a prevalent aspect in his work.

On December 7th, 2014, Bayne was joined by tens of thousands of Angelenos as CicLAvia cycled through South L.A. neighborhoods, from Leimert Park to Central Avenue via Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard.

CicLAvia’s South L.A. route was a monumental event for multiple reasons: not only was it the first CicLAvia held through and for South L.A. communities, it was also the first route that Bayne had a strong hand in planning and executing after helping plan the event in previous years.

“The route in December was the culmination of years of work that I and some good friends/allies started in 2010 after I got the chance to attend the first CicLAvia,” wrote Bayne.

In association with TRUST South L.A., Bayne approached Joe Linton, then an organizer for CicLAvia (and currently the editor of Streetsblog Los Angeles). Despite Linton’s warnings of a lengthy planning process (written about by Streetsblog L.A.’s Sahra Sulaiman here) — one that ultimately lasted about four years — Bayne was determined to bring the cycling event to his community.

His interest in elevating communities like South L.A. had begun at an early age.

Born in Watts, Bayne was raised in the city’s Crenshaw District. As a student at Downtown Business Magnet, he often found himself navigating Los Angeles on city buses to get to classes held in downtown spaces. He credits the combination of his upbringing and the commutes that allowed him to experience the ambiance of multiple neighborhoods with giving him a lens to think critically about his city and the number of ways in which communities like South L.A. were often overlooked.

It was teacher-turned-UTLA secretary, Daniel Barnhart, that helped him think about how to channel his passion for social justice and the advancement of his community into advocacy.

“I was introduced by [Barnhart] to the idea of advocacy and community organizing,” said Bayne. “He’s an organizer for the teachers’ union now, but at the time he was going to the [1999 World Trade Organization] protests in Seattle. He’d come back and show us his gas masks and talk [to us] about challenging what people were perceiving as unjust, unfair laws. People weren’t getting a say on how things were being decided or on the impacts they were feeling. This really got me thinking about engaging in Los Angeles.”

Now attuned to the significance of public policy, Bayne didn’t wait long to test out what he’d learned. After graduating high school, he volunteered at the “Convergence Center” at the 2000 Democratic National Convention — the gathering site for protesters and community organizers from around the country. He then went on to intern with Public Allies. It was through this internship that Bayne was placed at Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), where he was brought on board, first, as an intern and then as full-time staff. Bayne later found himself returning to Public Allies and, finally, spending seven years working at TRUST South L.A., an organization that addresses affordable housing (and, more recently, mobility) challenges in South L.A., and shifting his attention toward urban planning. Read more…