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LACBC 2015 Bike Count Results: Observed Bicycling Down Slightly

Bicycling was slightly down in 2015 according to LACBC bike counts. Image via LACBC

Bicycling was slightly down in 2015 according to LACBC bike counts. Image via LACBC

Yesterday, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition released its 2015 counts of people walking and bicycling. The LACBC has an excellent summary page with highlights and charts where the report is available to download.

One unwelcome trend that LACBC found (roughly corresponding to the red on above graph) was that bike ridership declined nine percent from 2014 to 2015. These counts are a snapshot, with some variability, so data is not conclusive. The overall 2010 to 2015 trend is upward.

It is difficult to determine what causes a down-tick in a single year’s data. The bicycle coalition suggests it is, in part, attributable to LADOT’s slackening in implementation of new bicycle facilities. After adding lots of new bike lanes from fiscal year 2011-2014, LADOT backed off on bikeway mileage in FY2015. This unfortunate trend worsened in 2016.

There are other possible factors. Read more…

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Five Reasons Why People Who Bike Should Vote Yes On Measure M

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Metro’s Measure M promotional materials note that it would provide $2.4 billion for walking and bicycling during the initial 40 years. This actually undersells Measure M’s bike/ped benefits somewhat. Image via Metro.

Streetsblog L.A. endorsed Measure M, Metro’s proposed sales tax to fund transportation infrastructure and programs throughout L.A. County. Voters will decide the fate of Measure M next Tuesday. If you get around on bike, here are five reasons you will want to vote yes on Measure M.

1. A Local Funding Stream For Bicycling: Two Percent For Active Transportation

Prior to Measure M, Metro has never had a dedicated local funding source for bicycle infrastructure. Cities, including L.A., have used Measure R funding. Federal and state funding goes to local municipalities via Metro’s Call for Projects and via the California Active Transportation Program. Often those monies, especially the federal ones, have excessive administrative burdens. Bike projects that cost thousands or millions are subject to the same kinds of burdensome processes as highway projects that cost billions. For big cities, the administrative burden drives up costs and delays schedules. For smaller jurisdictions, it often means projects just do not get started.

Measure M sets aside two percent for “Metro Active Transportation Program (Bicycle, Pedestrian, Complete Streets).” Two percent may not sound like a lot, but bike facilities are orders of magnitude cheaper than highways and subways, so a little money goes a long way, especially when it is local money with a minimum administrative burden.

Measure M is expected to generate an estimated $860 million annually. Two percent of that is $17 million every year for biking and walking; bicycling would get about half, nearly $9M each year. That is $9M annually in 2017 dollars. With inflation, the first forty years of Measure M are projected to raise $120 billion, so the two percent set-aside totals $2.4 billion, with about $1.2 for bicycling.

But that’s not all! Read more…

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SBLA Editor Joe Linton Featured in Guardian UK Tour of US Car Capitals

Screen shot of today's Guardian article

Screen shot of today’s Guardian article

In September, I had the pleasure of bicycling around Los Angeles with Guardian journalist Nick Van Mead. The reporter was on a tour of three of the United States’ car capitals – Detroit, Houston, and Los Angeles – to understand how car-centric places are moving into a healthier, more multi-modal future.

Today, Van Mead’s article America’s road trip: will the US ever kick the car habit? was published at the Guardian.

Sitting at Relámpago Wheelery, Jimmy Lizama and I related to Van Mead how bicycling in L.A. has come a long way and how we still have a long way to go. Then Van Mead and I rode the 7th Street bike lanes into downtown L.A., checked out pedestrian improvements on Broadway, green bike lanes on Spring Street, and protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street, and rode back on the L.A. River bike path.

I told Van Mead that I was concerned that some reporters drop into L.A. and report tired stories more or less saying “Whoa! Who Knew It!?! There Are Actually Bicyclists in L.A.!!!” I have seen quite a few stories like this, dating back to a 1999 National Public Radio piece. It seems like it is one of my roles to tell reporters that walking and bicycling in L.A. really is not new or news. I like the way Newsweek quoted me on this: “People have been walking in L.A. since before Columbus discovered America.” Unfortunately neither the Guardian nor Newsweek could resist quoting the tired counterpoint from that misleading Missing Persons song.

I was glad to see Van Mead relay my conviction that governmental planning and transportation professionals are “only just catching up with how groups of Angelenos have been using their streets for years.” I find that many people look at L.A. today and read it as: people are bicycling more because there is, finally, some bicycle infrastructure. I tend to read it the opposite way. People have been bicycling for a long time. Bicycling has visibly increased in L.A., especially around 2000-2010, while the city did next to nothing for bikes. Now, finally, L.A. is implementing bike infrastructure to catch up with people already bicycling.

My point underscores what L.A. County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Tamika Butler states in the article:

If this is the number of people cycling without very good infrastructure, then you will really see that jump when we have better lanes.

L.A. City Department of Transportation General Manager Seleta Reynolds rounds out the article, speaking on the other side of the equation. Read more…

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LACBC’s Tamika Butler Honored by Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals

On Friday, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) announced that Executive Director Tamika Butler will receive the 2016 Professional of the Year – Nonprofit Sector award from the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP). A statement from APBP noted Butler’s growing role as a national leader in the movement to create safer, more attractive, and complete streets and a “more inclusive movement at the local, state, and national level.”

Justin Holmes, ZipCar, Tamika Butler, LA County Bike Coalition, Jacki Bacharach, South Bay Cities Council of Governments Credit:##https://www.nrdc.org/experts/amanda-eaken/accelerating-our-climate-progress-one-share-time## Ted Soqui/NRDC##

Justin Holmes, ZipCar, Tamika Butler, and
Jacki Bacharach, South Bay Cities Council of Governments at NRDC’s 2015 Live, Ride, Share Conference. Credit: Ted Soqui/NRDC

The APBP was particularly enthused by the LACBC’s outreach efforts to support the passage of the Mobility Plan 2035, the city’s long-term mobility strategy last year.

Jessica Roberts, a planner with Alta Planning who is on the Board of APBP and chaired its awards committee, explained why the work on the local mobility plan is so important to an organization with a national reach.

“Los Angeles and the entire region are really important right now, not just to the many people that live there but as a national example,” Roberts explained. “What is in the city’s Mobility Plan demonstrates where our nation needs to go, where active transportation is not an after-thought, but a core strategy…LACBC and Tamika are part of writing that important story.”

The LACBC has already been honored by the Alliance for Walking and Bicycling for their efforts to start and maintain a dialogue with communities beyond just promoting bicycle infrastructure and road diets. Their efforts have become a sort of national model for bicycle and pedestrian organizations to reach out to communities beyond their more comfortable advocacy circles.

After acknowledging the hard work done by the entire LACBC team, especially policy directors Eric Bruins and current policy and outreach coordinator Hyeran Lee, Butler explained how their work on the Mobility Plan was and is important and ongoing.

While the recent decision by a City Council Committee to remove two important road diet and bicycle lane projects from the plan is disappointing, Butler contends that the Plan, and the process around the Plan, make it a success. What drove their work forward was that people beyond the usual suspects seen at City Council and neighborhood meetings were getting involved in the planning process and speaking out for more equitable and environmentally-friendly transportation designs.

“The huge success was that it wasn’t just Streetsblog. It wasn’t just the LACBC. The Mobility Plan was on the news and in the Times. A lot of people were talking about it. A lot of people were engaged,” she said.

Currently, the LACBC is working to overlay the city’s map of dangerous streets that was released as part of its Vision Zero program with the map of infrastructure planned in Mobility 2035. The discussion is ongoing and keeping people engaged is a big part of LACBC’s mission.

“If the city wants to pivot and talk about Vision Zero, we’re ready to talk about Vision Zero,” Butler said.

Butler was also recognized for her growing role as a national leader in the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy fields. In her own words, “There’s not a lot of folks who run bicycle coalitions who are queer folks of color.” It’s a reality that has made her a sort of go-to person to speak on issues of equity and outreach at events and conferences across the country. Read more…

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Metro Bike-Share Opens July 7, Mobility Advocates Team up for Equity

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Metro Bike Share debuts next week. Photo via Allison Mannos

Southern California’s largest bike-share system, Metro Bike Share, debuts next week!

Metro Bike Share will feature 1,000+ bicycles at 65+ docking stations in downtown Los Angeles. Starting July 7, Metro Bike Share will only be available to pass holders who sign up in advance. On August 1, the bike-share system will open to walk-up customers. The system is expected to expand to Pasadena in 2017, and additional L.A. County locations in the future. Metro Bike Share is operated by the Philadelphia-based vendor Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS).

At 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 7, Grand Park will host a bike-share kick-off celebration. The event will feature speakers, free snacks, and music. At the conclusion, riders will hop on bikes and ride to distribute them to bike-share docks throughout the system. Register for the kick-off via Eventbrite; RSVP and share via Facebook event.

Metro's proposed bike-share fare strucutre. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]

Metro’s Bike Share cost to users. Image via Metro

Under Metro’s bike-share fare policy, riders can purchase a $20 unlimited Monthly Pass which covers all 30-minute rides with no per-ride cost. Alternately, less frequent system users can purchase a $40 annual Flex Pass, the pay $1.75 per trip. Walk-up use, which begins August 1, costs $3.50 per ride. For low-income riders, students, and seniors, bikes are available for the Flex Pass cost of $1.75 for up to 30 minutes usage, with no $40 annual fee. Correction: student and senior discount fares are approved, but at a later phase, not available initially. Sign up via the Metro Bike Share website.

The first 1000 riders who sign up for Metro Bike Share will receive a special membership kit including commemorative pins and TAP card.

Metro Bike Share will be L.A. County’s first smart-dock system. Existing systems in Long Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and (expected to debut this summer) West Hollywood, are all smart-bike systems. For those who have never used a bike-share docking system, watch Metro’s instructional video for basic instructions.

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Map of bike-share stations in Downtown L.A. Note that this is a screen-shot, for an up-to-date map go to Metro Bike Share’s dynamic system map.

Bike-share docks have been appearing around downtown Los Angeles, and on social media. There are docks every few blocks from Chinatown to Union Station to the Arts District to L.A. Trade Tech College to Staples Center and in between.

One exciting aspect of the new bike-share system is that Metro is working to make it as accessible as possible to low-income riders. In addition to discounted costs for students, seniors, and those of lower-income and TAP card integration, Metro has teamed up with Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM) and the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) on a $100,000 program to make sure bike-share serves low-income riders. The program is funded by a $75,000 grant from the national Better Bike Share Partnership, with $25,000 in matching funds from Metro.

Generally bike-share systems have not served the mobility needs of very low income people, especially folks who do not have credit cards. MCM’s Maria Sipin states that “MCM recognizes that existing bikeshare systems have not been readily accessible to low-income communities of color, and this system can operate differently. MCM is committed to working with our partners to ensure that low-income communities of color transform this bike share system into one that promotes equity for all.”  Read more…

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#StreetsR4Families- The Los Angeles River Ride

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From the back of my bike in 2012 to fifteen miles on his own bike in 2016…the River Ride also allows me to check on his progress as a bike rider.

Yesterday was the 16th Annual Los Angeles River Ride. The River Ride serves the three-part purpose of fundraiser for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), tour of the L.A. River, and a group ride that brings together hundreds of bicyclists.

After missing the ride for a couple of years due to my vacation plans, I was able to join the 1,500 or so bicyclists that take part in the two-, fifteen-, thirty five-, fifty- or one hundred- mile bicycle routes that are part of the ride.

In recent years, LACBC has made a concerted effort to attract more than just hard-core racers and Livable Streets Advocates culminating in yesterday’s event which featured multiple ways for children to be part of the city’s largest bike party this side of CicLAvia.

Walk n’ Rollers provided bike-related activities such as helmet-painting and a bike rodeo for the littlest bicyclists. The LAPD provided escorts to the two mile and fifteen mile family rides. First 5 L.A. provided subsidies to make the family rides more affordable to families of any income level.

The River Ride happens once a year. Check back to Streetsblog in early 2017 for information on the next ride. After the jump you can find your media from the River Ride via Storify. Read more…

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L.A. County Bike Advocates Nominated For National Awards

Nominee Cynthia Rose interviewed by Clarence Eckerson for an upcoming Streetfilm. Photo by Joe Linton

Nominee Cynthia Rose interviewed by Clarence Eckerson for an upcoming Streetfilm. Photo by Joe Linton

Next week, bike activists will gather in Washington D.C. for the National Bike Summit convened by the League of American Bicyclists. On Monday March 7, the national Alliance for Biking and Walking will be hosting their 2016 Advocacy Awards for excellence in the walk and bike advocacy.

Los Angeles, and its L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, has potential for a near sweep of the five national awards. There are five L.A. finalists named, though two of them are in the same category.

Congratulations and thank you to all the nominees, and especially our friends at the LACBC and Santa Monica Spoke:  Read more…

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My Interview with Tamika Butler: Equity and Social Justice Are Rallying Cries for LACBC’s New Leader

Tamika Butler, new Executive Director of the LACBC, at her desk at LACBC headquarters on Spring Street.

When the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition announced its new Executive Director last December, the early reviews were somewhat mixed. Those close to the hiring process were confident they had the right mix, and many backers of the organization took to social media to embrace the new face of bike advocacy in Los Angeles, Tamika Butler.

But others weren’t so sure. Butler was a relative unknown in the bicycling world, despite a track record of accomplishment at the Liberty Hill Foundation and the Young Invincibles. She even came with a law degree and bar certification. But for those expecting a familiar face, the arrival of someone new to the advocacy scene in the region’s top position was a surprise.

A couple of months later, however, it already feels to a lot of people that she’s always been a part of the local scene.

That said, Butler brings something new to the table. She places the struggle for safe and fun bicycling options into the larger struggle for equity for all communities, especially financially disadvantaged communities of color.

Even though we’re people on bikes, we still live in this world with these other factors, and we still have to bring them into the conversation.”

At the end of our interview, we talk about how a small news item in Santa Monica might be a game-changer for the whole region. I’m going to make you listen (or scroll) to the end to get there. But in another way, LACBC has already changed the game by bringing in a powerful voice for inclusion and equity to the fore in conversations about bicycling and transportation.

And that’s a good thing.

After the jump is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation from a couple of weeks ago. Below is the audio.


Read more…

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Meet the new Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director, Tamika Butler

Last night, the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition met to approve the appointment of their new executive director. This morning, via email, they introduced the bicycling community to their new leader, Tamika Butler.

Image via LACBC.

Image via LACBC.

“I’m really proud of the process and results of the search and couldn’t be more excited about Tamika as our next Executive Director,” says LACBC Board President Steve Boyd in a press statement. “Tamika is the ideal leader to write LACBC’s next chapter.”

While Butler’s name might be new to many in the bicycling advocacy community, her resume is full of impressive advocacy experiences. Currently, she works as the first Director of Social Change Strategies for the Liberty Hill Foundation. During her career she has also served as employment lawyer at the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and as California Director of the Young Invincibles, an advocacy organization aimed at improving the lives and opportunities for young Americans entering the workforce.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege to become the next Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and look forward to continuing the success, growth, and cutting-edge work of the organization. Biking in Los Angeles County has personally changed my life and deepens my love of the region every time I go for a ride,” writes Butler in the same press statement.

“We’re lucky to live and bike in a county full of diverse communities that motivate this talented staff and me to push towards building a healthier, more vibrant Los Angeles County. I am excited to start pedaling, dig deep, and get to work with our members and partners, within and across sectors, as we race to the front lines of the nationwide movement to create bikeable, safe, and sustainable neighborhoods.”

For more on Butler, read the press statement put out by LACBC here or read this interview with Butler when she started her work with Liberty Hill.

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At End of 2014, LA County Bike Coalition Head Jen Klausner To Step Down

L.A. County

L.A. County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Klausner announced today that she is leaving the LACBC as of year end. This 2011 photo shows Klausner (center at podium) celebrating the passage of the city of Los Angeles’ 2010 Bicycle Plan. Klausner is flanked by (left to right) LADOT AGM Amir Sedadi, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Controller Wendy Greuel, and City Councilmember Tom Labonge. Photo via LACBC

Via an email to L.A. County Bicycle Coalition membership this morning, Executive Director Jen Klausner announced that she is leaving her position as of the end of 2014. The organization is at the start of a search process to find her replacement.

Below is an excerpt of her resignation announcement:

Now, with great pride in the good work of LACBC, its extraordinary staff and Board, growing network of local chapters throughout the County, and you, our membership, without whom we could do none of this, I announce that I will be stepping down from my role as Executive Director at the end of 2014. I will continue to support the organization from a different perspective, as I will be looking to get some dirt under my wheels, while attending to other responsibilities and projects.

Our Board President and a dedicated committee have already started to search for a talented new Executive Director to lead LACBC on to new challenges. We will post a job description on our website soon. If you have questions about the search process, or possible candidates to recommend, please email our Search Committee at EDSearch@la-bike.org.

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