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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.

Read more…

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Editorial: Respect Your Advisory Committee, Build a Safer Hyperion Bridge

Members of the Glendale Hyperion Bridge Community Advisory Committee, city staff, and elected officials walk the bridge during their final meeting on August 7. Photo: Don Ward

Members of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge project Community Advisory Committee, city staff, and elected officials walk the bridge during their final meeting on August 7. Photo: Don Ward

There has been quite a bit of proverbial water under the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. Under a great deal of community displeasure in 2013, the city of Los Angeles set aside an outdated bridge retrofit plan and formed an advisory committee to decide the future of the historic span.

The 9-member Glendale-Hyperion Viaduct Improvement Project Community Advisory Committee is a broad cross-section of the local communities. It includes representatives from nearby elected city bodies: the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council, Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, and the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. Rounding it out are folks representing historic preservation, parents from local schools, and concerned non-profits: Friends of the L.A. River, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, L.A. Walks, and the Los Feliz Improvement Association.

The committee has been meeting roughly every other month since December 2013. It reviewed design options and technical studies, and discussed how the bridge could best serve the diverse future transportation needs of all adjacent neighborhoods. The available technical studies focus on delays to car traffic, with no thorough evaluation of safety, health, or environmental outcomes. Even using these stacked-deck car-centric studies, bridge bike lanes and sidewalks not only appear feasible, but perform better than the existing bridge configuration.

At the committee’s final meeting on August 7, they were unable to come to a full consensus on a final recommendation for the configuration of the bridge.

So, as folks do in democracies, they took a vote.

The final vote was 6 to 3 in favor of the “Option 3” road diet configuration. Option 3 reduces one car travel lane, resulting in three car lanes (one northbound, two southbound), two bike lanes, and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. The Community Advisory Committee completed their task; their advice to the city is to include two sidewalks and two bike lanes on the new bridge.

Option 3 is a compromise. Read more…

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Active Streets Participants Explore Vermont Square in South L.A.

Participants in the Active Streets walk gather behind the Vermont Square Library.  Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Participants in the Active Streets walk gather behind the Vermont Square Library to debrief about the walk. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

“This is such a pretty neighborhood!”

It was a comment I heard several times over the course of the Active Streets event held at Vermont Square park (48th and Budlong) last weekend.

For people unfamiliar with South L.A., the neighborhood appeared to have defied expectations. It certainly defied stereotypes — the winter sky shimmered, the almost two-block-long park behind the homey library sparkled, people’s well-kept homes and yards looked inviting, and the streets were largely clean and peaceful.

It didn’t mean there weren’t issues, of course.

On the short walk the two dozen participants took around the neighborhood to document pedestrian issues, everyone stopped to snap photos of broken asphalt at the ends of driveways and alleys and the dislodged fire hydrant on a quiet corner that a drunk driver had likely slammed into.

Some idiot knocked over a fire hydrant. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Some idiot knocked over a fire hydrant. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

The residents didn’t seem as taken with the state of the alleys as the non-residents did.

So many of the alleys have been gated for so long that, while they don’t love them, neighbors don’t always notice them the way that they might be put out by the aggressive, in-your-face blight that is a vacant lot. Read more…

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Holiday Food for Thought: A Better Way to Bike Share?

Colin Bogart (LACBC) and Diego Binatena, an Eagle Scout who put together a bikeshare program for two residential facilities for the homeless, stand next to the newly donated bikes at PATH in Hollywood. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Colin Bogart (LACBC) and Diego Binatena, an Eagle Scout and Olympic cycling hopeful who put together a bike share program for two residential facilities for the homeless, stand next to the newly donated bikes at PATH in Hollywood. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Gesturing toward the new bicycles that he and Eagle Scout Diego Binatena had just locked up to the rack at one of PATH‘s residential facilities, the LACBC‘s Colin Bogart noted that the bikes represented the ultimate in self-sufficiency.

For the recipients of the new bikes they may be that and much, much more.

Megan Colvard, Associate Director of Community Engagement at PATH — the largest provider of permanent supportive housing and other services to the homeless — looked at the bikes as a way to help mitigate the social isolation that those they serve often experience. Eric Hubbard, Development Director at Jovenes Inc. — one of the few organizations in the region that focuses on helping homeless youth access supportive housing, skills training, and employment support — felt the bikes could be one more tool in helping their youth go from Invisible to Invincible.

In addition to all that, I realized, Diego Binatena, the 17-year-old Eagle Scout who had put together the mini-bike share programs for PATH and Jovenes, may have come up with a more manageable and easily replicable approach to bike share than any of the proposals we’ve seen so far.

I looked at the gangly Olympic hopeful and wondered if he really grasped the extent of what he had just done.

It’s entirely possible that he did.

A Scout since first grade and son of Santa Monica Housing Authority Administrator Julie Lansing, community service and helping those in need had always been an important part of his life. So had biking. Just this year, he won a number of races, including the California Junior State Road Championships and was recruited by the USA Cycling National Team to race in Europe.

When it came time for him to do his Eagle Scout Service Project — a project intended to deliver benefits of some significance to the community while demonstrating the Scout’s ability for leadership — marrying his love for bicycles with his desire to help the homeless in a bike share program seemed like a good way forward.

After hearing that the LACBC had bikes they might be able to donate to his project, he headed for the drawing board. Read more…

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Riders Reclaim Central Ave. for Bikes for a Few Happy Hours

Members of the World Riders proudly roll up Central. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

For much of the time that I lived in Sevilla, Spain, I lived adjacent to the surprisingly still-formidable walls that once surrounded the old city and were constructed (for the second time) in the 11th century.

History was everywhere you looked, often making the connection between past and present seamless. Because so many of the festivals revolve around tradition and take place in the historic spaces, regardless of whether you felt reassured or oppressed by history and tradition, you were always conscious of where you were and who had gone before you.

In L.A., the transient nature of people and constant turnover or transformation of structures means that tapping into that past is often much more of a challenge.

It doesn’t help that some of our historic corridors, like Central Ave., have fallen into disrepair or are overshadowed by negative stereotypes and/or characterizations of present-day problems. The wariness of visitors to explore Watts, for example, means that most are unaware that the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), located at 108th and Central, is home to a wonderful civil rights museum that houses a recreation of a ship’s slave hold, a Mississippi Delta scene from the Reconstruction Era, and rooms with more modern artifacts, including a jail cell, “Whites Only” signage, a diner counter, photographs, sculptures, and blackface/minstrel memorabilia.

Other sites have taken on a new life that offers few clues to the past. The Lincoln Theater (located at 23rd and Central), a historical monument and once a key venue for African-American entertainment, like many spaces along Central, has since been converted into a Latino church. The boisterous preaching and song that filter out through the doors of what is now Iglesia Jesucristo de Judá on Sunday mornings bear little resemblance to the soundscapes jazz greats created in the past. The Dunbar (at 42nd and Central), also a important historical site in jazz and African-American history, has recently been converted into senior housing. While the interior has been gorgeously remodeled and stocked with memorabilia from the era, the absence of a musical venue open to the public means the burden of conjuring the glory of the past falls largely on the observer. Or, on engaging with local residents who have roots in the area, a number of whom are still around.

The fact that you must scavenger hunt for history is also part of what makes events like Sunday’s bike ride along Central from Watts to Little Tokyo so special.

Riders take a lunch break at a park across the street from the Dunbar Hotel. Photo: John Jones III, East Side Riders BC

The ride was part of the Experience Central Avenue campaign, a collaborative effort by TRUST South L.A., Community Health Councils (CHC), and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), to engage communities on the future of Central Ave. Given that the LADOT will be implementing bike and pedestrian improvements along that corridor over the next few years, now is the perfect time to revisit the physical and social history of the area while looking for ways to both celebrate that past and make the area more accessible for all.

The partnership between these organizations, whose constituent bases reside both north and south of the 10 freeway, meant that there were a lot of new faces in the crowd on Sunday. In fact, I was pleasantly stunned to see such a diverse crowd rolling at least 80 deep towards me when I met the riders around Central and Manchester. South L.A. staples, the United Riders of South L.A.,  were out in force and were joined by the World Riders (a newer group based near USC), Shuntain Thomas and family (who organize the Peace, Love, and Family ride), and some residents from along Central who had learned about the ride at CicLAvia. The participation of the LACBC enticed students from the planning school at UCLA and other members and supporters, many of whom had not visited the area previously.

The history lessons Andres Ramirez (from CHC) offered at each stop gave many new insights into the area. Read more…