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Pledge Drive Special Today! Support Streetsblog Los Angeles!

I want to make a personal appeal to Angelenos to support Streetsblog Los Angeles.

It’s pledge drive time. If you haven’t stepped up already, please make a donation today. Contribute today and you’ll be entered in our special sweepstakes – see details below.

I’ve been doing bicycle advocacy in Los Angeles for more than 15 years. In the mid-1990s it seemed like I personally knew most cyclists I encountered on L.A. streets, because there weren’t too many of us. Today, there are many more cyclists: young and old, native and immigrant, fast and slow. Greater Los Angeles is seeing an unprecedented increase in bike facilities.

Bicycling, walking and transit are taken more seriously. These modes are up locally and statewide. There are frequent national stories about how, overall, driving mileage is declining.

But there’s still a long way to go.

The overwhelming majority of transportation dollars still go to automobile facilities. Many governmental agency planners and engineers, broadcast media, many elected officials, and others, still see L.A. as a place where cars are the only way to get around. Halfway-ambitious street projects and plans still get bogged down. Crashes, many of them hit and run, are still killing and maiming dire numbers of Angelenos.

Streetsblog Los Angeles is the go-to source for news on these issues.

It’s not just L.A. – there’s an entire network. When you give to Streetsblog you’re helping to set the agenda for streets and transportation policy at the national level and in cities across the country. Federal officials pay close attention to Streetsblog’s reporting. Capitol Hill staffers use our analysis to brief members of Congress. Metro boardmembers, city councilmembers, and advocates bring back to their cities best practices they first read about on Streetsblog. Small-scale struggles for better cities catch fire when they get national attention on this site.

I am happy that past reader support of Streetsblog Los Angeles enables me to work here and track and report on issues that you and I care about. Your support has helped us to expand coverage, into Long Beach, Santa Monica, and now statewide. If you appreciate the work that I and my colleagues do, please donate today. Keep Streetsblog strong, healthy, and independent.

Donate by midnight tonight and you could win $200 worth of Velocio bike apparel!

Like many media outlets, Streetsblog is grappling with how to survive and thrive financially. We believe our readers value the impact of our reporting and will contribute to keep it going. If you agree, don’t assume other people will take care of it. Please make a secure, tax-deductible donation today

This week, bike apparel maker Velocio has generously put up a $200 gift certificate for their goods, to be awarded to one lucky donor who gives before midnight tonight –  Tuesday May 27th.

Thank you Velocio, and thank you to everyone who’s pitched in to the pledge drive. Keep it going this week and help us finish strong.

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Streetsblog Receives Three Final Nominations (So Far) from L.A. Press Club

The Los Angeles Press Club announced about half of the finalists for awards at its annual banquet. Thus far, Streetsblog Los Angeles’ staff is nominated for three awards. We are still awaiting word on five other nominations (two more for Sahra Sulaiman, one for me, one for Brian Addison and Streetsblog Los Angeles itself as “best blog).

Award-winning journalism isn’t free, and during Streetsblog’s pledge drive month; its doubly important that if you haven’t given to Streetsblog before, or haven’t done so in awhile, you consider doing so today.

What’s striking about our three nominations thus far is how they demonstrate the growth Streetsblog experienced in past years into a multi-platform news organization.

Online Journalist of the Year: Sahra Sulaiman

Sherika Simms holds the last photo taken of her brother, Maurio Proctor, outside one of their childhood apartments in Jordan Downs. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Sherika Simms holds the last photo taken of her brother, Maurio Proctor, outside one of their childhood apartments in Jordan Downs. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

The Press Club highlights the beginning of Sahra’s series on community violence and how it impacts Livable Streets. As we saw with Fidel last year, the nomination and story itself mean more to those portrayed than they do the author. This is one of many signs of how unique and important Sahra’s work is. If you haven’t read, “Death and All His Friends Cast Long Shadows When They Appear in the Public Space,” set aside some time over the next week to do so.

News Photo: Sahra Sulaiman

Jose Vazquez leaves a candle at the ghost bike memorial for Andy Garcia, killed last month in a vicious hit-and-run. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

While Sahra’s coverage of the tragic hit and run crash that killed Andy Garcia was one of our most-read stories of 2013-2014; for many people it’s this picture of Jose Vazquez lighting a candle at Garcia’s memorial that many will remember. Beautiful, sad and haunting it has long been one of my favorite pieces of Sahra’s many photographic contributions despite the sad moment it captures.

Online Multi-Media Package: Kris Fortin, Shireen Alihaji, Damien Newton

When I first approached Kris and Shireen about this project, I was proposing “something like a Streetfilm” for each of the candidates. But the two film-makers who took the lead on this project had a more documentary-film style which served the series well…and they still managed to add some humor and light moments from our interviews into the final project. After we released the edited videos, we also released the full (nearly) unedited audio.

Last year, we were finalists for three awards. While we hope to have even more of our work recognized, for a small outlet such as ours to be continually tapped is a testament to our team.

Of course, we wouldn’t exist without your support as readers, commenters, tipsters and donors. It’s that last role I’m asking you to fill today. To help us continue to grow and produce quality independent journalism, make a donation by clicking here.

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SBLA Editor Damien Newton Honored by Society of Professional Journalists

Last night at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, the Society of Professional Journalists honored Streetsblog Los Angeles’ founding editor, and the Southern California Streets Initiatives’ Executive Director Damien Newton for “Distinguished Work in New Media.” Congratulations, Damien! You’ve done great work and deserve the acknowledgements you’re now receiving.

Newton and Linton (who presented Damien with the award) at the SPJLA Awards dinner last night. Photo Dawn Newton

Damien Newton and Joe Linton (who presented Damien with the award) at the SPJLA Awards dinner last night. Photo Dawn Newton

Less than four years ago, Streetsblog Los Angeles faced challenges due to a changing funding landscape, particularly with our primary funder at the time. SBLA formed our own non-profit, the Southern California Streets Initiative. We’re happy that, under Damien’s leadership, SCSI is thriving, with not just Streetsblog Los Angeles publishing online but also Long BeachizeSanta Monica Next, and expanded coverage of California statewide issues.

Last night’s honor is just the most recent in a string of awards for Streetsblog Los Angeles. Last year, SBLA was recognized by the Los Angeles Section of the American Planning Association for excellence in journalism. Sahra Sulaiman was singled out by the APA. Both Sulaiman and Newton were honored for individual pieces by the Los Angeles Press Club.

From its founding in 2008, through the challenges of 2010, through the victories of the past two years; Streetsblog Los Angeles, and its companion websites, have thrived because of the support of our readers.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, SCSI relies nearly exclusively on grants and individual donations for our financial support. If you value the work that Damien and his staff do, and you want to see it continue and grow, please support Streetsblog by giving to Streetsblog, Santa Monica Next, or Long Beachize.

And congratulate Damien in the comments below.

(Juan Matute is the president of the board of directors of the Southern California Streets Initiative.)

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We’re Hiring: Streetsblog Is Searching for a Managing Editor

Streetsblog is looking for a talented journalist to shape and oversee coverage throughout our growing family of news sites.

The Managing Editor will work with the Editor-in-Chief and our roster of editors and reporters to hone Streetsblog’s coverage of transportation and planning issues, grow our audience, and bring our brand of advocacy journalism to more cities.

We welcome applications from journalists with extensive experience in new media and a keen sense of transportation policy and politics, who share our vision of Streetsblog as a respected, influential source of information and commentary.

Job description

Streetsblog currently publishes four city-based sites, a national policy and livable streets news site, and highlights from bloggers around the country who belong to the Streetsblog Network. Reporting to the Editor-in-Chief, the Managing Editor will work directly with our team of reporters and editors to assign and select stories, edit drafts for content and style, write headlines, present graphics, and share content on social media.

Streetsblog content runs the gamut from video- or photo-based posts with scant text to 2,000-word enterprise pieces with detailed reporting. On any given day, stories might deal with bikeway design, infrastructure financing, traffic-related case law, parking policy, or a range of other topics that affect the quality of city streets. Most posts must be situated within a specific political context and/or advocacy campaign. The Managing Editor will shape and fine-tune every type of post, from headline to kicker, to achieve the desired impact.

In addition to possessing excellent writing and editing skills, applicants should be enthusiastic about the notion that journalism can be conducted with integrity and fidelity to the truth while espousing a clear point of view. The ideal candidate will have the background knowledge and analytical skills to accurately process information and make sense of it for a mass audience in a timely manner. A passion for livable streets is essential.

The managing editor will:

  • Work remotely with other editors and reporters to structure, refine, fact-check, and copy edit their work, creating a daily stream of original news and content for audiences in multiple cities.
  • Think strategically about how to cover ongoing stories, such as pieces of legislation or specific street redesigns, and apply those strategies to the development of content.
  • Manage the appearance of Streetsblog landing pages by writing heds and deks and selecting graphics.
  • Report and write original news and commentary, as time permits.
  • Assist the Editor in Chief and Development Director with business development and fundraising as needed.
  • Oversee the launch of Streetsblog expansion sites together with the Editor in Chief.

Qualifications

  • Excellent writing and reporting skills, as evidenced by clips.
  • Deep knowledge of progressive urban planning, transportation, and land use topics.
  • Previous experience editing reporters, ideally covering transportation or planning issues.
  • Experience with WordPress or other blogging/content production platforms, familiarity with basic HTML and basic PhotoShop, experience using Twitter and Facebook as media platforms.

Salary commensurate with experience. While preference will be given to candidates based in NYC, the Managing Editor may be based anywhere in the United States.

To apply

Send a resume, cover letter, and relevant clips/links to ben@streetsblog.org.

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Society of Professional Journalists Recognizes Damien Newton for “Distinguished Work in New Media”

Earlier today, the Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recognized Streetsblog Los Angeles editor Damien Newton for “Distinguished Work in New Media” for 2013.

Newton and his stunt double at the March 2010 signing of the City of Los Angeles Bike Plan. Photo: Carter Rubin

Newton and his stunt double at the March 2010 signing of the City of Los Angeles Bike Plan. Photo: Carter Rubin

The Distinguished Work in New Media award was created in 2008 and is given to a journalist who uses the new media’s unique characteristics and capabilities while striving to uphold traditional journalism’s highest standards of honesty, accuracy, responsibility and accountability.

In response to receiving this honor, Newton released the following statement:

“I am truly humbled by all of the recognition Streetsblog Los Angeles received this year starting with the American Planning Association, continuing with the Los Angeles Press Club, Los Angeles City Council, and Annenberg School of Journalism, and now from the Society of Professional Journalists. While my name is on the plaque, any award won by a member of our team is a reflection on all the writers, editors, donors, commenters and board members that works so hard to produce Streetsblog Los Angeles, Santa Monica Next and LongBeachize every single week day.

In particular, I would like to share this honor with Sahra Sulaiman, a uniquely talented and dedicated writer whose work has literally changed the way people think about Streetsblog and the communities that she covers.

A special thanks also to my family, especially Marybeth and my Mother, who supported my vision for Streetsblog in easy and hard times.

And last, a thanks to OpenPlans, the founders of all the Streetsblogs and our partners in publishing. “

The awards banquet will be held in Spring of 2014, with the date and location to be announced.

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Where’s Damien?

Sorry for the delay in getting our content up today. I’ve been out of the office doing some research for an upcoming series of stories. So where was I? I’ve put a teaser video above, and the first person to correctly say where I was this morning in the comments section wins a Streetsblog t-shirt.

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The Big Surprise: We’re Hiring for Two Full Time Positions

Streetsblog is happy to announce that tomorrow morning we are going to post two new, full time, job openings on the jobs board. Both are writing positions for Streetsblog Los Angeles beginning in early 2014.

streetsblog-logo-sxswThe first position is full-time writing position for Streetsblog Los Angeles covering the city of Los Angeles, maintaining the calendar, and writing The Week in Livable Streets Events. The ideal candidate will display a knowledge of city government and Metro, ability to work under deadline, and of course a passion for all things Livable Streets.

Bringing on a new staff writer will allow for Damien to become more of an actual editor for Streetsblog Los Angeles, Santa Monica Next and Long Beachize, while handling the administrative details and fundraising. The writer will work with Damien and Sahra and Gary and Brian and our Board of Directors and freelancers to provide a more complete picture of transportation, planning, open space and public health in Greater Los Angeles.

Some Streetsblog readers guessed at the first piece of news, but the second is even more exciting and definitely more surprising. We weren’t even sure this was going to happen until last week.

Streetsblog Los Angeles will also be hiring a Sacramento-based writer to cover the legislature, executive branch, Caltrans, High-Speed Rail and other issues outside of the Greater Los Angeles and Bay Areas. We’ll be working closely with  Streetsblog San Francisco editor Aaron Bialick and the rest of the Streetsblog team at OpenPlans to ensure that we’re providing the same kind of equitable and in-depth coverage to issues around the state.

The Los Angeles position is funded by The David Bohnett Foundation, reader donations, and a large anonymous contribution. The Sacramento position is funded by The California Endowment and the same anonymous donor. Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our readers, donors, friends and tipsters.

You can find the text of the application for the Los Angeles position and Sacramento position on Google Drive. They will be available tomorrow on the Streetsblog jobs board.

Streetsblog NYC 18 Comments

Fox Business Tries and Fails to Capture the Dorothy Rabinowitz Magic

 

Might the talking heads at Fox Business turn their gaze to the Plaza Hotel’s lawsuit against a nearby Citi Bike station and sneer at the frivolous litigation tying up our courts? Of course not.

Watch Dorothy Rabinowitz wannabes Melissa Francis and Fred Tecce spend four and half minutes in faux-libertarian outrage over the installation of bike-share stations on public streets. The gall!

So, yes, Streetsblog is taking the bait and embedding their clip, but when it comes to pageviews, I don’t think this one will come close to matching Rabinowitz, creator of the original and best crazy Citi Bike screed. A few reasons:

  • The catchphrases stink. Dorothy Rabinowitz gave us “the bike-lobby is an all-powerful enterprise,” the alliterative “blazing blue Citi Bank bikes,” and “do not ask me to enter the mind of the totalitarians.” When she said the word “begrimed,” you were transfixed. After watching Francis and Tecce, I came away with some vague images of snails, frogs, and pigs, but nothing really stuck in my head.
  • It’s too canned. The Rabinowitz video was a genuine cri de coeur. She was saying all these insane things, and she really meant them. The Francis and Tecce bit is full of mugging and hamming it up for the camera. It’s got theatrical sighs and forced laughter, but no soul.
  • Reality intrudes. Rabinowitz maintained a consistent internal hallucination from start to finish. In her world, she just had to speak for the silent, bike-share-hating majority. In this Fox Business segment, when Francis acknowledges that she must be in the minority, reality manages to puncture the fantasy.
Streetsblog NYC 48 Comments

NYC’s First Speed Cameras Will Go Into Effect When Kids Head Back to School

Mayor Bloomberg joined Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and NYPD Chief of Transportation James Tuller outside a Crown Heights high school this morning to announce the impending launch of the city’s first automated speed enforcement program. Cameras issuing fines for drivers who exceed the speed limit by 10 mph or more will begin operating on September 9, when students head back to school, though for the first few weeks the program will only send violators warnings.

On Eastern Parkway this morning, Bloomberg addressed the need to enforce the NYC speed limit. Photo: @JohnSurico

Speeding was the leading cause of traffic deaths in NYC last year, contributing to 81 fatal crashes. Still, the state law enabling automated enforcement of the speed limit — which passed after several previous attempts had died in Albany — includes several restrictions. The city has just 20 cameras to work with, and they can only be placed within a quarter-mile of schools. They can’t be operated at times when classes or after-school activities are not in session. On the plus side, the city will be able to move the cameras to different locations, providing some flexibility that should help reduce egregious speeding on a greater share of NYC’s 6,000-mile street network.

To prevent motorists from selectively slowing down near known camera locations, the city is not disclosing the locations of these enforcement cameras. However, the site of today’s press event — W.E.B. DuBois High School on Eastern Parkway and Bedford Avenue — is “a candidate to receive speed camera technology nearby due to a high crash rate in its vicinity,” according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

“Keeping streets safe for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians is one of the most important public safety challenges any government faces,” Bloomberg said in the announcement. “Our streets are the safest they have ever been, due in large part to our enforcement efforts and innovative traffic engineering that have brought traffic fatalities to record lows. Curbing speeding around schools will help us continue to make our City’s streets safer for everyone.”

The cameras will start monitoring speeds on the first day of the school year, September 9, but the mayor’s office says the $50 fines for violators won’t start until a few weeks later:

DOT will begin the five-year program with a combination of fixed and mobile cameras at unspecified locations, which will be determined based upon factors such as crash and injury data, rates of speed and road geometry. During the initial weeks of the program and in order to send a message to speeders, DOT will only issue warning notices to motorists found on camera to be speeding in excess of 10 or more miles above the posted speed limit before eventually issuing $50 fines for the offense. Violations would be issued to the vehicle owner and will be adjudicated by the New York Parking Violations Bureau.

Streetsblog NYC 18 Comments

Meet Streetmix, the Website Where You Can Design Your Own Street

Streetmix lets users mix and match design elements to create the street of their dreams. Image: Streetmix

Last fall, Lou Huang was at a community meeting for the initiative to redesign Second Street in San Francisco. Planners handed out paper cutouts, allowing participants to mix and match to create their ideal street. Huang, an urban designer himself, thought the exercise would make for a great website. Now, after months of work beginning at a January hackathon with colleagues at Code for America, it is a great website.

The principle behind Streetmix is simple: it brings drag-and-drop functionality to a basic street design template. Users select a road width and add or remove everything from light rail to wayfinding signs, adjusting the size of each feature meet their specifications.

“It’s a little bit like a video game,” collaborator Marcin Wichary said. ”We were very inspired by SimCity.”

But Streetmix is more than just a fun way for amateur street designers to spend an afternoon. “What we want to focus on is, how can this enable meaningful conversations around streets?” Wichary said. “For many people it’s a kind of entry point.”

The first version of Streetmix went online in January, but the latest version, which has new features and a slicker design, launched less than two weeks ago. In that short time, advocates have used the website to illustrate possibilities for Dexter Avenue in Seattle and Route 35 on the Jersey Shore. Streetmix has profiled how people from Vancouver to Cleveland use the website. Residents of Sioux Center, Iowa, even used Streetmix illustrations in their campaign to stop the state DOT’s road widening plan in their town.

“It’s giving power back to the people, allowing them to vocalize what their streetscape priorities are,” Huang said.

Read more…