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Amended Hit-and-Run Alert System Bill Sails Through Committee

After last week’s warning that Assemblymember Mike Gatto’s legislation to create a “Yellow Alert” system was imperiled by Senate Transportation and Housing Committee staff and the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) objections, there was a feeling of a looming showdown before today’s committee hearing. Assembly Bill 8 would create a system to use electronic road signs and the emergency alert system to notify people when a deadly hit-and-run crash occurred to help apprehend suspects. A similar system has proven effective in Colorado.

Screen grab of Asm. Mike Gatto at today's Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

Screen grab of Asm. Mike Gatto at today’s Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

However, the fireworks were kept to a minimum. A.B. 8 advanced with a unanimous committee vote. The committee chair, Senator Jim Beall, was not present, somewhat nullifying the announcement that he was urging a “no” vote on the legislation.

As for the CHP, Gatto staff had worked with the department to amend the legislation to address “95 percent of their concerns.” While the Highway Patrol was officially urging a “no” vote, its lobbyist all but stated that the CHP would support an amended bill but had not had a chance to review it yet. Under the amended bill, it will be the California Highway Patrol, not Caltrans, that determines whether or not variable message signs broadcast information about deadly hit-and-run drivers in the area near where the crime was committed.

Similar legislation passed with overwhelming support last year, but was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown, who cited the recently created “Silver Alert” following unexplained disappearances of senior citizens or people who are physically or mentally impaired. Brown was worried that adding the “Yellow Alert” in addition to the “Silver Alert” to the four pre-existing alerts could overwhelm the system.

Senator Ted Gaines brought up the Governor’s concerns to discover if Gatto had any insight on whether or not it could cause a second veto. After brief discussion, the committee and Gatto asserted that they had never personally seen a Silver Alert on the highway signs. Statistics backed their anecdotal accounts. There are some areas of the state that have not had a single “Silver Alert” campaign.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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CHP Opposes Gatto’s Yellow Alert for Hit-and-Run Legislation

Earlier this week, news slowly leaked out that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) was opposing Assembly Bill 8, legislation by Asm. Mike Gatto that would create a “yellow alert” system after deadly hit-and-run crashes. The system would use electronic road signs and the emergency alert system to notify people when a deadly hit-and-run crash occurred to help apprehend suspects. A similar system has proven effective in Colorado.

Assemblymember Mike Gatto speaking on the importance of reducing hit-and-run crimes.

Assemblymember Mike Gatto speaking on the importance of reducing hit-and-run crimes. Behind Gatto are, left to right, LACBC’s Eric Bruins, two LAPD representatives, L.A. Councilmember Mitch Englander, and Finish the Ride’s Damian Kevitt. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

If you can’t see the embed of the CHP’s letter of opposition, you can read it here (PDF).

The California Highway Patrol gives three reasons for its opposition. The first is that there will be too many alerts added to a system that already broadcasts alerts for abducted children, missing seniors or mentally disabled people, and information about other dangerous criminals. The second is that, because of legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to earn driver’s licenses, there is no need for the system. The third is that adding a fourth kind of alert would confuse the system, as there is no way to prioritize the messages, should multiple alerts be out at the same time.

As one would expect, Gatto doesn’t agree with the CHP’s evaluation.

“We are currently working with CHP to discuss the complexity of the hit-and-run epidemic in California.  To be clear, use of the Yellow Alert system would be limited to the general vicinity of where the hit-and-run resulting in serious bodily injury or death occurred,” writes Gatto in a statement to Streetsblog.

“The current alert system in our state is not overburdened as evidenced by its use to display messages urging Californians to “buckle up” or “conserve water” during the drought.

To address concerns regarding the prioritization of alerts — we plan on taking a friendly amendment to clarify CHP’s ability to prioritize the alerts if they happen to occur on the same day.  I would also like to point out that California does not broadcast the Silver Alert on our changeable message signs.”

The expectation that AB 60 will lead to a drop in hit-and-runs because more drivers will be licensed actually undercuts the other arguments. Yes, creating safer roads through more universal licensing was a goal of AB 60. But the hit-and-run crisis cannot be reduced to an immigration issue. And even the CHP seems unconvinced of their own position, arguing, in essence, that there would be too many alerts and it would clog the system, not enough alerts to justify an addition to the system, and too many alerts and it would confuse the system in just three paragraphs.

“The CHP wants it both ways,” writes Jim Brown with Sacramento Area Bike Advocates. “They say AB 8 might create too many alerts. Then they turn around and say that giving driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers could reduce the incidence hit-and-runs to the point that alerts aren’t really necessary.”

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Affordable Housing Awards from Cap-and-Trade Funds Announced

anchorvillageStockton

Funding from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program could help transform this corner of Stockton. Images: top, Google Street View; bottom, courtesy Domus Development

On Monday, the California Strategic Growth Council announced its recommendations for the first round of funding under the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program. SGC staff recommended 28 projects, to be awarded a total of $122 million. The projects are split about evenly between Northern and Southern California.

Most of the recommended projects are for infill housing that include some transit, pedestrian, or bicycle improvements.

The Affordable Housing program is funded by California’s cap-and-trade auctions. By law, auction proceeds must be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The AHSC was formed in recognition of the role that affordable housing can play in reducing emissions. That is, if housing is built near transit and with quality connections for biking and walking, it’s easier for residents to choose alternatives to driving, and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is found to be especially true with affordable housing.

The program is ambitious. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the funds must also benefit disadvantaged communities. The Strategic Growth Council has also added other goals such as creating collaborations among entities working on housing and transportation–encouraging public agencies and private developers to work together, and housing developers to coordinate with transportation planners. Because of its complex requirements, staff created a two-step application process, in which potential grantees first submitted a simplified application. Those that were deemed likely to be eligible were invited to complete the more complex, detailed second application. Fifty-four projects were invited to apply in the second round, and offered assistance throughout the process.

The program awarded funds to projects all over the state: in nine regions, fifteen counties, 21 different cities. “I’m very pleased with the geographic distribution,” said McCoy. “One of our goals was to have projects that could serve as regional and local examples of what could be done. A diversity of places was important to us.”

He says that in the final scoring, they made no allowance for geography other than the cap on how much money any one locality could be awarded. Some otherwise worthy projects did not get grants in this round because of that cap. Others didn’t make the list simply because of the limited funds available.

The staff recommendations are expected to be approved by the Council at its next meeting on June 30. In July, a series of workshops is planned to discuss lessons learned from this first round of funding. (See end of post for details.)

“We’ve learned so many things in this round,” said Mike McCoy, director of the SGC. “It’s been great to roll up our sleeves and get something out in twelve months, rather than philosophize for a couple of years about how this could be done.”

“And we’re coming right back in July to talk about revisions to the guidelines.”

Most of the projects recommended for funding are infill housing projects near transit, and many include some element of transportation infrastructure to improve connections to transit or encourage active transportation. For example, a senior housing project in Hayward will build new sidewalks, improve street lighting and crosswalks in the surrounding neighborhood, and create wayfinding between the project and the nearby BART station. It will also include bike lockers so residents can safely store their bicycles in an easily accessible location. Another project, the Westside Infill Transit Oriented Development in National City, will include construction of bike lanes, pedestrian pathways, and ADA enhancements in the surrounding neighborhood.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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San Diego Mayor and City Leaders Embrace Vision Zero

Flanked by city officials, fellow elected officials, the chief of police and the head of the progressive transportation advocacy group Circulate San Diego, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced their support for San Diego to embrace Vision Zero. Faulconer promises his administration will produce a plan to reduce traffic deaths in the city to zero through progressive transportation planning and law enforcement that puts safety above all other considerations.

For a full copy of the report, click on the image or click ##http://circulatesd.nationbuilder.com/visionzerosd##here.##

For a full copy of the report, click on the image or click here.

Vision Zero is modeled after the Swedish Government’s initiative to use progressive transportation planning and law enforcement to reduce the number of transportation-related fatalities to zero. In Sweden, the plan has proved an overwhelming success. Only three of every 100,000 Swedes die in traffic crashes. Prior to the implementation of Vision Zero policies in 1997, that number was seven of every 100,000 Swedes killed in traffic crashes.

This compares with 5.5 per 100,000 across the European Union, and 11.4 in America. Sweden’s roads are the safest in the world. America has over three times as many per capita fatalities.

”There is nothing more important than public safety, which is why we’re working toward the goal of zero traffic deaths in the City of San Diego,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We’re making great strides to become a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city by investing in our infrastructure and making safety a top priority in all street projects. Whether you drive, bike, or walk, safer streets benefit everyone.”

While San Diego may be making strides, there is a lot of room for the city to improve its safety record. According to Vision Zero: Zero Traffic Deaths in San Diego by 2025, a report released in conjunction with today’s press conference by Circulate San Diego,

On average, one person each day is seriously injured or killed while walking, biking, or driving the streets of the City of San Diego…Fatalities among people driving have continuously fallen since 2005, yet fatalities among people walking have increased or remained static in the same time frame, outpacing population growth.

In addition, traffic collisions are the leading cause of deaths for children aged 0-13 in the city. Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Legislative Update: Budget, Cap-and-Trade, LOS, Gas Tax

bikeatCapitollabel2This week the California legislature was mostly focused on the budget, since the Assembly and the Senate must by law present a budget bill to the governor by midnight on Monday, June 15. The joint Budget Conference Committee succeeded in producing an agreement [PDF] well before the deadline; their budget bill, A.B. 93, should be available later today, ready to be voted on in both houses on Monday.

To help meet the deadline, the Conference Committee punted decisions on cap-and-trade revenue expenditures by separating them from the budget process. This will give the legislature more time for discussions on how to allocate the 40 percent of cap-and-trade revenue that is not already assigned to programs by last year’s statute. Of the three spending plans—from the Governor, the Senate, and the Assembly—only the Assembly plan included an allocation for Active Transportation. The Assembly version called for an additional $50 million for transit pass programs and for infrastructure and programs to increase bicycling and walking.

There is still some disagreement about how much money will actually be available from the cap-and-trade program and how much should be allocated. Governor Brown’s May Revise budget proposal outlines expenditures of $2 billion, while the Legislative Analyst Office projects the proceeds to be closer to $2.3 billion. An LAO outline of the different proposals is available [PDF].

Bill to Delay Level of Service (LOS) Reform Amended: A.B. 779, from Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), was amended last week. The Office of Planning and Research (OPR) was required by last year’s S.B. 743 to come up with a way of measuring the effects that new development has on traffic without focusing solely on congestion and delay, as Level of Service currently does. OPR issued a preliminary draft of new guidelines that propose using Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) instead of LOS [PDF], but the guidelines are neither final nor legally binding, yet. As first written, A.B. 779 would have broadened the definition of where the LOS reform could happen automatically; then it was amended to delay the substitution of VMT for LOS. Now, however, it simply authorizes OPR to make the determination that residential and mixed-use projects in areas where transit is frequent are exempt from having to analyze traffic impacts.

Like the rest of California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), this bill is messy, and its outcomes are uncertain and open to political interpretation. Conservatives generally dislike the CEQA rules, and push to gut its environmental protections. Livability advocates generally appreciate CEQA, but oppose the ways that pro-car pro-sprawl LOS has degraded its intent.

The true intent of the bill’s sponsors, the Infill Builders Federation, is not clear. According to the legislative analysis, the group is concerned that having to analyze VMT would create an additional burden that could put infill at a disadvantage—despite the fact that many developers already conduct a VMT analysis, which is simpler than analyzing LOS. The infill group also states that the new guidelines could create an “added litigation burden.”

Under CEQA, if an agency determines that a project will have a less-than-significant impact, it can skip spending time and money on extensive environmental analysis. But CEQA also allows people to sue to force agencies to do a full analysis.

This week’s A.B. 779 amendment would authorize—but not require—OPR to define parameters that, if met by a project, would automatically exempt it from having to analyze its traffic impacts. This may shift the burden of proof away from cities and agencies and on to those who claim an impact. Overall that sounds great for infill and for livability, but the devil is in the details. And as currently written, the bill may have the effect of slowing down OPR’s process for finding a replacement for LOS—as its previous, now amended, iteration would have regulated outright.

Like any bill, A.B. 779 is still in flux. Currently it is in the Senate, waiting for a committee assignment.

Senate Bill to Raise Gas Tax Is Not Dead Yet: Although S.B. 16 did not get out of the Senate before last week’s deadline, an urgency clause attached to it means it is still alive. This bill, from Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would raise money to fix roads in one of the most sensible ways: by raising the gas tax. It would also raise the annual vehicle registration fee, and add a new annual  registration fee to zero-emission vehicles, which pay little to no gas tax. This bill will require a two-thirds vote, and it likely will face an uphill battle.

Email tips, alerts, press releases, ideas, etc. to melanie@streetsblog.org.

For social media coverage focused on statewide issues, follow Melanie @currymel on Twitter or like our Facebook page here.

Via Streetsblog California
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California Legislative Update

bikeatCapitollabel2This week Sacramento saw long hearings in the Senate and Assembly, as both houses pushed to meet their deadline to pass bills. Any bill that doesn’t pass its house of origin by the end of this week is dead–for this year at least.

Herein, our highly selective look at this week’s activities in the California legislature.

Climate Change Legislation
The big news was the package of climate change bills that passed the Senate. Included was S.B. 350, the “Golden State Standards” that would set statewide goals to reduce fossil fuel consumption, increase renewable energy, and increase energy efficiency. The discussion on the floor was entertaining, if you like dramatic posturing. Senator Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) decried the bill as a job killer that would create “coastal elite winners” and “poor inland losers,” condemning it as market manipulation. “This country is great because we haven’t picked winners and losers, we’ve let the market decide,” he railed–ignoring the bill’s language, which sets goals but doesn’t regulate specific market interventions. The bill’s author, Senate President ProTem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), responded with a passionate closing speech on current market inequities, citing a recent IMF report on subsidies to oil industries [PDF]. He called the mystery of why fuel prices rise on busy holidays “one of the great conundrums of the world,” comparable to the Bermuda Triangle and Roswell. In the end the bill passed on a party-line vote, and now goes to the Assembly.

The climate change “package” that passed the Senate included, among others:

  • S.B. 9 from Senator Jim Beall (D-Santa Clara) would remove operations funding from the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program category of cap-and-trade funds and allow them to be used only for large capital projects. Beall claims that large projects would bring larger greenhouse gas reductions—and it would also make it easier to extend BART to his district.
  • S.B. 32 from Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) would extend the emissions limits of California’s Global Warming Solutions act to 2050.
  • S.B. 64 from Senator Carol Liu (D-La Canada/Flintridge) calls for the California Transportation Plan to be “action-oriented” and produce pragmatic recommendation for further greenhouse gas emission reductions in the transportation sector.

Other bills in the package call for developing climate adaptation plans, providing technical assistance to disadvantaged communities, creating a committee to ensure the growth of California clean energy jobs, and more. The package is summarized here.

Bicycles, Hit-and-Run, Toll Lanes 
Most of the bills we’ve been tracking on bicycle issues [PDF] had already moved on and are in the committee process in their second house, with the exception of Carol Liu’s helmet bill. No longer a mandatory helmet use bill, it had become a call to study helmet use. But S.B. 192 got stuck in the Appropriations Committee, which means that it will go no further this year. The committee believed that the study would cost the state more than $150,000, so put it in the “suspense file,” where many bills die unless they can find a way to fund themselves or somehow convince legislators their costs are necessary. In this case, it’s possible the helmet study bill could be resurrected next year—but it’s not clear why a study would need to be required by law. Why not just fund it?

A.B. 8 from Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), which would create a “yellow alert” to help authorities find hit-and-run perpetrators, has sailed through the Assembly. Meanwhile, Assemblymember Eric Linder (R-Corona) pushed A.B. 534, which would have required a mandatory non-negotiable six-month license suspension in hit-and-run convictions, but it failed to pass its committee.

A.B. 194 from Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) would make it easier to convert carpool lanes to toll lanes, known as HOT (High-Occupancy Toll) lanes, passed the Assembly this week.

Development and Planning
A.B. 744 from Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) would prohibit local jurisdictions from imposing minimum parking requirements when a developer requests a lower parking ratio for low-income housing located near transit. This would allow the market to decide what parking is needed, and reduce the cost of low-income housing by reducing the amount of parking built. See earlier coverage here and here. This bill passed the Assembly and now awaits committee assignment in the Senate.

A.B. 779 from Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) is an attack on last session’s S.B. 743, which phases out use of the car-centric Level of Service (LOS) measure under CEQA. This bill tried several ways to undercut the proposed use of Vehicle Miles Traveled as a substitute for LOS, but has been reduced to a delay in those reforms–when they haven’t even been completely formulated yet (see our coverage here). Unfortunately, it passed the Assembly this week.

S.B. 461 from Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) would give L.A. County jurisdiction over the part of State Highway 164, which is Rosemead Blvd, through the Whittier Narrows Recreational Area in the San Gabriel Valley. Bills like this are necessary for cities and counties to take charge of the design and management of highways that have been under the control of Caltrans. S.B. 461 would allow local cities to extend the protected bike lanes along Rosemead Blvd from Temple City south through Rosemead and South El Monte. The ultimate goal is a protected bikeway from the San Gabriel Mountains to the San Gabriel River multi-use path. The bill passed the Senate this week.

Email tips, alerts, press releases, ideas, etc. to melanie@streetsblog.org.

For social media coverage focused on statewide issues, follow Melanie @currymel on Twitter or like our Facebook page here.

Via Streetsblog California
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Where Parking Is Tight, People Find Solutions

Parking on sidewalks has become a sanctioned practice in Westwood Village. Photo: Donald Shoup

Parking on sidewalks has become a sanctioned practice in Westwood Village. Photo: Donald Shoup

UCLA Professor, now Emeritus, Donald Shoup thinks about the ways people find to get around parking limitations—and some of the ramifications of their behavior—in the latest issue of Access magazine from the University of California.

In Westwood Village near UCLA, for example, he finds that people park on driveway aprons, often blocking sidewalks on the crowded streets. Landlords charge their tenants for these parking “spaces” even though the land is publicly owned. Although blocking sidewalks is illegal, enforcement in the area is lax, says Shoup, because it is a student area and the local city councilmember has requested “relaxed enforcement.”

Over time, this has led to an acceptance of parking on sidewalks in the village, with the message clearly being that parking cars is more important than leaving space for pedestrians.

Of course Shoup has some ideas for solving this problem. Overnight residential parking permits would bring in a little bit of revenue and be relatively simple to enforce, needing only one round each night to cite illegally parked cars. Charging the same price for the permits as nearby UCLA parking structures would bring in even more revenue.

As always, Shoup strongly suggests that any revenue thus earned should be spent on improving the area where it is collected–for example by fixing sidewalks, planting trees, filling potholes, and improving public safety, all of which are needed in this part of Westwood.

It’s difficult to convince people to change, he says, especially when they believe they benefit from something like free parking. However,

If curb parking is free, entrepreneurs will find ways to create informal markets that serve drivers who are willing to pay for convenience. These informal markets respond to the problems caused almost entirely by free curb parking. The shortage of free curb parking is not merely a problem, however. It is also an opportunity to create a formal market with fair prices that efficiently allocate land for parking. A formal market for on-street parking will reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, and will generate ample revenue to pay for neighborhood public services.

Access magazine publishes transportation research from the University of California Center on Economic Competitiveness (UCConnect). The Spring 2015 issue containing Shoup’s article also features:

Via Streetsblog California
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Damien Talks Episode 5: Councilwoman Marina Khubesrian

Image: ##http://eebalumninews.lifesci.ucla.edu/?p=345##UCLA##

Image: UCLA

This week, #DamienTalks to South Pasadena Councilwoman Marina Khubesrian. Khubesrian, who happens to be a medical doctor for her day job, is also one of the leaders of the Beyond the 710 movement. Worn down by Caltrans and Metro (Los Angeles County MTA) pushing a freeway widening and tunnel project for over three decades, a group of San Gabriel County communities banded together with local activists and national nonprofits to create a new vision for the corridor.

We’ve written a lot about the attempts to dig a big highway tunnel in L.A. County’s San Gabriel Valley at Streetsblog L.A. If you’re interested, read more here.

Beyond the 710 is an innovative effort by progressive transportation reformers to reframe the debate. Instead of being “opposed to highway expansion” they are “for a series of smart fixes and great streets” that would both address the congestion hot spots and “for improving transportation options for all.”

We’re always looking for sponsors, show ideas, and feedback. You can contact me at damien@streetsblog.org, at twitter @damientypes, online at Streetsblog California or on Facebook at StreetsblogCA.

Thanks for listening. You can download the episode at the Damien Talks homepage on Libsyn.

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Active Transportation in Santa Ana: Q&A with Michele Martinez

Michele Martinez, third from right, at the announcement for Orange County's planned street car. Martinez has been one of the biggest advocates of active transportation in Santa Ana. Photo Courtesy of Michele Martinez. From left, Jason Gabriel, Santa Ana Public Works Agency; Fred Mousavipour, Executive Director of Santa Ana Public Works Agency; William Galvez, Public Works Agency; Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido; Michele Martinez, Santa Ana Ward 2 council member; Alma Flores, Santa Ana public information officer; Sean Coolidge, Historic Resource Commissioner.

Michele Martinez, third from right, at the announcement for Orange County’s planned street car. Martinez has been one of the biggest advocates of active transportation in Santa Ana. Photo Courtesy of Michele Martinez. From left, Jason Gabriel, Santa Ana Public Works Agency; Fred Mousavipour, Executive Director of Santa Ana Public Works Agency; William Galvez, Public Works Agency; Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido; Michele Martinez, Santa Ana Ward 2 council member; Alma Flores, Santa Ana public information officer; Sean Coolidge, Historic Resource Commissioner.

Michele Martinez, a City Council member for the City of Santa Ana, says she’s an avid cyclist, but she doesn’t ride on city roads. After being hit twice by automobiles while riding in Santa Ana, she would rather load her bike in her car and take it to the Santa Ana River trail than ride on local streets, she said.

”I won’t ride on the roads here until [we build] the infrastructure that is needed,” Martinez said.

Martinez, one of the most active and vocal advocates of active transportation in Santa Ana and Orange County, is currently serving her last term on the Santa Ana City Council. She has been a longtime advocate of active transportation at local, regional, state, and federal level. She pushed to add the position of active transportation coordinator for the city of  Santa Ana, advocated for including Vision Zero in the Santa Ana General Plan’s Circulation Element, and currently serves as the first vice president of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) while also serving on SCAG’s  transportation committee.

Her active transportation advocacy has trickled into her work as executive director of the Alliance for a Healthy Orange County (AHOC). Noticing a knowledge gap between residents’ understanding of government bureaucracy and progressive transportation policies, systems, and infrastructure, Martinez sought funds from The California Endowment for AHOC to launch a resident training program to cultivate the next generation of transportation advocates. [Full disclosure: AHOC was awarded the funds, but Santa Ana Active Streets coalition (SAAS) is administering the project’s first iteration this year. This author is an active member of SAAS.]

In our roughly half-hour discussion, Martinez spoke of the importance of Vision Zero in Santa Ana, of prioritizing safety when installing infrastructure improvements–especially where crime elements exist–and of what she envisions for her next role as she aims to become president of SCAG’s Regional Council next year.

What tapped you into the active transportation scene initially?

I think it was in 2010. I was working for The Eli Home and I was invited for the first time to participate in OCTA’s bike rally for Bike to Work Week by Will Kempton, who at the time was the CEO of OCTA. I didn’t have a bike. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was twelve years old. So I bought [a little blue bike from the Eli Home thrift store] for $100. I made a commitment online to ride to work, from Santa Ana to Anaheim. Prior to that, the whole week I was riding my bike and I realized there weren’t any bike lanes, and I was having to ride on the sidewalk and sometimes against traffic. When I was on the road I almost got hit by a semi truck.

Michele Martinez, far left, taking a selfie with William H. Spurgeon Intermediate School students at this year's Bike to School Day. Photo Courtesy of Michelle Martinez.

Michele Martinez, far left, taking a selfie with students from William H. Spurgeon Intermediate School at this year’s Bike to School Day. Photo courtesy of Michele Martinez.

I started to see the challenges of people that were walking and biking. It was how they get to work, and it was unsafe. I had the opportunity to speak at the OCTA bike rally, and I mentioned that I was going to make it a priority. I thank them for allowing me to participate because it opened up my eyes to the need for making sure that we have safe transportation for everyone, whether you’re taking the bus, you’re walking, [or] you’re taking your bicycle.

You’ve been very influential in planting seeds to change the philosophy around transportation, at the city, county, and regional levels. How has your vision changed around active transportation since you’ve started, and what is your vision right now in terms of instilling active transportation in the County? Read more…

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Caltrans Gathers Feedback on Upcoming Standards for Protected Bike Lanes

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Caltrans workshop on protected bikeway design. Photo by Melanie Curry/Streetsblog CA

Caltrans tried an experiment last week. Under a legislative deadline to create standards for Class IV Bikeways, also known as cycle tracks or protected bike lanes, the state department of transportation reached out to people who had expressed an interest in the subject and asked them for ideas.

Caltrans may have gotten more than it bargained for.

In a packed conference room in Sacramento last Wednesday, city planners, engineers, county employees, and advocates for bicycling, walking, and disabled access participated in a wide-ranging, open-ended discussion about what Caltrans needs to consider in writing up standards for protected lanes.

Last year, the state legislature passed a bill, A.B. 1193, that defined Class IV Bikeways– also known as cycletracks or protected bike lanes–as a new kind of bicycle facility in the California vehicle code. The new law also required Caltrans to develop guidance for local jurisdictions to use when they design and build the new bikeways.

If Caltrans had merely complied with the law in its usual way, it would have first written guidance, made that available for public comment, and then revised the guidance accordingly.

But Caltrans Design Chief Timothy Craggs decided to try something different. He was concerned that his  team could end up playing middleman among warring factions. They’d already heard from groups opposed to or concerned about protected bike lanes. Disability advocates, for example, have raised concerns about interactions between cyclists and pedestrians on protected lanes. Vehicular cyclists, following the John Forester philosophy that says bikes should mix in with other traffic, have long opposed building protected facilities for cyclists.

Read more…