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This Week in Livable Streets

sblog_calendarThis Saturday, celebrate the halfway point for Metro Crenshaw-LAX rail construction. Housing, Wolfpack Hustle, and walk and bike tours round out the week.

  • Thursday 5/5 – The Echo Park Improvement Association hosts a panel discussion on bicycling in L.A. at 7 p.m. in Williams Hall at the Barlow Respiratory Hospital at 2000 Stadium Way, in Elysian Park. Panelists include Nick Richert (Bike Talk), Don Ward (Wolfpack Hustle), Nona Varnado (L.A. Bike Trains, L.A. Bike Fest), Melody Brocious (bike polo), Betsy Medvedosky (art and cycling), Vanessa Gray (C.I.C.L.E.) and Josef Bray-Ali (Flying Pigeon). Details at Facebook event.
  • Thursday 5/5 – Join the UNIDAD Coalition to talk about the future of South Central at a town hall regarding the $1.2 billion Reef development. UNIDAD and South Central residents have been working on a community benefits proposal they hope could mitigate some of the impacts of such a major development in an area where disinvestment has generally been the rule. Details at Facebook event.
  • Friday 5/6 – The American Institute of Architects hosts Design for Dignity: Changing The Housing Equation By Design a one-day conference highlighting workable solutions to solving Southern California’s housing crisis. The event takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Inner-City Arts at 720 Kohler Street in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District. Register at AIA L.A. Share via Facebook event.
  • Saturday 5/7 – Si Se Mueve hosts a 6-mile walk exploration of Highland Park, departing at 8 a.m from the Metro Gold Line Highland Park Station. Details at Facebook event.
  • Saturday 5/7 – CicLAvia and the Southeast Bicycle Alliance are hosting a Southeast Cities Exploratory Ride. Meet at the Watts Towers at 9 a.m. to check out part of the route for the upcoming CicLAvia Southeast. Bikes, boards, scooters, and all forms of alt-transit welcome! Waiver required to join (will hand out before ride starts). All riders under 18 must wear a helmet. Details at Facebook Event.
  • Saturday 5/7 – The Los Angeles chapter of Young Professionals in Transportation is hosting a short, family-friendly free bike ride through Crenshaw and Leimert Park. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Metro Expo Line Crenshaw Station. The ride departs promptly at 10:00 a.m., and ends at Leimert Plaza. More details at Facebook event and at YPT-LA. And, while you’re there, enjoy the next event, too!
  • Saturday 5/7 – Metro hosts a celebration commemorating the half-way point toward completion of the Crenshaw-LAX light rail line. The celebration takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Leimert Park Village at 4395 Leimert Boulevard in South Los Angeles. Activities include music, kids zone, Metro and contractor employment opportunities, and more. For details see Metro website.
  • Saturday 5/7 – Wolfpack Hustle hosts the Long Beach Short Line Crit taking place alongside the Long Beach Bike Fest. Qualifiers start at 4 p.m. and main track events at 7:30 p.m. (women) and 8:15 p.m. (men). Circuit viewable throughout downtown Long Beach. Volunteers needed. Details at Facebook Event and at Wolfpack Hustle.
  • Sunday 5/8 – The L.A. Bicycle Festival touches down in downtown L.A.’s Grand Park from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Billed as a bicycle theme park, the festival includes family-friendly workshops, demos, beer garden, interactive art installations, wandering musicians, local ride groups among the most innovative bike and gear brands. Details at Facebook event.
  • Sunday 5/8 – L.A. Walks hosts a DTLA Women’s History Mother’s Day Walk. Event starts at Arcadia and Main at 3 p.m. Details at Facebook event.

Did we miss anything? Is there something we should list on future calendars? Email


Downey Ride & Stride Open Streets Event Open Thread

Downey Ride & Stride open streets festival took place yesterday. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Some of the participants at the Downey Ride & Stride open streets festival, which took place yesterday. All photos Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The city of Downey held its first open streets festival yesterday. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Downey Ride & Stride dedicated 5.5 miles of city streets to walking, bicycling, skating, wheelchairs, and plenty of other car-free activities.

Downey is one of the cities sponsored by Metro in its initial round of open streets funding. Events in this round need to take place by June 30, so there are a handful of open streets events coming up this month and next: May 15 – CicLAvia Southeast Cities, June 5 – ‘Coast’ Santa Monica, and two big San Gabriel Valley events: June 12 – Viva SGV and June 26 – Golden Streets.

Overall it was a great event. My daughter and I and her grandparents had a really good time riding and walking the route.

More than any other open streets event I have attended, the route included a number of small- to medium-sized residential streets. For participants, these streets work fine, but I hope that the advance communications were thorough and that the folks whose driveways were blocked knew what was coming.

Plenty of cyclists enjoyed the event. There were also lots of families just out walking in the middle of the car-free street.

The event included a lot of programming. There were hundreds of booths, fire trucks, bounce houses, food trucks, face painting, DJs, bands, and much more. It felt like half the groups in Downey – from churches to investment firms to school clubs to beauty pageant ensembles – were represented along the route. We enjoyed interacting with lots of folks, but in a way it felt almost too programmed; I think it is important to trust that people moving around a city on bike or on foot will enjoy interacting with other participants, and with businesses along the route.


Thousands of cyclists took to the streets of Downey

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Cycling Booms in London, and the City’s Not Looking Back

Image: City of London

If current trends continue, there will be more people bike commuting in central London than car commuting by 2018. Image: City of London

Boris Johnson says that one of his goals as mayor of London was to make cycling “more popular and more normal.” As Johnson’s eight-year tenure winds down, it looks like the progress he made in his second term has accomplished that mission.

If current trends continue, bike commuters will outnumber car commuters in central London by 2018, according to a recent report from Johnson’s office [PDF]. Citywide, Transport for London estimates people already make 645,000 bike trips on an average day.

When Londoners head to the polls later this week to elect their next mayor, five candidates will be on the ballot, all of whom have signaled they will continue to expand the city’s bike network, reports the BBC’s Tom Edwards. Most of them have pledged to triple the amount of protected bike lanes in the city.

You can trace the London cycling boom to several factors, including the introduction of congestion charging under Johnson’s predecessor, Ken Livingstone, in 2003. But the big turning point came during Johnson’s second term, when bike advocates prompted him to get serious about installing protected bike lanes.

In his first term, Johnson championed the construction of “cycle superhighways” on some of the city’s busiest streets. But these routes, which offered little or nothing in the way of physical protection, didn’t live up to their billing. Cyclists were not satisfied with them and staged huge protests calling for safer bike infrastructure. The BBC’s Edwards recalls how cyclists booed Johnson when he was seeking reelection four years ago.

In recent years, Johnson has devoted more resources to protected bike lanes, upgrading the existing “cycle superhighways” and laying out a plan for more. He now says his “single biggest regret” was not doing so sooner.

Read more…

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Boston Wants to Lower Its Speed Limit to 20 MPH — But Can’t

Twenty is plenty in Boston, according to its elected officials. The City Council voted unanimously this week to lower the default speed limit on most residential streets to 20 mph — and not for the first time.

Speeding is the number one complaint council members hear from residents. And on Boston’s narrow streets, packed with pedestrians, driving 40 mph — as people regularly do — is especially dangerous.

The current speed limit is 30 mph, and, unfortunately, changing it isn’t as easy as passing a City Council rule. The state of Massachusetts sets default speed limits, and when Boston tried to lower its speed limit before, state law prevailed.

“In the past the state has been reticent to change the prevailing speed limit because of the way it would affect so many towns,” says Walk Boston’s Brendan Kearney. “Potentially every single little city or town would have a different speed limit.”

Jackie DeWolfe at Livable Streets Boston says advocates are hopeful this time will be different, but it won’t be easy.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • Metro Rail Creating A Less-Car-Centric Warmer Fuzzier Los Angeles (NYT)
  • L.A. Contract with CBS Decaux Unraveled, Bus Shelters Never Installed (KPCC)
  • Azusa To Adopt Parking Restrictions Around Gold Line (SGV Tribune)
  • Walkability Is Good For Business (Gizmodo)
  • Trying To Get Gateway Cities To Fund Walking And Bicycling (Investing in Place)
  • Metro Announces Expo 2 Opening Celebrations (The Source, KPCC)
  • Riders Press For LADOT To Give Expo Line Signal Priority (L.A. Weekly)
  • More On Actions Taken At the April Metro Board Meeting (The Source)
  • New Free-To-Users $195M Carpool Lanes On 10 Freeway To “Ease Congestion” (KPCC)
  • Let’s Go L.A. Posits Solutions For the Culver City Cluster
  • Construction Underway At Santa Monica Expo TOD Pen Factory (Urbanize)
  • Carnage: South El Monte Cyclist Crossing Rosemead Killed By Car (Biking In L.A.)
    …Pedestrian Killed When Car Jumps Curb In North Hollywood (LAT, KPCC)
    …Big Rig Truck Driver Flees Fatal Hit-and-Run in Vernon (LAT, KPCC)
  • San Diego Voters Will Decide Transportation Sales Tax This Fall (SD Union Tribune)
  • Sharrows Mean Cars And Bikes Share the Lane (Mercury News)
  • Why Traffic Studies Are Bad For Cities (Fast Co-Exist)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA


Quantifying Transit Ridership, Some Lessons from UCLA’s Transit Conference

Transit ridership flat xxx

U.S. Transit usage has been largely flat in the U.S. since 2000. Source: Blumenberg presentation

Earlier this week, SBLA attended UCLA’s The Future of Public Transit conference. The one-day event was hosted by UCLA’s Lewis Center and Institute of Transportation Studies. Numerous speakers spoke on the evolving landscape for public transit and broader mobility – from Houston to New York to Los Angeles. This article recaps two of the more informative and more academic presentations on trends impacting transit ridership. There are no major surprises gleaned for folks who read Streetsblog and who ride transit in Los Angeles, but it is interesting to see data quantified to back up trends observed.

Manville on Driving vs. Transit Ridership

Michael Manville, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, spoke on how recent driving trends have impacted transit ridership. In 2005, driving in the U.S. leveled off. It subsequently declined through 2014. Though there has been a recent uptick, per-person driving is still below 2004 levels.

xxx - via @yfreemark Twitter

In the U.S., miles driven per person declined from 2005 through 2014. Driving recently rebounded to 2002 levels. Source: FHWA via @yfreemark Twitter (AADT is Annual Average Daily Traffic)

Does less driving mean more transit ridership? Manville’s prognosis is “probably not.”  Read more…

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#DamienTalksSGV 8 – Roland Cordero and the Foothill Transit E-Bus Program

Welcome back to #DamienTalks!

Damien Talks SGV logoToday, #DamienTalks with Roland Cordero with Foothill Transit. Did you know Foothill Transit was the first transit agency in the country to have a completely electric bus route? I didn’t. It’s kind of cool.

It may have taken eight episodes, but we finally got around to interviewing our sponsor.

In recent years, Foothill Transit has replaced its diesel buses with CNG coaches, installed solar arrays on the roofs of its operations and maintenance yards in Arcadia and Pomona. And now, Foothill Transit is committed to having a 100 percent electric bus fleet by 2030.

In the interview, Cordero discusses the pros and cons of converting from a diesel fleet to a partially electric fleet. Spoiler: there are a lot more positives than negatives.

#DamienTalks is supported by Foothill Transit. Foothill Transit has been a leader in sustainable transportation for years. And now they’re committed to having a 100% electric bus fleet by 2030. To celebrate, Foothill Transit is giving away prizes and sharing facts about how their electric buses help clear the air. Visit Foothill Transit’s e-bus sweepstakes webpage to see how you can join in the eco-friendly fun!

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Today’s Headlines

  • Glendale Driver Who Buzzed Cyclists Charged With Assault, Lying To Police (LAist, CiclaValley)
  • LAPD Drunk Driving Stings Skipped Whiter Westside Neighborhoods (L.A. Weekly)
  • Azusa Approves Permit Parking In Neighborhoods By Gold Line Stations (The Source)
  • Community Seeks Wider Exide Testing, CA DTSC Refuses (KPCC)
  • Long Beach Named 10th Most Walkable City In U.S. (L.A. Weekly)
  • CycleHop Bike-Share Expected To Open At UCLA, Westwood In Fall 2016 (Daily Bruin)
  • Cement Plant Site Cleared For Expo Sepulveda Station TOD (Urbanize)
  • Hollywood Sign Popularity Leads To Beechwood Neighborhood Parking Woes (Los Feliz Ledger)
  • KPCC, Urbanize Show the Four Finalists For Pershing Square Re-Do
  • CA High-Speed Rail Board Approves Plan To Go To San Jose First (KPCC)
  • Affordable Housing and Transit Should Go Together (Mobility Lab)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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Six Updates From Today’s April Metro Board Meeting

Today’s monthly Metro board of directors meeting was one of the less eventful ones; it was sort of a lull in the news swirling around Metro’s planned November sales tax ballot measure. Nonetheless, there were a number of items that SBLA readers might find interesting.

Metro Wi-Fi Phase 1 Operational

SBLA has been noticing recent social media mentions of Metro subway riders receiving texts while on board. Metro CEO made it official today, announcing that, from Union Station to 7th Street Station, wireless service is operational for Verizon customers. According to Metro “Sprint and T-Mobile have signed-up to provide service which will be available in two to three months. Negotiations are ongoing with AT&T.” More details at The Source.

Bike-Share Exempt From Further Environmental Studies

The board approved environmental clearance for Metro bike-share, coming to downtown L.A. this summer. The project was certified to be categorically exempt, meaning that expensive, time-consuming environmental impact studies are not needed.

June Bus Service Re-Organization 

Metro is in the final stretch of its planned bus service reorganization, slated for implementation in June. Metro held a series of public input sessions, the outcomes of which were presented to the board. The most contentious items were three Metro bus routes transitioning to other municipal operators. Lines 190 and 194 [PDF] (El Monte Station to Cal Poly Pomona) would be operated by Foothill Transit. Line 270 [PDF] (Monrovia to Norwalk Station) would be split between Foothill and Norwalk Transit. Metro’s public input and service council had recommended against shifting the service to Norwalk Transit. Bus drivers union representatives oppose any outsourcing of Metro bus service to municipal operators. Numerous representatives from Foothill Transit leadership and staff spoke in favor of the hand-off.

County Supervisor Don Knabe put forward a motion to support the proposed transitions to both Norwalk and Foothill. The motion passed.

Foothill Transit has electric buses - under Garcetti's motion, Metro may soon join them

Foothill Transit has electric buses – under a Garcetti motion, Metro may soon join them. Image via Foothill Transit.

Bus Procurement, Zero-Emission Bus Study

The board approved a procurement process for 850 new replacement buses from 2018-2022. The buses would either be Metro’s current CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) standard or Zero Emission (presumably electric.) Mayor Eric Garcetti offered a supplementary motion, approved unanimously, to have Metro study how it can transition to a fully Zero Emission bus fleet.

New TAP Vending Machines

Metro approved a $5.1 million contract to purchase 54 new TAP card vending machines (TVMs). These will replace and augment existing TVMs at stations, including expanding Silver Line TVMs to support the agency’s all-door boarding pilot. Inglewood Mayor James Butts offered a supplementary motion, approved unanimously, to have Metro study how to add TVMs at key locations for municipal bus operators. Representatives from Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus requested TVMs at the LAX Transit Center and at Pico-Rimpau.

710 North Tunnel Lines Drawn

710 North Tunnel opponents weighed in vehemently during public comment on a staff recommendation that Metro oppose State Senator Carol Liu’s SB 1018. Opponents of the 710 freeway project continue to be vocally opposed to a future Metro sales measure if there is any possibility that it could fund the destructive 710 North freeway expansion.

SB 1018 would dictate how a 710 North project cost-benefit analysis would be conducted. Metro legislative staff recommended the agency oppose the bill because it intervenes in Metro’s ongoing environmental review process. Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian, a stalwart 710 Freeway tunnel opponent, disagreed with Metro staff. Ultimately the board voted to oppose SB 1018, with Najarian and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl casting dissenting votes.

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Does It Make Sense for Transit Agencies to Pay for “Last Mile” Uber Trips?

Should transit agencies subsidize short “last-mile” Uber trips to expand transit access for people who live outside comfortable walking distance of a train station?

Is it smart of transit agencies to use Uber subsidies to expand their service areas? Map of Atlanta's MARTA plus a three-and-half mile buffer via CAP

The green areas denote where people would be eligible for ride-hail commute subsidies. Map: CAP

Columbus, Ohio, has proposed something along these lines as part of its application for U.S. DOT’s Smart City Challenge. The city is one of seven finalists competing for a $50 million federal grant.

New technologies associated with ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft make such a program more feasible, but is it a good idea? In a new report, the Center for American Progress explores how such a program might work for low-income residents of Atlanta.

CAP’s Kevin DeGood and Andrew Schwartz don’t reach a firm conclusion about the merits of such a program, but their report suggests it would have very limited impact.

They start by defining who would be eligible for the subsidized ride-hailing program, mapping out a radius of 3.5 miles from MARTA stations while excluding areas closer than half a mile away from a MARTA rail station or a quarter mile away from bus lines that connect to rail.

In one of their scenarios, any commuter living in that zone who doesn’t own a car would be eligible for a $3 ride-hailing subsidy for each trip to or from work. That would reach an estimated 8,300 people and cost $12 million per year.

In the other scenario, the same subsidy would be available for workers in households below the poverty line with three or more children, regardless of car ownership. CAP estimates this would encompass 3,300 people and cost $5 million per year.

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