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Translating Road Engineer-Speak Into Honest English

Scott White at Velo Paso in the great state of Texas has been developing these “snarky pseudo infographics” based on some of his observations of the traffic engineering world. He’s been Tweeting them under the hashtag #TransPedia, a satirical take on the language of road widening and car-centric street design.

Image by Andy Boenau. Words by Scott White.

Graphic: Scott White/Andy Boenau

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Now It’s Long Beach Who Could Be 1st to Get Bike-Share

BikeShareFIN

It looks like Long Beach will be the first city in LA County to have a bike-share program as the City let go of its former contract with the defunct Bike Nation, handing it over to German company Nextbike. This follows the announcement earlier this year that the City would bid for a Downtown bike-share program.

According to the contract signed by the City of Long Beach last March, Nextbike will be responsible for installing “up to two hundred fifty (250) bike stations comprising three thousand seven hundred fifty (3,750) bike docks with two thousand five hundred (2,500) bicycles[.]”

Nextbike owns the world’s largest bike sharing network (20,000 bikes) with a presence in more than 30 German cities and in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Dubai, Hungary, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The contract specifies that both docking stations will be installed over four installation periods, with an initial implementation supposed to have occurred last month with a launch of 100 bikes.

The second installation, set to be deployed in November of this year, will include a proposed 70 smart docking stations with 700 bikes.

“The launch of this deployment may be contingent upon the success of the prior deployment at Nextbike’s discretion, Nextbike receiving additional public and/or private capital funding, and/or obtaining a major program sponsor,” the contract said.

The third installation increases to 80 stations with 800 bikes with a deadline of April of 2016; once again, implementation of this depends on the success of the previous deployment.

Come April 2017, Nextbike is scheduled to deploy an additional 90 stations with 900 bikes, bringing the grand total to 250 stations with 2,500 bikes.

Both physical docking stations and “virtual docking” stations are set to be installed. Virtual docking stations are areas which the GPS tool on the bike can be read within a certain vicinity and you can simply lock your bike to a Nextbike rack or on a regular rack.

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Eyes on the Bridge: What Glendale-Hyperion’s Missing Sidewalk Means

Glendale-Hyperion Bridge walk routes map by Don Ward

Glendale-Hyperion Bridge walk routes map by Don Ward

Above is a graphic created by Don Ward to show just how crappy the Bureau of Engineering’s Glendale-Hyperion Bridge plan is. The unsafe design was recently approved by L.A.’s Board of Public Works, and will soon come before City Council. Streetsblog USA profiled the board’s approval as a sign that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s commitment to great streets may be illusory.

According to Ward:

I made this chart to explain the route of an actual petition signer in Atwater who walked from her house (approximate location A) to her church at B. She was interested in safer access to the south sidewalk and did not want to have to walk an additional half mile or so to get to her destination. The shortest possible route under Option 1 would include walking up a steeper incline to the top of Waverly to get across Hyperion on the Silver Lake side.

This also illustrates how disingenuous it is for the city to claim that the new bike-ped bridge creates better mobility by connecting to Silver Lake. The bike-ped bridge is great to get to the L.A. River bike path, but the south Glendale bridge serves the same purpose.

The key decision-maker at this point could be incoming Los Angeles City Councilmember  David Ryu, who won yesterday’s run-off election. Ryu will replace Tom LaBonge on the City Council. Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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New Federal Guide Will Show More Cities the Way on Protected Bike Lanes

Oak Street, San Francisco. Photo: SFMTA.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Protected bike lanes are now officially star-spangled.

Eight years after New York City created a trailblazing protected bikeway on 9th Avenue, designs once perceived as unfit for American streets have now been detailed in a new design guide by the Federal Highway Administration.

The FHWA guidance released Tuesday is the result of two years of research into numerous modern protected bike lanes around the country, in consultation with a team of national experts.

“Separated bike lanes have great potential to fill needs in creating low-stress bicycle networks,” the FHWA document says, citing a study released last year by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities. “Many potential cyclists (including children and the elderly) may avoid on-street cycling if no physical separation from vehicular traffic is provided.”

Among the many useful images and ideas in the 148-page document is this spectrum of comfortable bike lanes, starting with bike infrastructure that will be useful to the smallest number of people and continuing into the more broadly appealing categories:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Shocker: The 405 Freeway Is Crowded (KABC)
  • David Ryu Wins L.A. City Countil CD4 Run-Off (KPCC)
  • L.A. Approves $15 Minimum Wage (NYT)
    Housing Still Not Affordable For Minimum Wage Workers (Curbed)
  • Cal Poly Pomona Had A Great Bike Week (Boy on a Bike)
  • Metrolink To Install Positive Train Control By End Of 2015 (KPCC)
  • UCLA Needs To Get Behind Bike Lanes On Westwood (Daily Bruin)
  • Glendale Yanks Scramble Crosswalk 1 Month Into 3 Month Trial (Glendale News Press)
  • Orange Line at Van Nuys: Car Dealer Site To Become Mixed Use (Urbanize)
  • Comparing Car Traffic Apps (KPCC)
  • Highly Recommended Vid: Jarrett Walker Busts Transit Myths (SBNET)

Get National Headlines At Streetsblog USA
Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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Can LA Make “Great Streets” If the Mayor Won’t Stand Up for Good Design?

This plan for the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge was preferred by neighborhood residents. But the city capitulated to a more status quo design. Photo: KCET via Los Angeles Walks

Residents preferred this plan for the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge across the Los Angeles River, with bike lanes, sidewalks, and a road diet, but appointees of Mayor Eric Garcetti opted for more space for traffic instead. Image via Los Angeles Walks

Los Angeles, with its expanding transit network, is supposed to be in the process of shedding its cocoon of car-centricity and emerging, in the words of a recent Fast Company headline, as America’s “next great walkable city.” The city’s streets, however, didn’t change a whole lot under former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. When Eric Garcetti was elected mayor in 2013, advocates thought he could provide the leadership to finally prioritize walking, biking, and transit on LA’s streets.

And Garcetti got off to a great start. He chose Seleta Reynolds, a standout from the San Francisco MTA’s Livable Streets program, to lead LADOT. The city retained groundbreaking former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to help shape its Great Streets strategic plan. The city is expected to adopt a Vision Zero policy in just a few weeks.

Garcetti himself has said, “As city leaders, we need the backbone to make the bold changes necessary to build great streets.” But the mayor’s failure to go to bat for a pedestrian-friendly redesign of the critical Glendale-Hyperion Bridge calls into question the strength of his commitment to changing streets — and with it, Los Angeles’s potential to become a walkable, bikeable, transit-rich city.

Last week, the city’s Public Works Board, whose members are all appointed by the mayor, rejected the bridge design that neighborhood advocates favor. That design, reported Streetsblog LA, would have repurposed one motor vehicle lane to create safe access for walking and biking on both sides of the bridge. The mayoral appointees, bowing to pressure from City Council members Mitch O’Farrell and Tom LaBonge, went a different route, voting for a design that preserves all the car lanes while removing an existing sidewalk from one side of the bridge.

About 1,200 people had signed a petition supporting the proposal with bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, as had dozens of businesses, nearby schools and the neighborhood councils in two of the three surrounding districts. Traffic studies showed that reducing the road to three lanes wouldn’t affect car congestion significantly. But the Public Works Board voted for a proposal that maintains four traffic lanes and leaves pedestrians with just one sidewalk — and a long, uncomfortable detour.

Advocates did not expect a decision so soon. LaBonge is at the end of his tenure in the council, and the leading candidates vying for his seat favor the more pedestrian- and bike-friendly design. With elections this week, the local politics were guaranteed to shift in favor of the better design in a matter of days. Instead, Garcetti’s appointees rushed through a decision the week before the election.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Like Great Transit, a Compact City Gives People Freedom

The Congress for New Urbanism has posted a video of Jarrett Walker (of Human Transit fame) delivering a new presentation, “Learning the Language of Transit.” There’s a passage where Walker frames transit as not simply a mode of transportation, but a means to access to your city and, ultimately, the freedom and opportunity to do the things you want.

Inspired by Walker’s talk, Dan Keshet at Network blog Austin on Your Feet says the same rationale applies to building a compact city:

Access here is the stuff of life. Can I get to that job interview on time? Can I get home from work in time to see a movie? Can I meet my friends for dinner? Does this okcupid match live close enough to make dating possible? When my daughter asks to play on the traveling soccer team, can she get to practice?

The context of Walker’s talk is public transportation network design. But access is just as much an issue in land use — what buildings, parks, roads, etc get built where. Whether you’re driving, riding, walking, biking, ubering, or whatever, the basic fact is that you can reach more destinations in the same amount of time when those destinations are close together. And more destinations means more opportunities — whether that’s opportunities to work, to learn, to shop, or to meet people. This was the basic lesson I took from living my own life in different parts of Boston.

This shouldn’t be a complicated or counterintuitive concept. Even with a car, traveling from one end of Austin to another is already quite a daunting trip to make more than occasionally. The more people Austin gets, the more destinations there will be — economic, cultural, or otherwise. But the more we spread out, the less access new and old residents will have to each other and to the destinations we create. We are foreclosing options by where we build.

Elsewhere on the Network: Systemic Failure shares five factoids from the IMF about the staggering scale of global fossil fuel subsidies — $5 trillion annually. And the Wash Cycle has some ideas about Capital Bikeshare can get subscribers to rebalance bikes.

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Law-Breaking Drivers Disrespecting New Wilshire Boulevard Bus-Only Lanes

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Illegally parked car blocks the Wilshire BRT peak-hour bus lane last Friday. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

On April 8, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other Metro, federal, county, and city leaders cut the ceremonial ribbon opening the second phase of the $31.5 million Wilshire BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). Metro forecasted that the Wilshire Boulevard peak-hour bus-only lanes will significantly improve commute times for the more than 25,000 people who board Wilshire Boulevard buses at peak hours every weekday.

But those improvements will only materialize when the bus-only lanes only have buses in them.

Unfortunately, many peak-hour drivers are breaking the law by driving in the exclusive bus lanes.

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This Mercedes with license plate 6JJH202 is blocking the Metro 720 bus from getting to the Crenshaw Blvd stop. That car and the one behind it followed me through the intersection, ignoring the right-turn-only designation for cars in their lane.

Last Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., I observed hundreds of drivers breaking traffic laws, most of them driving straight ahead through right-turn-only designated intersections, but also two cars illegally parked in the designated “anti-gridlock” tow-away no-parking lane. I observed dozens of these cars clearly impeding the progress of the very frequent Wilshire buses. The majority of drivers did respect and stay out of the bus-only lane.

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Signage on Wilshire designates right turn only during peak commute hours.

At the start of each bus-only lane block, the pavement is marked “BUS LANE.” At nearly every intersection from Beverly Hills to MacArthur Park, there are signs that state “RIGHT LANE[:] BUSES [and] RIGHT TURNS ONLY 7AM-9AM 4PM-7PM MON-FRI.”

I stopped at a handful of intersections, and every time observed multiple cars breaking laws by proceeding straight ahead through right-turn-only intersections. Both rapid and local Wilshire buses were arrive very frequently at the peak commute hour, though, between buses, there was still often a one or two-minute space that law-breaking drivers file into.  Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Transpo Bill Update: Congress Tees Up Two More Months of the Same

Can anything spur Congress to overhaul a federal transportation policy that lets states run amok building highway expansions while the rest of our infrastructure goes to seed? Don’t hold your breath — the cycle of extending the status quo transportation bill is starting all over again.

Senators Boxer and Inhofe say they have a six-year bill. But we don't see it until after the current one expires. Photos: Wikipedia

Senators Boxer and Inhofe say they have a six-year bill. But we won’t see it until after the current one expires. Photos: Wikipedia

Last Monday, the Obama Administration began warning state departments of transportation that their funding could be cut off if lawmakers do not reach an agreement by month’s end.

On Wednesday, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) announced that they would be presenting a six-year transportation bill, but that discussions wouldn’t even begin until after the May 31 deadline. “We can no longer wait on Congress,” said the senators in a joint statement, as though they are somehow separate from Congress. (During the nine months since the last short-term extension, Boxer and Inhofe, along with everyone else in Congress, never got around to introducing a long-term transportation bill.)

Now there’s only two weeks left until that extension expires. So late Friday, House Republicans announced that they would put forward another short-term extension of the current transportation bill, giving Congress through the end of July to come up with a long-term plan.

What has Congress been up to in the past nine months? Well, they haven’t been figuring out how to get state DOTs to stop wasting billions of dollars on highway expansions. Instead, lawmakers devoted most of their energy to coming up with ridiculous new ways to raise revenue without raising the gas tax.

And they couldn’t even agree on something. So House lawmakers instead settled for having the extension expire soon enough to avoid having to enact a source of additional revenue.

As for the Senate, Boxer has said she grudgingly backs a plan from Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to generate revenue with a temporary tax holiday on overseas business profits — an idea with so many problems it’s worse than just bailing out the transportation program with general fund revenues.

Speaking of which, as the size of those bailouts keeps getting bigger, so does the subsidy for roads. The way things stand, the nation’s transportation program will need an infusion of $10 billion to cover current spending levels through the end of the year without raising the gas tax.

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Today’s Headlines

  • L.A. CD4 and School Board Run-Off Elections TODAY (KPCC)
    Bike the Vote Endorsement: Carolyn Ramsay For City Council
  • Long Beach Records Steady Increase In Bicycling 2008-2014 (LAT)
  • Metro Developing Active Transportation Funding Strategy (Investing in Place)
  • All-Door Boarding 8-Week Test at Wilshire-Vermont and Wilshire-Westwood (The Source)
  • KCET Summarizes the Latest On the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge Debacle
  • L.A. Construction Spending Highest In Three Decades (KPCC)
  • Metro Settles Lawsuit $4.25M To Ped Hit By Gold Line Near Southwest Museum (LAT)
  • LADOT Publishes New City Bikeways Maps (LADOT Bike Blog)
  • Community Groups Urge Active Transportation At SGV Council of Gov’ts (Investing in Place)
  • Helicopter Noise Remains A Big Issue For Angelenos (Curbed)
  • Union Station Photos Honor Hard-Working Women, Including Supervisor Solis (The Source)
  • IMF Report: Fossil Fuel Subsidies Massive, Fostering Climate Change (Systemic Failure)
  • Ethan Elkind On Santa Monica’s TOD Backlash (Santa Monica Next)

Get National Headlines At Streetsblog USA
Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA