Skip to content

No Comments

Oct. 9, South L.A. Advocates Discuss Civic Action and Community Voice in South L.A. on Visions and Voices Panel at USC

Flier for the October 9th Visions and Voices event at USC focusing on South L.A.

Flier for the October 9th Visions and Voices event at USC focusing on South L.A. Click to enlarge.

This coming October 9, at 6 p.m., I will be participating in a panel on Civic Action and Community Voice in South L.A. as part of USC’s Visions and Voices series.

Visions and Voices is the dynamic arts and humanities initiative established in 2006. The goal was to feature critically acclaimed artists and distinguished speakers, theatrical productions, music and dance performances, film screenings, lectures, and workshops on a variety of themes to challenge the USC community to expand their perspectives, become world-class citizens, and make a positive impact throughout the world.

Given the changes sparked by USC’s expansion of its physical footprint in South L.A. and how the desire for a secure campus has exacerbated tensions between the campus community and the longer-term residents in the process (see here, here, here), it seems like an appropriate moment for the program to take a closer look at its relationship with the community it calls home.

The organizers — Annenberg professors Alison Trope and Robeson Taj Frazier and post-doctoral scholar George Villanueva — have put together three events on South L.A. for the 2014-15 season.

The first will look at community building in and around USC and South Los Angeles, with a focus on movements and organizations that are responding to the disparities and injustices that structure life in South L.A. Speakers will include Alberto Retana, the Executive Vice President of grassroots organization extraordinaire Community Coalition (see our recent coverage of them here), Francisco Ortega, the immigration-policy advisor and South L.A. policy advisor for the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, Erin Aubry Kaplan, a journalist and columnist who writes about African American life in Los Angeles for a variety of outlets, and me, the Communities Editor for South L.A. and Boyle Heights here at Streetsblog L.A. Read more…

4 Comments

Thanks For a Great Reception for LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds Last Night!

Happy Birthday Seleta Reynolds (left)! Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Candles on Big Man Bakes cupcakes to wish a warm happy birthday to Seleta Reynolds (right.) Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last night’s capacity crowd reception honored the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department’s new General Manager Seleta Reynolds. Not only is Reynolds a champion for safety and for great places, but she even committed to scheduling this reception though it coincided with her birthday.

A big thanks to all the folks responsible for making last night’s reception a big success:

Streetsblog USA No Comments

Using L.A. Traffic Counts to Justify Sprawl in the Arizona-Nevada Desert

Congestion relief has nothing to do with Arizona and Nevada's zeal to expand U.S. Route 93 and rebrand it I-11. Photo: ##http://i11study.com/wp/##I-11 Study##

Congestion relief has nothing to do with Arizona and Nevada’s zeal to expand U.S. Route 93 and rebrand it I-11. Photo: I-11 Study

A recent report by U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group, “Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future,” examines 11 of the most wasteful, least justifiable road projects underway in America right now. Here’s the latest installment in our series profiling the various bad decisions that funnel so much money to infrastructure that does no good. 

Arizona and Nevada have proposed a $2.5 billion project to expand U.S. 93 through the desert between Phoenix and Las Vegas — a change that would mean the road could be added to the federal Interstate highway system and renamed I-11 — despite planners’ acknowledgments that barely any of the existing 200-mile road has any congestion at present, and that even under conditions of rapid traffic growth, that will not change substantially.

Justifications for building Interstate 11 often begin by noting that Phoenix and Las Vegas are the two largest adjacent U.S. cities that are not linked by an Interstate highway. But the two cities are linked by an existing highway — U.S. Route 93 — which may not boast the designation of “Interstate,” but is a four-lane divided highway for all but 45 miles of its length between Phoenix and Las Vegas. The remaining 45 miles largely traverse sparsely populated areas. The Interstate 11 project would widen those remaining stretches and make other modifications of varying scope to the entire length of the highway.

It is telling that in the official summary of reasons for constructing I-11, traffic and congestion are mentioned last, and only in terms of the potential of “reaching unacceptable levels of congestion, threatening economic competitiveness.” Recent trends in travel along the corridor show that at nearly all of the highway’s traffic counter locations, traffic growth has been slower than is forecast in project documents or has actually declined.

Arizona DOT and Nevada DOT show 12 locations between Phoenix and Las Vegas where projected traffic counts and actual traffic counts can be compared. In all 12 locations the DOTs projected that traffic would increase. In 10 of those locations traffic counts failed to reach DOT forecasts. In only two locations did traffic counts actually surpass the forecasted level; the only such location in Arizona was the six-mile stretch of U.S. 93 between the Nevada border and the remote Kingman Wash Road. In six locations along the route, traffic counts actually declined.

Indeed, the argument proponents make for I-11 seems to be as much about attracting more traffic to the Las Vegas-Phoenix corridor as reducing congestion.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA No Comments

Talking Headways Short: The Real News About America’s Driving Habits

Consider this a bonus track. A deleted scene at the end of your DVD. Extra footage.

Or, consider it what it is: A short podcast episode Jeff and I recorded two and a half weeks ago that never got edited because I went to Pro-Walk Pro-Bike and he went to Rail~Volution and we recorded (and actually posted) a podcast in between and basically, life got in the way.

But better late than never, right? Here is a Talking Headways short in which we discuss the Federal Highway Administration’s recent (er, not so recent anymore) announcement that Americans are driving more than any time since 2008 and so we’d better spend lots more on highways. Here are two quick visuals to help you understand just one reason we thought their reasoning was flawed:

Despite the rhetoric, FHWA's own charts show that driving is hardly bouncing back to peak levels. Image: ##http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel_monitoring/14juntvt/figure1.cfm##FHWA##

Despite the rhetoric, FHWA’s own charts show that driving is hardly bouncing back to peak levels. Image: FHWA

fred

Even more dramatic: Check out how much per capita vehicle miles traveled has dropped. Image: St. Louis Fed

You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear the rest. It’s a short one; you can listen to the whole thing while you fold the laundry. And there’s something extra-adorable in there as a special prize for putting up with our tardiness.

Jeff will be back soon from Rail~volution and then we’ll get to hear all about that, and then we’ll be back to normal podcasts on, we hope, a more normal schedule.

You’ll be the first to know when that happens if you subscribe to Talking Headways on our RSS feedStitcher or iTunes.

Streetsblog.net No Comments

Over Time, Will More Streetcars Get Their Own Lanes?

Atlanta's 2.7-mile streetcar system is expected to start doing test runs in November. Image: Atlanta Streetcar

Atlanta’s 2.7-mile streetcar system is expected to start doing test runs in November. Image: Atlanta Streetcar

CityLab ran an article yesterday describing how Seattle’s new streetcar addition breaks the mold of its peers in one key way: It runs on dedicated lanes, rather than in mixed traffic.

The new wave of streetcars are often criticized for slow average speeds. If the political will doesn’t exist to provide the systems with dedicated right of way, streetcars can get bogged down in vehicle traffic and offer little time savings compared to walking.

Darin at ATLUrbanist writes that Atlanta’s under-construction streetcar won’t run on dedicated lanes, but he thinks it won’t stay that way forever:

The Atlanta Streetcar’s 2.7 mile downtown loop will travel in mixed-traffic lanes with a low operating speed. Because of that, it’s much more of a development tool at this point for places like the long-struggling Auburn Avenue corridor, as well as a means of transporting tourists to major sites. It is, to a lesser degree, a source of effective everyday transportation (though it can certainly serve that purpose for some workers, as well as GSU students, residents and visitors).

In a way, pitting these two streetcar functions — development vs. transportation — against each other is a false argument because nothing stays the same in cities. The development-tool streetcar line of today, if successful in building walkable density around it, could end up becoming an exclusive-lane route of tomorrow, with a focus on transportation.

Read more…

2 Comments

Today’s Headlines

  • Editorial Board Split on Toll Lanes, Great Dialog Ensues (LAT)
    OCTA Approves Widening 405 Freeway for Toll Lanes (LAT)
  • L.A. City Reviewing Mansionization Rules (LAT)
  • Gold Line Eastside Extension Hearings Announced (The Source)
  • Bay Area Officials Fight CalEnviroScreen Climate Change Funds Going Elsewhere (LAT)
  • West Hollywood Scofflaws Don’t Actually Stop at Stop Signs (WeHoVille)
  • ‘Pump’ Documentary Looks at Alternate Fuels (LA Register)
  • Mainstream Media Troubled By Car-Share Curb Parking Space (SB SF)
  • SF Fire Department Delays Were Not From Street Design (SB SF)
  • Sad Vid: NC Hit-and-Run Driver Kills 13-Year Old (Yahoo)
  • Anti-Islamic Ads Approved for NYC Subway (HuffPo)
  • NYC Council Fines Hit-and-Run Crimes (SB NYC)
    Hopefully Governor Brown Will Soon Approve Similar Hit-and-Run Deterrents

Get National Headlines at Streetsblog USA

6 Comments

What the Latest Census Data Says About L.A. City Bicycle Commuting

Recent census data shows that commuting by bicycle has increased in L.A. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Recent census data shows that commuting by bicycle has increased in the city of Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last week, Streetsblog L.A. ran a national Streetsblog Network story DC and New Orleans Closing the Bike Commute Gap with Portland which summarized this BikePortland story. Those stories examined recently released Census data to shows trends in bicycle commuting.

Since 2008, about 6 percent of Portland commuters traveled primarily by bike. The Census shows that bike commuting in Portland and Minneapolis (two places with reputations as being among the most bike-friendly larger cities in the U.S.) has mostly leveled off, while Washington D.C. and New Orleans are seeing increased percentages.

What about Los Angeles? What does the latest Census data tell us about travel patterns here?

Luckily, friend of the blog and L.A. City Bicycle Advisory Committee chair, Jeff Jacobberger downloaded and crunched the numbers. As Jacobberger clarifies below, these are Census data for work commute trips only. They can be useful for tracking changes over time, but they tend to mush complexities, to under-count low-income communities, and to underestimate overall actual percentages for walking and bicycling (by not including trips to school, the store, the gym, etc.). For example, if I bike a mile, then lock up and take a train for two miles, then disembark and walk a quarter mile to get to work, that would show up only as one train trip.  

With those caveats in mind, the city of Los Angeles commuting mode share data is as follows:

  • Driving Alone: 67.1 percent
  • Carpooling: 9.9 percent
  • Riding Transit: 10.8 percent
  • Walking: 3.6 percent
  • Bicycling: 1.2 percent
  • Other: 1.9 percent (includes taxi, motorcycle, other)
  • Work at Home: 5.4 percent

From an email communication, Jacobberger goes into greater detail about bicycling:

The US Census Bureau has just released data from the 2013 American Community Survey regarding bicycle commuting in [the city of] Los Angeles for 2013: 1.8% of men usually bike to work, but only 0.6% of women, for an overall 1.2% bike commute rate. The wide disparity in male vs. female bike commuting is a clear sign that L.A.’s streets are not perceived to be safe places to ride.

That is a 33% increase since 2010; and a 100% increase since 2000.

Looking at that 1.8 percent number, Jacobberger mentioned some interesting comparisons to me when we talked at the Mid City West Park(ing) Day park. Read more…

Streetsblog USA No Comments

Sustainable Transportation Could Save the World (and Save $100 Trillion)

A protesters gathered in New York City to demand action on climate, a new report shows exactly what that action could offer us. Photo: South Bend Voice via Flickr

As protesters gathered in New York City to demand action on climate change, a new report shows how smart transportation policy can play a major role in reducing carbon emissions. Photo: South Bend Voice/Flickr

Dramatically expanding transit and active transportation over the next few decades could reduce carbon emissions from urban transport 40 percent more than following a car-centric trajectory. And it could also save the world economy $100 trillion.

That’s according to a new report presented recently to the United Nations by researchers at UC Davis and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy [PDF]. The team modeled the cost and greenhouse gas impacts of two scenarios for the future of world transportation up to the year 2050.

The baseline scenario assumes a business-as-usual approach to transportation. Following this path, transit systems across the globe would grow modestly over the next few decades, while driving would grow considerably, especially in developing nations.

Urban transportation produced about 2.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2010, or about a quarter of total transportation emissions. This is expected to double under a business-as-usual approach by 2050.

Following a different path — which the authors call the “high shift” scenario — by 2050, countries around the world develop high-quality transit systems and bikeable, walkable street networks on par with today’s leading cities.

In the “high shift” future of 2050, most countries will have doubled or tripled their total rapid transit capacity. The authors modeled a dramatic increase in urban rail systems and even bigger growth in bus rapid transit systems. In the model, most major cities in the world would have BRT systems as extensive as Bogota’s TransMilenio.

This scenario also assumes more compact walkable development and increases in cycling — particularly e-bikes in developing nations. ”Most cities could achieve something approaching average European cycling levels,” according to the authors, but still below global leaders like the Netherlands. The “high-shift” scenario also projects the effect of widespread road pricing or other financial incentives that favor sustainable modes. As a result, urban vehicle traffic would only reach half the level projected in the business-as-usual scenario.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA No Comments

Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor: An Opportunity to Destroy a Community

Residents of this depressed Cleveland neighborhood don't see much opportunity in the new Opportunity Corridor that's going to destroy 76 homes.  Photo: Bob Perkoski

Residents of this depressed Cleveland neighborhood don’t see much opportunity in the new Opportunity Corridor that’s going to destroy 76 homes. Photo: Bob Perkoski

A recent report by U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group, “Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future,” examines 11 of the most wasteful, least justifiable road projects underway in America right now. Here’s the latest installment in our series profiling the various bad decisions that funnel so much money to infrastructure that does no good. 

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is promoting a $331 million, three-mile, five-lane road construction project starting at I-490’s terminus south of the city’s downtown and running northeast to the University Circle neighborhood. But it’s hard to see what need it would be meeting.

The number of miles driven in and around Cleveland has been stagnant for more than a decade. And though project proponents have tried to package the project as an “opportunity corridor” that would help the disadvantaged neighborhoods the road would traverse, the communities that would supposedly benefit have other priorities. Part of the neighborhood would also have to be destroyed to make room for the road.

Expanding road capacity is a questionable investment given recent travel trends in the Cleveland area. While ridership on the regional transit authority has been increasing, vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) in Cuyahoga County rose an anemic 0.3 percent from 2000 to 2013, an annual average of 0.02 percent. In the five counties making up the Cleveland-Elyria Metropolitan Statistical Area, VMT climbed just 1.9 percent from 2000 to 2013, an annual average increase of 0.14 percent.

Vehicle-miles traveled is flat in the Cleveland area. So why the push to build a new $100 million-a-mile highway? Image: U.S. PIRG and Frontier Group

Vehicle-miles traveled is flat in the Cleveland area. So why the push to build a new $100 million-a-mile highway? Image: U.S. PIRG and Frontier Group

Read more…

No Comments

Video: Meet Bobby Shriver, Candidate for L.A. County Supervisor, 3rd District

[Editor's note: This is the second of two video interviews with the candidates for L.A. County Supervisor. You can see our interview with former State legislator Sheila Kuehl here. Videos are directed and edited by Saul Rubin.]

Former Santa Monica Mayor – and nephew of late president John F. Kennedy – Bobby Shriver is one of two candidates running to replace Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who is leaving office due to term limits after two decades.

Shriver, who served on the Santa Monica City Council from 2004 to 2012, is running against former State law maker Sheila Kuehl in what is arguably one of the most important local elections in Southern California this year.

With an annual budget of about $25 billion dollars and a constituency of nearly 10 million people, the five-person Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is one of the most powerful local government institutions in the country.

Yaroslavsky’s district, the 3rd District, alone is home to about two million people. It includes well-heeled westside cities like Santa Monica, Malibu, and Beverly Hills, but its boundaries also include the historically underserved neighborhoods in the valley, including Sylmar, Pacoima, and part of San Fernando.

Aside from overseeing the County’s vast network of social services, including hospitals, homeless shelters, and libraries, all five Supervisors also sit on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), one of the nation’s largest transportation agencies.

Los Angeles Streetsblog/Santa Monica Next sat down with Shriver at his campaign headquarters on Wilshire in eastern Santa Monica to talk about his history with multi-modal transportation, his views on Measure R-2, what he believes the County can do to address the region’s housing crisis, and his vision for a more sustainable Los Angeles County.

Watch the edited video at the top of the post. Highlights from the interview include:

  • At the 30 second mark, Shriver talks about his history with active transportation: “I’m a bicyclist myself, although I don’t ride my bike to work. I like to ride and I’m very aware of the danger people face while riding in L.A.”
  • Shriver talks about his record on affordable housing at the 1:30 mark: “I voted in Santa Monica for the Community Corp [Santa Monica's leading nonprofit affordable housing developer] funding and as far as I know, for every 100 percent affordable project that ever came before the Council.”
  • At the 2:20 mark: “But it’s clear now that, in L.A., new housing needs to be built on a very broad basis. Rents have gotten totally ridiculous.”
  • Shriver talks about how he, if elected, would address the need for affordable housing at the 2:50 mark: “I’d like to get a certain amount of money into a program whereby the nonprofits can come and build affordable housing… and work with cities to see where sites might be for affordable housing construction.”
  • At 4:35, Shriver talks about Measure R-2 and how much of the future ballot measure should be alloted for pedestrian and bike improvements: “As much as is necessary to make the transportation work, so whether it’s bicycle and pedestrian improvements or its shuttles to bring people to stops where there is no parking, that has to be done.”
  • Shriver shares his vision for transit in the Valley at the 6:10 mark: “If you talk to people in general… people want the light rail on the Orange line…. That’s a priority. North-south connectors, they also want.”
  • Also, Shriver said, “I think the biggest near-term thing that should be done in the near-term is to give all the community college students, like the CSUN students, like we did in Santa Monica, a pass to ride free on Metro… I think you should just ride free with your college ID.”
  • At the 7:15 mark, Shriver talks about what he would do if he could instantly change one thing about L.A. County transit: “I’d have some sort of train facility in the Valley that zipped across the Valley.”

Watch the full 20-minute interview at Santa Monica Next.  Read more…