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The Week in Livable Streets Events

sblog_calendarA couple of events fighting displacement. Fun bike events. Metro Board Committee meetings. Ya know. The usual.

  • Tuesday - North East L.A. Alliance will be hosting “Testimonios” – a flash mob procession and public performance commemorating the histories of displacement of peoples that has taken place on the land in and around L.A. Union Station. See Facebook event for more information.
  • Wednesday - Mariachi Plaza will be converted into a creative lab where local artists will be paired with “MacArturos” across a spectrum of disciplines to create instant workshops with local community member participation. Among the projects expected to unfold organically will be a large community altar with tributes to families that have been displaced due to rising rents or businesses that no longer exist. Get the details for this 6 p.m. event, here.
  • Wednesday – Climate Plan hosts its yearly big fundraiser with an awards dinner and cocktail hour. Get the event details from our calendar section. Get tickets at EventBrite.
  • Wednesday, Thursday – The Metro Board of Directors Committee Meetings are this week. After taking August off, the agenda is sure to be double-the-length, and DOUBLE THE FUN! The meeting agendas can be found, here.
  • Thursday – Westsiders, the Culver City Bicycle Coalition is hosting a meet and greet at Kay n’ Daves. Sounds like a good time. Get the details, on Facebook.
  • FridayIt’s Park(ing) Day! Look around for spaces…
  • Sunday – It’s “Car-Free Day” in cities across the world. While we don’t know of any celebrations city-wide, The Valley celebrates every year with some car-free events. This year’s Car Free SFV includes tours of the Orange Line on bike or (presumably) bus. Can’t make the SFV? You can celebrate by not driving a car. Novel! Details.

Did we miss something? Is there something we need to know for next week? Email events@la.streetsblog.org

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Meet Seleta Reynolds, the Safe Streets Advocate Running LADOT

Seleta Reynolds speaks at the ribbon cutting for the "Dressed Rehearsal" on Broadway. Photo: LADOT

Seleta Reynolds speaks at the ribbon cutting for the “Dress Rehearsal” on Broadway. Photo: LADOT

(If you want to skip the article and the editing and just listen to our half-hour conversation, click here. – DN)

If you spend some time with the newly minted General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, you would think she was an LADOT lifer not a recent transplant from the San Francisco MTA.

She can speak eloquently of the “great heart” that Los Angeles’ people have, belying the image projected by Hollywood.

Dressed in a suit and bike helmet, she points out road hazards on her bike commute to work, weaves around every pothole, manhole, and cracked street with the knowledge of a regular.

She can even recite DOT history going back years, thanks in part to her avid interest in reading Streetsblog.

It’s not until you visit her office that you remember Seleta Reynolds has been on the job at LADOT for roughly a month. The walls are nearly barren. A map of her first project at Fehr and Peers, the Morro Street Bicycle Boulevard in San Luis Obispo, had arrived the day before our interview.

But you don’t need blank walls to tell you that Reynolds is a true breath of fresh air to a department that, in the past, has primarily prioritized a perceived need to drive quickly. Reynolds talked about community and community building in response to questions about the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, equity in transportation funding, relationships with the City Council, and building a bicycle share system that will work in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Region.

And it’s these new ideas, and a new commitment to an LADOT that is people-focused, that has advocates, and our political leadership, so excited. When announcing her nomination to head LADOT, Mayor Eric Garcetti referred to her as the “ideal field marshal in our war against traffic.” City Council Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin was just as illustrative in an email response for this story, “Seleta is a rock star – a game-changer – who will lead the charge to get Los Angeles moving again.”

I could write a full story on each of the eight topics we covered last Tuesday, but instead I’ve broken up the audio into more manageable three- or four-minute segments with a short summary. This can all be found after the jump. Read more…

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With Permit Parking, John Cranley Could Help Cincinnati Despite Himself

Chalk this one up as a worthwhile proposal offered in bad faith.

Streetsblog readers may remember Mayor John Cranley as the pol who wasted a ton of taxpayer money trying to kill the Cincinnati streetcar. But lately Cranley has come out as a would-be parking reformer, proposing a $300 annual fee for on-street parking in Over-the-Rhine, a historic neighborhood on the streetcar route. 

Mayor John Cranley's proposal to charge for curbside parking could help Cincinnati neighborhoods more than he realizes. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/taestell/15094122075/in/pool-over-the-rhine##Travis Estell/Flickr##

Mayor John Cranley’s proposal to charge for curbside parking could help Cincinnati neighborhoods more than he realizes. Photo: Travis Estell/Flickr

Not surprisingly, Cranley is getting blowback from some quarters. But Randy A. Simes at UrbanCincy says the plan is right on the merits.

To better understand how this proposed permit fee stacks up, let’s consider that it averages out to approximately $25 per month. According to the most recent State of Downtown report, the average monthly parking rate in the Central Business District, Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton is $89. This average accounts for approximately 36,400 monthly parking spaces available in 2013.

While this average monthly parking rate is skewed by much higher rates in the Central Business District, many lots and garages reserved for residential parking in Over-the-Rhine charge between $40 and $110 per month. This means that Mayor Cranley’s proposal would put the city’s on-street parking spaces nearly in-line with their private counterparts.

This is a smart move. We should stop subsidizing parking as much as possible. Therefore, such a proposal should not only be examined in greater depth for Over-the-Rhine, but all of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods.

All well and good. The thing is, Cranley makes no bones about the fact that he considers the fee as retribution against streetcar supporters. “They should be asked to pay a much higher fee for cars they still have on the street,” Cranley said on a local radio show. “[It] is consistent with the philosophy of the folks who are pushing the streetcar, which is this will reduce the need for cars, so those who want to bring cars into Over-the-Rhine … should pay for the amenity that they so desperately wanted.”

Cranley’s motives may be suspect, but ironically, by placing a value on curbside parking he may end up helping constituents he holds in contempt.

Elsewhere on the Network: Bike PGH welcomes Pittsburgh’s new bike and pedestrian coordinator, and Rights of Way celebrates the arrival of the first bike corral in Portland, Maine.

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Today’s Headlines

  • New Metro Fare Hike in Effect Today (LAT)
  • More on TIGER Grants for Metro’s Rosa Parks and Little Tokyo Stations (The Source, KPCC, LAT)
  • 3-Foot Law Opinion: Bikes Are A Good Hobby, Not Transportation (The Sun)
  • In Highland Park, Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Pedestrian (Eastsider)
  • In NoHo, Metrolink Train Kills Pedestrian (LAT)
  • KCET profiles Ben Caldwell, the Father of South L.A.’s Leimert Park
  • Top 5 L.A. Subway Stations (L.A. Post-Examiner)
  • Topsy Turvy World of SM’s Anti-Growth-ers vs. Bergamot Station Development (Santa Monica Next)
  • SF BART Building Oversize Station Parking Structures (SB SF)
  • Chicago Transit-Oriented Development Navigating Reduced Parking Requirements (SB Chicago)
  • Psychological Benefits of Active Transportation (City Lab)

Get National Headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Need to Add a Bike Lane to a Bridge? Experiment Like Pittsburgh Did

The Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place 2014 conference took place this week in Pittsburgh. Even though the Andy Warhol Bridge already has a nice shared bike-ped path on it, for one week the city decided to put bike lanes on its roadway. It’s the simplest design you can imagine, just two rows of small traffic barriers and a little bit of signage. I compiled a few moments of footage while walking to an event one night.

In New York City, the Brooklyn Bridge is just packed with pedestrians and cyclists. For about the last ten years or so, the crowding gets so intense at peak hours that it can be perilous. There have been many solutions suggested over the years, including converting one of the roadway’s car lanes to a two-way protected bike lane so cyclists and pedestrians don’t have to jostle for space on the narrow promenade they currently share.

Of course the Brooklyn Bridge has more traffic of all types than the Andy Warhol Bridge. But keep this Pittsburgh experiment in mind for the future. Something has to be done on the Brooklyn Bridge. Maybe a trial bike lane during the summer would be a good place to start.

It wouldn’t be an unprecedented decision. There are many other examples throughout the world — here’s our video of Vancouver giving road space to bikes on the Burrard Bridge:

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Friday Job Market

Looking to hire a smart, qualified person for a position in transportation planning, engineering, IT, or advocacy? Post a listing on the Streetsblog Jobs Board and reach our national audience of dedicated readers.

Looking for a job? Here are the current listings:

Development Director, Transportation Alternatives, New York, NY
The Development Director will lead and direct all of T.A.’s fundraising efforts, with direct responsibility for major gifts, foundation grants, and gala events, and oversight responsibility for corporate sponsorship, membership, and T.A.’s annual bike tours

Safe Routes to School Planner, BikeWalk KC, Kansas City, MO
BikeWalkKC is looking for a person with technical expertise in community planning, active transportation, public and institutional policy, and geographic information systems to make Kansas City a better place for people to walk and bike. In particular this position will be focused on the Kansas City Public School District and all of its diverse neighborhoods.

Communications Manager, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
The Communications Manager should be able to craft compelling messages that convey the joys of bicycling while furthering the Bicycle Coalition’s mission and programs. The ideal candidate also has a laser-like attention to detail and a strong commitment to diversity of all kinds.

Transit-Oriented Development Planner, City of Madison, WI
The Sustainable Transportation Planner is responsible for professional urban and community planning work with a particular focus on planning a healthy, sustainable, 21st Century mobility system for the City of Madison with consideration for the metropolitan region.  The position is defined by a high degree of collaboration with area units of government.

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Guest Editorial: Urban Change in L.A. – Too Little, Too Slow

Should L.A.'s future look more like the 110 Freeway...

Should L.A.’s future look more like the 110 Freeway… Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

There are many suggestions how to ‘fix’ L.A., but we still fail to connect the financial troubles of our city with its physical shape. Our sprawling urban landscape has a structural land use imbalance that is a major cause for our financial problems; unchanged, L.A.’s urban form undermines our recovery and jeopardizes our future prosperity.

Still, L.A. is improving, and many folks are celebrating our accomplishments. But what is happening is too small, and too cautious for a world class city. We are not changing nearly fast enough to keep up with our many challenges. On the contrary, compared to other cities, we are falling further and further behind.

What we need is a bold urban design strategy paired with an aggressive renewal of much of the city built after WWII. We need to recognize wasteful sprawl as the source of our current problems. We need to invent a new city that lives up to the aspirations and dreams of Angelinos; and then transition into that new city as fast as we can.

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission reports in A Time For Truth [PDF] that we are “a city that is barely treading water while so many other cities are boldly charging forward.” Without action, the commission warned, Los Angeles risks “becoming a city in decline.” The recent 10-million-gallon water eruption in Westwood was just the latest indicator of our state of disrepair. All the while, L.A. does not even have the funds to repair all our potholes.

A root cause for this dire situation is how much land we waste for cars. Standing in a parking lot, or on an arterial boulevard in L.A., you will notice that very little around you generates tax revenue. On the contrary, parking lots, roads, medians, etc… all require scarce resources for maintenance and repairs. Now imagine doing the same in Boston, or in San Francisco…. all around you would see businesses and residences, paying taxes – taxes that can be used to keep a much smaller infrastructure in ship shape!

L.A.’s land use imbalance is acute. In a “normal” city, only approx. one-fifth of the city’s land is dedicated to transportation. Four-fifths of that city is used for buildings that generate revenue – or for open space. Not in LA; here, as much as 60 percent of our land – three-fifths – is used to accommodate our automobiles. Only two-fifths of LA has buildings that generates revenue to maintain, renew and expand our public services.

The car based city cannot not work sustainably, least of all financially. We must simply stop limping along with the city we have, and start building the city we need. In a nutshell, we must reduce land used for streets and parking lots, and instead build more buildings – or create recreational open space (landscaped traffic islands do not count.) And we must get much bolder and innovative in doing so.

or like CicLAvia?

…or like CicLAvia? Photo: CicLAvia

All we have right now is some good, but timid, first steps:

  • We rightfully celebrate our CicLAvias, and the fact that we are planning to build 1,684 new bikeway miles. But let’s aim much higher. For instance, let’s look at Copenhagen. Around 60 percent of all Copenhageners commute by bike on a daily basis, much on new bike-dedicated infrastructure, often in inclement weather. We here have the best weather in the world, and a pretty flat city. Why do we not aim to be the bike capital of the world?
  • It’s also great that we are finally embracing parklets. But – a little patch of grass in the space of a metered parking space does not make an open space strategy for a city like L.A. We need new public open space – let’s find the land on our roads! We already have ambitiously planned to cap some freeways with parks: Park 101, Hollywood Central Park, Glendale Area 134. What is still utopia for us already exists in NY since the 1950s, in Seattle since 1976, in Phoenix since 1990, in Boston since 2008, and in Dallas since last year. And many cities remove freeways all together and replace them with public open spaces. In Portland, since 1974; along San Francisco’s waterfront, since 1991; in Seoul, since 2003; in Madrid, since 2011. When will we start right here?
  • Finally, we now have partial funding to restore the L.A. River. But why only fix 11 miles of a 51-mile river that runs 32 miles through the city of L.A.? Let’s address the whole river, through the whole city, at once!

And where will we get the money for this?  Read more…

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California Legislation Watch: Weekly Update

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 4.34.24 PMHere is Streetsblog’s weekly highlight of California legislation and activities related to sustainable transportation.

With the legislature in recess, Sacramento waits for Governor Brown to decide on hundreds of bills passed by lawmakers before they left town. His deadline is the end of this month, and he has begun signing small groups of bills.

A Win for Bikes on Buses: The governor signed A.B. 2707, from Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Arcadia), allowing 40-foot buses (not longer) to carry mounted bike racks that can carry three bikes. L.A. Metro, the bill’s sponsor, will be able to add half again as much bike-carrying capacity to more than half of its fleet, including new buses on order, and the new regulation applies to transit agencies throughout the state. See Streetsblog’s coverage here.

Climate Change Conversation: State leaders held a symposium in Sacramento this week to pat themselves on the back for state efforts on climate change. Both former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Governor Jerry Brown spoke at the gathering, which also featured talks by climate change researchers and business leaders who are finding ways to thrive under California’s regulations.

The overall themes were: California leads the world; California needs to do more, and soon; the economy will not wither and die if we try to fix climate change; and individuals still do not understand the impact of their individual choices. See Ethan Elkind’s recap of the symposium here

Bicycling was mentioned twice in the course of the morning. It’s hard to say whether that’s progress: a life-long bicycle activist I spoke to afterwards told me there’s a sense that bikes will never be able to replace long driving commutes and therefore a focus on bikes seems too small and too slow in the face of the enormity of the climate change challenge. But Jim Brown of Sacramento Bicycle Advocates had a different reaction: he was inspired, he said, to focus on what individuals can do now, and on helping them overcome obstacles to doing it.

I think my colleague Joe Linton has it right: put a map on your fridge, draw a two-mile (or one-mile) circle around your home, and commit to walking or biking every trip you make within that circle. You won’t convince me that enough people taking that one individual action won’t make a big difference.

High-Speed Rail Foes Prolong Litigation: The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the Pacific Legal Foundation, and other opponents of California’s high-speed rail program announced they will take their case against the project to the California Supreme Court. They are appealing the recent Court of Appeals reversal of a lower court’s ruling against the sale of bonds to build the train.

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

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

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US DOT Awards 72 TIGER Grants, But the Program Remains in Jeopardy

(Los Angeles editor’s note: The L.A. Register reports that California was awarded six TIGER grants, including two for L.A. Metro to improve first/last mile connections to rail stations. The two Metro stations to receive TIGER-funded improvements are the existing Metro Blue/Green Line Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, and the under-construction Regional Connector line’s Little Tokyo station at 1st and Central.)  

This afternoon, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will announce the latest round of TIGER grants awarding $600 million among 72 transportation projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia. You can see all TIGER grants to date or just the latest round — TIGER VI — in this map from Transportation for America.

Here are a few things to know about the state of the program:

Demand for these grants still far outstrips supply. U.S. DOT received 797 eligible applications this time, up from 585 in 2013, requesting 15 times the $600 million available for the program. TIGER fills a significant void in the federal transportation program — it’s one of the only ways cities, metro regions, and transit agencies can apply directly for federal funds, bypassing state DOTs. Plus, the emphasis on non-automotive modes and the availability of small grants make it a good fit for transit improvements and bike and pedestrian projects, which can’t access other federal pots of money so easily.

27 percent of the total funding is going to transit projects. That includes
Read more…

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Protected Lanes Are a Great Start — Next Goal Is Low-Stress Bike Networks

pfb logo 100x22

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

For decades, protected bike lanes were a “missing tool” in American street design. Now that this is changing, bikeway design leaders are identifying a new frontier: low-stress grids.

Dan Goodman of the Federal Highway Administration says the federal Department of Transportation is shifting its strategy from emphasizing biking facilities to emphasizing biking networks.

“Separated bike lanes are part of the toolbox that get us to connected networks,” said Dan Goodman of the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Human Environment.

Speaking at the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh, Goodman said a draft 2014-2018 FHWA strategic plan prioritizes, for the first time, the enhancement of pedestrian and bicycle networks instead of just “one-off” facilities.

“We want people to be not just thinking about resurfacing one mile and having the bike lane die, especially if there’s a shared-use path one block away,” Goodman said. “We want to focus on filling those gaps… That’s something that you’ll be hearing us talk about a lot more.”

Under Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, creating connected networks is one of four overarching policy priorities for the U.S. Department of Transportation, he said. (The others are safety, data and performance measures, and equity.)

Martha Roskowski, vice president for local innovation at PeopleForBikes, described “the network” as “where things are going.”

Read more…