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Boris Johnson Commits to a Protected “Cycle Superhighway” Crossing London

London's "crossrail for bikes" will be the longest protected bike lane in Europe. Image: London Evening Standard

London’s “crossrail for bikes” will be the longest urban protected bike lane in Europe, according to the London papers. Image: London Evening Standard

London Mayor Boris Johnson is showing cities what it looks like to commit real resources to repurposing car lanes for high-quality bike infrastructure.

Yesterday, Johnson announced the city will begin building a wide, continuous protected bike lane linking east and west London when the weather warms this spring. When complete, it will be the longest protected “urban cycle lane” in Europe, according to Metro UK, carrying riders through the heart of the city and some of its most famous landmarks. The bike lane will be separated from vehicle traffic by a curb, London-based design blog Dezeen reports.

While bike infrastructure is cheap, London is devoting serious resources to ensuring that this bike lane is as safe, spacious, and comfortable as it can be. The central portion of the bike route, about 5.5 miles, will cost £41 to construct ($62 million).

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Today’s Headlines

  • Tripda, App For Long-Trip Ride-Sharing, Gets $11M Capital (LAT)
  • Little Tokyo Dive-Landmark Gives Way To Regional Connector Wrecking Ball (KPCC)
  • Glendale Installs Pedestrian Safety Flags At Two Intersections (Glendale News Press)
  • Neon Tommy Compares Subways in L.A. vs. Taipei
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Woman, Turns Self In Later (LAT)
  • Metro Board Meets Today, Agenda At The Source
    SBLA Will Be Listening, Some Live Tweeting At @StreetsblogLA
  • Declining Oil Prices Curb Extraction in Bakersfield (LAT)
  • California Active Transportation Program “ATP” Second Round Preview (SRTS)
  • Santa Monica Next Interviews Outgoing SM City Manager Gould – Part One, Two
  • Torrance Transit Now Takes TAP Card Payment (The Source)
  • Historians Debunk America’s “Love Affair” With the Car (CityLab)
  • Clever Street Anti-Sexual-Harrassment Campaign Video (MetaSpoon YouTube)

Get National Headlines at Streetsblog USA

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ULI FutureBuild2015 Recap: Peeks at Future Transportation and Parking

Streetsblog L.A. was a media sponsor of yesterday’s Future Build Los Angeles 2015 conference which showcased “trends, people and forces remaking the built environment.” The event was hosted by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) L.A. in partnership with VerdeXchange.

Many individual speakers and panelists touched on topics pertinent to Streetsblog. City of Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Rick Cole (currently tied for second in SBLA’s reader poll to pick Art Leahy’s successor - voting ends January 31) touched on the city of Los Angeles’ efforts to become a more “livable, walkable” place, and touted Metro’s ambitious five new rail projects under construction. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia touched on complete streets’ ability to accomplish multiple city goals.

Most streetsbloggy, though were panel discussions on transportation and parking.

ULI FutureBuild 2015 panel on transportation. Left to right: Carter Rubin, Seleta Reynolds, Gabe Klein, and Gail Goldberg. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

ULI FutureBuild 2015 panel on transportation. Left to right: Carter Rubin, Seleta Reynolds, Gabe Klein, and Gail Goldberg. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Transformation of Ground Transportation and Streets: Trends Driving Tomorrow’s Cities 

This panel featured:

  • Gail Goldberg – head of ULI L.A., and former head of L.A. Department of City Planning (DCP)
  • Gabe Klein - entrepreneurial livability rock star, ULI fellow, currently with Bridj
  • Seleta Reynolds – General Manager, L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT)
  • Carter Rubin, moderator – L.A. mayoral Great Streets program manager and former Streetsblog L.A. intern

Seleta Reynolds prescribed three important tasks to move cities toward more streets as great public spaces:

  1. Get a “new cookbook.” U.S., CA, and L.A. all currently design streets based on what Reynolds called “insane” standards from American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO.) Reynolds urged cities not to use a cookie-cutter approach, and to put more credence in forward-thinking design guidance, including National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO.)
  2. Measure the outcomes that count. Reynolds decried the past decades when pretty much the only metric that mattered was car capacity. She’s happy that car-centric Level of Service (LOS) is on its way out, but urged that we need to count all people using our streets, and to measure outcomes related to economics, health, and the environment. Reynolds told the story of how L.A.’s CicLAvia events were studied and showed to not only dramatically improve air quality on the CicLAvia route streets, but also overall, including nearby streets not on the route.
  3. Become better storytellers. Reynolds spoke about how the public quickly gets lost in the jargon of transportation discussions, mentioning that even seemingly simple concepts like a “left-turn pocket” will often be misunderstood. She stated that lots of transportation professionals have “totally lost the plot” and need to develop skills in communicating with the general public

Gabe Klein focused on how smart technologies are disrupting transportation’s “legacy assets.” Klein told how Uber has exploited the inefficiencies of old-school taxi systems, but that ultimately “the disruptors will quickly be disrupted” with proprietary “sharing” ultimately giving way to peer-to-peer sharing. Klein envisions a future where driverless cars in shared fleets could be active 95 percent of the time, instead of parked 95 percent of the time like current private cars. Klein stressed that Google’s driverless car is a “25 mph urban vehicle” expected to be deployed primarily in shared-use fleets, not individually-owned. Klein speculates that it could result in 85 percent fewer cars on our streets, and could dramatically decrease the need for parking.

During question and answer, both Klein and Reynolds expressed caution in giving too much private sector control of public space. Instead, they stressed that the public needs to incentivize outcomes that improve the quality of life for inhabitants. Partnerships should serve public good, with bike share systems as a worthwhile example of a successful public-private partnership.

Goldberg professed that she loves L.A.’s residential streets, but finds commercial corridors “embarassing.” She announced an exciting new national ULI initiative that will re-think a key street in L.A., though the formal announcement will be coming soon.  Read more…

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Pieces in Place for AASHTO to Endorse Protected Bike Lanes… by 2020

Part of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, installed in 2011.

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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.

The bible of U.S. bikeway engineering, last revised just before the modern American protected bike lane explosion, will almost certainly include protected lanes in its next update.

That’s the implication of a project description released last month from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

AASHTO’s current bikeway guide doesn’t spell out standards for protected bike lanes. Its updated edition is on track to be released in 2018 at the soonest. A long wait? Yes, but that would still shave seven years off the previous 13-year update cycle.

“Back in 2009, we maybe had a few miles of separated bike lanes in this country,” said Jennifer Toole, founder of Toole Design Group and the lead contractor who wrote AASHTO’s current bike guide. “It was written right on the cusp of those new changes. Now we have all kinds of experience with this stuff. And data — we’ve got data for the first time.”

AASHTO’s richly detailed and researched guides are the main resource for most U.S. transportation engineers. Some civil engineers simply will not build anything that lacks AASHTO-approved design guidance.

However, dozens of cities in most U.S. states have now begun building protected lanes with the help of other publications.

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DTSC Issues Eight Violations Against Exide after Inspection of Shuttered Facilities

The sign greeting visitors to Exide Technologies' Vernon facilities. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The sign greeting visitors to Exide Technologies’ Vernon facilities. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A press release sent out by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) this morning states that the DTSC has issued eight violations of state hazardous waste laws against embattled Vernon lead-acid battery recycler Exide for violations discovered during recent facility inspections it conducted with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The violations are of concern.

Exide was ordered to cease smelting operations in March of 2014 because of its struggle to comply with new rules issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The rules, approved in January of 2014, established requirements for the reduction of arsenic emissions and other key toxic air contaminant emissions, set requirements for ambient air concentration limits for arsenic, as well as hourly emission limits of arsenic, benzene, and 1,3-butadiene (all known carcinogens), and contained additional administrative, monitoring, and source testing requirements for stack emissions at lead-acid battery recycling facilities.

Unwilling to take responsibility for the health risk assessment, which had found that arsenic emissions from the plant posed an elevated cancer risk to as many as 110,000 people living in surrounding areas, and displeased by the more stringent emissions standards which required that Exide install costly new “negative pressure” air filtering equipment by April 10, 2014, Exide promptly sued.

To the relief of most residents, Exide lost its appeals and was forced to remain closed while cleaning up the facilities and making the required upgrades to the plant.

Which means that the current set of violations are a result of Exide’s failure to properly manage the very processes intended to help it operate more cleanly. Read more…

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This Is the Kind of Leadership We Need From State DOTs

“A breath of fresh air” — that’s how Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns describes this interview with Tennessee DOT Commissioner John Schroer. In this video, produced by Smart Growth America, Schroer describes what he is doing to make Tennessee’s the ”the best DOT in the country.” Here are some of the highlights:

We did a top-to-bottom review and we looked at everything that we did and we analyzed it from a production standpoint to a financial standpoint. Changed a lot of the leadership within the department, brought in a lot of people from the private sector.

I found when I  moved into this position, a lot of cities did a poor job of long-range planning — in how they did zoning, in how they approved projects — and took very little consideration into the transportation mode. Oftentimes those cities would then call us and say, “We’ve got a problem, you need to help us fix it.” Well, that problem was self-created. It was self-created because they made bad zoning decisions, they put a school in the wrong place without thinking about transportation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to build a bypass to a bypass, and that purely is bad planning. We’ve got a whole division now that is working with communities right now and trying to help them not make those bad decisions, and when that happens the state saves money.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Carnage: Driver Jumps Curb Kills Crossing Guard In Monterey Park (ABC, LAT)
    Elsewhere, Driver To Be Tried For Collision That Killed 4 People (KPCC)
  • Santa Monica Next’s Jason Islas Interview On Santa Monica’s No-Growth Pains (KCRW)
  • Flying Pigeon Looks At L.A. Election Numbers And Urges All To Bike The Vote
  • Profiling the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency (LAT)
  • Westwood Should Prioritize Walkability (Daily Bruin)
  • Transforming L.A.’s Alleys (Flying Pigeon)
  • Officials Looks Back at 2005 Metrolink Train Crash In Glendale (Glendale News Press)
  • A Report Sitting In The Middle Of the 101 Freeway (Guardian)
  • Infographics: Why and Where You Will Ride the Gold Line Foothill Extension (The Source)
  • Farewell To Long Beach 106-Year-Old Cyclist Octavio Orduño (Biking in L.A.)
  • Department of DIY’s Astrid Conder Paints Her Echo Park Bus Bench (Eastsider)
  • A Critical Transportation Link: Getting Angels Flight Running Again (LAT)
  • Secretary Foxx Challenges Mayors On Bike/Ped But There’s No Funding (Getting Around Sacto)
  • Handsome Red-Painted Bus Only Lane in San Francisco (SBSF)

Get National Headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Talking Headways: Tune In and Find Out How You Can Support This Podcast

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In this week’s Talking Headways, Tanya and I discuss Uber’s planned data release, wondering whether it’s a boon to cities or just a clever PR move on the part of a company trying to deal with poor public perception.

Also, why do people think it’s cute when a dog rides transit on its own, but when kids walk by themselves in their own neighborhood, it’s labeled neglect? We discuss parenting and the growth of confidence that comes from going out on your own for the first time.

Finally, we have some news about the future of Talking Headways — while Streetsblog can continue to distribute the podcast, the funding to produce it will have to come from other sources going forward. If you love the show and can’t wait to hear it each week AND are interested in sponsoring it, please get in touch.

You can find Jeff on twitter @theoverheadwire or you can email jswood at theoverheadwire dot com.

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Move L.A.’s South L.A. Forum Asks if Transit Can Deliver Shared Prosperity

Figueroa Ave., just north of 85th St.

A man takes shelter in the shade of a telephone pole at a bus stop on Figueroa Ave., just north of 85th St. in South L.A., on a hot summer day. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Riding my bike the 15 miles between my apartment and a Move L.A. forum on the future of transit at Southwest College on a dreary Saturday morning while battling the tail end of a stubborn respiratory infection was not among the brightest ideas I had ever had, I reflected as it began to drizzle and my hacking started getting the best of me.

But I hadn’t wanted to take the bus (buses, as, technically, I would have had to have taken two). Between the walking and the waiting for lines that run less frequently early on Saturday mornings, my door-to-door journey would probably come out at about two hours — half the time it took me to ride the route.

And the scenes I passed at bus stops on my way down the length of Vermont were not exactly selling bus riding to me.

The many, many folks crowding narrow sidewalks at unprotected bus stops looked rather miserable in the areas where rain was falling. Most yanked hats down over their ears, snuggled deeper into jackets, held newspapers or other random things over their heads to fend off the drizzle, and huddled over their kids to keep them dry. There are actual bus “shelters,” but they are few and far between, generally filthy and overflowing with trash, and offer little protection from the elements.

I even found myself dodging wet, frustrated people who had stepped out into the street to make the long-distance squint up Vermont that only regular bus riders can, searching in vain for a flash of orange. Others called out to ask if I had happened to pass a bus on its way to pick them up.

The state of the bus system in L.A. is not spectacular, in other words, despite the fact that it is responsible for ferrying 3/4 of all Metro transit riders (approximately 30 million people) back and forth per month.

But discussion of the bus situation was notably absent from the discussion on the future of transportation that unfolded over nearly five hours the morning of January 8.

Aside from the remarks of Southwest College alum Leticia Conley, who complained that some students’ ability to access education could be harmed by having to rely on buses that only ran once an hour, most of the discussion focused on rail.

The dotted blue lines represent Move L.A.'s proposal for expanded rail lines throughout L.A. County.

The dotted blue lines represent Move L.A.’s proposal for expanded rail lines throughout L.A. County.

In some ways, the oversight was by design. Besides gathering together leaders from the African-American community to talk about opportunities to make investments in transit translate into investments in the development of South L.A., the larger goal of the forum was to build support for putting a proposal for “Measure R2″ on the 2016 ballot. Read more…

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Excitement Builds for Livable Streets Candidate Forum for CD 4 Candidates

This isn't an "official" graphic, but it's really nice...

This isn’t an “official” graphic, but it’s really nice…

With nine days left until the Livable Streets Candidates Forum at Hollywood United Methodist Church, excitement for the event is rising. Social media is buzzing. Rides are being planned. Many people are pitching in beyond the original sponsors.

But before the forum, held on February 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., make sure to make a reservation at Event Brite so we get the right-sized space for the audience. The forum is sponsored by Streetsblog Los Angeles, Los Angeles Walks and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

So far, five candidates have responded to our invitation: Carolyn Ramsay, Fred Mariscal, Tara Bannister, Tomas O’Grady and Mike Schaefer. The exact format will depend on how many candidates accept the invitation, but every candidate will have a chance to address local issues, city-wide policies and regional transportation needs.

While it’s gratifying to see so much candidate interest, the community of Livable Streets activists is even more excited:

  • Bike the Vote, a collection of bicycle advocates who use information made available through public records, candidate questionnaires and public forums to endorse bike friendly candidates is promoting the event as a major event in the CD 4 election on their social media channels.
  • Pocrass and De Los Reyes LLP, a personal injury law firm that sponsors Santa Monica Next and LongBeachize, is sponsoring light snacks and beverages for the short after-reception.
  • Wolfpack Hustle organizer Don “Roadblock” Ward has organized a ride to the event and is offering free Wolfpack Hustle t-shirts to attendees. Other bicycle advocacy groups are picking up the call to ensure a large and diverse audience for the forum.

Wolf the vote Read more…