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American Traffic Engineering Establishment Finally Approves Bike Boxes

Bike boxes are going to become part of the standard street design guidance. Photo: NACTO

Bike boxes are on their way toward becoming a standard street design measure. Photo: NACTO

The wheels of change grind slowly at the institutions that guide the American traffic engineering establishment, but they are moving forward.

This week, U.S. DOT issued interim approval for bike boxes [PDF], a treatment that positions cyclists ahead of cars at intersections.

Dozens of American cities currently use bike boxes — some for the better part of the past decade — and the federal government is now satisfied enough by the results to conclude that they lead to “reductions in conflicts between bikes and turning drivers” and less crosswalk encroachment by both drivers and cyclists.

Cities installing bike boxes will still have to submit a request for “interim approval” to the Federal Highway Administration until a final rule is adopted, but now bike boxes will be perceived as less risky by transportation engineers.

The committee responsible for approving new bike infrastructure treatments for the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices recommended approval of bike boxes nearly three years ago. The same group has been dragging its feet on protected bike lanes, a key obstacle to their widespread installation.


Today’s Headlines

  • Carnage: Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Four People On the 60 Freeway In Pomona (LAT)
  • Boyle Heights Activists Want Art Galleries Out (LAT)
  • Snapshots From Yesterday’s Heart Of L.A. CicLAvia (Unbored Hands)
    …Thousands Gather At CicLAvia (LAT)
    …(Times wrongly reports as first CicLAvia with Metro Bike Share – that already took place August 14, 2016)
  • Riverside Seeks Input On L.A. To Coachella Train Service (KPCC)
  • L.A. Plans Upgrades To MacArthur Park (LAT)
  • Garcetti Avoids Taking Stand On JJJ – Build Better L.A. Initiative (LAT)
  • Senior Housing TOD Complex Planned At Florence Blue Line Station (Urbanize)
  • Foothill Transit October Schedule Changes (Footnotes)
  • West Hollywood Robo-Parking Garage Is Flawed (WeHoVille)
  • Long Beach Needs Volunteers For Counting Bikes This Thursday (Gazette)
  • Prop 53 Would Give Voters Ability To Restrict State Borrowing For Infrastructure Projects (KPCC)
  • What President, Senate Candidates Are Saying About Transportation (LB Press Telegram)

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


Foothill Gold Line Conference Builds Momentum To Extend


“The Journey Continues” was a theme of today’s Foothill Gold Line conference. Pictured (left to right) are Metro board chair John Fasana, Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian and Chief Project Officer Chris Burner and Metro Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority hosted a one-day State of the Project 2016 conference today at Pomona College. Elected officials, agency leaders and others gathered to hear some success stories from previous segments, but mostly to look ahead to extending the Gold Line eastward to Montclair, and possibly further.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 7.05.37 PM

The Foothill Gold Line’s next phase eastward, referred to as phase 2B, would extend 12.3 miles to just outside the L.A. County border with San Bernardino County. Stations would be located in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair. The phase already has environmental clearance, and the construction authority’s board recently approved engineering designs.

At today’s event, construction authority leadership shared characteristics of the Glendora to Montclair extension. The phase is anticipated to cost $1.2 billion, of which still needed are $1.15 billion from L.A. County and $63 million from San Bernardino County. There will be four times more station parking than the prior Pasadena to Azusa segment. The new light rail runs in the same right-of-way as BNSF and Metrolink trains, hence there will complicated relocation of tracks to make space. The light rail stations will be in the middle of the tracks, making for less confusion for riders, but also necessitating some pedestrian under- and over-crossings.

That next extension dominated the conversation, but what really hung over the conference was Measure M, Metro’s sales tax which goes to L.A. County voters on November 8th.  Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Talking Headways Podcast: Remixing the Future of Transit Planning

This week I’m joined by Tiffany Chu, co-founder of the transit planning software firm Remix, which helps agencies quickly assess the impact of potential changes in service. Tiffany discusses the response the company has received from the transit industry and what got it started. We also talk about the possible policy implications of Remix, as well as the movement towards open data.

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#DamienTalksSGV 19 – Foothill Transit’s Doran Barnes

This week, #DamienTalks with Doran Barnes, the executive director of Foothill Transit and the Chair of the Board of Directors for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Damien Talks SGV logoOur conversation touches on a wide range of subjects including integrating Foothill Transit with the new Gold Line Extension, Measure M, and Foothill Transit’s ground-breaking electric bus program.

We also talk about both APTA and Barnes’ agenda as chair of this national advocacy organization for transit providers. Barnes lists three things he would like APTA to accomplish in the next year, one of which is assuring that the infrastructure needs of the country remain a priority for the incoming administration in the White House.

If you want to hear the other two, you will have to listen in.

#DamienTalks is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”
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Affordable Transportation and Affordable Housing Need to Go Hand-in-Hand

In Pittsburgh, combined housing and transportation costs are still lower in urban areas. Map: Center for Neighborhood Technology

In Pittsburgh, combined housing and transportation costs tend to be lower in central areas, but rents are rising in central neighborhoods. Map: Center for Neighborhood Technology

Rents continue to rise in cities across the U.S., and Pittsburgh is no exception. Noting the escalating housing costs in walkable neighborhoods, Alex Shewczyk at Bike Pittsburgh looks at how transportation and housing policy can coordinate to make places more affordable.

We know from resources like the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Housing+Transportation Index that transportation costs are a large household expense and closely tied to housing location. If you live somewhere with good options besides driving, you can save a lot. But these places are where housing costs are rising. To address the challenge of affordability, cities need to use both transportation strategies and housing strategies — and there’s a lot of overlap between the two, Shewczyk writes:

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Guidebook for Creating Connected Communities, typical households in auto-dependent neighborhoods spend about 25 percent of their income on transportation costs, but this number drops to 9 percent in neighborhoods that are more connected with a variety of mobility options.

Recently, the Obama Administration’s “toolkit” on housing development made local zoning and land-use regulations a national issue. The White House reports, “Significant barriers to new housing development can cause working families to be pushed out of the job markets with the best opportunities for them, or prevent them from moving to regions with higher — paying jobs and stronger career tracks. Excessive barriers to housing development result in increasing drag on national economic growth and exacerbate income inequality.”

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Zany Daily News Pro-NII Opinion Piece: L.A. Planners Want “No Parking Any Time”
  • At Three Months, Metro Bike Share Less Rides Compared To Other Big City Systems (LAT)
  • LA Awarded $65 Million In CA Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities Grants (LAT)
  • L.A.’s Anti-Density Movement Is Bad For the Environment (Curbed)
  • TOD Senior Housing To Be Built Next To Willowbrook Blue/Green Line Station (Urbanize)
  • A Look At Southern California’s Growing “Gig Economy” (KPCC)
  • Amtrak Making It Easier To Take Bikes On the Coast Starlight (LAT)
  • L.A. Is A Transportation Tech Powerhouse (TechCrunch)
  • Better Institutions Guide To the November Ballot

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


New Bruce Schaller Report: Recommendations for Regulating Taxi & Ride-Hail

Bruce Schaller speaking at UCLA yesterday. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Bruce Schaller speaking at UCLA yesterday. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Transportation consultant Bruce Schaller released a new report with valuable advice for states and municipalities as they work to ensure that ride-hail companies best serve the common good. Ride-hail, or TNCs (Transportation Network Companies), includes primarily Uber and Lyft. Schaller was one of Janette Sadik-Khan’s key deputy commissioners in the New York City Department of Transportation. His report, titled Unfinished Business: A Blueprint for Uber, Lyft and Taxi Regulation, was the subject of a talk Schaller gave yesterday at the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies.

Throughout the report, Schaller recaps successful examples where regulations and programs are solving problems. He also provides a primer on the tangled taxi-TNC relationship in California, where state legislators tried to level the playing field by passing A.B. 650. That bill attempted to bring taxi regulation into the hands of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which already regulates TNCs. A.B. 650 passed at the last minute, but was vetoed by Governor Brown.

Growth in the U.S. taxi industry. Graph via Schaller report

Growth in the U.S. taxi industry. Graph via Schaller report

Schaller provides worthwhile context for the current changes in the taxi industry. Despite some perception to the contrary, prior to the advent of technology-enabled ride-hail about a half-dozen years ago, the taxi industry’s growth has been relatively healthy. Per the report, the number of taxicabs in the United States increased by at least 20 percent between 2002 and 2016. With the advent of Uber and Lyft, Los Angeles taxi ridership fell 43 percent, and revenue was down 24 percent, between 2013 and 2016.

Schaller makes the case that there are significant differences between “dispatch” and “flag” systems. Flag service–in which riders get rides from taxis already onsite (such as at airports)–are less subject to market competition and more in need of regulation. Dispatch markets, in which hailing was historically done by phone, now commonly via app, are less prone to individual abuse, hence less in need of regulation.

Schaller makes recommendations in five key areas:  Read more…

Streetsblog SF
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French Flair and Bullet Trains at Rail~Volution’s California Day

The Strasbourg TGV Station was offered to the Audience at Rail~Volution as Inspiration for Designing HSR Stations in California. Image By Diliff-wikimedia

The Strasbourg TGV Station was offered at Rail~Volution as inspiration for HSR stations in California. Image By Diliff-wikimedia

The Rail~Volution conference at the San Francisco Hyatt concluded yesterday with three hours of presentations and break-out meetings about California High-Speed Rail. The focus: how to build the communities we want around HSR stations in Los Angeles, San Jose and Fresno. An important part of that was to learn from the experts: the French designers who have already developed and built beautiful, place-making stations in Strasbourg, Lille and other cities in France.

From the Rail~Volution guide:

High-speed rail has transformed cities and regions around the world. Now it’s our turn. California has begun its ambitious investment in high-speed rail. How our we building our high-speed rail stations? What can we learn from France and other countries? How can we put those ideas to work in Fresno, San Jose and Los Angeles? Hear from national and global experts on issues related to design, governance and balancing major new transit infrastructure with the land use and development opportunities created by high-speed rail.

Before heading to the breakout sessions for details on the planned California stations, attendees heard from some domestic experts. Robert Cervero, Professor and Chair of the Department of City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, said that HSR has its biggest impact on certain economic sectors, including “…finance, business services, consulting firms, architects, engineers–those who depend on face to face contact,” he said. And that, he explained, means HSR will have the most impact where those types of firms cluster, such as the central business districts (CBD) of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Transit Vote 2016: Indianapolis’s Chance to Get a Real Transit System


The Indy Connect plan would dramatically expand frequent transit routes (in red). Maps: Indy Connect. Click to enlarge.

The presidency and Congress aren’t the only things at stake when voters go to the polls next month. In several cities, people will also be deciding the future of their transit and transportation systems. With the odds of increasing federal transit funding looking remote in gridlocked Washington, these local ballot measures take on even more importance. Before the election, Streetsblog will be looking at what’s at stake in some of the big transit ballot initiatives, starting with Indianapolis.

Indianapolis is a growing city, but the region’s bare-bones transit system is not keeping up. Bus routes that provide service at least every 15 minutes are almost non-existent. Only about 2 percent of the city’s commuters take transit to work, compared to 8 percent in Cincinnati and 18 percent in Pittsburgh.

Voters will have a chance to change that in November when they decide on a major expansion of the region’s transit system, funded by a .25 percent income tax hike. If it passes, the Indy region will dramatically expand frequent bus routes, extend service hours, and build three bus rapid transit lines that won’t charge a fare.

Kevin Kastner, who writes at Urban Indy, says right now the bus system does not provide service that people want to use.

“Every 30 minutes is the best you can do,” he said. “The bus I rode this morning, I don’t want to say it was falling apart, but it was in about as bad a shape as a bus can be.”

Read more…