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Today’s Headlines

  • Eyes on the Street: newly installed bike-share docks spotted on 7th Street at Bixel Street. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

    Eyes on the Street: newly installed bike-share docks spotted on 7th Street at Bixel Street. Bike-share opens July 7. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

    Huizar And LADOT Celebrate City’s First Bike Traffic Signals (KPCC, LADOT LeapLA)
    …Cyclists Are Kings Of the Road On Los Angeles Street Protected Bikeway (L.A. Weekly)

  • The Source Shares Metro’s Measure R2 Polling Results
  • Human Faces Of Southern California’s Land Use Failures (Let’s Go L.A.)
  • Carnage: Three Killed In Violent Car Crash On 405 In Carson (LAT)
    …Diamond Bar Motorcycle Crash Kills One (SGV Tribune)
  • Road Diet Streets Work Well For Emergency Responders (Flying Pigeon)
  • NYC Open Streets Will Try New Large Limited Car Access Zone (SB NYC)
  • CA Budget Ends Electric Car Incentive Program (LAT)

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

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Metro Board Committees Show Unanimity on November Sales Tax Proposal

Metro sales tax promotional image

Metro sales tax promotional image

Metro’s newly revised November sales tax expenditure plan flew through two board committees this week with virtually no discussion. The proposal was approved unanimously by both the Planning and Programming Committee and the Executive Management Committee. The plan now goes to the full board for approval at this month’s meeting on Thursday, June 23.

Last week, Metro announced the newest version of its spending plan. What had been a fifty-year sales tax has been modified to an indefinite “no sunset” sales tax. This allows for numerous large highway and transit projects to accelerated.

In the course of the two committee meetings, Metro directors Mike Bonin, Sheila Kuehl, James Butts, Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Hilda Solis, Mark Ridley-Thomas, John Fasana, Mike Antonovich, Eric Garcetti, and Paul Krekorian all voted to support the plan. County Supervisor Kuehl joked that there was an informal agreement among directors not to get into conflicts trying to “take a little from them and give it to us.”  Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Anthony Foxx to Local Officials: Transport Policy Should Tackle Segregation

Local transportation officials should actively work to reduce segregation and promote equal access to quality schools, three Cabinet members say in a “dear colleague” letter released last week [PDF].

Are good schools accessible by transit, or foot and bike safely? Federal officials say transportation officials have a role to play in improving equality. Image: Streetfilms

Are good schools accessible by walking, biking, and transit? Cabinet members say they should be. Image: Streetfilms

The message from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, HUD Secretary Julián Castro, and Education Secretary John King urges transportation, housing, and education officials at all levels of government to work together to ensure that people aren’t excluded from economic and educational opportunities.

The call to action builds on HUD’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which requires local governments that receive federal housing funds to analyze segregation patterns and develop plans to reduce it.

“We recognize that a growing body of research supports the benefits of socioeconomic and racial diversity in schools and communities, and that such diversity can help establish access points for opportunity and mobility,” Foxx, Castro, and King wrote. “We also recognize that children raised in concentrated poverty or in communities segregated by socioeconomic status or race or ethnicity have significantly lower social and economic mobility than those growing up in integrated communities.”

In the transportation sphere, the letter recommends a few steps to take. To paraphrase:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Eastsider Sees Paid Offstreet Parking As Sign Of Gentrification
  • Urbanize Shows Renderings For North Hollywood Metro TOD Developments
    …Includes A Groovy and Elaborate Flyover Walk and Bike Path!
  • SM City Council Votes To Further Study No-Growth LUVE Initiative (Santa Monica Next)
  • Plaza Spaces Transformed By Urban Designers (PBS)
  • Transportation Now Surpasses Energy Sector For CO2 Emissions (Vox)
  • When Is Your Kid Old Enough To Take Public Transit On Their Own? (Tweens2Teen)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

Streetsblog USA
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Walkable Cities Are More Affordable Than You Think – We Need More of Them

People living in walkable cities may have high housing costs, but they also tend to have low transportation costs and better access to jobs, according to a new study from Smart Growth America [PDF].

The most walkable metro areas have better job access and lower transportation costs, helping cancel out the effects of high housing costs. Graph: Smart Growth America

The most walkable metro areas have better job access and lower transportation costs, lightening the burden of high housing costs. Table: Smart Growth America

SGA ranked the 30 largest American regions according to the share of rental housing, office space, and retail located in areas with high Walk Scores. Then, using data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, each region was also assigned a “social equity index” score based on housing and transportation costs for moderate-income households, as well as the number of jobs residents can access.

SGA found a significant link between walkability and its equity index, even though housing costs tend to be higher in walkable places.

In the areas with the highest walkable urbanism score, housing costs per square foot are indeed quite a bit higher than in car-oriented places — 93 percent higher, according to SGA. But moderate-income households in those six regions also have lower transportation costs — about 19 percent of their income, on average, compared to 28 percent in the least walkable places. Residents of compact places likely pay for less square footage than residents of spread-out places.

All told, SGA found that moderate-income households in the six most walkable regions spend about the same share of their income on housing and transportation combined as moderate-income households across all 30 metros — about 42 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

Read more…

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Legal Obstacles To Safe Streets: California Speed Limit Laws

Ghost bike - by Andrew Said

Ghost bike – by Andrew Said

Every day we hear about drivers killed in collisions on their way to work or pedestrians mowed down when crossing the street. You may be asking yourself, “Why doesn’t anyone do anything about this? Aren’t there laws to prevent this?” Believe it or not, there are legal obstacles to making our streets safer. We have laws dating back to a more car-centric era. These laws treat pedestrians and cyclists as afterthoughts. If we want active transportation to be accepted by mainstream America, a legal framework will have to evolve to protect all of our road users.

In this series, I will examine legal danger zones and potential fixes for reducing traffic-related deaths in California.

SPEED LIMITS

One of the most obvious places to start is speed limits. Since we know conclusively that speed kills, why don’t we set lower speed limits?

A 10 mph reduction in vehicle speed from 40 mph to 30 mph, means that a pedestrian who is hit by a car has just increased his or her chance of survival from 10 to 50 percent.

In Los Angeles, police are unable to ticket speeding drivers for violating the posted speed limit on 75 percent of the city’s streets. Why not? It is because the speed surveys required by law for these streets have expired. There is a fear in the active transportation community that the city would be legally required to increase speed limits, further endangering the public, if these speed surveys are conducted.

How did we arrive at such an absurd state of affairs?

California law requires that speed limits be set based on the “prevailing speed.” The prevailing speed is determined by a speed survey which calculates the speed of cars in the 85th percentile. Once this speed of majority drivers is determined, the law only allows an additional 5 mph reduction to account for unforeseen safety conditions. This method of determining the speed limit does not consider the severity of injuries inflicted on a pedestrian or cyclist if hit by a car travelling at the prevailing speed. This needn’t be the case. Alternative speed-setting methods have been effectively used both stateside and overseas.

In countries with the highest rates of bicycle ridership, the severity of injuries caused by crashes at a given speed is taken into account when establishing speed limits. This approach is known as Injury Minimization, or Safe Systems. The idea is to minimize the probability of death and serious injury. It is derived from Sweden’s Vision Zero initiative which dictates that car crashes will occur no matter what; therefore, our road systems ought to be designed to protect us. If we wish to have a larger percentage of people engaging in active transportation, this approach deserves a look.

While the Safe Systems approach started in traditional bike meccas such as the Netherlands and Sweden, the philosophy is gaining traction in other jurisdictions as well. Throughout the United Kingdom, the 20’s Plenty for Us campaign has succeeded in reducing speed limits to 20 mph in more than half of the largest urban areas in Britain. This movement encourages people who walk or bike to use the road system safely. Places adopting the lower speed limits results in more children walking and biking to school.  Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Video: Harriet the Tunnel Boring Machine Digging the Crenshaw/LAX Line (The Source)
  • Is It Not OK To Bike In L.A. Bus Lanes? (L.A. Weekly)
  • Investing in Place‘s Take On Metro’s Revised Sales Tax Plan
  • The Challenges Of A More Vertical L.A. (KCET)
  • Metro Plans To Move Ahead With North Hollywood Joint Development (The Source)
  • 31 Photos Of L.A.’s Public Transit Resurgence (AOL)
  • Orange County Kicks Off Bravo Bus Service, Like Metro Rapid (OC Register)
  • How Can We Prevent Driverless Cars From Making Cities Worse? (SB Chicago)
  • Poor People Pay For Parking Even When They Don’t Have A Car (WaPo)

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

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Jobs or Housing? Historic South Central Residents Decry Feeling Asked to Choose by Billion Dollar Reef Project

Curren Price turned the town hall over to union representatives and representatives of the Reef after his opening remarks. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Ninth District Councilmember Curren Price (standing center left, brownish jacket) turned the packed-to-the-hilt town hall over to union representatives and representatives of the “creative habitat” known as the Reef after his opening remarks. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

THE NUMBER ONE THING that representatives from the “creative habitat” known as the Reef felt they had learned from engaging the community, the speaker told the more than 600 town hall attendees this past May 5, was that Historic South Central was “lacking a sense of place.”

To give the community that sense of place it was lacking, the Reef representative continued, the Reef’s developers were looking forward to providing South Central residents with places to go get dinner with the family or to have a cup of coffee. Important amenities like a grocery store, pharmacy, and bank. A bike hub that the community could access. Investment in a new DASH bus route and bike infrastructure on adjacent streets to enhance overall mobility. A plaza area that could host performances and be a place to hang out. An art gallery that would showcase art from local kids because “kids love to see their work” up on walls.

These amenities would “create a sense of place for the people in this room…” he reiterated, “for all of us to belong to.”

Place vs. Place-making
About half the people in that room – members of the South Central-based United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD) Coalition and their supporters – collectively shook their heads in dismay and, in some cases, disgust. This was language that danced around their concerns about displacement and the disruption of the networks that comprised the social and economic foundation of their community. It was also language that suggested the Reef would now be the one to define what “community” and “place” meant for the historic neighborhood they were moving into, not the other way around.

Worse still, these words were being spoken to members of a community that might just have the most powerful sense of place of anyone in the city, perhaps with the exception of Watts and Boyle Heights. True, they might be profoundly disappointed with the city’s long-standing neglect of their environs. But they have no shortage of pride in the neighborhood and the ability of its people to elevate culture, family, heritage, and community in the face of great disparity. That pride and the deep and enduring commitment so many in the room had to raising the community up from within is what has made South Central the unique place it is.

In describing the community by the sum of its amenities, or lack thereof, the representatives of the Reef managed to underscore how disconnected they and the project were from the neighborhood itself.

It wasn’t the smartest way to kick off a nearly three-hour public meeting.

"No nos moverán" translates as "We will not move." The slogan was one of several held up by members of the UNIDAD Coalition who were concerned about the project's potential for displacement. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

“No nos moverán” translates as “We will not move.” The slogan was one of several held up by members of the UNIDAD Coalition who were concerned about the project’s potential for displacement. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

But it was, at least, consistent.

Despite the approximately 100 meetings the Reef says it has held with members of the community, the line of thinking laid out at the town hall appears unchanged from when news of the $1 billion mixed-use project first hit the cyberwaves two years ago.

“SoLA Village [the project’s controversial name at the time] will be about place-making,” Ava Bromberg, head of operations for the Reef, had told the L.A. Times in 2014 about the 1,444 residential units, 208-room hotel, 67,702 square feet of retail/restaurant use, a 29,255 square foot grocery store, 17,507 square foot gallery, and 7,879 square foot fitness center planned for the 1933 S. Broadway site. “With the Reef, we are turning creative space into more of a community and connecting that community to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

South Central was an area not generally “seen” by investors, she had continued, but perceptions about its creative potential could change, much like they had around Chelsea in New York or the now-thriving South of Market tech hub in San Francisco.

Source: Gensler + P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, July 2015 DEIR

Rendering of the project as it would sit at the corner of Broadway and Washington in South Central, Los Angeles. Behind it lies the most overcrowded neighborhood in the country–Historic South Central. Source: Gensler + P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, July 2015 DEIR

To an urbanist or a livability advocate, that approach might sound like it hits all the right notes: increased density via the transformation of surface parking lots, improved walkability and bikeability, transit orientation (the Reef also sits adjacent to a Blue Line station), “place-making,” a rebranding that encapsulates a future vision for the area, space for the creative economy to grow, an underlying goal of community-building – the works. Not to mention the project proposes constructing a significant amount of housing at a time when Los Angeles absolutely cannot build it fast enough.

But to a lower-income black or Latino resident of Historic South Central – a historically disadvantaged community with the distinction of having the most overcrowded housing in the country – that approach and its potential ripple effects present a much more complicated and far less rosy picture. Read more…

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Los Angeles Street Protected Bike Lanes Ribbon-Cutting This Thursday

New full-featured protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New full-featured protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The city of Los Angeles has a brand new full-featured protected bike lane. It is on downtown L.A.’s Los Angeles Street, connecting Union Station with First Street, running literally in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall.

Construction began in April and was recently completed.

Celebrate the newly completed lanes with Councilmember Jose Huizar and the L.A. Department of Transportation (LADOT) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday June 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the plaza at El Pueblo (also known as Olvera Street.) The address is 125 Paseo de la Plaza, though the festivities take place on the Los Angeles Street side of the plaza, immediately west of Union Station.

Though the city of L.A. already has protected bike lanes in the Second Street tunnel and on Reseda Boulevard (and more on the way soon for Venice Boulevard, Van Nuys Boulevard, and Figueroa Street) the Los Angeles Street bike lanes include features that represent some important firsts for L.A. protected bikeways.

Bicycle traffic signal to allow cyclists a separate phase from turning cars

Bicycle traffic signal allows cyclists a separate phase from turning cars

L.A.’s First Bike Traffic Signals

Bike signals are not required for protected bike lane intersections; Long Beach uses them, Temple City’s Rosemead Boulevard and L.A.’s Reseda Boulevard do not.

Bike traffic signals are used to give cyclists that are headed straight ahead a signal phase separate from right-turning cars. The signals contribute to a relatively stress-free ride; cyclists ride to the right of parked and moving cars the entire ride, and do not need to merge into traffic at the approach to intersections.

Similar to car traffic signals, the bike signals are triggered by sensors embedded in the street (see photos below). Waiting bicyclists receive the green light first, followed by turning cars.

One drawback of the bike signals is that they drive up construction and maintenance costs.

L.A.’s First Protected Bikeway Transit Islands

Passengers board a DASH bus at a Los Angeles Street's transit island

Passengers board a DASH bus at a Los Angeles Street transit island

In order to minimize pedestrian-cyclist conflict, the project includes transit islands. Instead of transit riders waiting at the curb, they walk across the bike lane and wait in the transit island. Bicyclists ride between the transit island and the sidewalk.

This speeds up transit, allowing buses to stop in the travel lane while passengers are boarding. It also makes for a more stress-free bike ride, as conflicts between buses and bicycles are minimized.

L.A.’s First Two-Phase Left Turn Markings 



The Los Angeles Street project also features green boxes that support cyclists’ two-phase left turns. Instead of stressful merging through car traffic to make a vehicular left turn, cyclists make a low-stress left turn similar to the way a pedestrian would.

The green paint features were striped after SBLA took photos last week; they are visible in the video embedded above.

More images after the jump.  Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Goodbye to the Era of Big Infrastructure?

Despite the occasional feature story about America’s “infrastructure crisis” and the campaign platforms for increased investment, the “era of big infrastructure is over,” argues University of Minnesota engineering professor David Levinson at the Transportist.

With maintenance a more pressing need than expansion, Levinson does not foresee major additions to either the highway system or rail and transit networks in the years ahead:

Once upon a time we did deploy big infrastructure. The railroads in the 19th century, and the interstate in the 20th were BIG. Turnpikes and canals were other large technical systems of the 19th century, as were the US Highway system, airports, container ports, and the like in the 20th. But they have been deployed, and many of them are already shrinking.

Instead, because the existing infrastructure systems are mature (built out), they need little expanding (and likely some contracting).

Certainly there are potential new infrastructure for surface transport. The most widely discussed would be intercity High Speed Rail and urban transit projects. Similarly there are proposals for water (rebuilding the water and sewer networks) and for energy (massive investment in renewables as well as smart grid technologies). I think the transport investments are unlikely, the water investments are mostly piecemeal replacements, and the energy investments will be a set of many small, decentralized power generators rather than large facilities. In short change is likely to [be] incremental rather than comprehensive.

Read more…