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California Senate Proposal for Cap-and-Trade Revenues Focuses on Equity

bikeatCapitollabel2The Senate released a spending plan for the unallocated portion of cap-and-trade revenues today, in the form of Assembly Bill 1613. The plan, say Senate leaders and advocates, focuses on environmental equity while supporting projects that will reduce greenhouse gases.

Cap-and-trade revenues, raised at auction from companies that pollute, are required by law to be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Forty percent of the total auction revenues are allocated by formula to several programs that include High Speed Rail, the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, and transit. Just yesterday, the California State Transportation Agency allocated $390 million for transit projects throughout the state, including streetcars, rail extensions, and increased bus service.

The remaining sixty percent of the revenue has yet to be decided upon. This Senate plan is a step towards finding agreement with the Assembly and the Governor, each of which has previously proposed slightly differing expenditure plans. Last year, the end of the session passed with no agreement being reached. With only a few weeks remaining in this year’s session, an agreement is not guaranteed, although leaders in both the Senate and the Assembly have said they are committed to finding one.

Meanwhile greenhouse-gas reduction programs, like waste diversion programs, are in limbo until they know whether they will be funded or not.

The Senate proposal has support from advocates for its focus on environmental equity. “This represents good progress,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Alvaro Sanchez. “This proposal means real help to low-income families and their neighborhoods.”

The plan would spend over $1 billion on programs and projects to reduce greenhouse gases, including the Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Transportation programs (which provide incentives for clean vehicles, among other things), waste diversion, methane emission reduction in the dairy industry, healthy forests, energy efficiency, and renewable energy programs.

The Active Transportation Program would receive $5 million under this proposal, which is better than the goose eggs offered in the previous Senate plan but a far cry from the $100 million called for by advocates and included in the original Assembly expenditure plan. As a method of reducing greenhouse gases, active transportation is hard to beat, yet so far it hasn’t received any money from the proceeds of cap and trade.

The plan does, however, set aside $175 million for a new program called “Transformative Climate Communities” that will support disadvantaged communities in efforts to coordinate and combine different projects and programs that together can multiply their greenhouse gas reduction benefits. That could include anything from bike infrastructure to planting trees to building charging stations for electric vehicles.

Read more…

Streetsblog SF
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Panel Asks: How do We Get More Diversity in Bike Advocacy?

SFBC director Brian Wiedenmeier introduced Janice Li, Renee Rivera, Lateefah Simon and Tamika Butler for a discussion about racial equity in the bike advocacy movement. Photo: Streetsblog.

SFBC director Brian Wiedenmeier introduced Janice Li (who moderated the panel), Renee Rivera, Lateefah Simon, and Tamika Butler for a discussion about equity in the bike advocacy movement. Photo: Streetsblog.

Yesterday evening, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) held a discussion about diversity as part of its “Bike Talks” series at the Sports Basement Grotto on Bryant Street. Janice Li, Advocacy Director for SFBC, moderated a panel comprised of Lateefah Simon, President of the Akonadi Foundation, Tamika Butler, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and Renee Rivera, Executive Director of Bike East Bay.

The formal discussion about the lack of diversity in the bike advocacy community was preceded by a social with snacks and drinks. “I’ve been very up-front that issues of racial and economic justice are important to me personally, and I am interested in how the SFBC’s work can reflect those values,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, in a conversation with Streetsblog. Wiedenmeier, in several presentations, has stressed his wish that the SFBC broaden efforts to increase the diversity of its membership. “We have a strategic planning process we’ll be kicking off this fall and I think this event is a great way to begin that conversation with our members,” he said.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Dallas Plans to Deck Over a Highway — With a Parking Garage

Dallas' vision for highway lid topped with a parking garage. Image: Woodall Rodgers Deck Park Foundation

Dallas’ vision for highway lid topped with a parking garage. Image: Woodall Rodgers Deck Park Foundation

“The most Dallas thing ever.” That’s how Robert Wilonsky at The Dallas Morning News described a new plan to build a parking garage over a highway in the Big D.

The project adds an ironic twist to what has been, until now, a civic success story. Klyde Warren Park is a beloved five-acre space that sits on a lid on top of the Woodall Rogers Freeway. The new project, proposed by the Woodall Rogers Deck Park Foundation, would extend the deck with new public spaces and, on the northeast side, a bar and restaurant, offices for the park, and a parking garage with 70 to 90 spaces.

As you can see in the rendering, there is no lack of parking nearby. So why build more car storage on top of the highway?

Jody Grant of the Woodall Rogers Deck Park Foundation told Wilonsky that the garage would generate revenue needed to make the whole plan pencil out. The group is also counting on $40 million in public bonding to help pay for the $90 million project.

Even if you take Grant’s scenario at face value and assume this garage won’t be a money loser, it’s a sad commentary on the state of financing civic projects. Highway decks are supposed to heal the damage caused by urban car infrastructure. Can’t Dallas come up with a way to pay for this one without causing more damage by building new car infrastructure?

Streetsblog.net
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A Year After Houston’s Bus Network Redesign, Ridership Is Up

Houston Metro ridership has increased about 7 percent since the bus system was completely overhauled last year. Graph: Rice University's Kinder Institute

Bus ridership is up 1.2 percent and total Houston METRO ridership has increased about 7 percent following an overhaul of the city’s bus network and the launch of new light rail last year. Graph: Rice University’s Kinder Institute

After years of declining bus ridership, last August Houston METRO overhauled service patterns around the city, updating the bus network for the first time since the 1970s. Practically overnight, Houston’s network changed from a hub-and-spoke model to a more grid-like system designed to expand access to frequent service to more of the city. Night and weekend service dramatically increased as well. The country has been watching to see the results.

A year later, Houston officials are taking stock. Bus ridership has ticked up, bolstered by growing weekend ridership, and light rail ridership has increased substantially — a reflection of how Houston policy makers are treating both modes as a unified network, writes Leah Binkovitz at The Urban Edge:

From September 2015 (the first full month after the switch was implemented) to July 2016 (the most recent complete month), METRO saw its ridership on local bus and light-rail add an additional 4.5 million boardings — a 6.8 percent increase.

The numbers are more modest when looking at local bus ridership alone, which saw a 1.2 percent growth in ridership during that period. The light-rail system’s Red Line saw a more sizable 16.6 percent increase.

Local weekend bus ridership is one of the new system’s strongest areas, continuing a trend that begun almost immediately after the redesign was implemented. From June 2015 to June 2016 — the most recent METRO has released more detailed ridership data — local buses saw a 13 percent increase in ridership on Saturdays and a 34 percent increase on Sundays, according to METRO, with similarly strong numbers for rail as well.

Local weekday bus ridership actually dropped over that same time period by 1 percent. However, a 14 percent increase in light-rail ridership amounted to an overall weekday ridership increase of 3 percent. The growth in rail supports [Metro Board Chair Carrin] Patman’s focus on the new bus system’s strong connections to the growing network of lines. And she said, there’s more to come for the system.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Study: High-Traffic Arterial Roads Reduce Quality of Life, Even Blocks Away

A famous 1970s study by researcher Donald Appleyard found that people who lived on streets with lighter traffic had more frequent social interactions with their neighbors. Image: Safe Street Strategies

Research by Donald Appleyard in the 1970s found that people who lived on streets with lighter traffic had more frequent social interactions with their neighbors. New research shows that nearby streets impact quality of life, too. Image: Safe Street Strategies

Seminal research by Donald Appleyard in the 1970s found the volume of traffic on a street affects quality of life for residents in profound and unexpected ways. For example, the amount of social contact people had with their neighbors was curtailed for those who lived on high traffic streets compared with those living on quieter streets. People even defined their “home area” much more narrowly if they lived on a busy road.

A new study from the University of Colorado Denver [PDF], sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, builds on Appleyard’s research — finding that high traffic on your street isn’t the only type of traffic affecting what you think of where you live. Researchers Wesley Marshall and Carolyn McAndrews found that living near, but not on, a wide, high-traffic arterial can also reduce residential satisfaction.

The research is a repudiation of the suburban style of traffic calming that dominated the U.S. for decades, where cul-de-sacs and lack of through streets limits traffic on residential streets by diverting cars to major arterials. It turns out, pouring traffic onto inhospitable arterial roads is negatively impacting nearby residential areas, too.

The research team interviewed more than 700 people in Denver living within a half-mile of 30 major arterial roads. The survey, controlled for income, explored residents’ concerns about noise, pollution and safety. Like Appleyard’s research, this survey also asked residents to define their “neighborhood.”

Across the board, people who lived on lower-traffic streets reported better outcomes — no surprise there. But the presence of a nearby high-traffic arterial was also an important factor.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Garden Grove, Anaheim Residents Envision Pedestrian Friendly Cities

Anaheim

Anaheim High School students wait for their chance to speak during the Anaheim city council meeting on August 9. Image: Anaheim Bros. Facebook Page.

As 16-year-old Alexandra Retana walked up to the podium during last week’s Anaheim City Council meeting’s public comment period, she took a breath to calm herself.

It was her first time speaking to council. Dressed formally and perfectly groomed, she still felt nervous as she readied herself to speak.

“It was scary because they are so high up there, and we never speak to people like that,” said Retana, a junior at Anaheim High School.

Retana, along with other students from Anaheim High School, came to the August 9 council meeting to speak as part of the culmination of the Active Transportation Leadership Program, a crash course for residents who want to help reshape their streets for biking and walking. The students—for many it was their first time speaking to the council—spoke about the need for better safety and accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists in their communities.

Retana raised the issue of pedestrian safety on her route to school along Sycamore and Citron streets. The area favors cars more than pedestrians, she said, and people need more high-visibility crosswalks in yellow or white paint to help them safely get across the street.

At a different public forum Garden Grove on July 26, several residents who are participating in the ATLP program there spoke to city staff about their concerns. Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Oil Industry Lobbyist Wrote Request To Audit CA GHG Funds (LAT)
    …$391M GHG Funds To CA Public Transit, Including Metro LAX Connection (LAT)
  • More Soil Tests At Schools Near Exide (KPCC)
  • Why Is L.A. So Car-Oriented? (Planetizen)
  • Downtown Is Leading Los Angeles’ Reurbanization (ULI)
  • Is Metro’s NoHo Tunnel $22M Money Well Spent? (CiclaValley)
  • LADOT Is Rethinking DASH Routes – DTLA Meeting Monday (Downtown News)
  • KCET Looks Into Hyperlink and WeHo’s Robot Garage
  • West Hollywood Reduces Taxi Fees (WeHoVille)
  • How Cities Might Look In the Future (Ziptopia)

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

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This Week In Livable Streets

sblog_calendarTonight, support the protected bikeway planned for Union Street in Pasadena. Give your input on the future of LADOT transit operations. Metro committee meetings resume. Plus lots of bike rides, celebrations, and a farewell party this weekend.

  • Tuesday 8/16 Tonight! Pasadena hosts a community meeting on the planned Union Street 2-way protected bike lanes. The meeting takes place from 5 to 6 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church’s Gamble Lounge at 585 E. Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. For details see Facebook event and SBLA coverage earlier today. If you cannot attend but wish to comment on the project, contact Rich Dilluvio, Pasadena Department of Transportation, at (626) 744-7254 or rdilluvio[at]cityofpasadena.net.
  • Wednesday, Thursday 8/17-18 – Metro committee meetings resume after a summer break. Agendas and staff reports at Metro meetings page.
  • Saturday 8/20 – State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Supervisor Hilda Solis, and the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC) host a bike ride and run along the LA River. Registration is at 8 a.m with run and ride starting at 8:30 a.m. The event starts at Maywood Riverfront Park at 5000 Slauson Avenue in Maywood, and finishes at Cudahy River Park at 5322 Clara Street in Cudahy. More information and RSVP at Rendon’s website.
  • Saturday 8/20 – The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition and Cudahy Councilmember Baru Sanchez are leading a series of monthly Ride Southeast L.A. rides.  Meet at 9:45 a.m. and depart at 10 a.m. from Cudahy City Hall at 5220 Santa Ana Street in Cudahy. Details at LACBC.
  • Saturday 8/20 – LADOT is holding a series of eight community meetings on the future of Commuter Express, DASH and Cityride Services. The first meeting takes place from 1 to 2 p.m. at Robert M. Wilkinson Multi-Purpose Center at 8956 Vanalden Avenue in Northridge. Meeting details at LADOT. Give input via LADOT’s online survey. Meetings continue through August 31 at various L.A. locations.
  • Saturday 8/20 – Eastside Sol hosts a community celebration of art, music, and a healthy environment. The free event is for families and residents to learn about, and participate in, clean energy demonstrations and pilot projects. There will be live mural and screen-printing demonstrations, a solar-powered music stage, vendors, face painting, and more. It takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. at Mariachi Plaza at 730 Pleasant Avenue in Boyle Heights. See Facebook event for details.
  • Sunday 8/21 – The Tour de Laemmle was postponed due to forest fire smoke. It is back this Sunday. Ride is variable distances, multiple starting points and times, lots to see. See Facebook event for details.
  • Sunday 8/21 – Multicultural Communities for Mobility is hosting a farewell party for kick-ass transportation equity activist Maria Sipin who is departing for Portland. Wish Sipin well from 1 to 4 p.m. at Angel City Brewery at 216 S Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles. See Facebook event for details.

Did we miss anything? Is there something we should list on future calendars? Email joe@streetsblog.org.

Streetsblog USA
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John Oliver on the Cruel Poverty Trap That is Subprime Auto Lending


Never forget this: Those who pay the highest price for the American system of transportation — one that makes owning a personal car practically a mandate — are the poor. We’ve reported before about how the largely unregulated subprime auto lending market has been expanding in recent years, leading some people to wonder if a breakdown in the auto loan industry could echo the housing bubble.

HBO funnyman John Oliver, along with guest stars Keegan-Michael Key and Bob Balaban, took on the topic in a recent segment we thought was worth sharing.

Here is a shortlist of some of the horrors Oliver describes:

  • Commutes that are virtually impossible by transit,
  • Cars sold for double the Kelly Blue Book value,
  • Interest rates as high as 29 percent,
  • A single Kia tracked by the Los Angeles Times that was sold, repossessed or returned eight times in three years,
  • In-car devices that beep in the event of a missed payment before disabling the vehicle entirely, and
  • Default and repossession rates of 31 percent.

It’s cruel that our society all but requires people purchase an expensive consumer product, trapping them in usurious financing schemes, just to participate in the workforce. But because of our auto-centric land use and transportation policies, that is precisely the quandary too many Americans face.

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Pasadena Plans Union Street 2-Way Protected Bikeway, Meeting Tonight

Before/after images of Pasadena's planned Union Street two-way protected bikeway. Images via Pasadena DOT

Before/after images of Pasadena’s planned Union Street two-way protected bikeway. Images via Pasadena DOT

The city of Pasadena is hosting two meetings today to present and discuss plans for a two-way protected bikeway, or cycle track, on Union Street. The planned protected bikeway would extend 1.5 miles from Arroyo Parkway to Hill Street. Streetsblog L.A. attended the first meeting which took place this morning. The second meeting takes place tonight from 5 to 6 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church’s Gamble Lounge at 585 E. Colorado Boulevard.

For background on the project, listen to last week’s BikeSGV interview on the DamienTalksSGV podcast.

Union Street is a westbound one-way street that parallels Colorado Boulevard (Pasadena’s main drag) a block north. Union Street and Green Street, a block south of Colorado, form a one-way couplet. Both Union and Green have been engineered to maximize automobile through traffic, resulting in excessive speeds and a general lack of character.

The roughly $6 million project would include new signalized intersections, including bike signal phasing, and new raised-curb medians. The city has a $2.7 million grant from the Metro Call for Projects. Pasadena is seeking an additional $3 million, likely from the state Active Transportation Program. Roughly half of the funding would go to traffic signal costs, including bicycle signals, some of which face backwards in relation to existing westbound car and bike traffic.

Union Street’s configuration varies somewhat, but is three westbound lanes throughout. Toward the west end of the planned bikeway there are just the three westbound travel lanes, with no parking. Toward the east end, there are three travel lanes and on-street parking on both sides of the street. The protected bikeway project would reduce travel lanes from three to two, and add a parking-protected two-way bike lane on the south side of the street.  Read more…