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Hastily-Debated Collins Measure Could Put More Tired Truckers on the Road

Truck crashes killed almost 4,000 people in 2012. Sen. Susan Collins wants to suspend a safety rule aimed at reducing that number. Screenshot from ##http://6abc.com/traffic/police-truck-driver-fell-asleep-prior-to-crash-on-i-95-in-del/144318/##6ABC##

Truck crashes killed almost 4,000 people in 2012. Sen. Susan Collins wants to suspend a safety rule aimed at reducing that number. Screenshot from 6ABC

It just wouldn’t be Congress if we weren’t trying to debate substantive policy changes, with drastic implications for public safety, with a government shutdown deadline fast approaching.

As Congress tries to wrap up the hideously-named “cromnibus” (continuing resolution (CR) + omnibus) spending bill for the rest of FY 2015 by Thursday, one provision is attracting a heated debate over road safety.

An amendment introduced over the summer by Maine Senator Susan Collins would repeal elements of a 2011 U.S. DOT rule requiring truck drivers to get adequate rest. The two basic pillars of that hours-of-service rule are: 1) drivers have to take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shift, and, more contentiously, 2) drivers have to take a 34-hour “restart” period once every seven days. That 34-hour rest period must include two consecutive overnights between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, “The net effect of these changes was to reduce the average maximum week a driver could work from 82 hours to 70 hours.”

The Collins amendment would maintain the 34-hour rest mandate but would remove the requirement that it include two overnights, and it would allow drivers to take more than one restart in a seven-day period, thereby starting a new 70-hour workweek.

Truck crashes caused 3,921 deaths in 2012 [PDF]. Bloomberg News reports that the fatal-crash rate increased each year from 2009 through 2012, reversing a five-year trend.

Sec. Foxx noted in his blog post that most truckers “behave responsibly and drive well within reasonable limits,” but that the rules guard against those “who are tempted to push the limits.”

“Additionally, new research available on the subject demonstrated that long work hours, without sufficient recovery time, lead to reduced sleep and chronic fatigue,” Foxx wrote. “That fatigue leads drivers to have slower reaction times and a reduced ability to assess situations quickly.” He added that drivers often can’t accurately assess their own fatigue.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Starting March 2015 TAP Cards Good on Santa Monica Bus (BBB)
  • Dennis Hindman Looks Into L.A. Bike Crash Data (Biking in L.A.)
  • L.A. Gas Price Dips Below $3 For First Time Since 2010 (Pasadena Star News)
  • Study: L.A. Housing Price Growth Outpaced Other Metropolitan Areas (KPCC)
    Culver City Looks At How To Increase Affordable Housing (KPCC)
  • KCET Makes The Case For L.A. River Project Design Review Board
  • Caltrans Broadening Its Mission, More Bike and Ped (KPBS)
    Caltrans Broadening Its 5 Freeway In Santa Clarita For “Greater Safety” (The Source)
  • Santa Monica Stepping Up Bike-Ped Ticketing This Saturday (Santa Monica Next)
  • LAT Profiles Anaheim’s New ARTIC Train Station
  • High Speed Rail Looks To Start Building Burbank-Palmdale Tunnel in 2018 (Burbank Leader)
  • Part 3 of LongBeachIze‘s Look At the Architecture of CSULB
  • Paris Mayor Wants To Ban Polluting Cars From Most Streets (Price Tags)

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The Week in Livable Streets Events

It’s a short week. They always are in December, but the opening of the appropriately named ARTIC station is a fun highlight.

sblog_calendar

  • Tuesday - A group of residents tired of the dangerous conditions at the intersection of Hollywood/Hillhurst/Sunset/Virgil have formed a committee to look at some of the options to best improve the intersection. This week’s meeting includes presentations from super-planner Ryan Snyder and UCLA Luskin Center’s Madeline Brozen. Get more details, here.
  • Wednesday – The City Council Transportation Committee meets at 2 p.m. to hear from Seleta Reynolds about LADOT progress and talk about parking convenience issues. Read the agenda, here.
  • Saturday – Ok, we don’t often do Metrolink events, but how often does a major new train station have its opening party in the region? The Explore ARTIC Grand Opening Celebration is family friendly event with food, music, activities, tours and giveaways. Get more information, here.

Is there something we missed? Is there something we need to know for next week? Email, tips@la.streetsblog.org.

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With 2024 Transit Connection, LAX Hedges Bets, Expects Travelers Will Park

LAWA

LAX’s planned people-mover (dark blue line) will connect with Metro’s under-construction Crenshaw light rail line (vertical red line, on right). The project includes two “intermodal transportation centers” (blue polygons, in middle and right) which means car parking. Image from LAWA Handout [PDF]

“We have to deal with reality,” L.A. World Airports (LAWA) Chief of Planning Christopher Koontz stated at last week’s Metro Board of Directors meeting: even after the LAX rail connection opens in 2024, LAWA expects air travelers will keep drivingLAWA is the city of L.A. department in charge of LAX and a couple smaller airports. Responding to Metro Boardmember Jackie Dupont-Walker’s questioning, Koontz confirmed that connecting LAX to the under-construction Metro Crenshaw Line will mean “an expansion of parking.” 

In his presentation to Metro, Koontz clarified that the airport is looking to get its own employees to ride transit, but citing airport-transit examples in Washington D.C. and Atlanta, more than 90 percent of airline passengers are expected to continue to drive. Koontz’ presentation included a handout [PDF]; LAWA later provided SBLA this longer slideshow [PDF].

LAX people mover concept map showing immediately east of the Crenshaw Line's 96th Street Station: four stories of parking (in purple.) Image via LAWA.

LAX people-mover concept map showing immediately east of the Crenshaw Line’s 96th Street Station: four stories of parking (in purple). Image from LAWA handout [PDF]

Though a source (who declined to be identified) put the number at approximately 8,000 new public parking spaces, LAWA would not confirm this, nor would they provide a number. SBLA asked LAWA to provide an estimate of new parking spaces, or confirm or deny the 8,000 space figure. LAWA spokesperson Marshall Lowe responded:

We do not have an exact parking count but structured above-ground parking will be added in the Central Terminal Area, at the Intermodal Transportation Facility and the Consolidated Rent-A-Car facility.

LAWA’s diagram shows four new large parking lots at automated people-mover (APM) Intermodal Transportation Facility stations, plus two taller replacement parking lots in the middle Central Terminal Area loop. According to one concept [PDF p. 10], these large new Intermodal lots would be 4-level parking structures, so, roughly 8,000 new spaces seems about right. These 8,000 new spaces would add just over 50% to existing LAX owned/operated parking: 8,000 Central Terminal Area spaces and 7,300 economy Lot C spaces. At roughly $25,000+ per space for above-ground parking structures, the 8,000 spaces will likely cost over $200 million to build. Read more…

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Poll: Support for Active Transportation Funding Is High Across Party Lines

Seventy-four percent of Americans want to maintain or increase federal funding for biking and walking. Image: ##http://www.railstotrails.org/resourcehandler.ashx?id=5088##RTC##

Seventy-four percent of Americans want to maintain or increase federal funding for biking and walking. Image: RTC

When will Congress debate a new transportation bill? Your guess is as good as mine (May 31 expiration date of the current extension notwithstanding). But here’s some advice for whenever they do: Increase federal funding for biking and walking. Your voters demand it.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy wanted to know whether Americans support this kind of funding, which is subjected to regular attacks from the right. So RTC contracted two leading polling firms — one Democratic, on Republican — to ask 1,000 people what they thought.

Turns out strong majorities support increasing or maintaining current levels of federal investment in walking and biking paths, regardless of party affiliation. Four times as many voters favor boosting or maintaining funding as cutting it:

Republicans support biking and walking too, by a margin better than 2:1. Image: RTC

Republicans support biking and walking too, by a margin better than 2:1. Image: RTC

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Today’s Headlines

  • L.A. Bike Lanes Growing, But Data Missing (LAT)
  • Snapshots From Sunday’s South L.A. CicLAvia (Unbored Hands)
  • Developer Whose Project Burned Was Not A Nice Guy (LAT)
  • Fancy New Anaheim Transportation Center Opens (NBC4)
  • Carnage: 3 Injured In Car Vs Restaurant Crash in OC (LAT)
    Man and Two Kids Killed in 5 Freeway Crash in Castaic (LAT)
  • Editorial: Bikes Are Causing Santa Monica Gridlock (SMDP)
  • Walkable San Diego Waterfront Makeover Opens (LAT)
  • Why Re-Open Temporary Union Square Plaza To Cars? (SB SF)
  • NYC’s Janette Sadik-Khan Authoring ‘Streetfight’ Book (NYT)

Get National Headlines at Streetsblog USA

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CA Legislature’s New Session: Hit-and-Run, Cap-and-Trade, No Tolls for Bikes

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 4.34.24 PMA new California legislative session started last week with the swearing-in of ten new Senators and 27 new Assemblymembers, the introduction of a hundred new bills between the two houses, and adjournment until January 5.

These first-out-of-the-gate bills can be discussed in hearings as soon as the legislature reconvenes, since by then they will have been “in print” for 30 days. Bills introduced in January will have to wait a bit longer.

Some of the new bills are placeholders that are likely to be further developed as the session moves forward, but some are identical to bills from last year’s session.

Hit-and-Run

A case in point is A.B. 8, from Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), which would create a statewide Yellow Alert system to inform law enforcement and the public about vehicles involved in hit-and-run crimes. It is exactly the same bill as last year’s A.B. 47.

A.B. 47 sailed through both houses, then was vetoed by Governor Brown.

Earlier in the session, the Governor had already signed a law similar to Gatto’s bill that allowed the existing Amber Alert system to expand from childhood abductions to include lost or missing seniors and disabled people. The governor said in his veto message that he didn’t want to overload the statewide alert system before the newly added pieces were tested.

Gatto considered this an invitation to try again, and so he has. His staff says they are confident the bill will pass easily again–and that by the time it does the governor will have seen that the system is not overloaded.

Other early bills in the 2015-16 session are listed after the jump. Read more…

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CicLAvia Open Thread: It Was a Great Day for South L.A.

Members of the L.A. Real Rydaz and World Riders post up on MLK Blvd. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Members of the L.A. Real Rydaz and World Riders post up on MLK Blvd. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

“I am such a terrible reporter,” I texted my boss as I left Leimert Park around 4 p.m. yesterday. “All I did was talk to everyone I’ve ever met in the last three years…”

It was true. Instead of just taking in the event or snapping photos of happy participants, I went from pit stop to pit stop, seeking out the folks who were working to make sure L.A.’s re-introduction to South L.A. was a fantastically positive one.

If they weren’t busy behind the scenes, they were riding with their group, supporting the community organizations, acting as unofficial ambassadors for the area, and helping local youth access the event, as the East Side Riders Bike Club did by “picking up” students from Fremont High School on their feeder ride up from Watts.

South L.A. youth that rode with the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz to CicLAvia. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

South L.A. youth that rode to CicLAvia with the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz take a break at the Free Lots! site and chat with Sondrina Bullitt of CHC. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

And true to South L.A. advocacy fashion, just about every conversation I had assessed the day’s events, the turnout, and the work that was left to be done.

At the Free Lots! site (hosted by Community Health Councils, TRUST South L.A., Esperanza Community Housing, the Neighborhood Land Trust, Kounkuey Design Initiative, and the Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN)), I talked with LURN Senior Associate Luis Gutierrez about both their efforts to see vacant lots transformed into community assets and the possibility of a cross-cultural dialogue on strengthening communities like South L.A. and Boyle Heights from within (see photos by LURN’s Rudy Espinoza, here)

Over at the Jazz Park Hub, I spoke with Reginald Johnson of the Coalition for Responsible Community Development about CRCD‘s effort to put together a Business Improvement District along Central Ave. and about the challenge of communicating South L.A.’s needs and aspirations to agencies that have little connection to the area or are reluctant to shed old stereotypes, either about its people or the community as a whole. Read more…

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How to Make Shared-Vehicle Services Accessible to People of All Incomes

Capital Bikeshare struggles to accommodate low-income users, despite outreach efforts, station siting in low-income areas, subsidies, and efforts to include those without bank accounts. Photo: DDOT, via ##https://www.livingcities.org/blog/740-how-can-shared-mobility-help-connect-low-income-people-to-opportunity##ITDP##

Capital Bikeshare struggles to draw low-income users, despite outreach efforts, station siting in low-income areas, subsidies, and efforts to include people without bank accounts. Photo: DDOT, via ITDP

Washington’s Capital Bikeshare is one of the biggest and most well-established bike-share systems in the nation. Its annual fee of just $75 buys you unlimited free half-hour trips. The system now has 2,500 bicycles at 300 stations in the District and the nearby suburbs.

It’s an incredible money-saver, especially for the 50 percent of users who report driving less and the 60 percent who report taking fewer taxis since joining bike-share. But if it’s such a thrifty transportation choice, why are only 8 percent of CaBi members low-income, compared to 45 percent who live in households that earn more than $100,000?

CaBi’s trouble attracting low-income users is not exceptional. Other transportation services based on the idea that people can economize by accessing a fleet of vehicles instead of buying their own — think bike-share, car-share, and ride-share services — have failed, for the most part, to draw people who stand to gain the most by saving on transportation costs.

Transportation eats up a disproportionate amount of low-income people’s household income — 24 percent for people earning between $5,000 and $30,000 per year. And low-income people tend to face longer commute times than wealthier residents. Transit options between their homes, which are most often in cities, and their jobs, which have in recent years sprawled out to the distant suburbs, are often lacking.

Shared transportation options can provide solutions when transit alone is deficient. But by and large, poor people are not taking advantage of those solutions. The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy looked at the barriers to widespread adoption of these options by low-income people and some possible solutions in a new report, “Connecting Low-Income People to Opportunity with Shared Mobility.”

Here’s how some services have bucked the larger trend and provided transportation for people on a wider range of the income ladder.

Read more…

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Imagining a Bizarro World With Rational Discussions About Parking

Remember that time you attended a public meeting about redesigning a street, and when the issue of free on-street parking spaces came up, the discussion was so thoughtful and productive that you walked away feeling refreshed and full of optimism? Me neither.

Parking has a way of bringing out the worst in us. Photo: New Rochelle Talks

Parking has a way of bringing out the worst in us. Photo: New Rochelle Talks

But Bill Lindeke at Streets.mn has imagined the rational community discussion about parking that you fantasize about — here’s what it might look like:

Most of the time, when people are discussing parking, parking lots, paying for parking, or whether or not it’s difficult to find parking, I’ve noticed how quickly someone who might have had concerns puts aside petty squabbles and embraces the big
picture view.

I mean, the absolute worst case scenario is that you have to pay a few dollars or walk a few blocks through our lovely city on the well-designed and always comfortable sidewalks filled with non-threatening street life. As we all know, walking in our city is such a pleasure that most people love strolling around.

For example, just the other day a new restaurant wanted to open up in our city, but their parking lot was small compared to the Coon Rapids Applebee’s. Well, once the business owner explained the situation, and how the neighborhood was walkable and historic, everyone was OK with it. That’s inspiring!

Read more…