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Anatomy of a Dangerous Intersection

Image via Where the Sidewalk Starts

Image via Where the Sidewalk Starts

Streets designed to facilitate fast driving are not suitable for safe walking.

Unfortunately, transportation engineers often don’t design for safety unless a catastrophic event triggers public outcry. Katie Matchett at Where the Sidewalk Starts says the city of San Diego is planning changes at one intersection in an area where motorists routinely hit and injure people, but only after a driver killed an infant.

“We say it so often that it’s cliche,” writes Matchett, “but it shouldn’t take the death of child to fix intersections that are so obviously dangerous.”

Notice that the northbound right “turn” isn’t really a turn at all, more of a channelized “veer” that aims high-speed traffic straight at a crosswalk. Moreover, the crosswalk is set back just enough from the intersection to make pedestrians less visible to drivers. This is a space designed for cars, and cars alone. Is it any surprise that people are hurt and killed here?

The most frustrating part is that there really isn’t much purpose to this stretch of roadway, other than moving cars as quickly as possible at the expense of walkability and pedestrian safety — a point neighbors have picked up on. They’ve asked the City to close down the road and make the entire space into a park. Let’s hope the City listens, before someone else is killed at this crossing.

Even now it’s not clear that San Diego officials are serious about fixing the crossing. A local TV station reports: “City officials say they are putting up another traffic signal and re-stripe the crosswalk, but neighbors do not think it will be enough.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Greater Greater Washington on the power of positive transportation messaging, the League of American Bicyclists says small towns want better infrastructure too, and Enrique Peñalosa tells TheCityFix that the constant fear of dying in traffic is not a normal way to live.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Jaydancing L.A. Gets Down in DTLA Intersections (DTLA Rising)
    Today 2 p.m. Bonin-Huizar “Jaywalking” Stings Motion At Transpo Committee [PDF]
  • East L.A. Residents Concerned About Health Impacts of 710 North (KPCC)
  • New Lancet Report Makes Climate Change Health Impact Connections (Pasadena Star News)
  • DTLA Streetcar Will Cost $328M, Hitting Issues (Downtown News)
  • Bernard Parks Doing Sidewalk Repair With Councilmember Funding (KPCC)
  • Shuddle Ride-Hail App For Kids/Families (LAT)
  • Downtown Long Beach Getting Four Handsome New Parklets (LongBeachIze)
  • Hit-and-Run Fighter Assemblymember Gatto’s Father’s Murder Unsolved (Daily News)

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

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Inhofe’s DRIVE Act — Not as Big a Disaster as You Might Think

Sen. Barbara Boxer unveils yet another stab at a long-term transportation authorization bill -- this time, as the minority party. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/AliABCNews/status/613351204559699972/photo/1##Ali Weinberg/Twitter##

Sen. Barbara Boxer unveils another stab at a long-term transportation authorization bill — this time as a member of the minority party. Photo: Ali Weinberg/Twitter

No, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s new six-year bill, obnoxiously named the DRIVE Act (Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy) [PDF], won’t usher in a more enlightened era of federal transportation policy. But neither would it be a significant step backward. And with the realization setting in that further extensions of current law might be impossible, the DRIVE Act could actually become the nation’s first long-term transportation authorization in a decade.

As Brad relayed in his post this morning, the “big takeaway” from the new bill, according to the League of American Bicyclists, is that it “is not a coherent vision of the future, or even of the present.” True that.

Note that this bill does not include the transit title — it’s up to the Banking Committee to draft that.

What the bill does, mainly, is continue existing policies related to streets and highways — meaning it’s not the nightmare you might have expected under the chairmanship of climate denying Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe. When you look closely, the DRIVE Act actually makes some improvements at the margins. Here are a few examples:

Design Standards: The bill explicitly sanctions the use of the NACTO street design guide along with the old FHWA and AASHTO engineering manuals. The NACTO guide includes designs that are much more appropriate for city streets where people outside of cars need safe and reliable transportation option.

Read more…

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The Name Says It All: U.S. Senate Unveils the DRIVE Act

What does Congress envision for the future of transportation in the U.S.? Hint: The Senate’s transportation bill is called the DRIVE Act.

The future, according to the U.S. Senate. Photo: U.S. National Archives/Flickr

The future, according to the U.S. Senate. Photo: U.S. National Archives/Flickr

Caron Whitaker at the League of American Bicyclists reports:

As is evident in the acronym, The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act, or DRIVE Act, is not focused on improving multi-modal transportation but rather on the interstate and highway system. The U.S. Senate introduced its version of the new transportation bill this week and it is set for a hearing on Wednesday.

While we were successful in getting some small changes to the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP), we do not see any real innovation or vision to really grapple with transportation needs of [the] 21st century.

Whitaker says the DRIVE Act proposes to increase TAP funding — which can be used for projects that encourage walking and biking — but does not restore cuts made since 2011, when the program was funded at $1.2 billion. Further, the bill identifies no funding source for the proposed increase.

The bill decreases the percentage of funds dedicated to road safety, says Whitaker. It would allow states to take TAP funds away from local Metropolitan Planning Organizations, making it difficult to plan projects.

NACTO design guidelines for safer streets get a “mention,” says Whitaker, “But the big takeaway is this bill is not a coherent vision of the future, or even of the present.”

Read more…

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Guest Opinion: Metro’s Proposal on Bike-share Heads in the Wrong Direction

The city of Santa Monica's bike-share system "Breeze" is expected to go live this fall.

The city of Santa Monica’s bike-share system “Breeze” is expected to go live this year. Photo via Santa Monica Next

Greater Los Angeles is about to join cities and regions around the world that have implemented bike-share programs. But, in our complicated world of 88 cities and a county, will we get it right?

Bike-share provides residents and visitors with easily accessible, shared, short-term bikes, making it easy to get from point A to point B, whether or not those points are within a single city.

Bike-share has proven successful throughout the world. Residents like bike-share and it’s good for business and tourism. Our environment benefits, too: it’s a carbon-free mobility alternative for congested cities. Bike-share extends the reach of rail, bus, walking and carpool trips, increasing the efficiency of our public transportation system.

Thoughtful, coordinated planning is essential to make sure Bike-share works. Bike-share systems commonly span multiple jurisdictions. In every corner of the world, this has meant building truly integrated systems that are interoperable and have common characteristics, no matter where the bike or docking station is located. So, if you are visiting a friend in Venice, and want to shop on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, then take the coming Metro Expo Line to Culver City, you should be able to do so by accessing one brand of bike and using one, easy to understand, payment system.

Seems obvious. But, Metro planners are advising their board to approve technology that is incompatible with systems already chosen and underway in Santa Monica, Long Beach and, likely to be implemented in other Westside cities. Departing from best practice, Metro is recommending a very different technology that will require two, parallel, systems. This is a bad deal for taxpayers and users alike. In a regional system that must mesh, Metro has failed to explain how these two systems would do so. Instead, they are deferring that discussion until after Metro selects a vendor which necessarily will be incompatible with existing Bike-share programs which are already operating in the region.

Metro staff seems comfortable that this means many, if not all, participant cities, including Los Angeles, would need to maintain two sets of “docks”, two different kinds of bicycles and two different fare structures and payment systems. The resulting customer experience will be confusing and an embarrassment to our region. Instead of taking advantage of momentum already created by local cities, Metro is imposing an older technology over locally preferred systems.

What happened?

In 2011, Santa Monica received a Metro Call for Projects grant of $2 million for planning and implementation of bike-share. This allowed Santa Monica to jump-start planning. Santa Monica is a great place to start bikeshare. The city has excelled at building a multidimensional bike infrastructure. It has robust tourism and a bike-friendly culture. In addition, the arrival of the Expo light rail in early 2016 is an opportunity to create new connections to stations that will help increase ridership.

Long after Santa Monica began its planning and implementation, Metro inexplicably began its own plan. Understanding that regional operability would be a key to success, Santa Monica used its seed money wisely and reached out regionally during its thorough process. Broad input was received and incorporated into a request for proposals that, again, was circulated widely for input. Ultimately, Santa Monica selected a cutting edge vendor who will begin deploying bikes in just a few weeks. Long Beach has adopted the same technology. West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and UCLA are not far behind.

If Metro insists on its own system, it should prioritize interoperability so proposing vendors must explain how they would achieve that key goal. Instead, the agency weighted its bid process by prioritizing other criteria. The result of Metro’s process was three finalists, none of whom will produce a product that is compatible with the technology which will be used by Santa Monica and other Westside cities.

This week, the Metro Board will vote on implementing a system that is incompatible with existing systems and will ensure inferior experience for all bike-share customers.

There is an alternative. The Metro Board should delay its decision until the Santa Monica-West Hollywood-UCLA-Long Beach-Beverly Hills system is up and running. If that roll-out is successful, Metro can build on an existing successful system. If that initiative falls on its face, Metro can implement a new regional alternative. The hope and expectation is that the public embraces the Santa Monica-West Hollywood-UCLA-Long Beach-Beverly Hills bike-share program and it functions as well as expected. If that is the case, Metro should focus on what is best for users and taxpayers and work collaboratively to integrate other communities into a singularly exciting new transportation option.

* * *

Assemblymember Richard Bloom is a member of the California State Assembly representing Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood and surrounding West L.A. areas. He is the former Mayor of Santa Monica.

Councilmember John Heilman is a member of the West Hollywood City Council and former Mayor.

Councilmember Dr. William Warren Brien is a member of the Beverly Hills City Council and former Mayor.

All three authors are former chairs of the Westside Cities Council of Governments, a regional agency focused on, among other things, on improving transportation on the Westside.

Streetsblog USA
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Talking Headways Podcast: The Sharing Economy, Robots, and You

podcast icon logo

On this week’s podcast, Brooks Rainwater, director of the at the National League of Cities City Solutions and Applied Research Center, tells us about their new report, Shifting Perceptions of Collaborative Consumption, which gauges perceptions of city leaders on the sharing economy. What is the “sharing economy,” actually, and are companies like Uber and Lyft really a part of it? Hear what Brooks has to say.

Brooks also shares his insight into the biggest issues cities have with the sharing economy, what they need to do in order to get it right for their residents, and the worker rights issues that are arising in this space.

We also get a bit tongue-in-cheek about automation and the coming of the singularity. Will robots take over our jobs in this sharing economy? Perhaps that’s far off, but we’re watching closely.

Via Streetsblog California
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San Diego Mayor and City Leaders Embrace Vision Zero

Flanked by city officials, fellow elected officials, the chief of police and the head of the progressive transportation advocacy group Circulate San Diego, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced their support for San Diego to embrace Vision Zero. Faulconer promises his administration will produce a plan to reduce traffic deaths in the city to zero through progressive transportation planning and law enforcement that puts safety above all other considerations.

For a full copy of the report, click on the image or click ##http://circulatesd.nationbuilder.com/visionzerosd##here.##

For a full copy of the report, click on the image or click here.

Vision Zero is modeled after the Swedish Government’s initiative to use progressive transportation planning and law enforcement to reduce the number of transportation-related fatalities to zero. In Sweden, the plan has proved an overwhelming success. Only three of every 100,000 Swedes die in traffic crashes. Prior to the implementation of Vision Zero policies in 1997, that number was seven of every 100,000 Swedes killed in traffic crashes.

This compares with 5.5 per 100,000 across the European Union, and 11.4 in America. Sweden’s roads are the safest in the world. America has over three times as many per capita fatalities.

”There is nothing more important than public safety, which is why we’re working toward the goal of zero traffic deaths in the City of San Diego,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We’re making great strides to become a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city by investing in our infrastructure and making safety a top priority in all street projects. Whether you drive, bike, or walk, safer streets benefit everyone.”

While San Diego may be making strides, there is a lot of room for the city to improve its safety record. According to Vision Zero: Zero Traffic Deaths in San Diego by 2025, a report released in conjunction with today’s press conference by Circulate San Diego,

On average, one person each day is seriously injured or killed while walking, biking, or driving the streets of the City of San Diego…Fatalities among people driving have continuously fallen since 2005, yet fatalities among people walking have increased or remained static in the same time frame, outpacing population growth.

In addition, traffic collisions are the leading cause of deaths for children aged 0-13 in the city. Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Obese Americans Now More Prevalent Than Merely Overweight Ones (LAT)
  • How Car-Dependent Sprawl Fails Our Senior Populations (Vox via Price Tags)
  • Planned New DTLA Historic Core Hotel, Parking: 0 Cars, 18 Bikes (Curbed)
  • State Selects Affordable Housing Projects To Receive Cap-and-Trade Funds (KPCC)
  • Malibu Considering PCH Improvements, Including More Bike Lane (Curbed)
  • San Bernardino SBX BRT Fast, Ridership Less Than Projected (Press Enterprise)
  • Carnage: In Northridge, Drunk Collides With Car Killing Other Driver (LAT)
  • Sights To See At Sunday’s River Ride (CiclaValley)

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

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Some Perspective On How Angelenos Are Driving Less

Eyes on the Street: per capita Vehicle Miles Traveled has been declining in L.A. since 20. Image via Rick Cole Twitter

Per capita Vehicle Miles Traveled has been declining in L.A. since 20. Image via Rick Cole Twitter

Last week, Los Angeles City Deputy Mayor, and soon-to-be Santa Monica City Manager, Rick Cole tweeted out a graph showing that Angelenos are driving less than we used to. In 2002, the average city resident drove 11.9 miles each day. By 2013, that daily Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has declined to about 10.8 miles each day. I asked Cole for the source of the graph, and his only response, tweeted, was that it’s from an “L.A. City Planning Report.” Which report is not clear.

The disembodied graph got picked up by L.A. Magazine, Curbed, and LAist. Streetsblog retweeted and put it atop our headlines.

What has caused this shift in 2002? L.A. Magazine suggests that L.A. “has invested heavily in bike and transit infrastructure. Protected bike lanes have opened across the city, along with parking for cycles and sharrows painted on streets.” Curbed points to the changes having been “sped up” by the Measure R transportation sales tax.

Hmmmm… This shift started in 2002. Measure R passed in 2008, and its rail, bus, and freeway projects take a few years to build. LADOT implemented its first sharrows in 2010, its first bike parking corral in 2011, and its first and only serious protected bike lane in 2015. LADOT did greatly step up implementation of bike lanes especially from 2010-2012, but I am still waiting for that “invested heavily” stuff. So, all those causes that L.A. Magazine and Curbed are pointing out took place in the later years on the right end of this graph, or or even to the right just off-graph. L.A.’s drop-off in per-person driving started in 2002, well before the transit and bike infrastructure we see today.

I think it’s more likely that the last 5 years of somewhat-improved bike and transit facilities are a response to this trend, not a cause of it. I think that city agencies, elected officials, and experts are beginning to catch up with trends that are already happening on our streets.

What’s the cause? Anyone who says they know is probably wrong, but I will go ahead and speculate Read more…

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This Week in Livable Streets

sblog_calendarSummer’s here – so lots of rides and festivals: the River Ride, Mask Festival, Kidical Mass, and more. On the governmental side of things, there’s Metro’s Board meeting and a special L.A. City Council hearing on sidewalk repair.

  • Tuesday 6/23 – Communities for a Better Environment and Climate Resolve Extreme present, “Heat and Vulnerability in Los Angeles: A Discussion,” from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon at the California Endowment in downtown Los Angeles. Free, but register here.
  • Tuesday 6/23 – At special joint meeting of the Public Works and Budget committees [agenda PDF], the Los Angeles City Council begins public deliberations on who will pay to repair and maintain sidewalks. Streetsblog previewed the latest sidewalk repair plan here. The first of what was announced as a series of hearings around the city will take place Tuesday at the Harbor City Branch Library at 24000 S. Western Avenue.
  • Tuesday 6/23 – Zócalo presents a free panel discussion asking, “Can Transit Make Housing More Affordable?” (or is that just Anglo triumphalism, too?) The speakers include Joan Ling, Mike Bonin, and more. It takes place at MOCA this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. More details and make a reservation at Zócalo.
  • Wednesday 6/24 – The L.A. City Council Transportation Commitee meets at 2 p.m. at City Hall. On the agenda [PDF] are pedestrian stings, leading pedestrian intervals, and more.
  • Thursday 6/25 – Metro’s monthly Board of Directors meeting is expected to consider eliminating transfers on fares paid by cash, extending the Sheriff’s policing contract, approving the agency’s first ever bike-share contract, and more. Board meets at 9 a.m. at Metro headquarters, right behind Union Station. Full Metro meeting agendas and reports should be posted here shortly.
  • Thursday 6/25 – Bike with C.I.C.L.E. to go see the outdoor screening of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure at the Sunset Triangle Park. Details here.
  • Thursday 6/25 – The last in a series of meetings around L.A. on street vending will be held at the WLCAC, 10950 S. Central Avenue, at 6 p.m. The meetings are an effort by the L.A. Street Vendor Campaign — a coalition of organizations, business owners, and individuals advocating on behalf of the city’s 50,000+ vendors — to gather feedback from the community that can be used to help L.A. take the necessary steps to establish the first citywide vending ordinance. For more information, visit the campaign’s website.
  • Friday 6/26 – Dinner fundraiser by L.A. Rooted to raise money to take youth on the Gratitude Bike Tour. Details here.
  • Saturday 6/27 – Leimert Park Village hosts its 20|20 Vision Initiative Charette from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Details here and more information in a SBLA article coming this week.
  • Saturday 6/27 – Santa Monica hosts a 4th of July themed Kidical Mass ride – from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at Reed Park. Details here.
  • Sunday 6/28 – LACBC hosts its 15th Annual River Ride – various starting points, times, and distances to suit every kind of bicyclist! Details here.
  • Sunday 6/28 – The Ride On! Bike Co-Op and Black Kids on Bikes present Free Bike Tune-up Sessions from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Leimert Park. Details here.
  • Sunday 6/28 – Leimert Park Village hosts its 5th Annual Mask Festival honoring the ancestors from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Details here.
  • Sunday 6/28 – C.I.C.L.E. and the Bike Oven host a 5 p.m. NELA fireworks ride. Details here.

Did we miss anything? Is there something we need to know for future calendars? Email joe@streetsblog.org.