Transportation headlines, Thursday, Jan. 12

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

10 bicycling myths de-bunked (Grist)

Kind of fun post tackles the myth that cycling will make men unattractive to the ladies (among other myths). As proof, Grist cites the fact that even Kate Spade sells bikes. The thing is most women I know can find plenty wrong with me without ever considering my biking habits. Grist — a little paranoid are we?

Invest in inter-regional rail (San Bernardino Sun)

In an opinion piece, the chief of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) argues against beginning the under-funded high-speed rail project and that it would be wiser to spend $1 billion this decade expanding capacity and speeding up commuter trains in Southern California.

Restoring the ‘water’ freeway (American Planning Assn.)

A very good overview of the city of Los Angeles’ efforts to restore its namesake river. The plan is rather simple: build several regional parks along the river, which in turn could attract private residential and commercial development. My two cents: it’s worked elsewhere, it could work here and there’s plenty of room for development. The river is already a rail corridor and to some degree a bike corridor. The ingredients are there. Someone just has to figure out how to bake the pie.

Retrofitting the suburbs to increase walking (Access)

This study by UC Irvine is a dense read but its conclusions are interesting: that the single-biggest factor in getting people to walk to South Bay commercial centers was the number of businesses per acre. That’s not exactly shocking, but the study also suggests that this kind of business density needs a lot of economic support — more than the number of walkers can spend. In other words, these kind of business districts need to be accessible to motorists in order to survive — or they need to be highly-accessible to transit and other transpo modes people will actually use.

In plain English: before blokes like me suggest ripping out all the parking along South Lake Avenue in Pasadena — my local commercial district — I should consider that without the parking, many of the businesses along Lake may vanish.

3 thoughts on “Transportation headlines, Thursday, Jan. 12

  1. I completely agree with your final comment regarding parking. While so many urbanists favor less parking and more expensive parking, oftentimes that could just discourage people from coming to an area. While we need parking, what really kills the walkable environment is surface lots.

    I talk a bit about this regarding Downtown LA here: http://stevemwhite.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/lessons-from-seattle-part-3-retail-development/ It’s based on some things I observed in Seattle and the fact that there was a ton of cheap parking — it just wasn’t in surface lots.

    I, for one, am happy that there are discussions to centralize parking as part of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative. The business owners and government both agree that parking needs to be available and convenient, and they’re trying to figure out how to centralize it so that visitors still get out of their car and walk around the district.

  2. Another approach, again used in Seattle, would be to set cheaper parking rates (1/4 the cost of car parking) and maximize existing car space reserved for motorcycles and scooters.

    These two wheelers are fast becoming an alternative way to get around town over the car these days and in many ways they provide much more agility to get around an urban environment than being stuck in traffic with a car.

    However it doesn’t justify for motorcyclists and scooter riders to pay the same price or hog up an entire car parking space when you can fit four two-wheelers in a single car space.

    Here’s an example of how Seattle recently changed their restricted parking zone regulations to better utilize the growing number of motorcycles and scooters in that city:

    http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/motorcycleparking.htm

    There seems to be a lack of parking ideas in consideration of motorcyclists and scooter riders here in LA; we still take the non-distinguishing approach of motorcycles between cars, and that contributes to a lot of wasted space. We can learn from Seattle in this regard.

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