Transportation headlines, Wednesday, October 29

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Zombies attack

This begs the question: do the walking dead need to TAP? (Photo: Dan Cooke)

Don’t Believe the Headlines: Bike Boom Has Been Fantastic for Bike Safety (Streetsblog USA)

This article is in response to the Governors Highway Safety Assn. (GHSA) study released on Monday that showed bicycling fatalities on the rise within the past two years.  Among the issues the authors had with the study was its lack of perspective and resulting sensationalism, considering bike trips in the country have tripled since 1975, yet bicycling deaths — despite increasing the past few years — are still much lower than they were then.

Put those figures together, and what’s actually happening is that for an infinitesimal fraction of the cost of the nation’s transportation system, Americans are enjoying billions more bike trips every year than they were a generation ago. And because the sheer number of bikes on the street is teaching drivers to keep an eye out for bikes, every single bike trip is far, far safer than it was.

It’s worth adding that maintaining awareness of your surroundings, defensive bicycling and following simple safety precautions (like those from Metro’s Bike page) never hurt either.

L.A. area has many freeways that stayed on the drawing board (L.A. Times)

A look at the history behind Los Angeles’ freeway system and why some of those that were planned were never built. Two of the major causes of this, the author says citing UCLA urban planning professor Brian Taylor, were lack of funds, community opposition and rising costs due to the space required to build modern freeways. But 60 years ago, building highways was easy.

Initially, money for freeway building flowed. California gasoline taxes were raised in 1947 and 1953, and Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Seizing homes for freeways was astonishingly easy after World War II; Taylor writes it took less than three weeks for the state to begin tearing down homes along the 110 Freeway route south of downtown after asking a court for permission.

The last freeway project in L.A. County, the 105 Freeway, needed nearly 20 years to do the same.

Taking a look at the supplemental map of the “forgotten freeways,” I can’t help but think we’re far better off with most of those proposed highways never being built. After all, we were able to sprawl just fine without them. It might have also taken longer to realize freeways and cars were unsustainable long-term at the expense of many more communities.

Mapping London’s “Tube Tongues” (CityLab)

A researcher at the University College London made this interactive map of the London Tube based on census data that shows which languages other than English are most spoken near each station.

The map is great. Knowing very little about London, I was able to get a sense of the geography and diversity of London’s neighborhoods in one quick look. Any takers on creating a similar map for L.A.?

29 vintage photos from 110 years of the New York subway (Time Out)

Some old-timey photos of the New York subway from the past century…

3 replies

  1. Actually, according to a Times article several years ago many of those routes and even our current freeways were to be rail lines as LA wanted to expand it then (about the year 1920) current system and a Chicago firm was hired to study and then recommend where to build the routes. Instead, many of those proposed rail routes were developed as freeways many decades later.

  2. I should add that it was not the freeways the created the sprawl. It was Henry Huntington’s Red Cars that did that. The freeways changed HOW we got to those points and did allow for filling some of the spaces in between stations that automobiles could access, but we were sprawled by the 1920’s. The largest electric mass transit rail network is what we had in the form of not only the Red Cars but also the intra-city streetcar lines. That was a heart belonging to the rails “a century ago . . . ” as the text incorrectly states. Oh, but how all of America went car crazy by 1950.

  3. Re: “L.A. area has many freeways that stayed on the drawing board (L.A. Times)”

    There was more than one proposed freeway scheme for Los Angeles over the years.
    There were very modest expressway plans and other extremely ambitious plans. The 1949 plan published in this L.A. Times article was just one of them.

    A good book on the subject is “L.A. Freeway” by David Brodsky. Lots of nice pictures. The 1937 AAA freeway plan that kicked things off is published. A 1939 plan that is much more modest and bears remarkable resemblance to the freeway system as currently built is also shown. Lots and lots of information.

    If you think the 1949 plan was appalling, you should see the plan as adopted by the California State Legislature for District 7 (Los Angeles and Orange County) in 1959. A freeway plan dated Sept.1965 is shown that is truly incredible given that resistance to freeway construction was already building. 14 years later it appears that Caltrans had backpedaled and retreated as many of the proposed freeways on the 1965 freeway plan were gone from their 1979 plan.. .