Transportation headlines, Friday, March 20

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Require bike helmets? There’s not enough safety data (L.A. Times) 

A thoughtful editorial looks at a state bill that would require that all adult cyclists wear helmets. “This much is obvious: Wearing a bicycle helmet is safer than not wearing one. But so far, the evidence is mixed on how much safer it is,” writes the editorial board.

The editorial also points out that some objections by cyclists are “laughable” — in particular that the law is a bad idea because it would make cycling look more dangerous than it is. I couldn’t agree more — that argument is an eye roller. In the end, the editorial calls for a more detailed study to learn the true impact of helmets on bike safety. Seems a reasonable proposition.

Mountain Lion Crosses 101 Freeway, Successfully Disperses from Santa Monica Mountains (National Park Service) 


It’s only the second time since 2002 — and the first since 2009 — that the National Park Service has documented a mountain lion crossing the 101 freeway that divides the Santa Monica Mountains from habitat to the north. This cat — a young female — went from south to north and somehow got across the freeway without getting hit by a vehicle.


Providing connections between the big cats of the Santa Monica Mountains and the populations to the north, including in the Santa Susana Mountains and beyond, is critical for maintaining the long-term genetic health of the population. Previous National Park Service research has documented genetic differences north and south of the 101 Freeway, as well as multiple cases of first-order inbreeding.

P-33’s dispersal was also significant because it occurred in the Camarillo area, on the farthest western end of the mountains. Although the exact path is unclear, she crossed on the Conejo Grade (see map) on the morning of March 9, sometime between midnight and 2:00 a.m.

“It’s remarkable that this lion made it across the 101 alive,” said Linda Parks, Ventura County Supervisor and chair of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.  “We are fortunate to have vast areas of undeveloped open space for these animals to roam, but we need safe crossing locations for them to keep motorists and animals safe from collisions.”

We write a lot about the impacts of traffic on people and often overlook the terrible toll taken on our state’s native wildlife. Caltrans received some funding recently to study a wildlife crossing bridge in the Liberty Canyon area of the 101, but like most transportation infrastructure this is one of those projects that has been long discussed and will likely take a long time to get built, if it ever is.

The mountain lion that made it across the 101 freeway in the wee hours recently. Photo: National Park Service.

The mountain lion that made it across the 101 freeway in the wee hours recently. Photo: National Park Service.

Has San Pedro’s waterfront trolley reached the end of the line? (Daily Breeze) 

The trolley is going to close for at least 18 months due to a street alignment project and could only reopen if the tracks are realigned and different trolleys are used. That’s probably too steep a price for the Port of Los Angeles, especially since the current trolley costs about $2 million a year to run and in recent times has only made $11,000 to $18,000 a year on ticket sales.

One possible solution: replacing the trolley with one of those buses that looks like an old-timey trolley. Ridership has been uneven, reports the Daily Breeze, due to a limited route and some redevelopment projects that still haven’t been built.

Ranking the sad parade of federal transpo funding ideas from worst to best (Streetsblog) 

Sad is the critical word in the headline and the post does nothing to dispel the notion that saving the federal Highway Trust Fund or expanding it is a priority for Congress. The idea that Streetsblog likes best — raising the federal gas tax for the first time in 22 years — looks like a non-starter for political reasons, making it more likely that lawmakers will plug the HTF with some other funding scheme when the latest scheme expires this spring.


Quasi-transity things…

For those headed to CicLAvia on Sunday and are extracting their bikes from the garage for the first time in a long while…

Or….visit one of our many fine local bike shops 🙂

Metro’s Official Unofficial March Madness bracket had a satisfying first day of the tourney, correctly guessing (I haven’t watched college basketball in years) 13 of 16 games yesterday. That means I am a better guesser (so far) than President Obama, Jimmy Kimmel and a bunch of ESPN staff who I presume actually watches college hoops when not sitting around and trying to write snark and not provide actual scores in a timely manner.


•Great reads on transit: I’m working my way through “My Saga, Part One: Karl Ove Knaussgaard travels through North America” that was recently published in the NYT Magazine. Call me a cultural slob, but I had never heard of the Norwegian novelist. This is an immensely entertaining read with some great observations on a number of things ranging from Vikings to rural America. I worked in journalism for 20 years and never managed to write a paragraph quite this good, describing the drive between Cleveland and Detroit:

As we drove through the snow-covered landscape, surrounded by cars with smoke fluttering out of their exhaust pipes, under the gray-white sky, past rows of run-down buildings, interspersed with clumps of colorless trees standing in colorless fields, the feeling I got was that something here was over, that something had been emptied out and that nothing new had begun. But perhaps that was too harsh a judgment to pass on a whole country after spending three hours in it?

Something was over, that something had been emptied out and that nothing new had begun. That probably describes a lot of America these days and reminded me of this song.