Metro art, outdoor ice skating and dinner discounts – no winter blues here!

Neons for Pershing Square

Neon lights at Pershing Square Station.

Just because it’s getting dark earlier doesn’t mean you should hurry home after work. Stay out and enjoy Downtown Los Angeles as it lights up with Metro Art Moves, Metro’s free Thursday evening art tours. The guided, artist-led tours will take you on an exploration of Metro station art and lead to Downtown on Ice, the outdoor ice skating rink at Pershing Square, where you can save $1 on admission to the rink by presenting your valid TAP card at the admission window.

The tours depart Union Station at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 and Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. Meet at the Union Station information kiosk located just inside the Alameda Street entrance.

After enjoying some art and ice skating, complete the evening with a meal. Show your TAP card and take advantage of special Metro Destination Discounts at locations near the tour route, including Traxx Restaurant at Union Station, Ebanos Crossing near Civic Center/Grand Park Station, or Cole’s French Dip off of Pershing Square Station.

General Information

  • Tours take place on Thursday, December 5 and Thursday, January 2 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Tours begin at Union Station and end at Pershing Square Station.
  • The tours are approximately 90% walking; there are elevators and escalators in all of the stations.
  • Public restrooms are available at Union Station and Pershing Square.

Metro sponsors Northridge Bike Ride, led by C.I.C.L.E.

On Saturday, November 16th, Metro sponsored the Northridge Delis, Desserts and Deliciousness Ride, led by C.I.C.L.E. This ride was the 6th in a series of 20 bicycle ride, which will rotate around different neighborhoods in Los Angeles County to increase bicycle ridership by providing opportunities to bike locally.

The weekend ride attracted 68 participants who met in Dearborn Park and visited famous Northridge and Granada Hills eateries. Stops included The Original Weiler’s Northridge Delicatessen, Gayle’s Perks, Delicious Bakery, and A Sweet Design. At each location, riders were greeted by friendly business owners who shared their family histories and offered riders a taste of home-made products.

As with all the C.I.C.L.E.-led rides in this series, Saturday’s ride was family-friendly, leisurely paced, and fully supported by trained Ride Leaders and volunteers. And as usual, safe bicycling etiquette and rules of the road were reviewed to ensure smooth riding for people of all ages and skill levels. As a result, multiple families joined the ride sporting bicycles with attached child seats and trailers, as well as detached childrens’ bikes.

Metro started these rides in May 2013 to complement Metro’s bicycle safety efforts, such as bicycle traffic skills classes and the “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” educational campaign. The goal of these rides is to encourage local bicycling trips by people of all bicycling abilities. 40% of all trips trips are two miles or less, yet 90% of those trips are made in a car. These are trips that can easily be made on a bicycle. Encouraging local riding will reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as serve as a first-last mile connection to transit. Bicycling can bridge that gap to provide more transportation options to communities across Los Angeles County.

The next Metro-sponsored C.I.C.L.E. ride will take place in January.


LADOT holding a TAP card design competition

Your design could be the next one featured! Photo: LADOT TAP Card Official Facebook

Your design could be the next one featured! Photo: LADOT TAP Card Official Facebook

The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), in collaboration with Gallery Row Organization (GRO), presents the LADOT TAP Card Design Competition. Two winning designs will be selected to join the limited edition array of LADOT branded TAP cards.

The competition is free to enter and participation is open to artists and designers, 18 years of age or older, currently living or working in Los Angeles. Deadline for submissions is December 18, 2013. For full details on how to enter, contest rules and the design theme, visit LADOT‘s TAP design competition page.

And in case you’re not sure what a TAP card is…it’s a rechargeable plastic card that can be loaded with passes or cash fare that’s accepted on all Metro Bus and Rail (and many other transit agencies around L.A.).

Transportation headlines, Monday, November 18

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison!

ART OF TRANSIT: My somewhat less-than-cheery view of fall colors in downtown L.A. What can I say? I get grump-grump on Fridays!

N.H.T.S.A reports higher traffic deaths (New York Times) 

The lead really sums it up:

More people died on United States roads in 2012 than in 2011, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths each increased for the third year in a row, and deaths of bicyclists reached the highest level in six years. Over all, however, traffic deaths continue to be at historic lows.

Fatalities in 2011 were at their lowest level since 1949. The 2012 increase could not be attributed to Americans driving more, because motorists drove nearly the same number of miles in 2012 as they did in 2011, according to the report. Highway deaths increased to 33,561 in 2012, according to the safety agency’s 2012 Fatality Analysis Reporting System, known as FARS. That is 1,082 – or 3.3 percent – more than the 2011 figure. The majority of the increase occurred in the first quarter of 2012, which the report notes was the warmest in history.

There’s a lot of chilling news in just two paragraphs; I’m sure everyone would like to know what is happening on the motorcycle, pedestrian and cycling fronts (on cycling, I’m guessing perhaps more people are biking).

The last sentence threw me for a loop, too. I expected it to say colder than usual — i.e. perhaps accidents were weather related. In fact, it may be the other way around. Warmer temps meant perhaps that more people were on the road driving not as carefully as they should.

Metro gate rail problem lets cheaters ride for free (L.A. Times) 

The headline is misleading. The article is a look at Metro’s plans to install and latch gates at 41 of Metro’s 80 stations, including the entire subway and many of the busiest stops. The remaining stops are not getting gates because of lack of space (think platforms in the middle of the tracks) or the expense involved. At the stations with no gates, passengers are expected to tap their TAP cards (this is the so-called problem in the headline) and those who fail to tap can be cited by Sheriff’s Deputies. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky published a similar article about this issue back in September.

Ed P. Reyes River Greenway on the verge of opening for business (L.A. Streetsblog)

Nice look at the new 1.15-acre park adjacent to the 5 freeway, Los Angeles River and Gold Line tracks named after former L.A. Councilman Ed Reyes, a champion of making the river look like, well, a river. Gold Line riders have been able to watch the work progress over the past year; the park is on the east side of the river and south side of the tracks. Another six-acre park is planned on the old Albion Dairy site on the eastern bank of the river between Spring and Albion streets. Slowly but surely, the river is getting some green space.

And it can definitely use it — here’s a nice pic from Simon Oh posted to Instagram and looking south from the 1st Street Bridge:

Making connections on a trapped subway train (NPR)

Very nice story about Paquita Williams, a subway conductor and 15-year veteran of the New York Subway. Excerpt:

With the power out, Paquita walked the length of the train, comforting nervous passengers. That made a real impression on Laura. “You really made everybody on that train connect,” Laura says. “We all started talking with each other like human beings. And we left the train and somebody was like, ‘Let’s do this again tomorrow morning.’

Go to the above link to listen to the segment — it only runs about two minutes.

UPDATE: Caltrans schedules PCH closures in Malibu for rock mitigation Nov. 21 – POSTPONED

POSTPONED 

Coming up this Thursday according to Caltrans:

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have alternating closures in both directions of Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1) intermittently between 6:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 21 from south of Las Posas Road to north of Deer Creek Road.
The closures are necessary to enable installation of rock drapery, or netting, from a helicopter on the hillside overlooking the highway to prevent falling rocks. The California Highway Patrol will be on site, and flaggers will direct traffic. Changeable Message Signs will be posted in advance of the closure area to advise motorists regarding delays. Alternate routes are recommended, if possible.

Transportation headlines, Friday, November 15

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison!

ART OF TRANSIT: I hope the ultra-skinny models next stop was for a double-double, large fries and a seven milkshakes. For each of them.  

Westwood bike lanes connecting Wilshire and National killed by council office (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Actually the stretch of road in question is Westwood Bouelvard between Pico and Santa Monica. The city had been looking at a floating bike lane concept for that stretch of busy road in hopes of preserving a peak hour general traffic lane. But Damien Newton reports that concept is opposed by the local council office. Here’s the thing: Westwood Boulevard offers a key connection between UCLA and future Purple Line Extension and Expo Line stations. Good bus and bike infrastructure on that corridor is super important.

Starbucks to test store on a Swiss train (USA Today) 

Photo: Starbucks.

Photo: Starbucks.

Looks like the Swiss will soon be able to enjoy overheated coffee that doesn’t taste quite right while traveling between Geneva and St. Gallen. Excerpt:

It was a serious challenge to design the Starbucks store on a train, says Liz Muller, director of concept design for Starbucks. “We had to take into account the constant movement of the train, space limitation and stringent safety regulations.”

It’s one of the smallest espresso bars and stores that Starbucks has ever designed, she says.

The exterior of the sleek red and white car is branded with Starbucks’ siren logo on both sides, including “Starbucks” text. White icons representing menu items, including beverages and muffins, and an image of Starbucks espresso machines are on train windows.

Inside, the colors are the familiar Starbucks browns and whites — but no orange or green. The car’s two levels provide seating for 50.

 

Wow, if Swiss trains could just add Victoria’s Secret, an Apple store and a Cinnabon…

Los Angeles is not a sin (Zocalo Public Square) 

This amazingly intelligent article by Joe Mathews is not about transportation per se — rather it’s about the gushing and often lacking-in-insight coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Big excerpt:

The biggest currents in the flood of commentary are these: that the aqueduct is a singular, only-in-L.A. engineering accomplishment; that it was responsible for the creation of the city; and that it was the city’s original sin, committed by a few powerful people who held L.A. in their sway. All of this new commentary is seasoned with the spice of self-congratulation over finally having a conversation about water after 100 years of supposedly ignoring it.

It’s not just that all of this is wrong. (Has there ever been a time when L.A. wasn’t talking about water?) It’s that it all reeks of the disease that might be called “Los Angeles exceptionalism,” the notion that this is a place different from all the rest, as if skullduggery or deception or imported water makes L.A. unique.

For the record, imported water has been a feature of cities since Roman times. Even places wetter than L.A. take the water of others. New York built its first two aqueducts in the 19th century, decades before the L.A. Aqueduct. San Francisco, for all its environmental self-regard, still relies on water taken from the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, part of a project that began the same year that the L.A. Aqueduct opened.

[snip]

Of course, it is the banality of L.A. civic life that makes the conspiracy theories and cinematic narratives so powerful. We’d rather believe in shadowy power than reckon with the fact that no one is in charge. The Chinatown narrative—it’s the powerful guy’s fault—absolves us not only of blame for L.A.’s problems but also of responsibility for solving them.

The bigger question is this: Can L.A. ever stop thinking of itself as an exceptionally unnatural or corrupt or fallen place? You can try to debunk the conspiracy theories. You can try to argue that we have the power to write our own history, just as we did in the past. You can try to convince people that we’ll never get our act together as long as we believe that a few powerful people control everything. You can … Ah, forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

 

 

A lot of the things that Joe writes about the aqueduct can also be said about the way transportation has been written about here. First, there’s the myth that our traffic and our commutes is spectacularly worse than other places. It’s not; our commute times are pretty typical of major metro areas in the U.S.

And then there’s the notion that still rears its head from time to time that L.A. is too sprawling, too different and too car addicted for transit here to work. Of course, that’s bunk. London is sprawling. So is Paris. And Moscow. And transit works there. But as with coverage of the aqueduct, that kind of context is often missing. 

Going forward, the Los Angeles area can be whatever it wants to be, people.


Self-driving cars versus transit: will they compete? Take our poll

Although I’m normally allergic to panel discussions, I actually attended one last month at the Mobility 21 conference on self-driving cars that rose to the level of mighty interesting.

The gist of the conversation: virtually ever major car company is pursuing self-driving cars, the technology is sound, the cars could reduce accidents (in other words, not like human drivers are all that safe) and lawmakers better start getting super serious as to how to regulate them as a lot of them could be on the road within a decade.

And this–the really interesting part: the big marketing push and the big source of demand will likely come from those who can’t or don’t want to drive (seniors, teens, disabled, etc.) but need the mobility a self-driving car could supply. In fact, one of the panelists even proposed that self-driving cars could save government money by negating the need to supply transit in areas where transit is inefficient.

This is already how Google is framing the self-driving car issue:

Not discussed by the panel is another issue I find interesting: if there is a proliferation of self-driving cars, what does that do to transit?

On the one hand, roads will continue to have only a finite amount of space. Yes, perhaps self-driving cars may squeeze some extra capacity from roads by driving more efficiently — but you can only pack so many cars in so much space, presumably.

On the other hand, cars often enjoy the door-to-door convenience factor not afforded by transit. At present, one of the major draws to transit is that it’s a chance for people to relax and/or get some work done.

What happens if you can get that work done in your own car that is driving itself to work? Would sitting in traffic be more tolerable if you didn’t actually have to be the one tapping the brakes and accelerator? Or would traffic still make you go bonkety-bonkers?

Take the poll and comment please.


Transportation headlines, Thursday, Nov. 14

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison!

ART OF TRANSIT: Culver City station from our Instagram account.

Exploring the South Bay Green Line Extension (KCET Depatures)

A look at the possible route and station locations of the light rail alternative for the Green Line Extension project, which is partially funded by Measure R. The light rail option would extend the Green Line along the old Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way to a new transit center in Torrance. More funding would be needed to reach Torrance.

Better public transit is as good as gold (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Assemblyman Mike Gatto authors an opinion piece calling for the Gold Line to be extended from Pasadena to the airport in Ontario to help improve transit in a region he describes as underserved. A Pasadena-to-Azusa extension is under construction and is funded by Measure R and a second phase to Montclair is in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan but is not funded at this time along with other unfunded transit extensions or new projects.

Lessons in urbanism from Chicago for downtown L.A. (DTLA Rising)

Check it out!: a two-way protected bike lane in downtown Chicago. Photo by Brigham Yen.

Check it out!: a two-way protected bike lane in downtown Chicago. Photo by Brigham Yen.

Brigham Yen finds downtown Chicago to be exceptionally clean and with good signage. “After 4 days of exploring, Chicago in a nutshell can be summed up as: 4-directional, walkable, bike-friendly, bustling, architecturally stunning, proud, and yes, evenimmaculate. Even the alleyways were clean. Amazing!,” he writes. The post has a ton of great photos backing up Brigham’s assertion.

Pronghorn take to highway crossings (High Country News) 

Pronghorn cross a road in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Photo by carfull...Cowboy Stater via Flickr creative commons.

Pronghorn cross a road in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Photo by carfull…Cowboy Stater via Flickr creative commons.

Eight-foot-tall fences have been built to funnel pronghorn in Wyoming to a pair of overpasses and eight underpasses to help them get across Highway 191 on their annual 100-mile migration in Wyoming. After initial fear and anxiety, the pronghorn (commonly and wrongly called antelope) seem to be taking to it. That’s good news for proponents of highway wildlife crossings which are sometimes mocked for their cost and ambition — but in Florida, California, Montana and many other places are also proving to work.


Downtown on Ice returns to Pershing Square

Photo courtesy of Downtown on Ice

Photo courtesy of Downtown on Ice

Today’s the grand “ice breaker” ceremony at Pershing Square’s Downtown on Ice! The free event starts at 11 a.m. with performances, skating exhibitions and more. Although the ceremony ends at noon, outdoor ice skating will be available through January 20.

Skate sessions are 60 minutes each. Check Downtown on Ice’s website for rink hours as they vary by day. General admission is $8, but you can save $1 on individual admission if you’ve got a valid TAP card!

The exclusive discount is part of Metro’s Destination Discounts program and cannot be combined with any other offers. Go Metro to participating locations and events and you’ll save on admission, get discounts on meals, and receive free gifts.

To get to the rink, take the Metro Red or Purple Line to Pershing Square Station, or hop on the Metro Rapid 770 to Olive/5th or Metro Bus 10/48 to Hill/5th. For more routes and connections, use the Trip Planner.


Metro Participates in “Bike Talk” Radio Program

Metro participated in the November 9 installment of KPFK’s “Bike Talk” radio program, a weekly radio show that discusses issues of interest to the L.A. bicycling community.

Diego Cardoso, executive officer of countywide planning and development at Metro, discussed Metro’s efforts to fund bicycle infrastructure improvements through the Call for Projects, which has doubled the amount of funding available to cities for the Bicycle category. He also mentioned Measure R local return funds that go to cities for their priority transportation projects that can include bicycle improvements.

Diego reported that Metro is also pursuing an Open Streets Program to extend CicLAvia-type events to cities throughout the county, as well as developing a business plan to implement a countywide bike share program.

The radio show is available online or via iTunes podcast.