Transportation headlines, Friday, November 15

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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.


Transportation headlines, Thursday, Nov. 14

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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.


Transportation headlines, Wednesday, November 13

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ART OF TRANSIT: Line 45 on Broadway just north of Chinatown. From Metro’s Instagram account.

Is it okay to kill cyclists? (New York Times) 

I’m a couple days behind in my reading, so apologies for not including this yesterday. This op-ed by Daniel Duane, a sometimes cyclist in San Francisco, is very well-written. As he points out, motorists are frequently given the benefit of the doubt in deadly accidents involving cyclists, even when there are laws on the books that protect the rights of those on bicycles.

Interestingly, the last couple of paragraphs in the article have provoked some criticism from cycling activists:

Cycling debates often break along predictable lines — rural-suburban conservatives opposed to spending a red cent on bike safety, urban liberals in favor. But cycling isn’t sky diving. It’s not just thrill-seeking, or self-indulgence. It’s a sensible response to a changing transportation environment, with a clear social upside in terms of better public health, less traffic and lower emissions. The world is going this way regardless, toward ever denser cities and resulting changes in law and infrastructure. But the most important changes, with the potential to save the most lives, are the ones we can make in our attitudes.

So here’s my proposal: Every time you get on a bike, from this moment forward, obey the letter of the law in every traffic exchange everywhere to help drivers (and police officers) view cyclists as predictable users of the road who deserve respect. And every time you get behind the wheel, remember that even the slightest inattention can maim or kill a human being enjoying a legitimate form of transportation. That alone will make the streets a little safer, although for now I’m sticking to the basement and maybe the occasional country road.

Damien Newton, writing at L.A. Streetsblog, said the problem with the New York Times’ piece was that it “still paints the problem of cops not enforcing the law as partially “the cyclists” fault.” Damien also has links to some of the other reaction.

With all due respect, I didn’t read the NYT article that way — i.e. blaming the victims. I found it appropriately and enormously sympathetic to the plight of cyclists while being very critical of law enforcement.

Robert Greene in the Los Angeles Times also has a good op-ed article today reacting to the NYT piece and comes to many of the same conclusions. 

Your thoughts, readers?

No time to write? Take the subway (KCRW)

Pinched for time, librarian and film historian Christina Rice was desperate for time to work on a biography of 1930s film actress Ann Dvorak. The answer: she used her Red Line subway trip from NoHo to downtown L.A. and back to peck away on her keyboard until the book was finished. Here’s the interview:

Bridge to nowhere (The Architect’s Newspaper) 

An effort by the architectural firm RAC Design Build to have the old Riverside-Figueroa bridge preserved and converted to a pedestrian walkway/park (think New York City’s High Line) is very unlikely to happen (the city is building a replacement bridge). The problem: the city of L.A. says the cost may be prohibitive and there doesn’t appear to be much political support for the plan as the bridge’s April demolition date gets closer. Too bad, but it’s a bit of a tough location, too — hemmed in by the 5 and 110 freeways.

Blighted cities prefer razing to rebuilding (New York Times) 

This quote sums it up nicely:

“It is not the house itself that has value, it is the land the house stands on,” said Sandra Pianalto, the president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. “This led us to the counterintuitive concept that the best policy to stabilize neighborhoods may not always be rehabilitation. It may be demolition.”

Large-scale destruction is well known in Detroit, but it is also underway in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo and others at a total cost of more than $250 million. Officials are tearing down tens of thousands of vacant buildings, many habitable, as they seek to stimulate economic growth, reduce crime and blight, and increase environmental sustainability.

One of the big problems is that many of those cities have been steadily losing population — presumably to the ‘burbs. I’m from Cincy and while the city proper has shrunk, the metropolitan area has steadily spread 10 to 20 miles outward in my lifetime.

The tough part of this story is that it’s easy to understand the dilemma of city officials. The renovation they probably want isn’t happening or isn’t happening fast enough. The question is whether something better will come along.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday, i.e. 11/12/13

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ART OF SUNRISE: Nice one a little after 6 a.m. this morning in lovely downtown Montrose, served by the 90 bus; downtown Montrose is where Will Ferrell went streaking in “Old School.” Photo via submission by Maricela Gomez.

Vote on 405 toll lanes in O.C. is delayed (L.A. Times)

The Orange County Transportation Authority will not vote until Dec. 9 on plans to improve traffic on the 405 freeway. Among the alternatives: converting the existing HOV lane to a congestion pricing lane, adding a second toll lane and adding a general purpose lane for 14 miles of the 405 south of the L.A. County line (between the 605 and 73 freeways).

Who knows if OCTA will go for it? The L.A. Times worked the phrase “Lexus Lanes” in the second graph of its article and will likely keep doing so — especially with cities along the route opposing this alternative. Of course, lost in the heat is that no general purpose lanes would be lost and under the controversial option, a general lane would be added. As for carpoolers and who pays tolls and who does not, those decisions have not yet been made.

This staff report from OCTA lays out the different alternatives — see page 3.

The obvious reader question: what does this mean for the 405 north of the O.C.-L.A. boundary? At this point, nothing. The Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project, which is nowhere near the O.C. line, is looking at a possible toll tunnel to help pay for a transit project — but that is one of several concepts that have been studied on a preliminary basis. That project is still in its very early phases and will need a lot more funding before being built; that’s the reason a public-private partnership is being explored.

Garcetti seeks to expand Hyperion Bridge deadline (L.A. Streetsblog)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to delay firming up plans to renovate the bridge over the Los Angeles River for more community review of the current plan. Cycling advocates have been very critical of the city Bureau of Engineering’s plans, saying they serve motorists but not pedestrians or those on bikes.

Report from the California bike summit (L.A. Times)

Editorial page writer Robert Greene attended the summit in Oakland and offers a few impressions. Among them: Long Beach is probably tops in building bike infrastructure. Another: Design really matters and that cycling is a vital way of getting around for some low-income communities that have lost jobs and have poor transit service. He also ends his piece with a chide of sorts concerning safety. Thoughtful piece.

Bacon deodorant: coming soon! (JD Foods)

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I can’t wait for our first complaint about this, uh, exciting new hygiene product. From the product description:

Using POWER BACON will probably make everyone drawn to you like you were the most powerful magnet on Earth. And by everyone, we mean friends, acquaintances, beautiful strangers, dogs, bears, swamp alligators, lions and even pigs. It’s like an aphrodisiac for your armpits. But use your new power wisely, because with great bacon power comes great baconsponsibility.

There’s also this:

Do not eat or hike in the woods without a firearm while wearing POWER BACON.

Before putting bacon deoderant into your grooming lineup, you may want to consider the Metro Customer Code of Conduct, which has this to say on the issue of odors:

6‐05‐160 Odors
A. A person may not be in a Metro facility or vehicle with an unavoidable grossly repulsive odor so extreme it causes a nuisance, unreasonably interferes with the use, operation, or enjoyment
of the Metro facilities or vehicles for Metro representatives or patrons, or creates an unsafe
35 condition.
B. Extreme odors may arise from a variety of sources, including one’s body, possessions, clothing, food, chemicals, or accompanying animals.

Transportation headlines, Friday, November 8

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ART OF TRANSIT: An early customer for the new NB 405 flyover ramp from Wilshire Boulevard on Thursday. The ramp is part of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: An early customer for the new NB 405 flyover ramp from Wilshire Boulevard on Thursday. The ramp is part of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

The mysterious, invisible opera in L.A.’s Union Station (The Verge) 

Great coverage of the “Invisible Cities” operate at Union Station via wireless headphones. The operate has been extended through this weekend; check here for ticket availability.

Register parent, Freedom Communications, drops talk of hub-naming rights (Orange County Register) 

The ‘oy vey’ story of the day. The Register’s owner was going to help Anaheim find a corporate sponsor interested in naming rights for the the new transportation hub under construction adjacent to the Angels’ ballpark. The sorta Journalism 101 obvious problem: it’s probably best if newspapers aren’t involved in funding projects they’re supposed to be covering.

The station looks nice, btw. It would be even nicer if there was evening train service back to L.A. for those interested in watching the Ducks engage in the exciting sport of ice hockey at the nearby Pond.

Rendering: city of Anaheim and OCTA.

Rendering: city of Anaheim and OCTA.

A look at how the New York subway system is being prepped for wireless reception (NY1) 

Cell service has already arrived at some Manhattan subway stations and the New York MTA is planning on having it at 277 stations by 2017. Here’s a look at some of the behind-the-scenes work to make that possible. The Metro Board of Directors approved a contract earlier this year to provide cell reception at underground stations but it will likely take a couple of years to implement.

King County proposes ending 74 bus routes (King5.com)

Unhappy news for the Seattle area. Metro Transit says it needs more funding to replace the $1.2 billion lost to the Great Recession that began in 2008.

Cities turn to streetcars to spur economic development (Stateline: Pew Charitable Trusts)

The focus of the story is the four-mile streetcar project in Tucson that is expected to cost about $196 million and — according to supporters — attract four times that much in economic development along the route. The city of Los Angeles is seeking to build a four-mile streetcar route through downtown L.A. with the latest estimate running $153 to $162 million, according to city officials. Federal funding will be needed.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, November 7

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ART OF TRANSIT: The old streetcar depot on the VA campus in West Los Angeles. It was built in 1900 — and looks like it was last painted around that time — and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Here is a story that ran in the L.A. Times today about a new study alleging that the VA is putting hundreds of historic properties at risk of demolition by failing to maintain them. It’s not really related, but the Purple Line Extension’s station at the VA Hospital will be near the trolley stop, but on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard.

Will Los Angeles ever get a bike share program? (Downtown News)

Metro’s Board of Directors in October voted to begin exploring a countywide bike share program — in effect, ending the city of Los Angeles’ efforts to start a program through BikeNation, a private firm. The Downtown News reports that problem with the city’s effort, and one that could plague the countywide effort, is a contract the city of L.A. has with two outdoor advertising firms that gives them exclusive rights through 2021 to the kind of ads that would presumably be used to help fund a bike share program. Other cities aren’t encumbered with these kind of deals, allowing them to seek exclusive advertisers for their programs — for example, the CitiBikes in Gotham.

What does it take to map an earthquake fault? (KPCC)

A very well-written explanation of how earthquake faults are mapped in California and the efforts underway to better map the Hollywood Fault. The issue in Hollywood involves development: two skyscrapers are proposed for a site that critics say is on top of the fault. The bigger issue is that due to state budget cuts, many fault maps need updating, the reason Metro had to perform its own set of tests to determine the location of the Santa Monica Fault and the West Beverly Hills Lineament when planning the Purple Line Extension.

Purple Line project gets Maryland approval to seek public-private partnership (Washington Post)

The $2.2-billion project would build 21 miles of light rail through the busy D.C. suburbs in Maryland, providing connections to Washington Metro rail lines and commuter rail. The deal would involve getting $900 million in federal funds and then have a private firm or firms provide up to $900 million of the cost in exchange for receiving $100 million to $200 million annually for 30 to 35 years to operate and maintain the line. It will be interesting to see if they can make it work. These deals always sound plausible on paper but often prove difficult to engineer in the real world.

Do bike lanes fuel gentrification? (Utne Reader)

A very interesting article about efforts to install protected bike lanes on Chicago’s South Side and the somewhat mixed reaction by African-American churches in the area who feared loss of parking. But the Utne Reader dives deeper and looks at the views by some that bike lanes — sometimes known as ‘white lanes’ — are the prelude to the kind of gentrification that could change their neighborhoods in profound ways, and not all of them for the better.

A really fascinating and fair piece of journalism. Read it.

Cincinnati streetcar in jeopardy as new mayor threatens to stop it (Next City)

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Photo by David Cole

The mayor-elect of the Queen City doesn’t like Cincy’s effort to build a downtown streetcar. Construction has begun and a half-mile of track may be built by the time he takes office — and the cost of stopping it may be more than building it. One of the often heard complaints about the project (one of many similar projects around the country) is that the money would be better spent on improving bus service in town.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, November 6

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ART OF TRANSIT: 6th & Spring in DTLA, from our Instagram account.

Anti-HSR rail forces renew call for new alignment (California High-Speed Rail Blog)

Bullet train plan proponent Robert Cruickshank writes that those pushing for a rail line across/under the Tejon Pass are, in fact, floating a plan that would kill California’s high-speed rail project by making it more complex than it already is and less likely to attract private investment. It would also take Bakersfield and Fresno off the route’s main line — making some Kings County residents happy but defeating the purpose of the project, which is to tie together major cities across the southern half of the state.

Researchers say mountain lion killed on the 101 freeway probably from the north (Ventura County Star)

The cougar killed in Agoura Hills in October was trying to get from the north to area south of the 101 freeway, where there is a small group of lions inhabiting the Santa Monica Mountains. The fear for many years is that the lions in the Santa Monicas will hit a genetic bottleneck unless their population is allowed to mingle and mate with the larger number of lions up north in the Santa Susana and San Gabriel ranges. Caltrans has twice come up short with the $10 million needed for a wildlife tunnel near the Liberty Canyon exit. While wildlife crossings are sometimes mocked by the media (not the Star), they work elsewhere and I hope something can be done here — it’s smart wildlife management.

A mountain lion uses a wildlife underpass in Florida. Credit: Florida Department of Transportation.

A mountain lion uses a wildlife underpass in Florida. Credit: Florida Department of Transportation.

Showing up to work tired is just like showing up to work drunk (Marketplace)

Okay, not a transportation story per se, but it reminded me of a Gold Line ride last week when three of the four of us sitting on the aisle-facing seats slipped into a deep slumber in the middle of the day. And I was only riding from Del Mar to Union Station — a 19-minute ride.

As the story says, the average American is getting 90 minutes less sleep these days as usual and one of the culprits is the unending and around-the-clock cascade of work emails that people are getting on their smartphones. To put it another way, people are not being given a chance to stop thinking about work.

Today’s timewaster: Awesome aerial footage of the Los Angeles Aqueduct from KPCC:

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, November 5

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ART OF TRANSIT: You don't see too many AMC Pacers around anymore; I saw this one parked on a local street with an ad in the window offering it for film shoots. Smart! I took the photo with my iPhone and used Snapseed's Retrolux feature to make it look like something shot in the 1970s.

ART OF TRANSIT: You don’t see too many AMC Pacers around anymore; the car debuted in 1975 and was popular for a few years. I saw this one parked on a local street with an ad in the window offering it for film shoots. Smart! I took the photo with my iPhone and used Snapseed’s Retrolux feature to make it look like something shot on cheap film in the 1970s.

And speaking of 1975, and because the week is already feeling long, here’s Linda Ronstadt with a song that climbed the charts early that year:

7th Street bike lane update (LADOT Bike Blog) 

A test spin on the new portion of the 7th Street bike lane in DTLA. Photo: LADOT Bike Blog.

A test spin on the new portion of the 7th Street bike lane in DTLA. Photo: LADOT Bike Blog.

The new bike lanes on busy 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles between Figueroa and Main street have been painted and signage is going up. I’m guessing the new lanes will be useful for cyclists coming and going from the busy 7th/Metro Center station that serves the Red, Purple, Blue and Expo lines.

Not really related: Brooke Shields dressed as a New York CitiBike for Halloween.

Councilman Huizar: downtown Los Angeles streetcar moving forward despite cost controversy (KPCC)

At a community meeting last night, Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar and streetcar officials said that recent city cost estimates were a worst case scenario and better numbers should be available by year’s end. They said the cost of the streetcar line would likely be between $153 million and $162 million — more than the $125 million originally touted and less than the $300 million number used by the city if utility relocations are extensive. As we’ve mentioned here before, this project will live-or-die depending on how much money the federal government is willing to spend.

Is it too late to prepare for climate change? (New Yorker) 

A new United Nations report leaked over the weekend; the report, relying on previously published scientific reports, lists the ongoing and likely impacts of climate change. Excerpt from the New Yorker’s excellent Elizabeth Kolbert:

Promoting “preparedness” is doubtless a good idea. As the executive order notes, climate impacts—which include, but are not limited to, heat waves, heavier downpours, and an increase in the number and intensity of wildfires—are “already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the Nation.” However, one of the dangers of this enterprise is that it tends to presuppose, in a Boy Scout-ish sort of way, that “preparedness” is possible.

As we merrily roll along, radically altering the planet, we are, as the leaked I.P.C.C. report makes clear, increasingly in danger of committing ourselves to outcomes that will simply overwhelm societies’ ability to adapt. Certainly they will overwhelm the abilities of frogs and trees and birds to adapt. Thus, any genuine “preparedness” strategy must include averting those eventualities for which preparation is impossible. This is not something that the President can do by executive order, but it’s something he ought to be pursuing with every other tool. As Obama himself put it in a speech this past spring, “Those of us in positions of responsibility, we’ll need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of posterity. Because you and your children, and your children’s children, will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.

For those interested in reducing their carbon footprint, please consider taking transit instead of driving alone or biking or walking. More on that subject is on the Federal Transit Administration’s website, including this document. On The Source: New UCLA study finds Gold Line and Orange Line produce less smog and greenhouse gas emissions in near- and far-term.

Related: President Obama on Friday issued an Executive Order on increasing preparations for climate change. As part of that, the President created a new task force that includes Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Gov. Jerry Brown. The 26-member task force will be looking to improve cooperation between the federal government and communities when it comes to preparing for and mitigating against climate change impacts.

Los Angeles: neighborhood stereotypes (Mapurbane) 

Perhaps not the most politically correct map of all time. I like how Venice has been redubbed “weird people” and Malibu as “expensive traffic accidents.”

Portland’s multi-modal nexus, with a giant bike valet (Streetfilms) 

Wow! I visited the neighborhood in 2009 when it was still emerging and pretty quiet. Looks like it’s getting better and better.

Transportation headlines, Monday, November 4

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ART OF TRANSIT: An Expo Line train with a new paint job at the Exposition Park/USC station. 

Could NYC’s ‘wacko-nutso’ Janette Sadik-Khan be right for L.A.? (L.A. Times) 

Interesting opinion piece by Times staffer Robert Greene. Sadik-Khan is Mayor Bloomberg’s transportation commissioner who has compiled a long list of accomplishments by narrowing streets in the Big Apple, building miles of bike lanes (some protected even) and pushing for more public transit. That has also earned her enemies: the “wacko-nutso’ label comes from the New York Post’s gossip writer Cindy Adams.

As it happens, Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure in New York is about to end (his replacement will be elected tomorrow) and it’s questionable whether the next chief of Gotham will want to keep her around. As it also happens, the city of Los Angeles has a vacancy for general manager for its Department of Transportation. And there’s this: Sadik-Khan went to Occidental, while Mayor Garcetti has taught there.

Here’s a Source post from earlier this year on a talk Sadik-Khan gave while in town. And below is a TED Talks appearance by her:

If she leaves NYC, her timing is good: Looks like Chicago is also looking for a chief for its transportation department, Streetsblog reports.

Winnetka residents say lack of toilets along Orange Line a problem (Daily News) 

Some residents complain that an alley near the Pierce College stop has turned into an impromptu restroom. The Community College District says the problem belongs to Metro. Metro says the problem is on college-owned land and that Metro has only installed restrooms (as do most transit agencies) at major hubs, i.e. Union Station.

FigAt7th plans to open new stores next year (Brigham Yen) 

It’s about time; the quasi-underground mall has been getting a makeover for some time and it now appears that boarded up windows will become actual stores by mid-2014. I think there’s a Loteria in the works; they have tasty tacos, me thinks. The mall is across the street from the busy 7th/Metro Center that serves the Red Line, Purple Line, Blue Line and Expo Line.

Rail to Redlands project update shows increased costs (San Bernardino Sun) 

The San Bernardino Association of Governments wants to extend the San Bernardino Metrolink line east to Redlands, adding three additional stations. A previous cost estimate was $156 million; the revised one is that such a project would cost $200 million to $300 million. The hope is that a rail extension could also link up with a bus rapid transit project that would run from Redlands to downtown San Bernardino to Loma Linda.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, November 1

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LAX shooting (Daily Breeze)

Media coverage of today’s shootings at Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport. It needs to be noted that law enforcement has not officially confirmed the details of this story and others.

When the Metro Orange Line was rail (KCET)

The L.A. City Council this week approved a resolution by Councilman Tom LaBonge urging the state Legislature to repeal the 1991 law that prohibited a rail line being built in the Orange Line’s corridor. Yes, the Legislature in all its, uh, wisdom approved a law outlawing rail from being built in what used to be a rail corridor, one reason the Orange Line today is a bus.

What does this mean for the Orange Line’s future? Not much, really. The Council passes all sorts of resolutions and who knows if the Legislature will bother to tackle this one, even as many Valley residents advocate for a rail line across the Sepulveda Pass and along Van Nuys Boulevard.

Which brings up another obstacle: funding. The aforementioned Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor and East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor projects are both set to receive Measure R funding and include rail as among the alternatives under study. There’s no money at this point for an Orange Line conversion, nor is there any plan under current consideration by Metro, nor is a rail conversion proposed in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan.

Chart of the day: a sharp drop in infrastructure spending in the U.S. (Wonk Wire)

The chart resembles the trajectory of the roadrunner going over the cliff. Don’t fret, says the accompanying article: it’s inevitable we’ll have to fix it later, albeit at an insanely high price due to inflation and such. Whew!

Plan to add toll lanes to 405 in O.C. dismissed as ‘Lexus lanes,’ draw heat (L.A. Times)

Among several alternatives being studied to improve traffic on the 405 in Orange County: 14 miles of congestion pricing toll lanes. The Times manages to find city officials unhappy with that alternative, griping that it will dump traffic on city streets or be an unfair tax.

In other words, the Times wrote the story for the lowest common denominator. No advocates of the congestion pricing alternative are quoted nor is there an explanation of the theory of congestion pricing and what some say about whether or not it works.