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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.
Carmageddon II: fun times & flawed infrastructure funding priorities (L.A. Streetsblog)
Gary Kavanaugh takes a skeptical view that Carmageddon was a complete success. He likes that many people drove less for a couple of days and instead got on their bikes or the Metro. But it’s the reason that troubles him: Gary doesn’t believe $1 billion for a bigger, wider 405 is necessarily a better 405. Excerpt:
Fun times aside however, perhaps no other project in California is burning through so much money for so little theoretical benefit. We are destroying and rebuilding multiple bridges and ramps primarily to accommodate the construction of one additional lane (on the Northbound side) for a 10 mile stretch of the 405, at a cost of just over a billion dollars.
A billion dollars invested in bike lanes, cycle tracks and off street paths could have been absolutely game changing and transformative to the quality of life across the entirety of the Los Angeles region. In short order, Greater Los Angeles could have become a world-class cycling destination if we prioritized accordingly.
Instead, Metro and Caltrans might save a fraction of peak hour 405 commuters a few minutes off their car commute. If we’re talking about a net benefit that accounts for the delay and hassle created for those same commuter during the extended destruction and construction processes of this entire project, than I’m really skeptical.
I think the counter-argument here is that there are some road projects that are justified because they help traffic flow more efficiently — the less idling cars, the better. In the case of the 405, it doesn’t make much sense to have a carpool lane on one side of the freeway but with a 10-mile hole on the other and I happen to believe the new Wilshire flyover ramps will help smooth a bottleneck that backs traffic up in both directions. That said, I can’t disagree with Gary that it wouldn’t take a billion dollars to build the kind of bike and pedestrian facilities that would be game changers.
A bike lane in Paris — not too many helmets out there, eh? Photo by Dsade, via Flickr creative commons.
To encourage biking, cities lose the helmets (New York Times)
Very smart trend story. Excerpt:
“Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified — in fact, cycling has many health benefits,” says Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney. He studied the issue with mathematical modeling, and concludes that the benefits may outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.
He adds: “Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.” The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.
Yet the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that “all cyclists wear helmets, no matter where they ride,” said Dr. Jeffrey Michael, an agency official.
Tough public policy issue, in my view. Complicating things is that some folks ride at a very leisurely pace that doesn’t seem likely to cause any kind of serious injury. On the other hand, there are folks out there on road bikes riding at a good clip and any kind of fall could be very dangerous. Your views?