Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 12

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! 

The future of Leimert Park (KCET)

Great video hosted by Nic Cha Kim on the future of Los Angeles’ well-known African American neighborhoods. The segment hits a significant issue head on: what will Crenshaw/LAX Line and/or gentrification mean for the African American population in the neighborhood? The visuals are great, too — and really give a sense of the community.

As for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, major construction is underway. The project is scheduled to open in 2019 and will allow trains to run from the Green Line’s current Redondo Beach station to the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw, where passengers can transfer to the east-west Expo Line.

Those interested in the issue of transit and gentrification should read these two posts that appeared recently at The Atlantic Cities:

Does new transit always have to mean rising rents?

It’s not always a bad thing for rents to rise with transit growth

Pedaling toward segregated bikeways (redqueeninla)

Excellent essay about the proliferation of bikes on our local roads — a good thing — and the inherent challenges of forcing cyclists and motorists together on the same patch of asphalt. Excerpt:

Bicycles need more segregated space on our roadways, dedicated to them. This is imperative for the safety of cyclist and motorist alike, but as well for the sake of the soul of our city. It is not appropriate to marginalize this mode of transportation which has grown so popular. And in attending to the safety we all need better addressed, this will open up a floodgate of participation among the wary. If segregated, secure bicycle roadways were as common in Los Angeles as across Europe and elsewhere in North America, cycling commutes and bicycled errands in Los Angeles would become viable for the more cautious among us.

Redqueeninla concludes by predicting that building more protected bikeways will lead to even more people riding. Completely agree.

Boston’s new “smart transit” gets you to work faster–for a price (Gizmodo)

Good post on a new startup that plans to run private buses across the Boston area in which the routes are, in part, determined by riders and the data they generate. The idea is that the routes are more flexible than that of a public transit agency, meaning riders willing to pay steeper fares can help customize their transit. Excerpt:

Privatized transit—the kind that’s not funded or maintained by the city’s transportation agency—has become a touchy issue for cities over the last few years, if only because of one specific example: The tech buses in San Francisco. As you’ll remember, protesters believe that the buses cause gentrification because the easy access to these corporate shuttles cause wealthier people to move into certain areas of San Francisco where they wouldn’t normally live, displacing longtime residents. While there isn’t really any kind of direct correlation that can prove that—desirable areas of San Francisco are getting more expensive, period—the city has responded (a little) by charging the shuttles to use its bus stops.

While it seems on the outset like Bridj is kind of the same thing—these are fancy buses targeted to tech workers, too—the biggest difference is that this is a service which is open to the public. It’s privatized transit, but not a closed system. It’s another option for getting to work, and it’s more like a high-tech carpool than an alternative transit system. And as the branding clearly states—and I’m not saying I agree with it—this is for people who don’t like touching other humans or getting sweaty on the subway.

Privately-run transit systems don’t exist in many parts of the country for a variety of reasons — including unwanted competition to public transit — although private firms contract with agencies (including Metro) to provide service on their routes. It will be interesting to see how this changes over time. I’m sure transit agencies don’t want private firms to cherry-pick the more profitable routes, leaving agencies to heavily subsidize the rest. On the other hand, if a private firm can better serve a particular route, shouldn’t the free market be allowed to prevail? We’ll see.

CTA bans e-cigarettes on all buses, trains (Chicago Tribune) 

The agency that runs the bus and train system across the Windy City follows in Metro’s footsteps and prohibits the use of e-cigarettes. Similar issue as here: the agency believe that a rule already on the books forbidding smoking on agency property likely covered e-cigarettes but decided to make the ban more explicit.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, February 26

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! 

Nice infographic from Fixr: L.A. has four of the top 10 steepest streets in the country, they say.

Click the image to enlarge
Top 10 US steepest streets
Via fixr structural engineering cost guide

Metro takes aim at Orange Line fare evaders (Daily News)

Coverage of yesterday’s media event as part of an effort to lower fare evasion on the Orange Line. Excerpt:

“LA Metro is one of the best buys around, with one of the lowest fares in North America,” said Art Leahy, chief executive of Metro, at a Tuesday news conference. “But we have to pay the bills … so we need people to pay their fare.”

The two-pronged plan focuses on educating riders on how to pay for their fare through added signs at stations and public service announcements on on-board televisions as well as stepped-up enforcement through hefty $75 citations at each of the 18 stations between North Hollywood and Chatsworth.

The Orange Line is particularly vulnerable to fare evasion because, unlike many underground stations in the Metro system, there are no access gates and money is not collected by drivers when riders board a bus, officials and riders said. Instead, passengers purchase or reload a reusable card at self-service kiosks and then must tap the card at a separate free-standing collection machine that deducts the amount needed for a one-way ride, a process some riders say is confusing.

Bottom line: it’s good to see enforcement stepping up. Running transit is expensive and lost revenue ultimately costs riders the service improvements they would like to see.

Cycling on the edge: dodging cars and potholes (L.A. Times) 

Smart opinion article by Paul Thornton who puts it on the record: many of the bike lanes striped by the city of Los Angeles in recent times are also riddled with potholes. That gives cyclists a not-so-fun choice: slam into a pothole and possibly wreck or veer into adjacent traffic lanes and potentially wreck. The challenge is that another city department — the Bureau of Street Services — are responsible for paving streets. My three cents: a lot of the bike lanes in the city of L.A. were done in a rush in order to reach mileage goals prior to mid-July 2013 — and that means there wasn’t always attention to detail.

A Los Angeles primer: Union Station (KCET)

Nice essay about Union Station includes this paragraph:

For all its timeless appeal and admirably vigorous upkeep, Union Station nevertheless suffers a faint but persistent underlying sense of dereliction, or at least uncleanliness. (Sometimes I visit and feel it has finally gone, but then I enter the restrooms too far between janitorial shifts.) One recently attempted solution to the most visible affliction of this or any public space — that of lingering indigent — involved removing most of the seating and cordoning off the rest for ticketed passengers, a measure desperate enough to signal a potentially unsolvable problem. But do airports do much better? Located so far from their cities’ centers and subject to such complicated entry procedures, most never have to face this sort of challenge in the first place. One trip through LAX, though, makes you realize the great advantage of Union Station and its predecessors across America, no matter how neglected: when you walk out of them, you walk straight into downtown.

I think the station is mostly clean, but I agree the restrooms could see some improvement. The issue there is there are only two sets of them, neither very large for the crowds the station sees. As for “straight into downtown,” well…sort of. It’s more straight into the edge of downtown — one reason I’d love to see more development in the northern part of downtown and especially the Civic Center area.

Also, shout out to post author Colin Marshall for his black-and-white photographs.

Two major transit projects break ground in San Bernardino (San Bernardino Sun) 

One project will extend Metrolink service to the University of Redlands, the other will construct a new transit center in San Bernardino that serves area bus lines and Metrolink. Officials say the projects are badly needed as traffic in the Inland Empire is a complete mess. In other words, officials are now trying to cope with the consequence of all those sprawling housing developments they have approved over the years.

Utah makes Google Glass app for bus riders (Salt Lake City Tribune)

The Utah Transit Authority has made a version of its bus-and-train schedule app that will work with Google Glass, although there are (thankfully) still few people wearing the geekware around. I still have a hard time believing anyone would be so amazingly stupid or addicted to the internet that they would need to have a screen on their glasses and if I have a vote, I say no Metro apps for these folks. They can check their phones like the rest of us!

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, February 25

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! 

Rest in Peace, Harold Ramis. Here’s a nice appreciation from the New Yorker. A scene below that Ramis directed from “Caddyshack,” including one of the great lines in the history of cinema: “I didn’t want to do it, but I owed it to them.”

Dial M for Metro wifi (ZevWeb)

An update on the project to bring cell service and potentially wifi into Metro Rail’s underground stations — and really there isn’t much new here. The contract was approved by the Metro Board in early 2013 and will likely be finished in a couple of years with perhaps some cell service coming before that, depending on how work goes. It will be up to individual cell providers to decide whether to provide an underground signal.

Do you bike in L.A.? Watch this video to see what concerns all those drivers (L.A. Times) 

Interesting video made from the point-of-view of drivers who encounter cyclists. It’s cleverly packaged with this video showing what frightens cyclists on our area roads.

2013: another year of less driving in the U.S. (Streetsblog Network)

The number of miles that Americans drove last year was more than in 2012 — but didn’t keep pace with the rate of population growth. In other words, on a per capita basis, Americans appear to be driving less, continuing a trend that has been in place for several years. Of course, it depends on what you mean by “less.” The cynical side of me tends to think that driving remains hugely popular, so perhaps rate of growth is kind of a desperate statistic to seize upon.

Inside Amtrak’s plan to give free rides to writers (The Wire) 

The railroad plans to offer residencies to writers who need time to sit and write. Hard to beat a cross-country trip on Amtrak for that — nothing like waiting for a freight train to pass to inspire Deep Thoughts.

Morgan Stanley predicts utopian society by 2026 (Slate)

The prediction is based on their bullish view that self-driving cars will give society a big happy kick in the bum. Because Morgan Stanley did so, uh, well predicting how the housing market would behave….

Historical sea ice atlas now online (Sea Atlas)

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 9.50.51 AM

Very cool new tool that allows you to track Arctic sea ice over the years, funded in part by the U.S. government. The whereabouts of ice was vital to the shipping industry for many years — although nowadays the ice has been retreating due to climate change. There’s an interactive feature that allows you to track the retreat, which is most pronounced in the past three decades. Reminder: taking transit is one way to help reduce your carbon footprint as transit is often more efficient than driving alone.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, February 19

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! 

A CyclingSavvy instructor explains her objections to bike lanes (Biking in LA)

Karen Karabell, of St. Louis, makes a thoughtful, cogent argument against bike lanes, saying that she believes it’s safer for cyclists to be in traffic lanes — where motorists see them sooner and better — than in a narrow lane that is often ignored by many motorists. I agree with her on the issue of sight lines. But I still don’t want to ride in traffic lanes unless I must — I see this as a post for bigger, wider and better designed bike lanes.

Newsom changes mind on high-speed rail (CBS) 

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom says he’s just voicing an opinion privately shared by many Democrats. Although he was ardently backed the bullet train project between Los Angeles and San Francisco, he said that too little federal or private funds have emerged to build a project with an estimated $68 billion price tag. The money, Newsom said, would be better spent on other infrastructure needs.

Obama orders new efficiencies for big rigs (New York Times) 

The President on Tuesday order the EPA to develop tougher new fuel standards for trucks, with a goal of implementing them by 2018. While trucks comprise just four percent of traffic on the nation’s roads, President Obama said they are responsible for 20 percent of the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Transportation headlines, Friday, October 18

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ART OF TRANSIT: A Red/Purple Line subway car in Metro’s maintenance shop. From our Instagram feed.

BART workers go on strike (San Francisco Chronicle) 

After a long negotiation on Thursday, talks broke down and workers walked out at 12:01 a.m. today, leaving tens of thousands of Bay Area workers to find other ways to reach work. While unions representing workers agreed to contribute four percent of their pay toward their pensions and contribute more to their health insurance costs, BART and workers couldn’t agree on a schedule or percentage for pay increases.

Perhaps most interesting, they also couldn’t agree on changes to work rules that BART officials said hindered their ability to run the rail system efficiently and unions said protected their rights. In particular, BART wants station managers to file reports by email, deliver pay stubs electronically and more flexibility to add or reduce service and worker hours. Unions objected to those.

BART connects San Francisco to cities south along the San Francisco Peninsula and to the many communities in the East Bay, including (most prominently) Oakland. Some charter buses are ferrying commuters, but others are out of luck or are driving. Traffic is bad and it doesn’t sound like a deal between BART and its workers is close.

Metro locks in more revenue (ZevWeb) 

Good article on the impact of gate latching on the Red/Purple Lines. The upshot: revenues from fares on the subway increased in September by 40 percent over last May before the gates were latched. If that pattern holds — key word ‘if’ — Metro could see a gain of $6 million in revenues annually from the subway. Of course, revenues are not the same as profit.

Excerpt:

Fare evaders are now unable to freely enter the system and, for the most part, have moved on to other modes of travel, Sutton said, giving paying customers a better ride by improving their security and safety—and by opening up a little more elbow room.

Even with the gates latched, some committed scofflaws will always find ways to game the system, Sutton said. About 19,000 people entered the subway without paying in September, using a variety of tricks or blatantly jumping the gates. Metro is in the process of tweaking the new system to make fare evasion more difficult, and the Sheriff’s Department is issuing citations to catch those who squeeze through.

Nonetheless,  in most places the system is working well. During one morning rush hour this week, transit patrons streamed through the gates at the North Hollywood station, tapping in succession as they rushed to catch the next train. At ticket vending machines, fare purchases were made swiftly, with no long lines forming.

Overall, I think this is a positive for the agency. Metro is hardly alone among agencies battling fare evasion; it’s good to see progress here is being made.

Suggestions for Metro: TVM software updates (Steven White: The Accidental Urbanist) 

Steven follows up on his post earlier this month about Metro’s ongoing efforts to make instructions easier to understand on ticket vending machines. This time around, Steven shows some ideas that he thinks would make instructions explicitly clear — and finally terminate the confusion over which (if any) buttons patrons are supposed to press.

He also has a few other ideas on how to make information clear to everyone:

Also, on the printed banner for the top of the machine, Metro could clarify the text and fare explanations. The design they’re currently working on says “Stored Value: Metro 1-Ride, $1.50″ which is a strange way of saying “the fare is $1.50 every time you board.” It would be much clearer to write

METRO FARES
Standard: $1.50 per boarding (no transfers included).
Reduced Fare (Seniors, Disabled & Medicare): Peak Hours $0.55 per boarding, Off-Peak Hours $0.25 per boarding
Valid passes also accepted.

STORED VALUE
Available in amounts $1.50 and higher

METRO PASSES
1-Day Pass: $5
7-Day Pass: $20
30-Day Pass: $75

With these clarifications of both text and design, I think the new TVM updates will make a huge positive difference. Buying a pass is often the most confusing step for Metro riders, and this will help ease that process greatly. Of course, feel free to leave additional comments or suggestions below.

Kudos for Steven to take the time to mull over this stuff. It may not be the most fascinating thing in the world, but ticket machines are the first point of contact for thousands of people new to the Metro system. And that first contact should be as good as possible; not a War of the Worlds type scenario.

Streetsblog LA’s Damien Newton: Everyone on the road breaks the law (L.A. Times)

Damien ventures into the belly of the beast — i.e. the Times newsroom — for a video interview with editorial writer and avowed motorist Carla Hall over biking in L.A. Damien is both predictably articulate and well dressed as Carla asks him questions about the cyclist/motorist conflicts. From the accompanying article:

He doesn’t care if you’re on a bike; he cares that you stop thinking of bicyclists as an odd nuisance — and stop framing the debate as “drivers vs. bicyclists”:

“The subtext is ‘We need to get along with these weirdos, because they’re out there.’ ”

It helps his message that he’s not particularly weird himself. He’s 36, married to an engineer and a father of two small children. He cheers the new state law requiring drivers to stay three feet away from bicyclists, but he’s not going to be the purist with a yardstick attached to his bike to make sure motorists are observing the law.

My three cents: sure, there are cyclists who break the law or do stupid things. But….please. Motorists literally get away with murder or almost murder every single day in this region. Cars running red lights, not stopping for crosswalks, tailgating, speeding, weaving, driving drunk — these are all things that are commonplace because enforcement is light or non-existent. Meanwhile, over the past century, the L.A. region was paved nearly from head-to-toe often with only regard to the car and not the pedestrian or the cyclist. And thus my response when I hear someone in a car complain that a cyclist or walker is slowing them down: BOO HOO!

TODAY’S TIMEWASTER: 

The L.A. Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals play at the L.A. Coliseum in 1959. There’s about an hour of footage starting with the beginning of the game.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Aug. 21

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

Love this bicyclists vs rail short posted on Vimeo. Lots of trams. Lots of bikes. No accidents. We can live together in harmony! In Zurich, at least.  

Editorial: Free California’s transit funds (Los Angeles Times)

As most of you by now know, U.S. Labor Secretary Perez is threatening to withhold billions of dollars in grants for state projects that could seriously impact our transit projects, including the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector. The Times editorial board says state officials should keep pressing to change his mind.

Students become teachers of green commuting (L.A. Weekly)

UCLA is reporting that more students walked than drove alone to campus. And only about one in two employees drove alone to UCLA. What’s the secret? The school offers ride sharing incentives. And if you’re inspired, check out the Metro employer pass program. Not only can ride sharing be convenient, it’s certainly saves money.

Report explores high-speed rail challenges, opportunities (Fresno Bee)

As the bullet-train battle rages, a report issued yesterday by UC Berkeley and UCLA describes the proposed project as an opportunity for environmental and economic benefits in the San Joaquin Valley. Among the benefits, traffic congestion and air quality could be improved. What’s needed to make it happen, the report says, is careful planning and collaboration. Any chance of that happening?

Head back to school with Safe Routes, School Pools and Metro

Photo: East Bay Bicycle Coalition via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: East Bay Bicycle Coalition via Flickr Creative Commons

Do your kids walk or ride their bikes to school?

More than 50% of kids in Los Angeles County are driven to school in private vehicles, despite the fact that the majority of students live within 2 miles of their schools. Parents have cited different reasons for why they chose driving over other options, one being traffic safety: They just don’t think it’s safe for their children to walk or bike to school. However, walking and bicycling are an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and being able to start their day with a little physical activity greatly benefits children in many ways.

With this in mind, Metro has recently launched the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Pilot Program that will help schools, parents and students develop safe and active travel options. Ten schools within L.A. County have been selected to participate in this SRTS Pilot Program, and Metro is planning workshops and activities with the chosen schools and local communities. SRTS programs exist throughout the nation, and individual programs can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a school, community or city.

As part of the program, Metro will help train walk leaders and provide opportunities for kids to learn about pedestrian, bicycle and public transit safety. Metro will also work to make walking and biking to school a positive experience for kids by helping the schools implement Walk/Bike to School Days, hold community and school events and work with schools to develop pedestrian and bicycle travel plans.

The end goal of SRTS is to create an environment where children can get active while getting to school safely. In addition, by encouraging kids to walk or bike to school, SRTS hopes to reduce congestion related to school travel, which will also benefit traffic and air quality in local neighborhoods.

The pilot program is part of a larger effort by Metro, in partnership with the Southern California Association of Governments, to develop a Countywide Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan, which will identify strategies to help cities and local communities establish new SRTS programs. In places where these programs already exist, the strategic plan explores how existing SRTS programs can be sustained and enhanced. For more information, visit metro.net/srts.

If driving is still the best travel option, try carpooling. Metro School Pool alleviates traffic at schools by providing a free, voluntary and confidential service that helps parents find carpooling partners at participating elementary, middle and high school campuses throughout Los Angeles County. The carpool directory  also helps parents find other parents who are interested in having their students who walk or bike to school together. For schools not currently in the carpool directory program but interested in joining, it’s easy to sign up – have your school administrator fill out a Metro Carpool Directory Enrollment Form.

Then there’s the transit option. K – 12 students can acquire a Student TAP Card to ride Metro to school at reduced rates. Frequent riders will benefit from the Student 30-day Pass. And getting a Student TAP Card is free!

Every lane is a bike lane, but do you know how to use those lanes?

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Photos: Gary Leonard/Metro

“Every Lane Is A Bike Lane” informed motorists that they have to share the road, but even with a full lane, many cyclists may be nervous about riding in traffic. That’s why Metro is working with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Bike San Gabriel Valley and Multicultural Communities for Mobility to offer bicycle traffic safety classes.

Here’s the press release from Metro:

In efforts to help make bicycling safer in L.A. County, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has received a California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) grant and is working with local non-profit bike organizations to conduct up to120 English and Spanish traffic skills classes countywide.

The $203,000 grant, awarded earlier this year to Metro by the California OTS through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will fund bicycle traffic skills classes for prospective or experienced cyclists alike who are interesting in increasing their bicycle traffic skills.

Metro has contracted with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), Bike San Gabriel Valley (BikeSGV) and Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM) to conduct three- or eight-hour weekend classes through September 2013.  For a list of upcoming classes, locations and times, visit http://www.metro.net/bikes/bikes-metro/upcoming-bike-metro-events/.

“With bicycling becoming wildly popular in L.A. County, it is critically important that our cyclists know the safe ways to ride their bikes on busy L.A. streets, whether for work, school or recreation,” said Diane DuBois, Metro Board Chair. “Metro is taking a leadership role for the county in offering these traffic safety classes, so be sure to sign up if you are interested, as classes are filling up fast.”

Metro plans to reach up to 1,440 people for the classes. Each participant will receive a safety manual, helmet and bicycle lights for successfully completing the course.  Classes will be taught in cities throughout Los Angeles County, including L.A., Culver City, La Verne and Azusa.  Participants must be 18 years or older and be L.A. County residents.

“Bicycling for exercise, pleasure and commuting is a growing trend in California.  Unfortunately, so are crashes involving bicyclists,” said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy.  “Help insure a long, safe bicycling career by learning the valuable lessons and techniques being offered by these Metro-sponsored classes.”

LACBC will host 30 eight-hour classes, 30 three-hour classes, and one advanced-level seminar. BikeSGV will provide 30 three-hour classes, and MCM will teach 30 three-hour Spanish language courses.

“With the help of Metro and OTS, Multicultural Communities for Mobility will be able to continue to conduct Spanish bicycle safety courses throughout the county of Los Angeles to the most vulnerable of cyclists who ride their bicycle as a means of necessity,” said Andy Rodriguez ” League Certified Instructor. “Our work with low-income communities is positively impacted by this grant and we hope to save lives and teach people safe cycling skills.”

The curriculum for each class focuses on bicycle traffic skills and practicing on-road riding.  The first portion of each class will be in the classroom, with the second portion in a parking lot, and third portion on the road.  The material taught will follow the League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 curriculum, which was abridged for the 3-hour courses.

The number of miles driven in the United Stated has dropped each year since 2005 and fewer young adults are getting driving licenses. Concurrently, bicycling is on the rise in L.A. County. From 2005 to 2012, bikeway facilities within L.A. County have increased 14 percent, raising the bikeway miles from about 1,252 to 1,428 miles. And the total number of bikeway miles continues to increase as cities rapidly grow their bicycle networks.  In the past year alone, the City of Los Angeles has grown its bike lane network by 101 miles. With increases in bicycling, crashes involving injury and death have also slightly risen.  In 2010, for example, Los Angeles County had 25 fatalities and 4,201 injuries in a total of 4,226 bicycle collisions. In 2008 and 2009, Los Angeles County ranked fifth out of 58 by daily miles travelled for injuries and fatalities in California.  A review of the causes of these crashes illustrates that over half could have been prevented by the proper utilization of techniques taught in standard bicycle safety education curricula.

“LACBC is proud partner with Metro and OTS to offer in-depth, hands-on bicycle skills training that people can use for safe transportation and recreational riding,” said Colin Bogart, Education Director for the LACBC.  “These classes give bicyclists the tools to assess and manage the potential risks of riding in an urban setting, so they can freely ride anywhere with confidence.”

In efforts to raise awareness for cycling safety, earlier this year Metro also launched the “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” campaign that encouraged motorists to share the road with cyclists and give them a full traffic lane if needed. The popular campaign helped raise motorist awareness that cyclists have equal rights and responsibilities to the road per the California Vehicle Code. The campaign included messages on the back of Metro buses, billboards and spots on local radio stations.

Additionally, Metro is sponsoring 20 bike rides to further promote safe cycling in Los Angeles County. The rides focus on safe bicycling etiquette, rules of the road and basic maintenance. Each ride is led by a trained guide who will not only point out places of interest, but will instruct riders how to negotiate live traffic lanes and bike paths.  Before each ride, participants are given a “safety workshop” so they learn safe road bicycling along the route and practice proper methods of taking a bike on public transit.

Metro’s Bike Program plays an important role in bicycle planning across LA County, facilitating first mile/last mile connections to transit and supporting bicycle transportation through various policies and programs. For more information, please visit http://www.metro.net/bikes.

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) strives to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries. It does this by making available grants to local and state public agencies for programs that help them enforce traffic laws, educate the public in traffic safety, and provide varied and effective means of reducing fatalities, injuries and economic losses from collisions.  OTS draws from several federal government funding sources for its grants. OTS also mounts public awareness campaigns and acts as a primary traffic safety resource in order to enlist the help of the general public and the media encouraging traffic safety.  For additional information, visit http://www.ots.ca.gov/.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 5

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.

Metro Library: Changes are coming to our Transportation Headlines — same great content in a new improved format (Primary Resources) 

20130529_paperli

The Metro Transportation Library is preparing to move the daily transortation headlines from Blogger to Paper.li. Please see the post to learn more about the new format and receiving it through RSS / Feedburner or email.

Senseless (Bicycling)

The concussion rate from bike accidents in recent years has grown faster than the sport of cycling. Why? This long and excellent magazine article by Bruce Barcott seeks the answer and comes up with some interesting conclusions. Most troubling, to me, is that federal government standards for bike helmets have not changed since 1999 despite considerable research into brain injury prevention since then. Nonetheless, some companies are making progress at creating helmets that can both prevent catastrophic injury and more routine concussions. If you’re interested in cycling, please read.

LaHood: expect big announcement from Obama on transportation funding (Governing) 

The outgoing U.S. Secretary of Transportation hints that perhaps the President may have an idea to replace the federal gas tax which funds many projects but has been struggling to keep pace with demand (the tax hasn’t been raised in 20 years and is also taking a hit because cars are more fuel efficient these days). Replace the gas tax with what? Governing speculates that maybe it’s a tax based on how many miles people drive, a solution backed by many transportation experts.

Assembly wants part-time carpool lanes in Southern California (L.A. Times)

A bill that would allow single occupant vehicles to use carpool lanes on parts of the 134 and 210 freeways during non-rush hours sailed through the Assembly last Thursday. Yes, I know that was almost a week ago — but overlooked this one last week and it’s certainly newsworthy. Seems like the next big regional conversation we’ll be having in future years is over management of the HOV lanes. Should they be carpool lanes all the time? Some of the time? Or congestion pricing lanes sometimes or all times?

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, May 31

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.

Bike to death (Voice of OC)

The lede of this article is buried, but a review of data shows accidents involving bikes is up significantly in both Orange and Los Angeles counties over the last decade. According to Bike in LA, there has been 30 cycling deaths in Southern California so far in 2013 — at this juncture in 2012, there had been 20 deaths. These are all scary numbers and I’m not sure what’s going on exactly — and I’m not sure the data exists to draw conclusions. I do think we can all agree that we live in a climate and area very favorable to cycling, a lot of people are on bikes and bike infrastructure — although expanding — remains sorely lacking in many areas.

Rep. Schiff asks Metrolink to assess yard’s health risks (L.A. Times)

The Congressman wants Metrolink to formally study any health risks from its rail yard along the Los Angeles River just north of downtown. Nearby residents in Elysian Valley and Cypress Park have concerns about the impact about diesel emissions.

By the way, this new study finds that while deaths from driving dropped across the planet in 2012, safety for pedestrians is not increasing at a rate as fast.

Lawsuits once again challenge LAX runway and construction work (L.A. Times) 

Four local governments, a labor union and a resident’s group have filed a legal challenge to LAX’s specific amendment study that proposed moving the north runway further north, building a people mover and a consolidated rental car facility, among others. The runway seems to be the issue that sparked the suits, which are seen as the latest obstacle in modernizing the entire airport. The people mover and potential locations for light rail stations close to the airport are, of course, critical to Metro’s Airport Connector project, which seeks to link the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the LAX terminals via either light rail, people mover or bus rapid transit or some combination of those.

Can New York’s Penn Station ever be great again? (The Atlantic Cities) 

Everyone is re-imagining their train stations these days! Planning is underway to improve the extremely busy Amtrak and commuter rail station that is buried under Madison Square Garden, home to the Knicks, Rangers and many concerts. There’s no guarantee anything will come of it — and it will be hard to accomplish much of anything as long as the station remains buried under a sports arena. But there’s hope, albeit limited, that perhaps the arena and the train station can get a divorce, with perhaps one moving across the street to the site of a current postal complex. The original Pennsylvania Station — considered by many as an architectural gem — was torn down in the 1960s to make way for Madison Square Garden and the new underground train depot.

Microbes hitch a ride on the subway (NYT) 

A study of the air in the New York subway finds a lot of bacteria and other tiny life forms — and nothing that riders should worry about. About five percent of microbial species found probably come from human skin and are zapped through the air courtesy of the air pressure created by millions of feet striking pavement and pushing air around each day. One more reason to take care of your feet, people!