A few photos from yesterday’s CicLAvia on Wilshire Boulevard

Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.

Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.

No surprise: another big crowd for CicLAvia on Sunday, with cyclists, walkers and others taking over Wilshire Boulevard between downtown Los Angeles and the Miracle Mile. Here are a few pics.

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Above photo is by Andy Sternberg, via Flickr creative commons. 

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, March 3

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! 

Have bike, will ride train — if only Metro will provide bike lockers (L.A. Times) 

Good opinion piece by Nicolas Goldberg. His dilemma: he wants to bike to the Wilshire/Western Purple Line Extension and take the train from there to work sans bike, which he doesn’t need to bring all the way downtown L.A. But there are only 16 bike lockers at Wilshire/Western and there’s a waiting list to get one. And thus the headline — he argues for more bike lockers at busy stations.

Obama turns to light rail to salvage transit legacy (The Hill)

Bad headline — I’m not sure any recent President has a “transit legacy” given the relative paucity of federal dollars available to build transit across the U.S. (about $2 billion a year to be shared by many different agencies). This blog post argues that Republicans have been largely successful at blocking high-speed rail projects touted by the President in his first term. As a result, his Department of Transportation may step up efforts to help fund light rail and streetcar projects around the country.

Why does downtown Los Angeles have parking minimums? (Better Institutions) 

The writer argues, in essence, that a chronic shortage of street parking in L.A. guarantees that developers in downtown will build parking. And, thus, there’s no need for zoning laws that mandate certain amounts of parking get built — instead it would be better for the markets to decide so that those who don’t need parking don’t have to pay to build it for those who do.

Google sets roadblocks to block distracted driver legislation (Reuters) 

The internet giant, Reuters reports, is lobbying against potential laws that would prohibit driving while wearing devices such as glasses embedded with small computer screens. The article doesn’t specify Google’s exact concerns with the laws, although Google already tells customers to comply with existing distracted driving laws. Will be interesting to see who prevails on this one — I’m hoping common sense, but not betting on it.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, February 6

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! 

Where traffic lights automatically give cyclists green lights (L.A. Streetsblog)

The smallish Dutch city of Assen has reversed the natural order of things on most roadways — check out the video. Can’t see that happening here anytime soon. Transit, after all, still doesn’t get priority at many signals, particularly in the city of Los Angeles, thus the red lights for the Expo Line, Orange Line and Eastside Gold Line.

Santa Monica’s former mayor sounds off on Bergamot Transit Village (Santa Monica Lookout)

The future Expo Line-adjacent commercial and residential development was approved by the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday night. Former mayor Michael Feinstein says the community failed to negotiate a better development and some residents are threatening a referendum to overturn the approval. Of course, the project also has considerable support from those who think Santa Monica needs to add housing and that the village is a good chance to add residences and commercial space next to a rail stop.

Metro makeovers for the abandoned stations of Paris (Messy Nessy)

A candidate for mayor of Paris is proposing reviving eight subway stations in the Paris Metro that are no longer in use — many have not been used for decades for various reasons. Among the ideas kicking around are swimming pools, museums, theaters and night clubs. Check out the renderings that are part of the post.

Monorails on the move (Transit Wire)

Mumbai in India just opened a 5.5-mile one and Sao Paulo in Brazil is getting one.

Death Dust (The New Yorker) 

Excellent feature article on the spread of Valley Fever in California. The soil dwelling fungus that causes valley fever — which can be fatal — is a native species in California and scientists believe that sprawling development is releasing more of the fungus into the air via dust storms. The Antelope Valley is discussed in the article, which mostly focuses on the Central Valley. Good read for those with long commutes.

Thursday timewaster: baby polar bear’s first encounter with snow at the Toronto Zoo:

 

Work underway to connect El Monte Transit Center to Rio Hondo bike path

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Some very good news for cyclists from Anthony Jusay with Metro’s Bike Planning staff: the Rio Hondo Bike Path will soon be connected to the El Monte Transit Center. Metro began construction on the project last week and work is scheduled to be completed within 60 days, weather permitting.

The project includes a paved access ramp and gate opening that connects to an existing access point to the Rio Hondo. There will be ADA-accessible curb ramps, shared-lane markings and wayfinding between the bike path and transit center that will also be added so that people biking, walking or rolling can easily navigate their way.

Also in the works is the El Monte Metro Bike Hub, which is anticipated to be open in spring 2014.  A Metro Bike Hub is a secure access, high-capacity bike parking facility — the El Monte Station will have the first one built by Metro.

Once these bike friendly features are complete at the El Monte Transit Center it will be a significant asset to the region as there are numerous bike planning efforts underway involving the cities of El Monte, South El Monte, Baldwin Park, San Gabriel, Temple City, Rosemead, Alhambra, Monterey Park, Covina and areas overseen by Los Angeles County.

For more information on current bike planning activities please visit the San Gabriel Valley Bicycle Master Plan website.

Recent work taking place at the El Monte Station. Photo by Metro.

Recent work taking place at the El Monte Station. Photo by Metro.

Mid-City to Downtown L.A.: Which route is the safest to bike?

Mid-City to Downtown LA

Every weekday morning I commute to work during rush hour on bike, starting from the Mid-City neighborhood and ending at Metro headquarters, adjacent to Union Station in downtown LA.

On a bike it’s a tricky commute for many cyclists. Only one east-west street in the area has a bike lane — 7th Street — and that’s only from just west of Vermont to Figueroa. One other street, Venice Boulevard, has been designated as a bike route by the city of Los Angeles, meaning it’s deemed suitable for bike travel but there are no bike lanes. (Here’s the city’s online bike map, a very helpful tool)

Nonetheless, I’ve found there are many options in the area, although nearly all of them involve riding side-by-side with motorized vehicles. On most commute days, I prefer taking one of the main boulevards because they are faster and more convenient; there are smaller residential streets, but taking them means encountering a lot of stop signs and crossing L.A.’s busy north-south streets at intersections that may not have traffic signals or stop signs.

Some of my conclusions that may be helpful to other Mid-City-to-downtown bike commuters: 

• I favor and often take Venice Boulevard or Pico Boulevard straight down as they seem to be the safest and less hectic of the big boulevards. For example, if I take Pico Boulevard starting from Arlington Avenue to Union Station, it takes me about 18 minutes to bike to work (Google Maps predicts it would take about 18 to 28 minutes to drive during rush hour).

• Olympic Boulevard is in my opinion the worst to bike on during rush hour, especially if you’re heading west. Its road conditions are beyond poor (cracks and potholes everywhere), and the right lane is less than ideal in size for car drivers going at 35+ MPH to safely pass a cyclist without having to fully switch lanes.

• Wilshire Boulevard is also a nasty monster for cyclists. But its recent addition of a dedicated bus only lane between Western Avenue to South Park View Street (cyclists are allowed to use the bus lane) has also been an improvement for cyclists, especially those who are looking to connect to the 7th Street bike lane. The other advantage of Wilshire is that cyclists can use the Purple Line subway’s Wilshire/Western station to leapfrog into downtown. Relying on the 720 bus is trickier as bike racks are often full.

• Connecting to 7th Street’s bike lane from Vermont Avenue to Figueroa Street is a nice addition to my route on days when traffic is more congested than usual on Pico or Venice Boulevard. Only issue with biking on 7th Street is that the bike lane ends abruptly at Figueroa and the lanes get significantly narrower east of that. Also, the number of red lights you hit between Figueroa and Spring Street is superabundant.

Having said that, which boulevard do you prefer to bike on? And, if you don’t take or prefer any, what are some neighborhood streets that allow for a safe and fast way to bike from the Mid-City area to Downtown LA?

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Feb. 13; Transpo & State of the Union, Aspen law would allow cyclists to yield at stop signs

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.

ART OF TRANSIT: A cyclist on the beach bike path in Santa Monica this past weekend. Photo by Steve Hymon.

ART OF TRANSIT: A cyclist on the beach bike path in Santa Monica this past weekend. Photo by Steve Hymon.

If approved, the law would be similar to one adopted in Idaho 30 years ago and would allow cyclists to roll through stop signs in the same way that motorists can proceed at ‘yield’ signs. A survey found that 90 percent of cyclists in Aspen are running stop signs anyway, a study found that Idaho’s law has improved safety and advocates for the law say cyclists will no longer have to slam on the brakes, which can lead to loss of control. They also say that it will lead to better interactions with motorists who are never sure what a cyclist may do at a stop sign.
BART considers rebuilding two stations (San Francisco Chronicle) 
The two busy stations in downtown San Francisco would get a $900-million revamp in order to add platforms, staircases and elevators. The platforms would also have sliding glass doors that would open when trains arrive to prevent people from falling onto the tracks. The stations were designed in the late 1960s and BART’s ridership has grown to more than 393,000 average boardings on weekdays.
A rendering of BART's proposed station revisions. Image: BART.

A rendering of BART’s proposed station revisions. Image: BART.

Wendy Greuel attacks Eric Garcetti on Hollywood development (Daily News) 

Interesting story from the L.A. mayoral campaign that sort of involves transit. Greuel says Hollywood now has too much traffic and development, Garcetti says Hollywood’s turnaround is a success story. As reporter Dakota Smith notes, no skyscrapers have actually been built on Garcetti’s watch. She also writes that the dispute involves the city’s new zoning plan for Hollywood that would promote more development near housing. Some residents are suing over the plan, alleging it will allow too much development. Garcetti supports the plan, Greuel hasn’t taken a stance.

The State of the Union Speech (WhiteHouse.gov)

A few excerpts from President Obama’s speech last night that may be of interest to readers of this blog:

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.  (Applause.)  Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend.  But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.  Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods — all are now more frequent and more intense.  We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.  Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.  (Applause.)

[snip]
In fact, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together.  So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.  If a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we.  Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.
[snip]
America’s energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair.  Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire — a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and Internet; high-tech schools, self-healing power grids.  The CEO of Siemens America — a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina — said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs.  And that’s the attitude of a lot of companies all around the world.  And I know you want these job-creating projects in your district.  I’ve seen all those ribbon-cuttings. (Laughter.)
So tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. (Applause.)  And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most:  modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools worthy of our children.  (Applause.)  Let’s prove that there’s no better place to do business than here in the United States of America, and let’s start right away.  We can get this done.
My three cents: Not much overall on transportation or mass transit but certainly encouraging (in my view) to hear the President say “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.” It’s interesting to hear the President talk about more natural gas drilling on public lands to help the U.S. become more energy independent while also talking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions to stave off climate change. On the surface, those goals do not seem compatible, but the President argues that natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels we would use otherwise.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s speech does not include the words “climate change,” “transportation” or infrastructure, although he did say, “When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can’t control the weather – he [the President] accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.”
He did talk about energy:
One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called “clean energy” companies like Solyndra, let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. And let’s reform our energy regulations so that they’re reasonable and based on common sense. If we can grow our energy industry, it will make us energy independent, it will create middle class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China.
If approved, the law would be similar to one adopted in Idaho 30 years ago and would allow cyclists to roll through stop signs in the same way that motorists can proceed at ‘yield’ signs. A survey found that 90 percent of cyclists in Aspen are running stop signs anyway, a study found that Idaho’s law has improved safety and advocates for the law say cyclists will no longer have to slam on the brakes, which can lead to loss of control. They also say that it will lead to better interactions with motorists who are never sure what a cyclist may do at a stop sign.
Good issue. I live in Pasadena, where the safest place to ride are quiet residential streets that also have frequent stop signs and little cross traffic. In fact, the city encourages cyclists to use those streets, seemingly unaware that frequent stop signs are a deterrent for cyclists. So, either get rid of some of the stop signs in some directions or discuss such a law here! Your thoughts?

Cycling adventures in L.A. – Climbing Palos Verdes

Enjoying the ocean view from Palos Verdes

Enjoying the ocean view from Palos Verdes

Photo by Jonathan Osorio

Every Tuesday, The Source will highlight some of the many adventures Angelenos have with their bikes. So don’t forget to take your camera with you before you start pedaling throughout Los Angeles!

For this week’s featured cycling adventure, we feature Jonathan and his fellow group of riders. With a total of 15 cyclists, the group began their journey from La Brea and Rodeo, and from there ventured south to Palos Verdes for a fun climb. During the journey south, the group faced cold and tough headwinds, forcing them to make a stop at Hermosa Pier for a regroup.

After regrouping, the journey continued for the 15 riders, and soon they found themselves climbing the beautiful hills of Palos Verdes, where at one point they stopped to take the amazing photo above onlooking the Pacific Ocean from a cliff. The journey was in total distance, a grand 66 miles, and even with strong winds and cold temperatures, Jonathan states, “the view at Palos Verdes was well worth the mission.”

Great ride Jonathan and thank you for sharing your adventure!

Want to submit your own cycling adventure in Los Angeles County? Email us the photo at sourcemetro@gmail.comtweet us @BikeMetro or post the photo to our Flickr group (in the description please give us permission to use it on The Source) — we’re especially interested in adventures that involve using transit for part of the journey. Safe Riding!

Transportation headlines, Monday, Jan. 14

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.

ART OF TRANSIT: Metrolink train sets head into Los Angeles Union Station last Thursday afternoon. Click above to see larger on our Flickr page. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: Metrolink train sets head into Los Angeles Union Station last Thursday afternoon. Click above to see larger on our Flickr page. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

How to solve traffic jams (Arch Daily) 

Jonas Eliasson, Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, says it’s pretty easy: tax the most popular routes and watch congestion suddenly melt away. Watch the video. Of course, there’s the little issue of where that congestion goes to.

CicLAvia 2013: Venice Beach, Fairfax Avenue and downtown L.A. (L.A. Streetsblog)

A detailed look at the three routes that will be used in the trio of CicLAvia’s to be held this year. The first is April 21 and will run along Venice Boulevard from downtown L.A. to Venice Beach — which is awesome — and also means the route will intersect with the Expo Line at the Culver City Station. The CicLAvia on June 23 will run along Wilshire Boulevard between downtown and Fairfax Avenue while the event in October will utilize the routes out of downtown previously used. All sound great.

Mixed-use project underway near future Expo Line station in Palms (L.A. Times) 

The 115-unit building on Motor Avenue will be five stories tall and have apartments and condo units the developer hopes appeals to young professionals. The building will be about one-quarter mile from the Palms station.

Cycling adventures in L.A. – New Year’s Eve Group Ride

Posing in front of the USS Iowa

Posing in front of the USS Iowa

Photo by Khoren Edward Mirzakhanian

Every Tuesday, The Source will highlight some of the many adventures Angelenos have with their bikes. So don’t forget to take your camera with you before you start pedaling throughout Los Angeles!

For this week, we share a photo by Khoren, who took part in a large group ride on New Year’s Eve with two of top Los Angeles based cycling groups: Wolfpack Hustle and Cyclones. The ride started around downtown Los Angeles and stopped at San Pedro, where the group posed in front of the USS Iowa before heading to the nearby San Pedro Fish Market to grab a well deserved lunch. Yum! What a way to start the new year!

Want to submit your own cycling adventure in Los Angeles County? Email us the photo at sourcemetro@gmail.comtweet us @BikeMetro or post the photo to our Flickr group (in the description please give us permission to use it on The Source) — we’re especially interested in adventures that involve using transit for part of the journey. Safe Riding!

Cycling: An addiction I won’t quit for the new year

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I’ll just come out and say it. One of my goals for 2013 is to bike 10,000 miles before this year comes to an end, which is almost double the distance of what I rode in 2012. Tommy Godwin, an English cyclist rode 75,065 miles in 1939, so I don’t think my goal is impossible. Of course, I’m no record-breaking Tommy Godwin, but I am — like him — a cyclist passionate about riding bikes.

Comically, some of those around me question such a goal. If you had approached and asked me two years ago what word would best describe me, ‘cyclist’ would have been the last answer I would have given. Back then, never in my wildest dream would I have imagined identifying myself as a cyclist, let alone riding in tight spandex, climbing up the freezing mountains of Santa Monica or the hills of Palos Verdes with other cyclists at seven in the morning on a Sunday. But here I am today, doing just that.

What in the world happened?

Well, what happened was I put my legs over a bike, rode it, and became addicted – badly.

Maybe it was the natural high from my body releasing endorphins during rides, the loving and supportive members of the cycling community whom I’ve come to respect and love, or the growing appreciation I now had for the beautiful culture behind cycling that had me addicted. Whatever it was, I was hooked.

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Hooked to the point where I found myself feeling irritable and agitated when I was unable to ride – loathing at the thought of going even a day without being on the bike. Hooked also to the point where the first thought that entered my head shortly after waking up was: a bike ride sounds good this morning.

It was a serious love affair with the bicycle.

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