Great traffic crosswalk signal, or greatest traffic crosswalk signal?

Came across this video of an experimental crosswalk traffic signal in Germany while surfing the web this weekend…it allows you to play a game of pong with someone on the other side of the street while waiting for the light to change. Now the real question is: can we have something like this installed in L.A.? I’d love to test it out!

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 17

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.

Our response to So Cal Connected’s segment on pedestrian safety (L.A. Walks)

The pedestrian advocacy group wasn’t happy with the piece that focused on new high-visibility crosswalks and where they are installed in the city of Los Angeles. My three cents: I thought the segment was interesting; I also think poor pedestrian infrastructure and the almost complete lack of enforcement of motorists encroaching on crosswalks could be the subject of many more hours of media coverage.

Here’s the KCET piece:

Tabloid columnist calls for bicycle ban in Toronto (The Urban Country) 

The Urban Country spends a few hundred words completely taking apart the argument that traffic congestion in Toronto, the largest city in the Great White North, is caused by cyclists. It’s a very satisfying taking apart/takedown.

Smart tips for building a better subway car (The Atlantic Cities) 

More doors, better spread is the way to avoid crowding and get people to the seats they covet, so says this blog post.

New bicycle friendly universities announced (League of American Bicyclists)

One local school makes it: the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. I bike through there all the time and it is a bike friendly campus — mostly because it’s small and cars are mostly kept out of the two main east-west paths through it. Of course, CalTech is in Pasadena, which hasn’t done much for cyclists in recent years. On the east side of campus is Hill Street, where the city of Pasadena could easily install bike lanes but has decided that providing street parking for cars is more important despite the fact that homes on the street all have big driveways. On the west side of campus is Wilson Avenue, which has bike lanes that are dangerously close to the parking lane and where it’s very easy to get doored.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 3

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.

L.A. 2050 — some of the best ideas for the city’s livability (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The GOOD and the Goldhirsh Foundation are awarding 10 grants of $100,000 apiece to people, organizations and nonprofits that have an idea to make Los Angeles a better place. And there are a lot of ideas out there — 279 applications were received. Damien Newton looks briefly at some of his favorite suggestions. The two that caught my eye were creating bike-friendly business districts and a plan to install electronic signs that count how many cyclists are using particular streets/bike lanes.

As for the bike district idea, I think it’s great. I live in Pasadena where existing bike routes are pretty lame and completely break down when you get to either Old Town or the South Lake business districts. I see a lot of cyclists riding on sidewalks on Lake because the sharrows (a good way for making it look like you’re doing something when you’re doing nothing) are roundly ignored by motorists and it’s not a pleasant street to ride on.

I also love the bike counter idea, but good luck: I’m not sure any city wants to publicly advertise the effectiveness of its bike lanes. Don’t get me wrong. I love bike lanes — but they have to be done right to succeed. And by ‘done right’ I mean they need to offer some type of separation from car traffic and they need to be plugged into a bigger network instead of just ending and dumping the cyclist into vehicular traffic. (See: Cordova Avenue, Pasadena, California).

Quick question to no one in particular: where the heck is the media on this? If the region was building miles of new roads or transit lines, the media would likely be doing stories. Yet there are miles upon miles of bike lanes being installed across our region with little media scrutiny of their design and ability to serve those they intend to help — cyclists!

Okay, got that out of my system….

Cincy proposes eliminating parking requirements to save buildings and neighborhoods (Cincinnati Post) 

My hometown is as car-centric as most places in the Midwest. Yet there’s a proposal now in some parts of town get rid of parking requirements that mandate how many parking spaces each residential building must have. The problem is that many buildings in downtown’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood were constructed in the later half of the 1800s and have no parking spaces. That means that some building owners either have to find parking for tenants, demolish the building or let it languish because redevelopment is too expensive. I’m guessing many residents of old buildings will want cars anyway — there’s certainly no shortage of downtown garages or parking lots where they can store them, just like car owners do in other large cities.

The great Red Car conspiracy of Los Angeles — is it real? (KPCC/99% Invisible)

This podcast takes a look at the alleged conspiracy that car interests dismantled the old streetcar lines in order to force people into cars. Sorry, but the reporters here don’t buy it, nor do I. What happened? A lot of things. Low fares kept streetcars unprofitable and poorly maintained, streetcars were slow and unable to serve the sprawl they helped create and many people enjoyed the newfound freedom of having a car.

A streetcar on Brand Boulevard in Glendale in the mid 1950s. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive's Flickr collection.

A streetcar on Brand Boulevard in Glendale in the mid 1950s. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive’s Flickr collection.

Crosswalks in New York are not havens, study finds (New York Times) 

The new study looks at injuries suffered by pedestrians and cyclists brought to Bellevue Hospital Center. The major findings: of those pedestrians struck by cars, most were in the crosswalk and had the crossing signal in their favor and cyclists tend to be disproportionately injured by taxis. The study also found that many of those injured were using electronic devices. Overall traffic-related deaths in New York have plummeted in recent years and officials hope that the new data may help with future safety initiatives.

L.A. becomes more pedestrian friendly with new crosswalk upgrades

DTLA Bike Patrol officers demonstrate how to properly cross a crosswalk with a bike. Photo by Jose Ubaldo/Metro

DTLA Bike Patrol officers demonstrate how to properly cross a crosswalk with a bike. Photo by Jose Ubaldo/Metro

53 intersections throughout L.A. will be upgraded with continental crosswalks (a.k.a. zebra crossings, see above pic) by March of 2013, which is fantastic news for the thousands that live and work in L.A. Continental crosswalks provide higher visibility to advise motorists that pedestrians may be present, making for a safer walking environment. There’s also a set-back limit line to help reduce vehicular encroachment into the crosswalk area.

Cross with care! Photo by Jose Ubaldo/Metro

Cross with care! Photo by Jose Ubaldo/Metro

Mayor Villaraigosa joined Los Angeles Walks and local business owners this morning to announce the new pedestrian safety intiative at the corner of 5th St. and Spring St., the first intersection to be upgraded. The conversion of the 53 crosswalks is funded through Measure R monies set aside for pedestrian improvements by the mayor and City Council.

Eventually, LADOT would like to make continental crosswalks the new standard for all development and transit projects.