Transportation headlines, Wednesday, August 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! 

ART OF TRANSIT: The Eastside Gold Line headed to downtown L.A. last week. For the photographically curious, I processed the pic with Silver Efex Pro's pinhole present and shot it with my Nikon DSLR in color in RAW and converted to B&W. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Eastside Gold Line headed to downtown L.A. last week. For the photographically curious, I processed the pic with Silver Efex Pro’s pinhole present and shot it with my Nikon DSLR in color in RAW and converted to B&W. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Charging for connections is insane (Human Transit) 

Transportation planner Jarrett Walker praises Metro for changing its fare system to allow free transfers after several years of making riders pay for each segment of their ride. Excerpt:

Once more with feeling;  Charging passengers extra for the inconvenience of connections is insane.  It discourages exactly the customer behavior that efficient and liberating networks depend on.  It undermines the whole notion of a transit network.   It also gives customers a reason to object to network redesigns that deliver both greater efficiency and greater liberty, because by imposing a connection on their trip it has also raised their fare.

For that reason, actual businesses don’t do it.  When supposedly business minded bureaucrats tell us we should charge for connections, they are revealing that they have never stopped to think about the geometry of the transit product, but are just assuming it’s like soap or restaurants.  Tell them to think about airlines:   Airfares that require a connection are frequently cheaper than nonstops.   That’s because the connection is something you endure for the sake of an efficient airline network, not an added service that you should pay extra for.

I couldn’t agree more and I think the new Metro fare system will benefit a lot of people who already ride the system and those who were deterred by having to pay twice to get from Point A to Point B.

12 reasons why L.A.’s public transit system is actually awesome (Thrillist) 

Alissa Walker has a very nice and funny post detailing why she likes Metro. Yes, there are the often discussed benefits such as saving money, but there are also a few others — such as the ability to hit the bars without worrying (too much) about the consequences afterward. We don’t publicize that very much and perhaps should do so more often.

#StreetsR4Families — Back to school advice for walking biking (Streetsblog L.A.)

Nice piece by editor Damien Newton and taking his kids to their first day of school, along with some advice on getting your child there and back safely whether on foot, bike or transit.

Making the case for high-speed rail (New York Times) 

The NYT recently wrote about the very slow progress of President Obama’s high-speed rail initiative newspaper’s. But the paper’s editorial board makes the case that high-speed rail is a worthy goal and a lot of the hurdles thus far involve a reluctant Congress to invest in it.

Get ready for LA’s first Walk to School Day

A walking school bus! Photo: Walk to School Day L.A. Official Facebook

A walking school bus! Photo: Walk to School Day L.A. Official Facebook

When I was in elementary school, I walked to school every day. I lived four blocks away and it just didn’t make any sense for my parents to drive me. These days, however, many parents prefer to drive their kids to school, despite living within walking distance. Well, October – a.k.a. Walktober – is the perfect chance to have kids to try walking to school, and they won’t have to do it alone.

Wednesday, October 9 is Walk to School Day, both nationally and in the City of Los Angeles, and many schools and communities are organizing events to help get their kids to school on foot. It’s a way for parents, students, school personnel and other community members to directly experience the walk to school, and it generates awareness about the importance of physical activity, the fun of walking, and early identification of safety concerns.

Check with your school to see if they’ll be participating on Oct. 9. A list of participants can also be found here.

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!

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.

Transportation headlines, Friday, Jan. 11

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.

High-speed rail official says July 2013 groundbreaking still on track (California High-Speed Rail blog) 

The official says that the first phase in the San Joaquin Valley could begin work this summer and if many hurdles are cleared, a two-hour, 40-minute ride between San Francisco and Los Angeles possible by 2029.

Hurray for pedestrian improvements…if only drivers would respect them (L.A. Streetsblog)

Excellent post. Sahra Sulaiman spends a few hours watching a recently-improved crosswalk in Watts and comes with this conclusion: children are often given a wider berth by cars than adults and compliance is inconsistent. I’d love to see police in the region crack down on motorists who drive through or get too close to crosswalks when there are people in them — I can’t recall the last time I saw police looking for such violations.

Questioning the commuter parking subsidy (NRDC Switchboard Blog) 

Federal tax law allows employees to shelter money used for transit or parking at work from payroll deductions. That’s great — except the NRDC says the parking benefit costs the country about six times the transit benefit. Their conclusion: get rid of the parking subsidy for most people (perhaps exempting carpoolers) as a way to promote transit.

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.