New “CicLAvia Explores” program connects audiences to local communities; first event is Thursday night

Heads up, people: the first event is this Thursday evening, a panel discussion on the new streets of L.A. in DTLA — event description and RSVP info is below. Here is the news release from our friends at CicLAvia:

New “CicLAvia Explores” Program Engages and Connects Audiences to

Los Angeles County Communities Throughout the Year

First Event is August 7 With Two Additional Events Planned for September

LOS ANGELES – CicLAvia is thrilled to announce the launch of “CicLAvia Explores,” a new program designed to connect Angelenos with communities in Los Angeles County through a range of engaging activities held separately from CicLAvia car-free event days. The Explores program kicks off August 7 from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. with the New Streets of LA discussion featuring transportation leaders and advocates, held in partnership with the Levi’s Commuter Workspace at 157 W. Fifth St. in downtown LA (see full details below).

When people hear the word, “CicLAvia,” they tend to think of car-free streets filled with people biking, walking, running and skating. But CicLAvia’s mission is also to engage with people to positively transform their relationship with their communities and with each other. CicLAvia Explores extends the spirit of CicLAvia in between its signature large-scale, car-free events with a series of smaller activities in areas where CicLAvia routes have traveled, will travel to and to vibrant communities that have yet to experience a CicLAvia route.

 “After every CicLAvia we hear from people who rave about discovering a new restaurant or store, coming across a historic building or beautiful park, or simply liking the ‘feel’ of a neighborhood they’ve discovered on the route,” said Executive Director Aaron Paley. “CicLAvia Explores gives us another platform for that level of community engagement. The programs will allow our audience to have a glimpse of new routes, stay connected to previous CicLAvia streets and discover other neighborhoods.”

The Explores program, which features a new play on CicLAvia’s logo, provides opportunities to delve deeper into the sights, sounds, tastes, design and heritage of communities in a more intimate manner than on CicLAvia days. The program will offer gatherings, discussions and activities highlighting the food, culture and architecture of selected neighborhoods. CicLAvia will partner with local leaders, businesses and organizations for these events to give participants an insider’s glimpse of the community. The organization will also work with the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and with city council offices to highlight the city’s Great Streets initiatives.

CicLAvia Explores year-round activities will typically be held 4-6 weeks in advance of a car-free event to give the audience a preview of what they will find on CicLAvia day. Additionally, CicLAvia Explores provides the opportunity to revisit previous routes and go into new communities that have yet to experience a CicLAvia route, demonstrating that the organization is committed to connecting with local communities outside of a car-free event.

Each CicLAvia Explores activity will be unique to the community where it is held. Some events will be free while others will have a cost. Planned events include:

August 7 (7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.)The New Streets of LA – A panel discussion followed by music, food and drinks held in partnership with Levi’s Commuter Workspace (a pop-up destination at 157 W. Fifth St.), near October’s Heart of LA route. LA’s leading transportation experts, activists and innovators will talk about the future of LA’s streets that keep LA vibrant, safe and open. The panel will feature Mayor Garcetti’s selection for General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Seleta Reynolds, as well as Los Angeles Walks executive director and founder Deborah Murphy, LA County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Jen Klausner, City of LA Transportation Commissioner Tafarai Bayne and Metro Transportation Planning Manager Avital Shavit.

RSVP at http://levis-commuter.ticketleap.com/august7/details. Event is 21+.

September 7 (2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.; 6:00 p.m. movie screening) – CicLAvia Explores Broadway – A day for CicLAvia fans to enjoy the revived Broadway Theater District, which is part of the October 5 Heart of LA route. Activities include free walking tours of the Broadway Theater District with CicLAvia Executive Director Aaron Paley (2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.), and an open house of the Million Dollar Theater (courtesy of LA Historic Theater Foundation) from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. The day will conclude with a ticketed screening of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” in the Million Dollar Theater at 6:00 p.m. with a portion of the ticket proceeds going to CicLAvia. Visitors can also enjoy the myriad of food choices at Grand Central Market throughout the day, as well as concessions from the market for the movie that evening. Tour reservations and movie tickets will be made available in the coming weeks.

September 14 – Melting Pot Tours will lead A Taste of East LA – a culinary journey which will take participants to several restaurants on or near the Heart of LA route that highlight the cuisine of East LA. The cost is $25 and includes a CicLAvia TAP card. A portion of the proceeds will go to CicLAvia. Tickets will be available for purchase online starting August 13.

For information about the CicLAvia Explores program and events, please visit http://www.ciclavia.org/explores.

The October 5 CicLAvia – Heart of LA is sponsored by Metro, a proud partner of open streets events throughout Los Angeles County.

For a download of the CicLAvia Explores logo, click here.

About CicLAvia CicLAvia is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. CicLAvia catalyzes vibrant public spaces, active transportation and good health through car-free streets.  CicLAvia engages with people to transform our relationship with our communities and with each other. With the full support of Metro, local governments, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Council, Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Water and Power, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Cultural Affairs, CicLAvia is an innovative model for creating new public space and enriching civic life.

CicLAvia Partners include Metro, the City of Los Angeles, the Wasserman Foundation and an Anonymous benefactor.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 22

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! 

Reward to be offered in fatal beating at Blue Line station (L.A. Times)

TEMPLATE Board

The Board of Supervisors has approved a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of two women who assaulted artist John Whitmore at the Blue Line’s Willowbrook station early in the afternoon of Friday, June 13. Whitmore, 65, died one week later of his injuries. Anyone with information regarding the slaying is asked to call detectives at (323) 890-5500.

Funding feud means end of the line for four Metrolink trains between L.A. and San Bernardino (Mass Transit) 

After the San Bernardino Assn. of Governments refused to provide the full funding request from Metrolink, the commuter rail agency has cut four trains between Union Station and San Bernardino. They’re all off-peak hours and include the 11 p.m. train from L.A. Metrolink says they targeted low-ridership trains. Each of the five counties served by Metrolink — Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura — contribute funds to the agency each year.

Metro Committee OKs dismal walk/bike plan now, funding report later (StreetsblogLA)

I missed this post last week, when it was first published. The Metro Board’s Planning Committee moved a draft of the agency’s short-range transportation plan (which covers the next decade) to the full Board for its consideration on Thursday. Advocates for active transportation — i.e. walking and biking — partially filled the Board room and protested that the short-range plan lacks a dedicated funding stream specifically for active transportation.

Members of the committee were sympathetic and Mike Bonin introduced a motion calling for Metro to develop an active transportation funding strategy by Jan. 2015. The issue here is that Metro does supply funding for pedestrian and bike projects — but this is mostly done on a discretionary basis. For example, 15 percent of Measure R receipts are returned to local cities for use on transportation-related projects, which may include active transportation. It’s obviously an important issue, given that Metro recently released a first-mile/last-mile strategy that places emphasis on better connecting transit stations to surrounding neighborhoods.

Uber takes credit for drop in drunk driving, but police are skeptical (KPCC)

Interesting story. The ride-sharing service cherrypicks some statistics — including the number of times patrons vomited in their cars — to argue that drunk driving has been cut as Uber has grown more popular. The police say that’s a very hard thing to prove and some of the drops in DUIs in places such as Seattle may be attributed more to concerted crackdowns by law enforcement. Excerpt:

In Los Angeles, KPCC found DUI citations over the last five years issued by the California Highway Patrol peaked the year before Uber arrived and have fallen both years the company has been on the roads here. (Uber started operating in Los Angeles in April 2012. The low-cost UberX expanded here a year after that, along with competitor Lyft.)

Interesting, but anecdotal. The drop roughly coincides with Metro also offering more light night rail service on weekends — but I don’t think you can draw any firm conclusions from that. I suspect some of this also involves the fact that young people are driving less, according to numerous studies and statistics.

Perhaps what matters most is that there are viable options — taxis, ride-sharing and transit — for those who are too tipsy to drive. Metro Rail and the Orange Line operates until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights; timetables are here.

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 18

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! 

Is transit winning the transport battle in the U.S.? (Crikey) 

More reaction to the recent news from the American Public Transit Assn. that Americans took 10.7 billion rides on transit last year, the most since 1956. Alan Davies takes a closer look at the numbers and reports:

Without New York’s MTA, there would’ve been no increase in public transport patronage in the US between 2012 and 2013. The agency carried an extra 123 million passengers by rail and bus combined; more than the total national net increase in patronage of 117.2 million trips over the period.

Outside of New York, there was no net growth in public transport. A number of other cities certainly experienced some growth, but their increases in aggregate were offset by those cities that suffered falls in patronage.

He also points out that there were certainly some rail systems in the country that did see ridership increases — including Metro’s light rail and subway. He concludes with this graph:

As I’ve noted before many times (e.g. see herehere and here) getting travellers to shift out of their cars in significant numbers will only occur if cars are made less attractive compared to public transport. Making public transport more attractive is very important, but policy-makers also need to give much more attention to taming cars.

I haven’t double-checked his numbers but I think the point he makes is fair. There are a few places that are accounting for a lot of America’s transit rides. And while those numbers are pretty strong, there’s no getting around the fact that the vast majority of Americans are still using cars to get around.

Should we be making driving more onerous as an incentive to walk, bike or take transit? I don’t think there is a black-and-white answer but a combination of incentivizing walking/biking/transit and asking motorists to pay their fair share of the transit network (i.e. the thousands of miles of road) built and maintained for them.

Californians grow less reliant on cars, Caltrans survey finds (L.A. Times) 

Missed this interesting article, published last week and relevant to the article above. Between 2010 and ’12, the survey estimates that the percentage of all trips made by walking, biking or transit rose to 22 percent. That number was 11 percent in 2001.

The story’s lede nicely sums it up and puts the findings in perspective:

Californians aren’t depending quite as heavily on cars for commutes and errands as they did a decade ago, according to a new survey by Caltrans.

Although driving is still by far the most dominant mode of transportation across the state, accounting for about three-quarters of daily trips, researchers say a decrease in car usage and a rise in walking, biking and taking transit indicate that Californians’ daily habits could be slowly changing.

What is happening in California mirrors a nationwide decline in driving, experts say: The number of car miles driven annually peaked about a decade ago, and the percentage of people in their teens, 20s and 30s without driver’s licenses continues to grow.

 

4.4 quake a wake-up call on L.A.’s unknown faults (L.A. Times) 

The earthquake’s epicenter was on the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains near Sepulveda Boulevard on a fault the Times calls “little noticed.” The article points out that some recent large quakes have also occurred on faults that were unknown at the time. Of course, the known faults — i.e. Santa Monica, Inglewood, Newport, Hollywood — also pose the threat of big quakes in the future, too.

Paris car ban stopped after one day (The Guardian) 

Smog hanging over Paris as seen from an airplane on Sunday. Photo by F.Clerc via Flickr creative commons.

Smog hanging over Paris as seen from an airplane on Sunday. Photo by F.Clerc via Flickr creative commons.

In an effort to combat air pollution, officials only allowed license plates ending with odd numbers to drive — others were hit with fines of 22 Euros (ouch!). The ban only lasted a day, as officials said that most residents complied and that weather and air conditions were improving.

Los Angeles State Historic Park gets an overhaul (KCET)

Rendering by California State Parks.

Rendering by California State Parks.

Nice explanation and collection of renderings of the park that is adjacent to Chinatown and the Gold Line — the park has been open for several years but will be undergoing a dramatic overhaul in the next year. The plans look great and the completed park will continue the trend of nice new open spaces in DTLA, joining Grand Park and the Spring Street Park. Of course, it remains important that the park is tied to the Chinatown train station and Broadway, the heart of Chinatown.

They moved mountains (and people) to build L.A.’s freeways (Gizmodo) 

Great article by Nathan Masters on the amount of earth and people moved in order to build Los Angeles’ sprawling freeway system. Excerpt:

In mostly uninhabited Sepulveda Canyon, only the mountains could complain. But many Southland freeways bludgeoned their way through heavily urbanized areas, inflicting the same degree of trauma not to landscapes but to communities.

No area was more affected than L.A.’s Eastside, where transportation planners routed seven freeways directly through residential communities. Starting in 1948, bulldozers cleared wide urban gashes through the multiethnic but mostly Latino neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and East L.A., demolishing thousands of buildings and evicting homeowners from their property. And the freeways didn’t just displace people and businesses. They balkanized the community, making strangers out of neighbors and discouraging urban cohesion. A freeway can be an intimidating thing to cross on foot.

Residents did fight back, flooding public meetings and picketing construction sites. But unlike the mostly white and politically powerful neighborhoods that killed plans for a Beverly Hills Freeway, L.A.’s Eastside couldn’t stop the bulldozer. By the early 1960s, all seven of the planners’ freeways crisscrossed the community.

Five of them tangled together at the East Los Angeles Interchange. Built to provide northbound motorists with a bypass around central Los Angeles, this imposing (and for drivers, often confusing) complex of 30 bridges occupies 135 acres of land—including part of once-idyllic Hollenbeck Park. At the time of its completion in 1961, it was the largest single project ever undertaken by the state’s division of highways. Yet somehow, despite its grand scale and enormous cost, the interchange—like much of the freeway system—is often paralyzed today with traffic, as a procession of trucks and automobiles crawls along the old urban scars.

In some ways, it makes you appreciate the relative smallness of rail construction compared to large swaths of land consumed by freeway building. Definitely check out this post and the many historical photographs accompanying it.

Metro’s Open Streets Program Workshop

Photos by Aaron Paley

Metro hosted an Open Streets workshop on Wednesday that featured speakers from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Over 80 people attended the event that focused on the planning and implementation of Open Streets programs.

Open streets are events which temporarily close the streets to automobiles and open them up to people to re-imagine and experience their streets while walking, biking, rollerblading or pushing a stroller in a car-free environment. The goals of the program are to encourage sustainable modes of transportation (biking, walking and transit), provide an opportunity to take transit for the first time and foster civic engagement.

The Metro Board of Directors approved the Open Streets Program in September 2014, including up to $2 million annually for open street events in Los Angeles County. The money will be distributed through a competitive grant application process.

The Metro Open Streets Program application is now available to cities to apply for grant funding by clicking here. The deadline to apply online is Friday, March 14, 2014.

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.

Every transit rider is a pedestrian

Image provided courtesy of Los Angeles Walks

Ask anyone smart enough to get off the tour bus at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and they will mention something many people don’t know about Los Angeles. This is a city made for walking. Albeit not along every street, but think about those stars on the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard. The fact is that the best way to see Hollywood, and countless other parts of the city, is on foot.

But that doesn’t mean walking doesn’t face an uphill battle getting the attention of policy makers, planners and others involved in shaping the built environment.

Enter urban designer Deborah Murphy, Safe Routes to School advocate Jessica Meaney and Alexis Lantz of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Murphy, with the blessing of her sister complete streets advocates, recently started volunteer-driven Los Angeles Walks, to promote a more pedestrian-friendly Los Angeles. According to Murphy — though all of us are pedestrians to a greater or lesser degree — we have not been terribly well represented to date in the sprawling county we call home.

The group is holding a fund-raiser this Saturday night; details are after the jump.

When I spoke with Murphy about Los Angeles Walks, we kept the conversation focused on how every transit rider is a pedestrian. In turn this means addressing the so-called first mile, last mile problem — or how we get between the train and bus and our final destination.

For Murphy, promoting transit ridership goes hand-in-hand with having a good, safe trip to and from the bus stop or train station. The challenge for pedestrian improvements has been funding, with pedestrian projects receiving a fraction of the money allocated to road or transit construction. Less than one percent of the national transportation budget goes to pedestrians projects, according to Los Angeles Walks.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 4

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.

 

The Lincoln Tunnel: How many Angelenos would drive everywhere if the 405 had a $12 toll? -- although it certainly doesn't stop a lot of New Yorkers from driving. (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

SoCal group votes on foot-friendly transit plan (San Jose Mercury News)

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is expected to adopt a 25-year transportation plan later this week. The plan — an assemblage of locally-funded plans — is significant because it shows the emphasis being places on mass transit, transit-oriented development, cycling and pedestrian improvements across the six-county area.

After 100 years, Muni has gotten slower (New York Times)

On many bus and rail lines in San Francisco, travel times in 2012 aren’t much different than in 1912. In those days, streetcars had little competition — unlike today, in which buses and street-running rail lines have to jockey for space with cars. The Muni system has a program underway to speed some lines by adding bus lanes, reducing the number of bus stops and better synching traffic signals to keep buses and trains moving.

 

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 27

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.

Times Square IRT Station (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Rio + 20: what if transportation is an afterthought? (Next American City)

With the Rio 2012 Earth Summit approaching, sustainability experts are poring over a 19-page document that outlines ideas for the world’s commitment to sustainability. The document dedicates a good deal of space to the green economy and to the importance of local governance in creating sustainable communities. What it doesn’t do however, is talk much about transportation. This oversight has some in the sustainable transportation community expressing grave concern. Excerpt:

“The importance of sustainable public transportation in cities cannot be overstated. It is the backbone of any sustainable city. Without it, all of our cities are doomed to inefficiency, and to fail at their other goals of livability, economic prosperity and social justice. We need transportation to get to jobs, to schools, to access any number of opportunities within our cities.”

 

Leaving his footprints on the city (New York Times)

In a feat that would do Alfred Kazin, author of “A Walker in the City” proud, a former civil engineer, has set out to walk every street in every borough of New York City.  Thanks to a lot of couch surfing at the home of friends around the city, Matt Green, age 31, is spending only around $15 a day to make his estimated 8,000-mile trek. Green, who previously spent five months walking from Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, to Rockaway Beach, Oregon, began December 31 on what he expects to be an over two year full-time undertaking. The article contains a nice video clip of Green doing “a really normal thing for a really long period of time.”

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Feb. 28

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.

Colorful Pakistani Bus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American bus revival (BBC News Magazine)

Since voters, Congress and state legislatures can’t seem to get behind high-speed rail, someone has to pick up the demand for long distance and regional transportation. Into the void has stepped Greyhound and low-cost startups like Bolt Bus, which runs buses with fares starting at $1 between New York and Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In September, when traveling between New York and Philadelphia, I opted for Bolt, which offers free wifi, over Amtrak’s Acela. The trip cost me $13 while Amtrak would have been $105. It didn’t take me long to do the math.

Looks like all systems go for Central subway (San Francisco Chronicle)

If all goes as planned, San Francisco will have a major new piece of transit infrastructure when the Central Subway is completed in 2018. The 1.7-mile project will link San Francisco’s commuter rail station to Chinatown, with key transfers to both the muni rail and BART that run under Market Street in downtown. The project is expected to cost $1.6 billion and earlier this month the Obama Administration recommended it receive $150 million in federal funds from the New Starts program — the project is expected to receive $942.2 million in funds overall in the coming years. The agency was also recently approved by the feds to buy two tunnel-boring machines and to build the starting point for the tunneling scheduled to begin in January. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is a major backer of the project, which will bring a rail project into the heart of San Francisco and Chinatown. The subway will also connect with San Francisco’s new T-Third Line which runs at grade south to Bayview and Candlestick Park.

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A health promoting L.A.

CicLAvia - October 2011 (Photo Credit: Joel Epstein)

An article by Jane Brody in Monday’s New York Times explores how some developers, urban planners and public health researchers are taking a different view of sprawl versus thoughtful urban infill development. Brody cites the work of UCLA researchers and others suggesting that in creating car-centric communities we may be fostering obesity, poor health, social isolation, excessive stress and depression.

Researchers with UCLA’s Designing Healthy Communities program believe that, if built right, cities can help develop and foster our mental and physical fitness. Take for example the statistic that in 1974, 66 percent of all children walked or biked to school versus 13 percent in 2000. Explains the program director, “People who walk more weigh less and live longer… People who are fit live longer. People who have friends and remain socially active live longer.”

Rates of obesity and diabetes in L.A. County are nothing to be proud of while the asthma rates among children living near LA’s freeways and industrial areas, often one and the same, remain considerably higher than those in most rural and suburban areas.

The UCLA researchers support their call for a new, healthier urbanism by pointing to the usual illustrations of forward thinking and health promoting urban planning including New York City’s aggressive push to expand its miles of bike lanes and improve the public’s access to parks, and Copenhagen’s transformation in a generation into a more livable and extremely bike-friendly city. They also point to promising efforts, which Brody describes in her piece, including:

  • Metropolitan Atlanta which plans “to create an urban paradise from an abandoned railroad corridor over the next two decades, with light rail and 22 miles of walking and biking trails;”
  • Lakewood, Colorado where “an abandoned shopping mall… was converted into housing, businesses and play areas;”
  • Syracuse, New York which “is converting an old saltworks district into a mixed-income, energy-smart housing and business area, giving residents easy access to work and recreation;” and
  • Elgin, Illinois “where an island park was created in the middle of the rejuvenated Fox River and a former Superfund site known as auto dealers’ row is now Festival Park… A Bikeway Master Plan will eventually connect all the neighborhoods, and easy access to the river has spurred investment.”

L.A. has similar “successes” to point to including CicLAvia, new rail and bus stations and transit-oriented development. But if we want to rebuild the city as envisioned by the UCLA program, it may not be enough to say urban living is better with these amenities. The improvements will need to be demonstrated through quantifiable research. The Designing Healthy Communities program which aims to offer best practice models to improve public health by re-designing and restoring the built environment is very much a companion piece to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Project RENEW with its focus on policy, systems, and environmental change to improve nutrition, increase physical activity, and reduce obesity. The UCLA researchers’ findings and recommendations, if supported by the data, are an advertisement for transit, transit-oriented development and the complete streets principals that encourage walking and biking rather than driving. Brody’s article and the UCLA research, even as a work in progress, are worth a read and consideration by the region’s policymakers and planners.