Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 1

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.

Florence-Firestone kids scared to ride bikes because of gangs (StreetsBlog LA)

Not even the best bike lanes in the world are enough to entice kids onto some L.A. streets. This heartbreaking piece tells the story of a couple of kids in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood where bike jacking is as common as the violent retribution that follows, should the victim try to retrieve the bike. The tale reminds us of the real need to try and figure out ways to make our communities safer places to get around — whether in buses or on bikes. It also points out a few community-based programs that have had some success in addressing the issue.

Rising gas prices mean transit riders save money while car drivers empty tanks and wallets (American Public Transportation Association)

Another unpleasant reminder of rocketing gas prices comes from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the international group representing bus, rapid transit and commuter rail systems: Car commuters in Los Angeles are spending on average about $907 per month on gas. Alas, that number is based on national average gas prices of $3.57 per gallon from nine days ago. What a difference a week makes.

There’s a road closure coming. But no, we don’t mean the 405 (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Does your commute take you through El Monte? Be forewarned that a portion of the busy thoroughfare Baldwin Avenue is scheduled for closure late this summer as a project is launched aimed at improving traffic congestion and safety at a major railroad crossing. Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (ACE) last week secured funding to build a four-lane railroad underpass and bridge on Baldwin Avenue, which accommodates 28,000 vehicles a day, according to ACE figures.The project is expected to take 18 to 24 months, with detours lasting as long.

High-speed rail construction likely delayed until 2013 (Orange County Register)

At its meeting today in Sacramento, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will learn about an updated schedule for the $6 billion construction project. Construction in the central San Joaquin Valley was supposed to start this September. But the start date now looks more like early 2013, even if state legislators approve billions in bond money this spring. The problem appears to be revisions to environmental reports for the 120-mile Fresno-to-Bakersfield section, which is the result of a “slew of objections,” including opposition to a route that would take trains through farmland. If the route cannot easily be agreed upon for flat, uninhabited farmland what will happen when it hits urban areas like San Francisco and L.A.?

Metro’s fare-evader crackdown long overdue (L.A. Daily News)

An editorial in today’s Daily News supports the Metro Board’s decision last week to begin locking gates at Metro Rail stations within the next six months. “When it comes to public transportation, there is no such thing as a free ride,” the editorial says.” People who abuse the honor system on MTA buses and rail lines may save themselves big bucks. But they pass on the cost of their ill-gotten gain to many others.”