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.

6 replies

  1. The streetcar thing – am am in LA right now but live in Melbourne Australia, one of the largest cities (4m) to have retained its streetcars (trams). Yep they block intersections and occasionally a cyclist wheel gets wedged in the tracks, but keeping them – against big pressures to make way for cars – was integral to a fairly decent transport policy. Sydney, however, took them out and its commuting patterns involve even more congested roads. Trams scythe through the traffic and some are pretty long and thus not too crowded. They have become part of Melbourne’s identity and are used for regular commuting as well as occasional trips serving downtown, sports venues, etc. They make money and the ticketing is integrated with trains and buses. There is however a design debate about how to get disabled passengers onto the tram (kerb buildouts vs. raised roadways) which needs careul thought. All power to the streetcar – now being extended in Tucson Arizona where they only had a short stretch of tramway when I lived there.

  2. Hi Steve,
    Glad you like our Bicycle-Friendly Business District LA2050 proposal! We think this is a great way to reduce L.A.’s car addiction and help its local businesses. BFBD efforts are having a tangible impact in so many other cities; L.A. is due! Here’s the link to vote:
    Best regards,
    April Economides
    Green Octopus Consulting

  3. What about the story that we (L.A.) “was this close” to getting a “free” Disneyland style monorail back in the early ’60’s?

  4. Glad to see someone debunk the conspiracy theory. It’s much easier to believe the malevolent forces destroyed our beloved transit than to believe that we just gave it up voluntarily.

  5. LA should follow Cincinnati’s example and start getting rid of parking requirements. We have to start somewhere to start using land more efficiently than being wasted on parking spaces.

    • Hi Eduardo;

      The city of L.A. last year took steps toward creating parking districts where the usual zoning requirements for residential parking could be tweaked, the idea being to give the city more flexibility. We’ll see how it works out, but at least it’s recognition that requiring the same amount of parking for every building is not always useful when it comes to getting more housing built, especially housing across a variety of price points.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source