Transportation headlines, Monday, May 12

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Growing ranks of bicyclists still just one percent of L.A. commuters (City News Service)

The article is based on the new report from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition released today. Excerpt:

Motorized, solo commutes — via car, truck or van — is still easily the most common way to get to work in Los Angeles, with 77.3 percent of the 1.7 million local workers traveling an average of 29.2 minutes to get to work, according to survey results announced last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Just 1 percent of all commuters in Los Angeles city commute to work on bikes, which is above the national average of 0.6 percent, according to data collected from the census’s 2008-2012 American Community Survey.

This is compared with 11.1 percent of workers who use public transportation and the 3.7 percent who walk to work.

But bicycling is on the rise, according to the census’s report, “Modes Less Traveled — Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008- 2012.” The report notes that the national rate of bicycle commuting has seen “a larger increase than that of any other commuting mode.”

The Census numbers are certainly interesting and the reporter was smart to include them for context. One thing I find interesting is that even in the big bike towns such as Portland, the Census Bureau shows no more than 3.3 percent about six percent of commuters as riding bikes to work.

While commuting is important, I think it overlooks the power of bicycling to affect change. While many people may not bike to work for a variety of reasons, they can still bike to other destinations instead of driving. Bikes can be perfect for running short errands and other types of trips (going to the gym!) that add a lot of miles to peoples cars while chewing up a lot of fuel.

In other words, what matters most is getting out of your car occasionally and walking, taking transit and biking — all good ways to help ease traffic, lower greenhouse gas emissions and get your backside in motion. 🙂

Related: here is coverage of this morning’s Bike Week L.A. Kick-off at Union Station.

Build the Sepulveda Pass train tunnel (L.A. Times letters) 

VICA Board Chairman Coby King writes the Times, saying the $20-billion price tag for the Sepulveda Pass tunnel is for a project that would run from LAX to the northern San Fernando Valley. A simple rail tunnel under the pass to connect Westwood and the San Fernando Valley would cost $5 billion to $7 billion based on Metro information, King writes. The Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project — which is set to receive $1 billion in Measure R funds — has been discussed as part of the race to replace termed-out Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

L.A Designer: Michael Lejeune, making Metro ‘cool’ (KCRW)

A nice interview with Metro’s creative director, whose group created the marketing campaign that got a lot of people (including me) noticing Metro. Excerpt:

ML: So at my interview for the job 12 years ago I asked what is the goal for Metro and they said, Metro is not on anybody’s radar, or if it is, it’s a negative story in the local press. Our goal is really simple, we need to make Metro cool.

And that is the perfect creative reason for this job. It’s not about false cool. LA is cool, it is the place you can come and be your best, coolest self, it is that place and it has always been that place.

Now Metro is reinventing itself. We are into bikes and sponsoring cicLAvia and helping to bring Bikeshare to LA; we’ve opened up to really fulfill our destiny about being all mobility, buses and highways and bikes and walking.

But our philosophy has been that you can’t make Metro cool if you can’t get Metro to be noticed. We thought, we are not going to simply show a photo of a bus or train, but rather present a more colorful version of getting around LA that’s focused on people and possibility.


End of the line for Metro North’s bar car (New York Times) 

The bar car — where commuters could buy drinks — on Metro North trains was retired on Friday. While some riders mourn the loss of a Happy Hour on rails, agency officials say the tradition’s time has passed, citing DWI laws and changing norms.

City eyes BRT to speed up MTA rides (New York Daily News) 

The New York MTA is studying the idea of full-time bus lanes in Brooklyn and Queens to shave about 25 percent off bus travel times. New York has six bus lines with BRT-like aspects (off-bus boarding), but buses still often find themselves stuck in regular traffic. Los Angeles, btw, is listed as one of the places with BRT, a reference to Metro’s Orange Line.


5 replies

  1. The Switzerland tunnel that adam mentioned is the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

    “With a route length of 57 km (35.4 mi) and a total of 151.84 km (94.3 mi) of tunnels, shafts and passages,[2] it is the world’s longest rail tunnel, surpassing the Seikan Tunnel in Japan.”

    Opened in 2016 and the total project cost was 9.8 billion Swiss francs, or US $10.3 billion.

    You gotta wonder where the money gets pocketed whenever LA tries to do something that other countries can do for much cheaper.

  2. A lot more bike rider education needs to be performed prior to encouraging mass bike riding in Los Angeles. Yesterday about 5:30 PM while traveling eastbound on Santa Monica Bl. I first encountered a bike rider weaving in and out of traffic and back and forth from the street to the sidewalk. At Poinsettia the rider almost had a head on collision with another rider traveling westbound in the eastbound traffic lanes. Further down the street there was another bike rider weaving in and out of traffic lane splitting between the number one and two traffic lanes and running red lights at minor controlled intersections. His final move that I observed was attempting to cut thru the parking lot at Western Ave. and almost getting hit by a vehicle backing out of a parking space. I’m not sure if a bike riding individual, Steve Banks, is still active but his favorite move was blocking buses that honked at him as they were safely passing him. I encountered him numerous times disrupting service. The last time he almost got his ass kicked by a bus patron then complained the MTA should protect him.

  3. “In other words, what matters most is getting out of your car occasionally and walking, taking transit and biking — all good ways to help ease traffic, lower greenhouse gas emissions and get your backside in motion.”

    Try raising a family with just a bicycle to get around.

  4. So Switzerland can build a 30 mile long tunnel under the MASSIVE swiss alps for 10 billion, and in los angeles they can’t even build a 5 mile section under the itty bitty sepulveda pass mountains for less than 5 billion?

    Pathetic. That part of the project should be one of the cheapest sections of underground metro rail they could build. it is the only undeveloped part of the city they’ll ever work on.

    They can build a two mile tunnel under central seattle for less than half what it takes to build five miles of tunnel under an undeveloped mountain?

    How much did it cost to build the cahuenga pass section of the red line? probably 100 million orless, yet now it somehow costs us five billion to build an identical tunnel under Sepulveda.

    The math just doesn’t add up.

  5. Government agencies and “cool” don’t really go hand in hand. When was the last time anyone considered the LADWP cool? Or the LAPD cool? Are any of the LA County Board of Supervisors cool? Are the dolts we have in Sacramento and Washington cool?