How We Roll, Monday, September 21

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Art of Transit: 


If you’re headed to the new museum, the Red Line’s Civic Center/Grand Park Station is located at 1st and Hill (exit the 1st Street side). From there, it’s a three block walk to the new Broad Museum, which opened to the public on Sunday. Several bus lines stop at Grand and 3rd, one block from the museum, including the Silver Line, 770 Rapid, 14, 70, 71, 76, 78/79/378, 96 and 442. Please see for schedules and maps.


From the Department of Twitter:


Critic’s notebook: Mobility Plan 2035 may be the cornerstone of a new L.A. (LAT)

The L.A. City Council recently approved the plan that emphasizes adding pedestrian amenities, adding bus lanes bike lanes and reducing car traffic lanes. One group has already filed suit, alleging the plan will increase traffic and that the city’s environmental study for the plan was flawed.

But LAT architecture and planning critic Christopher Hawthorne sees things differently, saying the plan could finally lay the groundwork that greatly improves the quality of life for many Angelenos. The plan could certainly impact Metro, which operates many bus and rail lines in the city of L.A. The key graph:

In Los Angeles we have come to view things differently. We’ve convinced ourselves that we are the only big city in the country where we can have all the great things that come with urbanization and, remarkably, none of the eternal and endless traffic congestion. We want the cultural amenities and economic clout of a major metropolis but the traffic patterns of a garden-variety suburb.

This is a kind of magical thinking.

To be fair, we’ve had perfectly good reasons for looking at the city this way. In fact it would have been very surprising if we hadn’t learned to look at the city this way.

For nearly a century, the elected officials and the transportation planners responsible for shaping L.A. streets, buoyed by a range of subsidies from Washington connected to homeownership and road building, have made it clear that the priorities of drivers and private car traffic should be protected at all costs.

This is a very smart article and I encourage everyone to read it. I personally like a lot of the element of the mobility plan in L.A. As I have written, I remain somewhat skeptical that the entire plan will be implemented due to politics, funding and the fact that it will take a long time to implement.

Christopher makes another point I wanted to highlight: the fact that every development project in our region is judged based on traffic impacts means that many projects perhaps worth building have not been built. Or have been delayed by endless studies. That includes housing — which many people believe is in short supply — and even transit projects.

Things to listen to white sitting/standing/stuck on transit: An excellent special by National Public Radio on the history of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power (hint: the U.S. was involved) and the pending deal designed to slow Iran’s ability to create/acquire nuclear weapons. Many good interviews with great pacing — and many different viewpoints expressed.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his Atoms for Peace speech at the U.N. in 1953. Photo: NPR via the Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum

President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his Atoms for Peace speech at the U.N. in 1953. Photo: NPR via the
Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum

I tried biking the entire length of the Los Angeles River. It was a disaster. (LAWeekly) 

The L.A. River as seen from the 1st Street Bridge. No bike lanes now and hard to see where bike lanes could be in the future. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The L.A. River as seen from the 1st Street Bridge. No bike lanes now and hard to see where bike lanes could be in the future. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Amusing and informative article by Hillel Aron on a two-day attempt to bike the 51 miles of the river from the western SFV to Long Beach. As he discovered (and already knew), there are no bike paths on significant chunks of the river and that made for some interesting detours. He concludes nicely:

I learned how disjointed the river feels, how haphazard and catch-as-catch-can some of the revitalization efforts have been. I learned that L.A. County is way better at building bike paths than the city of L.A. I learned that there are miles and miles of the river that are still inaccessible.

And I learned that the river is really, really unnatural, really strange, constantly in flux, widening, narrowing, changing colors, collecting birds and weeds and shrubs and shopping carts and weird smells and kayakers, cyclists in Atwater, walkers in Compton, homeless people all over.

But I was convinced, by the end of it, that it can connect the city, if the city wants connecting. All it will take is a ton of money.

Related: as the above article notes, one of the inaccessible stretches of bike path is through downtown Los Angeles. And as my colleague Joe Lemon recently noted in his post about using bikeshare in Chicago, one of the things that makes the Windy City so appealing is a bike path that runs along the shores of Lake Michigan that is easy to access from DTCHI. Metro and the city of L.A. are bringing bikeshare to DTLA in 2016.

When pondering what Metro/L.A. can learn from Chicago, Joe wrote:

 Keep building and supporting an expanding bike network. To drive the point home again: bicyclists need to feel safe. Downtown Chicago was home to plenty of protected and buffered bike lanes as well as bike paths in parks and along Lake Michigan. If this wasn’t the case, I — and I think it’s safe to say my inexperienced biking partner — would’ve been much less inclined to bike.

 Find a natural draw for casual riders. This one applies mostly for leisurely riders and tourists. The natural draw in Chicago was the Lakefront Trail.  In other cities where bikeshare sees success, it’s usually a river or lakefront path that provides visitors a safe and enjoyable area to use the bikeshare system to start.

More on the river: the LAT editorial board likes Frank Gehry’s involvement with drawing up plans for a revitalized river, especially if he can find a way to recapture storm water for reuse. Much of the stormwater currently flows to the Pacific, for better and worse.

For Those Who Went Metro to USC football!: Thanks for riding. And perhaps USC football learned a lesson. If you import a couple of cupcakes for easy wins in the early season, it’s not surprising the team falters when faced with real competition, i.e. Stanford.

Quasi-related: HWR prefers pro football, where the players are highly compensated for having their brains battered/rearranged. Also worth noting is that our Super Bowl picks, the Pats and Packers, are thus far a combined 4-0.

Quasi-quasi-related: HWR’s second-favorite team, the Cincinnati Bengals, have already beaten both of Los Angeles’ teams this season — the Raiders and Chargers. The Bengals get a crack at the L.A. Rams on Nov. 29 to complete the sweep. HWR’s new favorite team (on a trial basis), the Bills, stumbled badly behind their big-mouth coach.

VW denied deception to EPA for nearly a year (NYT)

Herbie the Love Bug: made by air pollution cheaters!

Herbie the Love Bug: made by air pollution cheaters!

Volkswagen officials told the EPA that technical issues were the reason why their diesel vehicles polluted more when on the road than during smog tests. After nearly a year, VW officials changed their story, admitting they boosted the performance of 482,000 cars sold in the U.S. by programming smog control equipment to shut off — except during smog tests. As a result, the vehicles, made between 2009 and 2015, may have emitted 40 times the pollution allowed. Yikes. Quintuple Yikes.

The vehicles sold will have to be recalled by VW. The big looming question is the amount of the fine that will be levied against VW by the U.S. government. In an earlier article, the NYT reported:

Under the terms of the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department could impose fines of as much as $37,500 for each recalled vehicle, for a possible total penalty of as much as $18 billion.

I’m not the king, but if I was…it would sure be nice to see that money spent on public amenities such as infrastructure or transit that is designed to lower the amount of smog and greenhouse gases in the air.

Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Twitter stream is unsurprisingly quiet about the whole thing and instead goes the by-the-book route: pictures of models and cars.

Quasi-related: Meanwhile, Nissan has burped forth a commercial using Edwin Starr’s “War” in a way that sadly trivializes what that song is about: the terribleness of war. Lyrical excerpt:

Oh war, I despise
‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tears to thousands of mothers’ eyes
When their sons go off to fight and lose their lives

I said, war, huh, good god, y’all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again

In case you were wondering, the song was written in 1969 by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a protest song about the Vietnam War, so says Wikipedia. The song was a No. 1 hit in 1970 and then got a second life when Bruce Springsteen began playing it during his “Born in the USA” tour — with an intro warning young people in the audience to be appropriately skeptical about what the American government was telling them before volunteering for battle.

Given the tens of thousands of number of lives lost in Vietnam, perhaps this one isn’t the most appropriate to sell cars. Some songs are just pop songs. Other songs are much more than that and should be off limits to the advertising sharks. Period. Not to mention the fact that the Nissan commercial also promotes street racing and driving dangerously around construction workers. #epicfail

Take it away, Edwin Starr, circa the 1969 Datsun-free music video:

Other recent How We Rolls that may interest you: 

Sept. 18: My so long to long-time Metro flack Marc Littman, will it take China’s dollars to finally build a train between L.A. and Vegas and a horse rides light rail in Ireland.

Sept. 17: Development finally coming to Washington Boulevard along the Blue Line, can Apple’s and Google’s self-driving cars defeat traffic and pro football vs California.

Sept. 16: A road diet in Silver Lake, Ventura County finally considers a transportation sales tax and a look at L.A. and the four other cities vying for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Sept. 15: Trying to find a route for a light rail line between Union Station and Artesia, parking at Bakersfield’s bullet train station to-be and a rider revolt against the Washington Metro.

Sept. 14: the U.S. EPA comments on the SR-710 North Study, New York opens its first subway station since 1989 and taking transit to save the Antarctic ice sheet.

I’m also on Twitter, Instagram and have a photo blog where I share my non-transportationy stuff. Don’t want to comment but want to reach me? Email me!

14 replies

  1. “Places like Los Angles and even San Francisco the populous have chosen to live in one city and work in another. While there has been attempts to curtail said sprawl it can never be reversed. People wish to avoid the big city congestion and crime. Unfortunately said congestion and crime have fallowed them.”

    Recent studies show that the trend is actually reversing where people are starting to reject the suburban lifestyle and starting to move back into the city.

    You can only go so far as to live the “live in one city and work in another” way of life. That way of life works when cheap real estate is abundant and the cost of commuting long distances is also cheap. That’s clearly not true today where real estate in LA is expensive, even in the outskirts, suburban sprawl has stretched to its limits, and the cost of gasoline and heavy traffic jams is so high it’s not worth commuting long drives.

    If that way of life cannot be done anymore, the only other recourse is to face the facts: LA is going to get denser whether we like it or not.

    • I think you missed my point. The populace have moved to the suburbs. While the same people may not stay nevertheless people will be living there. The suburbs will not become farm land again, they are here to stay. Although Downtown L.A. is again becoming popular as a place to live it still does not offer the safety that some suburbs enjoy. Plus I cannot see children being raised in such an environment not only because of the busy streets but also the lack of a family friendly environment. Its great for the young married and unmarried and those who have already raised their children. For me however late night walks with my dog without the fear of being accosted is very important to me.

      And although the Four Line is nearby it does not offer easy transportation to me. It’s three different buses just to go to my favorite hobby shop and the only one that does run with frequency is the four line. Where it takes me approximately 30 minutes to get there and trip by bus would be approx. two hours each way. And thats just to the hobby shop. If I wished to go to other places in the same area it would probably be a full days adventure.

      When I worked downtown it would take at least twice the commuting time on the bus verses my auto. And coming home I could do my shopping at Ralph’s and still get home in less time than on the bus.

      The MTA has refused to offer mass transit via light rail going near my home although Santa Monica Bl. is in total grid lock twice a day for hours. But what is their latest proposal for new light rail? A line running parallel to the Blue Line which is only about one mile away.

      • “The populace have moved to the suburbs. While the same people may not stay nevertheless people will be living there. The suburbs will not become farm land again, they are here to stay. ”

        Yes, those areas will remain to stay. But what is happening is that those suburbs are becoming their own cities with their own commercial areas and the people living in those areas working in the same area. For example, look at Santa Monica, Burbank, and the South Bay. They were once suburbs of LA, but today, many businesses are located in those areas themselves in which you have people living and working within Santa Monica, Burbank, and the South Bay. The suburbs themselves are becoming high density places of living and working.

        “Plus I cannot see children being raised in such an environment not only because of the busy streets but also the lack of a family friendly environment.”

        It may come to a surprise to you, but for the vast majority of Angelenos and many people living in densely populated cities all over the world, this is the norm. Not everyone lives and raises a family in the suburbs, plenty of people live and raise families right in the urban areas. The video that LAX Frequent Flyer posted about the Ando family raising a family in the heart of Tokyo is a fine example of this.

        As LA gets denser with an ever increasing population, many Angelenos will have to face the fact that they can’t have everything they want and will just have to deal with it and make do with what they have so long as they want to live here. Of course, they are free to move elsewhere, but as population statistics say, LA’s population is not decreasing, it’s increasing. We have more people living here than the entire state of Georgia says a lot that LA is still a popular place to live and work, and it’s only going to get denser whether you like it or not.

      • “Plus I cannot see children being raised in such an environment not only because of the busy streets but also the lack of a family friendly environment.”

        Yeah, I take it that there are no parents raising children in places like Koreatown, MacArthur Park, Downtown LA, Silver Lake, Echo Park, etc. and that 60% of LA County residents who happen to be renters don’t have children to raise.

  2. The LA TImes article actually hinted on something else of interest, where the issue of “how will I get my children to soccer practice” came up.

    Well actually, the question is “how can we let our children become independent enough from a young age to let them walk to school alone” as well. Many of that involves proper city planning with walkable, livable streets away from automobile-centric lifestyles.

    SBS2 Australia recently did a mini-documentary on the differences of how Australian children and Japanese children commute to school. Much of Australia is similar to the car culture of LA, where Australian parents, much like American parents, take their children to school with their cars, while Japanese parents are perfectly comfortable in letting their own children walk and take transit to go to school on their own. While many factors are hinted such as Japan has less crime than Australia, the more underlying factor is that with the right city planning, compact high density urban settings, with less cars on the road, letting children go to school alone without parental supervision becomes a possiblity.

    And interestingly, the US too was like that once, where kids did walk to school alone with other children, without parental supervision .

    Somehow we lost our way that nowadays, when people see an unsupervised child, the child protective services are called into action.

    • This is absolutely true. And it wasn’t even that long ago either, you don’t have to go as far back to the 1950s to remember that this was the norm here also. Back in my time, we were called “latchkey kids” and many kids were independent enough to go to school alone and come back home and stay home alone until our parents came back from work. This was perfectly normal.

      I remember myself as a kid living and growing up here in the 1980s that I was very independent from a young age where I was allowed to walk to school alone. After fifth grade, the LAUSD became so overcrowded, they started school busing kids to other schools farther away. I would wake up 5:30-6:00 AM, which during the winter would’ve been still quite dark, and I would walk to the designated school bus stop, meeting up with my other kids who are in the same bus as me along the way.

      We were all independent from a very young age and we all learned to take adventures like riding the RTD to far places on our own, without any parents hovering over us.

      Did I get kidnapped? No. The fact that I’m still here says that parents these days are too paranoid, most of them due to the media using scare tactics.

      If and when I have my own kids, I’d love to raise my child like the way my parents did who trusted me to do things on my own from an early age. But try to do that, I’m sure cops will be knocking on my door telling me what a bad parent I am.

      • We helped Japan with redevelopment. We bombed the hell out of them during World War Two. Places like Los Angles and even San Francisco the populous have chosen to live in one city and work in another. While there has been attempts to curtail said sprawl it can never be reversed. People wish to avoid the big city congestion and crime. Unfortunately said congestion and crime have fallowed them.

        It truly amazes me how children are unable to walk to school or anywhere else unaccompanied by an adult. I fondly remember walking to school without my mom or grandmother. Now one see’s young teens being accompanied by an adult. And I never see kids playing with one another in neighborhoods.

      • “We helped Japan with redevelopment. We bombed the hell out of them during World War Two. ”

        Partly true, partly incorrect.

        Japan, as well as most of Europe, were burned to the ground by WWII, that’s correct. What’s incorrect is that we didn’t just give them money to help them rebuild. Throwing money at countries in hopes to get them out of poverty rarely works (look at how much foreign aid we spend).

        For the five years between 1945 and 1950, Japan and most of Europe was actually turning red with communist sympathizers, with the help of the USSR. The US and the center-right governments in Japan and Western Europe post WWII saw that as a threat, but re-industrialization of former enemies were looked at with skepticism as the war was still fresh in the minds of people.

        The real change came about in 1949 when the USSR detonated their first atomic bomb, mainland China fell to Communism, the Cold War was clearly beginning to emerge, and 1950 when the Korean War started.

        By this time, re-industrialization of former enemies of the US was not an issue. The US, Japan, Germany and Western Europe had a mutual enemy called Communism which needed to be pushed back and contained. The US needed a massive re-industrialization of Japan and Western Europe, and many post WWII restrictions were relaxed, free market capitalism and laissez-faire were encouraged, to help them modernize and re-industrialize quickly.

        Japan and Western Europe did not emerge to become economic superpowers because America threw money at them. Most people make that assumption. What they did was that they helped themselves out of poverty and re-industrialized quickly because of the threat of a mutual enemy called Communism. In many ways, the Cold War was the reason why they came back economically stronger than before the war.

    • Oh look, on that video at the 2:19 mark, you see the Japanese man sitting next to little Noe Ando drinking a bottled drink while riding a crowded train, yet the train and the stations are so clean and tidy!!!

      So what gives, Metro? Why do we have a ban on drinking when Japan shows us they can run trains clean while not banning drinking??? Is there something you’re doing wrong that the Japanese knows a secret to????

  3. The auto, and my lack of passion for it. Why? At first the fact the it determined whether I dated or not. Then later, the type of job I held and how much I made. Soon after, the fact that it gives people such an unrealistic sense of “point a to point b”, so much so that a driver feels compelled to curse at me for crossing a driveway on the sidewalk and “not moving fast enough” (bug off!).

    My own grandmother respected me less since “You don’t even have a license”; but failed to realise I can travel anywhere in the Spanish/English speaking world with no problem. Its backwards.

    When I attended Santa Monica College, I lived at San Vicente & La Brea. This area I can compare to Brooklyn almost with its density. Very polished density, hidden by green grass and trees, but there are hardly any single family homes here type of density. My buddies for one would never think to visit assuming there was no parking, and usually there was not. What was also very unfortunate is being stuck at a bus stop because of traffic and seeing your bus (212) inch along, about twenty minutes late.

    There were times Id want to cross La Brea to Quiznoes and could not due to 45 mph traffic. Forget having a sandwhich at my local shop; just forget it. Then Pico’s gridlock, San Vicente’s Gridlock, Wilshire’s gridlock, and Venice Blvds gridlock would render travel irrelevant.

    I’d always wish I had an option. Maybe a subway. Later I realised that I was not important. I could tell from my walk down La Brea from Pico and San Vicente, nothing but autoshops and a thirsty sidewalk. I once even had a buss pass by and a piece of a broken tire iron launch past my head. The driver had no idea, it seemed like he was speeding from the 10 fwy to Hollywood for whatever reason. It got so irritating that i’d wait for the 212 to not make that walk on the short stretch.

    Its unfortunate. There are certain areas that just do not care about people that walk.

    I was with a friend from London, and we walked along Venice Blvd during rush hour and he even told me “this doesn’t feel safe. That road is so big, and we are so small. Is this normal?” With Embarrassment I told him “Yea as walkers, we lose this battle. They could hit us and there is a chance it is our fault; IF they stop.” He could only say “wow” and explain that we should all have some form of alternative. He was also shocked at the amount of Senior Citizen’s he saw walking around Los Angeles unassisted.

    People are hooked on their cars. They are tricked into thinking its cheaper, always more convenient, or that they have this illusion of freedom. Not to say I never need a car. Currently I carpool to work, but if I can manage without I will. People also need to (like the article says) request more services where they live, so they can stop driving through MY neighborhood when it is unnecessary

  4. RE: “War” by Edwin Starr

    Are you even kidding me? You’re taking this waaaaay too seriously. If the song “War” shouldn’t be used for ads or whatever, maybe we should also stop drinking Coca-Cola and boycott watching Rush Hour ever again.

    The vast majority of people, which by today is the Millennials, weren’t even born as the Vietnam War was going on. That war ended in 1975 which was 40 years ago. The Millennials are the group that were born after 1980. To them, this song is just a song with a catchy tune.

    Somehow you have to wonder if people are purposely trying to inject division among Americans with wild and crazy ideas. Divide and conquer works well to advance certain agendas.

    The reality is that you’re never going to get 100% agreement on anything and that someone is always going to take offense on something because it’s “evil corporate propaganda” (hypocrisy of the “tolerant” left) whether it be animal rights activists will have an issue with “Go See Cal” commercials featuring Cal Worthington and his exotic animals or feminists groups having issue with too-hot-and-sexy Carl’s Jr. commercials or anti-gun activists with Gunny & Glock ads.

    Unfortunately, you can’t expect or force everyone else to agree with issues as you do. You may remember “War” song as an anti-war song from the Vietnam era. Nissan, Coca-Cola, Rush Hour using “War” as a song, what a shame, grr…cranky, cranky, whine, complain, how dare they, for shame etc. etc. etc.!!!!


    There are far more serious issues in the world than this.

    • Yes, the Viet Nam war ended 40 years ago. As a conservative Viet Nam war veteran it still brings back memories. But lets not forget we should learn from history and it’s the liberals again who are attempting to get us involved in another war, again as advisors, in Iraq. So perhaps those who were not born until after that debacle should be educated as to what our so called Commander-in-chief is trying to get us involved in.

  5. To me, USC football service on Metro is just an inconvenience when all the extra Expo trains delay my Blue Line trip home on concert nights.

    Then again, I’ve always regarded football as entirely too much fuss over a lousy 25 cents (you know: they start with a coin toss, then spend the rest of the game trying to GET THE QUARTER BACK).