How We Roll, Tuesday, September 22

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Art of Transit: 

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders takes the bus when in L.A.:

For those who are not Riders of a Certain Age and don’t know much about the Pretenders:

And onto the news….

L.A. lawmakers to declare ‘state of emergency,’ commit more than $100 million to fight homelessness (LAT)

The announcement will come later today. It’s not exactly clear in the article where the money is coming from or where it will be going. The number of homeless in the city alone is pegged at about 26,000 and I’m putting this article in HWR because the homeless issue certainly reaches beyond Skid Row and DTLA into many facets of our region, transit included. The above photo was taken looking from MacArthur Park toward Wilshire Boulevard earlier this year.

As fires grow, a new landscape appears in the West (NYT)

Charred trees from a 2005 wildfire in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Idaho. Photo: Steve Hymon.

Charred trees from a 2005 wildfire in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Idaho. Photo: Steve Hymon.

A confluence of factors — climate change, drought, bad luck and overzealous firefighting by the government in the past — means that many wildfires are burning hotter than ever. The result: when forests burn, trees don’t recover or grow back. Instead, as one scientist says, we’re headed toward a much shrubbier future.

If you’re concerned about these big changes and want to do something about climate change, consider taking transit instead of driving alone. Transit, generally speaking, burns fossil fuels more efficiently and the more people that ride, the more efficient it gets.

Azusa dedicates two new Gold Line stations, service expected spring 2016 (Streetsblog LA)

At the dedication ceremony on Saturday, Metro CEO Phil Washington said that Metro will likely announce an opening date within 30 days of taking over the project from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

The Authority will announce “substantial completion” of the project this week, meaning we’re likely edging closer to knowing when revenue service will begin. Of course, significant amounts of testing and employee training need to take place before passengers begin riding. The SBLA post has a bunch of pics; more pics, video and station info in our post yesterday.

Volkswagen says 11 million cars worldwide involved in diesel deception (NYT)

Looks like the VW Twitter account is taking the time-honored 'head in the sand' approach.

Looks like the VW Twitter account is taking the time-honored ‘head in the sand’ approach.

It wasn’t just American cars that include software designed to turn off emission controls to improve engine performance. It will be very interesting to see if anyone goes to the pokey over this, not to mention the size of the fine imposed on VW by different countries.

One other quick thought: air quality rules in California are there for a very good reason: the state has some of the foulest air in the United States. Our smog may not be the fault of any one particular car or motorist, but having a large car company exempt themselves from the rules — for a performance boost, mind you — seems awful when you stop and remember that smog is also a serious public health issue. Boooooo!

Bill Bryson on the end of walking (Town and Country) 

Bryson is the author of “A Walk in the Woods,” which was recently made into a movie. The book tells the story of Bryson and a college buddy, Katz, trying to walk a healthy slice of the Appalachian Trail in the early 1990s. It’s informative and, often, very funny. If you need something great to read on transit, look no further.

Photo: Whatsallthisten via Flickr creative commons.

Photo: Whatsallthisten via Flickr creative commons.

As for this interview, Bryson talks about the difference between England — where he lives — and what it was like living in America. He grew up in Des Moines and later lived in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he discovered the AT.

The thing I always remember from Hanover, because I worked at home, at a desk all day, in the afternoon I would generally walk into town to go to the bank, the library or the post office. Even though I was doing an errand, it was part of the pleasure of getting out. All the time people would stop and ask me if I needed a ride, because they just assumed my car was in the shop or something. I think there’s a mentality that even very fit Americans will exercise, but they wouldn’t walk just for the pleasure of it. I knew a lady who walked probably 10 miles a day but she did it on a treadmill. She drove to the gym and walked there, which just seems to be completely bizarre.

Of course, one reason that people don’t walk as much in places like L.A. is that many parts of town are not exactly nice places to walk with many lanes of road on one side and parking lots on the other. Driving is also very easy, with parking almost guaranteed in many places.

After driving for Uber, he’s keeping his day job (LAT)

Columnist Steve Lopez tries his hand as an Uber driver. On his first pickup:

Lopez, an administrative assistant at the Cesar Chavez Foundation, told me she and her husband got rid of their car because they prefer Uber and the Metro to the expense and hassle of driving in Los Angeles.

Very entertaining read. Steve ends up netting about $110 for nine hours of work after paying for gas and Uber taking a cut.

Budapest Olympics: Majority of Hungarians want referendum on hosting the Games (Hungary Today)

The newspaper Népszabadság reports 46 percent of Hungarians support the Games but 51 percent want to vote on it. Most curious paragraph in the short article:

Announcing the acceptance of the applications to host the 2024 Olympic Games handed in by Budapest, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome this past Wednesday, Thomas Bach, chairman of the International Olympic Committee, said that the deciding factor in the selection of the host city this year will be not the most adequate infrastructure available but rather which city genuinely wants to host the Olympics, the paper points out.

“Genuinely wants” strikes me as a rather ambiguous benchmark. L.A. is up against Budapest, Hamburg, Rome and Paris to serve as 2024 host.

American futures from Detroit to Fresno (Marketplace) 

The Fresno skyline. Photo by Rich Johnstone, via Flickr creative commons.

The Fresno skyline. Photo by Rich Johnstone, via Flickr creative commons.

Really interesting interview with James and Deb Fallows, who have been traveling the country to visit a variety of cities to see how they’re faring in the early 21st century. They liked what they saw in Fresno, which they think can benefit from people getting priced out of L.A. If the state bullet train gets built, that should also be a big help — making Fresno each to reach from L.A. and San Francisco. It’s already close to Yosemite and some other great places in the Sierra. On the downside, there’s the heat, pollution and drought.

Sept. 21: L.A.’s mobility plan, things to listen to on transit, sins of two carmakers, bike riding along the L.A. River.

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.

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3 replies

  1. One of the churches I regularly attend (I’m pan-denominational, and try to avoid attending the same church twice in a row) is less than a mile and a half from my house. Unless it’s either raining or blazing, I prefer, time permitting, to walk there. I’ve lost count of the number of times parishioners have offered me rides home.

    When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure, I was told to lose weight and get more exercise. One of the first things I did was to swear off the shuttle bus between Hollywood & Highland and the Bowl. For much of that walk, though, I’m just part of a parade of concertgoers parked at places like Hollywood UMC, and the American Legion Post. And I’ve found that if I have my pre-concert dinner someplace like Musso & Frank, or Micelli’s, I can just walk up Las Palmas, and get on Highland at Franklin, rather than having to push my way back through the perpetual crowds on Hollywood Blvd.

    Thankfully, in most of the places I go on vacation (e.g., San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston), I rarely need anything more than shoeleather and public transportation.

  2. One way to curb homelessness is to start utilizing Metro owned property near Metro Rail stations themselves as a place to do business which helps create jobs, as well as mixed use into residential areas in which 30% of them are dedicated for public housing.

    Or, we can continue to build more parking lots that does nothing to mitigate our social problems.

  3. The hypocrisy of the liberals can be summed up in that LA Times article:

    “I asked my first passenger, Eloisa Lopez of the Chavez Foundation, what she thought of all this, given that she works for an agency named after a legendary labor leader.

    She said she sympathizes with cabdrivers and used to travel by taxi. But cabs were unreliable and too expensive for her. She hopes the taxi companies can evolve, adapt and survive, but for now she’s sticking with her Uber app.

    “I have to do what’s best for me economically,” she said. “All of us are just trying to make a living.”

    The hypocrisy doesn’t end there because since she’s using Uber, she’s using a smartphone, most likely made with cheap labor overseas.

    And of course, if Uber is forced to consider their independent contractors are workers, the fares will go up and she’s going to be the first one to complain.