How We Roll, April 3: a proposal to raise the gas tax and the challenge of making our streets safer

ICYMI: The exciting proposal for the third and watery phase of the Expo Line.

Art of Infrastructure: 

Poppies, solar panels, wind mills and the Tehachapi Mountains as seen from the California Poppy Reserve near Lancaster. Photo courtesy Steve Hymon.

Explosion on St. Petersburg Metro kills 11 as Putin visits city (NYT)

No suspects yet in this terrorist attack. As always, we remind you to say something if you see something and contact the authorities. From

Know the location of emergency phones and memorize the Metro Sheriff’s Hotline: 888.950.SAFE (7233).

Be alert – Report any suspicious behavior, persons in unauthorized areas or unattended packages to Metro or Sheriff’s personnel immediately.

We recommend that regular riders put the Sheriff’s number in their phone’s contact list.

Jerry Brown, Democratic leaders agree to increase taxes to fix California roads (Sac Bee)

This was the big news from last week, with the proposal including a 12-cent per gallon state gas tax hike and a significant bump in vehicle registration fees.

From Gov. Jerry Brown’s press release:

The legislation, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, SB 1 (Beall), invests $52.4 billion over the next decade – split equally between state and local investments:

Fix Local Streets and Transportation Infrastructure (50 percent):

– $15 billion in “Fix-It-First” local road repairs, including fixing potholes
– $7.5 billion to improve local public transportation
– $2 billion to support local “self-help” communities that are making their own investments in transportation improvements
– $1 billion to improve infrastructure that promotes walking and bicycling
– $825 million for the State Transportation Improvement Program local contribution
– $250 million in local transportation planning grants.

Fix State Highways and Transportation Infrastructure (50 percent):

– $15 billion in “Fix-it-First” highway repairs, including smoother pavement
– $4 billion in bridge and culvert repairs
– $3 billion to improve trade corridors
– $2.5 billion to reduce congestion on major commute corridors
– $1.4 billion in other transportation investments, including $275 million for highway and intercity-transit improvements.

The state proposal, of course, stands in contrast to the White House’s recent federal budget proposal that would shave money for public transit. As for the state gas tax, it hasn’t been raised since 1994.

Gov. Brown says that he wants a vote in the Legislature by the end of this week. Earlier in the year, the Metro Board voted to “support/work with author” on aspects of the bill as some of the fine details have been hammered out. One of the more attractive aspects of the bill for the agency is that the bill has a lot of money for local roads, transit and walking/biking — and it’s money that can be combined with Measure M funds — including local return — to build transpo projects.

What’cha think transit riders and motorists? If you were a state legislator how would you vote and why? The State Senate is expected to vote on Thursday.

The number of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers killed in L.A. traffic rose sharply in 2016 (LAT)

In 2016, 260 people were killed in the city of L.A. — an increase of 43 percent over 2015. That’s notable because city officials say they are pursuing a “Vision Zero” policy to eliminate traffic-related deaths.

One challenge:

The LAPD’s speeding enforcement is challenged by a state law that prevents officers from using radar to catch speeders unless a new traffic study has been performed in that area.

The number of speeding tickets issued annually has dropped from 100,000 in 2010 to about 17,000 in 2015, according to police data.

I don’t include that to pick on the city of L.A. But I don’t know how Vision Zero can become reality without enforcement — unless Everest-sized speed bumps are laid across the busiest and widest of roads.

To my eye, traffic enforcement is lax in many parts of the Southland, crosswalks earn little respect from motorists and I see people playing with their dumb phones while driving every single day. But parking enforcement? That never seems to be a problem, eh?


Pedestrian deaths spiked in 2016, distractions cited (NYT)

There were nearly 6,000 last year, the highest in 20 years. “But researchers say they think the biggest factor may be more drivers and walkers distracted by cellphones and other electronic devices, although that’s hard to confirm,” so says the NYT.

L.A. might start citing motorists again who park on city parkways (LAT)

See the pics. I had no idea this is legal — you can basically jump the curb and park on the patch of grass between the street and sidewalk and not get a ticket. Great if you have a high-clearance vehicle, which I do…

Five story residential use project near Expo Line in West L.A. (Curbed LA)

If the building goes forward in the Sawtelle ‘hood, goodbye strip mall and hello 129 units. The location sits between the Sepulveda and Bundy stations.




11 replies

  1. I think Gov. Brown and the Dems need to provide us with a breakdown of all the current gasoline taxes that we are paying at the pump along with its goals and what it has accomplished to date before we vote on this new tax plan. The DMV should also provide us with information about the vehicle registration fees and what taxes we are paying, the propose of the tax and the results of the taxes paid before we vote on this new tax plan.

  2. In the Bay Area I often see peds cross the street when their light is red, while others cross the street away from the crosswalk or corner when they very easily could have walked to the crosswalk or corner. Near me, a median was planted with thick bushes, yet a man crossed the road and fought his way through the bushes rather than walk to the nearby corner.

  3. I am amazed at how many pedestrians step out into the street without looking both ways and determine if traffic is going to stop but instead have their eyes glued to their cell phones. We know it is a traffic violation for the driver to talk or text while in traffic, the same should apply to pedestrians while crossing the street.

    Several years ago while working for the MTA I investigated a accident where a pedestrian walked into the side of a moving bus while using his cell phone. The out come was not positive.

  4. I live in the Bay Area, but when Ive driven in the LA area, it seems the incidence, per mile, of reckless driving is much higher. In 6.2015 in West LA, I was directly involved in such incidents twice within an hour.

  5. “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” Oliver Wendell Holmes. No comment on the question of whether a “motorized” society is a civilized one, but the potholes, etc., simply must go!

  6. I think one easy thing that LA can do to prevent pedestrian casualties is to give pedestrians a head-start on the green light. Giving pedestrians a 1 or 2 second head start (turning the walk sign to “Walk” before the light turns green) will give pedestrians better visibility to turning motorists. I’ve noticed multiple times instances where cars turning right at a light go immediately when the light turns green, not even pausing to look for pedestrians in the intersection. Giving pedestrians the head-start will help them be more visible and prevent cars from incorrectly asserting their right-of-way at an intersection.

    • This is an excellent point. Some of the lights do this in Pasadena and I like it as both a pedestrian and motorist for the very reasons that you mention. That said, I urge all pedestrians to always look both ways when stepping off the curb for cars trying to beat red lights. In my neck of the woods, they sometimes miss and end up running the red.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Many of the walk signals in DTLA now have a couple-second lead on the green for cars and it’s great–this should happen throughout the region. Another improvement would be to entirely eliminate “beg buttons” which necessitate pushing a button to request a walk signal. It trains pedestrians to not trust the signals–if you miss the button before the cycle starts, you can either cross on a red hand, gampbling that it is safe to cross (though maybe there’s an unseen left turn signal) or wait an extra 2-5 minutes to cross legally, which is essentially just penalizing pedestrians for not being in a car.

        As for the “distracted walking” thing, while there’s plenty of people who don’t monitor their surroundings, this type of coverage emphasizes pedestrian’s personal responsibility way too much while de-emphasizing the role that infrastructure and design play in putting pedestrians at risk. A recent 60 minutes piece on this report featured a reporter entirely blaming clueless pedestrians using their cell phones for the increase, yet illustrated the piece with cases of two pedestrian victims who were 100% not at fault–one of them was literally standing on the sidewalk when a speeding car jumped the curb and hit them. Terrible reporting especially when the report itself doesn’t demonstrate causality.