Bike lawsuits, congestion pricing, LAT: How We Roll, Feb. 7

Art of Transit: 

A southbound Orange Line bus in Chatsworth. Of course, I wanted the maintenance vehicle to be in the pic. Grr. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

L.A. faces skyrocketing costs for lawsuits over bike crashes (LAT)

I thought this was an outstanding piece of local journalism. The issue: bad pavement causing severe bicycle crashes in a city trying to become more bike-friendly. The $19.1 million paid in legal settlements in 2017 is four times more than in recent years.

The other problem: a back-log of streets that need to be repaved and repaired, an issue the city has struggled with for many years, owing to both its size and budget constraints.

City officials say they have been taking a number of steps to fix these kind of problems. Among them are installing bike lanes on streets that have a grade of B or higher.

Good story. The obvious takeaway: wouldn’t it be great if the city could spend $19.1 million on bike improvements instead of bike legal settlements?

Over at Streetsblog LA, Joe Linton has some thoughts on the article and points to the fact that “five of the seven crashes happened on streets with no bike facility of any kind. Which, given the lack of a functional bike facility network in nearly all of L.A., is where most L.A. cyclists ride most of the time.”

There’s only one fix for L.A.’s traffic nightmare — we all have to pay up (LAT)

Columnist Steve Lopez looks at three things being written about a lot lately: Metro ridership declines, increasing vehicle ownership and traffic.

His take:

Here’s an idea that has never won me any friends, but I like congestion pricing, which discourages driving at peak hours by charging a fee. And the money gets dumped into transit.

As more people drive, we need to give them better reasons not to.

Public transit? Make it cheaper, or maybe even free.

Attentive readers know that SCAG — our regional planning agency — has been flirting with the idea of congestion pricing. But there are no firm proposals yet.

My three cents: it’s not going to be easy to toll everyone on certain roads or in certain areas without a ton of other driving options.

As for cheaper/free transit: a decision clearly not mine to make at Metro, which are expected to bring in $323 million to Metro — a significant sum. The idea is to make the different between transit and driving as big as possible to lure more people from cars.

The challenge here is that gap is already pretty big in some cases — $3.50 round-trip for transit versus the cost of gas, parking and maintenance.

So what to do?

Some things that I think will pay off are underway. There are four rail lines under construction and more in the pipeline. Work is being to done to upgrade the existing system, with more improvements on the way for the Blue Line. Work on the bus restructuring is underway with proposals due to be vetted by the public in 2019.

In $500 Million Deal, Tronc Sells LA Times To California Doctor (NPR)

Not a transpo story, but the LAT remains the largest media outlet in Southern California. The media may not be perfect, but I think having a strong, free press is vital to democracy and good government.

While the LAT clearly doesn’t have the resources it once had, the newspaper continues to publish some very good work — as the above links demonstrate.

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