LeBron, traffic on the 405, protected bikeways: HWR, May 6

Things to read whilst transiting:How the Internet turned on LeBron James” in the NYT Magazine.

•Things to listen to whilst transiting: Why the price of a bottle of Coke didn’t change for 70 years, via Planet Money podcast.

Dept. of Happy Birthday, Union Station! 


Dept. of Construction — Below is a recent one from the Regional Connector’s Grand Ave Arts/Bunker Hill Station that will be located at 2nd and Hope.

Photo by Ken Karagozian for LA Metro.

•Over at LAist, a good look at a USC data project to determine how freeway speeds have changed since 2015 over certain segments. Bottom line: 31 slowed down, 17 sped up and four stayed the same.

The article focuses on the stretch of the 405 through the Sepulveda — the section earlier this decade where more than a billion dollars was spent adding a northbound HOV lane and other ramp and safety improvements were made. The morning commute has gotten slightly slower and the evening commute slowed down more. Excerpt:

Caltrans, the state agency that manages the freeways, says that during the construction, speeds were higher in part because of its constant messaging telling drivers to find alternate routes.

When the project was finally completed, the opposite happened: Drivers flocked to the 405, expecting, perhaps naively, for traffic to flow smoothly.

Eric Menjivar with CalTrans said that’s why the agency has moved away from doing just that. It costs money, and it just doesn’t work.

“We’ve gone away from just widening it just to add a general purpose lane. We’re trying to get people out of their vehicles and not add to the congestion,” he said. “It’s just too expensive to do that.”

Does that make this a horrible project? I don’t think so. The HOV lane, I suspect, will prove useful transit-wise or carpool-wise. The ramp improvements were helpful, too.

As for the bigger issue of freeway speeds, here’s a thought: there is a set amount of freeways in our region. The population and the number of vehicles has continued to grow. Something’s gotta give. At least we’re building a transit system that should hopefully be a better alternative for more commuters in the future.

•Quasi-related, the Metro Board in March approved launching a feasibility studying of congestion pricing — i.e. using tolls to encourage motorists to shift trips to other times or use other ways to get around. Here’s a look at the concept by Vox:

•Pasadena is looking at installing 1.6 miles of two-day protected bike lanes on Union Street at a cost of $6.9 million, reports the Star News’ Steve Scauzillo, who recently attended a workshop for the project.

Officials are hoping to gain enough public support to begin construction in late 2020 and open the lanes in 2021. The effort would use one of the five lanes on Union, two of which are parking or turn lanes. Union is an east-week street and is one block south of the Gold Line’s Memorial Park and Lake stations. Sounds good to this Pas resident, although having better biking options on north-south streets to access this bikeway (assuming it happens) would be good.

•Metro’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year is getting some attention because of proposed service changes for bus and rail. Reaction in Streetsblog LA and Curbed. Here’s our post from Friday, which tailed the news.

•Dept. of Uber/Lyft alternatives:

•Dept. of Press Releases: From Metrolink’s announcement that former Angels star Tim Salmon will record announcements for the train:

In addition to Salmon, guest train conductors will include State Senator Connie Leyva, Metrolink Board Member and Riverside County Supervisor Karen Spiegel, Metrolink Board 2nd Vice Chair and Highland Mayor Pro Tem Larry McCallon, Metrolink Board Member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, just to name a few.

8 replies

  1. Please challenge the one dimensional approach to commuting — by car — with a comparison to Metrolink, Metro trains and/or BRT. Westside people, where I also lived, might be at a disadvantage because of lack of options, but others have lots of options. Also, check into LADOT commuter express buses. I commuted by Metrolink (1 hour ride) for over 10 years into downtown. You can choose silence or conversation, reading or sleeping. Got to work relaxed, got home relaxed. Try it.

    • Hi Spencer;

      Fair enough. Although I think the Blue Line running more often between Willow and DTLB is an improvement and getting rid of two-car trains at peak hour on the Gold Line is a plus.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. About the 405 project:
    I drive through the Sepulveda pass, and a good distance on both sides, frequently on non-peak times (journeys that can not be done via transit). As has been previously, the metrics of traffic through the pass before, during, and after had “The Great Recession” overlayed on top of it. Los Angeles traffic in general saw volume declines, then rises. And the mention is always about “rush hour” or peak flow. I can attest that the ramp improvements have improved flow. Even late rush hour southbound is faster flowing. It loosens up further north. Northbound from 11-2 it flows better past the 10. It used to be bumper to bumper all the way to the 101. It slows some now, but it flows vastly better.

    I think that Pasadena might want a two *way* bike lane and not a two *day* bike lane.

  3. Isn’t it obvious that HOV lanes are sending the wrong message? They should be reserved for mass transit or returned to the regular usage. How about reserving HOV for bus rapid transit during rush hour traffic? At select stops, there’s quick pick up and drop off from freeways to destinations. In some cities, the HOV lanes are actually on the outside.

    Bike lanes are completely the wrong message. They are dangerous for bike riders. On congested roads, they are a hazard to both riders and drivers. Bikes are backwards thinking. They aren’t even encouraging motorcycles for this is an actual transportation vehicle. Yet it is clear that LA doesn’t have many commuters using motorcycles. Anyone that owns a car will not invest in a bicycle or motorcycle where they only use it sporadically and have to maintain it as a separate expense.

    Freeways is only one way to travel in LA. Mass transit isn’t even a serious contender. There’s too much virtue signally and inability to accept that California laws that try to improve the transit system is making it worse. Let’s waive all construction projects from environmental review. We can finally lift the cloud of failed investments that cost developers from doing what needs to be done.

    • “Let’s waive all construction projects from environmental review.”

      How would that help traffic speeds?

    • “At select stops, there’s quick pick up and drop off from freeways to destinations. In some cities, the HOV lanes are actually on the outside.”

      Hmmm. I wonder what your opinion is on the Silver Line. Or the Hollywood Freeway bus stops. Or Metro Rapid.