A new LA councilmember develops memory problems; GiveMe3 and hit-and-run bills move forward

Sometimes I have to wonder if politics causes memory problems.

Plans have been under way for the past few years to transform Figueroa Blvd between Downtown and South LA. The four mile My Figueroa project would narrow and remove some mixed-use traffic lanes, along with some parking, in exchange for transit-only lanes and the city’s first protected bike lanes.

However, Streetsblog reports that the conditions of the funding for the project require that construction has to start by the end of this year, and be completed before 2015.

Now newly elected City Councilmember Curren Price may have thrown a wrench in the works by expressing concerns that could kill LA’s first Complete Streets project by delaying it past the required starting point.

According to Downtown News, Price has straddled both sides of the fence, voicing support for the project while expressing concerns at a recent meeting.

“It’s a promising project. Let’s not rush through it. Let’s make it a good deal for everybody,” (Price) said, adding, “Major stakeholders have lingering concerns.”

Those stakeholders reportedly include the often anti-bike AAA, which has its regional headquarters on Figueroa, as well as the owner of eight car dealerships in the area, who evidently doesn’t offer any parking onsite and can’t conceive of anyone biking in and driving out with a new car.

And never mind all those recent studies showing bikes are good for business.

The website also reports that Price filed a motion asking the city Planning Department and LADOT to provide an in-depth analysis of how they plan to mitigate traffic congestion caused by the removal of auto lanes on the street.

Never mind that the street was chosen for the project, in part, because it would not significantly affect traffic flow on the under-utilized corridor. Or that any delay at this point could kill the project.

And never mind that Price, elected to the state Senate just four years ago before leaving for the higher paying city council seat, claimed to be a supporter of bicycling, and, “among other things, the role that it plays in improving air quality, health, traffic congestion and the overall environmental quality of life in the 26th Senate District.”

In a campaign statement for this site before the 2009 election that took him from the state Assembly to the Senate, he wrote:

A lack of investment in mass transit, infrastructure and Class One BikeWays, coupled with the “love affair” that Angelenos have with their cars and a jobs housing imbalance which has residents commuting on average between 15-20 miles roundtrip each day has contributed to the district’s inability to realize higher air quality standards. These reasons, among others, is why transit, transportation and air quality are at the top of my environmental agenda, why I have earned the endorsement of the California League of Conservation Voters and why I will continue to support increased investment in mass transit as well as alternatives such as cycling, full enforcement of the Clean Air Act, incentives for cleaner technologies and penalties for gross polluters.

He went on to add…

Young people who can’t cycle or exercise outdoors are not only likely to have higher rates of asthma and obesity but to underperform in school.

And…

Whether one cycles for business, for pleasure or for the environment, cyclists and, more correctly, support for cyclists plays a crucial role in creating a more livable 26th Senate District. Improvements and expansion of Class One Bikeways via increased public/private partnership funding and incentives for those who build bike-friendly developments supported by ancillary City street improvements are among the priorities I would have in developing a cycling/environmental agenda.

Then he closed, in part, with this:

I grew up riding my bike in the 26th District in South LA, Leimert Park and the Crenshaw District. I did it for pleasure. As state Senator, I would like to support a climate which allows cyclists to choose their own reason and create an environment which makes it possible.

But not as a council member, perhaps.

Maybe it’s just me. But that doesn’t sound like someone who would halt a major project at the last minute in a fight to preserve parking and under-used traffic lanes.

Or has Price forgotten those high-minded ideals now that he’s not running for office and powerful people with deeper pockets are demanding his attention?

Maybe we need to remind him.

………

According to Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, California’s latest attempt at passing a three-foot passing law landed on Governor Brown’s desk Monday afternoon.

I’m told he has 12 days to sign the bill, so we should have an answer — good or bad — by Saturday the 21st. You have less than that to urge him to sign it.

………

Legislation to address LA’s hit-and-run epidemic has advanced to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

AB 184, sponsored by Glendale-area Assembly Member Mike Gatto, was originally written to add an additional one year to the statue of limitations after a suspect is identified in hit-and-run cases. However, the law was significantly amended to double the current three-year statute of limitations, instead.

The bill proved remarkably popular, winning final approval by a unanimous vote of both houses. The LA Weekly says Brown will have 10 days to sign the bill if he gets it by Thursday; otherwise, he’ll have until October 13th.

Don’t ask me why.

Meanwhile, Florida cyclists are backing proposed legislation that would impose a minimum three-year sentence for leaving the scene of a collision resulting in injuries.

………

Speaking of Florida, sentencing has been delayed in the case of Carlos Bertanotti, the Miami musician who killed a cyclist in a drunken 2010 hit-and-run; he dragged the victim’s bike under his car for over two miles before police stopped him.

Family and friends begged the court to show him mercy; not that he showed his victim any. Bertanotti, with 46 violations on his driving record — although his brother claims 12 of those are actually his — faces between 11.56 and 37 years in prison.

And hopefully, a lifetime ban on driving once he gets out.

………

Tuesday was the first day of LA’s 2013 bike and pedestrian count, as volunteers with the LACBC and Los Angeles Walks counted non-motorized travellers during the morning and evening commute times. The count will continue this Saturday to track weekend riders and walkers.

The remarkable thing is that two members of the LA City Council participated in the count along with their staffs; Westside CM Mike Bonin and Valley CM Bob Blumenfield deserve thanks for joining in. Which just goes to show how mainstream bicycling and walking have become when even council members become volunteers.

Maybe there’s hope for this city yet.

Especially if Bonin’s new motion to have the city share such statistics passes the Council.

On the other hand, as great a job as they’ve done, it shouldn’t be up to a pair of non-profit organizations to do the city’s job for it.

New York City can prove the benefits of their efforts to transform the city streets with detailed before and after stats showing traffic, collisions, and injuries or death.

It’s long past time Los Angeles did the same.

………

Alan Stephen ghost bike

Alan Stephen ghost bike

A Central Coast driver pleads guilty to vehicular manslaughter and DUI, just nine days after running down two bicyclists in Morro Bay on Memorial Day.

She tried to do the right thing by taking the train back home after a night of drinking. Unfortunately, she still had a BAC of .07 an hour after killing one rider and seriously injuring the other while driving to work at 11 am.

But at least she did the right thing by taking responsibility for her actions. And doing it right away, rather than dragging out the process in order to get a better plea deal.

When was the last time you saw that happen?

Thanks to Patti Andre — who still hasn’t seen justice for the collateral-damage death of her bike riding brother — for the heads-up.

………

Virgil Avenue could be the latest Los Angeles Street to get a road diet, complete with five-foot bike lanes and wider, more walkable sidewalks.

And San Marino will discuss that city’s first bike lanes on Wednesday.

………

You’re invited to attend next week’s meeting of the Advocacy and Education Subcommittee of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee, the city’s only official voice for cyclists. The meeting, with a very full agenda, takes place at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 18, at the IMAN Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Ave.

……..

Streetsblog offers a nice look at the work of HOLA, or Heart of LA, a non-profit bringing youth art to city bus benches.

What the story doesn’t mention, though, is that one of the members of their Board of Directors is Glenn Gritzner, who pleaded no-contest for the hit-and-run collision that left LA bike advocate Don Ward, aka Roadblock, lying injured in the street.

That was the case in which Ward famously tracked down the driver himself when the police were slow to take action.

………

Looks like you’re not going to get back that money you spent on Lance Armstrong’s book.

………

I’m told that Tuesday was the 130th anniversary of LA’s first organized bike race, as five riders took to a one-mile dirt track on their Penny-farthings in what is now Exposition Park on September 10th, 1883.

Twitter-er Walt Arrrrr kindly forwards photos of a couple of slightly more recent races.

I wonder what they would have thought about last weekend’s Wolfpack Hustle Drag Race?

………

Finally, get out that old catcher’s uniform, as Calgary researchers say a mere helmet isn’t protection enough; you now need body armor. And LA’s Fox 11 (KTTV-11) goes trolling for bike hate, asking their Facebook followers what they think about sharing the road with cyclists; thanks to Michael McVerry for the link.

6 comments

  1. […] Curren Price Has Developed Memory Problems on MyFigueroa! (Biking in L.A.) […]

  2. Craig says:

    Regarding the Figueroa story, isn’t there much debate about the impact installing bike lanes has on local businesses? There’s a similar debate in my area of West Los Angeles, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear method to address it. For example, in the articles you reference as showing positive impacts of bike lane installations, I found a few counter arguments below. Do you know of any studies similar to the ones quoted below, which focused on specific areas in Los Angeles where bike lanes either have been or are currently proposed to be installed, which discuss the impact on businesses?

    From “http://dirt.asla.org/2013/08/20/in-seattle-bike-lanes-are-good-for-business/”

    But without real data, retail stores have a hard time proving that putting in bike lanes or other infrastructure directly loses them business, just as planners struggle to prove the opposite.

    A simple Google search can throw you into either side of the debate, depending on which link you click. Rowe’s study is a great start. If a study like this was in every city that regularly makes updates to their bicycle infrastructure, the obstacles for bicycle advocates might not be so widespread. More research is also needed on the types of bicycle lanes with the biggest economic impact.

    From a comment to “http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/09/no-bike-lanes-dont-hurt-retail-business/6833/”

    I too was excited to see this. Unfortunately, after interviewing two business owners in the two-block, eight-business district covered by this study on Monday and today, I’m all but certain there’s a flaw in this data.

    From “http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2012/10/24/report-bike-lanes-pedestrian-plazas-good-for-businesses/”, which I think is suggesting there’s a political motivation to paint the most positive impact of bike lane installation.

    The report is part of a slow-motion hard sell from Sadik-Khan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the streetscape changes, which have been criticized by some would-be mayoral successors, journalists and others. The pair rarely miss an opportunity to mention the city’s sharply declining rates of traffic fatalities and have argued that demand is strong in the city’s neighborhoods for traffic-calming devices, bike lanes and select bus lines.

    • bikinginla says:

      Every single study I’ve seen on the effects of installing bike lanes has shown neutral to positive results, whether in terms of increased retail sales, more frequent purchases by bike riders or increased property values and higher occupancy rates.

      In addition, the studies I’ve seen have shown a decline in collisions and serious injuries for all road users, not just bike riders.

      The bottom line is safer streets that benefit everyone — including the businesses and residents located alongside them. So what, exactly, is the problem?

      As for Los Angeles specifically, the only study I’m aware of was conducted on York Blvd to study the impact of a road diet and installation of bike lanes. The result showed no negative impact, but was conducted too recently following the restriping to determine if there had been a positive impact.

      In addition, another study by LADOT showed the reconfigured street improved safety, though there was a slight increase in bicycle collisions, most likely due to increased ridership on the street.

      In other words, exactly what studies in other cities have shown. It’s long past time to stop pretending LA is somehow unique and that what works elsewhere won’t work here.

  3. Craig says:

    Thanks. I’m assuming the neutral to positive results you refer to are related strictly to the businesses directly along the route with the bike related changes, correct? What about effects on surrounding streets? For example, one concern in our area is that if you impact the auto traffic or parking on Street A, you will push the auto traffic (either cut through or hunting for parking) onto ancillary streets B-D, which in my area are residential. I’d be interested to see studies which focus on this secondary effect. Do you know of any?
    And where can I find that York Blvd study?
    Lastly, I am confused regarding the study on York Blvd. where you say shows no negative impact, but is too recent to conclude if there’s been a positive impact. I’m not an economist, and frankly my skill set with statistical analysis is poor, but these seem like contradicting statements. Wouldn’t you need the same amount of time to determine what impacts were incurred both positive and negative?

    • bikinginla says:

      You’ll find the links to both York studies in my response to your comment above.

      Any negative impacts from road diets tend to show up right away, as drivers react to decreased traffic lanes and parking spots, as well as any increase in congestion, which should be evident from day one. If there is a resultant drop-off in sales, it should be evident within the first few weeks.

      There may also be secondary impacts along side streets and within neighborhood at first, as you suggest, though those tend to mitigate with time as motorists adjust to the road changes.

      Positive impacts tend to take a longer period to develop, as riders and pedestrians discover the new route and shift their transportation, leisure and shopping patterns to take advantage of the more livable environment. Once both groups feel safe and comfortable using the newly reconfigured streets, their usage — and patronage of the businesses along it — should continue to grow over time.

  4. Craig says:

    Thanks, I see the links now and have that York report. Its a bit long, so I haven’t yet had a chance to read it through. I’m very interested to understand your comment about impacts on side streets. Is there a specific study to support your comments (if its in the York Blvd doc I apologize for not being able to read through it yet)? I’m also wondering how locality variations would play a role into the effect. That is, taking York Blvd., perhaps the roadway changes there didn’t propagate to the adjacent streets as you indicate but can that be correlated with other parts of the city with different commute patterns, street layouts, businesses, etc. Any thoughts here?

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