Tag Archive for Measure R

Ten percent set-aside, bike corrals pass; bloggers call for better — or new — LADOT leadership

According to Damien Newton at Streetsblog, the L.A. City Council passed the 10% set-aside for “people powered transportation” from the city’s share of Measure R funds by an 11 – 3 vote today.

But in a truly bizarre twist, LADOT — which has spent the last 14 years not building the previously approved projects in the 1996 bike plan — has no idea if they can actually spend the money, whether that turns out to be $3.2 million or the $5.35 million shown in our newly bike-friendly Mayor’s budget.

Which may be the first time — in my knowledge, at least — that a city department has gone out of it’s way to resist additional funding.

Speaking for the LADOT was Mike Uyeno, who was joined by Maria Souza-Rountree from the Chief Legislative Analyst Office.  Time and again, Council Members asked if the LADOT would be able to spend Measure R Local Return funds that were set-aside.  Time and again, Uyeno gave an answer somewhere between “no” and “I don’t know.”  For example:

Councilman Paul Koretz asked:

Is there any chance at all that we’ll be unable to spend the 10% on bike and pedestrian needs.

Uyeno answered

I’m not sure. It depends what staffing becomes available. Not sure what ped. projects are out there in the department. There’s just a lot of open ends in this anymore.

In all fairness, the recent budget cuts have reduced the department’s staffing. But for the first time in memory, LADOT has both the funding and the political backing to actually accomplish something in terms of biking projects. And the best they can come up with is “I don’t know?”

I’d suggest giving LADOT’s leadership 30 days to come back with a plan to spend every penny of that money, effectively, efficiently and productively. And if they can’t do that, then it’s time to hire someone who can, or maybe just do what others have suggested and eliminate the department entirely.

No excuses.

Speaking of which, Damien tells LADOT’s Rita Robinson to stop making excuses and just try something already; while LAist’s Josh Behrens asks if it’s time this city got a new transportation leader.

Anyone think NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is ready to come home and take on a real challenge?

………

After a seemingly ridiculous amount of debate and delay, the City Council gave unanimous approval to the city’s first bike corral yesterday. This project had the full support of virtually everyone — with the possible exception of LADOT — including the Highland Park business owner who asked for one in front his Café de Leche.

Now the question is whether LADOT will support and implement the project, or if they will drag their feet until this turns into another sharrows project.

………

In local bike news, an unidentified hero bicyclist finished a police chase for them, as he ran down a suspected drunk driver who had taken off running after colliding with another vehicle during a police pursuit. Kudos to the cyclist, but standard advice is to point out the bad guys and let the police do the actual apprehension. Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

And hats off to Jason Alexander — not for colliding with a 14-year old cyclist on his way to school — but for doing the right thing and staying with the rider until the paramedics arrived. The collision occurred at Wilshire and June Street near Hancock Park, and the rider was taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries; no word yet on how it happened, but Alexander was not cited and police sources suggest he was not at fault.

………

Our bike-friendly U.S. Secretary of Transportation — no matter how many times I write that, it still seems strange — says the one thing we know for sure about biking infrastructure is that people want it, and calls for a nationwide interstate biking network. As a result, he gets some love from cyclists, but the way some people react, you’d think he was suggesting that we move freight by bike instead of trucks.

………

Congratulations to the LACBC’s Dorothy Le, as Grist recognizes her as one of 40 people who are redefining green. While the city dithers over bike share, a Hollywood man succeeds with an e-bike rental program. If Santa Monica truly wants to be a bike-friendly city, their departments need to communicate with each other — even during construction projects. Upcoming family bike and pedestrian events in Culver City. The Anonymous Cyclist says time’s running out to get your stickers. That two miles of new bike lanes striped in Long Beach over the weekend marked the completion of the city’s 33-mile bike loop. AAA says California drivers are still texting despite a state-wide ban.

New York bike advocates question the city’s bike count. Denver opens a bike-through coffee window, while a cyclist in neighboring Boulder is hit by a car while riding in a crosswalk marked by flashing lights. New Braunfels TX passes a new law requiring drivers to change lanes if they encounter a vulnerable road user, or pass with a minimum of three feet on two lane roads. Minnesota’s governor signs a law giving cyclists the right to ride though red lights that don’t change. In a bizarre case, a DC-area mom deliberately runs down her cyclist son.

A British driver is accused of murder after intentionally running down a cyclist who damaged his mirror. The three-foot movement spreads to the UK, and takes on a lovely shade of Pepto-Bismol pink. A writer asks if spandex bike shorts are too revealing; obviously, she didn’t grow up with Speedos. The Queen honors Brompton for her birthday. Be careful who you accuse of doping Down Under. Auckland maps out areas cyclists might want to avoid; thanks to the Trickster for the link. A writer in Toronto challenges the precepts of Vehicular Cycling; part two should be very interesting. Now Lexus is getting in on the high-concept bike design trend…yawn.

Finally, 84% of Brits surveyed by a motorists’ group say more money, not more laws, will make cyclists safer; 82% say registration and licensing is a bad idea, and only 1% support mandatory helmet laws.

An open letter to the L.A. City Council — what do you want your legacy to be?

It’s really not that hard a question.

Do you want to leave this city better than you found it when your time on the council is over? Or do you want to continue down the same failed path that has brought L.A. gridlocked streets and declining neighborhoods?

Either way, your vote on Wednesday for or against the 10% set-aside for biking and pedestrian projects in the local return portion of Measure R should be clear.

You can vote to continue the same car-oriented culture that threatens to destroy our city, while leavening it with just enough expensive transit projects to maybe, almost keep up with anticipated growth. Or you can take a seemingly small shift in direction that will set L.A. on a pathway to less congestion, better health and improved livability.

It’s your call.

You can question — as Councilmember Smith did last week — whether enough people walk and bike to justify the expenditure.

Or you can accept the results of the U.S. Department of Transportation study that says 27.3% of all Americans over the age of 16 rode a bike at least once in 2002 — before the recent boom in cycling. Or maybe the statistics cited by Bikes Belong that say 16% of American adults ride a bike in any given month.

That’s a lot more than 10%. And that’s just bikes.

Any guess how many able-bodied Americans walk during the course of their day?

It’s not like this city doesn’t have hundreds, if not thousands, of shovel-ready projects waiting for funding. Just ask the council’s representative from LADOT how many projects included in the 1996 bike plan still haven’t been built. All that’s lacking is a commitment to build them and the funding to do it.

And you can take care of both before this day is over.

In fact, biking and pedestrian projects are remarkably affordable. You could build every project recommended in the new bike plan for a fraction of what it will cost to extend the subway to Westwood. Or the $450 million currently being invested to gain a little short-term traffic relief on the 405 Freeway over the Sepulveda Pass.

Or have you forgotten how nice it used to be to drive on the 105 and 215 Freeways before increased demand overwhelmed the increase in capacity?

On the other hand, maybe you think driving is good for business.

I suspect the merchants on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade or Old Town Pasadena would argue otherwise, with their highly profitable clientele drawn almost exclusively by the walkability of those areas. Even the businesses on busy Hollywood Boulevard benefit far more from the crowds who wander down the sidewalks as opposed to those who drive past on the crowded street.

Now imagine what it would be like if it didn’t take an unpleasant drive on frequently gridlocked streets just to get there.

In fact, cities across the country are shifting from drive-through mode to walkable, bikeable, complete streetscapes. Even New York City has discovered the benefits of closing Broadway to vehicular traffic, making it one of the most popular destinations in the city.

Speaking of New York, that city — one of the most crowded and built-out in the nation — recently tripled the number of bike lanes on its streets. So much for the argument that L.A. is too built-out for bike projects.

That also answers the question of whether people will actually use those bike and pedestrian facilities if they’re built. Because New York — which, unlike Los Angeles, actually counts the number of bicyclists who ride on its streets, so they don’t have to guess — saw a 28% increase in ridership last year alone.

Or consider the crowded, crooked streets of New Orleans, where a new bike lane on St. Claude Avenue resulted in a 44% increase in male bicyclists. And a 133% increase in women riders.

If you build it, they will come. And every rider on a bike represents one car that isn’t on the streets. Isn’t that something Los Angeles could clearly benefit from?

How you vote today is up to you.

But few decisions you will ever make in your political career will have a greater impact on the future livability of this city.

Or on the legacy you’ll leave behind.

I had planned to speak in support of the 10% Measure R set-aside for biking and pedestrian projects at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, but a bout with bronchitis will keep me confined to home — and off my bike — for the next few days. So I’ll let this do my talking for me. Come back later for links and other interesting items.

Today’s post, in which I rant about a misguided carhead Council Member

City Hall as seen from the entrance to Chinatown.

I expect this sort of willful ignorance from the comment section of the Times.

I don’t expect it from the people who have been elected to lead this city.

Admittedly, I didn’t attend Monday’s joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Budget & Finance committees to discuss a 10% set-aside for bike and pedestrian projects — 5% each — from the local-return portion of Measure R funds.

And since the local news no longer covers local news — even three days later, no one has bothered to report who it was that got killed in Saturday night’s Carson hit-and-run — I’m relying strictly on Damien Newton’s as-always excellent reporting on Streetsblog.

But I went through the ceiling this afternoon when I read his report on yesterday’s meeting. And several hours later, my blood is still boiling.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I have no problem with someone disagreeing with my stand on any given issue. My philosophy has always been to make my case as clearly as possible, and trust others to make their decisions based on their own best judgment and analysis of the testimony presented.

So while I disagree — strongly — with Council Member and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks that setting aside a specific portion of Measure R funding might deny funding for more deserving projects, I can respect it.

Even though I think his suggestion to commit “up to 10%” of the funding to bike and pedestrian projects couldn’t be more wrong, since it would cap funding, rather than setting aside a single penny.

The one I really had a problem with was Council Member Greig Smith.

As Damien described it,

Following Parks, Valley Councilman Greig Smith put on a private clinic on how little he knows about transportation funding in the city.  After agreeing with Parks’ position, Smith pushed for someone to tell him what percent of residents are cyclists.  Of course, there’s no bike counts being done by the city.  Smith also didn’t seem to understand that a lot of people are cyclists even if they don’t use their bike every day or even every week.  After the city couldn’t answer his question with anything more than a guess, Smith declared that it was “a lot less than 10%.”  I guess the Councilman has done his own bike counts and is just keeping the numbers secret from the rest of us? Thus the city shouldn’t set aside “10% for this group.”

So let me get this straight.

Rather than doing a modicum of research to determine a rough estimate of the number of cyclists — a simple internet search would have lead him to the US Department of Transportation’s estimate that 27.3% of Americans over 16 ride bikes — he made up his own number, based on his own evidently extremely limited experience, to conclude that the number was “a lot less than 10%.”

Never mind that the DOT’s figures were based on 2002 numbers, so they don’t reflect the recent boom in the popularity of bikes — let alone L.A.’s mostly flat terrain and year-round riding weather — that should boost that total significantly. Or that even conservative estimates suggest that 15% to 17% of adults ride a bike in a given month.

Then there’s the fact that building bike infrastructure usually results in an increase in ridership, like the recently installed bike lane in New Orleans that boosted ridership among male cyclists 44% for men and 133% for women.

But Smith seems to think he knows something the statisticians don’t.

Then again, he did turn to city officials — presumably  LADOT — for an answer. However, most of us can attest that’s exactly the wrong place to turn for information, since, despite their recent attempts at better communication with the cycling community, LADOT clearly seems to believe that the T in their name refers to automotive throughput at the expense of any other form of transportation.

So here’s a suggestion.

As others have noted, it’s long past time that this city stopped relying on misguided guesswork and conducted an accurate count of cyclists and pedestrians in this city. And quite frankly, LADOT should be embarrassed that the LACBC has to do their damn job for them.

Meanwhile, if you’re not a member of the LACBC, it’s time you became one so your voice will be represented before the council and other government bodies.

And while you’re at it, sign up for the new League of Bicycling Voters LA so that our next class of council members might enter office with a little more knowledge of, and support for, bicycling than many of our current officials.

And Council Member Smith, the next time you need information about bikes, call me.

Seriously.

Have your aides email me, and I’ll give them my number. And I promise to drop everything to track down the data you need.

Because frankly, it will be a lot better for everyone if you don’t try to make these things up.

………

C.I.C.L.E. sponsors a presentation on Creating Great Places to Ride on Wednesday the 21st at Caltech; food and drinks will be provided.

………

In today’s jurisprudence report, a cyclist is sentenced for criminal threatening in Portsmouth, NH after wielding a large rock in an attempt to apprehend a road raging driver. Meanwhile, the Critical Mass cyclist-shoving cop goes on trial in NY; the victim admits to taunting the officer after being knocked to the ground — and confesses to being a bad driver.

………

Will coins a new term we can all relate to. Mickey Wally reminds us that the 2nd Bike Day LA is scheduled for May 2nd. More on the police crackdown that nabbed three bike theft suspects with another at large; however, someone needs to teach them how to use a calendar. The President of the League of American Bicyclists visits Long Beach to see what a bike-friendly SoCal city looks like; note that he did not visit semi-bike-friendly Santa Monica. An 18-year old cyclist injured in a Costa Mesa collision last year says the traffic signal didn’t give her enough time to cross the intersection.

The hit-and-run epidemic claims yet another life, as a New York cyclist is taken off life support. Bike sharing kicks off in Denver on Thursday. Tucson celebrates a successful ciclovia. New Orleans’ Gentilly Blvd gets a road diet with enhanced bike lanes. Making Portland cycling less white and middle class; and while we’re on the subject, what’s with the negativity towards bike racers these days?  Walmart sells out of their $150 fixie — which isn’t that bad, but isn’t that great, either. Interesting insights on the challenges of representing a competitive cyclist in a personal injury case. An 83-year old Seattle-area woman is critically injured after stepping in front of two passing cyclists. NJ cyclists required to use transit off-peak will see a 64% rate increase; maybe transit should be planned with bikeability in mind. What does it mean when you see a trail of bike parts along the bike path? Missouri moves forward with Complete Streets and Safe Passing legislation. A Portland woman tries to collect 400 used bikes this weekend to send to South Africa.

Global warming means sea levels will rise, so why not floating bikes? London Cyclist lists the top 50 cycling blogs. A tougher, but Lance-free, route for this year’s Tour of Britain. The University of Edinburgh says Lance is the second-happiest tweeter; former Laker Shaq clocks in at number one. Just three weeks into a three year, round-the-world tour, a cyclist is knocked of the road by a British driver. Can you complain about drivers encroaching in the bike lane when the car lane isn’t even wide enough for a Smart Car? Five years for a “sickening” attack on a cyclist that left him permanently brain damaged. New Zealand cyclists complain about cow crap on the bike path; city officials say go home and wash it off.

Finally, Creek Freak and all-around bike, civic and environmental activist Joe Linton receives some well-deserved recognition from the County Board of Supervisors.

%d bloggers like this: