Car-centric LA weakens plans for bike/ped friendly Union Station, Mulholland Hwy closed by fire, and cars cost everyone

Is it really any surprise that Los Angeles is watering down plans to make the entrance to Union Station more walkable and bikeable?

Writing for Streetsblog, Joe Linton spells out in detail how Metro’s longstanding plans to re-envision the station’s forecourt area and surrounding streets have run into the city’s typical auto-centric roadblock.

For the past half-decade, Metro has been planning upgrades to Union Station to make the site easier and safer to access on foot and by bike. The L.A. Union Station Forecourt and Esplanade Improvements project includes upgrades on the Union Station grounds, which Metro owns, as well as upgrades to nearby streets, which are controlled by the city of Los Angeles.

The latest version of the project plan removes and waters down some core pedestrian aspects of the project. Why? Because, even in its most transit-accessible and most heavily walked core downtown areas, Los Angeles city departments are unwilling to prioritize the safety and convenience of people walking – instead they are insisting on car-centric standards that foster more driving.

Then there’s this.

What is perhaps most sad about the new design is that it ignores the significance of connecting Union Station and El Pueblo. If the city of L.A. won’t prioritize walkability at the front door of the region’s most heavily-used transit hub and at in its historic walkable core, is there anywhere where Angelenos can expect safe and convenient places to walk? Continuing to apply outdated late-20th-Century one-size-fits-all standards erodes what already works in these precious historic places.

As Linton points out, it takes leadership to fight for safer, more walkable and bikeable streets.

And that’s exactly what’s missing right now.

Former CD14 Councilmember José Huizar was an advocate for Complete Streets, and might have fought some of these changes. But with a federal indictment for bribery hanging over his head, he was effectively out of the picture long before his fellow councilmembers kicked him out.

And don’t get me started on LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who should be stepping up to fight for the original Metro plan as part of his LA Green New Deal plan to reimagine the way we get around this city.

But in typical Garcetti fashion, has been largely missing in action.

You have until Wednesday the 26th to offer your comments.

And politely suggest that LA get its collective head out of its piston-driven ass, and return to the original plan.

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Calbike is urging you to reach out to your state representative to support SB 288.

New bike lanes and improved public transit are critical to California’s recovery. Now is the time to fast-track key sustainable transportation projects, but environmental regulations more appropriate for oil refineries than bike lanes can delay such projects by years. We don’t have years. 

Senate Bill 288 would make it easier to build bike lanes, bus lanes, and light rail lines by eliminating unnecessary review regulations, while preserving important opportunities for public involvement.

Contact your Assembly Member today and tell them to vote Yes on SB 288.

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If your planned riding route takes you on Mulholland Hwy, check to make sure the road is open after a fire closure on Sunday.

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The next time someone says bicyclists should have to pay for the streets we ride, show them this.

And tell them maybe we aren’t the ones being subsidized.

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Advocates continue to call on bikemakers and retailers to stop selling to police departments, accusing police of using their bikes as weapons and shields.

Like this confrontation in Chicago Saturday afternoon.

Unfortunately though, that prediction about police not getting any bikes this time was wrong.

I’m of two minds when it comes halting the sale of police bikes.

While we’ve all been shocked at the way they’ve been used by some departments — and continue to be used — I believe bike cops are a net benefit to the community under normal conditions, getting officers out of their cars and closer to the public they’re supposed to serve.

The question is how to limit the use of those bikes to those normal conditions.

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Good point.

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Megan Lynch also forwards word that the director general of the Mexico City mayor’s office is actively destroying the commercial bikes people rely on to earn a living.

For those for are Español challenged, like me, that translates to

AMAZING! The General Director of Government of the Mayor’s Office Miguel Hidalgo, presumes more than 140 confiscated tricycles, which means that more than 140 families this man “Hegel Cortés Miranda” took away the livelihood that they bring to their families every day.

Another tweet describes the owners as men and women who perform a service to the community by selling “water, sweet potatoes and bananas, coffee and bread…tamales or atole.”

Call me crazy, but maybe the middle of a worldwide pandemic isn’t the right time to put struggling merchants out of business.

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That feeling when you invite your friends over to the world-class bike park you built in your backyard.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

A British man was left “a bloody mess” after a passenger in a passing car pushed him off his bike as he was riding home after working a night shift, and forcing him through the rear windshield of a parked car; he suffered muscle damage to his arm and leg, as well as cuts and bruising to his face. His attackers reportedly drove off laughing. Really funny, alright.

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Local

The Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council will discuss a proposal for a roundabout at 4th Street and New Hampshire at tonight’s virtual meeting.

Urbanize LA offers more information about the proposal for a Complete Streets makeover of iconic Melrose Ave, part of the city’s High Injury Network, which could be a model for how we can re-envision the entire city.

Glendale is holding a virtual public hearing tonight to discuss plans to repave La Crescenta from Honolulu to Verdugo — including adding sharrows to the lightly travelled four lane street, where drivers routinely exceed the 40 mph speed limit.

A Santa Clarita bike rider was apparently injured in a collision Sunday afternoon. Although it’s hard to tell from an article that just says a “patient” was sent to the hospital, fails to mention if the car had a driver, identifies the rider as a pedestrian on a bike, and somehow blames the bike rider for “accidentally” running into the car — yet with enough force to shatter the windshield.

Malibu will replace the failing 96-year old bridge over Trancas Creek on PCH with a new, wider bridge with bike lanes and shoulders in each direction.

Disappointing news from Santa Monica, where the city has pulled the plug on the popular Breeze bikeshare, after concluding that there’s no way to make it work under the current conditions. That comes on the heels of UCLA, Pasadena and West Hollywood also cancelling their docked bikeshare systems, raising the question of whether LA’s Metro Bike can survive in its current form.

 

State

Encinitas approves a $13 million pedestrian and bike railroad undercrossing to connect residents with the beach and restaurants.

After a ten-year old Lafayette boy was killed when a delivery driver ran into his bike, his parents started the Live Like Leo Memorial Foundation in his memory; it’s raised over $200,000 in less than three weeks.

Sad news from Stockton, where a 41-year old man was killed in a collision while riding his bike.

Guess? founder Maurice Marciano is one of us, as he faces an extend period of rehabilitation and therapy for undisclosed injuries following a bike crash near his Napa home.

 

National

Nice piece from the New York Times, as they follow along with a small group of teenagers riding across a divided country in the middle of a pandemic.

The last surviving Denver newspaper says the popularity of ebikes is skyrocketing, with one user observing that “you don’t realize how fabulous they are” until you try one.

A 65-year old South Dakota man has written a book about his bicycling journey from Pierre SD to North Pole, Alaska, completing his 2998-mile journey in just 42 days.

NPR says bicycling is on fire right now, as the pandemic changes the way people get around.

The Chicago Tribune says the coronavirus bike boom is beyond what anyone expected.

A New York State assembly member with horrible taste in sport coats will bike 116 miles to campaign for re-election in the state’s 116th district. God forbid that’s actually a suit.

A New York bike rider was killed during a crash-filled rampage by a utility truck driver who slammed through a number of vehicles “as if they were toy cars.”

Philly bike riders will have to keep their pants on for another year, after Covid-19 cancels the city’s annual Naked Bike Ride.

Nearly $600,000 has poured in for the family of five-year old North Carolina resident Cannon Hinnant, who was shot point blank by a neighbor as he was riding his bike, apparently executed for the crime of riding on his lawn.

A pair of kindhearted Florida deputies bought a new bike for a waitress so she wouldn’t have to keep walking to work after hers was stolen.

 

International

Cycling Weekly offers an absolute beginner’s guide to ebikes, including answering the eternal question of whether you have to, you know, pedal them.

A five-year old English girl is kicking off her training wheels and riding in a 5k charity ride, raising the equivalent of nearly $200 for struggling families so far.

Heartbreaking story, as a British coroner ruled that the death of a 51-year old man was the direct result of getting hit by a driver as he was riding his bike 36-years earlier.

Traffic violations for bicycling infractions fell dramatically in London as the city expanded its bikeway network, despite the increase in ridership inspired by the coronavirus bike boom.

The president of Estonia is one of us, joining in on a 621-mile NATO bike ride.

Mumbai’s 24 new bicycle councilors took the the streets on India’s Independence Day to call for making the city a bicycling destination.

Heartbreaking story from India, where the relatives of a 71-year old man suspected of dying from Covid-19 were forced to carry his body to the graveyard by bicycle after local authorities refused to send an ambulance.

Once again bike riders are heroes, as a group of disabled bike riders rode 155 miles across Cambodia to deliver food to people starving as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. So much for the myth that disabled people can’t ride bikes.

 

That feeling when you cancel the race, and everyone shows up anyway. Clearly, baseball skills don’t go away just because you’re on a bicycle.

And a little light bike reading for the young adult in your life.

Or maybe you.

We won’t tell.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

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