Investing in Place fires at Healthy Streets LA, protected and crappy new bikeways, and more 6th Street Bridge misery

Call it friendly fire.

The well-respected advocacy group Investing in Place fired off the since-deleted tweet on the left, coming out against the Healthy Streets LA  ballot initiative.

While the organization praises the efforts of the proposal’s sponsors, they take issue with the initiative itself, which would require the city to build out the Mobility Plan 2035 any time a street included in it gets resurfaced.

As they note, it could result in a haphazard streetscape, given the city’s seemingly random resurfacing program, while taking decades to complete.

Which is still better than the mere 3% that has been built in the seven years since the plan was adopted by the city council.

Here’s how Investing in Place explains their opposition in a blog post.

But here is where we disagree, painting random disconnected blocks of bike lanes while our sidewalks remain cracked, our neighborhoods flood in the rain and wilt in the heat, and bus riders continue to lack seating and shelter will not get us the city that we are working toward.

If the City Council adopts the Healthy Streets L.A. Ballot Measure as written, it would be tying its mandate to the City’s resurfacing program – which is structurally flawed, unpredictable, and inequitable – meaning the ballot measure is unlikely to produce projects with the durable community and political support needed.

It also could pull attention and resources away from efforts to implement truly complete streets with shade, accessible sidewalks, bus shelters and benches, and lighting, none of which are delivered by resurfacing and restriping. We wrote about this last month, as well as a separate but related motion the LA City Council is currently working on. It’s on the latter that the city should be putting its time and effort.

Surprisingly, that appears to represent a fundamental misunderstanding of what the mobility plan entails.

It’s not just bike lanes, even though it subsumed the 2010 bike plan, including its innovative three-level bike network.

It also includes busways and pedestrian improvements, along with a new focus on Complete Streets. Or as the plan itself puts it, it represents a fundamental change in how future generations of Angelenos will interact with their streets.

If it ever gets built.

But while the Healthy Streets LA initiative only requires Los Angeles to implement the plan when streets are resurfaced, that is the minimal requirement.

There is nothing stopping the city from building out an entire bike lane or busway when the new law forces them to stripe a few blocks of it. Nor is there anything preventing local groups and residents from demanding that the city go beyond the mere requirements of the law to include things like trees, benches and human spaces.

Investing in Place also strangely raises the issue of equity.

Any policy developed must include the voices of those most impacted, especially when it comes to public access to public assets. And the best policy outcomes we’ve seen also include the perspective and insight of those working on implementing and doing this work for the public agencies. These are the very real issues that are addressed by the motion put forward by Council President Martinez and discussed at length at the Public Works and Transportation Committees, but left to chance by the ballot measure. As a result, we have deep reservations about the ballot measure…

Until impacted communities living with the historical disinvestment in streets and sidewalks in their neigborhoods are given seats at the table, it is critical to stay the course with the Council President’s motion. Included in the Council President’s motion, and absent from the Ballot measure, is the plan to address the long-standing need for a Capital Infrastructure Plan that coordinates and prioritizes public works and transportation projects with equity baked in from the start.

I say strangely, because the voices of those impacted by the mobility plan were baked in during its drafting, through years of public meetings throughout the Los Angeles area and a lengthy public comment period.

It also came before the Planning Commission, neighborhood councils, city council committees and finally, the full city council itself.

At every point, there was a focus on equity and serving those too often ignored.

Then there’s the extensive support received by the Healthy Streets LA plan, with a lengthy list of sponsors, many of whom share a focus on equity, as shown on the plan’s website.

Our coalition includes a broad range of climate, transportation, business and labor organizations: Streets For All, LACBC, Climate Resolve, Streets Are For Everyone, MoveLA, CalBike, LAANE, Los Angeles Walks, The Eagle Rock Association, National Health Foundation, Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance, UNITE HERE Local 11, People For Mobility Justice, T.R.U.S.T. South LA, East Side Riders, East Valley Indivisibles, Pacoima Beautiful, BizFed, Coalition for Clean Air, FastLinkDTLA, LA Business Council, Sierra Club.

It also enjoys a long list of endorsements from neighborhood councils in virtually every region of the city.

The following Neighborhood Councils have passed letters of support: Arts District Little Tokyo, Atwater Village, Boyle Heights, CANNDU, Canoga Park, Central Hollywood, Coastal San Pedro, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Valley Riverside, Glassell Park, Granada Hills South, Harbor Gateway North, Harbor Gateway South, Hollywood Hills West, LA32, Los Feliz, MacArthur Park, Mid City, Mid City West, NoHo, NoHo West, North Area Development, North Hills West, North Westwood, Northridge East, Northwest San Pedro, Panorama City, Porter Ranch, Rampart Village, Reseda, Silver Lake, Sun Valley, United Neighborhoods, Van Nuys, Voices, West Adams, West LA/Sawtelle.

That broad-based level of support is exemplified by this map showing the distribution of petition signers, reaching every corner of Los Angeles.

Here’s what Streets For All founder Michael Schneider had to say when I asked him to comment.

We respectfully disagree with Investing in Place’s take on Healthy Streets LA, a citizen-led ballot measure that has been supported by over 100,000 Angelenos across the entire city, 40 neighborhood councils, and a coalition of labor, business, climate, and safe streets advocacy organizations.

But here’s the real problem.

Once the signatures for the ballot initiative are verified and counted, it will be approved for a vote of the people. That should happen by the end of this month.

That will start a 20 day clock that will give the city council the option of approving the Healthy Streets LA proposal as written, or place it on the November ballot.

Investing in Place argues for another alternative, which would involve negotiations between backers of the proposal, city agencies, and other interested parties.

However, only the first approach would carry the force of law, which can only be changed by a vote of the people.

In other words, the concept of improving city streets and expanding who they serve would finally be carved in stone, forcing city leaders to build a more livable city for everyone.

The approach Investing in Place recommends, though, would have the city council adopt a modified version of the proposal that could be changed at anytime, for any reason, by a simple vote of the council.

So if a less favorable council is elected at some point in the future, the improvements to our streets could be halted overnight. Or some councilmember could decide they don’t want a certain project included in the mobility plan, and get the council to override it.

The first approach would force the city to do what it has already committed to.

The other would too, unless someone, somewhere disagrees. Which is guaranteed in a city where drivers have enjoyed unquestioned privilege and hegemony over our streets since the demise of the Red Cars.

And the rest of us have been forced to live with their scraps.

Here, again, is Streets For All’s Michael Schneider.

There is no conflict between city council adopting Healthy Streets LA as an ordinance when it reaches council (which would enshrine it into law versus be at the whim of a future city council vote), and us all working together under the great initiative by Council President Martinez to make sure the mobility plan is implemented with an equitable lens, the mobility plan is expanded beyond paint and bollards, departments are coordinated, and all of the other things in her motion, which we support.

It’s an approach that’s been proven successful in other cities that have tried it.

And which should prove just as successful here.

As long as our fellow advocates don’t sink us with friendly fire.

………

We have new protected bikeways in the local news today.

And real ones, this time. Unlike the the ones on the 6th Street Viaduct.

First up, Streetsblog’s Joe Linton reports the long-promised curb-protected bike lanes on 7th Street in DTLA are finally under construction.

The $18.7 million streetscape project stretches one mile, from San Pedro Street in the east to Figueroa Street in the west. The first few blocks leading to and from Figueroa were funded by the developers as a permitting condition for building the Wilshire Grand Center at 7th and Fig.

Linton reports the project will include “expanded sidewalks, pedestrian/cyclist-scale lighting, bus islands, and new trees,” in addition to LA’s first significant curb-protected bikeway

Next up is a new separated bike path along El Segundo Blvd, which I’m just learning about.

However, it seems like for every decent bikeway, we have to accept a crappy one.

Like this one in Echo Park, where slow moving riders crawling uphill have to mix it up with impatient drivers, while downhill riders who could likely keep up with cars get a regular bike lane.

Exactly the opposite of what common sense would dictate. Although anyone who expects to find common sense on LA streets is likely to have a long damn wait.

………

Continuing our seemingly endless discussion of the new 6th Street Viaduct, Curbed’s Alissa Walker describes its ostensibly protected bike lanes as “a bike lane built for a car crash.”

Meanwhile, KPCC’s Air Talk discusses bike safety and entirely predictable street takeovers on the viaduct.

And with everything else going on with the bridge, why the hell not?

………

Old Pasadena is hosting a ride this weekend.

And no, that’s not a reference to the city’s residents.

Meanwhile, the LACBC is doing a craft beer ride to the South Bay with Sierra Nevada this Saturday.

………

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

No bias here. A San Diego letter writer says just paint a line on the sidewalk and make people on bicycles ride there, so his car can keep going zoom zoom on the streets.

This is why people keep dying on the roads. A Seattle area woman made just a brief stop behind bars before being released, after running down a bike-riding woman while driving at nearly three times the legal alcohol limit — at ten in the morning.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

There’s a special place in a hell for the schmuck who harassed a 22-year old Welsh college student as he followed her on his bike for ten minutes making inappropriate comments. Seriously, don’t do that. Ever. Period.

………

Local

KTLA talks to an expert about what to look for in an ebike.

 

State 

There’s not a pit deep enough for the Adalanto man who attacked a 17-year old boy with a tire iron for no apparent reason as the kid was riding with his mom, leaving him unconscious and bleeding in the street.

Hats off to San Ramon’s Monte Vista High School mountain biking team, who’ve assigned themselves to remove invasive plants from Mt. Diablo.

Sad news from San Rafael, where a 67-year old man was killed in a fall when he rode his ebike off a steep ridgeline.

Bikeshare and e-scooters could be coming back to Davis.

 

National

How to clean your bike helmet.

The Bike League is asking for donations to their Drive Less, Bike More Matching Challenge; the organization is 33% of the way towards their $50,000 goal.

Road Bike Rider offers a plan for beginners to ride 100 miles a week.

Accused killer Kaitlin Armstrong will face trial in October after pleading not guilty to the murder of gravel cyclist Mariah “Mo” Wilson in Austin, Texas.

Some Chicago officials want to legalize speeding, with a proposal to toss out speed cam tickets for anyone going less than ten miles over the speed limit.

Bicycling and walking rates are up in Detroit, as residents cope with high gas prices.

This is who we share the road with. A Jersey City NJ councilwoman was cited for hit-and-run and failing to report a traffic collision, for driving off after hitting a bike rider, and leaving the victim with minor injuries; she claims she struck her head in the crash and reported it once she realized what happened. Sure, let’s go with that.

It’s a sad comment when a man can climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, but can’t survive riding a bike on DC streets.

 

International

A writer for Wired discovers that you can, indeed, do a 70-mile London dirt ride on a Brompton foldie, although the bike fared better than he did.

A British op-ed says teaching bicycling in schools will help foster equity.

An off-duty paramedic in the UK will spend five years and four months behind bars for killing a man riding a bicycle, when he tried driving to a party after downing ten pints of Guinness.

An English writer learns firsthand what it’s like to ride France’s legendary Alpe d’Huez.

Bike riders in Düzce, Turkey lay down in the street to stop traffic and finally get noticed by drivers.

 

Competitive Cycling

Tadej Pogačar outsprinted Tour de France leader Jonas Vingegaard to win Wednesday’s stage 17, but was unable to make a dent in Vingegaard’s more than two minute lead; Pogačar has one last mountain stage left to try to take the yellow jersey.

Former Tour de French champ Geraint Thomas is languishing in third place, over four minutes behind and unable to challenge the leaders.

Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen fared just a tad worse, giving everything he had just to make the time cut on Wednesday’s mountaintop finish.

Cycling Weekly says American cycling needs another Lemond — or God forbid, another Lance. But, you know, without the dope and stuff in the latter’s case. Or the shotgun pellets in the former.

 

Finally…

Your next bike can tell you when the air is too bad to breathe. And yes, there’s an online community for you when you just want to say “fuck cars.”

Because of course there is.

………

Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

2 comments

  1. j says:

    Incredibly significant post from you today which I will spend even more time than already spent reading and rereading but I was dissapointed in scant info on the air pollution sensing ebike. It’s price and battery size emphasize a local to LA (hermosa beach/oceanside) startup’s 2023 ebike battery offering value. About $1000 for 350watt hours versus over $7,000 for the full ebike with CHEAP 300 watt hour battery.

    The $3 or so per watt hour gets you genuine Toshiba good for decades while charging at 1,000 watts being real value of ten pounds extra nearly per third of kilowatt hour. There is no other even planned offering of a scib (branded VERY mature LTO) battery for ebikes even without fast charger!

    They seem to be highly qualified Pomona graduates with ample industry experience providing a feature high end bike buyer’s can now demand. DEMAND IT!

    These ”press releases” are simultaneous most recently from local and japanese manufacturer noting largest cell (almost 50 watt hours at 2.4 volts) generates even less heat by half. Such tiny heating only matters when refilling from completely empty in minutes.

    I know retail $7k bikes can afford to spend $1,000 extra on higher quality battery! Buyers could as well but price need not rise.

    About air quality sensor on bike…prefer in frame oxygen storage.

    Alternative Chemistry Ecars are rarely available in America so this time Ebikes will get served first! Most owners of expensive ebikes complain about hours to recover. So L.A’s very own ebike battery supplier has my support and provides a path for fly by night makers to offer similar specs NOW especially if they get batteries used.

    Laguna Beach etc. EBike companies customer’s need to KNOW now this is imminent and I hope there brand SPECIFICALLY are pilot participants already.

    So press releases are not just hype in this instance. It’s decades overdue. But finally coming! PERMANENT impossible to combust ebike batteries able to take whatever outlet can deliver! (the 20 amp hour battery cell (THAT’s 48 watt hours!) charges at 1900 watts for regen garbage trucks etc.

    Anyway 2,000 watt for ever 50 watt hours represents incredible numbers in miles added for pedal assist when at such a charger! It makes electricity refill like air refilling a tire! (imagine having to reposition tire stem deflation and inflation time frame) That ability helps ebikes be ALWAYS READY. IN January writeups showed 100 amp charging no longer cost 10% of capacity after 8,000 cycles maybe at most 2% lost!

    That actually matters only enough that you need to make sure your getting 2022 “power” cells… unless bargain priced!

  2. Victor Font says:

    What a crazy world we live in with so many hurdles preventing us from using a clean and healthy means of transport, not to mention low-cost. How’s the gas bill lately?

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