Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, July 22, 2013

Comments section at Metro's disinformation meeting at Blair HS 7/20/2013----Joe Cano Video

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, July 22, 2013
 

Pasadena Metro Meeting 7/20/2013

 Metro's Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap for PR could have been on the Titanic as it was sinking & said the voyage was still successful & was only experiencing a plumbing problem that would be rectified shortly. People that are about to lose their job will just about say anything. Pass the tea please! Stay until the very end to see Katherine Padilla & her assistant's reaction to the NO710 press conference.

Metro releases latest report with preliminary data on ExpressLanes’ performance on 10 and 110 freeways

http://thesource.metro.net/2013/07/22/metro-releases-latest-report-with-preliminary-data-on-expresslanes-performance-on-10-and-110-freeways/

By Steve Hymon, July 22, 2013





The Metro ExpressLanes pilot project publicly released its second performance report Monday morning, offering a statistical look at how the project is faring on the 10 and 110 freeways. This is a follow-up to the first report, released in March.

I’ll offer the same caveat we did in March: Metro and Caltrans officials stress that the data is preliminary and subject to change. The U.S. Department of Transportation has hired the Battelle Memorial Institute, a private nonprofit research firm, to conduct a full and thorough evaluation of the ExpressLanes and their overall effectiveness after they’ve been opened at least one year.
That independent evaluation won’t be issued until mid-2014. In the meantime, Metro will be releasing preliminary performance reports such as the one below in order to provide everyone a general idea of how the ExpressLanes are doing.

A few highlights from the new Metro report:

•In April, the average speed in the ExpressLanes on the 10 freeway was 64 mph during the weekday morning peak commute between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. The average speed in the ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway was 65 mph.

•In April, the average speed of the general lanes on the 110 was 48.3 mph during the same morning peak commute. In April 2012 before the ExpressLanes opened, the average speed was 48.4 mph. The average speed of the general lanes on the 10 freeway was 51.6 mph between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.; the average speed for the general lanes before the ExpressLanes opened is still being evaluated.

•Average work week trips were 57,256 on the 110 ExpressLanes in late April, exceeding the average volume of about 54,000 trips before the ExpressLanes opened. On the 10, the average work week trips were 24,613 at the end of April. That’s 88 percent below the pre-opening average volume of 28,000 but Metro expects the number of trips in the ExpressLanes to continue rising and exceed the pre-opening volumes sometime later this year.

•On the 110, 59 percent of those using the ExpressLanes are carpoolers and 41 percent are solo drivers. On the 10, users are 57 percent carpoolers and 43 percent solo drivers.
•There were 152,787 FasTrak transponders issued through the end of April.  As of June, the number has grown to 180,901. Some of those transponders are being used in multiple vehicles.

•Account holders by house income bracket are evenly distributed: 8.5 percent make less than $35,000, 19.9 percent make $35,000 to $49,000, 35.6 percent make $50,000 to $74,999, 21.3 percent make $75,000 to $99,000, 12.2 percent make $100,000 to $149,999 and 2.4 percent make over $150,000. In other words, it’s pretty much a bell curve and suggests the notion that the ExpressLanes are “Lexus Lanes” — i.e. only used by those with very high incomes — is not correct.

•Transit ridership on the bus routes using the 110 freeway was 14,137 boardings in April 2013. In April 2012– it was 12,920. In addition, there have been 58 new vanpools formed to use both corridors.

For those interested in getting a transponder in order to use the ExpressLanes, please click here. Through Labor Day, tolls during non-peak hours have been lowered to as low as 15 cents per mile, 10 cents lower than the usual base toll of 25 cents per mile.

Any thoughts on the ExpressLanes, Source readers? Please feel free to comment — and please keep comments brief and to the point so that other readers will actually read them!


Peggy Drouet: My thoughts:  Account holders by house income bracket may not be what it seems. How many of toll fees are being reimbursed by companies or government agencies?

Rick Orlov's Tipoff: Three weeks in, and Mayor Garcetti's already has learned a lesson

http://www.dailynews.com/ci_23703398/rick-orlovs-tipoff-three-weeks-and-mayor-garcettis?source=most_viewed

Rick Orlov, July 21, 2013


If nothing else, Eric Garcetti came to realize last week how much his life has changed now that he is mayor. No longer can he go off and hook up with college buddies in Pittsburgh prior to meetings in Washington, D.C.-- not, at least, without letting the city know where he is. And a Twitter post condemning the violence following the George Zimmerman verdict doesn't really cut it either. While the new mayor has a respectable 17,296 followers on his Twitter account, it is not quite the same as getting a message out to the 3 million people who live in his city. Garcetti is lucky it's only his third week in office, so he will be cut some slack by the public and those who are consumed with City Hall. But those still angry at former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his increasingly frequent travels are just waiting to take a swipe at the city's newest mayor.

When it comes to one of the biggest perks of being a city official -- getting a city car -- the class of 2013 is pretty low key...so far. Three incoming officials have passed up the chance to have the city provide them with a new vehicle, and others are taking wheels from the executive vehicle pool, according to the city General Services Department. Mayor Eric Garcetti is required to use a bulletproof vehicle provided by the Los Angeles Police Department. But others have a wide array of possibilities. Controller Ron Galperin and Councilmen Gil Cedillo  and Felipe Fuentes have opted out, choosing instead to use their personal cars. All the other new city officials took what was made available from the pool. City Attorney Mike Feuer ended up with a 2004 Toyota Prius, Councilman Bob Blumenfield received a 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid, Councilman Curren Price is getting a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria, Councilman Mike Bonin has a 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid and Councilman Mitch O'Farrell gets a 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Three departing city officials purchased the city cars they had been driving. Former Controller Wendy Gruel purchased her 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid for $5,581, former Councilman Bill Rosendahl bought his 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid for $8,965, and former Councilwoman Jan Perry took ownership of her 2006 Honda Accord Hybrid for $12,289. The selling prices were based on the Kelly Blue Book rates, officials said.

As far as Councilman Tom LaBonge is concerned, there are no losers -- unless you produce your television show outside of Hollywood. LaBonge, whose district includes a portion of Hollywood, announced last week he will be hosting a Made in Hollywood award for television shows whose primary production was done locally, similar to what he has been doing for movies and the Academy Awards. "This award program honors filmmakers and production entities who elect to utilize the unlimited talent pool... and infrastructure that is Hollywood," he said. LaBonge spokesman Scott Levin says of the councilman, "What he hopes is to eventually see a time when all the shows nominated in a category are winners." The event is on Aug. 15 at the Heart of Hollywood Terrace atop the 1600 Vine Building.

The Los Angeles City Council has the opportunity to be back at its full 15-member strength this week for the first time since last January, following the Tuesday runoff election between former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez and school board member Nury Martinez. It will take about three weeks for the City Clerk's Office to certify the results, but the City Council could move earlier to appoint whoever wins the race to fill the vacancy created when Tony Cardenas was elected to Congress. A spokesman for City Council President Herb Wesson said they would be talking with the City Attorney's Office about their options.

Big rig fire in Arcadia causes partial freeway closure

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_23708409/big-rig-fire-arcadia-causes-partial-freeway-closure

By Venusse Navid, July 22, 2013


A fully engulfed big rig fire Monday prompted the California Highway Patrol to partially shut down the westbound 210 Freeway, Altadena CHP officials said.

The truck was driving near Santa Anita Avenue about 9:30 a.m., when it experienced mechanical issues and caught fire, Sgt. Ernie Anaya said. 

No injuries were reported and no other cars were involved. A two-hour Sig Alert was issued as the freeway's two slow lanes and Santa Anita Avenue on-ramp were closed pending clean up. The freeway was expected to be cleared by 11:30 a.m.

(Peggy Drouet: I was on the 210 this morning going east and luckily, for me, I saw the not-moving traffic (many big rigs) on the other side of the freeway. Going west, I took the streets--it took me longer than if I have driven on the freeway with its usual heavy traffic at this time of day (about 10:30 a.m.), but it was quite a pleasant drive, mainly on Duarte Road. I drove through neighborhoods that I have never seen before. Interestingly, I got through most of the traffic lights without having to stop for them. I don't know why so many vehicles remained on the freeway when the traffic wasn't moving. Are people afraid of getting off the freeway and getting lost? Perhaps and maybe I would have if I was in an area I had no familarity with.)


Why BMW drivers are jerks to cyclists: 4 theories

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/breakingnews/ci_23707590/why-bmw-drivers-are-jerks-cyclists-4-theories

By David Plotz, July 22, 2013

 
 This driver might be a jerk.


I was nearly sideswiped by a BMW on my bike ride home from work this week, which was not surprising, because BMWs are always nearly sideswiping me. I ride in the right half of the right lane, and virtually every car behind me slides over to the left lane, passing with six comfortable feet of berth. But every month or so, a driver doesn't change lanes, rides up on my shoulder, and squeezes by with just a few inches to spare, prompting me to squeal in terror and rage.

After several years of close calls, I began keeping mental track of who, exactly, was threatening my safety. During the time I paid attention, fully half of my dangerous encounters — about 10 of 20, if I remember — were with BMWs. There were two or three Mercedes, and no other make was a repeat offender. In other words, the BMW, a car that has less than 2 percent market share in the United States, was responsible for 50 percent of the menacing. To put it another way: Terrifying research concludes that BMW owners are far more likely than typical drivers to endanger cyclists on the road.

Am I a jerk cyclist? I don't think so. I do bike on busy streets during rush hour and take my God- and law-given share of the road. But the issue here isn't whether I'm a road hog. The question is why non-BMW drivers find it so much easier to avoid cyclists than BMW drivers. Everyone is late. Everyone is stuck in traffic. Why is it that only those with BMWs do the bullying?

 I'm sure most BMW drivers are kind souls, always stopping to put baby birds back in their nests. My beloved brother drives a BMW, safely and gently. And the overwhelming majority of BMW drivers on my commute pass me with a safe cushion. But of the small minority of motorists willing to endanger my cycling life, a shocking number bear that blue-and-white emblem.

I am not the first person to make a claim about the character of BMW drivers. The first Google result for "BMW drivers" is a Facebook page called "I HATE BMW DRIVERS." Any BMW driver research will direct you to the discussion board "Are BMW drivers a--holes?" Next stop: The listings on MyRoadRage.com, which suggest the BMW is the No. 1 source of other's road rage (at least in Britain). Finally, there's the epic tale of the Beverly Hills BMW driver recently caught on camera intentionally ramming a cyclist into a trash bin.

Why? What explains the fact that drivers of this particular kind of car are so dangerous to cyclists? I have four theories.

1. BMWs are luxury cars, and most BMW drivers are wealthy. There's widespread evidence that wealthy people feel entitled — to their good fortune, to their privilege, and probably to their speedy commute. (See this study suggesting that people who drive fancier cars break more traffic rules: http://bit.ly/w4VQV1.) My bike disrupts that entitlement by slowing the rich man's forward progress. In fact, he is not aggrieving me — I am aggrieving him.

2. "The Ultimate Driving Machine" is a car lover's car. BMW owners believe roads belong to cars and bikes shouldn't mess them up. Bikes destroy the joyful, fundamentally American right to drive fast everywhere, and deserve no quarter.

3. BMW drivers are better drivers. They bought a BMW because they care about driving well. They spend weekends at BMW Performance Driving School. They own a car that steers like champagne. They have close shaves because, superb drivers that they are, they know they can squeeze by me with 4 inches to spare. (Compelling evidence in favor of this theory: I've been hit on my bike three times, but never by a BMW.) This is the story that all BMW drivers tell themselves.

4. BMW drivers are jerks.


Electric vehicle sales are skyrocketing

http://grist.org/news/electric-vehicle-sales-are-skyrocketing/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&sub_email=pdrouet%40earthlink.net

By John Upton, July 22, 2013


 Chevy Volt
Chevy Volt


Americans bought 40,000 new electric vehicles in the first six months of this year — more than twice the number purchased during the same period last year. And that was after sales of plug-in cars tripled from 17,000 in 2011 to 52,000 last year.

Why are Americans so gung-ho on EVs? Caring about the environment is one reason. But the Energy Department highlighted another good reason on Friday when it released the plug-in sales data. From a department press release:
The eGallon, a quick and simple way for consumers to compare the costs of fueling electric vehicles vs. driving on gasoline, rose slightly to $1.18 from $1.14 in the latest monthly numbers, but remains far below the $3.49 cost of a gallon of gasoline.


“More and more Americans are taking advantage of the low and stable price of electricity as a transportation fuel, and that’s very good news for our economy as well as the environment,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the market continues to grow, electric vehicles will play a key role in our effort to reduce air pollution and slow the effects of climate change.”
If you live in an area with low electricity prices, you’ll save even more by driving an EV. In Washington state, an eGallon costs just 84 cents.

Metro's SR-710 All Communities Information Session

 From Sylvia Plummer:




Tuesday, July 23 -- 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Langley Senior Center
400 W. Emerson Avenue
Monterey Park

Bring your questions and comments.  
We need to education those that are hearing this for the first time.

Gil Cedillo Launches ‘2013 Listening Tour’

The CD 1 rep’s first stop will be at a Mount Washington Town Hall on July 30.

(From Sylvia Plummer:  Gil Cedillo is starting a series of listening sessions for City of Los Angeles Council District 1 (CD1).  He has been pro-tunnel and may need some enlightenment from City of Los Angeles residents about the neighborhood's feelings….)

 http://highlandpark-ca.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/gil-cedillo-launches-2013-listening-tour?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001&evar4=picks-7-post

 By Ajay Singh, July 19, 2013

Councilmember Gil Cedillo in his Highland Park campaign office on Figueroa Street before he was elected May 21, 2013. Credit: Ajay Singh 

 
Councilmember Gil Cedillo in his Highland Park campaign office on Figueroa Street before he was elected May 21, 2013.















Since he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council to represent Council District 1 nearly two months ago, Gil Cedillo has been on a roll—at least by his own admission.

“Team Cedillo hit the ground running,” the councilmember said in an e-newsletter Thursday, describing how on his very first day at a council session he introduced three motions to tackle “the issue of trash and bulky items in our communities, the need to have a fully staffed Fire Department as outlined in a Grand Jury report, and an idea to utilize LAUSD schools beyond 3 p.m. for recreational use.”


After thanking those who voted for him in the May 21 municipal elections, Cedillo went on to say that one of his “top priorities is to be out in the community listening to your concerns and ideas to move this district forward.”

To that end, Cedillo’s field staff has scheduled town hall meetings across CD 1 in the hope that “we will meet you and have a friendly conversation about the issues that matter to you and your particular community.”

Cedillo’s first stop during his Listening Tour, dubbed the “Mt. Washington Town Hall,” is scheduled for Tuesday, July 30, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., at 4580 N. Figueroa St.

Here are some highlights of Cedillo’s newsletter:

“Thank you for having the faith in me to represent you in the 1st Council District. With the election behind us, it is now time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. During the course of the campaign, my team and I became well acquainted with the diverse communities that make up the 1st Council District. We talked to residents, met with local community groups, and saw first-hand while precinct walking, the multitude of challenges before us.

“Over the next four years I want to focus on creating jobs and improving our quality of life. I will work to finally clean up our streets and continue to clean up our environment. I also want to build a strong collaboration between the community and LAPD to ensure that our families are safe, and restore fire services in our communities. Most importantly, my staff and I will listen to your concerns and ideas to improve the quality of life for everyone in the 1st District.

“My vision to transform the 1st District goes far beyond basic city services. Some may say it's too idealistic. I say anything is possible. I have plans, I have a big vision, but none of it will come to fruition until I can sit down with the people that live, work, and have an interest in this community.

“Each individual neighborhood within this district is unique in its own way, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to resolve every issue. Every community is different. Each area has its own challenges. I am here to tell you today that no one will be ignored. My team is putting together a "2013 Listening Tour." I will listen to each community's concerns and partner with you to improve our communities. My staff is ready and eager to help.

“I thank you for your commitment to change, for social progress, and for believing in someone who has committed his life to public service. I ran for this seat because I believe there is still much work to be done, because I believe that we can do better. With your help, we will make the First District #1!”

Meet the Staff:
City Hall
Arturo Chavez: Chief of Staff
Jenn Rivera: Deputy Chief of Staff
Fredy Ceja: Communications
Sharon Lowe: Special Projects
Gerald Gubatan: Planning
 Sergio Infanzon: Planning
Kris Ortega: Council Aide
Suzana Muro: Office Manager
Alfonso Palacios: Case Worker
Natalia Ramirez: Scheduler
Field Staff
Conrado Terrazas: District Director
Jose Rodriguez: Asst. District Director
Sylvia Robledo: Field Deputy
Mel Ilomin: Constituent Services
Melinda Alatorre: Field Deputy
Pedro Ramirez: Caseworker
Ana Gomez: Field Deputy

Legislative Update:

“Team Cedillo hit the ground running. On our first day of session I introduced three motions to move our district forward. I took on the issue of trash and bulky items in our communities, the need to have a fully staffed Fire Department as outlined in a Grand Jury report, and an idea to utilize LAUSD schools beyond 3 p.m. for recreational use.

“While surveying our communities, we found an overabundance of bulky items (mattresses, couches, toilets, etc.) on sidewalks. Aside from being an eyesore, it also sends the message that we do not care about our community. Motion 13-0852 creates an aggressive clean up campaign staffed by the Bureau of Sanitation. Sanitation will establish a specific clean up route for District 1 to keep our streets clean. In addition, I have instructed the city to explore the possibility of having bulky items picked up by appointment in order to alleviate the issue of bulky items sitting out on the curb for weeks at a time.

In light of continuous budget cuts to city services, the Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury released a report on June 28, 2013, recommending that: (a) the Los Angeles Fire Department's (LAFD) funding be reinstated to 2008 levels, (b) the firefighters at the Dispatch Center be replaced with civilians, and (c) the Department's computer systems be overhauled.

"The first recommendation in the report is of particular importance to the 1st District as we have mountainous terrain in various parts of the district that are difficult to access via fire truck. In emergency situations, even a second can make a difference between life and death. For this reason, Motion 13-0545-S2 calls for the LAFD to respond to the Grand Jury's report as it pertains to staffing plans.

“The 1st District is a gem in the City of Angels, featuring open space and the Los Angeles River on one end, yet it contains an overly impacted dense community in the other end. For this purpose, and due to the lack of open space in those dense communities, I have introduced Motion 13-0851. This motion will conduct an inventory of current joint use agreements with LAUSD and assess the feasibility of establishing additional MOU's with LAUSD around the district in order to open up school fields and recreational space for public use beyond normal school operating hours (beyond 3:00pm).”

Field Update:

“Council District 1 has retained the Glassell Park Field Office and plans to open the Highland Park Field Office in the near future. Please note that the Lincoln Heights Field Office is no longer open. To get in contact with our Glassell Park Field Office, please call or visit us at:

Glassell Park Field Office
3750 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 90065
(323) 341-5671”

T4A Calls for Action Against Dreadful House Transpo Budget

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/07/19/t4a-calls-for-action-against-dreadful-house-transpo-budget/

By Angie Schmitt, July 19, 2013

Transportation for America is gearing up for a fight over transit, rail, and TIGER funding, and they’re asking supporters of smart transportation investments to make their voices heard.

The new budget put forth by the House of Representatives would zero out funds for TIGER, strip $400 million from Amtrak and raid $500 million from a fund for, of all things, repairing bridges.
The House and Senate have proposed two very different funding plans for transportation. Image: Transportation for America

But cooler heads and clearer vision prevailed at the Senate, where appropriators put forward a budget that would expand funding for transit and TIGER. The Senate proposal would also help Amtrak keep up with growing demand.

Projects like the Atlanta streetcar and Chicago’s Blue Line rehab were made possible with the help of TIGER, an innovative, merit-based transportation funding program for which demand has been overwhelming. Eliminating TIGER would close off a vital mechanism to fund cost-effective projects that curb traffic, improve safety, and reduce car dependence.

Transportation for America calls the House budget “unabashedly bad” and has issued an action alert asking supporters to contact their Senators to support a budget that invests more in sensible transportation options.

The Week in Livable Streets Events

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/07/22/the-week-in-livable-streets-events-113/

By Damien Newton, July 22, 2013

Metro wraps up it’s current round of public meetings for the I-710 Big Dig and the High Desert Corridor. And, conveniently before Critical Mass, there’s a chance to speak with a bicycling attorney about the rules of the road.
  • Monday – If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you aren’t going out to Palmdale to find out more information about the High Desert Corridor Highway/Bikeway/HSR project. But, you can watch the presentation online. Get details on the US Stream and meeting in our calendar section
  • Tuesday – Joshua Cohen, Los Angeles Bike Attorney, will give a bird’s-eye overview of legal and factual issues cyclists need to be familiar with to safely navigate the streets of Los Angeles. Get more info at the Streetsblog Calendar Section and Facebook.
  • Tuesday – I know, I know. It seems like they just started, and now they’re over too soon. It’s sad, but spring becomes summer, summer becomes fall, and the leaves on the trees wither and die. It’s the last of this round of all-community convenings for the I-710 Big Dig. I bet it will be months, or at least weeks, until the next round. Details.
  • Wednesday – At 2 pm in City Hall, Mike Bonin takes his first turn chairing the City Council Transportation Committee. The first agenda has a mix of the good: an update on the plans for the Expo Bikeway at Centinela/Exposition, the bad: a proposal that allow people to park at broken meters and the ugly: a complaint that LADOT/BSS isn’t painting crosswalks and bike lanes correctly. Read the agenda, here.
  • Thursday - Speaking of new chairs, Thursday marks the first Metro Board Meeting chaired by Diane Dubois. The incoming chair promises a “light” meeting. I’m not sure there is such a thing. Read the agenda, here.
  • Thursday – The On the Map series examines how architecture of a major building can change a community’s charecter. This week, the series is looking at the South Los Angeles Animal Care Center & Community Center. Get the details, here.
  • Friday – Critical Mass. Wilshire Western. Arrive at 6:30, ride leaves at 7. Details on Facebook.
  • Saturday – The City of Los Angeles is updating their housing element and wants you to come to an open house and public hearing. It might sound like a bad way to spend a Saturday, but it’s a good way to fight for the neighborhood you want to have. Get the meeting details, here

Human-powered vehicles can drive meaningful change

These bicycle-like vehicles could be used to relieve traffic congestion, improve public health, reduce air pollution and significantly lower transportation costs. 

 http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/stories/human-powered-vehicles-can-drive-meaningful-change

By Mark Archibald, July 19, 2013



 A driver from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., competes in the 2013 Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC) West event held in April in San Jose, Calif.

Each year, at locations around the globe, teams of mechanical-engineering students gather to demonstrate and race vehicles they have designed. The vehicles negotiate tight turns, slaloms, rough pavement and grocery stops. Peak speeds are often around 45 mph (72 km/h). The men and women designing and competing bring new ideas and innovations each year. And here’s the really interesting part: None of the vehicles uses a drop of gasoline. They don’t use batteries that are charged via the electric grid. They are nonpolluting, use zero fossil fuel and generate no greenhouse gases. So, what’s the power source? Human muscles.
 
These vehicles are powered by the students’ legs and, sometimes, arms. The vehicles demonstrate remarkable engineering design and vehicle performance. The event is the Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC), which has been held annually for each of the last 30 years in the United States and has expanded to Latin America and Pakistan. India will be added later this year. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) organizes and manages the competition. 
 
There are many other collegiate engineering competitions, quite a few of which involve vehicles of one type or another. There are races for off-road vehicles, Formula 1 race cars and snowmobiles. There is a competition for high-mileage vehicles, which look a lot like human-powered vehicles but run on gasoline and get about 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometers) per gallon.
 
Yet, the ASME HPVC stands out among all of these competitions, in part because of the structure of the competition itself, which gives student teams much more design freedom to innovate and engineer creative solutions. It also stands out because it encourages women — a group significantly underrepresented in mechanical engineering — to participate and, more broadly, to enter STEM professions. And, it stands out because of the social and environmental ramifications of human-powered vehicles, which offer very tangible benefits to people in both developed and undeveloped nations. 
 
Gearing up
The HPVC began in 1983 at the University of California, Davis. At that time, it was all about speed — how fast a human could go over level ground by his or her on power — and some remarkable speeds were obtained. By 2002, the competition had grown so much that two competitions were held — an east event and a west event. At about the same time, society was recognizing the value of human-powered vehicles as sustainable transportation, and the competition added a second class of vehicles for utilitarian uses. 
 
For the first few years, teams entering that class struggled to develop viable technologies that would lead to high-performance, practical vehicles. By 2011, the utility vehicles had improved to the point that the vehicle classes were combined. Today, successful HPVC teams must design and build vehicles that are both fast and practical for daily transportation. They compete in four events — an engineering design event, a speed event, an innovation event and an endurance event — that demonstrate all aspects of the design. 
 
All real engineering projects involve constraints. Good engineering combines innovative thinking and compromise — all within a framework of budgetary, regulatory, physical and manufacturing constraints — that lead to improved products and performance. It is a balancing act that is difficult to learn in the confines of the classroom. This is where engineering design competitions really shine, because a team of students developing a competitive vehicle must learn those skills in order to even get to the competition. 
 
The HPVC outshines other competitions because the rules are written so as to give teams as much design freedom as possible. For example, safety requirements are stated as performance requirements, rather than specifications for particular materials or geometry. Teams must address aerodynamics to score well in the design event, but may use whatever type or types of aerodynamic devices that work best in the races. They also can change configurations between races or even during a race. 
 
This opens the door to true creativity and innovation — skills that are more important today than ever before. Moreover, students learn to work together as a team, to develop realistic budgets and to manage large and complex projects. In short, students learn the skills to excel in their chosen field of engineering.
 
Angelica Delgado-Perez, a student from California State University-Chico drives a human-powered vehicle
Many human-powered vehicles are based on recumbent bicycle designs, as is this one being piloted by Angelica Delgado-Perez, a student from California State University-Chico in the 2013 HPVC. (Photo: AMSE)
 
Women are underrepresented in engineering, especially in mechanical engineering. This is a shame, as women engineers bring measurable benefits to design teams. Teams with women are more innovative and competitive, and result in greater business success. The HPVC has a long tradition of encouraging and supporting female engineering students. The speed event is actually two events — one for men and one for women. Teams must have both men and women to compete in both events. Likewise, both men and women ride in the endurance event. Teams racing without both genders must start 15 minutes later than everyone else. 
 
These practices teach men and women to work together on a challenging project — important skills for early-career engineers. Hopefully, they also foster a sense of appreciation for what each gender brings to the engineering profession. 
 
The vehicles that students design and race are variations on the familiar bicycle. Most are recumbent, with riders sitting down in a more aerodynamic position than they would on standard bicycles. Most also have aerodynamic fairings to increase speed. Some have three, or even four, wheels. Some are highly sophisticated, with lighting systems, anti-skid brakes and regenerative braking. All are powered by human muscle power alone, and produce no greenhouse-gas emissions or toxins. The goal is to design and develop efficient, sustainable and practical human-powered vehicles. 
 
A greener way to travel
In developed countries, those types of vehicles, along with more conventional bicycles, can be used to relieve traffic congestion, improve public health, reduce air pollution and significantly lower transportation costs. In developing countries, human-powered vehicles can provide affordable basic transportation for personal transport, deliveries and even ambulance services. The HPVC mission encourages engineering students to consider the social, environmental and economic benefits of the vehicles they design. The result is vehicles that are affordable, clean and safe. They are faster and more comfortable than standard bicycles, and many offer protection from foul weather. 
 
Some, particularly within the United States, have questioned the benefits of human-powered vehicles. The individual cost advantages are clear and significant. Consider a new college graduate who purchases a human-powered vehicle rather than an automobile. On average, he or she will save $5,000 to $6,000 each year — money that can go a long way toward repaying student loans or saving for a new house. 
 
The Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge entry for Missouri University of Science & Technology
The Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge entry for Missouri University of Science & Technology durin the 2013 HPVC. (Photo: AMSE)
 
In addition, more than 9,000 lbs. (4,100 kilograms) of greenhouse-gas emissions would be avoided. If 5 percent of the U.S. population were to switch from automobiles to human-powered vehicles for most of their trips, the aggregate difference would be a reduction of 31 million tons (28 million metric tons) of greenhouse gases, and a savings of more than 3 billion gallons (11 billion liters) of gasoline. It is true that this represents a small fraction of total U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, but it is a significant tonnage nonetheless. 
 
Studies have shown that people who commute by bicycle live longer and have improved cardiovascular health compared to automobile commuters. Additionally, in many parts of the world, human-powered vehicles are used to meet basic transportation needs. A lack of infrastructure and prohibitive cost often make the automobile a nonviable choice, and transit systems may not exist. 
 
Students participating in the HPVC are designing transportation solutions for a world faced with economic stress and poverty, climate change and strife over energy supplies. They learn to solve problems — technical, managerial, budgetary and logistic — in a structured and rational way. They learn to work together as a team to accomplish a challenging goal. Women and men work together, learning to respect each other’s contributions and talents. And they have fun along the way. 
 
Of course, this is a bit idealized — some students are just there for the racing. Some teams don’t really work well together, and some doubt the potential for human good. Nonetheless, the participants in the ASME Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge are better for it. They are better engineers. They are better able to help advise, guide and lead the next generation. They are aware of the benefits — and the harm — that can be brought about by technological choices. They are the students employers want to hire. They are the ones that will lead us to a better future.

Horizon Mass Transit System is an All-Electric Train-Plane Hybrid

http://todnews.com/2013/07/horizon-mass-transit-system-is-an-all-electric-train-plane-hybrid/

July 21, 2013

What would you feel like if you get to travel in a plane-train hybrid? Ever wonder what it would be like? The Horizon Mass Transit System is a 100 percent electric mode of transportation. Conceived as a hybrid between a plane and a train, the system uses a maglev-style mechanism that helps large aircraft to pick up passengers inside small SkyLink trains when both the train and plane are on the move.



This process helps no-congestion in large airports and on highways. Onefeature of Horizon System is that it has no pilot, unlike the other modular plane system, Clip Air. This could be the largest drone ever conceived, with no cockpit and featuring a central common space.

Passengers can get in to the system via their local SkyStation. They can reach the AirStrip after boarding on a SkyLink pod. From there, the passengers will be picked up by the SkyShip.
After all the passengers are taken in, the train gently accelerates to match the speed of aircraft, and is carefully plucked from the track and flies till it reaches the next destination, where the train is again landed to take in and off passengers.


The aircraft never touches the ground. Even when the train cars are released and new ones are picked, the wings of air craft sail along the maglev rails.

The battery pack on the train is charged, while it runs on the rails, which provides the power for the aircraft to fly. The released train cars start recharging as soon as they reach transit rails.  The aircraft is operated remotely and is covered with large glass window. {…}

Congestion Pricing: A Primer on Institutional Issues March 2013

http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop13034/index.htm

Federal Highway Administration, March 2013

A very long article. Please go to their website to view or download.

Metro Adventures: What To Do On The Gold Line (Part 2)

http://laist.com/2013/07/19/metro_adventures_what_to_do_on_the_gold_line.php

East Los Angeles is a heavily residential area, and the Gold Line's Eastside extension was built to allow residents easier access to Downtown and the rest of Los Angeles. That being said, East Los Angeles has some amazingly good food. Hence, this guide is very restaurant heavy.

Getting to the Gold Line isn't difficult, but it will likely require some transfers. The easiest access point for most who don't live in the San Gabriel Valley or on the Eastside is via Union Station, where the Gold Line has a stop and connects with the Metro Red and Purple lines. Westsiders can take the Metro Expo Line into Downtown, where they will connect with a Red or Purple Line train to Union Station. Valleyites, Hollywooders, and others along the Red or Purple lines can ride those trains directly to Union Station. Once at Union Station, the Gold Line occupies tracks one and two, closer to the Alameda side of the station. Grab a $5 dollar Day Pass ($6 if you don't have a TAP card yet) to ease the transfers from train to train.

Metro has a useful map of its rail network on its website, including information on parking locations throughout its transit network and station locations.

Below are some of the sites along seven of the Eastside Extension's eight stations.


ltad.jpg
A sampling of Little Tokyo and the Arts District (Photos by Matthew Tinoco)
 
LITTLE TOKYO/ARTS DISTRICT STATION:

Arts District

Less than 15 years ago, this neighborhood was a blighted district of old industrial warehouses. Since then, however, the neighborhood has undergone a dramatic transformation into the beating heart of Los Angeles' contemporary art scene. The district includes a slew of galleries, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants far to numerous to list here, but I'll include some of my favorites. The Bread Lounge is a properly good bakery, and makes some amazing sandwiches to boot; Urth Caffe is the site of those red angel wings you see all over Facebook; and Wurstküche Restaurant is perhaps the most hip place in the entire city.

The district is highly bicycle-friendly, offering lots of routes, lanes, and parking for cyclists. Traffic is light throughout the district, too.

Directions: I have no directions to offer other than to take your time. The district is very walkable, but you're better off exploring on a bicycle simply because it is still relatively spread out. Street art is everywhere, so if you're out to see some of it, I'd really encourage cycling throughout the district (just be careful on Alameda!). The intersection of 3rd and Alameda is a good place to start exploring, and it's located just two blocks south of the Gold Line Station (at 1st and Alameda).

Little Tokyo

As one would expect from the name, Little Tokyo is the center of Japanese culture in Los Angeles (and incidentally the largest Japantown in the United States!). The Japanese American National Museum finds its home here, as well as the Japanese Village Plaza. Village Plaza includes a diverse arrangement of shops and stores, ranging from tourist stops to a bakery that makes great cakes. Of special mention is the Nijiya Market, a fully stocked Japanese Grocery Store that has a full arrangement of Japanese food items, complete with Japanese labeling that this writer doesn't understand.

Also in Little Tokyo, adjacent the Japanese American National Museum, is MOCA's Geffen Contemporary campus, which is currently holding an exhibition of Urs Fischer's work.
The Little Tokyo Community Council keeps a website that includes their guide to the cultural sites and shopping opportunities in Little Tokyo.

Directions: Exit at the Little Tokyo/Arts District station and cross Alameda Street. Walk towards Downtown (West) on 1st Street. After about a minute of walking, you'll be in the heart of Little Tokyo. The Japanese American National Museum is located at 100 North Central Avenue. Check the museum's hours here.




PICO/ALISO STATION:

Caine's Arcade

Two summers ago, a filmmaker named Nirvan Mullick visited Smart Parts in Boyle Heights looking for a new door handle for his car. By chance he met 9-year-old Caine Monroy, who had spent the better part of his summer building an elaborate arcade out of the various cardboard boxes used to ship parts to his father's auto parts store. Mullick played the games and thought it would be a good idea to make a film about Monroy. He also learned that he was Monroy's first and only customer all summer.
Mullick decided to use the organizing potential of the Internet and surprised Monroy with a flashmob of more than 40 people. As the Caine's Arcade website says, "words can't describe Caine's response - so watch the film."

But the story doesn't end there. Mullick's video went viral, achieving almost 4 million hits on YouTube, resulting in thousands of people contributing to a $250,000 scholarship fund for Monroy. Monroy himself became the youngest person ever to speak at the USC Marshall School of Business.
Caine's Arcade is still in business, and you can visit him at his father's store most Saturdays. A Facebook page is kept current and updated frequently with the arcade's operating hours. You'll have to be quick though, Caine's Arcade is going to be shutting down on August 3 (Monroy's birthday). Monroy has decided to enter the bicycle business and will be opening up a shop in the near future.

Directions: Exit the Gold Line at the Pico/Aliso station. Walk towards the L.A. River, but before crossing over, turn right onto Mission and head north towards the 101 Freeway. You'll cross under the freeway and Cesar Chavez Avenue. Smart Parts, the storefront Caine's Arcade is based under, is located at 538 North Mission Road. The store is about a 15-minute walk from the Gold Line station through a primarily industrial area, but visiting Caine is completely worth it.


mariachiplaza.jpg
Some restaurants around Mariachi Plaza
 
MARIACHI PLAZA STATION:

Mariachi Plaza

Very much like its name implies, Mariachi Plaza is a great place to find Mariachi music. Although I've only been to the location once when a band was playing, bands may be found in the vicinity. It seems to happen spontaneously or with the promise of a generous tip.

The surrounding neighborhood of Boyle Heights is also populated with several great food options. Check out Un Solo Sol Kitchen, a great place for a Mexican lunch. If you're looking for a sit-down-style dinner, La Serenata De Garibaldi is your place. Located one block north is Thai Deli, a highly reviewed Thai/Asian food establishment. Speaking to Thai Deli personally, I have made the three-metro line trek from Exposition Park to Boyle Heights just to have some of Thai Deli's amazing and college student budget-friendly, Teriyaki Chicken Double Mac.

Directions: The station exit places you right into the center of Mariachi Plaza. Un Solo Sol is located at 1818 East 1st Street. La Serenata De Garibaldi is located at 1842 East 1st Street. Thai Deli is located one block north of the station at 1835 East Cesar East Chavez Avenue. Walk North on State Street to get to Thai Deli.


indiana.jpg
Raspados! (Photo by Matthew Tinoco)
 
INDIANA STATION:


The Original Snow Cone Factory:

Although I'm no urban planner (yet), the Indiana station's location was likely dictated a necessity by the adjacent Ramona High School (similar to the Farmdale station on the Expo Line).

But that's not reason enough to discount the entire stop, because also adjacent the station is The Original Snow Cone and Funnel Cake Factory. Although I can't confirm any claims of the establishment's originality, it doesn't matter because the treats they produce here are savory.
If funnel cakes and snow cones happen not to be your thing, try some fried Oreos or Twinkies instead! The location has a Yelp page with lots of five-star reviews.

Directions Exit at the Indiana station and walk just south to the intersection of Indiana and 3rd streets. The establishment is on the northern corner. Address: 3557 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90063.


Maravilla.jpg
King Taco (Photo by Matthew Tinoco)
 
MARAVILLA STATION:

King Taco


Alright, so this may be a bit of a cop out on my part since there are King Taco locations all over the Eastside, but the restaurant is just too delicious to not mention. Yelpers from all over agree that this location produces some properly good Mexican grub.

Honestly, order anything and you'll be satisfied. The only warning that I have is that the tacos can run a little bit on the small side. The meats are seasoned with a tasty lime marinade, and the establishment's horchata can be, as one Yelper described, "addicting."

I should note that, although King Taco restaurants are not rare throughout the Eastside, they are all but nonexistent on the Westside, in the Valley, or in South L.A. If you're out exploring the Eastside, you must get the full experience with King Taco.

Directions: Exit the station towards the 710 Freeway. This King Taco location is located directly south of the station. Address: 4504 East 3rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90022.


eastlaciviccenter.jpg
Belvedere Park (Photos by Matthew Tinoco)
 
EAST LA CIVIC CENTER:

Belvedere Park:
 
Sitting right between the East L.A. City Hall and a county sheriff's station, Belvedere Park is a gorgeous work of public infrastructure. The park includes ample shaded lawn, great for a picnic outing, and a large lake. The northern side of the park includes a children's playground, exercise equipment, and a well-equipped skatepark. Towards the southern side (closer to the station), an amphitheater exists for frequent public events.

Speaking of these events, L.A. County is sponsoring a "Artsfest" at the park this summer, as well as movie showings every Friday evening at sundown in the Lakeside Amphitheater.

Directions: Exit the station in the same direction as the trains headed towards the Atlantic Station (East). The park is located north of the station, just east of the library.


Atlantic.jpg
Some East L.A. Murals, and The Hat. (Photos by Matthew Tinoco)
 
ATLANTIC STATION:

East Los Angeles Murals

Similar to Lincoln Heights in last week's Gold Line Part 1, East Los Angeles is teeming with murals just waiting to be appreciated. Although East L.A.'s main streets are less bicycle-friendly than other areas in the county, most of the mural work may be found on side streets and in alleyways, reducing the need to cycle on main streets like Atlantic Boulevard.

Also like Lincoln Heights, the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles provides a database of murals throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. You can choose "East LA" under location, which will list about 10 pages of murals in East L.A. alone.

Directions: Exit at Atlantic atation and head south on Atlantic Boulevard. Murals are everywhere if you're looking for them. Generally, they tend to be on churches or schools (use those smartphones), but they often can be found on businesses adjacent main streets and even just in alleyways that have a de facto purpose for public art.

The Hat

If it's good old American comfort food you're looking for, The Hat is the place to go. Their menu offers a selection of burgers, fries, and hot dogs that can comfort any craving. The highlight, however, are their pastrami sandwiches, which are fantastic.

The style differs from deli sandwiches from, for example, Langer's (just off the Red Line, the next installment), instead offering a more Italian style. The salty, thinly sliced pastrami leaves nothing desired, and the dip is every bit as crucial as the crunchy pickles. Be wary though, you'll likely be full before you can get to the largest order of chili cheese fries known to humans.

Check them out. Yelpers usually love the place, as does the acclaimed East L.A. poet Sesshu Foster, who has given The Hat a shout out in two of his poetry books. But come hungry. You'll need all the appetite you can for this one.

Directions: Exit the Atlantic station, cross over to the eastern side of Atlantic Boulevard, and head north (left from the station's exit) towards the Pomona Freeway. After you go under the freeway, you'll very quickly see the restaurant at the corner of Atlantic and Riggin Street. Address: 2300 S Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, CA 91754.

Related:
Metro Adventures: What To Do On The Expo Line
Metro Adventures: What To Do On The Gold Line (Part 1)

Los Angeles: Free LA Metro Art Tour: Video & Transcript

http://video.about.com/golosangeles/Los-Angeles--Free-LA-Metro-Art-Tour.htm#vdTrn

Over 300 artists have been commissioned to beautify the LA metro since the foundation of the LA art department in 1989.  Today we are going to tour LA's Red Line on which each station was given to a separate artist to design.


Video: Los Angeles: Free LA Metro Art Tour

The Los Angeles Metro boasts gorgeous public art to see along its many stops courtesy of several local artists. Get a taste of the LA Metro art scene and start planning your west coast trip today!

  http://video.about.com/golosangeles/Los-Angeles--Free-LA-Metro-Art-Tour.htm

 Transcript:

Universal City Station

Starting in the Valley and heading in, the Universal City Station is built to complement and explore Campo De Cahuenga, which is adjacent to the station and the site where Mexico signed California over to the US in 1847.  The exterior recalls the importance of the landscape and the rivers that first drew the people to the area.  Inside, the artist Margret Garcia designed murals and tiles which tell the historical timeline of the area.  The tilted pillars are part of the Trees of Califas which symbolize life, time, and growth.

Some neat fact to remember are that the design for the Trees of Califas was inspired by Pepper Trees that once lined Lankershim Boulevard and this design seen all over the station is the artists' initial 'G' inside a diamond which represents the name of the architect.

Hollywood & Highland Station

The Hollywood and Highland Station is one of the more abstract stations, designed by Sheila Klein to be a Hollywood Starlet.  Beginning with a trestle of lighting representing the starlets eyes looking out at her audience and continuing down into her 'belly' which is the subway platform, you'll notice the surrounding steel vertebra and lighting fixtures molded after fallopian tubes.

Hollywood & Vine Station

In contrast, the Hollywood and Vine Station celebrates Hollywood with the most decoration of any stop on the line. The most noticeable displays are the 19,000 film reels that cover the ceiling and the two movie cameras donated by Paramount Pictures.  Two touches that are more hidden are the Wizard of Oz theme depicted in pictures on the walls as well as the yellow brick wall flooring and the musical notes along the railing that score "Hoorary for Hollywood".

Vermont/ Sunset Station

The Vermont/Sunset Station is the metro stop for three separate medical centers; as such the artist Michael Davies tied in the medical colors of blue and white into a futuristic, space theme.  The architectural details can be seen to clearly borrow heavily from 1950's sci-fi movies and post modernism.

Final Thoughts

 

The art and design add an element of magic to the average subway ride, which I think symbolizes the entire Hollywood ideal.  If you are interested in this art and want to see and learn even more, I would suggest taking a free LA Metro Art tour, offered the first Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday of the month, which includes a free metro day pass. More info can be found on their website.

Thanks for watching.  For more information, please seem About.com

 

Avoid Eminent Domain at Regional Connector Site

http://www.ladowntownnews.com/opinion/avoid-eminent-domain-at-regional-connector-site/article_9a2f7bd8-f0cb-11e2-8722-001a4bcf887a.html

July 22, 2013



  Avoid Eminent Domain at  Regional Connector Site




DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - No one likes eminent domain proceedings. Getting into a situation where an arm of government moves to seize property is a lose-lose situation. Often civic leaders wind up looking like bullies. Frequently the person who has a holding snatched away is dissatisfied over the amount of money received.

The potential of an ugly eminent domain outcome is why everyone involved with a key Little Tokyo parcel needs to do his or her best to keep a level head and treat each other with the utmost respect. If things go wrong, there is the potential for a situation that is currently serious to explode into one that is painful, expensive, time-consuming and highly litigious.


Los Angeles Downtown News this month reported on a parcel on the southeast corner of First Street and Central Avenue that is owned by Robert Davies Volk. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority needs to acquire the property so that it can build the $1.37 billion Regional Connector. The project is an extremely important mass transit link that would speed up and facilitate light rail travel across the region. Metro and other officials have spent a lot of time determining the route and potential stations, and the site in question is vital to making everything work.

The problem is, Volk wants more money than Metro is offering. With negotiations at an impasse, the Metro Board of Directors in late June voted in favor of pursuing eminent domain proceedings. The first formal step in the process would be for Metro to file a civil complaint. That could happen soon.
Volk said his family has owned the property since the 1880s. Currently it is known to most Downtowners as a food destination. Weiland’s Brewery was there for 14 years, though it closed June 30, as the owner knew he had to vacate soon and has another opportunity. The site also holds the popular eateries Señor Fish and the Spice Table.

The amount of money offered by Metro has not been disclosed, though an agency official noted that it is in the millions. Volk said Metro’s offer doesn’t reflect the land’s highest and best use valuation. In addition to the restaurants, part of the land is a parking lot.

Therein lies the conflict. Volk believes the valuation should be higher, that it should reflect the potential of the land if, say, it housed apartments. The spark for the belief comes from the many residential complexes that have risen in the area over the past decade. One large apartment complex is immediately to the east.

One interesting aspect is that everyone, Volk included, recognizes the importance of the land for the Metro project. Volk freely acknowledges that using his property makes logistical sense. What he doesn’t like is the money offered.

Already there are indications that reaching a happy medium could be difficult. A Metro official said Volk did not respond when the agency offered a purchase price. Nor, she said, has he delivered a counter-offer.

Right now the situation appears to be at an impasse. If that is the case, then it is worth doing whatever is necessary to resolve that impasse and to begin a dialogue before things move too far in the eminent domain process. Perhaps there is a trusted business leader or elected official who can play peacemaker, such as the parcel’s own representative, 14th District Councilman José Huizar. It is worth doing whatever is necessary to get everyone to the table, and once there, all sides need to be flexible with their demands and expectations.

It is possible that eminent domain proceedings could play out. In that situation, the court would be charged with determining a fair market value for the site, and Volk and Metro would be stuck with the ruling. All sorts of things would have to be considered, including the price for the highest and best use of the land, but also any potential constraints preventing that best use from occurring.

The other problem with the conflict is that things will get expensive and bog down. In an eminent domain case there will be high legal fees. The court proceedings as well could be time consuming, and any delays tied to haggling over the price might ultimately be less than the cost of slowing down the entire project.

No one wants eminent domain here. That’s why the parties need to get to the negotiating table. Even if there is not a solution that makes everyone happy, it is worth finding one that everyone can accept. It’s better to have the players do it than the courts.

Bonin Ready to Work on Transportation Problems Throughout L.A.’s Westside

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/07/19/bonin-ready-to-work-on-transportation-problems-throughout-l-a-s-westside/

By Damien Newton, July 19, 2013

(Editor’s note: We’re breaking out interview with new Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin into three parts. Yesterday focused on his role as Chair. Today focuses on local issues on the Westside’s CD 11. Monday we will post the unedited audio from the interview. Also, since we discuss the Expo Bikeway, we should note that I am the CD 11 representative to the Expo Bicycle Advisory Committee.)

Despite being intensely proud of the Council District he represents, Mike Bonin has no illusions that the Westside’s CD11 is a Livable Streets paradise.
Image: Mike Bonin/Facebook
“Every single North-South street,” he half-joked to me when I asked if there were any streets in the district that could use a road diet.

Following the success of the Main Street Road Diet in Venice, there is some excitement of possibly putting other streets on a diet, i.e. removing a mixed use travel lane and replacing it with dedicated bike lanes. While Bonin is enthusiastic about the possibility of bringing more road diets home, he also recognizes that on the Westside, there need to be more ways to move a lot of people north and south.
And he doesn’t mean massive highway projects.

“I’m not a big fan of the 405 project,” Bonin flatly states of the late, over-budget, 405 widening project that spawned two Carmaggedons and lost the support of even it’s largest backers.
“I wish we hadn’t done the 405 project. The line I’ve continued to use is that it seems to be a tremendous amount of pain for not a lot of gain.”

Instead?

“What we should have done was work on the LAX rail connection into the valley.”

In Bonin’s vision, such a rail line wouldn’t just get people over the mountain from the Westside to the Valley or vice-versa, it would also create a rail mass transit option for people within the Westside.
When we sat down on the 733 Rapid last week, we didn’t know that Bonin and San Fernando Valley Council Member Paul Krekorian would be appointed to the Metro Board of Directors by Eric Garcetti. Putting a Valley and Westisde Council Member on the powerful board is a clear sign from the Mayor’s Office that advancing the “LAX to the Valley” transit project is high on his priority list.
But while a connector between LAX and the Valley is still years in the future, the Expo Line Phase II is being built right through of Bonin’s 11th Council District today. When we spoke last week on the bus, he was on his way to a meeting of the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors. At that meeting he was voted Vice-Chair of the Board.

Vice Chair of the Expo Construction Authority, Member of the Metro Board of Directors, Chair of the City Council Transportation Committee. Mike Bonin has been in office for less than three weeks, and he’s basically positioned himself in the center of the Greater Los Angeles transportation world.
So getting the design fixed for the future bicycle crossing at Exposition and Centinella ought to be a piece of cake, right?

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Bonin remarked.


The currently preferred design of the Exposition/Centinella crossing for the Expo Bike Path. Note: this makes perfect sense. 


For those of you that missed it, as a result of a compromise between the Expo Construction Authority and local homeowners moved the driveway for an Expo Maintenance facility at the crossing of Exposition and Centinela from its original design. The new plan calls for a driveway to face Centinela instead of Exposition,  requiring cyclists on the bike path built adjacent to the railway have to literally bicycle across a driveway. Expo staff and their contractors insist the design is safe. Everyone else that looks at it sees a disaster waiting to happen.

Bonin’s predecessor, Bill Rosendahl, introduced and moved a motion asking LADOT to explore funding options for fixing the crossing as Expo bluntly refuses to pay for a safe crossing. The report on options is due next week. Bonin believes it will contain an answer to the Centinella Crossing issue.

The issue is important not just because of a crossing, but because of the message it sends if the Expo Bike Path, which has a Star Wars budget, comes out looking like Dude Where’s My Car.

“It hasn’t been the easiest issue in the world to get the folks at Expo…to appreciate,” he explains. “I started talking about this as Bill’s alternate. We need to do the bikeway right…I’m looking at who’s going to be using it in 2030. We need to build out the multi-modal system we want now for 2030.”

And during the last CicLAvia, Bonin was raising funds to fight cancer. Whatever.

One of the best signs that Los Angeles is mentally ready for a truly multi-modal transportation system is the physical representation of the pent-up demand for bicycling infrastructure known as CicLAvia. When CicLAvia came to the Westside in April, Bonin was away on a long-overdue family vacation following the election.

But that doesn’t mean he didn’t hear hundreds of reports, on Twitter, Facebook and face to face. But what struck him wasn’t the amount of people that experienced the CicLAvia VI: CicLAvia to the Sea, but how many didn’t.

“I was surprised how many people, including active community leaders, didn’t know about CicLAvia,” Bonin said. This was an experience I shared, finding myself explaining to puzzled parents at my son’s preschool why Venice Boulevard was “closed yesterday” and why Sammy was so suntanned. Clearly, we have some work to do for next year.

But, as is true for many Livable Streets believers, Bonin finds CicLAvia to be a game-changing event for the city.

“Three of four CicLAvias ago, it really struck me that this was the Los Angeles of my imagination,” Bonin says. He’s not just of the experience of bicycling with a couple hundred thousand of his closest friends, but of the thousands of other little experiences and interactions an Angeleno can experience at CicLAvia.

A similar experience can be found on the bus.

Given the relatively non-bruising nature of the campaign to replace Bill Rosendahl, Bonin actually hired former rival Freddy Sutton as constituent advocate in one of his field offices, Bonin doesn’t have the celebrity of some of his colleagues in other districts. So, we road the bus in relative anonymity, except for one rider who did come over to say hi and engage in a minute of conversation.

But as his time in office grows, he can expect to spend more time on the bus in unscheduled office hours and less answering email or scoping out the new raw food restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles. Bonin admitted, despite being in the middle of a cleanse in his second week in office, that he didn’t feel up to a bike commute downtown. However, if he’s looking for a little more privacy on his commute, he can always bike commute to his district office.