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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Made in LA Ride III: LA River Edition


By Anna Chen, August 27, 2013

 Take a ride by the river! Photo: Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp.
Take a ride by the river!

Pickles, surfboards and all things bikes! Enjoy a ride along the L.A. River and learn about places that manufacture and create goodies in L.A. at the next Metro sponsored, C.I.C.L.E. led bike ride “Made in LA” along the L.A. River.

The free bike ride meets at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 21. The meeting location is accessible from the Metro Gold Line Lincoln/Cypress Station or Metro Bus 90/91, 94, 794, 84/68, 251, 751. Use Trip Planner for more options.
Here’s the full press release from C.I.C.L.E.:
On Saturday, September 21, through a sponsorship by Metro, C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change thru LIVE Exchange), with the LA River Corp, will lead a community bicycle ride, “Made in LA” along the LA River. This expedition, open to all cyclists, will pedal through and around Cypress Park and expose riders to businesses that make products right here in Los Angeles. Participants will visit Grain Surfboards, Kruegermann Pickle Factory and swrve (stylish urban bicycling apparel designers). Cyclists can see, taste and experience products made for and by Angelenos!

As with all C.I.C.L.E. rides, this ride is family-friendly, leisurely paced and will return to the starting point at the end of the evening. C.I.C.L.E. rides are fully supported, led by trained Ride Leaders and volunteers. The ride is under 8 miles. Prior to the ride we will address safe street riding and group ride etiquette to ensure smooth sailing.

When: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Time: Meet at 10:30 a.m., the ride will leave promptly at 11 a.m.
Where: Los Angeles River Center and Gardens
570 W. Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA 90065
Neighborhood: Cypress Park

Accessible by Metro Rail and Metro buses: Metro Gold Line Lincoln/Cypress Station and Metro bus lines 90/91, 94, 794, 84/68, 251, 751. Plan your trip at metro.net.
Special note: Meet in the front parking lot. Weddings will be taking place in the gardens. Please be respectful of other users of the property.

What to bring: Bring water, a snack, and a bicycle in good working order. This ride is FREE and open to anyone, but all participants should be able to ride a bike safely with the ability to brake, change gears, and balance while stopping and starting. All participants under 18 MUST wear a helmet and be escorted by a parent or guardian. Children under age 8 should be on a tag-a-long, bike trailer, tandem, or other safe child-carrying device to participate in the ride.

About C.I.C.L.E.: Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) is a nonprofit organization working to promote the bicycle as a viable, healthy, and sustainable transportation choice.

About Metro Los Angeles: Metro is the planner, operator and builder of LA County’s expanding public transportation system. The agency plays an important role in bicycle planning across LA County, funding more than $155.5 million for bicycle projects since 1993, facilitating first mile/last mile connections to transit and supporting bicycle transportation through various policies and programs. Metro’s sponsorship of CICLE events helps fulfill the agency’s goals of encouraging bicycle trips and promoting safe cycling skills.

About the LA River Revitalization Corporation: LA River Corp is a non-profit venture charged with catalyzing responsible real estate and related economic development along the L.A. River. Our mission is to transform the L.A. River to improve people’s lives by carrying out sustainable land use projects, advocacy for river friendly policy, and programs for community benefit. Our major campaign, Greenway 2020, works with public and private partners to complete a continuous 51-mile Greenway along the L.A. River by the year 2020.

Metrolink to make special stop at the L.A. County Fair


By Steve Hymon, August 27, 2013

LOS ANGELES – Metrolink will offer safe, affordable service directly to the L.A. County Fair beginning this weekend and continuing on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month of September. Metrolink's San Bernardino Line trains will add a special stop at the Pomona Fairplex, while a free shuttle will transport passengers to the main entrance.

Metrolink riders with a monthly pass can ride all Metrolink trains at no additional cost on the weekends. Others can take advantage of the $10 Weekend Day Pass, which allows them to ride Metrolink trains either Saturday or Sunday for one low fare. Riders can transfer to and from other Metrolink lines, along with Metro rail and most buses with the $10 Weekend Day Pass.

This year the L.A. County Fair is offering all Metrolink riders a special $10 admission ticket on weekends. Regular weekend fair admission tickets for adults, ages 13 and over, is $19, children ages 6-12 is $12, while seniors, 60 and over is $15. Vehicle parking on weekends is an additional $15 or $30 for valet.

Fair goers are encouraged to “UNLEASH YOUR INNER FAIR!” by indulging in food galore and shopping, while enjoying the many entertainment acts and other attractions. The L.A. County Fair will also feature animal competitions, art exhibits, carnival games, the big Ferris wheel and much more.

Metrolink representatives will be staffing the Fairplex station during train service operations to assist passengers.

For details on Metrolink's L.A. County Fair schedule and promotion, please visit metrolinktrains.com/lacofair.

ABOUT METROLINK (www.metrolinktrains.com)

Metrolink is Southern California's regional commuter rail service in its 20th year of operation. The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, governs the service. Metrolink operates over seven routes through a six-county, 512 route-mile network. Metrolink is the third largest commuter rail agency in the United States based on directional route miles and the seventh largest based on annual ridership.

Deadly crash disrupts southbound Grapevine traffic


by Joseph Serna August 27, 2013

At least one person died after two big rigs collided on the southbound 5 Freeway mountain pass between Bakersfield and Santa Clarita on Tuesday morning.

The crash left both trucks engulfed in flames on the side of the road just after 6 a.m., the California Highway Patrol said.

The southbound 5 is the main pass for truck drivers from the San Joaquin Valley heading into Southern California.

After the accident, authorities closed all southbound lanes of the freeway for about an hour before opening one lane to traffic. Northbound traffic was not affected.

Rolling Stop: A Short Meditation on the City's Momentum


By D. J. Waldie, August 26, 2013

Just Stopped 

Just Stopped

I last drove a car in late September 1966, when I was 18. I stopped after I caused a minor traffic accident on Bellflower Boulevard as it passes under the 405. The other guy's cherry 56 Chevrolet Bel Air right rear quarter panel was no match for the bumper of my mother's hulking1962 Ford Galaxie.
I became "transit dependent" the following morning.

Because of that, I'm not -- to myself -- an Angeleño. Still, my status as a tourist in the country of wheels does allow me to be observant of those Angeleños who are drivers, about the insults they take and give to one another and about the assumptions that sustain their forward motion. And wheels are the fix for their need.

Wheeled Angeleños will pretend to be in motion rather than be seen pausing. They make a rolling stop, make a right turn on red, make a lane change just to get one car-length ahead. It's never about any cause for all that motion. It's all about momentum, which seems to stand for something else.
Los Angeles moves or it isn't Los Angeles. Angeleños are not who they wish to be unless they're in control of some vehicle -- skateboard or Maserati -- and that thing is moving. If the wheels cease turning altogether, and momentum drains away, Angeleños have an intimation of mortality.

I'm just a passenger, however. And I've seen what your car is compared to the alternatives. Your car accommodates itself to you -- from lumbar support to drink holder to AC to audiophile sound system. Your car shelters, swaddles protectively, shuts out, soothes. Your car embraces.

I wouldn't give it up, if your car were mine.

On public transit, it's against the law to do what I've seen you do in your car: drink coffee, eat a taco, play your music loud, smoke, curse at other drivers. There are substitutes for these freedoms that might be offered transit riders: frequent service, comfortable seats, better interior maintenance.

But they're deliberately withheld for reasons too often having to do with the color and class and eligibility to vote of the riders in the hard, cramped seats that I share with them.

Sometimes in those thinly covered seats, there's a feeling of conveyance, a feeling that the world is being moved on my behalf, which is nothing like riding in a car.

So when the urge to move overcomes me, when the longing for momentum takes me, I ride the bus or the Blue Line and take what satisfactions I can. Those are as real to me as your ergonomic driver's seat is to you.

I'd like to welcome you aboard to share my ride, but the bus is packed already with passengers standing in the aisle, and the next bus is an hour from now, and it doesn't run at all on Saturday and Sunday when it might have been fun to be in motion, to regain for a while the city's awful momentum.

Can Your Car Make You An Unethical Driver?


By David Greene and Shankar Vedantam, August 23, 2013

New research suggests the size of your car effects how you drive. If you have a big car, studies show you may be more likely to break the law. It has to do with posture and how powerful you feel.


When there's room to spread out, we often take advantage of it. Think about a big car or an SUV. You're behind the wheel, you roll the window down. You might prop up your left elbow. The other arm is outstretched on the wheel. It all sounds nice and relaxing, but it could have some major consequences. There's new research suggesting that you are more likely to blow a stop sign or a red light and not even know it. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to explain this.

And Shankar, welcome to our not-so-spacious studio.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Happy to be here, David.

GREENE: So tell me, what the deal here? What is this connection?

VEDANTAM: So we all have stereotypes, David about different drivers and drivers of different kinds of cars. I spoke with Andy Yap at MIT. He's just completed a study on how the size of your car affects how you drive. It comes down, he told me, to your posture in the car. Here he is.

ANDY YAP: If posture can lead to power, and there is this research, whole body of research showing that power leads to corrupt behavior, we wanted to see if posture can lead to corrupt behavior.

GREENE: Hang on a second. Break that down for me. Posture leading to corrupt behavior while you're in your car. What does that mean?

VEDANTAM: Well, Yap is bringing together two things we've known for a long time in psychology, David. There's been research showing that power can lead to unethical behavior. So if you give people even modest amounts of power, it increases the risk that they will act unethically. That's one strain of research.

There's this other strain of research that suggests that they way you sit and stand, your posture, shapes whether you feel powerful. I mean we've all seen the CEO pose, you know, your feet up on the desk and your hands laced behind your head. It turns out when you bring volunteers into a laboratory and you make then sit in these expansive poses, they actually feel more powerful.

Yap has connected these two bodies of research and he's saying if you're in a car that allows you to sprawl out, can that make you feel more powerful and can that in turn lead to unethical behavior where drivers, you know, literally cut corners?

GREENE: So how do you test this idea? Are you telling people act like you're king of the world, just sprawl out and do your thing?

VEDANTAM: Not quite. What he did was he brought a bunch of volunteers in and had them drive in a driving simulator. He had some of the volunteers sit very close to the steering wheel in this kind of constricted posture and he had others sit in this expansive posture, you know. The ergonomics of the simulator made them sprawl out. They had to hold the steering wheel at a distance.

And he gave them a driving test and he told them every time they hit an object, they were supposed to stop and count to 10. And what he found was that people sitting in the expansive postures were more likely to feel powerful and as a result they were more likely to cheat. When they hit objects, they didn't stop and count to 10.

GREENE: Oh, so they're actually simulating hit and runs here.

VEDANTAM: Exactly. Now, of course, David, this doesn't mean that every driver in a big car is going to be a reckless driver. I think the value of Yap's research is it suggests that the car has an effect on you. It changes your behavior. And in fact he retested the results of the lab experiment in New York City. It's illegal to double park in New York.

And so Yap and his colleagues, Abby Waslowack(ph), Brian Lucas(ph), Amy Cutty(ph) and Dana Carney(ph), they counted cars that were double parked in New York and then analyzed how spacious the cars were. Here's what he found.

YAP: People - vehicles with expansive driver space were more likely to be double parked in New York compared to vehicles that have a small driver space. The space in your car can shape how powerful you feel and that actually leads to more cheating behaviors, the likelihood of double parking in New York.

GREENE: Okay. So Shankar, if drivers who have a ton of room in the cockpit end up doing illegal things, is the solution just to put everyone in tiny little cramped cars?

VEDANTAM: Well, first of all, David, that would be completely unworkable in America. But second of all, even if you were King David and you could mandate this, it's not entirely clear whether it would work, and here's why. There's research that suggests that unethical behavior tends to be highest when you're either suffering from very high levels of stress or you have no stress at all.

So when you're in a big roomy car, when you have a lot of cockpit space, that gives you the feeling of power. Power gives you a feeling of autonomy and that lowers your stress, so you feel very little stress. But on the other hand, if you cramp everyone into the tiniest possible cars, you could potentially ramp up their stress and have counterproductive effects.

So rather than reshaping the entire automobile industry, the thing to do is for drivers to remember that they are vulnerable to these subtle biases.

GREENE: Or just everyone should buy mid-sized cars.

VEDANTAM: You said that, David, not me.

GREENE: Okay. Shankar Vedantam, he regularly comes in to talk about social science research and you can follow him, if you'd like, on Twitter @HiddenBrain and you can also follow this program @NPRGreene and @MorningEdition.

Neighborhood Bobcat Warning

From Carla Riggs, August 27, 2013

Bobcat seen on Sierra View Road

A few weeks ago, Alix told us about bobcat sightings on Grand Ave. I don't know if this is the same one, or we have a few more coming to our area. Because of the continuing drought, some of these wild things come down from the hills into our neighborhoods. Cats and small dogs are easy pickings. And chickens. sigh
Attached is a generic photo of a bobcat.

Hi Bob,
Just wanted to let you know that as I was driving out this morning at 6:20 I saw a bobcat run across the street from between your house and Mrs. Mangone's and into the flower bed on the east side of Elaine Hawke's front yard.  I stopped and watched it from about 20 feet for a few seconds before it ran through the hedge and back towards the Petrie's house.  It was definitely not a coyote and definitely not a house cat (unless someone has a 25 pound cat!).  In fact, it looked almost identical to the attached picture with the little tufts at the end of its ears, etc.  Same coloring, too.  Anyway, just a warning for any families that have outdoor cats.
Photo: Bobcat
        sitting on a rock

Cost-effectiveness of prize incentives vs. cashout commute incentives


Paul McGrath, August 19, 2013

Would you rather pay $13,500 or $447,000 to achieve the same results in your commute program?

What incentive do commuters need to switch from a solo-drive to an alternative commute? This is THE big question in commute incentive programs.

It’s commonly believed that commuters are so attached to their solo-drive commute that large incentives are needed. Some companies, such as Genentech, pay up to $4 per every day to employees that commute to work by bike, carpool, transit, or walk. However, even at $4 per day, this is considered by some experts to be too low to be effective:

This “carrot” [$4 per day] is not a sufficiently large motivator to cause commuting behavior to change - Steve Raney, Smart Mobility Consultant, Cities21

This carrot is not effective
This carrot is not effective

Steve Raney is absolutely right – cashout incentives are not effective. However, if instead of providing a guaranteed incentive for each alternative commute, employees are provided with an opportunity to compete for prizes, the economics dramatically improves by a factor of 10, or more.

Since 2005 every RideSpring client have achieved significant cost-effectiveness advantages by using a prize-based commute incentive program, rather than cashout. Unfortunately, even with this being demonstrated again and again with over eight years of commute data from many organizations, most proponents of commute incentive programs still push for cashout incentives. An example of this is the Campaign for Sensible Transportation (CFST), here in Santa Cruz.

The Campaign for Sensible Transportation is focused on educating our community on the financial, environmental and societal costs of highway widening, as well as researching and publicizing practical workable solutions that reduce our dependence on the automobile and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CFST has been aware of the cost advantages of using prize incentives instead of cashout since 2006. However, even with this awareness, in November 2009 CFST proposed that the City of Santa Cruz implement a commute incentive program paying up to $4 per alternative commute (AC) trip:

Another example of TDM [Transportation Demand Management] in Santa Cruz is the Texas Instruments Program in 2000, which paid employees up to $4 each time they did not drive alone. The program generated 16,000 alternative mode trips, involving 436 participants.
$4 per time/trip = $8 per alternative commute (AC) day.

CFST-Letter to RDA11nov09screenshot

You can view the document here: CFST-Letter to RDA11nov09

At the time of the CFST proposal, the City of Santa Cruz and the County of Santa Cruz were both using RideSpring. Comparing the cost of prize incentives at the County of Santa Cruz with what it would have cost with the $4 per trip CFST proposal shows that the County’s commute incentive costs would have increased by over 30x times from $13,500 to $447,000! This cost increase would have been with no increase in commute savings. This means all commute savings such as commute trip reduction, parking reduction, VMT (Vehicle Mies Travelled), CO2 and pollution savings would all be at least 30x more expensive – which would make it economically unfeasible for the County of Santa Cruz, as well as providing plenty of ammunition to those that believe that environmental solutions are too expensive and should not be implemented.

To see details of the commute program results achieved at the County of Santa Cruz and how the cost compares with the CFST $4 per trip proposal, click on the image below to download the excel spreadsheet…


Once you have downloaded the excel file, you’ll be able to create cool commute stats charts like this…


This spreadsheet shows the commute trip results achieved at the County of Santa Cruz up to the time that the CFST made their $4 per trip / $8 per AC day proposal. From these results, the total incentive cost for the County of Santa Cruz to achieve these results for these first 27 months of the program was $13,500.

After reviewing these results with our customer it was very satisfying to get the following testimonial from the County of Santa Cruz:

RideSpring is the most effective, and cost effective tool we have at the Santa Cruz County Government to reduce car commute trips, and address our parking challengesNancy Gordon, General Services Director, Santa Cruz County, January 2010

If however, the same results had been achieved with a $8 a day program, the incentive cost for the County of Santa Cruz would have increased to $446,896. So the County of Santa Cruz were savings $433,396 (a 97% cost savings) compared with the CFST proposal.

Highlights from the spreadsheet:

1. If the County of Santa Cruz had implemented the Campaign for Sensible Transportation Proposal of $4 per AC trip the incentive cost would have increased from $13,500 to $446,896. A cost increase of over 3,000% with no increase in commute savings. Also, ongoing incentive cost per alternative commuter would increase from ~$2.50 per month to ~$100 per month. Ongoing incentive cost per day would increase from ~20c to $8 per AC day.

2. In reality, the available budget was $500 per month ($13,500 for the full 27 months shown). If the County of Santa Cruz had directed this $500/mo to a $4 per trip plan as CFST had proposed, this would have limited participation to about 5 employees per month. This can be seen from column AG where a $4 per trip incentive program, would have cost approximately $100 per month per active participant.

3. With the prize program, there is no limit to the number of employees that can participate. This resulted in up to 226 County of Santa Cruz employees participating per month. If the prize program had been replaced with the CFST $4 per trip program, over 95% of participants would have to be turned away.

4. If a commute incentive budget of $447,000 was in fact available, RideSpring prize incentives could be provided to 7 employers for more than 10 years.

With the County of Santa Cruz and City of Santa Cruz having both enjoyed the environmental and economic advantages of a prize-based incentive commute program, it is no wonder that neither organization has shown any interest over the past three years in implementing the CFST’s proposal for a $4 per trip / $8  per day commute incentive program.

Most commute programs fail because they fail to generate interest and participation – the key driver of effectiveness. For a powerful example of commute incentive program failure, see:

Response to Santa Cruz Sentinel, Mercury News article “Years into grant to reduce emissions in Santa Cruz, meager returns realized”


The most significant question to ask in determining commute incentive effectiveness is: what level of participation is achieved for the dollars spent? This is a very useful ‘bang-for-the-buck’ measure of the effectiveness of a commute program – with the incentive as the ‘fuel’ that drives results. In the same way we understand that a 50 mpg Prius is better for the environment than a 14 mpg Hummer, a commute program that only costs 20c per alternative commute day provides 40x greater environmental benefits than a commute program that costs $8 per day in incentives.

Good Bad
Good ———————————————————————Bad

With the CFST recommending the City of Santa Cruz implement a $8 a day cashout incentive program, instead of prize-based, it would be like an environmentalist recommending you drive one of these instead of a Prius…
A World War 2 tank. Not recommended for the commute
A World War 2 tank. Not recommended for the commute

Yes, a tank. A World War 2 tank gets about 1.25 miles per gallon, using 40x as much gas as a 50 mpg Prius. A Hummer ‘only’ uses 3.5 times as much gas as Prius, so would be too efficient for this analogy.

For an organization that is focused on reducing our dependence on the automobile and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, why would the Campaign for Sensible Transportation recommend a commute program that cuts the environmental effectiveness of parking demand reduction, VMT reduction, fuel, CO2, and greenhouse gas reduction by 40x? This is a mystery to me. I will be asking this question to the Campaign for Sensible Transportation. Stay tuned for a response…

Paul McGrath, Founder of RideSpring

Would love to get your feedback! Comments….

Update: August 26, 2013

Another way to look at this is: what can a commute incentive budget of $500 per month buy in terms of incentized, reported employee participation in alternative commute trips?

Incentivized / reported AC trips with commute incentive budget of $500 per month
  • For a cashout program paying $4 per trip, the result is simply $500/$4 = 125 maximum commute trips incentivized per month
  • For prize based, this case study at the County of Santa Cruz achieved 111,724 incentivized/reported trips over 27 months. Average = 4,138 AC trips reported per month
This comparison is shown in the graphic below:

3310% increase in AC incentivized/reported with Prize Vs Cashout
3310% increase in AC incentivized/reported with Prize Vs Cashout

As you can see, we are not talking about a few percentage points different here: $500 invested in a prize-incentive program at the County of Santa Cruz yielded 33x greater results – an increase in performance of over 3,000%.

———————-        Campaign for Sensible Transportation Response       ————————–

Big thanks to Liz Levy, the first Campaign for Sensible Transportation member to respond. I am particularly excited to see Liz’s response because as well as being familiar with RideSpring, Liz also won State Sen. Joe Simitian’s eighth annual “There Ought to be a Law” contest with her proposal that would give businesses tax incentives for succeeding in motivating employees to reduce traffic gridlock. Her work resulted in The Vehicle Trip Reduction Bill, Senate Bill 425. With Liz Levy’s extensive knowledge on Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) strategies, she is probably the most qualified member of the Campaign for Sensible Transportation to comment on this topic.

My response to Liz’s response below…

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: RE: Latest blog post looks at the Campaign for Sensible Transportation’s TDM recommendations
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2013 23:52:38 -0700
From: Liz Levy


When I read the entire CfST letter, I saw no specific recommendation as to what constituted the “best” TDM program, all I read was that the letter said:

“TDM measures could include a combination of :
• Low cost bus passes for commuters
• Emergency ride home program for commuters
• Credit for Zip-Car membership for residents of downtown
• Discount parking for carpools
• Credit at bike stores for non-auto commuters”

And later…”According to the MTS, an successful example of TDM is UCSC which has 60 autos per 100 commuters vs. 80 autos/100 commuters to other workplaces in Santa Cruz. Another example of TDM in Santa Cruz is the Texas Instruments Program in 2000, which paid employees up to $4 each time they did not drive alone. The program generated 16,000 alternative mode trips, involving 436 participants.”

Citing an example of a program is not the same thing as recommending it. All this proves is that the high level of expertise you have developed in TDM solutions and how their costs compare is not widely or thoroughly understood by others in the community.

Furthermore, it was in 2009 that Jordan Woods joined RideSpring and fully developed the brilliant financial argument that you are currently using, so I’m surprised that you are coming down so hard on fellow environmentalists for not understanding it better back then.

Rather than attacking the CfST, I think your blog post could be more powerful if you compared the cost of RideSpring to Marin County’s $4/day cash-out, or any other company or municipality that uses this method (I think this includes Mountain View, and possibly Palo Alto).

And remember, these entities are just following what Best Workplaces for Commuters has been telling them for years about TDM best practices! They just subscribed to the accepted, conventional wisdom.

The reason RideSpring works so well is not simply that it is the cheapest solution (which will scare off some), but that it is behaviorally the most effective. The best way to get a dog to do what you want is not to give him a treat every single time he performs the trick; it is to randomly reward him for doing the trick. He will try a lot harder if he knows there’s only a chance of a reward, but if he can increase his chances, he will keep doing it!


——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Re: Latest blog post looks at the Campaign for Sensible Transportation’s TDM recommendations
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2013 23:43:03 -0700
From: Paul McGrath
To: Liz Levy
CC: All at CFST
Hi Liz,

Apologies for the delay in responding. Thanks again for your response, especially since you are the only one that has responded so far from CFST. I understand your main points are:
  1. In the CFST letter to the City of Santa Cruz they were not proposals to implement the ‘best’ forms of TDM, they were just examples of TDM strategies
  2. CFST decision makers didn’t understand RideSpring back in 2009 because I wasn’t communicating the value effectively. So it is unreasonable for me to criticize their recommendation of the Texas Instruments $4 per trip commute incentive program from 2000
  3. This current blog post DOES nail ‘the brilliant financial argument’ this time!
My response:
1. The CFST understands more than anyone that effective solutions are needed to reduce traffic, parking demand, CO2, pollution, etc., and CFST’s mission is to educate the public of this need, and the best practical solutions. The challenges are huge and we need the best solutions available. Does anyone disagree with that?  The CFST also sells itself to the Santa Cruz community as doing the research, having the knowledge, and reporting on the most practical, and cost effective solutions – CFST has asked for donations from the public in this role. So for CFST to just say “we’re not saying these are the best, or even a proposal, they are just examples” is pretty damn weak. So CFST just puts out wishy-washy examples, and it’s up to someone else to figure it out? Well it’s worse than that – I don’t expect the CFST to be experts at all the different solutions out there, but they could engage with those in our community that are contributing, such as myself – I do appreciate you saying “high level of expertise you have developed in TDM solutions”, but CFST has shown very little interest in the success that the City and County have achieved with RideSpring – so much so that they recommended a program that hasn’t operated for over 12 years, and would cost over 30x as much to operate for no increase in benefit as this blog post has shown.

2. I am sure that my communication of the value has improved since 2009 – and yes, Jordan Woods certainly contributed to that. However, I find it difficult to imagine that the info. CFST had available in 2009 (their research) indicated that their suggestion/example/proposal for the Texas Instruments $4 per trip plan was a more convincing practical, workable and cost-effective solution. I would love to see their research that led them to that conclusion. For this blog article I have focused on the cost-effective comparison, which is the most important point but there are many other important differences as well:

Comparing RideSpring with CFST proposal to implement Texas Instruments $4 per trip plan from 2000
Factor RideSpring Texas Instruments $4 per trip plan proposed by CFST
Ongoing cost effectiveness: 2 yrs.+:
Ongoing incentive cost per AC day
~20c $8
AC days incentivized per month with budget of $500/mo 2,500 63
Alternative mode trips generated  111,724 (this case study – County of Santa Cruz)  16,000
Participants 603 (this case study – County of Santa Cruz) 436
Testimonials http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qePeHoSLDTs
Currently operating? Yes No
Available to implement? Yes No
Track record? Yes: 10 employers from size 100 to over 6,500 employees from 2005 to present 1 employer: Texas Instruments in 2000
Commute data available? Yes: from over 2M commute trips reported No
Users to consult with? Yes No
Administrators to consult with? Yes No
Qualified staff available that understand program? Yes No
Local employers have used program? ETR Associates, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College 1 employer: Texas Instruments.
Local employers that want to use program? Yes: Cabrillo College None
Qualified staff available to run program? Yes No
How long to implement? 1 month ?
Designed to be used by multiple employers? Yes No
Successful in obtaining AB2766 grant funding? Yes: Two grants awarded: City and County of Santa Cruz No
With the above information available in 2009 how did the decision makers at CFST determine that bringing  the Texas Instruments $4 per trip program back from the dead could be considered the cost-effective, practical, workable solution? I would love to see the compelling research info. that led to that conclusion.

3. With this blog piece nailing the ‘brilliant financial argument’, as you say (thank you for that), this is very good news! So now we can finally expect environmentalists at CFST to understand, and positive change to happen?

Will the decision makers at CFST now change their recommendation to the City to expand the use of the currently successful and working RideSpring program to reduce parking demand in the downtown area? Or will they still stick with their original recommendation to bring back from the dead the Texas Instrument $4 a trip program that hasn’t been used over the past 12 years? – AND provide the research to back up that recommendation/proposal/suggestion?

Finally, I do sincerely appreciate your time, interest and understanding in what we do at RideSpring – and for the positive feedback you’ve shared. Reading between the lines in your response I am guessing you are as perplexed as I am by the decisions made at CFST.

Best regards,

Metro App Allows Riders to Report Incidents Directly to Sheriff's Department


By Sarah Bennett, August 26, 2013


An app that allows Los Angeles County's public transit riders to report non-emergency crimes and issues to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department launched this summer, as part of an effort by the Metropolitan Transit Authority to connect riders directly with law enforcement.

The Apple and Android-accessible app was created as part of Metro's TransitWatchLA.org website, which is populated with information from the Department of Homeland Security that focuses on identifying and reporting indicators of terrorism. And though the app does have lots of educational material where riders can learn the "8 Signs of Terrorism" and get an introduction to DHS' "If you see something, say something" campaign, the LA Metro Transit Watch app's most useful feature is the "Report it" tab.

Similar to the Go Long Beach app, where residents can notify City Hall of tagging, potholes and other issues requiring attention, Metro's new app allows transit riders to tell the Sheriff's Department of property crimes, fights, elevator/escalator problems and unattended bags. Incidents submitted through the app's "Report it" option will be immediately pushed through to the Sheriff's dispatch center where photos can be instantly downloaded and acted upon.

Emergencies and crimes in progress should still be reported through 911.

“Keeping in mind that one crime is too many, we must continually work to enhance transit safety to prevent criminal activity,” said Metro Board Chair Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

To download the app, or for more information, visit the LA Metro Transit Watch website at www.transitwatchla.org

Labor Day Means Max Enforcement on Freeways


August 26, 2013

As motorists prepare for the final holiday weekend of summer, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is gearing up to save lives by joining with law enforcement agencies throughout the country and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in an ongoing nationwide drunk driving crackdown.  The two-week-long “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which began August 16, coincides with the CHP’s annual Labor Day Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP).
 During the CHP’s holiday enforcement effort, which begins Friday, August 30, at 6 p.m. and continues through Monday, September 2, at 11:59 p.m., all available CHP officers will be on patrol throughout California to help ensure everyone has a safe journey.  An additional emphasis will be placed on removing impaired drivers from the roadway before they destroy their life or the lives of their fellow motorists.

“Through our education and enforcement efforts over the holiday, we are hoping to save lives and reduce the number of people injured and killed on California’s roadways,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.  “Do not let your guard down just because summer is coming to an end; drive defensively and always wear your seat belt.”

During last year’s Labor Day MEP, 35 people were killed in collisions on California’s roadways.  Within CHP jurisdiction nearly half of the 16 vehicle occupants killed were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.  CHP officers throughout the state made more than 1,300 arrests for driving under the influence (DUI), which represents an 11 percent decrease from the same period the previous year.

The public is encouraged to be a part of the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign by dialing 9-1-1 to report suspected drunk drivers.

Editorial: An earthquake alert system? You bet.

The Legislature should approve a bill to develop and manage a system that could give residents precious moments' notice before the shaking starts.


August 27, 2013

 Earthquake early warning system

 A computer-generated graphic is displayed at news conference in Pasadena to announce legislation to create an earthquake early warning system for California, similar to those in Japan and elsewhere.

A proposed earthquake warning system designed to alert Californians before the forceful seismic waves reach them faces a test this week in the Assembly, where questions about the cost and the technology are giving some lawmakers pause. That's a good reason for legislators to be careful as they set the project's parameters, but it's not an excuse to stop moving forward. A new version of the bill offered by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) makes clear that the system will be a public-private partnership, while giving state officials a year and a half to find the money. The Legislature should approve it.

Although scientists can estimate earthquake risks based on the location and seismic history of fault lines, they've yet to find a way to predict when a temblor will strike. The system envisioned by Padilla's bill, like ones currently being used in Japan, Mexico and other quake-prone countries, would send out alerts as soon as sensors detect the first signs of a sizable quake, which happen seconds before the more damaging shock waves reach the surface. For a quake that started in the high desert, Angelenos could be warned 30 seconds or more in advance. Such a system would require a network of sensors along the faults, plus the technology to gauge a quake's severity, issue an alert and trigger the appropriate responses.

The U.S. Geological Survey has been developing a small-scale system with state officials and seismologists at the California Institute of Technology and UC Berkeley. But the federal government hasn't put up the money for construction (an estimated $23 million) or operations (roughly$12 million a year). And according to one critic in the private sector — Seismic Warning Systems of Scotts Valley, Calif., which is building its own alert system — a recent demonstration showed that the state's technology doesn't work quickly enough to provide any warning to those near a quake's epicenter.

Padilla's bill would give the state Office of Emergency Services the ultimate responsibility for developing and managing the system, while leaving the door open for the state to collaborate with private companies that can prove their ability to upgrade the system. That's the right balance. And as important as it is to reduce the delays that limit the alerts' utility, such advancements in data crunching can still be achieved after the network of sensors is rolled out.

The Brown administration is exploring ways of funding the system without dipping into the state's general fund, and that's welcome. Considering that earthquakes cost the United States more than $5 billion a year on average, however, the investment called for by the Padilla bill is more than reasonable.

Port truck drivers at Carson firm seek union rep, go on strike


By Ricardo Lopez, August 26, 2013

  Drivers for Carson trucking firm go on strike
 About 30 drivers for a Carson trucking company went on a 24-hour strike Monday, alleging anti-union hostility by their employers, organizers said. Above, trucks at the Port of Long Beach.

Thirty port truck drivers went on strike Monday night at a Carson-based trucking firm, alleging their employer is attempting to thwart their efforts to unionize, organizers said.

Monday's strike will go for 24 hours and organizers have planned a Tuesday rally with labor leaders and elected officials.

Protesters on Monday began picketing the trucking firm Green Fleet Systems outside its Carson facility, located about eight miles north of the Port of Long Beach.

Organizers also plan to follow Green Fleet trucks to warehouses and distribution centers in the Inland Empire to picket trucks as they deposit goods at their destinations.

Monday's strike kicks off a week of planned labor actions by low-wage workers in different industries seeking to draw attention to their causes.

Green Fleet Systems has moved goods in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for more than 20 years, according to the company's website.

Truck drivers allege that their employer has hired "union busters" who are intimidating drivers seeking to join the Teamsters Local 848.

In March, the Teamsters Port Division group filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, Region 21, which handles complaints in Southern California.

The Teamsters allege that a Green Fleet Systems supervisor asked an employee to sign an anti-union petition and promised better pay and a boost in benefits if workers did not join the union.
A Sept. 16 hearing date on the issue has been postponed to sometime in October, according to an attorney for the Teamsters union.

Truck driver Agustin Cuevas, 60, said he and co-workers are fighting for better treatment from their employer and to protest what he calls intimidation by hired union busters.

Cuevas, who has worked as a driver for 20 years, said workers are demanding basic dignity and respect from the company.

"I've gone to work sick before," he said in Spanish by telephone. "If you're not a perfect employee, you get written up for any minor infraction."

AIDS Walk Ads on LA Buses: A Pandora’s Box?


By Dennis Hathaway, August 27, 2013


BILLBOARD WATCH - Imagine a DASH bus rolling through downtown Los Angeles streets with an ad on its sides promoting the annual AIDS Walk, which raises millions for AIDS awareness and prevention programs. Then imagine that same bus, a few months later, with an ad proclaiming that AIDS is retribution for the sin of homosexuality. 

Farfetched? Maybe, but on this coming Tuesday the City Council is scheduled to consider a motion exempting the AIDS Walk ads from a prohibition against non-commercial advertising on the city’s buses and transit vehicles. This motion by Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz arrives along with a warning from the city’s Department of Transportation that allowing non-commercial advertising could mean the city wouldn’t be able to reject ads with “offensive and inappropriate” speech.

This warning isn’t purely speculative. Late last year, a federal judge in New York slapped down that city’s transit authority for trying to reject ads from a pro-Israel group that many Muslims and others found demeaning. The ads, which seemed to characterize Israel’s enemies as savages, also stirred objections in Chicago and San Francisco, although threats of legal action prompted those cities to allow the ads on its trains and buses.

Courts have long held that cities can regulate the size and placement of advertising signs and even prohibit entire classes of signage as long as the regulations are content-neutral. In other words, a city can specify the size and placement of ads in its transit system, but it cannot say, for example, that an ad for Coca-Cola is okay but an ad for Pepsi isn’t.

Of course a city doesn’t really care whether a particular ad is for Coca-Cola or Pepsi or some other product, as long as it is legal. That doesn’t hold true, however, for non-commercial advertising that espouses views that citizens may view as offensive or inflammatory. That’s why LA, as well as other cities in the area and elsewhere, has banned non-commercial advertising in their transit systems, a blanket prohibition that meets the constitutional test of content neutrality.

In fact, that’s exactly what Chicago did in the wake of the brouhaha over the pro-Israel ads, revised its policy to prohibit non-commercial advertising in the city’s transit system. San Francisco, where the same group behind the pro-Israel ads then submitted ads with blatantly anti-gay quotations from Muslim clerics and other Muslim figures, is still wrestling with the issue. And in New York, where the federal judge’s ruling seemed to sympathize with the city even while ruling against it, the transit authority adopted a disclaimer to be made part of all ad copy.

That disclaimer reads, This is a paid advertisement sponsored by (name of sponsor). The display of this advertisement does not imply MTA’s endorsement of any views expressed” It seems unlikely, however, that this will assuage people offended by the content of a provocative ad, and the New York court decision is probably far from the last word on the subject, legal or otherwise.

The view put forward by the plaintiffs in the New York case, as well as a number of free speech advocates, is that buses and trains are public gathering spaces where ads ought to enjoy the same First Amendment protections as individuals, meaning that almost anything short of hardcore pornography or an incitement to riot cannot be banned. And the emergence of organizations able to spend unlimited money on political causes makes transit advertising a tempting venue.

Hardly anyone would fault the LA City Council for wanting to support a worthwhile cause like the Oct. 13 AIDS Walk. This seems to be the sentiment behind the Krekorian/Koretz motion to exempt the event from the non-commercial ad ban, even though doing so may open a Pandora ’s Box the city could find hard to close.

In addition to the proposed exemption, the motion directs city officials, including the Department of Transportation and City Attorney, to “develop a more flexible, sustainable policy that will allow for reasonable non-commercial advertising by non-profits on city-owned transit vehicles.”

Can such a policy be successfully crafted? The issue was discussed earlier this month by the City Council’s Transportation Committee, where the Department of Transportation staff delivered its warning that exempting AIDS Walk could lead to the city being unable to control what is displayed on the sides of its buses. If that’s true, is the City Council willing to pay that price in order to support non-profits promoting good causes?

The MTA, which operates the vast majority of buses and trains in the city, allows only commercial advertising on those vehicles. Nearby Santa Monica, which operates its own bus line in that city as well as L.A., does not allow any non-commercial advertising. By doing so, they have avoided the controversies that have arisen in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere.

San Francisco, in particular, has been plagued by the issue. Two years ago, a group called the Second Amendment Foundation submitted ads for a conference that featured a woman toting a shotgun even though the city had a policy forbidding ads promoting the use of firearms. Under the threat of legal action, the ads were accepted and displayed at transit locations around the city.

To some who may not be aware of this history or the finer points of law, it makes no sense to ban messages promoting a worthy, non-profit cause while allowing city DASH and commuter buses to be festooned with ads for commercial products and services, some of which may be of questionable value and even potentially harmful.

That, in fact, raises a question that isn’t a central part of the ongoing discussion but perhaps should be:  What responsibility does a city or other governmental body bear for the content of advertising on its property, whether the advertising is commercial or non-commercial? What about fast food, which has been implicated in the rise of obesity and diabetes? What about alcohol, which costs governments billions for law enforcement and emergency and medical services? What about movies and TV shows depicting acts of violence, most often with firearms, when gun violence exacts a serious toll on some neighborhoods?

But back to Tuesday’s council meeting.  It’s obvious that the councilmen wanting to give AIDS Walk a break are acting with nothing but good intentions. Unfortunately, we all know where good intentions sometimes lead.

Highway report shows where Americans rack up the miles


By Todd Solomon, August 26, 2013

In 2011, people drove more than 84.7 billion miles on California interstate highways. That's more than 900 times the distance from Earth to the Sun, and it makes the Golden State's highways the nation's busiest. Overall, our nation's interstate highways saw vehicles traveling 2.95 trillion miles in 2011. That's nearly double the number of highway miles traveled in 1980.

You can find these data and more in the Federal Highway Administration's “U.S. Interstate Traffic Volume Analysis.” In addition to State totals, the report released last week also shows vehicle miles traveled on individual highways. America's busiest interstate? Not surprisingly, it's California's I-5, which saw drivers rack up 21.4 billion miles in 2011. In fact, the nation's next two busiest highway segments are also in California--the I-10 and I-110--and the Los Angeles section of I-405 leads the way among city highways.

While these facts might help you impress your friends or score some points in a trivia contest, for State DOTs and highway planners, they are much more valuable. Knowing where vehicles are traveling helps highway departments focus their resources more effectively. As U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Better information means cities and states can more efficiently target congestion and help people get home from work faster.”

Blue-washed photo of a busy California highway

The new analysis also indicates "Mean Pavement Roughness" for each roadway, and that can help planners prioritize highway maintenance for improved safety and reduced bottlenecks. As FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez said, “Analysis of the nation’s traffic patterns and areas of changing traffic volume will lead to safer, less congested roads and greater mobility for all Americans.”

Improved safety and increased mobility--that's what DOT is all about, and the FHWA's Interstate Analysis is one more tool to help us work toward those important goals.

You can see data for your state in the FHWA's Interstate Brief.

Traffic Stunt of the Day: Dancing Zebras Help Pedestrians Cross the Street


By Jenny Xie, August 26, 2013

On the chaotic streets of La Paz, Bolivia, crosswalks come alive to help ensure pedestrian safety.
Each year since 2001, the city has employs hundreds of high-risk youth to work as "traffic zebras." Dressed in full-body costumes and trained in street performance, the zebras jump into the crosswalks when the light turns red, making sure that vehicles stop fully and pedestrians can cross the streets safely. Watch a crew of traffic zebras in action:

(Peggy Drouet: These are not the video in the Atlantic Cities article but others on the internet. Go to the website to see that video.)


From Sylvia Plummer, August 26, 2013

Monrovia City Council Needs to Receive our Emails

Last Friday I sent out a CALL TO ACTION.* I hope you all can follow thru and sent your emails to Monrovia City Council Members stating your reasons why they should not support closing the SR-710 gap. 
(*See: http://www.710studysanrafaelneighborhoodposts.com/2013/08/call-to-action.html )

If possible, please plan to attend this important meeting.  We need your support.  Tuesday, September 3rd at 7:30pm 

Message received by Alhambra Residents:

Subject: Come Show Your Support to Close the Gap!
To: 710 Close the Gap <710closethegap@cityofalhambra.org>