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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Downtown Bike Commuters Find Safety and Fun in Group Rides


By Ryan Vaillancourt, August 27, 2013

Downtown Bike Commuters Find Safety and Fun in Group Rides

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - When it comes to riding a bicycle, especially on city streets, the rule of safety in numbers applies.

A group of cyclists pedaling at the same pace is simply more visible to car drivers. There’s another plus about riding in a group: It’s more fun.

Those beliefs led cycling advocates Nona Varnado and Bruce Chan to form L.A. Bike Trains, an upstart organization that hosts weekly morning rides between various residential neighborhoods and employment hubs.

By creating a group setting to ride to work, Bike Trains hopes to inspire people to ditch their cars and take to the streets on two wheels. It seems to be getting some traction: After launching in May with four routes, Bike Trains is now up to nine routes, four of which culminate in Downtown (other destinations include Long Beach and Santa Monica).

“Our number one target audience is the people who basically don’t feel comfortable riding by themselves,” Varnado said. “They might not have any experience or might not know how to get there.”

Here’s how it works: Would-be participants pick a route that corresponds with their commute (most rides start in the Silver Lake/Los Feliz area). Riders convene at a starting point and roll out by 8 a.m.

Downtown destinations include Fifth and Olive streets and Seventh Street and Grand Avenue. Some routes pick up regular riders along the way

Each ride is led by a “conductor,” an experienced cyclist with safety training for riding in the street.

In Action

On a recent Wednesday morning ride, conductors Kelli Bachmann and Kelly Majewski met up at Sunset Boulevard and Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz for a trek to Downtown via Sunset. It started with just four riders, but as the petite peloton rolled east, it slowly grew.

Nat Gale, a transportation planner in the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, joined the train near Café Tropical at Sunset and Silver Lake boulevards. A half-mile farther east, Ryan Johnson, a transportation consultant who works near Pershing Square, joined in.

Johnson, who wore green sunglasses emblazoned with the logo of CicLAvia, said he learned about Bike Trains by virtue of being part of L.A.’s growing cycling culture. Johnson and Gale are both regulars on the Wednesday Silver Lake to Downtown route.

Even though the recent ride had no beginner participants, Bike Trains is clearly geared toward casual commuters, and not Lycra-loving roadies or renegade fixie die-hards.

With Bachmann and Majewski leading the way, their long skirts parachuting down Sunset, the group rolled at an easy pace. Riders used universal hand signals to note obstacles in the bike lane. When an errantly parked car impeded progress, the group carefully veered in unison into the nearest traffic lane, then fell back into the line. It took about 15 minutes to travel from Silver Lake to First and Spring streets in Downtown.

Currently, most Bike Train routes attract from two to 10 participants, said Varnado, who worked as a bike messenger in New York and Budapest before moving to Los Angeles.

The rides, which are free, are slowly growing in popularity, with most regular participants connecting through various social networks.

“In Los Angeles, cycling is totally social,” Varnado said. “I always thought of my bike as transportation. Here, it’s recreational, it’s road riding, but it’s not transportation yet. I thought if we took social riding and turned that into transportation that this could really be a game changer.”

Beginners who are uncomfortable even riding to the morning meet-up point can contact Bike Trains for a “valet service.” The conductor will meet valet users at their home, escort them to the starting point, and make sure they know how to properly lock their bike at the workplace, Varnado said.

Additional information is at labiketrains.org.

Open thread: Should dangerous bike riders be treated like dangerous drivers?


By Ted Rogers, August 28, 2013

 Cyclist cited for riding the wrong way in DTLA

We’ve heard it all before.

Drivers complain about dangerous bike riders, as if they faced the same risk from bicyclists as cyclists face from motor vehicles. And pedestrians complain about riders needlessly risking their lives as they navigate the periphery of city streets.

Problem is, they may have a point.

It’s not uncommon for cars skid to a stop as a bike rider blows through a crowded intersection regardless of traffic signals or right-of-way. Or for pedestrians to jump out of the way of a speeding bike in a hellbent race through crosswalks and along sidewalks.

I’ve seen both far too many times to count.

And while motorists usually risk little more than some insurance-paid bodywork, pedestrians and cyclists can both face serious injury, or rarely, death, in a collision between the two, regardless of who is at fault.

That was driven home by the recent conviction of San Francisco cyclist Chris Bucchere, who took the life of a pedestrian in a crosswalk in an alleged high-speed, red-light running tear through the bayside city. Yet Bucchere got off with a sentence of community service, something that would have made many bike riders livid if it had been a similar scofflaw motorist who killed a bike rider.

Myself included.

I’ve written about Bucchere’s sentence here. And KPCC’s Larry Mantle recently devoted a segment to discussing the case on his AirTalk program.

So what do you think?
Are overly aggressive bike riders really a problem?

And should they — we — be held to the same legal standards as motorists, who have far more potential to do deadly damage?


Joe B
"It’s not uncommon for cars skid to a stop as a bike rider blows through a
crowded intersection regardless of traffic signals or right-of-way."
Are you sure about that? Because I've seen cars skid to a stop due to a cyclist running a light exactly once in the past year. (It was a young teenager on Venice Blvd.)
Sure, I've seen plenty of cyclists run red lights (and stop signs). But it's almost always done in a way that, well, doesn't really startle anybody.
On the other hand, I get the crap scared out of me about once per day by an idiot driver making a dangerous and illegal maneuver.
So, while the rare cyclist who endangers a driver and the more-common-but-still-relatively-rare cyclist who startles or endangers pedestrians are both problems, I don't think it does anybody any good to pretend that they're on the same scale as aggressive and dangerous drivers.
People should be held accountable for recklessly injuring another person. If Bucchere had been driving a car and blown through a yellow/red light and killed Hui, we wouldn't even be having a debate. Drivers should be held just as accountable.
That said, I don't think it's fair for drivers or pedestrians to use Bucchere as an indictment of bicyclists in general. Getting rear ended by an Asian woman is not an indication that Asian woman can't drive. People should receive fair treatment as individuals.

Overly aggressive ANYONE on the streets should be treated as a problem if they're a threat to themselves or someone else. Why is this even a topic for debate?

Hmmm. I'm watching TV right now and I see a cane in the middle of the street with its owner under a white tarp. I don't believe that people riding bikes are the problem. Drivers who run over people and leave the scene are. How many times does a person riding a bike kill someone in this country 3? Maybe 6 times? I think people's outrage is misplaced. Besides, as long as drivers get as you said "a soft caress on the wrist" sentence, a person riding a bike should get a comparable sentence.

Sure, bicyclists should be held to the same standards as motorists, with penalties proportional to the kinetic energy of the vehicle at the time of the moving violation.

I'm no victim blamer, but I do think that everyone(!) should follow the law or be prepared to face the consequences. Blowing through that red light may seem harmless to you -- but you may not see the driver coming the other direction who needs to swerve to avoid you, potentially hurting others. Laws allow us to have reasonable expectations of others' behaviors on the road. If you don't like the laws, then work to change them, but don't be surprised when you're ticketed for breaking them. I feel like this is pretty much common sense.
That said, motorists should be held to the same standards -- and unfortunately that is often not the case.

Mapping Metro Rail's Huge Ridership Boom Since 2000


By Eve Bachrach, August 28, 2013





Metro ridership has been a popular theme among transit-loving hobbyist mappers, and here's another neat one to add to the list. Lawrence Sim has taken Metro's monthly rail ridership numbers since 2000 (plus the Orange Line busway) and plotted them on this handy dandy interactive map. It may not win any awards for special effects wizardry, but it's neat to see how ridership has built steadily over time. Earlier reporting bears this out--in 2012 (when the Expo Line and Orange Line extension opened), ridership was up 12 percent over the previous year and 16 percent on the year before that. During that time, plain old bus ridership remained flat. Head over here to play with the map

· LA Metro ridership by month [Lawrenzo]

The Shanghai Metro Has Its Own Library


By Arit John, August 28, 2013

 The Shanghai Metro Has Its Own Library

Anyone who has ever been stuck on a sweltering subway platform with no reception knows you can only play Candy Crush for so long. In Shanghai, at least, there's a new library system along a metro line that lends books to commuters.

Shanghai's metro line 2 teamed up with the Aizhi bookstore and Hujiang.com, an online education service, to create a simple borrowing program with no library cards and no fees. Riders pick up a book at one stop and, hopefully, return it before they get off the subway. Borrowers are encouraged to give a small donation — one yuan, or about 16 cents — if they're so inclined.

Reports the Los Angeles Times:
Special bookshelves are installed at the metro stations, containing rows books for the taking. There's no registration necessary, and no fee; readers are simply encouraged to make a small charitable donation when taking a book.

Many of the books came from donations from a program launched last year that also funneled donated books to underfunded schools.
So far, the subway library been a hit, and lines have been forming during rush hour. "Now you can read a real book, rather than staring at the cellphone through the metro ride," said Zou Shuxian, an Aizhi bookstore spokesperson, told the China Daily.

And considering literature's falling popularity in China, this could be more than just a diversion for commuters, but, rather, a program to get people reading more. As China Daily reported earlier this year, The Chinese Academy of Press and Publication found that Chinese people read 4.3 books on average in 2012, compared to 8.4 books read by French and Japanese people and seven books read by Americans. When Americans are reading more books than you, it's probably time to shake things up.

Shanghai metro creates a subway-only library for commuters 


 By Carolyn Kellogg, August 26, 201Shanghai Metro3

A Shanghai metro station in July 31

Chinese subway riders using Shanghai's Metro Line 2 will soon have their very own unofficial library. Pick up a book at one station, drop it off at any other.

The project was initiated by a bookstore, the subway line and the online education provider Hujiang.com. "Now you can read a real book, rather than staring at the cellphone through the metro ride," said Zou Shuxian, an Aizhi bookstore spokesperson, told the China Daily.
Special bookshelves are installed at the metro stations, containing rows books for the taking. There's no registration necessary, and no fee; readers are simply encouraged to make a small charitable donation when taking a book.

Many of the books came from donations from a program launched last year that also funneled donated books to underfunded schools.

Commuters have been quick to warm to the program, which launched earlier this month. During rush hour, lines form at the bookshelves. "Even if some books are not returned, we believe the overall benefit is worthwhile," a staffer told China Daily.

The air-conditioned metro has been a refuge this summer for Shanghai residents seeking relief from record-breaking heat; on Aug. 7, the city was 105.4 degrees, the hottest day in 140 years. Now, while hanging out on the platform, they'll have something to read.

Crawford: Watch out for your wallets


By Tom Crawford, August 28, 2013

Our state constitution and laws are embedded with provisions that have one simple purpose: to keep politicians and their cronies from looting the public treasury and leaving taxpayers with a mountain of debt.

That’s why the legislature can include bonds in the state budget for capital projects, but the level of that bonded debt cannot exceed 10 percent of the annual tax revenues.

When local governments issue bonds to build new courthouses or other facilities, they are required to get voter approval in a bond referendum.

These are wise limitations and we have them because politicians have to raise money from contributors to get elected to public office. These contributors are frequently builders, developers and contractors who expect to see a return on that investment in the form of public construction projects.
Because of the economic downturn, state and local governments have cut back on infrastructure projects in recent years.

This has been a troubling trend for construction and engineering firms that depended on government work as a source of business. That particular revenue stream has just about run dry.
What can these interest groups do to get around all these troublesome limitations on bond debt and public spending?

One way is to authorize state and local governments to form private-public partnerships, known by the abbreviation P3, where a private firm assumes part of the financial risk of a project in return for getting access to public funds.

These P3 partnerships were authorized several years ago to build toll roads. There is now a bill pending in the legislature to allow the same sort of public-private relationship for "vertical construction" projects like government buildings.

At a legislative hearing on the public-private bill, known as SB 255, the hearing room was packed with lawyers and lobbyists who represented engineering, construction and development firms.
"It’s all been very positive," Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, remarked near the end of the hearing. "Is anyone opposed?"

Not surprisingly, all the audience members thought the bill was a great idea.

The lobbyists at the hearing tended to use the same corporate buzzwords and jargon in their sales pitches.

By allowing these partnerships with outside companies, they said, legislators would be able to "unleash the creativity and innovations of the private market" to get these government construction projects underway.

Think about that for a moment. We’re talking about generic government buildings. How many "creative" and "innovative" ways are there to dig a foundation, frame up a building and put a roof on it? This is basic construction work that you would want to achieve in the most economical way possible for the taxpayers.

Another phrase tossed around by several of the lobbyists was that these public-private proposals were "just another tool in our toolbox." Time and again they came back to the analogy of tools and toolboxes.

Let’s remember that "tool" spelled backward is "loot." I fear that if this particular bill should pass — and there are some influential people with money who will try to get it passed  then you could see some large-scale looting of the public treasury.

Governments obviously have a need, on occasion, to build new roads, schools, courthouses and other facilities that provide services to their constituents.

There’s a simple way to get this accomplished: If you need a new building, then allocate tax funds or float a bond issue to pay for it.

If the voters approve the bond issue, that’s fine. If they don’t approve it, then that’s fine as well – in our democracy, the voters should have the final word on these major spending decisions, not some developer in an expensive suit.

One final piece of advice if the General Assembly should approve that public-private bill: watch out for your wallets.

The Day Pass Diary: Riding the Metro Purple Line


By Chloe Rodriguez, August 27, 2013


 The Urban Light display in front of the LACMA entrance. The installation consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s.

 Only $0.25 will get you up this hill!

Even though the Metro Purple Line is the shortest rail line in Los Angeles County, there’s an endless amount of places to go and sights to see at every stop. With the help of Metro, you can experience the Purple Line all day for only $5 with a $5 Day Pass.

Continue reading for some suggestions for your trip via the Purple Line:

Civic Center Station: 

When you exit the first stop at Civic Center, you are right in the middle of Grand Park, Downtown’s largest public open space. Here you can find Farmer’s Markets every Tuesday and listen to live music from a local band for free. Metro also offers riders a free pair of sunglasses by showing a valid TAP card at the Information Booth at Grand Park events. To see what’s coming up at Grand Park, check out the event calendar. Did you know that there is a museum about how Los Angeles gets its water? Well, there is! At the John Ferraro Building, go to the LADWP museum to learn all about the history of the aqueduct system in Los Angeles. To find other fun places to go off of the Civic Center Station, visit this past post here.

Pershing Square Station:

Bunker Hill offers more than meets the eye. Summer concerts, a plethora of food options, and art studios all inhabit a home off of the Pershing Square Station. For example, grab a bite to eat at LA’s oldest open-air market, Grand Central Market, and then head over to the public venue at the California Plaza to hear live music provided by Grand Performances. To get there, ride Angel’s Flight for only $0.25 with a valid Metro pass. While heading up the hill on Angel’s Flight, look to the left to view Angel’s Knoll. Look familiar? It’s the little hill where 500 Days of Summer was filmed, the perfect place to recreate a favorite movie moment. Like books instead of movies? At the intersection of 5th and Spring lies one of Downtown’s hidden gems: The Last Bookstore. This two-story bookstores stocks traditional books ranging from new to old on the first floor and used books arranged by color on the second floor. It’s a great little place to visit for some down time.

7th/Metro Station:

One of the biggest challenges when going out for lunch with friends is finding a place where everyone can find a dish they like. At the newly renovated Fig @ 7th shopping center, the challenge ceases to exist. At the bottom level, food ranging from chicken curry to grilled cheese to farm-fresh salads are all whipped up for hungry lunchgoers. Also, a Farmer’s Market is also held every week on Thursday on the 1st level during lunch.

Westlake/Macathur Park Station:

Thinly cut swiss cheese. Coleslaw with just the right amount of mayo. Rye bread that’s soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside. The best cut pastrami this side of NYC. Put all that together and you get the legendary #19 pastrami sandwich from Westlake’s Langer’s Deli. This LA landmark serves up some of the best deli meats Los Angeles has to offer, and there’s no doubt that the #19 is the way to go. It’s so good that there’s even a line outside the door starting at 11 a.m. Needless to say, Langer’s Deli is the King of the Deli on the Purple Line. Take your sandwich to-go and then sit at MacArthur Park for a great view of Downtown LA or even a concert provided by the park’s Levitt Pavilion.

Wilshire/Vermont Station:

Take the Purple Line to see one of LA’s cultural enclaves, Koreatown, home base for some of the best Korean BBQ in the LA County. A personal favorite is Soowon Galbi, just one block away from the Wilshire/Vermont station. They serve up a great selection of thin strips of meat and dozens of vegetables dishes all ready to be grilled at the table. After making your stomach happy, head over to Feel Karaoke to sing your heart out.

Wilshire/Western Station:

On the last stop of the Purple Line you’ll find an Art Deco landmark on the corner of Wilshire and Western Boulevard better known as The Wiltern Theatre. This complex hosts concerts and live shows throughout the year. In front of the theatre, you can catch the Metro Rapid 720 that travels through Little Ethiopia and stops at Museum Row. With a valid TAP card, you can save $2 on admission at LACMA and save $1.25 on admission at the Page Museum. The La Brea Tar Pits is a sight to see, along with all of the historic art at the museums.

FMCSA launches 2-week strike force


August 26, 2013

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began a two-week strike force of passenger bus safety inspections across the country, part of the agency’s Motorcoach Safety Initiative to remove high-risk buses and drivers from the nation’s roads.

In addition to surprise inspections, investigators will also visit new bus companies to assess their levels of safety.

Law enforcement and specially trained investigators are inspecting buses for overall vehicle maintenance including brakes, tires and exhaust systems. They are also verifying driver qualifications and compliance with hours-of-service requirements. Companies found to be violating safety regulations could be put out of service.

Today’s strike force is a complement to a broader, ongoing safety effort launched in April 2013. That strike force, which included special training for 50 FMCSA safety inspectors and targets the 250 highest-risk carriers, has resulted in 18 bus companies being ordered out of service for safety violations.

The agency has also revoked the operating authority of 10 additional bus companies following compliance review investigations that resulted in an “unsatisfactory” safety rating.

Northbound I-5 in north Los Angeles County reduced to 3 lanes during Labor Day Weekend


By Anna Chen, August 27, 2013


Northbound I-5 in north Los Angeles County will be reduced to three lanes from two miles south of Vista Del Lago Road to two miles south of Smokey Bear Road over Labor Day weekend: Friday, August 30 at 5 a.m. to Tuesday, September 3 at 5 a.m. Motorists should expect delays and congestion and are advised to plan ahead, avoid the area, and use an alternate route.

Continue reading for the full press release from Caltrans:

Northbound I-5 in north Los Angeles County will be reduced to three lanes from two miles south of Vista Del Lago Road to two miles south of Smokey Bear Road over Labor Day weekend, Friday, August 30, at 5 a.m. to Tuesday, September 3, at 5 a.m. Motorists should expect delays and congestion and are advised to plan ahead, avoid the area, and use an alternate route.

Southbound I-5 is not affected — all four lanes will be open during the holiday weekend. The Frazier Mountain Park on-ramp, which has been closed, will also be open.

The lane reduction is due to a traffic split required for a pavement improvement project on I-5 between Vista Del Lago Road and the Kern County line. The split is necessary so that crews can pave the #3 lane. At the traffic split, motorists in the #3 lane will merge into either the #2 or #4 lane.

For real-time traffic information, visit quickmap.dot.ca.gov, go511.com, or call 5-1-1.
Closure information for this and other freeway projects is available on the Caltrans website: http://www.lcswebreports.dot.ca.gov/lcswebreports/

For the safety of the construction crew and motorists, please be attentive to closures and slow for the cone zone.

Save the date! Upcoming bike rides with CICLE


By Anna Chen, August 27, 2013

Get ready to ride! Photo: CICLE Official Facebook
 Get ready to ride!

More guided bicycle rides are scheduled for this fall, mark them down on your calendars now! All rides are free and open to the public. The rides are sponsored by Metro and led by CICLE. Explore a new neighborhood, discover a new route and meet other cyclists at one or all of the fall rides:

Saturday, September 21The Made in LA Ride III: LA River Edition
Meet at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens at 10:30 a.m. (near Metro Gold Line Lincoln/Cypress Station)
Ride leaves promptly at 11 a.m. and returns to the starting point at 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 20The Pomona Pumpkin Patch Pedal
Meeting place TBD at 10:30 a.m.
Ride leaves promptly at 11 a.m. and returns to the starting point at 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 16The Northridge Diners & Delis Ride
Meeting TBD at 10:30 a.m.
Ride leaves promptly at 11 a.m. and returns to the starting point at 1:30 p.m.

Metro sponsored rides provide an opportunity to bicycle to fun destinations and emphasize riding comfortably and lawfully with traffic, riding safely in a group, and becoming acquainted with bikeways and bike-transit options in Los Angeles County. CICLE rides are leisurely, family-friendly and led by fully-supportive and trained Ride Leaders and volunteers.

Want to brush up on bike traffic safety before riding out? Metro offers free traffic safety skills classes through September. Reservations are required, so make sure to sign up before the classes are full!

For a full schedule of events and list of available traffic safety classes, visit the Bike Metro events page.

Tunnel for I-405 same as SR-710

From Sylvia Plummer, August 28, 2013

From the article:  Could a 405 Expressway Tunnel Dramatically Improve Traffic?
"The estimated cost of such a project is in the area of 10-Billion dollars. There is Measure R tax money of one billion that could be used. The other 9 billion would come from private investors (P3) who would get their money back from expressway tolls if such a roadway is part of the project and/or fees for subway service."

Interesting:  Metro admits for this new project there will be tolls in order to pay back the P3 investors.  I wonder when we will hear the official announcement from Metro that there will be tolls for the SR-710 project.  Also this 9 mile, 58 feet in diameter tunnel (same as the one planned for the SR-710) will cost 10 billion dollars.  According to Metro's SR-710 Alternative Analysis Report, the two SR-710 tunnels will cost 5.46 billion dollars (2 tunnels x 4.9 miles each = 9.8 miles).  As I have stated before,  Metro's cost estimates for the SR-710 tunnels continue to be unreliable.

Comments to "Air board will start monitoring pollution next to SoCal freeways"




  Air quality regulators will begin monitoring pollution levels near major Southern California traffic corridors next year, for the first time providing data important to nearly 1 million Southern Californians who are at greater risk of respiratory illness because they live within 300 feet of a freeway. http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-freeway-pollution-20130826,0,709429.story

 Comments (many of them are rather nasty):

 Sistah Soljah at 7:27 PM August 26, 2013

Every time I pass a Toyota Prius on the freeway I make sure to downshift just to let them know I'm hurting the environment!

Paul Scott1 at 11:29 AM August 27, 2013 @Sistah, you are emblematic of what is wrong with our country. Your apparent pride at being a bad person is outrageous. If you have childeren, and one of them gets cancer, I hope you remember your comment here with regret.
Thousands of children, through no fault of their own, get sick because of the pollution spewed into their air by people like you. That you seem to enjoy this in unconscionable.

Huddy's Revenge at 1:15 PM August 26, 2013 And if it is determined that livng next to the freeway is bad for you (no surprise), what then?  Move everyone out?  Close the freeway?  Limit the traffic?  If you are going to gather the information, what, pray tell will your solution be when you learn the obvious?

Paul Scott1 at 2:41 PM August 26, 2013 It is hoped that this data will enable policy makers to tax the culprit. People have been driving internal combustion cars for over a century, but none of them have been forced to pay for the damage they cause to society for the pollution, health and national security costs. Increasing taxes on the fuel is a fair and necessary step that will encourage people to switch to cars that do not pollute, or at the very least get cars that are much more efficient, and to learn to drive efficiently to limit the amount of pollution they put into the environment.

sbolan at 4:24 PM August 26, 2013 Mr Huddy here is one of the biggest supporters of the 710 expansion and extension so of course he would be confrontational about monitoring pollution.  The 710 tunnel alone is projected to bring 180,000 vehicles, a 4X increase from current numbers.  Thankfully, the SCAQMD is seriously taking a look at this for the benefit and health of all.

Paul Scott1 at 1:04 PM August 26, 2013 The comments here are pretty ugly. Most of you take issue with the AQMD monitoring the pollution as though getting accurate data about what harm YOU are causing to others was a bad thing.
You dump deadly pollution into the air we all breathe, yet you pay nothing for the privilege. You cause harm to others and you don't care. What does that say about your character? It's not good.
We need to get this data so those who live near these freeways will better understand the health problems they face. And we need to increase taxes on oil to pay for the massive damage this filthy energy source causes to our health and environment. Why should you get to dump your pollution into the air without paying? If your neighbor decided to dump his garbage in your yard because he didn't want to pay for garbage service, would you be OK with that? Of course not. Same thing with your car's pollution.
Most of you drive terribly inefficient cars, and you compound the problem by driving inefficiently. As we finally start taxing you for the pollution, you'll buy a more efficient car, and some of you will learn to drive efficiently. This is how it should be.

Huddy's Revenge at 1:18 PM August 26, 2013 Studying something for the sake of studying something is a waste of taxpayer funds and a waste of time.  Get off your Prius driving bandwagon and quit acting like an arrogant little s#!t.  Most of those driving their inefficient, polluting cars are those who are unable to afford anything better.  I know, twit, let's make a law that no one can drive a car unless it is less than 5 years old.  That solves the problem.  Jerk.

Paul Scott1 at 2:45 PM August 26, 2013 Huddy, no need to be so mean. I was only pointing out the truth. If the truth bothers you, then maybe you can take actions that will limit how much damage you do to others. You do understand that you cause harm to others by polluting their air don't you?
I noticed you didn't address the points I made. Let me know if you take issue with any of them and we can discuss them.

He Is I... at 12:55 PM August 26, 2013 Pollution from vehicles doesn't exist. It's a lie made up by liberals, just like global warming. Caveman were burning gasoline to stay warm during the Ice Age and nothing happened. It's a cycle. In fact, if you suck the fumes out of a muffler and take deep breathes it's actually good for you. I suggest all my fellow conservative elitists have a huff for themselevs tonight after dinner.

Lucie Furr at 11:49 AM August 26, 2013 She did not appear to speak English 4 years ago:
'Gledy Martinez, who moved into an apartment a block from the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles four years ago, said in Spanish that at the time, "I didn't think about how there was a freeway close by."'
She does not appear to speak English now:
'"You can see there are too many cars, a lot of exhaust, and we don't breathe clean air," she said in Spanish. "For me that's a big worry, more than anything, for my kids, because they are the ones who are still developing."'
If I chose to move to another country where my native language was not the native language of that country, I would make it a top priority to learn ASAP the native language of the country that I chose to move to/live in...
Can anyone speak to why this does not seem to be the case here? (Maybe someone who was in the same situation as Gledy Martinez...)

dinokid1 at 11:45 AM August 26, 2013 Too bad the AQMD's credibiliy is in suh a shambles now after they tried to hoodwink the public over fire pits. One of the most outrageously corrupt organization in America- a vicious bunch of political eco-thugs that have hidden plans you will not believe, asi I learned covering the fire pit story as a newspaper columnist. Get ready, folks- it's gonna get ugly - do not trust these people -  their agendas are many; their agendas have little/nothing to do with public welfare. This group needs to be run out of business.

SnSinLA at 11:43 AM August 26, 2013 Where's the monitors for Fukushima radiation in the air and water?  What's the radiation levels in the Pacific seafood currently being caught and fed to the public?  That would be a little more pressing considering radiation is a more serious slow kill vs. living next to a freeway and expecting healty respiratory conditions.

MaxMexRepublican at 11:38 AM August 26, 2013 A state agency with no real need to exist. If we out law cars and emissions, are we gonna go back to horses? Do you know how dangerous it is to fall off a horse? How about getting kicked by one.
Pollution next to freeways is just a simple fact of life. Live with it. It's not a problem we need to spend resources on.

Paul Scott1 at 12:56 PM August 26, 2013 It's NOT a "fact of life". There are perfectly good electric cars that can run on sunlight or wind-generated electricity. We have both in abundance here in SoCal. Solar is actually cheaper than the dirty grid power, so if you have the roof for it, you would save money by going solar. Then get an EV so your home and car run on clean, renewable energy. Thousands of Californians have already done so. What are you waiting for?

SnSinLA at 10:45 AM August 26, 2013 "Yep, there's pollution next to that freeway.  We're going to have to tax everyone for it to make it better."

Paul Scott1 at 12:53 PM August 26, 2013 That's right, and it's fair that we do. You pollute for free now, but you are causing harm to others. Why don't you feel it's fair to pay for that privilege?

temporarycalifornian at 10:40 AM August 26, 2013 Here we go......all of those poor people that didn't realize there was a freeway outside their window when they moved in! This one is gonna be good. All those illiterate, unskilled peasant illegals that occupy the cheaper housing, such as locations in close proximity to the freeways, will absolutley need more help and benefits as a result of what is happening here.
There is no concern, really, for air quaility. In fact, even with a massive increase in the number of vehicles on the road, our air is far cleaner than 25 years ago. CARB and its ilk simply want you out of your cars and onto a bus or train. Social engineering at its finest.

diane3bailey at 10:27 AM August 26, 2013 Thank you for this excellent article highlighting the need to monitor air pollution that millions of California residents are exposed to along freewasys.  In order to make informed decisions about clean air policies, we need to know what people are exposed to in communities around the busiest roadways.
For all the parents of asthmatic children who are up at night worrying, for all the asthmatic children who are wheezing on the sidelines as their peers play sports, and for anyone who has been sickened by diesel and transportation pollution, it is high time we started measuring freeway pollution and addressing the problem.
-Diane Bailey, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council

gregdn at 9:31 AM August 26, 2013 Boy I can see the lawsuits this will generate.  This is like a 'jobs bill' for lawyers.

Lenny Marshman, Jr. at 9:29 AM August 26, 2013 Let's see, we taxpayers are already paying for "sound walls", so what's next?  "Pollution domes"?  I'm sorry, but you know going in what kind of neighbor a freeway or college or park or cement plant or auto ractrack is going to be.  Whose fault is it that you CHOOSE to move your family there?   Another example of government excess.

mwedemeyer1 at 8:30 AM August 26, 2013 I guess destroying the ecomomy isn't moving quick enough for the feds, so they are looking at others ways to stop commernce by limititing or elemnating transportation. As for the illegal in the article living by the freeway. If you kids health is SO importatnt my suggestion would be to hike back to Mexico.

laurieml at 8:03 AM August 26, 2013 Typical. Gledy Martinez's biggest concern is pollution. What should concern her is that she can't speak English, has 2 kids she can't afford, lives in a studio apartment designed for a single person, and doesn't have job skills. Then she can't wait for the monitors. Duh, to do what- tell her what she already knows? Instead of doing what is needed to get better housing she will wait for monitors!!! Is this the new way to get better housing for the poor? Oh, we have to move them because it isn't fair.

rokH20 at 6:55 AM August 26, 2013 Well this beats the hell out of the faux concern regarding beach fire rings. I guess the SCAQMD is trying to get back in our good graces by stepping away from the NIMBY concerns of the beach-dwelling rich.

herd_asperser at 6:46 AM August 26, 2013 The Times just can't control itself.   There MUST be a sob story about illegal immigrants wedged into nearly every article.
If the guy doesn't like living next to a freeway in the civilized world, he's free to move back to Mexico.

Paul Scott1 at 12:50 PM August 26, 2013 So, the kids who go to school near the freeways should just suck it up and deal with your pollution? Why don't you get your family into your gas burner and park in a garage with the door closed and keep your engine running till the kids get quiet. It won't take long.

Too Smart to be liberal at 5:32 AM August 26, 2013 Did you know there was a freeway there when you got the house? oh you did, now you want to take my choice of vehicle away and put me one of your choice....  sorry..
same to those who buy a house near an airport then complain about the jets, I don;t feel for you

Paul Scott1 at 12:48 PM August 26, 2013 Just because the freeway existed doesn't mean you get to pollute the air there without paying. We're not telling you you can't drive anything you want, but what we will tell you is that you should pay for the privilege of polluting.
If your neighbor decided he didn't want to pay for garbage service anymore so he dumps his garbage into your back yard, would you be OK with that? Of course not. Same thing. You are dumping lots of deadly pollution into the air innocent people are breathing and you aren't paying a dime for it. That's just wrong!

tommythek50 at 5:21 AM August 26, 2013 How about within 300 feet of all LAX runways and the ports of Long Beach and L.A. where ships run their engines and generators pouring out burned fuel oil?  Why just the freeways?

Lucie Furr at 11:39 AM August 26, 2013 More people live near freeways...(i. e. - more bang for your buck).

Paul Scott1 at 12:24 AM August 26, 2013 This is good news. While it may be long over due, it's critical that we get this data so policy can be directed toward accelerating the transition to renewable energy to power our cars. There are thousands of Americans, many here in the Southland, who power their homes and cars with sunlight or wind-generated electricity. When you do this, you eliminate over 90% of the pollution for which you are responsible.
I suspect when the test results are known, most people will be surprised at how bad it really is.

gregdn at 9:33 AM August 26, 2013 Wind and solar don't generate enough power to run the number of cars we have here.

Paul Scott1 at 12:45 PM August 26, 2013 Gregdn, you have faulty data. I can drive my EV about 5 miles on one kWh of electricity. Most people waste more energy in their homes than they would use to power their EV every day. As for whether wind and solar generate enough energy to power our cars, you must be assuming that the current installed solar and wind is not enough for all of the vehicles in the U.S. That's rather silly since it will take at least 20-30 years to replace all the cars with electric. In 20-30 years, we'll have more than enough renewable energy to do the job.
For less than $10,000, you can install enough solar PV to power an EV 12,000 miles per year, and the system will generate clean power for at least 30-50 years. Buying gasoline for the same 12,000 miles per year for 40-50 years would cost $60,000 - $80,000 at today's prices. Are you willing to bet gasoline will not rise in price for the rest of your life?

Paul Scott1 at 12:45 PM August 26, 2013 Gregdn, you have faulty data. I can drive my EV about 5 miles on one kWh of electricity. Most people waste more energy in their homes than they would use to power their EV every day. As for whether wind and solar generate enough energy to power our cars, you must be assuming that the current installed solar and wind is not enough for all of the vehicles in the U.S. That's rather silly since it will take at least 20-30 years to replace all the cars with electric. In 20-30 years, we'll have more than enough renewable energy to do the job.
For less than $10,000, you can install enough solar PV to power an EV 12,000 miles per year, and the system will generate clean power for at least 30-50 years. Buying gasoline for the same 12,000 miles per year for 40-50 years would cost $60,000 - $80,000 at today's prices. Are you willing to bet gasoline will not rise in price for the rest of your life?

JamieNova at 11:36 PM August 25, 2013 Why not spend the money on planting trees instead and provide the freeway dwellers free surplus gas-masks?

eyeful at 8:26 PM August 25, 2013 Well, that's great. Now, if we can just get CalTrans to clean the median dividers every once in awhile, pay attention to the freeway landscaping once in 20 years, and pave the roadways so they don't resemble the highway to Bahgdad....
CalTrans is a friggin' joke. We deserve better,


Huge tunneling machine off to painfully slow start

The Highway 99 tunnel machine has traveled only 24 feet since the drilling began a month ago.


By Mike Lindblom, August 28, 2013

An Aug. 13 aerial view of the site where tunnel-boring machine Bertha is at work shows that progress has been slow since digging began on July 30. According to the state Department of Transportation website,  the machine was slowed by a 15-foot-thick wall of concrete, which it broke through last week.

 An Aug. 13 aerial view of the site where tunnel-boring machine Bertha is at work shows that progress has been slow since digging began on July 30. According to the state Department of Transportation website, the machine was slowed by a 15-foot-thick wall of concrete, which it broke through last week.

After nearly a month on the job, Seattle’s giant highway tunneling machine has advanced a mere 24 feet.

Contractors blame the delays mostly on fiberglass strands that became stuck near the cutting face of the drill. That problem is solved, but now a labor dispute has interrupted the excavation along Seattle’s waterfront, said Chris Dixon, project director for the Seattle Tunnel Partners team.

The pace is about two weeks behind what the team expected.

Before drilling began, state officials estimated it would progress at 6 feet per day to start, and eventually accelerate to 35 feet per day in good soil under downtown.

The 1.7-mile dig is supposed to be finished by fall 2014, and the new Highway 99 tunnel to open for traffic at the end of 2015.

Officials say they aren’t worried, at this early stage, about missing the schedule.

The project’s 250 workers, at the launch pit in Sodo, are still performing tasks such as putting the arc-shaped tunnel segments into position, and adjusting the drill, Dixon said, even though the machine known as Bertha wasn’t eating dirt Tuesday.

“We’re not laying off, we’ve shortened some shifts and are canceling some others,” he said.
After the July 30 start, bunches of fiberglass strands, 2 feet long and as much as an inch thick, began to clump at the bottom of the machine, just behind the cutting face, Dixon said.

That spot is where the dirt is scooped up by a red screw conveyor that spins within a big tube, nudging the soil toward the rear of the machine — where it’s dropped onto a conveyor belt headed to Terminal 46.

Fiberglass jammed the screw.

Contractors anticipated some difficulty, but the fiberglass caused more trouble than expected. Bertha has bigger openings in the cutter head than most drills, so it didn’t chew the fiberglass into manageable pieces, Dixon said.

Workers removed the strands by spraying them with high-pressure water jets, which knocked concrete pebbles off the fiberglass, loosening the bundles.

Fiberglass plays the same role that steel rebar usually does in other concrete walls, but a tunnel machine cannot cut through steel.

The drill will next move through 100 feet of soil mixed with concrete grout, which must be removed by truck. Then it will reach cleaner soil that can be barged to a quarry near Port Townsend.
Dixon said the job will stay on track if the labor dispute ends soon with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which is picketing at Terminal 46.

The longshore union is demanding four waterfront jobs — to run a soil-conveyor belt, drive a front-end loader, and position the barges using two people. The contractors instead hired building-trades workers from another union.

For several days, the tunnel contractors have not sent workers to cross the picket line so that material can be trucked away.

And if dirt doesn’t move, neither does Bertha.

Officials for the building trades filed a complaint last week to the National Labor Relations Board, to oppose the ILWU action. Tunnel managers hope for a ruling within days.

Cam Williams, president of ILWU Local 19 in Seattle, said the union hasn’t decided yet how it would respond if the labor board rules against the longshore workers.

He attributed Bertha’s slow pace to “technical problems” rather than a labor standoff.
Dixon said the delays can be overcome.

“The machine’s working well,” he said. “We were able to launch it successfully, the ring builds are going well. It’s all coming together. There’s no operational issues that have surfaced.”
Meanwhile, the state published a reminder of how much progress has been made, through time-lapse video of the last two years. A dirt lot in Sodo was transformed into the starting blocks for the world’s widest drill, at 57 feet, 4 inches diameter.

Seattle transportation officials expect a slow start, said spokesman Rick Sheridan. “WashDOT has always been clear to us that this is a period of testing, staff instruction, and process refinement,” he said.

The $2 billion tunnel is the most difficult segment of the state’s $3.1 billion replacement for the 1950s Alaskan Way Viaduct, which is at risk of failure in a severe earthquake.

Why people just can't resist the urge to text while driving


By Michelle Lanz, August 20, 2013



Have you stopped texting and driving?

 Have you stopped texting and driving?

If you've been on the Internet at all in the past two weeks, chances are you've come across the public service announcement "From One Second To The Next," by acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog and AT&T.


The poignant 35-minute documentary weaves the stories of four groups of people, both victims and perpetrators, whose lives were torn apart due to distracted driving accidents.
In each case, the driver in question was texting and not paying attention to the road. Some victims lost their lives, others were injured so badly they will never regain the freedom they enjoyed before the accident.

Since its debut, the film has gone viral online and will be shown in thousands of schools this fall, but it's hard to tell whether it will  have an effect. A recent survey by the Automobile Club of Southern California shows that since 2008, when using your phone while driving became illegal in the state, texting is up 126 percent, though talking on the phone is down 57 percent.

The dangers texting and driving and the heavy consequences that follow have been well documented, but why can't people resist the urge to pick up their phones behind the wheel?

"In a sense our brains are hardwired to text," said Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry at UCLA, on Take Two. "We want to stay connected to others and we've found this device that we have with us all the time that allows us to connect with others."

For many people, this means despite the countless warnings and laws enacted to steer people away from distracted driving. In essence, it's what Dr. Small calls a "battle of the brain."

"The dopamine circuits, the reward circuits that make us feel good, are driving us to text. The front part of the brain, the thinking brain, the frontal lobe, is telling us this is not a good idea, look at the tragic consequences," said Dr. Small. "It's not just texting. People drink and drive, they do all kinds of crazy things that their better judgment tells them they shouldn't do, yet it feels good in the moment to do it."

The problem is especially bad in southern California, where car culture reigns and many people commute in traffic from far away. Sitting alone in a car that long can be depressing and lonely, so naturally people have the urge to use their devices for some relief.

With the addition of laws, people even engage in more dangerous behavior to avoid getting caught.
"Texting allows us to connect in a way that we think is efficient. But it's clearly inefficient, and we don't know how to regulate it," said Dr. Small. "What happens is we say this is illegal, so what people do is they hold their devices even lower so they won't get caught. It makes it even more dangerous."
Even though laws that impose large fines for distracted driving will help people curb behavior in the short term, people often slip back in to bad habits over time.

"We tend to forget," said Dr. Small. "People will get tickets and they'll go to driving school and they will stop rolling through stop signs, but after about six months or so they find that their driving habits become lax again."

So what can be done to combat this "battle of the brain"? On the one hand it may fix itself over time as technology makes driving easier and safer — self-driving cars, accident avoidance technology, for example. But Dr. Small says the quicker way to fix the issue is to start with the devices.

"I think the way to deal with this is to come up with devices that turn off in the car," said Dr. Small. "We have this to some extent with GPS in cars, you cannot program your GPS while your car is moving."

For now, it's up to those driving on our roads to voluntarily stow their phones away while behind the wheel. The emotional resonance of Herzog's film is indeed a wake-up call; after viewing, most people would have a difficult time not thinking twice before texting while driving.

But the challenge that remains is how to get people to change their behavior not only in the short-term, but permanently.

Have you stopped using your cell phone while driving since the ban?
KPCC's online polls are not scientific surveys of local or national opinion. Rather, they are designed as a way for our audience members to engage with each other and share their views. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page, facebook.com/kpcc, or in the comments below.


Port of L.A.'s Clean Truck Plan Labor Provisions Struck Down


By Sarah Bennett, August 27, 2013

A federal judge officially ruled last week that certain aspects of the Port of Los Angeles' clean truck efforts could not be enforced by the entity, a decision that does not affect the Port of Long Beach's Clean Trucks Program, but may have implications for labor issues currently brewing at the nation's largest industrial complex.

On Friday, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles upheld previous appeals court decisions and permanently disallowed the Port of Los Angeles from enforcing three drayage provisions written into its 2008 clean trucks plan, including one that would have required local trucking companies to hire their drivers as direct employees instead of as contractors, as is the industry norm. According to industry news sources, the concession requirement was championed by former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who hoped to make it easier for unions to organize harbor truck drivers.

The Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles both adopted the Clean Air Action Plan in 2006, but each port wrote their own concession agreements that would allow them to implement and manage their clean truck efforts. Trucking companies were required to comply with the agreements in order to carry goods to and from the marine terminals. The American Trucking Associations filed lawsuits against both ports' agreements, saying that many of the provisions fell under federal trade regulations and were unenforceable by the ports.

In 2009, Long Beach's case was settled when it was told it couldn't enforce certain concession requirements such as fees and truck routes, however its agreements did not include the controversial labor provisions struck down last week at the Port of Los Angeles.

"The Port of Long Beach did not have the same provisions that were contested at the Port of Los Angeles," said Port of Long Beach representative Art Wong. "Our goal was clean air. So we did not include requirements unrelated to clean air."

The decision that the Port of Los Angeles can't force trucking companies to hire their drivers as employees comes the same week that truckers at Green Fleet Systems, which moves goods in and out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, staged a 24-hour strike as part of their efforts to unionize.

About 30 of the company's estimated 90 truck drivers picketed outside of Green Fleet's Carson headquarters Monday, accusing their supervisors of illegally dissuading them from joining a union, though there has been no official vote to form one. The group has the backing of the International Teamsters Union, which helped truckers at The Toll Group form the largest successful truck-drivers union at the twin ports last year.

Some Green Fleet truckers told the Daily Breeze that they enjoy their treatment as a contractor with Green Fleet and do not care to join a union. Nearly 90% of port truckers are classified as contract employees and do not work directly for their employers.

Long Beach Transit Faces New Challenges with Electric Bus Procurement


By Brian Addison, August 27, 2013

Long Beach Transit's zero-emission bus initiative will take longer than expected as two major issues—bus weight and cracks in the bus structure—bring new challenges in the procurement of ten electric buses from Chinese-owned company BYD.

At Monday's LBT board meeting, Long Beach's Chief Traffic Engineer David Roseman expressed concern over the excessive weight of the BYD-purchased buses, ultimately showing that it would take a toll on streets and increase costs necessary to maintain them. Transit officials were forthright in admitting they knew of the weight issue before choosing to award BYD the contract.

"BYD did provide the vehicle weight before the contract was signed," said LBT spokesperson Dana Pynn. "The weight of these particular buses is not a new subject and has been discussed throughout the entire process, including during the board workshops held prior to the board’s approval of the contract."

Rolando Cruz, Executive Director and Vice President of Maintenance and Facilities at Long Beach Transit, also updated the board Monday on BYD's progress in having their buses tested at Altoona, the federal facility which oversees and tests the efficiency and structural soundness of public transit vehicles.

According to Cruz's presentation, the coach that is being tested—which comes from a BYD facility in China, not its now-open Lancaster facility that is due to create the LBT fleet—completed six of the 17 required tasks as of July 12 before visible cracks began to show above the rear door.

Though it had only completed around 2600 miles worth of tests, BYD then pulled the bus and determined that the cracks were due to poor welding, asserting the issue was not related to a design flaw.

"[The BYD bus has] not failed at Altoona," said BYD America Vice President Micheal Austin. "As is common at Altoona, after successfully completing the first one-fourth to a third of the testing, we pulled the bus to our facility to complete a thorough evaluation. There were no major design flaws discovered, however, there were some minor findings that we wanted to evaluate and review[.]"

After the BYD bus left Altoona, LBT pushed the anticipated completion date back, saying they would now rather have the Lancaster-built BYD bus go through Altoona testing as well before making the full purchase of ten buses.

The initial completion date listed in the RFP was set for January 24 of 2014; it was then moved to May 18 of 2014 to allow for Altoona testing of the Chinese-made BYD buses. It now sits at January 15 of 2015. Once the current China-built bus completes Altoona, LBT will procure one of the ten buses; once the Lancaster bus completes testing, LBT will procure the other nine.

"None of the minor findings have caused BYD to discontinue our testing of this China-built bus, however, Long Beach would like to gain equal confidence in the buses as manufactured from our brand-new Lancaster facility," Austin said. "BYD's orders with Long Beach were never at risk due to these adjusted requirements… BYD does not have a hardship with this new adjustment, and we would have been on schedule to still meet the original delivery dates if the board [had not moved forward with their proposals]."

These issues add further controversy to LBT's decision to purchase cheaper buses from a Chinese-owned firm that at the time did not have a fully operational American construction facility.

Information from the original RFQ shows that second runner up Proterra's contract cost more than BYD's, however, Proterra's bus showed both a lower curb weight—25,000lbs versus BYD's 30,423lbs—and gross vehicle weight—37,000lb versus 39,700lbs. Furthermore, Proterra's buses had already passed Altoona testing at the time of the bid.

To address the issues occurring within the electric bus project and BYD, Chair Sullivan George on Monday requested the creation of an ad hoc committee—which included Roseman—to oversee the project. This committee will be separate from the already existing Alternative Fuel Committee.