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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Metro gets a nice cameo in new Alternative Travel Project video on getting around L.A. sans personal car


By Steve Hymon, October 28, 2013

This video has been making the rounds since being posted earlier this month. It’s the work of the Alternative Travel Project, a group which advocates for — as the name implies — travel by transit, bike and foot. On the local front, the actress Stana Katic has been giving the group a helping hand and the group has been involved in pushing CicLAvia.

It’s a great video with Metro playing a supporting role — and it shows that cars are hardly the only travel choice in So Cal. Share it please.

The U.S. Cities Where the Fewest Commuters Get to Work By Car


By Emily Badger, October 28, 2013

The Institute for Quality Communities at the University of Oklahoma recently dug through the latest Census metrics on how Americans commute to work, a dataset locally notable for the fact that Tulsa and Oklahoma City don't compare all that well. Relative to the 60 largest cities in America, Oklahoma City ranks last in the share of commuters – 2.2 percent of them – who get to work by biking, walking or transit. That's as much a reflection of the design of the city as the preferences of its commuters: Simply put, Oklahoma City was built for cars.

In the process of unearthing this ignoble distinction, IQC fellow Shane Hampton also posted some nice visualizations of how major cities stack up against each other by commuter mode share. The data comes from the 2012 American Community Survey, which records how people primarily get to and from their jobs (not necessarily how they make all of their daily trips, to destinations like the grocery store or church). The original charts are interactive, with individual data points. But we've pulled out a few here as well.

New York, not surprisingly, has the highest share of non-car commuters (67 percent):

Cities listed in order from largest to smallest percentage of commutes by biking, walking or transit.

Breaking that down by region and individual mode share, here is the Northwest, the Midwest, and the Southeast. Beware, each scale is different:



And here is a range of cities – from notably different climates, Hampton points out – where biking mode share has significantly increased in the last decade:

Will a New Government Campaign for Safer Teen Driving Backfire?


By Tanya Snyder, October 25, 2013

 For video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZuwtUTYkmE

U.S. DOT’s new campaign urging parents to set five safety rules before giving their kids the car keys is this close to being a really good idea.

As DOT notes, motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of 14 to 18-year-olds. In 2011, more than 2,300 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver — more than six deaths each day. And DOT believe they’re 100 percent preventable.

It makes sense to set out to reduce the risks associated with the least experienced drivers on the road. And it’s smart to aim the campaign at parents, possibly a more receptive audience than the teens themselves. The accompanying video portrays these five rules as a simple, common-sense way people can keep their kids safe without being hyper-paranoid helicopter parents.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland announced the campaign on the Fast Lane blog yesterday:
“5 to Drive” is all about getting parents and guardians to engage in an ongoing discussion with their teens about safe driving. We’re asking parents and guardians to reinforce these five basic rules with any young drivers in their family:

  1. No cell phone use or texting while driving,
  2. No extra passengers,
  3. No speeding,
  4. No alcohol, and
  5. No driving or riding without a seat belt.
No texting, no drinking, no speeding… check, check, check; all good rules.

But no extra passengers? What does that mean?

I reached out to NHTSA to check. What’s an “extra” passenger? A spokesperson clarified: no extra peer passengers. It’s okay to drive with adults. (Other studies show that driving with siblings doesn’t increase the risk as much as other peers, either [PDF].)

There’s certainly some sound logic there: Studies have shown teen drivers to be two and a half times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer compared to driving alone [PDF]. And more passengers means more risky behavior. The risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car. Most resources about safe teen driving recommend a passenger restriction of some kind.

But what we end up with is a recommendation against carpooling — and that means more teens driving. That’s right: Instead of Jennifer (or, sorry, Madison) driving around to pick up Emily, Hannah and Olivia, they’ll all drive separately to the mall or the game or the movies. That’s four teen drivers on the road now instead of one.

That could also be four teens begging their parents for a car because they can’t get rides with their friends. And I don’t need to tell you what all that means: more parking pressures, more greenhouse gas emissions, more carnage.

This comes at a time when trends are going in the opposite direction of a lot of single-occupancy driving, especially among young people. Teens are increasingly delaying getting their first drivers license and young people’s enthusiasm about driving is at a historic low. Maybe the solo-driving rule will hasten teens’ adoption of other modes. But it also rules out one popular and sensible way to limit driving.

Maybe instead of encouraging parents to insist that their kids never, ever carpool, NHTSA should launch a campaign teaching kids how to be really good, conscientious passengers that enhance safety instead of danger.

The “Ride Like a Friend” campaign, a school-based initiative on teen automobile safety, also recommends limiting teen passengers but in a more limited way. They suggest that teens “should have no passengers under age 21 during the first six months after licensure, and no more than one peer passenger for the second six months.” Moreover, they teach passengers what it means to ride safely: wearing a seat belt, reducing distractions, respecting the driver, and being helpful if asked.

There are so many things we can do to keep teens safe as they gain their independence. Teaching them to drive and ride safely is a big one. Encouraging — and modeling — the use of less dangerous transportation options is another. Requiring excessive single-occupancy driving — that doesn’t seem like the best tool in the toolbox.

Speed control being used in Canada.

How's this for effective speed control?
 I don't know about you, but this would certainly slow me down! People slow down and actually try to "straddle" the hole.
This is an actual speed control device that is currently in use. It is MUCH cheaper than speed cameras, radar guns, police officers, etc.
 Pretty clever -- especially when they move them around every day. Isn't Art Wonderful?

L.A. as a bike-friendly place? Forget it. It's too dangerous.


By Paul Whitefield, October 25, 2013

 This Is 40

 Two guys who enjoy the open roads of L.A.'s Westside from the seats of their bikes: Barry (Robert Smigel), left, and Pete (Paul Rudd), in the movie "This Is 40."

There’s Hollywood, and there’s real life. But when it comes to cycling, sometimes they’re not so different.

Take the recent Judd Apatow film “This Is 40.” Missed it? Allow me to spoil part of it for you:

Paul Rudd’s character is a sometime cyclist. Late in the movie, seeking a respite from the stress of his life, he goes zooming around L.A.’s Westside (on suspiciously car-lite streets, I might add) — until he crashes head first into the suddenly opened door of a Range Rover. Broken window. Cuts and bruises. Pain. And for good measure, the Range Rover’s driver offers not sympathy but expletives and threats, along the lines of “Look what you did” and “I’m going to need the name of your insurance company.” The whole thing ends with the two getting into a fistfight, which Rudd’s character gets the worst of, and then the driver speeding off.

PHOTOS: Cycling the mean streets of Hollywood

So, you say? A funny bit but …

… but it actually happened to me. Or rather, it actually happened to someone else, and I witnessed it. (If only I hadn’t given up on that screenplay!)

My wife and I were walking around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena when a nice Mercedes passed us. Suddenly, from behind, we heard a thud. We turned to see that the Mercedes driver had done a U-turn, only to pull directly into the path of a cyclist. The bike and rider were now crumpled on the pavement. And what did the driver do? That’s right: Jumping out of his car, he shrieked at the fallen biker: “Look what you’ve done to my car!” (Sure enough, the Mercedes had a big dent in the fender.)

FULL COVERAGE: Sharing the road in L.A.
Of course, that’s where movie and real life parted ways. The driver, realizing that the cyclist was possibly injured — and probably seeing tickets and a lawsuit in his future -- became more conciliatory. “Are you all right?” was his next utterance. Though I never did hear an “I’m really sorry” before we walked away, with the cyclist now on his feet and probably happy to be alive.

The moral of these stories? Well, it may be just my (paranoid) view, but here goes: Whether in the movies or on the actual mean streets of L.A., for cyclists, it ain’t safe out there.

At all. Ever. If you’re on a bike, you’re invisible to the guy in the two-ton automobile.

And as a postcript, if a collision happens, you might even get the blame.

Now, I’m not anti-bike. I’ve ridden in several CicLAvias. I like to ride on the bike paths at the local beaches. I don’t begrudge those brave souls I see cycling to work or wherever.

But I would never commute by bike; I don’t even like riding on city streets. And my sense is I am far from alone.

Los Angeles has made huge strides when it comes to cyclists. Bike paths in parks and along river channels? Great ideas. But trying to make L.A. a bikeable city, one that is commuter-friendly to cyclists? Nope. Try something else. It’s just plain unsafe.
My rule? Bikes on bike paths, not in traffic.

Because like “This Is 40,” and like my stroll at the Rose Bowl — and like plenty of other far more serious and even deadly incidents — have shown, it’s the cyclists who pay the price in this Quixotic quest.

Wilshire Boulevard is no place for cyclists
L.A.'s potholed streets must be made safe for cyclists — or else
Should cyclists yield at stop signs? Riders and motorists weigh in.
Follow Paul Whitefield on Twitter @PaulWhitefield1 and Google +
This post is part of an ongoing conversation to explore how the city’s cyclists, drivers and pedestrians share and compete for road space, and to consider policy choices that keep people safe and traffic flowing. For more: latimes.com/roadshare and #roadshareLA.

The Week in Livable Streets Events


By Damien Newton, October 28, 2013

Did we mention there’s a hearing on the future design on the Hyperion Glendale Bridge Redesign? Because if we hadn’t mentioned it before, we really should have.
  • Monday – I don’t know how much more we can write about the debate over the Hyperion Glendale Bridge Redesign. But I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. The big public hearing, forced by the public outcry, is tonight at 6:30 at the appropriately named Friendship Auditorium in Los Feliz. Get the basic details, here.
  • Tuesday – Mobility 21 holds the 12th Annual Transportation Conference, the biggest one-day transportation event in Los Angeles. It is big. Get the details, here.
  • Thursday- I like to think of Halloween as the first Livable Streets Holiday. Enjoy everyone, and drivers be cautions of all the little ones wearing black Batman outfits running around.
  • Saturday- Starting at 11 on Saturday, the festival will gather input from community members about the pedestrian and bike linkages in the Union Station area and in the surrounding communities of El Pueblo, Chinatown, Cornfields/Mission Junction, Arts District, Little Tokyo, Civic Center, and Boyle Heights.
    LACBC is providing the bike valet and helping with the bike ride that is part of the event. Read the rest of the details, here.
  • Sunday – I’m not saying an 8 am ride to see the sites that made the Fresh Prince of Bel Air such a great show isn’t super appealing. I’m just saying I’m sleeping in. Details.
  • Sunday- Our old friend James Rojas is leading one of his interactive modeling projects for Santa Monica/West Los Angeles’ Airport2Park coalition at a community picnic. Santa Monica Next has the details and will post an interview with Rojas next week.
  • Sunday – “This short walk features a Griffith Park segment, where we’ll be over the bridge; a half-dozen stairways and passages; and a finish at the [Hyperion-Glendale Bridge] bridge with a presentation on this structure’s future. It will be a great walk even if you care about none of this—but you do care, right?” Details. Facebook.

In Peru, Outrage Builds Over 'Phantom' Speed Limit Signs


By Jordana Timerman, October 28, 2013

In Peru, Outrage Builds Over 'Phantom' Speed Limit Signs

Call it the case of the phantom speed signs: Angry citizens of Lima, Peru, have reported receiving speed-camera tickets with images showing their cars blasting past a posted speed limit sign, but upon revisiting the scene of the supposed crime, they find no such sign.

A photo of an actual street in Lima, Peru (left). On the right, a speed camera ticket photo that includes the "missing" street sign.

Drivers in the city are overwhelmingly outraged. One Facebook page on the subject has nearly 45,000 likes; investigative reporters are combing the streets for evidence of fraud. Even the government is stepping up — in early October, the National Ministry of the Interior suspended all photo tickets, and local authorities pledged to re-examine all 115,007 speed camera tickets issued this year.

In the latest response to the uproar, the Lima Tax Administration Service announced last week that it would revoke over 17,000 speeding tickets – 15 percent – because on at least 14 streets, the speed limits listed on signs are incorrect. But evidence and explanations for what's really happening are still hard to come by. In one example, a national newspaper reported that 4,463 tickets were issued this year on a street where a posted sign stated a speed limit of 35 km per hour. However, according to tax authorities, the limit on that street is 30 km per hour. On the day the article was published, the signs vanished from the street.

Officials maintain the government is not behind the "missing" signs, suggesting instead that vandals are responsible. As for the incorrect signs, some local officials are pointing fingers at a previous municipal administration (now accused of corruption).

The public, however, has largely blamed the current government, suggesting a ploy to fill official coffers. Just before last week's tax office ruling, a poll estimated just 25 percent of the city's residents believed speed cameras are put in place to prevent traffic accidents. Sixty-eight percent believe that they're meant to "raise money for the police and the municipalities [of greater Lima]." The national comptroller has jumped on the bandwagon, announcing an investigation into what the ticket money is used for.

All the bickering among authorities hasn't done much to soothe irate drivers. Some outraged citizens would like to see the tickets programmed with more leeway for small errors on the cameras' speed detection or on cars' speedometers.

In a city with 51,000 traffic collisions per year, which lead to an average of over a thousand deaths and 8,000 serious injuries, controlling car speed seems a reasonable priority. But as officials wade their way out of a mess of canceled tickets, mislabeled speed limits and uncoordinated bureaucracy, one question remains: who is really to blame?