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, May 27, 2014

South Korea creates ‘women-only’ parking spaces which are longer, wider – and marked by pink chalk figures wearing skirts


May 26, 2014

The South Korean government has said it is adding “a female touch” for car users in the capital Seoul – by creating women-only parking spaces which are longer, wider and marked with pink outlines.

Though it seems they will only promote further the stereotype that women are worse drivers, the so-called “she-spots” come as part of an estimated AUS$100 million (£55 million) programme to make the city more female-friendly, according to reports on the website motoring.com.au.

The scheme will also see pavements resurfaced with a “slightly spongy material” that makes them easier to walk on in high heels.

Around 7,000 new toilets just for women will also be installed across the city, and facilities like the new parking places will receive better lighting and be placed closer to shops.

Women-only parking spots have been installed in the past throughout the world – but typically only as a public safety measure. The spaces are usually designated near entrances or exits in poorly-lit car parks, and are not normally expanded for the benefit of female users.

Local media reports in Seoul said it was not clear whether men using the new places – which are further set apart with pink, skirt-wearing chalk figures – would face a fine.

The female parking zones in many places of the South Korean capital were reportedly created as part of a broader movement to boost safety in a 'Women Friendly Seoul' (EPA) The female parking zones in many places of the South Korean capital were reportedly created as part of a broader movement to boost safety in a 'Women Friendly Seoul' (EPA) Speaking to the Korea Times newspaper, Chon Eun-hee, the assistant mayor for women and family affairs, said: “It is like adding a female touch to a universal design and make things more comfortable for women.”
The Australian motoring website reported that the system was not too far removed from its own “family” spaces making parking easier and more accessible for parents with children.
It said female-only spaces had also been seen in the past in China, Kuwait, Malaysia, Indonesia, Austria, Italy and recently in Germany, where in 2012 a mayor made headlines for introducing the opposite measure – men-only spots.
Triberg’s Mayor, Gallus Strobel, told Der Spiegel that two spaces in the town would be too difficult for women because they required drivers to reverse diagonally between a pillar and a wall.
“I am happy, and it looks like we've hit a raw nerve in society,” he said. “It's been a great marketing gimmick. Women can come here and prove me wrong, and while they're at it they can see the town's attractions.”

Traffic management projects could relieve bottlenecks on 210 Freeway


By Steve Scauzillo, May 26, 2014


 The 210 Freeway will have an integrated corridor management system in two years, Caltrans officials said. It will better manage congestion.

When two trucks collided on the 210 Freeway in Pasadena last month, not only was traffic backed up to Glendale, but the Metro Gold Line couldn’t travel beyond Lake Avenue because the power supply pole had melted from the truck fire.

The gridlock clogged the 210, 134, 2 and 10 freeways, jammed surface streets in Pasadena and dumped hundreds of unhappy train riders onto Metro buses.

“It left traffic at a virtual standstill and had motorists asking themselves, ‘When am I going to get out of this mess?’ ” recalled Sam Esquenazi, traffic manager for Caltrans District 7, which includes all of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

In two years, incidents that trap motorists for hours could become a thing of the past.

Caltrans and the U.S. Department of Transportation are readying the first integrated corridor management plan in the Los Angeles region, set to launch in 2016. The project will transform a 22-mile portion of the 210 Freeway into a “smart corridor” using roadway sensors and location information from motorist cell phones to funnel real-time data to traffic websites, media outlets, 5-1-1 operators, freeway ramp meters and electronic message signs.

The integrated approach will link traffic engineers from Caltrans with their counterparts in local cities as well as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates buses and the Gold Line light-rail line in the corridor, during a major incident, said John Augustine, managing director of the intelligent transportation systems office of the DOT in Washington, D.C.

If all local, state, federal agencies work together, the extreme traffic effects of a tractor-trailer crash or a mudslide that blocks vehicle lanes can be mitigated, Augustine said.

 “We can start to talk to one another which is not something we do now, not very well,” Esquenzai told the Pasadena City Council on May 5.

For example, traffic engineers from Caltrans can post delays on freeway signs or adjust freeway meters at on- and off-ramps, said Patrick Chandler, Caltrans spokesman.

Real-time traffic flow on websites such as Google Maps and Caltrans’ quickmap would be up-to-date, Chandler said. Getting location data from cell phones — a form of big data — would be another bit of information used to make immediate adjustments and calculate traffic signal times on city surface streets, Chandler said.

Often, traffic lights in and around stadiums near the 210 Freeway, such as the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, don’t mesh with Caltrans signals or ramp meters. Often, city traffic signals revert to a default setting during off-peak hours when an event lets out, causing longer waits for motorists both nearby and a mile or two from a venue, Augustine said.

“Traffic signal timing is not as dynamic as it could be because there is not enough real-time data,” he said.

With more data, traffic engineers can change the timing on the red, yellow and green lights, he said, and transit officials can add capacity to light-rail trains. “We can reduce bottlenecks based on different techniques,” he said.

The concept involves gathering technical data. But just as important is breaking down the silos of government and getting jurisdictions to work together, Augustine said.

 Chandler said the city of Los Angeles was not called until the second day to help with traffic control. When officers were sent to direct traffic, the bottleneck was mitigated. “Sometimes in the past, they didn’t talk to others that well,” he said.

The first phase of the project would run from Pasadena to Duarte and include the cities of Arcadia and Monrovia, Esquenazi said. A second phase would run from the 605 Freeway to the 57 Freeway and include the cities of Irwindale, Azusa, Glendora and San Dimas.

The 210 Freeway was chosen as the pilot project because it has general-purpose lanes, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and light rail line running down the middle of the freeway, as well as nearby bus routes and bike lanes, said Carrie Bowen, director of Caltrans District 7.

The freeway experiences gridlock each day and transverses multiple cities and transit agencies, a testing ground for the coordinated approach to traffic management, Augustine said.

In 2013, the freeway experienced 6,000 incidents, or about 500 a month, Esquenazi said. Incidents are responsible for 60 percent of traffic tie-ups, he added.

There are no shortage of freeway incidents involving fires, overturned big-rigs or multi-car pileups in Southern California. Incident management will be the initial focus of the corridor management projects, Augustine said.

“If we are successful with this demo project, we will expand to 50 other ICM projects (in Southern California),” Bowen said.

“Can we coordinate a little better and share information across boundaries and across agencies,” Augustine said.

For example, when a tanker truck caught fire on the 2 Freeway near the 5 Freeway in July, spilling 8,500 gallons of fuel into the Los Angeles River, segments of the two freeways were shut down but the massive backups occurred around Elysian Park, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park and the incident affected traffic going to Dodger Stadium — miles from the incident.

The Week in Livable Streets Events: Andy’s Law, HOT Lanes, Bikes, Bikes, Bikes


By Damien Newton, May 27, 2014

Short week, but still lots to do in the world of active transportation.
  • Tonight – Family and Friends of Andy Garcia join other supporters of Hit and Run reform for a bike ride to draw attention to “Andy’s Law.” Andy’s Law isn’t actually a formally proposed piece of legislation, just a call for harsher sentences for any driver who hits and runs. Tonight’s ride is a fun way to get involved. You can also sign the petition at Andyslaw.com. Get more details on tonight’s ride, here.
  • Wednesday – The Los Angeles City Board of Public Works meets at 9:30am in City Hall and will hear about the Landbridge Proposal to preserve the historic Riverside-Figueroa Bridge. Read the agenda here, and Landbridge information here.
  • Wednesday – The Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee meets at 2 p.m. in City Hall for the first time in a month. Highlighting the agenda is a list of projects the city will propose to be paid for by Metro’s Express Lanes proceeds. Most of the list is active transportation projects. Its pretty cool. Read the agenda here, and the proposal here.
  • Thursday – The City of Los Angeles Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets to discuss what issues are plaguing walkers on L.A.’s streets and receive an update on the city’s efforts to earn more funds for sidewalk repair and other improvement projects. The meeting starts at 2. Get the details, here.
  • Friday - Sunday – If you like exploring Los Angeles, good company, walking and stairs; then this is the weekend you’ve been waiting for. It’s the Big Parade! Hooray! Dan Koeppel has all you need to know on Facebook for Paraders on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Saturday - Join the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition on our third workshop of the series – WINNING CAMPAIGNS TRAINING! Some bike infrastructure projects require a change in the way roads are used, causing heartburn for some and a misunderstanding of their benefits. LACBC staff and leaders will walk you through the tools you need to create campaigns that WIN! Register here.
  •  Saturday - The California Bicycle Coalition warmly invites you to our Los Angeles Better Bikeways fundraising party. Generously hosted by RAC DESIGN BUILD, that can be easily accessed from the LA River bike path to event – which is located between the Fletcher and Riverside entrances of the river path – closer to the Fletcher entrance. Get more details at CalBike.
  • Sunday – Join LACBC Join us for a Long Beach tour through the neighborhoods of Poly High, Cambodia Town, Zaferia, Coronado Design District, and Rose Park – past V.I.P. Records, the Long Beach Firefighters Museum, Homeland Cultural Center, Orizaba Park, and more, and hear a little bit about each hood from some locals. The 7-mile ride is slow-paced and will reach Siem Reap, a restaurant in the bike friendly business district in Cambodia Town, by noon. Get more details, here.

The Myth of the Magic Bus: The Weird Politics and Persistently Strange Logic Behind the Orange Line


By Roger Rudick, May 27, 2014

 Despite the Fanfare, the Orange Line Was More Expensive Than Some Light Rail Projects. Photo: Roger Rudick
 Despite the Fanfare, the Orange Line Was More Expensive Than Some Light Rail Projects. Photo: Roger Rudick

 See website for a video.

The other day I was reading about New York City’s proposal to build a north-south busway on Woodhaven Blvd., starting in my old ‘hood of Jackson Heights.

It’s a great plan—by making the center lanes bus-only and providing train-like amenities, such as pre-paid, multi-door boarding, New York will have an improved north-south bus route. It’ll take a predicted 45 minutes to ride clear across Queens, instead of the current 65. Since it’ll be running on existing roadway, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) upgrades can be built for a fraction of what it would cost to install light rail or subway.

As with most busway proposals, articles cite the Orange Line BRT in the San Fernando Valley as a model.

The Orange Line is celebrated as a transit success story in the press. Ridership exceeded expectations almost from the day it opened in 2005. It peaked around 29,000 daily passengers. At rush hour, demand exceeds capacity. This is something that busway supporters boast about.

They should stop boasting.

If you built a ship that carries 500 people but you found 1,000 people on the dock, you screwed up.
  Similarly, the higher-than-capacity demand on the Orange Line corridor just means Metro should have built a rail line.


The Sprinter LRT was cheaper to build than the OrangeLine.
The Sprinter LRT, in North San Diego County, was cheaper to build than the Orange Line.

And what’s really disturbing is they actually spent enough money to build rail. The point of BRT is that by converting existing lanes into bus-only lanes, you get great transit improvements with minimal investments. But the Orange Line originally was a train line, leftover from Los Angeles’s historic transit system. Ripping out the old tracks on Chandler and paving it over for the original phase of the Orange Line cost $324 million, or $23 million per mile.

A decade ago, busway supporters claimed the BRT on Chandler would still be cheaper to construct than rail. But the Oceanside to Escondido Diesel Light Rail line, which opened in 2008, cost only $21.6 million per mile. Think that’s an unfair comparison? Look at the River Line in New Jersey or the O-train in Ottawa, and you find the same pattern: the Orange Line construction costs were on-par with rail.

So why the discrepancy between the claims and the realities? One reason is that busway advocates always compared construction costs of electrified light rail to diesel or compressed natural gas BRT instead of to the equivalent, electric-trolley buses. And electrification, while desirable, greatly increases the costs. In other words, they fudged the numbers.

I took a look at the history of the Orange Line in a radio story. (embedded above)

Meanwhile, back in Queens, a BRT service, using the existing lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard, may, indeed, be the most cost-effective way to address demand in the short term. That said, the existing buses already carry around 30,000 people a day–more than the Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley. Eventually, New York may have to take another look at reviving the nearby Rockaway Beach Branch, an abandoned rail line that partially parallels the proposed busway.

If that happens, it’ll be a new train service. Because the real lesson of the Orange Line is something that should have been obvious from jump:

A train track is not where you run a bus.