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 12, 2015

The 4 Types of Millennial Travelers

Most are drivers, but more are becoming car-less over time.


By Eric Jaffe, August 12, 2015

 Image State Farm / Flickr

The ongoing debate about why young Americans are driving less than they once did, and whether or not that trend will continue, often treats all Millennials as the same. Either they drive or they don’t. Either they’ve embraced the multi-modal mindset of city life or they’re just biding time until they become their car-reliant suburban parents.

The truth is that young people, just like actual people, belong to a mobility spectrum ranging from driving-heavy to driving-lite. Right now that scale is still strongly tipped toward the driving-heavy end, even among Millennials. But young people have slid away from car habits in recent years, if only modestly, according to new research from incoming Rutgers planning scholar Kelcie Ralph.

For her UCLA dissertation, Ralph analyzed national travel surveys taken in 1995, 2001, and 2009, focusing on respondents ages 16 to 36 in each year. That data led Ralph to identify four types of young American travelers:
  • Drivers: 79 percent. These are young people who do the great majority of their traveling by car, averaging about 24 miles a day across four trips.
  • Trekkers: 3 percent. These are Drivers who rack up twice as many miles a day on the same number of trips, thus contributing a disproportionate share of traffic and emissions.
  • Multi-modals: 4 percent. Multi-modals make anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of their trips by walking, biking, riding transit, or using some non-car travel mode.
  • Car-less: 14 percent. These young folks travel exclusively by a mode other than automobile—a pattern that can mean an unrestricted car-free lifestyle in cities but less overall access to jobs and goods outside them.
Ralph, 2015
“What was striking was no matter how I fiddled with different justifications—changing how I measure transit use, changing how I measured automobile access—these categories were really robust,” Ralph tells CityLab.

During the 1995 to 2009 study period, the shares of young Multi-modals and Car-less types increased, while those of young Drivers and Trekkers types decreased, according to Ralph’s analysis. Drivers fell four points over that time, from 83 to 79 percent, while the Car-less rose an equal amount, from 10 to 14 percent. Multi-modals jumped a point, from 2.5 to 3.5 percent.
Ralph, 2015
That general pattern more or less held true even when splitting all young people into different age groups of 16-19, 20-26, and 26-36:
Ralph, 2015
The big question for city policy is why the shift away from driving, however slight, is occurring among young people. Using the same datasets as Ralph, transport scholar Noreen McDonald of the University of North Carolina recently offered the clearest explanatory breakdown yet. McDonald attributes 10 to 25 percent of the driving decline to demographics (e.g. employment or marriage status), another 35 to 50 percent to attitudes (e.g. Millennials love cities!), and 40 percent to downward trend of all U.S. vehicle mileage.

Ralph’s own work filters the explanations through the four traveler types. For Drivers, money had the biggest impact, with young people in the lowest two income quintiles most likely to drop out of the group between 1995 and 2009. Young people living within metro areas were actually more likely to be Drivers than those living outside, though that finding didn’t hold up in the biggest cities. The propensity of being a Driver went down as density—and presumably better transit service or walkability—went up.

Money mattered to the Car-less, too, with young people in the lowest two income quintiles (or those without jobs) more likely to become part of this group over time. Some of that shift was the result of city life, with young people living at high densities like New York more likely to be Car-less. But some was a far more discouraging trend of youths outside metro areas losing all travel access and taking fewer overall trips. No surprise that young people were more likely to be Multi-modals as a metro area’s size and density increased.
Ralph, 2015
Ralph knows that many urbanists aren’t going to like her results: The sight of so many Millennials in the Driver category runs counter to popular accounts of young people flocking to cities and ditching their cars. Responding puts her in a tricky spot. On one hand, she hopes that Americans will become more multi-modal and that cities will use her findings to increase transit access throughout the metro area. (“It’s probably the single most important thing,” she says.) On the other hand, she’s bound to report the car-heavy data as it stands.

“In presenting this, I actually get a lot of angry question from Millennials themselves,” says Ralph. “They’ll say: Well, I own a bike, and I’m happy and confident, and I’m able to meet my needs. I say: I agree with you, and that’s my experience as well! What I’m saying is we’re few and far between. Not to devalue your experience or my experience, but that does not reflect most people.”

It’s a painful reality for cities, but one that’s crucial not to forget.

Los Angeles Approves Big-Time Plan to Make It Easier For Everyone to Get Around the City


By Bianca Barragan, August 11, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 3.20.41 PM.png

 The Los Angeles City Council voted today to approve the Mobility Plan 2035, which lays out transformative reconfigurations and additions to Los Angeles streets and centers on the idea of creating complete streets that are safe for everyone (not just cars); that means bike lanes, bus-only lanes, and road diets, among many other changes, as outlined right here. The LA Times reports that while supporters are celebrating, opponents—many of whom are concentrated on the house-and-car-packed Westside—are mobilizing for a lawsuit.

Opponents of the Mobility Plan are upset largely because its state-mandated Environmental Impact Report said that following the plan as it's laid out in its proposed timeframe (by 2035) would create "unavoidable significant adverse impacts," including more gridlock, noise, and "diminished access" for emergency services. But councilmembers had to sign a legal document that stated that the benefits of the Mobility Plan (it'll be easier for ALL people to get around the city) outweigh the consequences in order to approve the plan today.

Mobility Plan 2035 calls for, among other things, the creation of a Bicycle Enhanced Network made up of linked bike paths, lanes, and protected lanes; increased frequency along transit routes (especially during peak times); more demand-based parking meters (which seems to have worked well already in Downtown); and even an increase in the number of trash cans on the streets.
· L.A. council OKs sweeping plan to add bike lanes, bus routes by 2035 [LAT]
· Here's the Big Plan to Make it Way Easier to Get Around Los Angeles Over the Next 20 Years [Curbed LA]

Los Angeles Might Be Getting Occasional Party Train to Vegas


By Bianca Barragan, August 11, 2015


A party train to Las Vegas is apparently getting pretty close to finally taking its maiden voyage, but it'll only be making occasional trips after that and oh yeah, it won't actually be leaving from Los Angeles. X Train, which has been working on getting this stylish party (train) started for five years now has announced on its Facebook page that it's planning to start selling tickets in September for a New Year's Eve train ride in a classy-looking vintage train running from the Fullerton Transportation Center to a train station in downtown Las Vegas that's built into the Plaza Hotel & Casino, says Los Angeles magazine.

The information on X Train's Facebook page doesn't explicitly mention how long the ride will take (though a recent post hints it might be about five hours), or any prices except the $99 coach fare, but it does say that 350 of the train's 500 seats will be for coach ticketholders, and the remaining 150 will be "First Class and VIP Class."

The kickoff trip will be followed by charter-style train service for special events (sounds similar to the glamorous train cars behind Union Station), so it still won't be running in regular service. That train ride ended when Amtrak stopped service in the late 1990s.

Any excitement about being able to drink booze and move about freely on a glamorous train car should be tempered with the knowledge that X Train's promised and not delivered New Year's Eve service before (way back for NYE 2013). The Facebook page for the company isn't the most professional-looking outlet either. But the trains look awesome and there's got to be something else besides TSA checkpoints and a long, hot drive through the desert, so hopefully this will be the year that a train to Vegas finally pulls into the station.

Ontario Airport Isn't the Only Thing Needing a Big Lift--MetroRail Needs One, Too!


By Ken Alpern, August 11, 2015

GETTING THERE FROM HERE--As mentioned in the Times, Daily News, and just about everywhere else in print and via cyberspace, as well as in my last CityWatch piece, LA World Airports (LAWA) just made a deal with Ontario to sell the Inland Empire Airport and achieve operational independence.   

That's big news. 

What's also news is that Ontario Airport needs a big lift, as described well by the Times .   

The city of Ontario, located in San Bernardino County but with profound links to both that county and Riverside County, will need all the help it can get from the entire Inland Empire to get this underutilized airport up and running as the perfect alternative for all those Southland residents trying NOT to use traffic-plagued LAX. 

Specifically, Ontario Airport (with the support of Orange County, too, after they limited and/or prevented air travel expansion at John Wayne and El Toro) will need to:

1) Make an airport that is passenger-friendly, with a host of small businesses and operational amenities to create a powerful job center and business hub for the region; this is an ideal airport for freight travel for all businesses wanting to avoid LAX and traffic-plagued LA County. 

2) Court the various airlines and figure out ways to make the prices competitive with LAX and other airports, in order to increase its flight options and air capacity, and to establish it as "Southern California's other international airport" to serve Orange County and Inland Empire commuters' needs. 

3) Create a long-range rail access program that includes extending the Metro Gold Line, eastern Metro Green Line, and both adjacent Metrolink lines to achieve convenient and frequent long-distance, car-free access; similarly, a link to the nation's freight rail system is critical for this airport to thrive. 

4) Create a long-range shuttle service that allows long-distance, affordable passenger travel to/from Ontario Airport. 

But while it's no secret that Ontario and the eastern half of the Southland needs to get its act together to "give itself a lift", there's another entity that needs a big, big lift:  MetroRail. 

By and large, MetroRail is amazingly better than it was during the 1990's, when it virtually ran itself into the ground.  Not one but three excellent CEO's later, and after a host of staff and Metro Board procedural changes, MetroRail is one of the best-run governmental entities in the state of California, if not the nation--and has been recognized as such by the Federal Transit Administration in Washington. 

Measure R has proven to be quite the boon for long-overdue projects, and has allowed a "lift" in many ways such as that seen at the critical Century/Aviation station for the under-construction Crenshaw/LAX line.

Similarly, the underground Leimert Park station and the adjacent tunnel for this line is also beginning its construction. 

But there is a more subtle "lift" that MetroRail needs--in some lines more than others--whereby unwanted sexual behavior, physical contract, groping and indecent exposure were reported in very high numbers.  Unwanted sexual behavior was observed in up to about 14% of bus riders and 17% of rail riders. 

Is this a problem?  You bet--particularly since most transit advocates are either young, single males or older individuals (again, usually men) with grown children.  If women--be they white, black, brown or Asian--don't feel safe and comfortable, they will be particularly prone to forsaking mass transit and choose a car to commute if they can afford it. 

And for those who presume that an increased Sheriff's Department presence on MetroRail trains (and, to be honest, the greatest number of complaints that I've heard about are on the Green Line, the one that is supposed to bring us all to the airport) means harassment of minority males, then those doing the presuming need to get their act together. 

We are a county, state, and nation that despises racist and/or bullying police officers as well as racist and/or bullying thugs of all colors--with the exception of a strange and bigoted few, we are all pretty much pro-police and anti-racism.  Kindness and decency and enforcement are all reasonable and expected by our Sheriff's Department, and greater patrolling will allow all using the train to feel safe and comfortable. 

On another note, the issue of station-adjacent businesses, affordable housing, restrooms, and bicycle/pedestrian amenities are also part of the "big lift" that MetroRail needs.  And dont' forget parking--if those paying the taxes to fund Measure R aren't convinced they're able to use the rail lines they've paid for, they just won't vote for the "Measure R-2" planned for next fall. 

Deal with it, Metro. 

As the Expo Line and Foothill Gold Line extensions allow greater MetroRail access to the Westside and San Gabriel Valley by next spring, either those regions will like or NOT like what they get access to.  And if there are complaints, and those complaints are not addressed or dealt with, then more MetroRail will NOT be voted in a favorable manner by the taxpayers. 

By and large, Mayor Eric Garcetti has been much kinder (infinitely much kinder!) to the San Gabriel Valley than his predecessor.  Westside Councilmember Mike Bonin has been an excellent supporter and transportation leader to the City (and County) of Los Angeles, to boot.  Metro's leadership really is exemplary. 

However, despite the current victories and short-term progress we now see with a regional air and rail traffic grid to serve the Southland, these hard-earned kudos will turn to jeers if the problems that are out there remain ignored and censored by those fighting hard to create a 21st-century transportation network for Southern California. 

So let's give credit where credit is due...but there is a LOT of heavy lifting yet to be done by our regions airports and budding rail network.

LA’s Sweeping New Transportation Plan Could Give Cyclists, Transit Riders the Edge … and Change Your Life


By Jean Stanley, August 11, 2015


OUR CHANGING CITY--Los Angeles has an undeserved reputation for being weak on public transportation, but big infrastructure reform in the works in city council could bury the notion of the car-worshiping Southern California city once and for all. According to the Los Angeles Times 

Council members are on the verge of approving a sweeping new transportation policy, one that calls for hundreds of miles of new bus-only lanes, bicycle lanes and “traffic calming” measures over the next 20 years. The initiative, dubbed Mobility Plan 2035, has sparked a debate over the ramifications of redesigning major corridors such as Van Nuys Boulevard, Sherman Way and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. 

The plan isn’t without critics. While supporters say it will ease congestion and improve bicyclists’ safety and give people who don’t want to or can’t drive more options, dissenters say that it will cause more congestion, both during and after construction, and could be dangerous if it blocks more roads from emergency vehicles. 

“Cars are just going to sit there,” Don Parker, a board member with Fix the City, an advocacy group fighting the plan, told the Times. “So labeling it a mobility plan is just not reflective of what the plan actually does.” 

Mobility Plan 2035 is the city’s first major transportation update since 1999. And though L.A. has the second most-expansive public transportation system in the country, only 11 percent of Angelenos actually use it for commuting. 

“A paradigm shift of this kind often causes growing pains,” Connie Llanos, spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, who supports the mobility plan, told the Times. “But the long-term benefits outweigh the impacts.” 

According to the Times, the outcomes of the Vehicle Miles Traveled method of evaluating traffic projections favors the plan:

Under that analysis, completion of the mobility plan would result in about 35 million miles per day being traveled on LA surface streets in 2035. Without the plan, that number would grow to more than 38 million, the city found. 

State officials are in the process of eliminating Level of Service as a tool for measuring traffic in the state’s environmental review process, said Juan Matute, associate director of UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies. The Vehicle Miles Traveled system is a more accurate way of assessing the environmental impacts of major construction projects, he said. 

If the plan goes through, it will be a lot more beneficial to those who already don’t rely on their cars or who wish to change their ways for greener options like bicycling. Those who continue to rely on their cars may be the worst hit by the changes. 

“There are going to be people who are going to be worse off as a result of implementation” Juan Matute, associate director of UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies, told the Times. “And those are going to be the people that continue driving the same or greater distances as they do now.” 

(Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. This piece was originally posted at NextCity.org.) 

The real reason American public transportation is such a disaster


By Joseph Stromberg, August 10, 2015

This article is part of a series about the past, present, and future of commuting in America.
The US spends a ton of money on public transportation. So why is it so terrible?

American buses, subways, and light rail lines consistently have lower ridership levels, fewer service hours, and longer waits between trains than those in virtually every comparably wealthy European and Asian country. At the same time, a much greater percentage of US public transit costs are subsidized by public tax dollars.

In other words, we pay more for transit and get far less — basically the worst of all worlds.

Many people try to explain this paradox by pointing to US history and geography: Most of our cities and suburbs were built out after the 1950s, when the car became the dominant mode of transportation. Consequently, we have sprawling, auto-centric metropolises that just can't be easily served by public transportation.

But there's a problem with this explanation: Canada. This is also a sprawling country, largely built for the automobile. Canadian cities' public transit systems, however, look very different.

"Canada just has more public transit," says transit consultant Jarrett Walker. "Compare, say, Portland to Vancouver, or Salt Lake to Edmonton, or Des Moines to Winnipeg. Culturally and economically, they're very similar cities, but in each case the Canadian city has two to five times as much transit service per capita, so there's correspondingly more ridership per capita."

Larger cities generally have higher transit use — but this chart shows that Canadian cities (in green) have much higher public transit (PT) trips per capita than American cities (purple) of the same size. (Ian Wallace Associates)
Larger cities generally have higher transit use — but this chart shows that Canadian cities (in green) have much higher public transit (PT) trips per capita than American cities (purple) of the same size. (Ian Wallis Associates)

Although history and geography are partly to blame, there's a deeper reason why American public transportation is so terrible. European, Asian, and Canadian cities treat it as a vital public utility. Most American policymakers — and voters — see transit as a social welfare program.

Suburban sprawl is only part of the problem


Visit a dense European city with excellent public transit, and the problem might seem obvious: America's sprawling, car-based development.

There's some truth to that. Most American cities — especially those outside the Northeast and Rust Belt — are relatively new, so they were built mainly with the car in mind. They're sprawled out, with cul-de-sac-heavy suburbs instead of a tight grid.

All this makes cost-efficient and fast transit way more difficult. After all, it costs more for a rail or bus line to serve the same number of people spread across a wider area. Highways, curving roads, and cul-de-sacs also make it difficult to reach bus stops, metro stations, and other destinations on foot:
(Congress for New Urbanism)
The fact that older US cities with prewar street grids (like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago) have the highest levels of US transit ridership seems to support this argument.
Still, this isn't the whole story. A closer look at transportation history in other countries challenges the idea that post-1950s development alone made bad transit inevitable in the United States.

Historically, other countries combined suburbs with better transit


 toronto train


Toronto's Go Train.

"If you looked at the United States, Canada, France, the UK, Germany, and Australia, in the 1950s, they were all on the same trajectory — they were all racing toward automobile dependence," says David King, a professor of urban planning at Columbia University. "But then in the 1960s, you start to see a divergence."

During this era, many cities in Europe did their best to preserve preexisting transit systems and expand them to growing suburbs. Separately, many newer cities in Western Canada invested more in light rail lines and quality bus service, even as they were being designed for automobiles. As a result, all these places still have much higher levels of transit ridership today than US cities of comparable size and density.

Meanwhile, in the United States, newer cities in the West and South expanded without nearly the same level of corresponding investment in public transportation. And even some of the country's existing big cities — which had been laid out well before the car — willfully destroyed their existing transit systems, ripping out streetcar lines and building highways to speed commutes from the suburbs.

Downtown Detroit, in 1951, versus today.  (See website.)

"In 1912, Boston had this great public transit system, with four subway lines and streetcars that fed it," says transit blogger Alon Levy. "Then they spent the next 60 or 70 years destroying it."

A major problem: US cities see transit as welfare

This divergence between the United States and Europe can be traced to the 1950s municipal takeover in many US cities of private streetcar and bus companies, which had largely gone bankrupt.
There were a few different reasons for the decline of these transit services. The companies were locked into contracts that prohibited them from raising their fares and required them to maintain the roads, while increasing levels of car traffic made streetcars painfully slow. "Once just 10 percent or so of people were driving, the tracks were so crowded that [the streetcars] weren't making their schedules," transportation historian Peter Norton told me for an article on streetcars.
decommissioned streetcars
Decommissioned streetcars awaiting destruction in Los Angeles, 1956.

When cities took over these companies (and converted their streetcar lines into buses), it was with the notion that they'd maintain these systems as a sort of welfare service — mostly for people who couldn't afford to drive. Outside of a handful of cities like New York and DC, that mentality has remained in place. Nowadays, many local politicians don't see transit as a vital transportation function — instead, they think of it as a government aid program to help poor people who lack cars.

On the one hand, this mentality has led cities to heavily subsidize public transit: In most cities, no more than 30 to 40 percent of operating costs are covered by fares, more than the vast majority of cities around the world. But there's a huge downside to viewing public transportation as welfare — it prevents local agencies from charging high enough fares to provide efficient service, effectively limiting transit to those who are too poor to drive.

"Transit in the US is caught in a vicious cycle," says King. "We push for low fares for social reasons, but that starves the transit agency, which leads to reduced service." In a sense, it's the same dilemma faced by the streetcar companies 70 years ago.

This is one of the root reasons why so many US cities' bus and rail systems — even the ones that have relatively extensive networks and many stops — have limited operating hours and frequency. "It's considered okay if the bus comes every half hour if it's a lifeline for people who literally can't afford anything else," Levy says.

 bus stop

It doesn't have to be this way. Transit systems in cities like London and Toronto, by contrast, have higher fares and more frequent service, making them attractive options for people who own cars. In theory, there's no reason this couldn't work in the United States. Witness the recent rise of microtransit, which includes startups like Chariot and Bridj charging $5 to $8 for more reliable express bus rides.

So how do other cities get away with charging higher fares while still making sure poor people have reliable transportation? Strategies vary, but it's not impossible. In Paris, for instance, each municipality is legally obligated to pay the transit agency the difference between its fares and operating costs, allowing it to strive for efficient service while keeping fares down. Other cities, like Seattle, have experimented with charging cheaper fares for people with lower income.

The US political system is also biased against public transit


There are other quirks of American politics that have arguably led us to underinvest in transit. Because it's often seen as welfare, investing in mass transit has become a politically charged issue — with conservatives unwilling to spend on what they see as a social program for the urban poor. 

This doesn't really happen in other countries, at least not to the same extent. While there's some debate over transit spending in Canada and Europe, politicians on the right are much less hostile to the idea — it's much more of a bipartisan cause, like, say, road building in the US. "It's just not as politically controversial to build public transit elsewhere," says Levy. "The left tends to be more pro-transit than the right, but they both ultimately support it."

Meanwhile, a few structural elements of American governance exacerbate anti-transit attitudes. For one, the federal government plays a big role in driving transportation policy. And due to the makeup of the Senate, federal policy is often heavily biased toward rural interests, instead of urban priorities. That plays out in all sorts of ways: The postwar directive to demolish urban neighborhoods to build highways came from the Department of Commerce, not from individual cities, and has been carried out by the Department of Transportation. By contrast, in Canada, there is no corresponding national department, and regional bodies have greater say in transportation planning.

Even simple things like the location of state capitals can make a difference. In Australia, every state's major city is also its capital — so state funding often aligns with the priorities of that city. Compare that with New York or Illinois, where lawmakers reside in Albany and Springfield, and are far less well-acquainted with the value of transit in their major metropolises.

Is there any way to improve US public transit?

los angeles rail
Los Angeles's Metro Expo light rail line. 

"In attracting riders to transit, frequency is the biggest thing, followed very closely by reliability," says King. "If you don't have those, people won't trust the system."

Other countries have often managed to improve both these measures without spending more money — but in the US, the idea that transit is welfare has generally prevented this sort of innovation.

For instance, bus stops in the US are spaced very closely together, compared to elsewhere. Spreading them out would increase bus speed and frequency, but can be politically difficult because it's seen as harming seniors and disabled riders. In Europe, however, much higher numbers of them ride buses with greater stop spacing — because the buses come more often and are more reliable.

Other sorts of cost-neutral changes include routing buses so as to ease transfers from one part of the city to another, rather than forcing all riders to transfer downtown, and increasing bus service in more heavily populated areas, while sacrificing the number of total stops.

Still, after many years, there is some reason for optimism. US transit ridership has gradually been ticking upward, even if it's nowhere near European or Canadian levels. And some experts are optimistic that transit agencies are becoming more willing to experiment. In February, for instance, the city of Houston implemented a number of changes to its bus lines that had been suggested by Walker — making the system less oriented toward downtown and increasing the ease of transferring to go from one suburb to another.

Correction: This article previously stated that the Department of Transportation laid out the routes for US urban highways. They were designed by the Department of Commerce, and implemented by the Department of Transportation after it became its own agency.

Lawsuit Planned Over City’s New “Mobility Plan”


By Allison B. Cohen and Sheila Lane, August 11, 2015

 Red lines show the most aggressive approach including lane designations for evening and morning commutes; purple shows streets such as Santa Monica Boulevard and Western and Vermont avenues that would have lanes reduced for bicycle lanes and curb extensions; dark blue (streets like Hillhurst Avenue, parts of 3rd Street and Cahuegna)  would have lanes reduced for bikes, bike "share" stations and a "cycle track."

 Red lines show the most aggressive approach including lane designations for evening and morning commutes; purple shows streets such as Santa Monica Boulevard and Western and Vermont avenues that would have lanes reduced for bicycle lanes and curb extensions; dark blue (streets like Hillhurst Avenue, parts of 3rd Street and Cahuegna) would have lanes reduced for bikes, bike “share” stations and  “cycle tracks.”

A community activist group said today they will sue the city over the Los Angeles City Council’s adoption today of a sweeping, 20-year mobility plan that encourages a move away from car-centric infrastructure toward more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly transportation options in the city.

The council voted 12-2 to approve the Mobility 2035 plan, an historic piece of legislation with a goal of adding about 300 miles of protected bike lanes and increasing housing density, over complaints from some residents that the plan could worsen traffic congestion and hinder emergency response times.

Voting against the plan were council members Gil Cedillo and Paul Koretz. Councilmember Curren Price was absent.

Some, council members asked for amendments to the plan before voting on it, including that a bike lane for Westwood Boulevard be eliminated and that other bike lanes in Cedillo’s district be removed. But those requests were dismissed and instead will be hashed out in a sub committee of the council.

Newly elected council member David Ryu, however, was allowed to put his stamp on today’s now passed motion, adding language that the community’s input would need to be considered regarding portions before changes to streets are made  and “to consider the need of public safety” when evaluating changes for some streets.

For his part, Cedillo, expressed concern that not enough public input was gathered before the plan was presented to the City Council. He stated that such created an inequity for poorer neighborhoods who did not know such a plan was in the works.

Requests for comment from Cedillo and Koretz were not returned.

The plan takes existing Los Angeles streets and changes them in a variety of ways. For instance, parts or all of Highland Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Feliz Boulevard, Western Avenue, La Brea Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard would be redesigned to add bike lanes, curb extensions, bus stop amenities and other enhancements.

Other streets, such as Hillhurst Avenue, Virgil Avenue, parts of Hyperion Avenue, Silver Lake Boulevard, Rowena Avenue, 3rd Street and Cahuenga Boulevard would receive “bicycle tracks,” bike signals, bike share stations, peak hour bus lanes, curb extensions and other enhancements. In some cases, streets may be reworked to add a separate equestrian trail and bike lanes with buffers that separate cyclists from vehicular traffic.

The biggest changes would occur to such streets as Sunset, Beverly and Glendale boulevards, which could see the addition of center turn lanes and lanes designated as one way only during morning and evening commutes.

“The Los Angeles City Council drank the Kool-aid and voted for slogans instead of facts,” said Laura Lake, who lives on the Westside. “Mr. Cedillo is my hero.”

Lake is a member of the community organization called “Fix the City,” a thorn in the side of the city having successfully sued it in 2013 to stop the Hollywood Community Plan that proposed high density development and high rise buildings. More recently, the group has threatened a lawsuit regarding the city’s recent approval of the Academy Museum in the Miracle Mile area for a variety of reasons including increased traffic.

In this instance, the organization, according to Lake, is concerned the mobility plan will hinder emergency vehicles, create more traffic in residential areas and do the reverse of what is intended to fix: create more air pollution through more consumption of gasoline. In their view, since many of Los Angeles’ major thoroughfares will be reduced in car lanes–the so-called “road diet”–the effect will be gridlock and lots of idling cars.

“This is not a mobility plan,” Lake said. “This is an immobility plan.”

Councilman Mike Bonin, who championed the plan, called it a “groundbreaking” document that updates the city’s planning guidelines from a “1950s mentality” to a more modern approach to transportation that includes more options for bicyclists, public transportation and pedestrians. He, along with council member Jose Huizar, extolled the virtues of the plan and said that in passing the motion, the city would receive transportation funds from the state.

“This is a smart thing to be doing,” Bonin said.

Input from neighborhood councils has been mixed. A coalition of such councils on the Westside of Los Angeles have opposed the plan. Locally, the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council (LFNC) supports it.

According to the LFNC’s Luke Klipp, who is the chair of the organization’s transportation committee, the now passed plan is aspirational in nature and only a blue print for the city. In fact, he said, he doubted much would come of the plan, at least for now.

For Klipp, the city’s decision to approve the plan was more pragmatic as, he said, it had to do so to be in compliance with recent state law requiring cities statewide have a plan for reducing greenhouse emissions.

“The city was just doing what it had to do,” he said.

According to Klipp, locals had little opportunity to weigh in on the plan, although it was announced days in advance it would be discussed at the LFNC’s June meeting.

For his part, Klipp, who supports the plan in concept, said he had spoken with a few members of the community he represents about the plan and its possible impacts. Some agreed with the plan, he said, while others opposed it.

“I would not be surprised if people have issues with this plan,” he said.

Klipp said while many of the plan’s components were indeed positives for the city, the most important, he said, was removing the notion that the city’s bounty of wide streets usually makes way for fast cars and that in turn creates accidents.

“This [plan] will be safer for everyone period,” he said.

Is there a bus or bike lane coming your way? [updated]


August 11, 2015


 If motorists find traffic on major streets like Sunset Boulevard, Cesar Chavez Avenue and Colorado Boulevard slow going, they won’t see much relief under the Los Angeles Mobility Plan. In fact,  the plan, which will help guide transportation and development through 2035, might worsen congestion for cars and trucks, according to city-commissioned environmental reports cited by the L.A. Times.  However, the same plan would likely benefit bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians.

The plan, now before the City Council,  has identified certain streets to include bus-only lanes, protected bike lanes and more pedestrian safety features and amenities. But the streets won’t get any wider to accommodate the bus and protected lanes, so something will have to give. In many cases, that might mean less lanes for motor vehicles.

Sunset Boulevard through Echo Park and Silver Lake, for example, would have to make room for a protected bike lane as well as bus-only lane during peak travel hours, under the plan.  Colorado Boulevard through Eagle Rock and Whittier Boulevard in Boyle Heights would include an all-day, exclusive bus lane.

In some cases, however, bike and bus traffic might be able to travel in the same lane, said city planner Claire Bowin.  Also, it’s up to Metro, which operates and funds bus service, to determine whether the designated streets might have enough ridership to support increased service and warrant a bus-only lane.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan today.

* Update: A majority of the City Council voted in favor of the plan, reports the L.A. Times.  First District Councilman Gil Cedillo, whose district includes all or part of Cypress Park, Highland Park and Lincoln Heights, was one of two votes against the plan.

Enhanced Traffic Networks from L.A. Mobility Plan
transit enhanced network
From L.A. Mobility Plan 2035
Metro has designated the streets in the map above as part of a Transit Enhanced Network that “prioritize travel for transit riders:
  • Moderate enhancements (yellow):   Include bus stop enhancements and increased service, with transit vehicles continuing to operate in mixed traffic.
  • Moderate Plus Transit (light orange):  Includes an exclusive bus lane during the peak travel period only
  • Comprehensive Transit:  Include transit vehicles operating in an all-day exclusive bus lane.
Bicycle Enhanced Network | LA Mobility Plan
Bicycle Enhanced Network | LA Mobility Plan
L.A. Mobility Plan
L.A. Mobility Plan
Protected Bicycle Lanes (dark blue) would, according to the Mobility Plan, “offer an increased degree of separation between bicyclists and the adjacent travel lanes (e.g., an on-street parking buffer between the vehicular travel lanes and the cycle track). In addition, the installation of protected bicycle lanes would likely include signalization enhancements for bicycles along with turning-movement restrictions for motor vehicles.”


  1. “However, the same plan would likely benefit bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians.” Your classifications give the impression that these are distinct groups. But a person who rides a bus can also be a person who drives a car. If I ride buses AND drive, will it hurt me or help me? Thus, it’s too simple to say that this mobility plan will hurt drivers and help bus riders, cyclists, and pedestrians. And it polarizes the issue and gets people yelling nonsense in comments. People use these modes of travel; but they are not defined by them. Some publications – often the ones that refrain from using the phrase, “car accident” – have taken steps to avoid creating false dichotomies by pinning one mode against the other.
    In the words of Jonathan Maus from bikeportland.org: “In my opinion, putting a label on someone simply for how they move around only makes it easier for them to be marginalized, stereotyped, criticized, dismissed, and so on.”
    • Thanks for this comment. I read this blog a lot, and appreciate its coverage of news that is important to NELA but doesn’t make it to the LA Times. But the writer has teed up this story as a driver-vs-pedestrian fight, inviting a food fight in the comments. It is disappointing — and eerily similar to what I remember of Pete Wilson politics — pitting one group against another.
      At various times of the day, I’m a driver, a pedestrian, and a cyclist. And if better options develop, I’m happy to change transportation modes. So this way to pose the problem is unhelpful.
      Two other observations: If you travel around, you notice many major cities embracing trains, buses, walking, and cycling. Some people who have a “traditional” LA lifestyle should be observant as they travel, to notice other systems that work better than ours. The rest of the world is not standing still.
      Also: there is not enough emphasis on expert analysis of traffic. I’ve attended the small expo sessions where the impact of bike lanes is discussed, and LADOT presents traffic numbers, estimates of delays, etc. I’m sure similar analysis went in to this plan. Too many people are focused on their very intuitive understanding of traffic, which pretty much reduces to “more lanes good”. The problem is more complex, because all those lanes still have to cross one another at intersections, and feed into smaller roads, etc., and there is the additional problem of wide roads attracting unnecessary car traffic, and finding parking for all those cars.
      • Let’s stop with the semantics and self-righteousness. This discussion IS entirely about cars vs bicycles. The fact that you like to wear different hats as both a driver and bus/bicycle rider is irrelevant. The issue is simple: reduce traffic lanes to satisfy a vocal minority or maintain the traffic lines as they are currently. Traffic congestion is already hideous, so why not make a bad situation worse, eh? Why not make the rest of the city like DTLA; we’ll convert all streets throughout the city to single one-way lanes. Who cares if automobile drivers have to suffer even more than they already do. What’s next, converting traffic lanes on the 134 to bicycle lanes? While you fret over labels, the rest of us will be stuck in traffic, missing our daughter’s soccer match, or a doctor’s appointment, or a flight. Please stop with the anti-automobile chauvinism. Leave the traffic lanes as they are.
        • Sorry, the issue is not that simple, and your scary scenarios are ridiculous.
          • This coming from someone whose biggest problem is what transportation label should be applied to him/her?? Gimme a break. Talk about first world problems. Too bad you can’t look in the mirror and see the ridiculousness of your pretentiousness. The quality of people’s lives is at stake here, and you’re worried about dichotomies and labels? Until you get a website of your own that’s as informative and helpful to NELA as the Eastsider, please refrain from chastising the writer of this helpful and accurate article.
          • You’re presuming way too much about me. And you seem to be the grandmaster of pitting one group against another, so I won’t even try to explain why I think that’s a mistake. Carry on with your broad presumptions – anything to make the issue as black and white as possible. I’m so glad I’ll never have to pick up my daughter at school or drive to work, because I live in a magical bicycle land where all cars are evil and my biggest problem is the language people use! And lucky for all of us, language has nothing to do with how issues are framed or how people think.
            This article also failed to mention that last week Cedillo submitted an amendment to the Plan, which included the removal of all proposed bike lanes in his district, as well as the removal of some existing ones. I love this website – but this article is parroting a pretty bad LA Times article, and failing to add pertinent, east side info.
        • Here’s why putting the question as “drivers vs. bus riders” is wrong: in the long term, if bus options prove to be better for some trips, people will choose to ride the bus rather than drive for that trip. Same for other modes of transportation (bike, pedestrian).
          The implication: I have no identity as a “driver” or a “bus rider”. I want to get from here to there using the best option. A transportation plan is about creating choices and thereby making the system more efficient for some trips. I can walk to the dry cleaner and some local restaurants. I can bike to the grocery store. I can Uber to LAX. All of these have advantages compared to driving.
          It will not happen overnight, in fact, some people will never reconsider their decisions. That’s OK, because my bike ride to the grocery store allows someone else to use the parking space I would have taken up.
          About our supposedly bad congestion: Ha. I suggest you visit London, Boston, or New York City and note what they are doing about congestion. LA, in general, has not even come close to the level of intervention you see elsewhere. You simply cannot build enough roads for car-only transportation. Look at what has happened to the Westside, or to Venice.
  2. I would absolutely ride my bike to work if there was a protected bike line!!!! I hope the city truly IS looking toward the future and planning for a more bike-friendly city. I own a car and drive to work or take the goldline, but would love to ride my bike if we had dedicated, safe bike lanes like Berlin has!!!
  3. GOOD — we need more transportation options. As someone who lives in ER and walks on Colorado Blvd multiple times a week, I am all for more ways to get around. And anything we can do to slow down the traffic speeds on Colorado, is a good thing. People still drive way too fast — and if you want to drive that fast, you should be on the 134 instead.
    And please don’t listen to anyone that tells you traffic on Colorado has gotten worse due to the bike lanes, they are mistaken. I drive on Colorado all times of the day, and occasionally you do have to (gasp) wait at a light, but it’s rare you need to wait for two lights to get past any given intersection. Any grousing about traffic on Colorado is delusional.
    • As a fellow Eagle Rocker, I agree with every word you said.
    • How fast is too fast? 35 mph? Why not just have LAPD actually enforce existing traffic laws?
      • If you design streets for safe and convenient community circulation (rather than just max speeds for motorists), you don’t need to waste tax revenue on traffic stings and speed traps. I think we can all agree the LAPD have bigger fish to fry.
        • Yes, they do. But traffic stops catch all sorts of folks: outstanding warrants, child support, parole. etc. Giuliani style.
  4. this article should just be titled “Do you live in Cedillo’s district or do you not?”
  5. Culturally Unwelcoming
    making Sunset one lane through Echo Park and Silver Lake would be a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
    • Yeah, lots of professionals will be biking silver lake/los feliz to downtown. Madness.
      • I don’t think you’d need to lose any mixed traffic lanes to fit protected bike lanes… I’m guessing the city could simply swap the parking spots with the bike lanes, and calm traffic flow to a more rational urban speed (~25mph)?
        It’d definitely be a boon to small businesses and local residents, if motorists weren’t driving into buildings and running over people every few months. And it’d be much easier to parallel park, if d-bags were discouraged from weaving in and out of traffic at highway speeds, like they do today.
        I imagine reducing auto capacity to one lane would only happen if Metro decided to paint rush hour bus-only lanes (like the Dodgers use during game days.) But I doubt that will happen… anyway, people just ignore them a lot of the time, and they rarely work that well because motorists still need to get into and out of them at every intersection.
        Sunset/SMB just needs a cut-and-cover subway line… it’s in Metro’s long range plan, but probably won’t be happening in our lifetimes (too many projects ahead of it in the queue; too many idiots in Washigton who think we can fix urban congestion with more freeways.)
        • What freeways are being constructed in urban areas? The bike advocates don’t do themselves any favors by trundling out aged tropes about freeways and car accidents. Metrolink has had several dramatic accidents, why is nobody calling for the removal of the tracks? As long as humans operate vehicles (including bikes), there will be accidents. A Vision Zero goal is unattainable for bike accidents.
          For Sunset and Figueroa, there is no way to install bike lanes without losing either parking, or through lanes. Reducing two main thoroughfares to 1 lane in each direction is absolute madness. But that is what happens when politicians capitulate to the vocal minority.
          • At the national level, conservatives are trying to strip all funding for mass transit, full stop. And even most D.C. liberals want to squander ungodly amounts of money on new highways in urban areas, instead of much needed rail projects that will generate far greater ROI for the taxpayer.
            Here In LA… we are making big investments in rail. But we’re still wasting a lot of money on urban freeway expansion. The 405 widening, 5 widening, 710 tunnel boondoggle, misc. on/offramp projects.
            That’s 10’s of billions of our tax dollars being spent on local/urban freeways, with very minimal (and short lived) improvement in travel times (rush hour congestion on the 405 is actually worse after they added a lane!)
          • Also, Sunset already has bike lanes… so I don’t see why they couldn’t just swap the lane/parking configuration to create a buffer on both sides of the street (without sacrificing the 4 mixed/auto lanes that currently exist.) Am I missing something?
            North Figueroa is another ball of wax… and I believe a road diet would actually be needed in a few stretches to create bike lanes. Then again, that street doesn’t see anywhere near the traffic congestion that Sunset does. I think the traffic study they did when the bike lanes were being proposed there couple years back said the delay would be minimal. But Cedillo put the kibosh on that, so I don’t think you’ll have to worry about it changing anytime soon.
        • Culturally Unwelcoming
          ask any of the business owners along the 2 miles of Sunset through Silver Lake and Echo Park if they think removing the parking in front of their storefronts would be a “boon.”
            Yeah, nope.
          • Why would you need to remove parking on Sunset to add buffered bike lanes? There’s already bike lanes and parking… just swap the lane with the parking spots, and calm traffic flow to a more urban flow (i.e. 20-25 instead 35-45.) Done and done.
          • Culturally Unwelcoming
            Is that legal–to have parking in between two vehicle lanes?
          • @Culturally Unwelcoming I think maybe I’m not explaining it well enough. Check out the new bike lanes on Reseda (near CSUN.) This is what I mean: http://bit.ly/1Tubu7X
          • Reseda before: http://bit.ly/1IGVHzE
            And after: http://bit.ly/1Enjgta
            It’s a similar street layout, so I figure the DOT should be able to just swap the bike lanes with the parking, and keep two lanes each way for cars.
          • Culturally Unwelcoming
            those look great, though you’d have to carve 3-4 feet out of traffic lanes for the buffer strip, and I don’t think you could do that on both sides of Sunset without killing a lane or widening the street in many places. but I honestly don’t see an overpowering need for them, either; Sunset though SL/EP is not an especially difficult or dangerous ride as it is.
            at any rate, the bike lane, if it can be accommodated without killing a traffic lane, is a minor issue. it’s the idea of turning Sunset into a two-lane street during rush hour that is madness.
  6. This is frying-pan-to-the-face insanity. We have allowed our roads (the majority of which are dedicated to automobiles — the reason these said roads were created in the first place) to decay into shameful, dangerous disrepair. For the sake of safety (as cars swerve to avoid cater-sized potholes), traffic congestion (as drivers slow to navigate blocks-long stretches of divots and Olympic-sized gullies), and pollution created by stagnant traffic, repairs need to be made now. If we drivers weren’t so busy clamping down on our mouthpieces to avoid shattering our teeth and bending our tire rims on crater-sized potholes strategically located every thirty feet, some might wonder if there is an ulterior motive in motion and question what, exactly, is happening. Instead, we wake up daily to freshly painted bicycle lanes. Misplaced priorities favoring a minority group.
    • Catering exclusively to the automobile is what created this mess and you and others want to keep the status quo and hope things get better. you and juicy jay are bigger cry babies than the so called minority bicyclists, who unlike you don’t have infrastructure door to door throughout the city… but that still isn’t good enough for you. Look in the mirror next time you want to refer to entitled cry baby special interest groups who participate in activities (like driving) that are highly subsidized by the rest of society. Don’t like it, find another way to get around. No one’s holding a gun to your head and making you drive, are they? It’s so simple, after all.
  7. Los Angeles is too hot and too big for bicycle commuting. It just doesn’t work. Amsterdam is a great city but it is flat and small and the weather rarely reaches 80 degrees. It is a great idea – it looks good on paper – but thats it. There are already bike lanes on Sunset and they are barely used.
    I heard all of this shrill rhetoric when I lived in San Francisco. They closed down many lanes for theoretical bicyclists – and it causes only gridlock during rush hour. You never see a single bike. Serious working people who don’t have time to ride a bike; who don’t have time to comment or even read articles like this are the ones who suffer.
    Commuting downtown by bike from the Franklin Hills where I live is great going there but coming back it is all up hill. You would have to be 20 years old and in top shape. Is that what the city planners expect us to be? Is that why they use the annoying euphemism ‘Road Diet’? Fixing something that is not broken is neurotic behavior.
    • “Los Angeles is too hot and too big for bicycle commuting. It just doesn’t work.” – for you. This is fine… don’t do it. But that doesn’t mean we should preclude our society from giving people the option to make a choice that frankly is better for them AND FOR YOU. Get over it.
      • Wow. Didn’t mean to make you mad! Truth hurts. No one is limiting you or me commuting by bike – there are already bike lanes on Sunset – but for good or bad this place was made for cars. Perhaps you should advocate for greater urban density. I love biking here but going to work like this is untenable.
        • Sunset was built around walking and a streetcar line… the bones are still there, we just need to stop thinking of our main streets as cut-through surface highways. It’s a big, crowded, diverse city. People of all walks and social status need to be able to get around safely and conveniently with or without a car (like any other big city.) And the Sunset lanes don’t connect to Downtown or Hollywood… filling in these gaps in our transportation network is just low hanging fruit.
    • I sold my car 10 years ago and commute by bike 12 miles each way from Hollywood to my Fortune 500 CORPORATE marketing job in Santa Monica. It’s not only doable it’s changed my life and my families life for the better.
      Oh yeah, I’m in my mid 40s.
      You folks have lots of excuses for sloth and outright hostility to any notion of making our streets safer for people who aren’t driving in cars. You have no data and rely on convenience-based emotional arguments straight out of the 50s. For example, the difference between 35 mph and 45 mph is literally life and death (google crash survivability rates). But you guys don’t care about the slaughter going on our streets, you just care about going as FAST YOU CAN. GET OUTTA MY WAY!!!!
      This is a worldwide cultural paradigm shift. It is unstoppable. Younger people want options and actually give a damn about the planet unlike our own hypocritical boomers and Gen Xers who still base their self-worth on their possessions.
      The last 50 years have been an outright disaster for everything except personal convenience and sloth. Obesity, pollution, social inequity (not everyone can afford cars), traffic violence are the byproducts of the social engineering that has gone unchecked since the rail lines were ripped up and freeways built by a population too ignorant to know the damage they were doing.
      I mean, people used to think smoking in hospitals was ok. You all remember that right?
      Los Angeles is wonderful for active transportation with a great climate and fairly flat terrain. The amount of whining and excuses put forth here is the reason America is becoming a nation of weaklings and unable to compete with a much tougher world full of people who know what actual hardship means.
      The staus quo has not worked for close to 30 years now. Traffic is projected to exponentially increase because the population is only going to keep exploding and most people moving here drive cars.
      You can cry about illegal aliens, etc but things are only going to get worse and your answer is to uphold the status quo or foolishly try to increase capacity – which never works. You have no answers, no data, no idea what you’re talking about (roads are paid for by motorists! classic ignorance).
      I would feel sorry for you but your anger and callous disregard for public safety make it extremely hard. In 10 years you guys are really going to hate living in LA when millions more cars have been added and your stubborn adherence to 1955 nostalgia is coming back to bite you in your collective butts as you sit in endless traffic jams, every day, wishing you had not designed your entire lives around single occupancy cars.
      Children throwing tantrums when they are asked to share.
    • Plenty of people ride bikes in San Francisco… check out the Market street bike counter: http://bit.ly/1oMP8Dl
      Also, not everyone in LA lives in the hills. Population density is much higher in the flats, where riding a bike is more practical. And not all trips are to/from work (most are under 2 miles.)
      This plan is just about giving people more options to move around the city. You can still drive if that’s what you prefer. Others will make their own choices. It’s about leveling the playing field a bit, by making our streets safe and pleasant for walking and cycling, as well as cars and busses (instead of just traffic sewers that only benefit rush hour commuters, at the expense of community mobility, public safety and property values.)
      Look at the streets where the city has implemented traffic calming (bike lanes, road diets, etc.) Traffic might be a little worse at rush hour, sure. But small business is booming with more foot traffic, fewer accidents and local investment. That’s what a high-functioning city looks like. Streets are for facilitating movement of people, local commerce, and social interaction. If all you want to do is travel from point A to B at high speeds, take the freeway.
  8. So far none of you haters has come up with 1 idea to make it easier to move around this city. If traffic is already terrible how are you going to make it better? We have been adding road capacity for cars for the past 75+ years and guess what happens when you limit choice and add capacity? You end up with more traffic! Adding lanes to congested roads just makes for more traffic at peak hour and dangerous freeway conditions at all other times. Believe it or not Los Angeles is a dense, big, city, 2nd largest in the USA(crazy can’t believe it). LA can no longer be a dense car centric city, it is unsustainable.
    LA city has 6,000 miles of road and lets say for argument sake 500 miles of bike lanes(not true at all the real number is way less). That is 8.3% of the total road miles, a tiny tiny tiny number. Also there are still vehicle traffic lanes where they are bike lanes, no street in LA is for the exclusive use of bikes. So I don’t see why people are so upset about this, unless it is just a small vocal group of folks who fear their absolute power will shrink a tiny bit.