In a Q-and-A between Patt Morrison and Michelle Mowery, the senior bicycle coordinator at the Los Angeles City Department of Transportation, Mowery reveals some pieces of the puzzle of how LA is taking steps forward to better accommodate cyclists. Mowery compares how Copenhagen is similar to LA and how fourth graders in the Netherlands receive bike education. She says a grant is in progress that would take such education to high schools, similarly to driver’s ed. Other goals for the city include a mile grid (where, regardless of location, people would be within one mile of a bikeway) and implementing roundabouts instead of speed humps that the city no longer funds.
The Los Angeles Daily News editorial board took time to opine on certain transportation developments. In response to last week’s news of the benefits residents near Expo Line experience with newfound rapid transit, an op-ed noted that the study must be taken with a grain of salt. Quoting transit critic Adrian Moore, the op-ed warned that while the results of a study regarding travel habits for said residents is indisputable, it is unreasonable to build so much rail transit to change the habits of commuters on the same level. Thus, transit proponents must continue refining their message in order for Angelenos to remain bullish on rail expansion, even if most will not use it regularly. In a separate editorial, the Daily News praised the speed with which Metrolink is installing positive train control throughout its network, in contrast to what is happening elsewhere, but expressed concern that the high cost of doing so will burden the private railroads who must pay for the upgrades.
With a nearly 75% increase in parking fines throughout the last six years, Los Angeles is generating more than $150 million per year in parking revenue. Combined with receipts from parking meters and the 10% Parking User’s Tax, the City of Los Angeles makes more than $300 million annually. Additionally, an estimated $100 million of parking revenue comes from the Staples Center, Los Angeles International Airport, LA Convention Center, and various locations owned by Los Angeles. According to an opinion piece in CityWatch, the rise in parking fines was approved without informing neighborhood councils, homeowner associations, and other stakeholders.
For misinformed reasons like this, the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative, a new grassroots movement, is receiving support throughout Los Angeles. Among other things, the group aims to create a parking strategy that consults with stakeholders. The Parking Freedom Initiative also wants to reform parking enforcement so that citizens can view regulations in a more positive fashion. It should be noted that removing or weakening parking regulations negatively affects traffic and the local economy, as Donald Shoup and other parking researchers increasingly realize.
Finally, KCET’s River Notes section offers a summary of what has transpired so far in regards to the Sixth Street Viaduct, which is slated for replacement. “Concrete cancer” has irreversibly compromised the condition of the existing historic structure. The City of Los Angeles selected HTNB as the designer of the new bridge in October 2012, and demolition of the old structure will begin no earlier than December 2014. Opinions are mixed as to what effect the new bridge and its construction will have on residents and business owners who depend on the bridge to access Downtown LA.
With gate latching at Red and Purple Line stations now complete, Metro focuses its attention to the Blue Line, where select stations will be latched starting this week. However, some Blue Line stations will not have latched gates because they are too small to host turnstiles. Thus, passengers entering through said stations will still use the honor fare system. (Contrary to the linked report, gate latching at Green Line stations has been delayed.) As with other latched stations, passengers must use TAP cards with loaded fares to enter the station.
A study performed by USC reaffirms what transit advocates have said all along: Providing quality rail transportation reduces vehicle usage and pollution. The study specifically looked at car use before and after the opening of the Expo Line to Culver City. Of note, those who live within half a mile of a station reduced their driving by 40%, traveled 10 to 12 miles less per day and increased transit use threefold. Access to transit also increased physical activity by adding time spent walking to stations. In turn, these same individuals reduced their carbon emissions by 30%. While it is not reasonable to expect the majority of Southern Californians to be within an earshot of a rail station, the study demonstrates that better transit can improve people’s lives in tangible ways.
KCET’s Social Focus section takes a look at an oddity in Downtown LA’s street grid: Broadway Place, a diagonal street that connected Olympic/Broadway with Main Street. Broadway once had its southern end at what was then known as Tenth Street, but business owners clamored for a direct connection to Main Street in order to enhance connections to southern Los Angeles, a connection that was ultimately provided by Broadway Place. However, a southward extension of Broadway proper made the connection redundant. Los Angeles eventually vacated the street, thus removing it from the street grid, during the last decade. The former street is now part of a parking lot.
Starting next year, the Los Angeles World Airports will launch at least four new FlyAway services across Southern California, with buses serving Hollywood, Torrance, Santa Monica and the Orange Line Sepulveda Station. However, to those who have a vision of how passengers can better access LAX, even a massive expansion of FlyAway service isn’t enough. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Mike Bonin contributed an op-ed explaining the need for a rail connection to the airport, which is partly funded under Measure R and under study by Metro. Garcetti and Bonin revealed that one prominent alternative that remains in play is the LAX Connect, which would create a spur of the Crenshaw Line to a new transportation hub on airport property, where passengers can check in and reach their terminals through a peoplemover.
In response to the growing problem of Orange Line users attending to their physical needs near stations, the Metro Board recently voted in favor of studying ways to discourage riders from turning stations to their own personal bathrooms. The Pierce College station received the most attention, where students often engaged in such actions and the nearest restrooms are deep within the campus, about a half-mile away from the station. Metro could install temporary restrooms, which would require Metro to bend its own long-standing policy of not installing restrooms at stations. Metro could also opt for self-cleaning pay restrooms as is done at the North Hollywood Red Line Station.
LA CityWatch contributor Matthew Hetz previously wrote an article condemning the TAP system as sloppily enacted and cumbersome. Hetz directed particular scorn towards the TAP website, where transit users (allegedly) could refill their cards online but instead proved buggy and useless. Since then, however, Metro responded to Hetz’s concerns and showed them how the agency is cleaning up the mess this has caused. Hetz was impressed with the sincerity agency officials expressed. During the meetings between Metro and TAP users, Hetz included, staff stated that Metro is working with the third party contractor in charge of the website to improve functionality. Metro also demonstrated vending machine schematics that promise to be more user-friendly, according to Hetz.