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Get ready for #bikeshareLA!!!!!!

Exciting news for Angelenos today! Bikeshare is coming to LA, says the Los Angeles City Council. Today, Council voted to partner with Metro to launch a pilot bike-sharing program in Downtown Los Angeles. The program is slated to launch with 1,090 bicycles and up to 85 stations by 2016. The program aims to eventually expand to other neighborhoods, such as Hollywood, Koreatown, Expo Park, North Hollywood and Venice.

Bikeshare could be a game changer for LA, creating a new transportation system that has benefits that extend far beyond moving people around. In other cities, bikeshare has expanded the number of mobility options available for short trips, improved the health of its users, decreased crashes, and produced positive business outcomes.

Bikeshare is a partnership between Metro, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS) and its partner BCycle were selected to implement the program for Metro in Los Angeles and other cities. The program builds on successful bikesharing operations in other major cities, including Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Paris.

After a 2012 effort to bring bikesharing to Downtown Los Angeles failed to materialize, Councilmember José Huizar, who represents a majority of DTLA, welcomes the program, which compliments his DTLA Forward initiative, aimed at improving pedestrian, public space and bicycle access in DTLA.

“This bikesharing program is a long time coming for DTLA and the City of Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Huizar. “We have been leading the fight to bring more pedestrian and bicycle uses to the City, particularly in Downtown, where many of its 53,000 residents live car-free lives. Our bikesharing service will greatly benefit them, as well as the many workers, visitors and tourists who come to DTLA each and every day.”

This Arts District poodle advised about station placement at last month’s bikeshare demonstration

Under the plan, Metro and the City of Los Angeles will share capital costs. Metro will cover 35% of net operations and maintenance costs and the City will cover the remaining 65%.

“Bikesharing’s return on investment is proven and powerful,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager. “It is good for local business, public health, and community happiness. The City is a proud partner to Metro in launching a new form of safe, equitable, and fun public transit.”

Naming rights for the bikeshare system will be retained by Metro and advertising rights on bikeshare stations will belong to the City and be negotiated separately from the MOU approved today.

“We’re very pleased to partner with the City of Los Angeles to bring bike sharing to Downtown L.A. next year,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair. “This partnership will do wonders to extend the reach of Metro’s bus and rail system and give Angelenos brand new, efficient and sustainable transportation options. Following Downtown L.A.’s bike sharing pilot, we look forward to expanding the bike share program to many other cities within Los Angeles County.”

BTS/BCycle is working on integrating transit fare cards similar to Metro’s TAP card, bringing a convenient, unified payment system to the county’s rail, bus and bikeshare systems.

Councilmember Mike Bonin also serves as a Metro Boardmember and helped usher in the new program.

“I am incredibly excited that we are moving forward with bike share in L.A. and that we are focusing on developing a system that will connect our neighborhoods,” said Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin. “It defies logic that snowy cities around the country have had bike share for years, but a city like Los Angeles, with our wonderful weather and communities begging to be biked, still hasn’t gotten this done yet. I’m excited this is happening in L.A. and I can’t wait for it to reach the Westside in the near future.”

Bikesharing programs have grown throughout the years from the free white bike programs introduced by the Dutch in the 1970s to the current explosion of member-based, electronic kiosk-operated bicycle sharing programs globally. In 2015, the global number of bikeshare bikes surpassed 1 million! Most major cities in North America have developed successful bikeshare programs:

· In Denver, 43% of bikeshare users say they use bikeshare to replace car trips.

· In Washington, D.C., 31% of bikeshare users report lower stress levels.

· In Paris, local bike sales increased 35% one year after the Velib bikeshare system was installed.

· New York’s Citibike system has created 200 local jobs.

· In five cities with bikeshare systems, injuries to people bicycling decreased by 30% compared to cities without bikeshare systems.

LA’s bikeshare on preview in the Arts District!

Learning from previous attempts to implement bikeshare, Los Angeles and Metro are creating a system in which bikeshare is a form of public transportation, and is subsidized similar to bus and rail.

The capital cost of the Pilot Program is anticipated to be $5,806,034. Grant funding from two sources have been secured in order to cover all of these capital costs. The first grant is $3,792,893 in ExpressLanes Net Toll Revenue. In addition, the Metro Board approved reprogramming $2,013,141 in Metro Call for Project funding from two former CRA projects to offset capital costs and pay for the remainder of the capital purchase of equipment for the Program.

The total Operations and Maintenance cost of the two-year program is estimated to be $5,259,639. The City’s 65% share will be offset by revenue from user fees, and the remaining net costs are recommended to be paid through a combination of funds from the Local Transportation Fund (TDA) and the Measure R Local Return 5% set-aside for bicycle programs.

Bikeshare will grace the streets of DTLA by Summer 2016 to provide Angelenos a new way to move around LA.

LADOT x Peddler’s x CRANC – Activating Main Street with a Bike Repair Workshop (photo courtesy of CRANC)

In June 2015, LADOT installed a new bicycle corral and bicycle repair station alongside Peddler’s Creamery, the first of their kind in LA’s Downtown Historic Core. Peddler’s, an ice cream shop that specializes in organic bicycle-churned ice cream, is located in a very special building called New Genesis. The property owner of New Genesis is the Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit organization that works with architects to build high quality permanent supportive housing for people who have lived on the streets, in prolonged extreme poverty, with poor health, disabilities, mental illness and/or addiction, so that they can lead safe, stable lives in wellness.

The Skid Row Housing Trust was founded in 1989, renovating and transforming a number of dilapidated downtown hotels into attractive and affordable permanent housing. Today the Trust has 22 buildings downtown, and two of the newest, New Genesis and New Pershing apartments are located right next to our newest bicycle- and people-friendly infrastructure.

The New Genesis building opened in 2012 and represents a holistic and progressive vision of Downtown LA urban sustainability. New Genesis Apartments includes mixed-use, mixed-income and artist loft units, as well as the commercial space that Peddler’s calls home. By integrating low-income housing into the broader fabric of our city, the Trust ensures its success and integrates people and uses much like any healthy street would integrate travel modes to form a complete street.

The workshop saw all kinds of bikes – motor bikes, delivery bikes, and just regular people riding by

The Trust is one of the first organizations in the country to combine permanent housing and on-site social services. They call it “permanent supportive housing,” which is now considered a best practice in the fight against homelessness.  Though housing planning and transportation planning are different disciplines, the idea of providing supportive services along with infrastructure is one we are very familiar with here in active transportation. We understand that just providing infrastructure leaves people wondering about their options, how to undertake change, and how to grow and expand their lives to embrace new or different habits.  In order for us to have a healthy transportation system, we need to build out support for other modes, as well as the amenities that will facilitate their use.  Some of these amenities are Bicycle Corrals, that support ridership by supplying ample bicycle parking on streets and in front of businesses, and a Bicycle Repair Stations, that provide the tools necessary to keep people on their bikes even when they have hiccups like a flat tire.

Bicycle Repair Stations are a resource for the whole neighborhood (photo courtesy of CRANC)

Many Downtown LA residents do not drive cars. LADOT’s mission includes not only to provide amenities to support bicycle ridership, but also amenities that enhance people’s ability to fully utilize the tools we provide. In order to realize that mission, LADOT collaborated with CRANC, the Trust, and Peddlers to host two bicycle repair workshops.  The workshops covered the basics of bicycle repair, provided safety and regulation information, as well as a special sweet treat from Peddlers!

We all need a supportive world to live well and one of the best ways to maximize support is through partnership and continuing educational opportunities. Like the proverb goes, give a person a bicycle and he has a ride for a day; teach a person to fix their bicycle and they have a ride for a life. A special thank you to our Bicycle Corral and Bicycle Repair Station maintenance sponsor, Edward Belden of Peddler’s Creamery, Gilbert Mascarro of Skid Row Housing Trust and David Castro of CRANC for their help in organizing and supporting these great workshops!

The good people of CRANC! (photo courtesy of CRANC)

In our first installation of Explore LA!, we thought we’d so something quintessentially Angelean, like take a trip to the movies! This Saturday, August 15th, the Los Angeles section of the American Planning Association (APA) is hosting a special tour and movie night at Cinespia‘s Movies All Night Slumber Party. APA explorers will be Guided by professionals and treated to a walking tour of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hollywood Forever has history-laden past and serves as the final resting place for some of Hollywood’s earliest stars.  The site is also a great place for thinking about urban planning and the utilization and re-purposing of existing infrastructure because in more recent times, it has undergone a transformation from near-bankruptcy in the 90s to its revitalization and rebirth as one of Los Angeles’ more beloved landmarks in the early 2000s.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and more specifically the Cinespia (a portmanteau of two Italian words: “cine” as in cinema and “spiare” meaning “to spy”) screenings, has helped fill one of the most gaping voids in Los Angeles, the dearth of public gathering spaces. Now admittedly it’s not exactly “public” since you have to pay to attend the screenings, but there’s definitely a feeling of camaraderie among the masses of cinema-spies.

Watch the sunset at Hollywood Forever! (photo courtesy Flickr user Cuttlefish)

Like campers freely lending forgotten necessities it’s not uncommon to strike up conversations with strangers over a borrowed blanket. This bringing together of people for a shared experience is especially beneficial and needed in LA where we are so often shut off from others: either physically in our cars, or mentally on the bus or train with heads clad in earphones and sunglasses. It’s nice to experience Los Angeles in a way that, for once, isn’t so adversarial.

And why not arrive at the Hollywood Cemetery in a fun, shared-experience sort of way? The Hollywood/Vine Red Line Station is only a mile away; it’s an easy 15-20 minute walk and an even easier 5 minute bike ride. Continue Reading »

Exciting things keep happening for the future of mobility in Los Angeles! Some of you who have been following mobility planning and implementation in the City may be wondering when Mobility Plan 2035, the primary planning document that guides planning and implementation of mobility for the City, could take effect.  Well you are in luck! On Tuesday, August 4th, the LA City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management Committees will consider the decision to adopt the Plan at 2:30pm in Council Chambers.

If urban planning and government are not your profession, you might be wondering what a plan is, why we use them, or how you can learn more. Planning documents are developed (this one has been in development for nearly 4 years!) with an extensive process of outreach, studies, socio-economic forecasting, visioning, and strategic planning in order to guide unified decision making in the future.  Plans are not set in stone, but they provide goals (aspirations in vision) and objectives (ways of achieving the vision) that the City can pursue to achieve a desired future. Once adopted, Mobility Plan 2035 will become part of the City’s General Plan and provide policy and implementation guidance for LA streets for the next 20 years.

Mobility Plan 2035 is getting ready for a green light!

Mobility Plan 2035 is especially dynamic and groundbreaking in that it represents the first time Complete Streets policies and guidance will be reflected in the City’s General Plan! Complete Streets are considered streets that provide safe access for all users.  Mobility Plan 2035 includes a Complete Streets Design Guide that provides decision makers, departments, and the broader community a number of options for public rights of way (streets!) to achieve safe mobility access for people of all ages and abilities.

Next Tuesday August 4th at 2:30pm the LA City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management Committees will consider the decision to adopt the the Mobility Plan 2035, the key planning document for mobility and streets in the City of Los Angeles. If the Committees vote to adopt the Plan, then the Plan will be heard at full City Council for final Plan adoption, the last step in the adoption process!

We’d like to tell you a little more about the Plan! Planning documents can be policy game-changers, and some of the substantial policy directives found in Mobility Plan 2035 are outlined in its Chapters:

  1. Safety First
  2. World Class Infrastructure
  3. Access to All Angelenos
  4. Collaboration, Communication and Informed Choices
  5. Clean Environment & Healthy Communities

Reseda Boulevard, LA’s first iteration of the Great Streets program shows how streets can facilitate low-stress travel with a parking protected bike lane and an attractive walking environment

Mobility Plan 2035 provides a vision of integrated transportation networks for all road users. The Plan especially focuses on safe, low stress networks that encourage more people to embrace modes of active transportation, whether it be biking, walking, strolling, rollerblading, skating or more.

The plan also establishes objectives to measure success, including objectives to decrease transportation-related fatalities; establish slow school zones; provide frequent, reliable on-time bus arrival; increase vehicular travel time reliability; expand bicycle ridership; expand access to shared-use vehicles; share real time information to inform travel choices; and increase economic productivity by lowering the overall cost of travel.

Other cool Mobility Plan objectives include ensuring that 80% of street segments do not exceed targeted operating speeds and increasing the percentage of females who travel by bicycle to 35% of all riders by 2035

If Mobility Plan 2035 is achieved, it would take 219,000 trips off of our roads every day, and result in 1.7 million fewer miles traveled every day, which would be great for our health, our commute, and the health of our environment! Full implementation of the Plan would triple the number of Los Angeles residents living within a quarter mile of a Transit Enhanced Network (TEN) facility and would more than double the number of jobs located within a quarter mile of such transit facilities.

Don’t forget, on Tuesday, August 4th, the LA City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Management Committees will consider the decision to adopt the Mobility Plan 2035 at 2:30pm in Council Chambers. The meeting is open to the public and speaker cards will be available for those who wish to comment.

Bradley Ave Plaza #thefuture

In the realm of active transportation, we are always thinking about the future and the constantly changing trends, cultures, and behavior shifts – these are the heartbeat of the City that we listen to in order to plan and integrate our work into the ever-evolving urban fabric of Los Angeles.  The conversation about active transportation increasingly goes beyond the modes we are talking about (walking, biking, rolling). The beauty of active transportation is that it intertwines with other disciplines, a wide variety of stakeholders, and other physical and social aspects of public space like social life, urban spaces, and cultural programming. Constantly in our practice, we observe these ties, although they differ neighborhood to neighborhood and place by place, as each has its own deep cultural and historical influences. We were lucky enough to spend some time in one of these culturally-rich neighborhoods lately, learning about the lay of the land.

Last week, LADOT Active Transportation Division traveled to Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima to attend a workshop put on by the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Van Nuys Boulevard is no stranger to recognition! It has been designated by two council districts as a Great Street, was selected as one of four Demonstration Corridors in the country for ULI’s Healthy Corridors Grant, and today hosted the ribbon cutting of its People St Plaza, the Bradley Ave Plaza.

This neighborhood within Pacoima is a touch point for the conversation about mobility and transportation due to its confluence of modes: the historically car-dominated transect of the Valley crosses both Metrolink tracks and the San Fernando Road Bike Path, a right of way that has been slated for a proposed future high speed rail line. Additionally, Van Nuys Blvd. is being studied by Metro as part of the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project. It remains to be seen what the future configuration of the street will look like or what type of transit and active transportation facilities will be built, but keep your ears peeled because improvements to mobility are in the works!

Max Podemski of Pacoima Beautiful leads a walking tour of Van Nuys Blvd, stopping at the intersection of Van Nuys Blvd and San Fernando Rd., where the bike path and Metrolink cruise side by side.

Pacoima is indicative of some of LA’s most significant growth challenges: though it lies in the heart of the sprawling single-family-home-oriented San Fernando Valley, because of ubiquitous under-the-radar garage conversions, the area reflects the density of multi-family housing. When reflecting on our favorite statistic, that 47% of trips in Los Angeles are under 3 miles and can easily be completed by walking or biking, we can’t help but see Van Nuys Blvd. as the ideal attractor for these local trips.

The ULI Healthy Corridors Workshop brought up some interesting points, but one of the things that piqued our attention was the term “economic leakage.” The workshop presented a number of snapshots and studies that have been conducted in the area. One study found that though many families- over 3000 property parcels- live within 1/2 mile of Van Nuys Boulevard, the vast majority leave the area to shop elsewhere.  This is the same story of economic decline of corridors and local economies over the past 40 years that can be told by countless cities and LA neighborhoods. Continue Reading »

Guess what #BikeLA? Bikeshare is coming to Los Angeles in Spring 2016! 1,090 bikes at 65 strategically located stations will transform the way we move around Downtown LA.

What is bikeshare you ask? Bikeshare is a fleet of bicycles available for check out 24/7! Bikes can be picked up from one station and returned to any other in the system. It is an ideal way to get around and a new way to see LA!

In the next two weeks, you will have an opportunity to join us to test out the bikes and give feedback about the proposed station map! We heard from many of you about your preferred station locations already but if you haven’t yet had a chance to give your two cents, come on by! We’re all ears! And yes, you will be able to test ride the bikes! There will be a demo kiosk, fully equipped with bikes. Did we say bikes?  Bikeshare? Yes, we’re excited, we hope you are too!

Bikeshare demo station

Wait, there’s more! Bring your wallets! While testing these bikes is free, it will be sure to induce your hunger. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to eat from fresh and local eateries at each of these upcoming events:

If you’re wondering who is coordinating these events, it is the all-star collaboration between LADOT + Metro + BTS (and their partners B-CycleRidescoutToole Design Group and BikeHub). If you are interested in learning more, stop by, give us a shoutout on Twitter and stay tuned for more updates! We hope you love #bikeshareLA!

Los Angeles is a big city of over 450 square miles, with over 4,000 square miles if we’re looking at the whole County. This massive size is daunting even in a car… after all, how many of us have let friends and beloved relatives go un-visited all to avoid a traffic-clogged schlep to the Westside, Eastside, or the Valley, or that particular just-too-far place of your own personal choosing?

To some, this daunting size balloons out of all reasonable proportion at the thought of tackling it perched, huffing, between two spinning wheels; not to mention the idea of travelling on foot or taking a maze of public transit. Some say: Los Angeles is just too big, too spread out, the infrastructure isn’t there, Metro doesn’t go there, it’s too far, too hot, too hard. Los Angeles is one of the few cities where the phrases “let’s walk”, “let’s take the train” or “let’s bike” is met with confused stares.

City of Los Angeles bicycle facilities in their respective Council Districts

However, while Los Angeles as a whole is big, anyone who’s lived here for a while or has taken a gander as the LA Times’ wonderful Mapping LA project knows that LA is made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique-to-them shopping, recreational, and eating opportunities! Some trips are of course impractical for more sustainable transport methods; the average person doesn’t want to walk more than a mile, or spend more than an hour biking or riding transit while en route to their destination. Nor do most people relish the idea of donning a load of spandex and arriving at their destination sweat-dripped, and smelling faintly of the gym.

But, for many people, small, local trips to get groceries, coffee, or see a film are very exciting from a walking, and even more so, from a biking perspective! Getting on a bike or taking a walk doesn’t have to be something you prepare or set aside time for. The purpose of the ride can be practical, or for fun, or both! Say… a spontaneous event, just like when you hop in your car to pick up something quick.

This combination of practicality and entertainment is something unique to biking. You can turn a chore like picking up toilet paper into a sort of mini-adventure! Even in your own home town, if you’re used to getting around in a car… on a bike, you’ll see stores, people, and sights you’ve never noticed before. This is the driving concept behind Bicycle Friendly Business Districts! Since you don’t have to fight others for parking, it’s relatively easy to stop where you want to stop. While riding a bike there’s no excuse of, “oh we just passed it… maybe next time” if you come upon something that looks interesting, just stop, hop off, and check it out!

Continue Reading »

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