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Archive for the ‘Bicycle Commuting’ Category

On Sunday night, viewers from around the world tuned in to the 67th annual Emmys Awards. Similar to the Academy Awards for film and the Grammys for music, the Emmys recognize outstanding work in American primetime television programming. The Emmys are quintessential Hollywood, with actors and actresses, editors and producers, parading in the splendor and soaking up the limelight as millions watch. Those familiar with the golden awards associate them with glitz, glamour, red carpets, fashion police, and limos. Lots of limos!

For Mad Men writer-producer and Emmy nominee Tom Smuts, however, limos are passé. Since last year, Tom has opted for a more efficient and liberating vehicle to get to the awards ceremony, his bicycle. This year, he led a 20-mile bike ride from his home in Santa Monica to the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles for his second annual #bike2Emmys ride, demonstrating that it is possible to bike anywhere in Los Angeles. Not only did Smuts and his posse bike on one of the hottest days of the year (that nearly caused one Emmy attendee to faint), they rode in their Sunday’s finest in true Mad Men style.

Riding to the Emmys in style with #bikeshareLA superstars.

Tom was joined by a City officials and bicycling enthusiasts including Councilmember Mike Bonin, Marcel Porras from the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Department of Transportation General Manager Seleta Reynolds, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Tamika Butler, professional cyclists Tim Johnson and Dave Zabriskie, members of the Vision Zero Alliance and many more.  (more…)

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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)

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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. (more…)

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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.

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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!

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Our Senior Bicycle Coordinator, Michelle Mowery, tests a protected bikeway on Rosemead Boulevard in Temple City. By next year there will be statewide standards for this type of facility that physically separates cars and bicycles on the roadway.

In September 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law A.B. 1193. This law, known as the Protected Bikeways Act of 2014, requires the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, to establish a new category of bikeway in the state’s Highway Design Manual, the technical design guide that governs bikeway treatment statewide. Currently there are three categories of bikeways – Class I bike paths, Class II bike lanes, Class III bike routes – and A.B. 1193 calls for the addition Class IV cycle tracks, or separated bikeways. Cycle tracks are common in Northern Europe but there are only a handful of such bikeways in California, and part of the reason is because of the absence of formal guidance at the state level. However, where separated bikeways (facilities that physically protect bicycle users from motor vehicle traffic) are implemented, they have been wildly successful and attracted a wider range of users! In May, Caltrans met with a broad coalition of bicycle advocates and local transportation agencies to discuss cycle track designs to hear some initial feedback as the design process for Class IV cycle tracks is being initiated.

To learn more about creating design standards for a new “Class IV” bikeway aka cycle track, we conducted an interview with Kevin Herritt, Caltrans’ Chief of Office of Geometric Design Standards. We would like to thank Herritt for taking the time to answer to some of the questions many in the bicycling community have had on their mind since A.B. 1193 passed. (more…)

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Great news #BikeLA! We are one step closer to the historic launch of Los Angeles bikeshare changing the way we get around DTLA. We’re about to flash right into the future and our Downtown transportation options are about to become practical, cost effective, and neighborhood livening with the implementation of a regional bikeshare system!

Yesterday, the Metro Planning & Programming Committee unanimously approved for full Board consideration the adoption of the Regional Bikeshare Implementation Plan and the award of a 2-year operations contract to Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS). Soon the item will be in front of the full Metro Board of Directors for a vote. Next Thursday, June 25 at 9am the Board will consider the contract with BTS and their partner Bcycle, to operate a regional bikeshare program for LA County. If the Board votes to pass the item, the project will move forward, with the countywide bikeshare program on track to launch next spring in downtown Los Angeles!

The DTLA pilot will provide 65 bikeshare stations and more than 1,000 bikes.  If the Pilot proves successful, Metro’s larger regional program will expand to include 4,000 bikes around nine cities and communities including Pasadena, West Hollywood, Venice and others.

Proposed bikeshare expansion map

Bikeshare is an ideal fit for LA, with our sunny and 75 degree winters and relatively flat terrain. Bikeshare will help revolutionize how people get around our neighborhoods, since it allows users to take a bike at one station and return it to any other within the system. In other words, bikeshare is really good for connecting people to places especially for trips that are easier on a bike than by car — one-way or round-trip. Bikeshare is a great way to travel to and from transit, closing the first/last mile gaps. It also brings people to business districts and provides opportunities for effortless exercise!

BTS launched Indego, Philadelphia’s bikeshare system of 500 bicycles in April (photo: Philly Fun Guide)

The BTS/Bcycle team chosen to operate the LA County system successfully launched in Philadelphia this April with 500 bikes. The company was selected after a rigorous procurement process in which staff evaluated several bikeshare companies. Among the reasons they were selected:

•BTS and its partner, Bcycle, have delivered bikeshare systems on-time in other cities and they have a good track record with those cities and with customer satisfaction.

•The BTS/Bcycle staff have expertise implementing large bikeshare programs in other cities, including Philladelphia, New York and Washington D.C. BTS operates bikeshare systems in Philly and Oklahoma City. Bcycle, in separate partnerships, has bikeshare systems in Denver, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and many others.

•Metro believes the BTS/Bcycle team has the greatest ability to deliver more than 1,000 bikes and 65 kiosks for Metro’s pilot program in Downtown L.A.

•The BTS/Bcycle team has also been working on allowing payment for bikes with transit fare cards in Philadelphia and Santiago, Chile. Metro wants its riders to be able to use TAP cards to pay for bikeshare memberships or rentals, with the vision that bikeshare is just an extension of the transit system.

This announcement has prompted questions about inter-operability of the different bikeshare systems in the County. Prior to the Metro Board deciding in 2014 to pursue a regional bikeshare program, two other cities — Long Beach and Santa Monica — had already secured funding and began planning their own bikeshare programs. The start dates of bikeshare in those cities is still to be determined but the bottom line is that the cities have different vendors, raising the question of whether their bikeshare systems will be compatible with the regional system.

Metro and the regional bikeshare program cities will continue working with Long Beach and Santa Monica to ensure “interoperability” and a good customer experience for those who want to use the different bikeshare systems. That means Metro will be discussing common fare structures (including use of TAP as a membership card) as well as inclusive bikeshare memberships, consistency in marketing and possibly co-locating bikeshare facilities for those traveling between Metro’s bikeshare kiosks and Long Beach and/or Santa Monica.

On Thursday, June 25th, the full Metro Board will consider the bikeshare contract with the BTS/Bcycle team at 9am in Union Station’s Metro Board Room. The meeting is open to the public and speaker cards will be available for those who wish to comment.

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