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Archive for the ‘Bicycle Lifestyle’ Category

This past week I took advantage of the nice weather and borrowed LADOT’s Active Transportation GoPro to film a bike ride from my home in South Pasadena to the Silver Lake Reservoir. I am a graduate student at USC and typically commute to school by transit and on bike. Initially, I wanted to use the GoPro to capture my experience on a new route to USC, but instead I decided to go for a relaxing ride without having to worry about getting to class on time. Doing so let me reflect on the perceived differences between biking in South Pasadena and Los Angeles. South Pasadena is very small, so it’s relatively easy to get anywhere on a bike within a few minutes. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is a lot larger and can seem inhospitable for bicycling. However, if you view each neighborhood as its own self-contained community, riding in the City of Angeles can feel like you are traversing a series of small towns rather than a monolithic sprawling landscape.

My leisurely-paced journey took me through a few LA neighborhoods and along the way I passed by some of my favorite restaurants and cafes. One of the many benefits of biking is being able to stop and walk right into places that seem interesting since parking a bicycle is a lot easier than parking a car. Just lift your bike onto the sidewalk, lock it up to a nearby bike rack, and go. No circling the block for a parking space!

I started my trip at Buster’s Coffee, located on the corner of Mission Street and Meridian Avenue near my apartment in South Pasadena. This neighborhood coffee shop is within walking distance from the South Pasadena Gold Line Station and is a convenient place to meet friends getting off the train. There is plenty of outdoor seating, which is great for people-watching, as well as charming indoor spaces for all your reading/studying needs. For those arriving by bicycle, a hand-painted bike parking sign shows you where you’re welcome to safely lock your bike up towards the rear of the table-strewn alcove next to the shop while you enjoy your meal.

After coffee I walked across the street to the great used book shop, Battery Books and Music, to pick up a new read. On a typical day after getting coffee and perusing books I might go to Mix ‘n Munch, which serves great grilled cheese sandwiches right next door to Battery Books.

Buster's Coffee

Dubbed “the coffee shop by the tracks,” Buster’s Cafe welcomes people arriving by any mode. (Image Source: Leisa Collins Art)

On this relaxed sunny afternoon, however, I went one block south on Meridian Avenue and made a right on El Centro Street, to get to Nicole’s, which offers tasty low-key French fare in a sidewalk cafe setting. The place doubles as a French market so I loaded up my bike’s saddlebags with sandwiches and cheeses, and proceeded to my next destination. After all, you can’t stop at a cheese shop on your way to a meadow and not pack a picnic!

Nicole's Gourmet Foods

Nothing better than a lazy afternoon at Nicole’s Gourmet Foods. (Image Source: Creative Expressions and More)

After leaving Nicole’s, I pedaled from South Pasadena into the City of Los Angeles by way of the York Boulevard Bridge, which brought me into the Highland Park neighborhood. There are a number of restaurants and shops along York Boulevard easily accessible by bike thanks to the bike lanes. If I did not already have lunch packed away in my panniers, I might have stopped at the Highland Cafe for some chilaquiles. Although I am a few miles from my home at this point in the journey, this translates into a mere 20-something minute bicycle ride, which is enough to get my muscles moving but not so far that it feels like a workout.

Highland Cafe

People on all sorts of bikes can’t stay away from the good eats at Highland Cafe. (Image Source: Happening in Highland Park)

As I continued west on York Boulevard, I eventually reached Eagle Rock Boulevard where I made a left and continue south. After a short ride down this wide boulevard I find myself in the neighborhood of Glassell Park. I passed by Habitat Coffee, a cafe that recently sprouted up in an otherwise unassuming stretch of Eagle Rock Boulevard. It’s not uncommon to see people enjoying pastries, good conversation, and taking advantage of Habitat’s outdoor dining to enjoy the sunshine.

Habitat Coffee

Habitat Coffee’s frontage is accented by our latest sidewalk bike rack design.
(Image Source: L.A.CAFE)

After winding my way through some side streets I reached Fletcher Drive. As with the other streets I used for my trip, Fletcher is its own main street with blossoming businesses. At this point, it was only a 10 minute bicycle ride to the Silver Lake Meadow where I enjoyed my picnic.

To most people, traversing the Los Angeles region by bicycle may seem intimidating. If you watch the video below of my ride, your can judge for yourself how easy it is to get to many local businesses using my bicycle- especially when there are bike lanes available! This trip would undoubtedly be faster by car, there’s no secret there, but when we spend our lives focusing on time saved, we tend to forget about time well spent, and this bike ride was an absolute delight.

This blog post was authored by Paul Cipriani, a Student Volunteer Intern in the LADOT Bicycle Program.

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Putting on the finishing touches at Hope St Parklet

People St is excited to kick off the new year with the installation and official opening of Hope St Parklet in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles. The new Parklet is located at the southwest corner of Hope and 11th Street, just a few blocks south of STAPLES Center, L.A. Live, and the Metro Pico Station. This is the first parklet to be constructed within the framework of the People St program, which hosted its first application cycle in Spring 2014

As a part of South Park’s Walkability Project, Hope St Parklet serves as a catalyst for future investment in pedestrian and bicycle amenities for the South Park community. The Parklet replaces two parking spaces, providing 288 square feet of new public green space complete with planters and seating for people to meet, talk, and enjoy the neighborhood. The parklet design is based in the People St Kit of Parts model, The Steps, which provides space for 2-3 tables and chairs and is flanked with built-in terraced benches and planters. The combination and configuration of movable and permanent seating encourages flexibility in uses.

Like other People St projects, identity and wayfinding signage at Hope St Parklet orient visitors to local destinations that are within walking and biking distance to the site. A quick look at the map shows that Metro Blue and Expo Lines are only a five-minute walk away. Raising awareness of walkable destinations, transit, and bikeways encourages people to explore the neighborhood, creating a dedicated resting place along the way.

Hope St parklet signage panel shows a person-oriented wayfinding with 10 minute radius

People St projects like Hope St Parklet align neighborhoods around street life, creating a place of communal respite in otherwise urban neighborhoods. Amenities like parklets are important to the vitality of any people-oriented corridor, creating an oasis of free public seating so people can pause, relax, and take in the neighborhood. “Working with the community to make neighborhoods more enjoyable and walkable is one of our goals,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager. “Creating spaces like the Hope Street Parklet gives people the opportunity to meet, relax and spend time where they live and shop.”

Councilmember Huizar, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, and South Park BID Executive Director Jessica Lall host parklet ribbon cutting ceremony

As the Community Partner for this project, South Park Business Improvement District (BID) is responsible for the management and ongoing maintenance of the Parklet. Funds for parklet materials, design, and labor were largely donated by members of the South Park community, including SODA Architects, Mia Lehrer + Associates, Mack Urban, Benchmark + Tishman Construction, A Joint Venture, Swinerton Builders, Trumark Urban, Hazens Group, USA, ValleyCrest Landscape Development, Harry H. Joh Construction, ABC Resources, Tinco Sheet Metal, Helix Electric. By leveraging donations and community good will, South Park BID managed to construct the parklet for less than $10,000.

With a full crew, the parklet was constructed in just over a day

Hope St Parklet is one of three parklets approved in the inaugural People St application cycle, along with People St Plazas in North Hollywood, Leimert Park, and Pacoima. Because the People St program is a public-private partnership, LADOT has provided technical assistance, project support, and the wayfinding signage. To date, the People St program has created a total of 30,600 square feet of Plaza space, a total of 1,540 square feet of Parklet space, and 1,500 square feet of Bicycle Corral space. The addition of Hope St Parklet adds to over 33,640 square feet of people-oriented green space in the City of Los Angeles – that’s 3/4 of an acre, nearly the size of the Taj Mahal! By reallocating vehicular right of way to people uses, we give new life to our public realm.

Can’t get enough parklets? There are two more parklets located on Motor Avenue in Palms that will complete installation in the coming month, so stay tuned! For more information about the People St program, visit our website, peoplest.lacity.org or email peoplest@lacity.org.

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The City of Los Angeles is the backdrop to countless scenes broadcast through the lens of a camera around the world. Most commonly, the City is associated with surfing, high school love, Noirs (animated and acted), miles of freeway, and the apocalypse in the form of volcanoes, meteor showers, martians, zombies, and, of course, earthquakes. While movie directors are interested in portraying the destruction of Los Angeles in cinematic productions, civil servants work day in and day out to make sure these catastrophic plot lines don’t unfold and life in the City goes on as usual.

This year, a main focus of the City’s is to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Scientists predict one of the strongest El Niño’s recorded will torment Southern California and parts of the Northern Hemisphere from January to March 2016. On November, 2015 the City El Niño Task Force was created by an Executive Directive signed by Mayor Garcetti. The goals of the Task Force are to bring together different City departments to collaborate and ensure the City is prepared to respond and, if necessary, recover from any issues caused by El Niño weather conditions. From stockpiling sandbags (200,00 of them!) to scheduling extra street sweeping, City agencies are ready to handle the wet weather our drought-parched landscape will soon receive.

Executive Directive on El Niño

Mayor Garcetti signing Executive Directive No. 14, which formed a City task force in preparation for El Niño. #squadgoals

To help Angelenos prepare for changing weather and stay informed about any emergencies, the City has some helpful resources available at its El Niño LA websiteAngelenos should check their roofs for leaks, clear gutters of leaves, and make sure their cars’ wipers, tires, and brake pads are up to spec. What if you get around on your bike, you ask? With a little bit of know-how under your belt and the right gear, you can keep riding through El Niño too. Stay one step ahead with our helpful tips below to keep moving through the winter, whether on foot, bike, bus, train, or car.

Tips for Riding in the Rain

Just as if you were driving a car or taking transit in the rain, you’ll have to adjust your behavior when riding your bike in the rain. Unlike putting on that fancy rain cape you’ve been storing in your closet, the following tips for riding in the rain involve a little more effort:

    • Check the Anatomy of Your Bicycle: The following tips all assume that your bike is working well. Take a few moments to inspect your bike’s most critical parts before your ride. If your bike’s brakes were having trouble slowing you down in dry weather, this is a good time to fix them or take your bike to a shop for a professional’s touch. The rear wheel should lift off the ground when you squeeze your front brake and lean into the front handlebars. Spin your wheels and make sure they aren’t loose. The last thing you want on a wet day is for your wheels to pop off!
Anatomy of a Safe Bike

To ride on streets, California law requires you ride a bike that meets all these specs, rain or shine.

  • Slow Down: Water between the roadway and your bike’s tires reduces traction. Less traction means slowing down and stopping will take more time. The best way to avoid skidding is to lower speed. Take your normal riding speed and ride at 75% that speed or so in the rain. Slowing down gives you enough time to correct any traction issues.
  • Brake Early: In the rain, roadways, tires, brake pads, and rims all get wet and, combined, extending braking time. If your bike has rim brakes, it will take a few tire revolutions before water between the brake pads and wheel is cleared and the brakes can grip the rim. Plan for this delay, look ahead, and start slowing down early to make a complete stop.
  • Brake Straight: Your bike’s brakes work best when you are traveling in a straight line. If you have to slow down or stop, do so before you’re making a turn.
  • Corner Wide and Slow: Make turns at corners slower and wider than usual. Start further out and take the widest and straightest path possible. Avoid sudden sharp turns.
  • Braking while Turning: Don’t do it! Slow down enough (see ‘Brake Early’ tip) before turning so you can coast through the motion. Sudden corner braking may cause your back wheel to skid and slide a bit. If this happens, don’t panic! Just let off the brake and look straight ahead, the bike will straight itself out.

Watch Out for Tricky Surfaces

Now that you’re riding, braking, and cornering safely, there are some special surface conditions caused by El Niño you should know how to handle.

  • Oil Slicks: After the rain, all the oil and gunk leaking out cars will float to the top of puddles and on the roadway. Keep an eye out for an iridescent sheen when riding and try to avoid riding over it to prevent skidding. If you can’t avoid a slick, coast through it without pedaling or braking to maximize traction.     

    Street. Yellow lines. Oil.

    Avoid oil slicks brought to the surface to prevent skidding. Photo courtesy: Flickr user Nik Stanbridge

  • Puddles: What looks like a bit of standing water could be a foot of water filling a hole in the roadway. To help avoid puddle-related hazards, ride towards the center of the lane (take the entire lane when possible) to give yourself enough room to move left or right around puddles.
  • Road Markings and Metal: Road markings can become slicker when wet. Similarly, drainage grates, manhole covers, and other metallic surfaces can become more slippery when wet. Ride slowly enough that you will be able to proceed cautiously over or around these surfaces.

Helpful Gear

Riding tips will help you maneuver through wet conditions and the right equipment and attire will help you stay warm and cozy in any ride.

Helpful Gear when Biking in the Rain

Don’t let the rain stop ya! Get suited up and arrive on your bike.

  • Get Fenders: Invest in some fenders for your bike! These metal contraptions keep all the debris washed onto the roadway by the rain on the ground and off of you.
  • Turn On Lights: By law, you should have a front white light and a red rear light. When it’s raining, even if you’re riding during the day, you should turn on your lights to increase your visibility.
  • Wear Waterproof Garments: A stylish rain cape is a particularly useful do-it-all piece of equipment during inclement weather. It drapes over your whole body, so you can wear whatever you want underneath. Other great options include waterproof jackets or plastic bags in a pinch.
  • Dress in Layers: If you’re not outfitted properly, you’re going to get wet. Make sure you’re wearing clothes that prevent water from getting in while allowing you to vent away excess heat and sweat. It may be cold out but you’re going to work up a sweat riding to your destination, so dress in layers to accommodate your needs. Consider wearing thermal under-layers made of wool or some other moisture-wicking fabric under your clothes during colder, windier days. Gloves are another great addition to prevent your wet and wind-blasted hands from getting too frigid.
  • Save your Stuff: While keeping yourself dry is most important, you should keep your electronics and important documents moisture-free too. Make sure your backpack or panniers are waterproof. If not, cover them with a waterproof layer. You can put the last of your plastic bags to good use here.  
  • Protect your Peepers:  Wind-whipped water can take a toll on your eyes, so protect them by wearing clear-lensed glasses. Remember, you should be able to see at all times when riding.

Rainy days, courtesy of El Niño, are rapidly approaching. Share your new found knowledge and preparation skills with your friends, so we can all keep riding through the rainy season.

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The City of Los Angeles and Metro are partnering to launch the Metro Countywide Bike Share Pilot Program in Summer 2016. The Pilot Program will feature up to 1,000 bicycles and 80 stations in Downtown Los Angeles. Based on preliminary studies and two rounds of public feedback (here and here), we have increased the system size by 20% and identified over 100 possible station locations. Now we need your help to select the very best ones.

Visit Metro.net/bikeshare to view the Bike Share map showing proposed station locations. Tell us why you like or dislike a location directly on the map. The deadline for comments is Thursday, December 31, 2015. Spread the word! Don’t forget to share the site with your networks #BikeShareLA.

We got great feedback at the Arts District Farmers Market. Now we want to hear which stations YOU prefer!

When thinking about station locations, you may be wondering what attributes to consider. Below is some information about station size and siting criteria we encourage you to think about when expressing your preferences.

  • What are the space requirements for a Bike Share station? The average station size is approximately the size of three parking spaces. Some stations may be smaller or larger.
  • What are the station siting criteria? We are searching for locations on streets, on sidewalks or in plazas that provide:Connectivity: Connecting to transit and key destinations creates a network
    Space Availability: Wider sidewalks and parking spaces are great locations
    Accessibility: Stations should be visible and easy to get to
    Sun: Sunny spots are best since stations run on solar power
    Demand and Support: Stations should be located where there is high demand
  • Are these stations set in stone? No. This is a pilot program and the station locations will be evaluated as the program moves forward. Stations may be moved in the future.

Help plan the Downtown LA stations in the Metro Countywide Bike Share Program!  Visit Metro.net/bikeshare

 

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Take a look at your calendar, and you probably will not find Planning Day as a listed holiday. Planning Day, held on October 15th this year, is an annual event observed exclusively by the Department of City Planning (DCP) where DCP staff lead and participate in multiple tours designed to explore different planning-related themes throughout Los Angeles . For this year’s Planning Day, a group of DCP staff biked the streets of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), Little Tokyo, and the Arts District to see first-hand how LADOT is helping transform Los Angeles into a vision of Complete Streets.

LADOT People St guru Elizabeth Gallardo rallies DCP staff for our tour.

To kickoff the tour, LADOT People St Project Manager, Elizabeth Gallardo lead DCP staff along a greatest hits of active transportation projects designed by LADOT to serve a broad cross section of road users, who find DTLA as a vibrant place to live and spend their leisure time. First stop was the Spring Street parklets where Nicholas Ziff Griffin, Director of Economic Development at the Downtown Center Business Improvement District described the importance of these amenities in creating a vital place where people want to linger and explore new businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Peddler’s Creamery offers sweet rewards for customers that churn ice cream using pedal power.

(more…)

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Biking to work is easily the most fun way to commute. Aside from getting your daily exercise on your way to work, riding with the breeze in your face makes for happy and productive employees throughout the day.

Rideshare Week 2015

This week (Oct 4-10) is California Rideshare Week, a time for all of us who drive alone to try another method of commuting. Whether you ride a bike, catch a bus or train, or fill the passenger seat of your car, it’s time for Angelenos to ditch driving alone to work.

Research produced by the California Air Resources Board and Metro surveys has revealed some unsettling findings:

  • 37% of Greenhouse Gases are produced by transportation (CARB)
  • 71% of those emissions originate from passenger vehicles (CARB)
  • 72% of Angelenos drive to work alone (Metro Rideshare Surveys)

NASA JPL reports that Greenhouse Gas emissions are at an all-time high in California and we are witnessing one of the severest droughts known to the area. It is very likely that all people choosing to drive alone to work everyday are significantly contributing to our state’s pollution problems and waterless woes.

In response, Metro Rideshare has prepared a brand new program for Rideshare Week 2015 to shed light on why we need to #ShareTheRide and how you can get started. The program provides educational opportunities as well as mega fun community engagement. Visit metro.net/rideshare for a full list of event times and locations.

Highlights of the week we are looking forward to include:

  • A Karaoke Rickshaw with free giveaways for commuters singing pop hits in English, Korean, Chinese, and Spanish.
  • Guided bike rides and carpools sharing the ride to Ambulante Film Festival.
  • Eastside Commuter Interviews gathered and published through social media to engage and discuss traveling in various communities in person and online. #Mobilizate
  • Prize giveaways by logging your trip on the Commute Calendar at ridematch.info. You can win 7-day Metro passes, gift cards, handbags, and more!

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In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed two new momentous bills creating safer streets for the people of California.  The first, A.B. 902, permits local municipalities to enact programs for bicyclists ticketed for certain infractions. The second, A.B. 8, allows law enforcement agencies to issue a public alert if a person has been killed or severely injured in a hit-and-run collision. Both bills will take effect on January 1, 2016.  So let’s take a closer look at how each can improve mobility for Californians…

A.B. 902

A.B. 902, the traffic ticket diversion program, helps turn a ticket into a learning opportunity by providing an opportunity for people on bicycles to attend a bicycling class to reduce their fine. This change in the way we normally conduct traffic enforcement can result in reduced fines for committing moving violations, a more educated  public, and over all safer streets, a real a win-win-win! It is important to note that the passage of A.B. 902 does not automatically institute programs statewide, but removes barriers that previously prevented cities and counties from initiating such an option for people ticketed while on a bicycle. It is still necessary for members of the public to work with their local officials to ensure such a bicycle ticket diversion program is implemented.

P1010072

Cities and counties are now allowed to implement bicycle ticket diversion programs as a means to promote better bicycle safety while reducing ticket fines.

A.B. 8

A.B. 8, also known as the “Yellow Alert” system was proposed to combat the heavy toll of statewide hit-and-runs. Similar to the Amber Alert system, which alerts drivers of a missing child through freeway message board signs and text messages, Yellow Alerts are intended to garner the public’s help to find fleeing drivers of  hit-and-runs crimes. Alerts will be issued only when local law enforcement has a sufficient description of the identity of the suspects and their vehicles. The alerts will be activated in specific geographic areas, presumably near the scene of a collision. In addition to freeway signs, alerts may be heard on television or on the radio.

Yellow Alerts are not new to California. In 2012, the City of Denver instituted a similar system, as a result of which they experiences a 76% arrest rate in cases where the alert was utilized. The success of the program ensued in a statewide program throughout Colorado. Similar to Denver, the City of Los Angeles has been one step ahead of the state. In February 2015, City officials announced a hit-and-run alert system that would publish information on social media about cars and drivers linked to fatal and other sever hit-and-runs.

Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) spoke on the important of reducing hit-and-run crimes at a 2014 press conference at LA City Hall. Source: Streetsblog LA

This is a big win for Southern California! Aside from the obvious safety and social benefits, we are prideful that both bills were introduced by LA County representatives including Assemblymember Richard Bloom, representing Santa Monica (traffic diversion program) and Assemblymember Mike Gatto, representing Glendale (hit-and-run bill). You can hear more from Assemblymember Gatto himself about A.B. 8 in his interview with Streetsblog.

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