A Campaign Ad That Transit Buffs Can Appreciate

Bobby Shriver PE flyer versoAmid the onslaught of flyers that seem to keep the Postal Service afloat every campaign season, the last theme we expected to see land in our mailbox was one harking back a century to legendary interurban rail travel. Mass transit, sure – it’s every progressive’s pet cause today. But to summon the heyday of the Pacific Electric, the gargantuan Southern California system felled by disinvestment and the convenience of the automobile?

Maybe it had to come from a Santa Monica candidate for the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor. That city (unlike Beverly Hills) has taken the lead both in transit-friendly planning and in creating the infrastructure and programs to make cycling attractive, practical and safe as a mode choice.

Though Metro’s Expo Line is not expected to reach the beach by 2015, well in advance of that historic re-linkage of the beach city to Downtown Los Angeles the city embarked on a general plan update. And the updated plan envisions “no net new evening peak period vehicle trips” (see the executive summary). The new Land Use and Circulation Element in effect calls for policies that it is anticipated will redistribute travel from automobile trips to those on other modes.

Leveraging public investment in transit and infrastructure is the key, Shriver’s flyer suggests. By concentrating new development near transit hubs, as well as providing incentives to walk, ride and/or use transit, we can find our way toward a post-auto transportation future.

Of course the larger region enjoyed that kind of transit access a century ago, and candidate Shriver’s campaign flyer summons that history with a map of the extensive Pacific Electric lines inter-city travelers once took for granted:

Bobby Shriver PE flyer frontSlowly but surely, Metro, with the support of the voters, is retracing some of the original PE rights-of-way (like Expo Line, which sticks closely to the old Santa Monica Air Line) in an effort to again offer travelers transportation alternatives. Shriver juxtaposes the legacy of interurban rail travel with today’s present program to “rebuild our infrastructure!” by foregrounding the role of public investment in the recreation of a great transit system. As a County Supervisor, too, he’d be in a position to approve further investment to make county-wide rail access a reality.

Now, this is no endorsement. Let’s wait to see if his opponent Sheila Kuehl steps up to herald that bygone era of convenient, affordable rail access, perhaps with her own tribute to the Pacific Electric. Is there a more suitable tip-of-the-hat to our region’s once-greatness that reminding us that we once had a jewel of a public transit system?Pacific Electric Railway in Southern California map 1912

Another Metro/Caltrans I-405 #FAIL: SM Blvd

I-405 crossings montage

All of the I-405 crossings north of National are hazardous to our health.

Gosh, could these agencies make it any more difficult for a rider to cross the 405? We’ve written about the gantlet that is eastbound & westbound Wilshire. And just highlighted the Sepulveda trench designed to bust a nut. Now this: faded or scraped former turn markings in the #2 lane that create uncertainty for westbound Santa Monica Boulevard riders and motorists alike. Aren’t our construction managers hip to the spirit of Deputy Directive DD-64-R1? Continue reading

Regional Bikeshare for Los Angeles County?

Metro agency logoWill bike sharing finally come to the Los Angeles area? That’s the question rolling off the tongue of observers who have seen other major cities (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver and Long Beach) move ahead with the grab-a-bike initiative while here at home in the Southland electeds simply jawbone about it. When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s poorly thought-out Bike Nation deal collapsed as his term came to a close, it opened a new opportunity for a regional approach (which it should have been all along). Now Metro steps up to lead with a transit-centered regional bikeshare proposal for the Southland. Continue reading

Metro I-405 8/15 Meeting Recap

Metro community meetingPity the poor motorist. At the Westwood Recreation Center tonight, we learned that the eastbound Wilshire on-ramp to the northbound I-405 would close for (count ’em!) 90 days. For 405-proximate residents west of UCLA there was plenty of pain too. They learned that the convenient Montana ramps would go away forever. What of our fate, dear cyclists? Metro had little to offer us too. Continue reading

I-405 Over Budget, Behind Schedule

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LA Times today reports on the I-405 expansion running over budget and behind schedule. They could talk about the hazard of negotiating southbound West LA exit ramps (and unpredictable closures) too, but what we’d really like to see addressed pronto is the utter disregard for cyclist safety as exhibited by Caltrans & Metro. Every E-W crossing from Sunset to Pico is a hazard. We’ve posted on it and complained to Caltrans to no effect. So now we’ve dropped Zev a line. With the project now running over by an extra year, there’s time to make it right for cyclists.

BH Support for Measure J Dropped 16%

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LA Times analysis shows that ballot-box support for Measure J (the 30-year transit tax extension) dropped by 6% county-wide as compared with support for the original transit tax, Measure R, back in 2009. The kicker: support fell 16% here in Beverly Hills. We has been among the greatest boosters for Measure R. The article cites acrimony over the proposed subway alignment for causing the decline, and notes that those areas (like BH) where support fell most are behind the failure of Measure J to pass, falling short by only 0.4% at the ballot box.

Metro’s New Spot: Share the Road

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Waking up to KPCC this morning we heard Metro’s new radio spot promoting road safety. It said, “Every Lane is a Bike Lane. Bicyclists may need a full lane. Please share the road.” We couldn’t agree more. That’s what the law says! The spot anticipates Bike Month and celebrates Bike Week with a roster of events. Metro is more bike-friendly than ever with increased access, a big map, and ride safely tips the kind of which Beverly Hills should itself post!

Measure J: We Can’t Support It

Measure J, the initiative on the Los Angeles County ballot to extend the voter approved half-cent transportation sales tax, has found support among transit advocates and some cycling advocates too. A two-thirds ‘yes’ vote on J would extend the ‘sunset’ of the 2008-era 30-year tax hike for an additional 30 years in order to generate $67 billion total for mobility investment across the county. (About $43 billion from the Measure J extension.) With Metro behind it, it’s tempting to go along because we do need transit options. But this initiative amplifies concerns that accompanied the original Measure R and is one of three tax-hike proposals on the ballot. It may not have sufficiently broad support. Already two key LA County … Continue reading

Uncertain Progress on the Expo Line Bikeway

Why can't safety begin with Metro?

On this past Saturday’s Bike Talk podcast we took the opportunity to highlight the ongoing challenge of creating a safe and functional bikeway alongside the new Expo Line. This multi-billion dollar project will link Los Angeles and Santa Monica by rail for the first time in fifty years so that when complete the traveler can depart 7th Street/Metro station Downtown to arrive at USC, La Cienega’s gallery row, downtown Culver City, the Westside Pavilion and the 3rd Street promenade. The need to move travelers from solo-occupancy vehicle to other modes of mobility found the backing of two-thirds of voters for Measure R, but are cyclists well-served by this investment?

Seen This Movie Before?

Frankenstein 1931 poster

The original Frankenstein (1931) film will screen at UCLA’s Wilder Theater this Friday evening at 7:30. Adapted from Mary Shelley’s moralistic fable, the film takes a sinister turn when the cobbled-together cadaver wreaks havoc in the Swiss countryside – a Freudian Id given material life by its maker – only to find townsfolk with torches in hand actually the greater threat. This gothic horror gem puts us in mind of theatrics closer to home here in Beverly Hills, where we have our share of torch-bearing townsfolk too.

LACBC Bike Count: Metro Bike Carrier Data

Better Bike had the pleasure of volunteering for the LACBC Bike Count this past Tuesday. From 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM we studiously counted pedestrians and cyclists at Wilshire & Santa Monica boulevards, one of the most dysfunctional intersections in the Los Angeles area. These are two of the busiest crosstown corridors and Beverly Hills can claim credit for doing nothing to make them safer for cyclists.