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

CicLAvia comes to Venice This Sunday!

Ciclavia mapThe now-famous CicLAvia cycling street party is back this year with pair of events that expand its reach westward along two of the city’s greatest corridors: Venice and Wilshire boulevards. Starting with this Sunday, when cyclists and streetscape enthusiasts alike will enjoy free run of Venice between Downtown and the beach. From 10am to 3pm.our most pervasive public space will be returned to two-wheeled travelers and pedestrians and allow us to explore the layered histories in the physical environment that make Los Angeles so unique. We’ll be there and hope to see you there too! Next up in June: Wilshire! Continue reading

CicLAvia Reaches Out to the City Present, Past and Future

Ciclavia route map for 2012

We previously posted about changes to this Fall’s CicLAvia route, including a new extension into Chinatown and a long spur into South Los Angeles and Exposition Park. Gone is the Eastside’s touchstone, Hollenbeck park, and jettisoned too is ‘Hel-Mel.’ But the new western hub at MacArthur Park does opens it more to Westside & Mid City riders. What do these changes mean for our ride in October, and what can they tell us about the city past, present, and future? Continue reading

As Beverly Hills Celebrates 100 Years, Lend Your Voice

Beverly Hills is now gearing up for an 18-month long (!) centennial celebration of “style, class and glamour” which will culminate on January 28th of 2014 – exactly 100 years to the day of the city’s founding. With retired Playboy executive Richard Rosenzweig chairing a Blue ribbon committee to gin up ideas, could we expect a ‘What Happens in Las Vegas’ style fete? Or a more sober affair characteristic of the self-congratulatory, irony-free backslapping that is our city’s stock-in-trade? Continue reading

Proposed Business Retention Agreement Includes PE Right of Way Condition

Aside

Better Bike scrutinizes most Beverly Hills agendas, and a condition in a 15-year ‘business retention” agreement with a big Hollywood talent Agency (UTA) caught our notice: “…rezoning [former Pacific Electric right-of-way] shall be consistent with…provisions of the General Plan.” That ties the city’s hands should we want to zone it for, say, active transportation uses. It doesn’t belong in this agreement.