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Posts tagged "Los Angeles"

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Bus Lane in Bloom: Flower Street and the Urgency of Speeding Up LA Bus Service

Slow, unreliable bus service is a major problem for transit riders in Los Angeles. Since 1994, average LA Metro bus speeds have dropped more than 12 percent. Bus riders account for nearly three-quarters of all LA Metro fixed-route transit trips, but bus ridership is steadily falling.

While LA has a few bus lanes, they are sparse, and implementation has typically proceeded at a snail’s pace. For a city where so many residents ride buses bogged down in traffic -- and whose mayor, Eric Garcetti, now leads the global coalition of “climate mayors” -- bus lanes should be much more extensive.

Over the summer, LA transit riders caught a glimpse of what a more urgent approach to prioritizing bus service can do. With a large section of the Blue Line light rail shut down for rehabilitation, LA Metro and LA DOT, encouraged by LA Councilmember Mike Bonin, quickly implemented a 1.8-mile bus lane segment on Flower Street to speed trips for as many as 70 southbound buses per hour during the evening rush.

The bus lane transformed a frustrating slog into satisfying service, shaving time off bus trips and substantially improving reliability. Even with light rail repairs wrapped up and trains back in service, Flower Street remains a major bus corridor, and officials are evaluating whether to make the bus lane permanent. Beyond Flower Street, LA Metro and LA DOT are in the early stages of planning a more comprehensive bus lane network. As Tafarai Bayne, chief strategist with CicLAvia, explains in this Streetfilm, riders on major bus streets like Vermont and Western urgently need dedicated transit lanes too

One of the lessons of Flower Street is that faster implementation of bus priority projects is possible, providing a template for accelerating bus lane rollout throughout the transit network. In this Streetfilm, advocates, agency officials, and Councilmember Bonin discuss how the Flower Street approach could translate to faster bus service on other streets in and around Los Angeles.

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Los Angeles: The Great American Transit Experiment

Los Angeles is in the midst of building an unprecedented number of rail transit projects. Some are slated for potentially high ridership parts of LA’s urban core. Others are more dubious.

Today, transit use is down. Bus ridership is falling sharply. Rail use is flat despite strong ridership on the Expo Line, the city’s newest rail transit. L.A. is taking steps to reorganize its bus routes, but needs a variety of major street and service policy changes to make buses more attractive.

Also missing in L.A. are efforts make the city more walkable and more dense that correspond in scale to the massive rail building program. The city and region also still heavily cater to cars when decisions about transportation priorities need to be made.

“What we as a region have not yet done is have the sort of political fights that really make a transit system effective. Which are not fights over money but fights over space,” says UCLA professor Mike Manville.

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Santa Monica’s Savvy Multimodalism

Santa Monica is trying just about everything in its transportation system: bike-share, a mix of bike lane treatments, a new rail line, neighborhood greenways, a pedestrian action plan, a new promenade/protected bike lane where the Expo line terminates, and of course they have the hard-to-miss Big Blue Bus!

In the last six months alone the city has launched Breeze bike-share and opened the Expo rail line to downtown Los Angeles, which cuts travel times from an hour and a half by bus to 50 minutes. (Personal note: At rush hour the discrepancy can be even bigger -- after spending the day shooting this story I endured a two-hour, 15-minute bus ride back to L.A.'s Union Station.) Breeze bike-share was my first experience with a smart bike system, and it was easy to use and comfortable.

Come see how Santa Monica is making it easier to get around without a car. Thanks much to the wonderful Cynthia Rose from Santa Monica Spoke, for giving me the grand tour and making my first visit there a joy.

StreetFilms
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Watch this Amazing Dutch Film Crew bike with 60K in gear in hands!

I was in Santa Monica bicycling along the beach on the Marvin Braude Bike Trail to pick up some b-roll of bicyclists for a future Streetfilm when this incredible four-person Dutch crew flew by on bikes - with a full load of gear in hand. I immediately jumped on my bike to catch up to see what they were up to (it took a freaking while, as you can see they were pedaling fast!)

They were in the Los Angeles area to shoot a documentary on poker players and decided the easiest way to get lots of establishing shots in Santa Monica was to park their vehicle, rent bikes and ride around lugging $60,000 plus in film gear. I was quite in awe. I've done myriad feats of strength filming by bike, but I probably wouldn't even consider attempting this. They looked like they were having a ton of fun and made it look easy - after all, as they pointed out,  they're Amsterdammers and they should be able to do anything by bike.

Hey guys, sign me up for your next shoot in the states! :)

StreetFilms
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Parking Craters: Scourge of American Downtowns

Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt popularized the term "parking crater," and she explains it simply: A parking crater is "a depression in the middle of an urban area formed by the absence of buildings."

Different types of "meteors" left behind parking craters in the 20th Century -- sprawl subsidies, the erosion of manufacturing, highway building. Whatever the cause, parking craters absolutely destroy sections of downtowns and make the environment more inhospitable and unattractive for people. In these areas, there is virtually no street life. In warm weather the asphalt makes the air more oppressive. It's hell on earth. It's a parking crater.

In this Streetfilm we talk to advocates in Cleveland, Dallas, Hartford, and Houston about the parking craters in their downtowns -- several of which have been contenders in Streetsblog's annual Parking Madness tournament -- and why these cities have such bad craters.

A final note: If this Streetfilm is well received, we intend to do a follow-up film looking at the flip side -- cities that have undone their parking craters by adopting better policy.

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Scion: Using Bikes to Sell Cars (to Sell Bikes?)

Here's one you might file under Not Ad Nauseum: a new commercial with bikes being used in a positive way to have fun, recreate and see your city.  The product being pitched?  The new Toyota Scion. Watch below.

First off, this is a very nice, hip and pretty ad.  It introduces us to Daniel Farahirad, a bicycle retailer in downtown L.A., who uses a Scion to (sometimes) transport his bike out of the city to ride and race. Compared to many of the ways car commercials demonize or make fun of cycling, it's a welcome addition.

But the intent is clear: with car ownership down among the younger demographics and Americans in general driving less, car companies need to up their game and market the car as groovy and more attractive, especially to twenty-somethings. The spot ends with a narrator question, "Making Cars Moves Us, What Moves You?"

According to iSpot.tv, since this commercial debuted in February, it has only aired about 100 times nationally.  I've noticed it mostly airing on networks like MTV, G4 and Comedy Central, younger watchers on those networks for sure.

One thing I noticed, in every shot the cyclists are wearing helmets - yes even inside the car - which we know is not a reality in the real world.  At one point the shop owners are shown fitting a younger rider before a group jaunt on city streets.

Although I am sure some cyclists may still take issue with the spot, there are quite a number of fun scenes of city riding, which is refreshing in any commercial featuring bikes.

As usual, as I keep an eye on the airwaves. I welcome your thoughts.

 

StreetFilms
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¡Viva CicLAvia! (sin subtítulos)

Con subtítulos aqui.

Después del patrocinio de dos Streetfilms de los dos primeros CicLAvias, la versión del festival al aire libre de los Ángeles, basado en el del Ciclovia de Bogotá, el Streetsblog de los Ángeles se encontró con un dilema. ¿Cómo continuar un evento que conjure a mas de cien mil Angelinos en las calles? La respuesta, crear un Streetfilm que fuese mas accesible a la población del hablante español en el sur de California.

Viva CicLAvia esta partido en dos. Primero, la narradora Mara Corina Arellano Colin explica la historia e el concepto de la gran fiesta al aire libre de los Ángeles incluyendo secuencias y fotos de festivales parecidos en Bogotá, Guadalajara, la ciudad de México, Brussels y Miami. Mientras la narración es una gran explicación de los beneficios y la cultura de CicLAvia, la alma de los esfuerzos en “Social Impact Consulting” cuentan con las entrevistas de los participantes.

Los próximo cinco minutos son un desfile de hablantes españoles profesando su amor hacia CicLAvia. Sea el equipo del Méndez Bike Shop de South Central, el oficial de transito que extiende sus brazos mientras explica lo de Viva CicLAvia o el concilio de la Hollywood, Eric Garcetti; las amplias sonrisas en el sur de California mandan el mensaje en cualquier idioma. Dándole a la gente mas oportunidades de salir a jugar en el sol es bueno para los Ángeles.

El Streetfilm marco otra primera para el equipo Streetfilms, un video directamente apoyado por parte de los lectores. L.A. Streetsblog les pregunto a sus lectores se quisieran un film en español acerca de CicLAvia y cuando respondieron que sí, los lectores fueron lanzados con una campaña por parte de Kick Starters para financiar el film. Huelga decir que los lectores triunfaron.

Ttranlastion:Vanessa Villalobos

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¡Viva CicLAvia!

Watch here without subtitles.

After sponsoring two Streetfilms of the first two CicLAvias, Los Angeles’ version of the open streets festival based on Bogota’s Ciclovia, Los Angeles Streetsblog faced a dilemma: How can we continue to cover the event that draws over a hundred thousand Angelenos to the streets?  The Answer: Make a Streetfilm that was accessible to Southern California’s large Spanish-speaking population.

¡Viva CicLAvia! consists of two parts.  First, narrator Mara Corina Arellano Colin explains the history and concept of Los Angeles’ amazing open streets party, including footage and photos from similar festivals in Bogota, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Brussels and Miami.  While the narration is a great explanation of the benefits and culture of CicLAvia, the soul of Social Impact Consulting’s efforts are the interviews with participants.

The next five minutes is a parade of Spanish speakers professing their love of CicLAvia.  Whether it’s the team from South Central’s Mendez Bike Shop, the traffic officer spreading his arms while explaining Viva CicLAvia, or Hollywood’s City Councilman Eric Garcetti; the broad smiles in the Southern California sun give a message in any language.  Giving people more chances to play in the sun is good for Los Angeles.

This Streetfilm marked another first for Streetfilms, a directly reader supported video.  L.A. Streetsblog asked its readers if they wanted a Spanish language film on CicLAvia, and when they said yes, the readers were challenged through a Kick Starter campaign to fund the film.  Needless to say, the readers came through.

 

StreetFilms
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The Case for Bike Racks on NYC Buses

Over the last ten years (or more) just about every major city in the U.S. has added bike-carrying capacity to their buses. While cities like Chicago, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Seattle, Philadelphia, and San Francisco can boast 100% of their bus fleet sporting bike racks, NYC comes in at 0% - the only one in The Alliance for Biking & Walking's 2010 Benchmarking report.

This probably comes as no surprise to any cyclist from NYC who travels an ample amount, but what is shocking is this fact quietly goes unmentioned in NYC. We cannot recall a single news story or push to get bike racks anywhere in the last ten years.

Of course, there are reasonable assumptions one can make why NYC has not tried out some program. First and foremost: the NYC MTA subway system already allows bikes 24 hours a day.  It's an excellent benefit for sure, but there are many regions of the five boroughs that are not easily within reach of a train. If we want to encourage multi-modalism, we need seriously think about that.

Then there is a barrage of others: cyclists will be too slow to load, bikes might fall off the racks, cost, maintenance, etc, but after viewing our Streetfilm you'll see there really isn't a valid excuse not to.

So we think it's time that the MTA and the city to consider a few pilot programs to put some bike racks on some routes. Of course, we are not talking about places like Manhattan or most parts of Brooklyn but we feel there are some great candidates that would yield good results.  Look here:

  • Anywhere in Staten Island.
  • Eastern Queens.
  • Parts of The Bronx.
  • Any buses that cross bridges without cycle paths including the Verrazano-Narrows, The Whitestone and The Throggs Neck bridges.
StreetFilms
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CicLAvia, Let’s Go!

For Angelenos, Sunday was a day that we’ll never forget.  Our first Open Streets party was an unparalleled success.  So much so that even the critics of the concept grudgingly came on board when it was obvious that they missed the boat on supporting and experiencing a groundbreaking day.

The Los Angeles Times estimates that 100,000 people took to the streets to celebrate CicLAvia.  Of course, that number doesn’t count all the of residents that sat on their porches or balconies and enjoyed the car-free festival environment that permeated the air.

But perhaps the image that will remain after these festivals become the norm, instead of the exception, will be L.A.’s suddenly bike-friendly Mayor acting like a kid with a new toy as he hopped on a bike and pedaled away from Hollenbeck Park at the start of the festival with a smile on his face and a shout of joy coming from his heart.

“Let’s Go!”  he shouts as he takes off to celebrate the day.  Hopefully Sunday was the turning point for Los Angeles as we all “go” into our clean transportation future.

-Damien Newton

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L.A.’s Freedom Ride: BKoB

On the fourth Sunday of every month, cyclists take over the streets of Los Angeles as part of the "Black Kids on Bikes" (BKoB) ride.  BKoB is part of a series of rides called the "Freedom Rides" aimed at getting more black Angelenos to enjoy the unique experience of a group cycle ride.  BKoB aims at providing a safe, fun venue for kids to ride the streets, but despite it's name - the ride is open to riders of all races and skill levels.

The ride is the brainchild of organizer James Spooner who wears many hats.  Some know him as a Bikerowave volunteer, others as a tattoo artist, and still others know him as the ground making film maker responsible for 2003's cult film "Afro-Punk."

Ivy writes:

Spooner, a recent transplant from the rainbow streets of New York City, walks and talks New York, but now calls Cali home.  James was cool enough to sit down with me despite of me, to tell me about how the ride came to be and what he personally gets out of the ride and cycling in general.

StreetFilms
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L.A. Street Summit 2010: Building Momentum for Change

Whatever way you slice it, the L.A. Streets Summit 2010 was a big success.  Take a gander at our wrap-up vid featuring many voices from the hundreds of conference attendees who made connections and started some L.A. synergy for livable streets.

As a special bonus, NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan (who spoke at Occidental College the previous Thursday night) dropped by the Los Angeles Trade Technical College to provide some inspiring mojo in the form of before & afters of her work transforming NYC's streets.

StreetFilms
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ATSAC: Behind the scenes at L.A. Traffic Control

I have to admit: the thought of being in a control room documenting technology that moves vehicles more efficiently didn't excite me at first, but once I met Senior Transportation Engineer Bill Shao and the friendly staff at Los Angeles' Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (or ATSAC), I was full of curiosity.

First off, one of the things that makes ATSAC so unique is that it's one of the only traffic systems in the entire country that is publicly owned. ATSAC was started in 1984 to help move traffic around the Coliseum during the Olympics; since then it has grown to over 3,000 of L.A.'s 4,100 signalized intersections, some of them incredibly complex. The technology is so advanced that even on its busiest days the control room only requires a few people present to run it.

I'm told there are regular group tours of the facility. Next time you visit L.A. I recommend checking it out.

StreetFilms
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L.A.’s Orange Line: Bus Rapid Transit (plus bike path!)

Who would have thought that one of the best Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in the U.S. would be in its most crowded, congested, sprawling city? Well check this out. It's really fabulous.

In October 2005, the Los Angeles County Metro Authority (or Metro) debuted a new 14-mile BRT system in the San Fernando Valley using a former rail right-of-way. Unlike many "rapid" bus transit systems in the U.S., the Orange Line is true BRT - it features a dedicated roadway that cars may not enter, has a pre-board payment system so buses load quickly and efficiently, and uses handsome, articulated buses to transport passengers fast - sometimes at speeds approaching 55 mph! The roadway is landscaped so ornately you could almost call it a bus greenway.

But that's not all. The corridor also boasts a world class bike and pedestrian path which runs adjacent to the BRT route for nearly its entire length, giving users numerous multi-modal options. Each station has bike amenities, including bike lockers and racks, and all the buses feature racks on the front that accommodate up to three bikes.

Perhaps the biggest problem is its soaring success: ridership numbers have some calling for the BRT to be converted to rail, and Metro is exploring ways to move more passengers, including buying longer buses. Plus: expansion plans are underway. Whatever way you slice it, this is truly a hit with Angelenos. A formerly 81 minute trip now takes 44-52 minutes - over an hour in round-trip savings - making a bona fide impact in the lives of commuters.

StreetFilms
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L.A.’s East Hollywood ArtCycle & Block Party

The bike scene in Los Angeles is alive and well - and growing every day.

Streetfilms rode along with one of two ArtCycle tours of local studio spaces sponsored by the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council. Afterwards, we joined a block party in progress, arriving just in time to hear solid words of encouragement and promises of a brighter bicycling future from L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti, himself a bike rider. Dancing, art, food, and general chillaxing in the streets continued until 10 pm.

Sure L.A. has a bigger hill to climb than most major U.S. cities, but it could also benefit the most from a livable streets agenda. Once the seeds are planted, there's no going back.