Los Angeles County Gearing Up to Apply for State Walking & Biking Funds

April 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Bike News | 1 Comment
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One percent of transportation funding in Los Angeles County goes to walking and bicycling, despite the environmental, health and mobility benefits active transportation offers.

One percent of transportation funding in Los Angeles County goes to walking and bicycling, despite the environmental, health and mobility benefits active transportation offers.

Cities across Los Angeles County and throughout the state of California are rushing to meet a May 21st deadline to apply for funding for their favorite walking, biking and safe routes to school projects. Over the past year, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership (National Partnership), California Bicycle Coalition and other state partners worked to secure a new source of funding for walking and biking in California. As a result of their efforts, in March, the California Transportation Commission announced the availability of $360 million in state and federal funds for walking and biking. This new state Active Transportation Program (ATP) could yield up to $100 million for walking, biking and safe routes to school projects in Los Angeles County this year, if we are able to win our share of the $360 million available statewide. LACBC and the National Partnership’s SoCal team have been working feverishly to prepare Los Angeles County’s local jurisdictions for this competition.

Cities in Los Angeles County have traditionally not competed well in statewide grant programs for a variety of reasons. Our fragmented governance means that we don’t always select the best projects to apply, and an historical lack of bicycle, pedestrian and safe routes to school planning has made it difficult to identify projects that are high priorities, ready to go and enjoy community support. While other regions typically have well-developed project lists, Los Angeles County jurisdictions keep getting caught flat-footed at every funding opportunity. With a few shining exceptions (Glendale, Santa Monica and Culver City come to mind), cities in Los Angeles County lack either the financial resources or staff capacity to put together good applications and secure local matching funds, particularly for safe routes to school projects. Robust planning processes like the City of Los Angeles’ ongoing Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan are critical to fix this chronic shortcoming in project readiness. Yet, LADOT has only two staff people working on safe routes to school and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s budget released this week does not grant LADOT’s request to staff up their pedestrian and bicycle group. (Then-Councilmember Garcetti deserves credit for creating the two pedestrian coordinator positions in the first place.)

LACBC and the National Partnership are overcoming these barriers by coordinating among our agency partners in the Los Angeles County Active Transportation Collaborative, providing direct assistance to applicants and supporting regional competitiveness by improving Metro’s approach to the ATP. To assist cities with applications to ATP, the National Partnership and LACBC partnered with LA n Sync to provide grant-writing and technical assistance for up to five applications from Los Angeles County. We can’t wait to announce which innovative projects from around the county LA n Sync will be supporting.

However, as previously reported here and on Streetsblog, our county transportation agency, Metro, has struggled to respond to the changing funding landscape and chart a path forward that balances its commitment to previous projects awarded funding through its Call for Projects program with a desire to encourage new projects more in line with new state priorities, including safe routes to school. In February, the Metro board followed LACBC and the National Partnership’s recommendation by instructing staff to reevaluate and potentially rescope old projects to improve consistency with state criteria, including project readiness and benefits to disadvantaged communities, and only submit those projects that are competitive in the new program. Unfortunately, this month Metro staff recommended moving old projects to the front of the line by arbitrarily giving them a 10-point advantage in the new competition, putting new projects and safe routes to school projects at a competitive disadvantage. Yesterday, LACBC and the National Partnership were successful in convincing Metro board committees to overturn this misguided policy, restoring a level playing field so that the best projects from Los Angeles County can get funded.

The excitement generated by LA n Sync and the challenges presented by Metro’s approach highlight the need for a coordinated regional finance strategy for walking and biking in Los Angeles County. Despite Los Angeles County residents making 19% of their trips on foot or by bike and 34% of students walking or biking to school, Metro continues to allocate only 1% of county transportation funding to walking and biking combined in the draft Short Range Transportation Plan released earlier this month. While the state ATP provides an exciting opportunity to invest in active transportation, Los Angeles County’s lack of readiness for it belies a need for our county’s transportation agency to take more of a leadership role in developing project lists and ensuring funding readiness for projects throughout the region. This ATP process, and our county’s response to it, has clearly demonstrated the need for LACBC and the National Partnership to continue our work to encourage better regional coordination and greater investments in active transportation here in Los Angeles County.

Bringing Bikeshare to Los Angeles County

October 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Bike News | 1 Comment
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Bikeshare has been popular in several cities around the world including Chicago, where both residents and visitors use Divvy Bikes.

Bikeshare has been popular in several cities around the world including Chicago, where both residents and visitors began using Divvy Bikes this year.

This week, bikeshare is back on the agenda for Los Angeles County. LACBC participated in a meeting at the Westside Cities Council of Governments on Tuesday hosted by Assemblymember Richard Bloom and will be supporting a motion at Metro today by Mayor Garcetti and Directors Yaroslavsky, Knabe, Bonin, and O’Connor to coordinate a countywide bikeshare program. Streetsblog covered these developments on Tuesday. For over a year, LACBC chapters Santa Monica Spoke and the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition have been advocating for bikeshare in their respective communities. As a result of their efforts, Santa Monica stands to lead on the issue with a grant in hand to fund the launch of a system, while entrepreneurs are still seeking to bring privately funded bikeshare to West Hollywood. In the meantime, bikeshare in the City of LA has all but floundered.

In an effort to coordinate local efforts, Metro will now prepare an industry review and business case analysis for bikeshare in L.A. County, potentially resulting in a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to select a single countywide vendor. As local cities make progress and Metro decides whether to step into its natural role as a regional transportation agency, LACBC will continue to support whatever process results in a bikeshare system that serves L.A. County’s needs. We believe any system should adhere to the following principles:

  • Go Big. Bikeshare works best with concentrated deployments in areas with supportive infrastructure. Clusters of kiosks should be of sufficient density in targeted neighborhoods to enable convenient use, not distributed sparsely across a broad coverage area. Cities installing bikeshare kiosks should also provide adequate on-street bike infrastructure to enable safe bike travel with an emphasis on access to transit.
  • Bikeshare is a transit system. A countywide approach should ensure that the transit system is primarily designed to maximize transportation utility. A business case analysis should not deem an unprofitable system as unsuccessful if it meets a distinct transportation need cost-effectively. While advertising will likely be a significant revenue source for any system, it should not be a determining factor in the choice of kiosk locations or communities to be served.
  • Equity matters. A transit system also has the expectation of serving diverse populations equitably. The business case analysis must address how a bikeshare system can serve low-income communities in terms of both geographic deployment of kiosks and a fare structure that enables low-income households to participate. While not all communities can be served immediately, the system must be designed to reasonably serve low-income communities as it expands.
  • Seamless operation. To ensure countywide integration, a single hardware vendor should be selected so that the customer experience is seamless and all equipment interoperable. Local operators could be chosen for maintenance and rebalancing of the single vendor’s equipment.
  • Integrated fare structure. Fare systems should be integrated with other transit accounts such as TAP and Express Lanes for a unified customer experience in paying for multiple transportation options.

LACBC is encouraged by Metro’s involvement in this process. As the county’s transportation agency, Metro will play a key role in funding the infrastructure and education programs that complement bikeshare and are critical to its safe deployment. We look forward to working with Metro and local cities to ensure that these principles are incorporated into bikeshare operations in L.A. County.

Support Bicycles on Transit!

April 26, 2011 at 9:15 am | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 1 Comment
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photo courtesy flickr/waltarrrrr

Last Thursday, Metro Board Operations Committee approved an amendment to lift the bikes on rail peak hour restrictions and authorize the removal of seats on Light Rail trains (Gold, Blue, Green lines). Now this item heads to the full Metro Board and your support is needed!

You can view the staff report regarding the amendment here.  We feel it’s really important for Board Members to hear from folks who ride bicycles and ride transit. Several of the questions asked of Metro staff from Board members at the Operations Committee regarded how seat removal will impact transit riders, failing to realize that people with bicycles are just as much transit riders as people with luggage, baby strollers, or folks with no baggage. The Committee also failed to note that many existing riders already bring their bikes on, instead, framing the debate around projections of new cyclist riders coming on and taking seats from riders without bikes.

As Metro Board meetings can be cumbersome we’re asking for folks to submit support emails and comments to the Board by emailing Michelle Chau at (chaum@metro.net). We’ve drafted a sample letter you can use here: SupportItem22

Also on the agenda on Thursday is a proposal by Santa Monica City Councilmember, SCAG Board member, and Metro Board member Pam O’Conner through the Metro  Sustainability Committee to create an Active Transportation Agenda. This Agenda would review and report on existing and develop new Metro policies to encourage walking and bicycling, build capacity for developing countywide Safe Routes to School and Safe Routes to Transit programs, develop partnerships with the public health agencies, among a myriad of other short and long-term strategies. The results of the Agenda would help inform the next Metro Call for Projects and hopefully set a framework for better active transportation projects.

You can view the full Metro Board Meeting agenda here.

We invite all LACBC members to attend and speak on behalf of both of these important steps by Metro, or if you can’t attend, email the Board members at chaum@metro.net

Last Chance to Stop the Westside Exemption for Wilshire Bus-Only Lanes!

January 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Posted in Get Involved, LACBC Events | 2 Comments
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On Wednesday, February 2nd, LA city council will vote on the fate of the Westside extension of the Wilshire Boulevard Bus Only Lanes. This is our last opportunity to salvage Bus Rapid Transit as a regional connector! Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl is aiming to cut the 8.7 mile project down to 5.4 miles, eliminating a crucial portion of the route for Westside commuters.

Protect improvements to bike and bus commuting on Wilshire Boulevard

Some Background: MTA’s board has already caved to bus-only lanes opponents in Condo Canyon and exempted the plan from Comstock to Selby Avenue.  Now, Brentwood and West LA residents are using this action as leverage to further thwart Bus Rapid Transit in their neighborhoods. After advocating for six years for the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes, Rosendahl is caving to a loud minority who put their narrow interests before the needs of thousands of bus and bicycle commuters who pass through the Westside everyday.

The original Wilshire BOL project, which allows for cyclists to share bus lanes, has proposed to stretch from MacArthur Park to Centinela Avenue. Beverly Hills and the Condo Canyon region are already exempted. If the latest opposition succeeds, the lanes will stop at San Vicente, cutting off efficient bus and bicycle access to Santa Monica, a destination for nearly 100,000 of LA’s daily commuters.

Come to Wednesday’s City Council Meeting and join LACBC at in the fight to keep the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes intact.  We urgently ask for all types of community members to voice support for the full implementation of the Bus Only Lanes, especially Westside residents and stakeholders.

The meeting will take place at 10 am on Wednesday, February 2nd at City Hall, located at 200 N. Spring Street. If you can not make the meeting, we urge you to call Council Member Bill Rosendahl’s office at (213) 473-7011.

Voice your demands to protect efficient and sustainable transportation alternatives from the short-sighted and selfish BOL opponents, who prioritize their cars over comprehensive improvements to traffic congestion, air quality and transportation access for bus riders and cyclists in Los Angeles.

-India Brookover

Open Letter to the Metro Board Regarding Wilshire Bus Only Lane

December 9, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Posted in Bike News | 2 Comments
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Dear Metro Board of Supervisors:

Today, you voted to exempt the area on Wilshire between Comstock Ave. and Selby Ave. in Westwood, also known as “Condo Canyon” from the Wilshire Bus-Only Lane (BRT) Project. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is writing to express our profound disappointment in your decision today to disregard the needs of tens of thousands of bus riders and cyclists in favor of a small wealthy enclave of residents in Council District 5. Various low-income, environmental, transit user, student, and cyclist community organizations  mobilized to support Metro and LADOT’s staff recommendation of moving forward with this project without exemptions. In fact the bulk of today’s comments were in support of the complete project.

Yet it was clear that Supervisor Yaroslavsky and other Board members never intended to approve the EIR as recommended by staff. The Board blatantly opposed the wishes and essentially disrespected the political process by failing to truly acknowledging today’s public comment and the hundreds of letters submitted in support of the staff’s recommendations. Supervisor Yaroslavsky made it clear in his comments today that a minority of affluent drivers’ voices and financial positioning held more influence.

Despite the strong support of LADOT, whose study determined that travel time would only be reduced by 30 seconds (at worst) at intersections not directly in Westwood, the Board showed its pre-determined bias by swaying to the Condo Canyon community and their privately funded “independent study.”

As members of the Metro Board of Directors you should all be committed to upholding Metro’s Mission of being “responsible for the continuous improvement of an efficient and effective transportation system for Los Angeles County” and to uphold the values of sustainability, integrity, and in identifying best practices for continuous improvements. This decision reflects an obvious derailment of your responsibilities as Metro Board Members. By not supporting a complete bus/bike lane throughout the busiest corridor in the nation you are not supporting the best interest of all the taxpayers in LA.

We hope in the future the Metro Board of Directors steps up and demonstrates leadership for our region and prioritizes progressive transportation solutions that benefit those who have to commute without cars–and those who should–via bike, bus, rail, or by foot, instead of maintaining the status quo of dangerous, unhealthy, and auto choked streets.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Klausner

Executive Director

Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

Calling All Cyclists: Important Metro Board Meeting!

September 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 1 Comment
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photo courtesy of greenlagirl.com

This Thursday at 9:30 AM, Mayor Villaraigosa will be bringing multiple bike and bikes-on-transit related issues to the Metro Board Meeting. Villaraigosa previously submitted the motion below, titled “Enhanced MTA Bicycle Policies & Programs,” at the MTA’s Executive Management and Audit Committee where it received full committee approval. The motion would direct Metro CEO Art Leahy to complete the following tasks and report back by the December 2010 Board meeting.

LACBC would like to thank Mayor Villaraigosa for his continued support on  bicycling issues. We’d also like to see all of the Mayor’s motion supported by the full Metro Board. To that end, your voice is needed to drive home how important all of these issues are, both for cyclists and for the creation of an accessible transit system that meets the needs of its users.

Please come out and give your comments in support of the Mayor’s motion. Public comment cards must be submitted at the start of the meeting so please come a bit early.

See you Thursday Morning at 9:30am!
3rd Floor Metro Board Room
One Gateway Plaza

Funding
1. Recommend increased bicycle funding in the 2011 Call for Projects (tentative
goal increasing modal category from 7% to 15%, subject to future MTA Board
approval).

Current Transit System
2. Develop a phased plan for the installation of triple bicycle racks on all MTA buses
(estimated cost $1.6 million).

3. Develop a cost estimate, implementation schedule, and possible funding sources
for retrofitting MTA trains for bikes.

4. Propose a Revised Customer Code of Conduct and develop a “How to Ride
Metro” document that helps customers with bicycles and other large belongings,
including luggage, strollers and rolling briefcases, safely board and ride MTA’s
system during peak hours.

5. Identify the feasibility and cost of adding bicycle racks to the back or top of MTA
vanpool vehicles.

6. Provide an estimated cost and potential funding source to install improved
bicycle/stroller/luggage wayfinding signage at all rail and bus stations.

7. Incorporate bicycle mode messages in all marketing materials and campaigns
and provide an update on the status of MTA’s Bicycle Safety Advertising
Campaign on buses.

8. Work with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Transit Security Bureau to
summarize crimes on MTA property affecting bicycles and bike facilities and
recommend appropriate measures to improve bicycle security.

Future Transit Projects
9. Include in all future transit station designs stair channels or ramps so that
bicyclists can wheel their bikes safely up and down staircases.

10. Incorporate robust bicycle facilities in all transit project designs (e.g. increase bicycle parking at high demand stations, adjacent bike lanes or bike paths, i.e. Expo and Orange Line) to facilitate first mile/last mile transit access by bike.

2 Steps Forward and 1 Step Back on Lifting Metro Rail’s Peak Hour Bike Ban

July 29, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Posted in Bike News | 5 Comments
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While Metro has publicly announced lifting the bike ban during peak hours, internal proceedings have been a little more garbled. Photo; flickr/waltarrrrr

At last night’s Operations Subcommittee, a part of Metro’s ongoing Bicycle Roundtable effort, LACBC learned of a step backwards on Metro’s progress towards lifting the  peak hour bike ban on all Metro Rail lines. In May, as part of Bike to Work Week, Metro announced that they would begin working to lift the ban on bicycles during peak hour periods on Metro Rail. The ban had been in question since the beginning of Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable proceedings, and historically in the bike community, for several reasons.

But last night we learned that at a recent Metro Management and Audit Committee meeting, a document with text specifically upholding the ban on bicycles, and containing other self-contradicting though consistently anti-bike language, was making its way through the Metro Board processes.

Thankfully, staff from the Mayor’s office and Metro’s Bike Planning department have already begun to move on correcting this inconsistency.  LACBC will be immediately working with these groups to make sure that this language is altered to not only uphold Metro’s own promise of lifting the peak hour bike ban, but to hold Metro to its larger commitment of making their organization more bike friendly.

You can read the text of the Management and Audit Committee’s proposal to create Metro’s own Transit Court (a method Metro hopes will increase revenues by avoiding a reliance on County courts to collect fines issued by Metro) which includes language aimed at preventing bicycle use on Metro rail and buses on page 15. Leave any comments you might have on this document and its text and we encourage you to come out to Metro’s next Bicycle Roundtable,  scheduled for August 11th.

Job Opening: LA County Cycling Collaborative’s Bike Wrangler

May 21, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Posted in Bike News, Get Involved | 3 Comments
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Bikes impounded at UC Irvine just waiting to be Wrangled...photo: UCI B.E.E.P.

Over the last few months, LACBC has partnered with five other bike groups in LA—the Bicycle Kitchen, the Bikerowave, the Bike Oven, the Valley Bikery and C.I.C.L.E., all collectively known as the LA County Cycling Collaborative (CCC)—to finalize a grant awarded to the group by the LA County Department of Health. The funding is coming from the Center for Disease control and was part of Obama’s stimulus plan, aimed at creating jobs and addressing obesity in underserved communities.

Last fall the CCC got together and proposed to create a position we’re now calling the Bike Wrangler. The Wrangler will work with all the major institutions across the County (police departments, universities, Metro, etc.) to recover used bikes and redistribute them to the four member bike collectives of the CCC so that they can continue their mission of getting bikes to people in an inclusive, educational and accessible way. The Wrangler will also work with C.I.C.L.E. to distribute bikes at community workshops they will be teaching through programming funded by the same grant. Throughout all this the Wrangler will also be spreading the word about the CCC and its member groups’ mission of growing and empowering bicyclists throughout the County.

After meetings between the County and the CCC, we’re now ready to move forward in hiring the Bike Wrangler position. Please see the attached Job Description and send a resume and a cover letter to bikewrangler@la-bike.org. Pass the information on to anyone you know who’s interested as applications will be accepted until Monday June 7th at 5pm.

LACBC Celebrates Bike to Work Day in Style

May 20, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Get Involved, LACBC Events | 3 Comments
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This morning, LACBC set-up a Bike to Work Day energy station in front of our headquarters at 634 S. Spring Street.  We were up bright and early, from 6am-9am.  Joining us was Marin from Clifbar, promoting the two mile challenge and our amazing volunteers for the day, Ingrid, David, Lewis, and Ross.  Over 50 folks came by and we handed out Clifbars, new Metro Bike Maps (2010 edition), Go Mambo bags and La River Ride info.  We had a great time talking to folks about biking and we hope that more and more folks will join in in the future.  To biking in Los Angeles- each one of us cyclists and soon-to-be cyclists makes a big difference.  Thanks for supporting!

For more photos, click here.

Bicycling’s Big Friday Was Even Bigger and Better than Expected

February 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Posted in Bike News | Leave a comment
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Metro's Bicycling Roundtable

We had an incredible Friday down at MTA Headquarters, beginning with a great rally and press event of a diverse coalition of partner advocates, a strong presence of bicyclist voices in front of Senator Barbara Boxer and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, and a wonderful afternoon  session with Metro’s Doug Failing and the perfect storm of bike advocates. Thanks to everyone who came out to represent the bicycle community here in Los Angeles, to all our transit, livability and labor allies and the two great governmental organizations who made today possible. We’ll have a full update for you early next week and ways we can all build on the experiences and lessons learned today.

MOVE-LA's Denny Zane speaks at this morning's rally

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