Thursday, May 1, 2008

Innovative Transportation

I stumbled upon this website that contains over a hundred different systems used for transportation around the world.

The systems listed here are either experimental or from Total Recall, therefore we know it has the governator's approval.

Seen to the right is the Magnetrans.

You can view it by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

History of the Port of Los Angeles

This morning on AirTalk, Larry Mantle had an interview with the authors of the recent book, Port of Los Angeles: An Illustrated History 1850-1945. It sounds like an interesting book, and the interview was lively and a little gossipy.

Here’s link to the publisher's website.

Here's the interview—it’s about half an hour, and is preceded by a very brief appeal for support for NPR. Any problem with the audio, you can try going to AirTalk's site and scrolling down to this story.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

GPS that finds Cheapest Gas Station!

Engadget just reviewed the new Dash Express GPS that can connect to Wifi and can lists gas stations and their prices. This may reroute congestion better than congestion pricing.

For the full review, click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Public Transportation in Ventura

Kodama had a story about Ventura's public transit problems.

Public transportation on the table
Cheryl Ellis

In Southern California, the concept of public transportation is beyond foreign; it is seemingly impossible, but the city of Ventura is generating public awareness to combat that belief.

Round one took place March 27, when the city welcomed Charlie Hales, a transportation industry expert, to City Hall to speak to the public about the social, economic, environmental and political landscape making transit a topic of general interest.

Hales’ visit was the latest lecture in the “Ventura on the Move: Mobility Options for Ventura’s Environment” series. Tom Mericle, the city’s traffic and transportation engineer, said the series is intended to open up discussion about implementation of a new transit plan.

Hales, a former commissioner of planning and transportation in Portland, Ore., was invited to address the realities of expanding Ventura’s public transportation system.
“We want to create a blueprint for how we resolve short-term and long-term needs,” he said. “Rather than have a normal development plan where developers pay to widen streets, we are trying to increase ‘walkability’ in the city, decreasing reliance on any single mode of transit.”

Such a goal may be difficult in a city like Ventura, Hales said.

Largely responsible for Portland’s streetcar renaissance, Hales is widely credited with sparking the modern streetcar revival. In Portland, he helped raise $58 million in bonds to improve 114 parks, was instrumental in creating the Portland Streetcar and worked on citywide light-rail projects. He has also consulted on the development of transportation plans in cities throughout the country including Boulder, Colo., and Tucson, Ariz. In all of the cities he has worked with, he admits there was a significant amount of resistance to transit, particularly from the more affluent. He also said a barrier exists in motivating middle- and upper-class people to use transit, whether it be an over-reliance on their personal vehicles or the inconsistencies in transit schedules and the time wasted waiting for a train or bus.

But Hales commended progress the city of Ventura has made in recent years, especially complementing the increased use of technology through the introduction of the “Next Bus” system, an online portal through which riders can see when the next bus will arrive at a given stop.

“Making transit easy to use is great, Hales said. “Technology is so important in making transportation easier and removing that barrier, encouraging the middle class to use transit.”

The message doesn’t seem to be resonating in Ventura, though. Gold Coast Transit, which connects Oxnard, Ojai, Ventura and Port Hueneme, saw a little more than 3 million riders last year, while the Ventura Intercity Service Transit Authority, the county’s intercity bus system, saw 200,000. Although ridership has begun to increase, both systems are still recovering from massive ridership losses after a 2002 fare increase, according to statistics Mericle provided at the event.

Two key factors are generating discussion about mass transit and making it a more socially acceptable trend, he said. First, the next generation is adopting a more urban lifestyle that is more conducive to public transportation, and second, “mega trends” and “big picture issues” such as global warming and the implications of peak oil have recently become topics that are being taken more seriously.

“We are using a fossil fuel to fuel our economy, and that fuel does have a danger of running out,” Hales said. “There is now a national understanding that we are running out of the fuel that powers our system.”

Hales is full of ideas for how municipalities can invest in prolonging the seemingly inevitable by investing in transportation that is cost effective and safer for the environment. It is a heavy investment, he said, and municipalities often bear the responsibility for generating interest in transportation and finding funding. Although he said there is never a set number on the cost of developing, operating and maintaining rail systems, he quoted the light-rail project in Eugene, Ore., at roughly $6 million per mile and noted another in Ohio that cost as much as $24 million per mile.

But Hales also said cities that benefit most from transit tend to be cities with a higher density in population rather than areas that are comprised primarily of single-family homes.

“Ventura has a great walking district downtown,” Hales said. “You are a great place for getting off of the ferocious highway and a great place for circulator transit. Light rail may not be the answer for a low-density area, but transit can be used as a funnel to get people downtown and for getting them around once they are there. But it is expensive, and it may not be the best answer for the moment, unless funding starts falling from the sky.”

City officials were quick to stand up for the density of Ventura and to justify the need for continued discussion about transit.

“The most recent census showed that the majority of people that live in the city [of Ventura], work in the city,” Mericle said. “So its really an issue of changing people’s attitudes. We are in a fact-finding mode, and we plan to hold a series of meetings over the next nine months to see if this plan is feasible for our city.”

Hales encouraged this proactive stance, saying the federal government is recognizing the importance of developing transit systems and, in a switch from the trends over the past 10 to 15 years, funding has been granted recently for cities that present solid plans.

“The question really comes back to how much community support there is,” said City Manager Rick Cole. “COAST [Coalition for Sustainable Transportation] in Santa Barbara advocates more for transit in Ventura than even the people in Ventura.”

He urged those in attendance to involve other people in a dialog about the need for transportation, saying that by engaging more people, there is potential for community groups to generate more public interest.

Mericle expanded on that thought.

“If the environmentalists in our area drew the connection between preservation and transit, if the socially conscious drew the connection between a living wage and transit, if we were all able to connect up the people who care about these things we can get something done,” Mericle said. “We need to develop a plan, and that’s going to take brains, involvement and money.”

Taco Bell better not start using trucks

LA Times wrote an article today about how mobile taco trucks are going to get charged heftier parking violation fines because local businesses are complaining that they drive out competition.

Attached here is the full story.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Clear Channel is evil, though....

I was reminded strongly of Professor Kodama's "What's in it for me?" mantra when I heard this story on the Patt Morrison show. Apparently, the City Council, MTA and Clear Channel are engaged in a seedy menage-a-trois involving holding potential park space for south L.A. for hostage in exchange for a sweetheart deal on a gargantuan digital billboard off the 10. MTA has land at Avalon and 54th that it will sell the city for less than market value (about 2/3) and pay for rehab-ing the site to make a park and wetland. The City will re-zone a special district off the 10 near downtown to allow Clear Channel to have the giant bulletin boards. Clear Channel will drop a threatened legal action against MTA over the termination of Clear Channel's lease on several bulletin boards along the former Little Santa Monica Blvd.

Why do we need to involve the evil megacorporamonopologarchy Clear Channel in a simple deal of taking under-utilized MTA land and creating much-needed open space for south L.A.?
Why do we need any more of those horrible, hazardous digital billboards near our freeways?

Here's a link to the radio interview with Jan Perry and Jack Weiss discussing the issue...scroll down to Tues Apr 8th for the story...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ventura Freeway Cap - Public Design Workshop

Hey everyone!

If you noticed, I wasn't in class last night. I took a trip up to Ventura to attend a public design workshop on capping the 101 freeway.

This workshop was presented by Glen Bolen from Fregonese Associates , an Oregon based planning firm. According to the City of Ventura's press release of the event, the workshop was, "part of a six-month Compass Blueprint Demonstration Project by the City of Ventura in partnership with the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and consultants from Fregonese Associates and Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., to determine feasibility, estimate costs, measure benefits, propose possible economic paybacks and identify challenges of freeway capping options. " It was designed to gain an understanding of the broad scope of issues that would affect the members of the community in the development of the freeway cap to connect downtown with the beach.

The participants were split into groups of about 8 - 10 people and each team was given a large map to draw out and design their vision for the freeway cap. They were given three initial feasibility options to choose from and then had to come up with a development plan to help offset the costs associated with their chosen project. It seemed a large number of groups choose a medium sized cap and understood there would necessarily have to be higher density of both retail and housing in the future. By providing the community members with information about the options, issues and having them discuss the trade-offs between costs and development options, participants were able to bring their own opinions and visions for the city into the development plan.

I enjoyed myself and thought it was a wonderful way to encourage participation in the community.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Queens Council Members Sticking it the Man!

Members of the Queens Chamber of Commerce are protesting Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan. Claiming that the plan is not about reducing traffic but about increasing revenue by charging 8 dollars to enter Manhattan. Joined by many other citizens they protested under the Queensboro Bridge.

To read the whole store click here to read it from the Queens Ledger.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Awww...CARB wants to make Jeffrey sad…

The California Air Resources Board voted last week to reduce the PZEV (Pure Zero Emissions Vehicle) requirement by 90%, but raised the requirement for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Their reasoning is that the development and production costs of PZEV’s – battery or fuel cell cars – is still prohibitively high, while Low and Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles are here today. There are reasonable arguments on all sides, but I must say that the very fact that we don’t have a clear winner in the race to solve the emissions problem indicates a need to encourage innovation and experimentation which CARB’s decision will tend rather to stifle. Not that I don’t smile to think of all the new hordes of “Prii” deliberately driving exactly 55 in front of Jeffrey…

Listen to NPR’s story on CARB’s vote here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

San Fransisco Bike Lanes

Click here for full story

San Fransisco will be adding 34 miles of new bike lanes and getting rid of on street parking in some areas to do so. SF claims that it will be a new bike friendly city with these revisions. But let's be serious unless they get rid of those hills, I will not be riding my bike to work anytime soon.

Seattle Transportation Fund

The Washington Herald just reported Gov. Chris Gregoire has drastically revised the Transportation budget. It can be read here.

Here is a brief look at the budget changes.

U.S. 2: $10 million for safety projects between Gold Bar and Monroe; $4 million in county and federal money included for centerline rumble strips between Monroe and Sultan; six state troopers assigned to patrol the highway.

Ferries: $85 million for three vessels with up to 100-car capacity to replace Steel Electric-class on Keystone-Port Townsend route; $283 million for up to three 144-car vessels; $15 million to refurbish the ferry Hyak; $355,000 for added summer runs on Keystone-Port Townsend route.

Old boats: By July 1, the Department of Transportation must prepare a plan for disposing or selling off four Steel Electric-class vessels.

Ferry terminals: Unspecified amounts available to remove Unocal pier at Edmonds and lease land for added car waiting area at Mukilteo.

Barriers: $26.9 million to install concrete median barriers in place of existing cable barriers on I-5 between Marysville and Arlington.

Trains: $100,000 to study the potential of commuter service between Snohomish and Redmond.

UW Bothell: $47 million to build offramp from Highway 522 to the campus this year.

Other items: $18.5 million for higher fuel costs; $3.25 million to cover increased snow and ice removal expenses; $19.7 million to remove barriers for fish passage into streams.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Charlie Hales discussing public transportation at City of Ventura

Professor Kodama notified us about Charlie Hales coming to speak at the City of Ventura.

City of Ventura will let national expert Charlie Hales discuss public transportation systems and viable options for Ventura's public transit.

Thursday - March 27, 2008 - 7pm - Free Admission

Community Meeting Room
Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli Street

The Issue With Earmarks

Professor Kodama sent an article from the Republic Washington Bureau about the effects of pork barreling in politics, using Arizona as a prime example.

Ariz. last in pork-barrel cash, lawmakers say it's a waste
Key lawmakers say earmark process wastes taxpayer money

Diana Marrero
Republic Washington Bureau
Mar. 22, 2008 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Arizona has some powerful lawmakers in Washington, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

But when it comes to pork-barrel spending, otherwise known as earmarks, the state isn't very powerful. In fact, it ranks last.

That's mostly because three of the state's 10 lawmakers in Washington, McCain and House Republicans Jeff Flake and John Shadegg, refuse to ask for any federal money for local projects. Another Arizona Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl, strictly limits his earmark requests. They all say the earmark process wastes taxpayer money and desperately needs reform. But other Arizona lawmakers counter that their colleagues' stance hurts the state.

Click Here

Arizona, one of the fastest growing states in the nation, will receive $18.70 per capita in federal earmarks this fiscal year. By comparison, Alaska, with roughly a 10th of Arizona's population, is set to receive $506.34 per capita, the highest in the nation, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that tracks earmarks.

Alaska receives about three times as much as Arizona in actual dollars, $346 million to $119 million. That means Arizona gets less money for water projects, bridge repairs, road construction and rural clinics.

"When you have reformers and purists, you end up not getting a reasonable share of money coming out, which hurts the state," said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. "When you're holier than thou, you don't get much of the money."

Much of the work done by lawmakers in Washington centers on how to spend about $3 trillion in taxpayer money each year. For many members of Congress, securing money for projects back home can be the most tangible product of the complicated budget process.

But earmarks have gotten a bad name after public corruption scandals involving former high-profile lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., who went to prison for accepting millions in bribes from defense contractors to steer government money their way.

Lawmakers still secured about $18.3 billion for nearly 13,000 projects last year. Only 18 lawmakers declined to seek any earmarks. They often work together on earmarks that can benefit multiple states or districts. But the bulk of their requests is for projects in their home districts or states.

Efforts to place a one-year moratorium on earmarks have failed in both chambers, but a growing number of House Republicans have signed a pledge to abstain from seeking them.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, helped secure about $29.2 million worth of earmarks last year but has vowed not to ask for any special-project money this year. Franks' recent pledge would mean that only half of the state's congressional delegation plans to actively seek earmarks.

"We have members of our delegation who feel their job is not to bring equitable resources back to the state," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson. "The fact remains we are shortchanging our taxpayers by not bringing more resources into the state."
Political power counts

Alaska is home to Sen. Ted Stevens, a senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which largely controls how money is doled out in Washington. Arizona has just one appropriator in the House, Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Phoenix, where rank-and-file members have less clout than do members in the Senate.

"It's one of the illustrations of what's wrong with the system," said Ryan Alexander, president of the taxpayer group. "Earmark dollars are not distributed based on need or merit or anything else as far as we can tell other than by power."

Shadegg, one of the Arizona lawmakers who rejects earmarks, agrees.

"I would argue that if all of us sought earmarks, Arizona would still get shortchanged," the Phoenix lawmaker said.

That doesn't mean they're shortchanged in the overall federal budget. The state receives more federal funding than state taxpayers put in, according to the Northeast-Midwest Institute, which found that Arizona got $1.19 for every dollar taxpayers spent in 2005.

Others say that earmarks increase government spending at a time when the national debt continues to climb.

"We simply can't afford it in the country," said Flake, of Mesa. "I just can't, in good conscience, just play the game."

Kyl, who helped secure about $92.7 million in earmarks last year, does not think lawmakers should eliminate them altogether. But he argues that the system should be more transparent and that funding be distributed based on the merits of projects.
Earmark disclosure

Recent reforms have forced lawmakers to disclose the earmarks they secure but don't make them identify all their requests. So far, only three Arizona lawmakers, Kyl and freshmen Democratic Reps. Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords, have vowed to disclose all their requests.

"I'm willing to defend what I ask for because I ask for so little," Kyl said.

Pastor won't release all his requests because he says it would violate the privacy of groups asking for money. But he defends all the projects he supports and notes that earmarks make up 1 percent of the federal budget. If it doesn't get spent on Arizona projects, the funding will be spent elsewhere, he said.

"All the money Arizona doesn't take goes to Alaska," said Pastor, who secured more earmark funding than any other member of the state's delegation: $57.7 million.

Pastor also teamed with Mitchell, D-Tempe, to get nearly $700,000 for a restoration project for the Salt River, which sometimes floods, washing out roads. The project is a big priority for Mesa, which is represented by Mitchell and Flake.

India Monorail System

Once again from Professor Kodama.

Bombardier shortlisted for major India project

A consortium led by Bombardier of Canada is one of three groups that have been short-listed to supply a $1.6 billion, four-corridor monorail system for Mumbai, India, a city of about 15 million. The other bidders on the list include India’s Larsen & Toubro, with Malaysian partner Sconi Engineering, and Japan’s Hitachi Group. What’s at stake is 30-year build-operate-transfer contract, with final bids due in May and construction scheduled to start in June and be completed by mid-2010.

5 Ways to Get a Job

Article Professor Kodama sent forth about how to get the job as a college graduate at a career fair.

Click here to read it

Don Shoup and Parking in DC

Professor Kodama has found some interesting stories from DC and how they are using parking funds to make the streets more livable now that there is a new baseball stadium being built.

It can be read about here

These parking techniques come from Donald Shoup, and you can learn more about his ideas here, on another streets blog entry.

This entry shows Don Shoup explaining parking with matchbox cars.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'd rather be sitting in traffic than...

Okay, it's cutting it a little close to the wire--But here's my news story of interest today:
A new study commissioned by AAA has reported that the cost of car accidents exceeds that of congestion. I'm kind of curious about the rhetoric in this story, because it implies that there is some sort of either/or. Are they implying that there are fewer accidents when there is more congestion? That would make this study another piece of evidence of why congestion is a good thing...

Here's the story

Crashes: What's the Cost to Society?

Today AAA released a report (click here to read) detailing the cost of crashes to American society. The study reported that crashes cost American society 164.2 billion dollars a year, more than 2.5x than the cost of congestion, which is $67.2 billion.

In Southern California alone the cost of crashes is estimated to be 11 billion while the cost of congestion is 9.3 billion.

The report proves that there is a cause to be concerned about traffic safety and the emphasis that needs to be put on the issue for congress and the upcoming presidential race.

The report is over 56 pages long, and state newspapers everywhere are reporting about the impact traffic crashes have on their states or cities.

Midterm Study Guide

Click Here for Study Guide

Professor Kodama has posted our study guide for the midterm.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Frozen at Grand Central Station

Joel Sandberg Podcast

Some people had a hard time locating it's getting a repost.

Listen Here!

Joel Sandberg, one of the key staff at the Expo Line Authority, recently came to Professor Woo's PPD-227 class and gave a lecture concerning the relationship between the Expo Line and the USC campus. It's around 40 minutes long and can be downloaded to your iPod or MP3 Player, Here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Obama's Transportation Plan

Street heat recently posted the link for President Obama's transportation plan.

You can directly download his transportation plan here.

His plan emphasizes government funding to increase transportation security, Amtrack lines and bicycle and pedestrian traffic. While the idea is nice he also wants to increase rail mass transit options and reduce or eliminate congestion in small to medium cities.

I think Obama needs to read Brian Taylor's Rethinking Congestion paper. I would think medium cities would most likely want controlled congestion rather that less congestion.

Also, Obama's desire to rebuild the walkable city by emphasizing bicycles would be new. After looking at the Bogata BRT system, however, one would think emphasizing a BRT program would make more sense with bicycles.

While Obama's plan has some shortcomings, the emphasis on having citizens use bikes and walking as modes of transportation is refreshing to hear, and a victory for Smart Growth advocates.

Honolulu Transit

Professor Kodama sent me an interesting article to put on the blog.

Residents of Honolulu will be getting a new mass transit system. On February 22, the city of Honolulu was recommended by experts to install a rail system. While only one other official objected the rail system, instead preferring a BRT system. It's interesting that the city would think a rail system would be better for them than a BRT system. With all the enthusiasm for the rail line it seems like the BRT system will not be properly thought out. You can read more about the article here.

The article is also featured on youTube and can be seen here.

RTKL, LA Live, and Parking PODCAST

Listen Here

Yesterday the developers of LA Live, RTKL design firm came to USC and spoke about LA Live. They spoke briefly about the parking situation and how they will widen the roads to increase pedestrian traffic.

Click here to listen or download it

It's pretty long, but there are some worthwhile things to hear and listen too.

Pasadena TMC Tour - Important for PPD 360 Class!!

We'll be having our Pasadena TMC Tour with Judi Masuda and Joaquin T. Siques, a transportation engineer, on Friday, April 18.

If we plan on using the red line lets use the comment option to set up when and where we'll meet.

Here's the info.

Pasadena TMC tour, Friday, April 18, 10:30 a.m.
Meet you on the steps of City Hall/Garfield side at that time.

Bus Rapid Transit Planning Guide

From Professor Kodama!

The Bus Rapid Transit Planning Guide is the most comprehensive resource for planning a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, beginning with project preparation all the way through to implementation.

Click here for online purchase

It is the culmination of over five years of efforts to document and improve the state of the art in cost-effective public transport solutions for cities. This edition, expanded to over 850 pages, includes contributions from a wide range of professionals and practitioners with direct experience in designing and implementing BRT systems all over the world. It is currently only available in English, but it is being translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Download it below or purchase a printed copy by clicking here.

Beginning with an overview of BRT, the Planning Guide proceeds to give a step-by-step description of the planning process, including operational design, financial modeling, physical design, multi-modal and land use integration, business plan development, communications and marketing, contracting, vehicle and fare collection technology, evaluation, and implementation.

The BRT Planning Guide is intended as a guidance document mainly for planning and engineering professionals. However, others, such as non-governmental organizations, national and regional policymakers, and business groups, will find it a valuable resource as well, when advocating for their issues and finding solutions to the problems that they are addressing.

BRT systems have proven to be catalysts in transforming cities into more livable and human-friendly environments. The appeal of BRT is the ability to deliver a high-quality mass transit system within the budgets of most municipalities, even in low-income cities. Planning and implementing a good BRT system is not easy. This guide aims to make the task a little easier.

BRT Planning Guide - June 2007

Click on the chapter title to download the PDF document:

* Introduction (2.5 MB PDF)
* Part I, Project Preparation (13.5 MB PDF)
* Part II, Operational Design (11.4 MB PDF)
* Part III, Physical Design (12.6 MB PDF)
* Part IV, Integration (9.3 MB PDF)
* Part V, Business Plan (9.6 MB PDF)
* Part VI, Evaluation and Implementation (4.9 MB PDF)
* Resources, Annexes and References (788 KB PDF)

Complete Guide (55.7 MB PDF)

Additional Resources

* Annex 1, BRT System Comparisons (224 KB PDF)
* Annex 2, BRT Consultant Directory (116 KB PDF)
* Sample operator contract (1.5 MB Word file)
* BRT Infrastructure Cost Calculator (40 KB Excel file)

The Bus Rapid Transit Planning Guide is copyrighted by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). It is intended for technical and educational use only and may not be used for commercial purposes. It may not be reprinted or modified without the explicit authorization of ITDP.

The BRT Planning Guide is co-edited by Lloyd Wright, Executive Director of Viva; and Walter Hook, Executive Director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). It was developed through support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Global Environment Facility/United Nations Environment Programme, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH.

For more information, please contact

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pounding the Pavement (Deborah's Post for 2/27)

I want to talk this week about sidewalks, and the sidewalk in front of your house as a microcosm of transportation infrastructure. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council are proposing that homeowners should be responsible for the repair of damaged sidewalks in front of their property, regardless of the age, extent or origin of the damage.

Here is an LA Times article, and here is an LA Times blog poll.

The main points:

-It could cost the homeowner $15 per sq ft to replace damaged sidewalks

-Homeowners are already responsible for certain other upkeep expenses when their property changes hands, namely gas shut-off valves and low-flow toilets.

-The City’s current rate of sidewalk repair will not complete its backlog until 2091.

-Homeowners are not allowed to make decisions regarding planting or removing trees in the public right of way which may be causing damage or posing slip-and-fall hazards.

-Homeowners are not allowed to remove the sidewalks and make them part of their own private landscaping.

My beef and what this has to do with transportation planning:

A major theme in contemporary urban planning is the need to create more walkability, more compact developments that are pedestrian friendly. Putting the responsibility for the pedestrian infrastructure in the hands of potentially un-informed, poorly motivated individuals is as unwise as it is unfair. Our city sidewalks form an integral part of both the multi-modal transportation infrastructure and the stormwater management infrastructure. We should be looking for new innovations in the design and materials, and perhaps finding costs-savings by converting to pervious pavements where appropriate. We should not be looking for costs-savings by merely abdicating responsibility.

Joel Sandberg Expo Line Podcast

Listen Here!

Joel Sandberg, one of the key staff at the Expo Line Authority, recently came to Professor Woo's PPD-227 class and gave a lecture concerning the relationship between the Expo Line and the USC campus. It's around 40 minutes long and can be downloaded to your iPod or MP3 Player, Here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Update on Carmel, Indiana Roundabout Interchanges

One of my favorite blogs, The Urbanophile, just added an entry detailing the roundabout interchanges Carmel, IN is implementing, including renderings. Read this excellent blog entry here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Congestion Pricing in New York

Click here for the Congestion Pricing

The Queens Gazette reported on a recent meeting for the Community Board 2 meeting in Queens, NY where two different citizen expressed their viewpoints on Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan.

The plan would reduce vehicle miles traveled by 6.1 percent and an estimated 38.6 percent reduction in the most congested areas.

61% of the citizens at this meeting approve of this plan and 36% would approve the plan even if the money does not go towards improving mass transit.

Other residents at the meeting expressed different opinions about congestion pricing calling it a regressive tax using the London model where the prices have increased by 150% since the programs founding. They also claim that the majority of the congestion comes from taxis and limos therefore they suggest an alternative method to relieve congestion by specifically targeting those vehicles.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mayor Orders Implementation of Pico-Olympic Plan Despite Opposition

As posted today in the LA Times, Mayor Villaraigosa has ordered transportation officials to implement "mostly" one-way traffic flows on Pico and Olympic Boulevards. This is achieved by removing one parking lane during rush hour in the designated direction as well as adding new striping. Area residents, councilmembers and other officials have expressed concerns over how pedestrian-unfriendly the design is, and several councilmembers have threatened to remove their districts from the proposal. At this point, Villaraigosa is calling for implementation without consulting city planners. Ouch.

Some choice quotations from the article:

It's unfortunate that the planning department is not going to be engaged. Planning and transportation should be joined at the hip. . . . You just don't bowl over the community like that. You have to appreciate who's there. It's disrespectful to my constituents, and it's an insult to my constituents.
-Bill Rosendahl

We were promised answers to our questions. We have not gotten those answers. There has been no meaningful input, and now the plan is happening anyway.
-Mike Eveloff, President of Tract 7260

So what do I think? First of all, I firmly believe that any action taken on Pico/Olympic should first involve input by transportation planners. There is no excuse for this to be railroaded to the point that councilmembers are wanting to bail out.

Secondly, the distance between Pico and Olympic in many parts of the route raise concerns on the viability of these two streets to be a legitimate freeway-alternate corridor. Residents on side streets most likely will see an influx of cut-through traffic.

Thirdly, the elimination of streetside parking to accomodate more auto traffic just demonstrates Los Angeles' lack of cohesion. Some parts of the city government have pedestrian-friendly initiatives, but Mayor Villaraigosa seems content to further the auto-centric status quo.

Finally, I think this plan is that it is a stinker and will lead to far more problems than it solves. Improving the signal timing or using lane control to add a reversible lane down the center are all much better alternatives than eliminating parking to create a virtual freeway. Business will drop on Olympic and Pico, but unlike the merchant in the article, I don't think it will be because of a lack of street parking, but rather because no one wants to walk alongside a virtual freeway.

More importantly, what do YOU think?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Men and Traffic do MIX!

Reuters today reported an odd story, indirectly related to transportation planning.

A group of 10 bodybuilders in Berlin helped lift a car out of a six foot ditch. The driver, a 38 year old man, lost control and flew into a meadow near the men's gym. It only took the men a couple of minutes to pull the car out of the ditch.

What can we learn from this? In the future when planning highways, we should always put gyms near curvy high speed paths.

Click here for full story

£25 SUV Congestion Charge

London Mayor Ken Livingstone will be passing a plan to charge £25 for cars that emits 225g per km of CO2 when entering congestion zones. Cars that emit less than 120g per km will be omitted and cars in between will be charged £8 for entering.

Two questions, where will the money collected from these funds go and how will delivery businesses respond?

Also, if Bloomberg successfully added a congestion zone in NYC do you think a fee like this would eventually be added as well?

To read the full article click here

Friday, February 8, 2008

Los Angeles ranks exactly ranks in the middle for Sustainability

The GoingGreenDC blog recently posted an article showing a list of sustainable cities as reviewed by

Sustainlane, is an independent online media company that offers peer reviews, where you can quickly find over 20,000 green products and great local businesses.

They recently listed the 50 most sustainable cities in the US and Los Angeles ranked at 25. Right in the middle of the pack. For all the details click here.

While they praise Los Angeles' SustainLA program, their study showed that we ranked 49 overall for metro congestion. On the bright side, LA was ranked 8th overall for mass transit.

Overall, an interesting read for anyone curious about how much progress Los Angeles has made the past few years.

All About Roundabouts

I was surfing on the City of Carmel, Indiana, website and came across this page explaining the safety and environmental benefits of roundabouts. For those unfamiliar with roundabouts, it's a nice little primer that includes both a presentation and an animation on "How to Negotiate a Roundabout" (sourced from the City of Clive).

As an Indianapolis native, I've frequently encountered the roundabouts in Carmel (they currently have over 40 with dozens more planned) and I've got to say they work really well! Traffic flows much better through these European-style intersections than more traditional stop signs and traffic signals.

They've worked so well that Carmel is converting an expressway with signalized intersections into a sunken expressway with roundabout interchanges for exiting/cross-street traffic, with construction starting this year and continuing throughout the next few construction seasons. Project site is located here.

Anybody else have experiences with roundabouts? Any places you think Los Angeles could use some more (PCH has one in Long Beach)?

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Bogotá

Professor Kodama found an interesting post about the Bus Rapid System in Bogota. The post comes from Streetsblog and offers a great 7 minute video talking about the BRT system in Bogota.
The Bogota BRT line travels at amazing speeds and runs like a subway. With stations located in the middle of large roads and smaller buses that bring people to their destinations to the smaller areas. Plus those smaller buses are free. With this "hive" sort of system the BRT line has bicycle use become an integral part of their BRT system and found a great balance for most commuters. Lastly their BRT system is monitored like air traffic. Maybe the MTA can change the road use on Wilshire to something like this.

You decide.