Monday, November 29, 2010

Curitiba, Brazil is Seen as a Model for Bus Rapid Transit

The system has been very effective in not only attracting riders who previously preferred driving a personal automobile, but it is also credited as a main reason for the low pollution rates in the city, and other quality of life improvements. CNN takes a closer look at the bus system and what has made it such a success.

Guergana Borissova
Finance and Administrative Director
Political Student Assembly
University of Southern California
International Relations '13

Please consider the environment before printing this message.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Phoenix Public Transportation Campaign

Here's an interesting article from Metro Magazine on the new marketing campaign for the Phoenix transit system! 

Six Phoenix area bands have written and recorded 11 original songs about how to use public transportation as part of a new community education effort to help residents try environmentally friendly modes of travel.


"Surveys and research revealed there was widespread unfamiliarity about how to use public transportation across greater Phoenix, and that was a barrier to giving the system a try," says Mario Diaz, chief marketing officer at Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority. "So we asked local bands to record – in their own unique way – the various things you need to know in order to get out of your car and use public transportation instead."


Each original creation describes a different aspect of using the Valley Metro system, such as how to buy fare, passenger courtesy, safety near train tracks and buses, or how one fare pass can be used on both bus and light rail. The 11 topics were selected based on common passenger questions at Valley Metro's customer service line and from the top questions city transit departments receive. Participating local bands are: Black Carl, Captain Squeegee, Elvis Before Noon, Mills End, Peachcake, and What Laura Says.


Beginning in November, Valley Metro will release the songs one at a time on a monthly basis. Songs are set to animated video a la "School House Rock." Videos will be available with other helpful information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at


"Riders and non-riders told us that they want their public transportation system to be friendly, progressive, and, most important of all, simple to understand and use," Diaz added. "The new online videos teach the basics of using the public transit system in a fun, memorable way that can help more of us reduce air pollution, traffic congestion, and environmental waste."


Bands say they were motivated to be part of the project to support the local community and, for some, for personal reasons.


"Growing up, I used the bus to get to music lessons, arts and crafts, everywhere. My mom didn't let not having a car in Phoenix hold her back from enjoying the city with me," says Danny Torgersen of the band Captain Squeegee. "I'm so excited that there's an effort to involve music in public transit because music is one of the best ways to spread good ideas."

P.S. You can watch the videos for the songs here:

Guergana Borissova
Finance and Administrative Director
Political Student Assembly
University of Southern California
International Relations '13

Please consider the environment before printing this message.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How a Tourist Traveled in Los Angeles for $100 a day Entirely by Bike

Los Angeles on $100 a Day

WHEN I told people I was visiting Los Angeles for a week without setting foot in a car, one word came up more than any other: "impossible."
There is the fact that the county covers more than 4,000 square miles. That it has seemingly endless, overlapping multi-lane highways versus a tiny number of bike lanes. And oh, yeah: that it is bisected by a mountain range.
Taken together — not a great place to get around on a bike.
But what if you can't afford to drive? What if, in fact, you wanted to visit the city on about $100 a day?
Well, that was my mandate — one I quickly learned would be impossible to achieve if I rented a car, which could run me $40 a day, not to mention gas and parking. So last month, armed with padded biking shorts and determination, I went to Los Angeles to take in the sights on two wheels.
Seven days and six nights without a car turned out to be not only possible but in many ways afforded me a more unfiltered view of Los Angeles than I would have gotten behind the wheel, taking highways rather than local roads and further buffered from my surroundings by a windshield and a loud radio. I could pedal down the Pacific coast, pause at food trucks and pop into parks uninterrupted by the need to find a parking spot — or worse, a valet. Los Angeles felt within reach.
And as the days passed, I realized that, for a city known for its car culture, Los Angeles can be managed on a bike. The small number of dedicated bike lanes and marked bike routes are scattered around somewhat unhelpfully, but Google Maps' bike mapping beta for mobile and Web does a fairly decent job of making sense of them. Widespread, though not ubiquitous, signs around the city urge drivers to "share the road" and give cyclists three feet leeway. Though I occasionally hopped up on sidewalks when I felt uncomfortable in traffic, I found drivers to be reasonably accommodating.
To be fair, my view may have been skewed by the fact that I chose Santa Monica as my base of operations, in part for its coastal bike path and relatively calm streets but mostly because I landed a $28-a-night bunk at an outpost of Hostelling International, the brand for youth hostel associations around the world. The 260-bed hostel on Second Street, just two blocks from the beach, had come highly recommended by an Angeleno I'd met on a recent trip to the Caribbean. Once settled in, I searched the Internet for bike shops in the area and went with Bicycle Ambulance, which, in addition to offering rental rates as low as $22 a day, with taxes, had stellar online reviews. That left me with $50 to play with, half of which I'd spend on eating in all those good spots foodies and taco connoisseurs had recommended to me, and the rest for recreation and for bus and train fare. (I had sworn off cars, after all, not public transportation, which in Los Angeles proved to be a nimble system that welcomes bikes on the light rail trains and on all buses.)
To maximize my biking and taco-sampling and bus-hopping, I kept to a fairly regimented schedule. Below is how I spent four of those days, biking anywhere from 15 to 40 miles a day and making it back to my base well before any leg cramps set in.
Beverly Hills and Hollywood
On Sunday morning at 7:45, I set out east on Santa Monica Boulevard toward Beverly Hills. At that hour, the street was so empty that it looked like one big bike lane. By the time I neared my destination about a half-hour later, traffic had picked up a bit, and I discovered an actual bike lane, which lasted for about 20 blocks before disappearing again.
I headed a few blocks to Rodeo Drive, pausing to window-shop at Porsche Design, Harry Winston Jewelers and Bijan. The stores were not yet open — not that it really mattered; they're not exactly frugal territory. Sweaty and clad in just a T-shirt and tight biking shorts, I'm not sure I would have been welcome anyway.
I worked my way through some small side streets over to a place that would sell goods I could actually afford: the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market. It was the first of many frugal food destinations recommended to me by friends and colleagues. (As I would learn during my trip, the incredibly varied cuisine of Los Angeles is a frugal traveler's dream, as long as you don't mind buying from stands and trucks.) One good thing about a traffic-clogged city is that there are plenty of signs to lock your bike to. After doing just that, I wandered the market, where I fueled up on fresh grapefruit juice, Mexican chilaquiles and British scones for just over $10.
My brunch over, I could embark on my entertainment for the day: a tour of stars' homes. Instead of paying $40 to take a tour in one of those open-topped vehicles, though, I set off on my own version of the tour, using as source material the bike route laid out in the "Beverly Hills Star Home Loop" section of the book "Bicycling Los Angeles County" by Patrick Brady (Menasha Ridge Press). Though the book overall proved useful, this particular tour was plagued with errors, telling me to turn left when I should have turned right. It did guide me to houses once inhabited by George Burns, Frank Sinatra and the Menendez brothers. Judging from the hedges hiding it, the Sinatra house was probably extravagant, but the other houses hardly looked more outrageous than those of any other upscale suburb. It was the broad, empty streets, the Maseratis in the driveways and the utterly impeccable landscaping that suggested something different. Well, that and the star-tour vehicles that crawled past me, their passengers staring my way as if I could have been a star myself.
From there, I cruised a few smooth miles east toward Hollywood via back streets parallel to major thoroughfares, where, even on a Sunday afternoon, traffic was looking like a challenge. (A smartphone with Google Maps or other GPS-like applications is an invaluable help, although I believe they still make maps on paper as well.) Once there, I made a turn on Vine for a quick stop at the Cactus taco stand, recommended by a college friend, for three tacos, one each of carnitas, moist goat and spicy al pastor. And then I was off to gawk at Jack Nicholson's footprints outside Grauman's Chinese Theater, in the middle of a crowded retail strip a couple of miles north of the taqueria — and a lifetime away from the calm residential streets I'd navigated in Beverly Hills that morning. My final stop that evening was at Jitlada, a foodie-anointed Thai restaurant a few more miles east of Grauman's. I stuffed myself with the Crispy Morning Glory Salad and the pork kua kling, ordered in its second-most spicy version (which I would characterize as "blazing inferno").
Thoroughly decongested but exhausted, I performed a routine that became easier as the week progressed: I waited for a bus, then when it arrived, I caught the bus driver's eye, lowered the bike rack on the front of the bus, and fastened my bike into place. Then I boarded, resting my legs on the ride back to my bunk.
The Coast
It would be crazy to try to see the 15-mile coastline between Santa Monica and Redondo Beach on anything but a bike. It's flat and almost entirely traversable if you use the dedicated bike paths that run along the beach. You can turn back any time you want, and you can go any day of the week at any time, since you won't have to compete with rush hour (or even weekday) traffic.
By bicycle, it was an easy trip. I was joined by Jeff Hartleroad, an old college roommate — now a neonatologist — whom I hadn't seen in well over a decade. Jeff is a serious biker. I was temporarily intimidated by the fact that he was wearing shoes that actually clipped into the pedals, but I got over it.
We started out at the Santa Monica Pier and rode the curvy, well-maintained path that heads down the coast. Even on a weekday, there were plenty of cyclists out, though not enough to make things crowded: my only complaint was that the path got a bit sandy in parts. In just a few minutes Jeff announced we were in Venice Beach, though I suppose he needn't have: along the boardwalk, one after the other, was a medical marijuana clinic, aBotox-on-the-beach clinic and a toe ring specialist. It was midmorning, and Venice Beach's homeless population was still camped out. I love it when iconic spots turn out to be exactly as I imagined them.
Right after Venice, the bike route turns inland and then runs alongside Marina del Rey, which is one of those places that I'd heard of a million times but never imagined actually existed. It looked pretty fancy, and Jeff once again became intimidating when he mentioned that he owned a boat docked in the marina that gives the neighborhood its name.
From there we biked on, first past Ballona Creek and the power plant eyesore between Dockweiler State Beach and Manhattan Beach, until we finally rode by the enticing beachfront homes along Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. When we turned inland in search of a lunch break at Redondo Beach, I was charmed by the shops and outdoor cafes lining the walkable streets of its town center.
For lunch, Jeff suggested El Burrito Jr. in Redondo Beach, a cheesy-looking structure with a red A-frame roof and yellow awnings and a few tables to the side. I had the chili verde burrito with pork, he had the super-deluxe burrito with carne asada, both around $6. We laid down our bikes along the round tables and dug in. Mine was mediocre, his was much better, but when you're not used to biking for 19 miles or so, it really doesn't matter.
Downtown and Beyond
I knew that Los Angeles had a real skyline full of tall office buildings and bustling activity, but on my brief previous trips I had never bothered to go there. In my mind, it had become like the view of Emerald City just before Dorothy and the gang run through the poppies: a faux backdrop. So I was curious to see what it was all about — and the No. 10 express bus covered the 16 miles from Santa Monica to downtown's Union Station, saving energy to bike up and down the hilly downtown.
I found that close up, downtown Los Angeles is even more dazzling than it is from afar, with architectural baubles like the Bradbury Building, its cast-iron interior staircases almost as stunning as the metal-sheathed exterior of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
My first stop off the bus was for lunch at Traxx, an Art Deco restaurant right inside Union Station that is credited with reviving the downtown food scene. Though bicycles are allowed inside the ornate, soaring station, I locked mine at the bike rack out front and braced myself for a potential confrontation with the maitre d' over what I feared might be a no-bike-shorts dress code. "Don't worry, it's a train station," he said. The menu was good — I went with the asparagus appetizer and contemporary version of the Mexican pork soup called pozole. And because I happened to be visiting during dineLA restaurant week(twice annually, in October and January), my fanciest meal of the week set me back $22 plus tax and tip.
Right across from Union Station is Olvera Street, which goes through El Pueblo de Los Angeles National Monument, a collection of historic buildings at the site where in 1781 a few dozen settlers established the community that would ultimately become this sprawling metropolis. My trip down history lane was disappointing, though; unfortunately the buildings were largely obscured by horrendous tchotchke-selling stands set up along the middle of the street.
I hurried along to the heart of Chinatown. I biked through its central plaza — closed to car traffic but not to me — enjoying the kitschy feel of pagoda-influenced architecture and (after locking up my bike) wandering into shops with names like Phoenix Imports selling novelties like morning stars, ninja outfits for Halloween and deformed coffee mugs reading "I got smashed in California." Tempted as I was by the chocolate-flavored cigarette wrappers, my only purchase was some mediocre pork buns and pastries from the Wonder Bakery.
The rest of the day, however, was more challenging, as I set out for the vast, nontouristy immigrant neighborhoods west of downtown. I was especially interested in Koreatown, with its strip malls packed with Korean businesses, some without English-language signs. I also had received a great dinner idea from Margy Rochlin, who writes about food (and other things) in Los Angeles: stop off for a taco appetizer along West Third Street at dusk, then head south to Koreatown for the main course.
These traffic-clogged and unevenly maintained roads were not meant for biking, so I was glad I had chosen a sturdy hybrid Trek model from Bicycle Ambulance. My attention darted from pothole below to braking cars ahead to Guatemalan bakery windows to the side. This was definitely not cyclist heaven.
At Taco Móvil at Third and Mariposa (every day, 4 p.m. to midnight), I downed a surprisingly ungreasy chorizo taco (ungreasy being a relative term for chorizo; it generally means the orange ooze drips only on the ground and not down your arms and onto your shirt). But the torta de milanesa de res — or breaded beef cutlet sandwich — was the highlight, bathed in beans, topped with white cheese, jalapeños and avocado on a roll dusted with flour.
For the Korean course, I went to Beverly Soon Tofu. It was also fantastic — a bubbling cauldron of tofu and kimchi and a side of galbi (Korean short ribs) that tasted almost like candy. By this time, it was after 8 p.m., and I was in no mood to bike the rest of the way back to Santa Monica. So Google Maps led me to the No. 920 bus, a straight shot back to Santa Monica via Wilshire Boulevard.
Pasadena is about as far away from Santa Monica as you can get in Los Angeles-area tourism, but I wanted to enjoy a sporting event while I was there. Fortunately my budget and my interests aligned: why would you go see the Lakers when you could see a football game at the Rose Bowl? And though paying $36 face value for reserved seating at aU.C.L.A. game would have still been extravagant, Craigslist led me to a guy named Steven willing to part with his reserved seat for that Saturday's Washington State game for only $15. We met in a Von's Supermarket parking lot just 40 blocks inland from my hostel.
I planned a day in Pasadena, figuring if I got there early enough, I could fit in breakfast atMarston's, home to a reputedly legendary breakfast, and at least a short visit to theHuntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, which opened at 10:30, before heading to the 12:30 p.m. game. The trip from Santa Monica to Pasadena was just under 90 minutes via the No. 10 express bus to Union Station and then up an elevator to the bike-friendly Gold Line train to Pasadena.
Marston's Restaurant, set in a cottage across the street from Memorial Park, is one of those upscale comfort-food brunch spots that attract lines on weekend mornings. But as a single customer, I almost immediately got a spot at the counter, where I ordered sourdough French toast crusted with corn flakes and topped with strawberries, and their good coffee, and was off, through the tree-lined, bike-friendly-at-least-on-weekends streets of Pasadena and just over the border into San Marino to the Huntington.
I locked up my bike on the convenient racks in the Huntington parking lot, which I noted was more elegantly landscaped than most New York City parks; the gardens themselves — especially the mind-blowing Dr. Seuss-like cacti of the Desert Garden — concentrate more landscaping effort than some nations. The 90 minutes I had were not enough to begin to cover the gardens alone, and I also managed to sneak in a visit to the one of the dozen existing vellum copies of the Gutenberg Bible in the midst of the Huntington's awesome collection of ancient books.
It was a 40-minute bike ride to the Rose Bowl from the Huntington, which I thought more than justified buying a $7 grilled pork banh mi sandwich from the Nom Nom Vietnamese food truck stationed in the parking lot when I arrived.
With no bike racks visible among the sea of cars filling up the $15-a-space lots, I locked my bike to a parking sign, gazed admiringly at the Rose Bowl sign and headed inside to my seat in the corner of the stadium, where I was surrounded by the powder blue T-shirts of fans whose wild enthusiasm suggested they were recent graduates. It was hot and the stadium was not full, so I was eventually able to move up under the shade of the press box, where almost as enthusiastic, although somewhat more wrinkled, older fans were enjoying the game in the shade.
When my week drew to a close, I turned in my wheels to Bicycle Ambulance, packed my bag and hopped the No. 3 bus to the airport. To be honest, I had expected getting around Los Angeles by bike and public transportation to be a barely tolerable chore — a money-saving second-best way to see the city.
Why, then, was I feeling so elated about my trip and smitten by a city I had never particularly liked before? No, it was not just the endorphins, or the sightseeing — as much as I had enjoyed the palm trees and beaches of the coast, the glittering facades of the mansions of the stars in Beverly Hills and the footprints rendered in concrete in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater. What I had really liked were the moments in between: the strangers who shared secrets on the buses, the dog walkers and Dutch tourists who stopped to chat with me along Rodeo Drive, the aspiring actor I struck up a conversation with on Santa Monica Boulevard, as he cycled to an audition and I cycled to pick up my U.C.L.A. football ticket. These were true Los Angeles moments — moments that most visitors, stuck in freeway traffic behind the steering wheel of their rental car, never get to experience. Or, at most, happen only when they stop their car at a taco or banh mi truck.
SETH KUGEL writes the Frugal Traveler column.
Alan Huynh | 626.344.7363 |

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

High Speed Rail Ethics

Here's a short article I found today on the San Francisco Chronicle's website about the board of congressmen overseeing the high-speed rail project between Los Angeles and the Bay. One of them is proposing more stringent ethical boundaries for the project. I thought it was interesting because although we've discussed the political side of transportation, we haven't touched much on ethics yet, and in major public works projects with billions of dollars at stake, ethics are a very real issue.

- David

David L. Branch
University of Southern California 2011
B.S. Policy, Management, and Planning
Alpha Gamma Omega Fraternity
Men's Track and Field | 951-295-7581

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

blog posting

Here is an Entry for the blog. 

Here is a cool article from the Calgary Herald about Wildlife Crossings. Wildlife/human interaction has always been a problem in National Parks, both in Canada and the United States. Its inspiring to see a the Province of Alberta doing such a great job of mitigating the negative effects of Trans-Canada highway. Hopefully we will see something like this in the future for the Canada railroad. 

One thing to note that is of interest, Banff National Park is using cameras to monitor wildlife and their use of the crossings. Strangely similar to what has been done with ITS and freeway congestion monitoring? 

hope you all enjoy! 


Also here is a secondary web link to post on the blog that has to do with the wildlife photos posted by Banff National park: 

David Price
University of Southern California
School of Policy, Planning, and Development
4472 Arista Dr.
San Diego CA 92103

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Villaraigosa "Give Me 3" PSA- a Road Safety Approach to Cycling

Though this PSA is a bit dry, if this video is targeted to the right audience I think it will be fairly effective in promoting overall road safety.

This is a step in the right direction, unlike his announcement at the recent Bike Summit that he would push for state legislation to require helmets. I think a helmet law sends the wrong message- that cycling is so dangerous we can only ride the streets of LA wearing our protective armor. Attacking the issue from the driver awareness side is more proactive, and will go further in making the streets actually safer for all users. The focus should be on overall road safety, not bicyclist-specific injury prevention.

Rachel Finfer

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Please add this link to the blog

Here is an interesting slideshow of different forms of transportation
around the world!
Elizabeth Tauro

Friday, September 17, 2010

USC Bans Bicycles on Bike Lane, More Restrictions to Come

Please go to the LADOT Bike Blog to view the whole story and additional comments.

Full article can be found here.

Yesterday at USC Dr. Charlie Lane, associate senior vice president for Career and Protective Services, announced at a bicycle safety forum that the school is enacting a bicycle ban on Trousdale Parkway and Childs Way, the two major pedestrian thoroughfares on the USC campus.  With near 80% of USC students self-identified as bicyclists (another survey estimated up to 15,000 bicyclists on campus), the effects of this new measure could be quite drastic.  Given better planning and educational efforts, this situation may have been avoided.

A thing of the past? USC bans bicycles on major pedestrian thoroughfares.

No Bikes in the Bike Lane

The areas currently under ban for bicycle riding are Trousdale Parkway and Childs Way (map), the primary north-south and east-west thoroughfares through campus, each almost half a mile in distance.  Trousdale Parkway is currently listed as a bike lane in Metro's new bike map and is listed as a bike path facility by google.  As of Tuesday September 14, bicyclists must walk their bicycles on these two thoroughfares from 9AM to 4PM.

Pushing Bikes to the Periphery

USC's Depart of Public Safety (DPS) has decided that conditions have become so hazardous on campus that a ban needed to be put in place.  In a survey of USC students, a majority had reported being struck by a bicycle 2 or less times in the past year.  DPS blamed the safety problem on the enormous growth in bicycles over the past few years and attributed the rise in accidents to bicyclists "texting and sipping a latte while riding through campus".

What's the problem here? Hint: it's not the bike

The plan calls for the creation of bicycle parking facilities on the very edges of campus, making the campus core a pedestrian-only zone.  The Department of Public Safety cited the expense and manpower involved in appropriately supervising bicycling on campus as a reason for needing to push bicycles to the edge of campus.  Although Dr. Lane claimed that students also considered bicycles a problem on campus, it was later shown in his presentation that a majority of students considered bicycle congestion to be either "average" or "not a problem".

Further recommendations for the school include encouraging incoming freshman not to bring bicycles and stronger enforcement of bicycle restrictions.

Bikes on Campus – What's the Real Problem?

While Dr. Lane and DPS seemed to classify bicycles themselves as the problem at USC, it is the school's response to date (i.e. none) towards a growing bicycle culture which has caused the problem.  The growing popularity of bicycles is a trend that should be embraced, not shunned; alternative modes of transportation should be encouraged at all times. By relegating bicyclists to the edges of campus, bicycles are being de-legitimized.

Other cities, like Copenhagen, have found innovative ways to accommodate high volumes of bicycle traffic

The Problem – Recontextualized

The problem, it seems, is not that a large number of bicycles are being ridden on campus, but rather the behavior of those bicyclists and the consequences of that behavior in relation to pedestrians.  While DPS rightfully claims that they do not have the resources to police bicycle behavior, providing proactive solutions like education and infrastructure (rather than DPS's currently reactive solutions) provide a low-cost, long-term solution to bicycle congestion on the USC campus.


Currently, USC has no training, information, or classes on safe bicycle riding beyond a website mainly concerned with registration and parking.  Inserted as an educational element during orientation or as an online seminar, USC could educate incoming students on how to not only ride safely on campus, but also the bicycling laws of Los Angeles and California.  Because many USC students come from either out of state or even out of the country, they often don't know what is expected of them as bicyclists.


USC also has no on-campus infrastructure for bicycles.  With nowhere clearly marked for bicycles, it is no surprise that bicycle/pedestrian conflicts have arisen as bicycle culture has become more popular.  While instituting pedestrian-only areas within campus can be a sound safety measure, it needs to be coupled with equal bicycle-only infrastructure on campus.  By providing space for bicycles, conflict with pedestrians can be minimized.

Berlin offers an unobtrusive, aesthetically pleasing option for creating pedestrian and bicycle space in the same area

While it certainly is true the there are limited opportunities for traditional bike lanes on a built-out campus like USC, there are still many creative solutions which would improve bicycle and pedestrian safety.  On the current streets on the USC campus, bike lanes or Sharrows could be installed to give bicyclists greater confidence to use those roadways rather than pedestrian areas.  On wider thoroughfares, aesthetically pleasing treatments could be applied to delineate space for pedestrians and bicycles which could easily fit into the campus' architectural theme.

Bicycle Parking

Bike racks don't have to be ugly

Another complaint against bicycles was the overflow demand for parking and the ugliness of existing bike racks.  The idea that bike racks are ugly, however, is something of a dated concept.  Art racks have been installed in major cities across the world and can add to the beauty of an area rather than detract from it.  Even in Los Angeles there are examples of art racks which contribute to the street aesthetic.

"Bike" racks in front of Caltrans headquarters

Pennyfarthing racks at the LA Times Building

Additionally, providing U-racks at dormitories can function as longer-term or night-time parking for bicycles, freeing up the existing day-time racks on campus that currently get used for long-term purposes.

Going Forward

We hope that USC will reconsider its plans to marginalize bicycles on campus.  With an innovative approach, bicycle/pedestrian conflict can be minimized at little cost.  We also hope that USC will reach out to regional bicycle organizations like the LACBC or LADOT – Bikeways when considering how to accommodate bicycles on their campus.

Alan Huynh

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

With 10,000 to 15,000 Bicycles a Day on USC's Campus, Calls for a Beefier Bicycle Plan

From LAist.

Los Angeles may be gearing up to finalize its master bicycle plan, which would bring some 1,600 miles of bikeways to the city, but that may not be enough for those whose primary location is USC. That's where some 10,000 to 15,000 cyclists roam the campus each day, according to 2009 report.

According to Daily Trojan columnist Lucy Mueller, the problem for the past year has been enforcement of bicycle riding in non-cycling areas and not much else. "Walk your bike" has been a mantra for campus safety officers, apparently with little success.

But how do you encourage fewer bicycles in no riding areas? Mueller has some ideas. "Funds used to beef up the hall monitor presence in the no-bike zone could instead be allocated to deterring traffic in more productive ways, such as placing more racks on the campus perimeter — which could encourage students to park and walk — and making clearly marked bike paths where possible," she suggests. "Our campus might be too small to accommodate a system of paths, but bike lanes are still possible."

USC is also one of the few places in the Los Angeles region that has a car sharing program.

Full article can be found here.

Alan Huynh

Monday, September 13, 2010

FTA Gets Ready to Play a Larger Role in Safety

Over the weekend, the Washington Post hosted a story discussing how the FTA will start having more oversight with regard to transit safety.

The article can be found here.

Some takeaways from the article are:
  1. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has composed a new committee for transit safety called "Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS)" which consists of two dozen stakeholders from various departments (transportation, public works, operations and maintenance), which include individuals whom have an interest in labor and administration. 
  2. Next phase in steps from the Obama administration as a response to commuter rail transit accidents like the Metrolink crash, Metro Red Line crash in DC, and others.
  3. The FTA does not have any enforcement ability, therefore, TRACS is still unable to set forth any regulations.

Alan Huynh

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

San Fransisco Loves Don Shoup

San Fransisco will soon by offering the most aggressive market price parking pricing scheme in America.

Click Here for More Info

The City will have variable parking metered spaces throughout the entire city to reduce parking cruising congestion, increase parking garage use, and always have a space available for parking.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

DOT Livability Program

Senator questions whether DOT livability program will hurt financial support for roads

For the second time this year, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., has questioned DOT Secretary Ray LaHood about whether spending money on sustainable community issues with impact financial support for highways. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services


WASHINGTON — The ranking minority member of the Senate transportation appropriations subcommittee for a second time expressed concerns during a hearing Thursday that money channeled toward sustainability initiatives undercuts financial support for highways and might "reflect a view that we want to get rid of auto transportation."

During questioning by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood defended the $527 million requested in the Obama administration's Fiscal Year 2011 budget for livability efforts at U.S. DOT, according to the Weekly Transportation Report issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

LaHood was appearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development along with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.

The two were testifying about the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

LaHood said highways are not being shortchanged.

"We have a state-of-the-art interstate system in America; we have very good roads," he said. "At DOT, we have an obligation to maintain our roads, to make sure they're fixed up, and in places in the country where they need capacity, we're for that. The idea we're giving up on our road program or don't care about highways is nonsense."

LaHood also underscored, however, the widespread frustration with traffic congestion and how many people want transportation alternatives.

He discussed the importance of meeting transportation needs not with a "one size fits all" approach but rather through understanding the unique priorities and preferences of communities nationwide.

Efforts to create multimodal transportation systems in those communities, he acknowledged, "have to come from the ground up" and enjoy popular support.

Helping Americans gain better access to more transportation options, lowering travel costs, and providing affordable housing are also goals of the partnership.

LaHood cited his agency's efforts to help state and local governments leverage investments in transportation infrastructure to advance sustainable development.

"As I have traveled around the country soliciting input on our surface transportation reauthorization, I heard resounding support for our livability initiative," LaHood told senators. "The feedback has been clear: It's time to rethink how we are investing in our nation's communities."

Bond and LaHood first exchange comments about the administration livability efforts during a hearing before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee during a discussion of a new transportation bill.

“What’s livability?” Bond asked LaHood.

“Communities where people have access to many different forms of transportation and affordable housing and the ability to really have access to all of the things that are important to them, whether it’s a grocery store, drug store access. … These are communities and neighborhoods where people want to live where they have access to all the things that they want,” the secretary responded.

Bond argued livability issues would focus on cities, at the expense of rural areas and pondered whether it was the federal government’s responsibility to build such livability features as sidewalks.

"I've got a lot of constituents for whom livability means having a decent highway," Bond said. "They've got to drive between one town and another town."

Link to story

4th Street In Motion Festival

Mark your calendars: The 1st Annual ‘4th Street In Motion’ Festival is rolling onto 4th Street/Retro Row (between Cherry and Junipero Avenues on Mother’s Day, May 9th (11 am -5 pm)! This FREE event—part of the LB Bike Festival, will showcase fun for the whole family! “4th Street in Motion” is an all-ages, event with plenty of fun for the whole family! Featuring a bike-themed film festival at The Art, music, food & retail merchants, wine & beer gardens, safe cycling workshops, do-it-yourself bike repair, and more!

4th Street/Retro Row Long Beach (between Cherry and Junipero Avenues
Mother’s Day, May 9th (11 am -5 pm)!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Garmin-Asus Android-powered A10 ready for almost all transportation needs

Garmin-Asus has thrown another Google Android-based smartphone into the mix. But the makers of the A10 handheld are promoting it as more than just a smartphone, but rather a “pedestrian navigation” device.”
The core reason for being of this device seems to be for providing transportation advice. The A10 is ready to take your feet almost anywhere with integrated GPS capability plus preloaded, detailed maps in case your Internet connection is slow, spotty or non-existent. When you’re planning to jump on public transit, there’s also support for cityXplorer, an app that retrieves information on local bus, metro and suburban rail systems. Finally, the A10 is also ready for some road trips with an included audio mount for your car.
Being an Android-powered smartphone, there will naturally be support for the Google suite of applications including Gmail, YouTube and Maps, plus access to 30,000 more applications in the Android Marketplace the plethora of Google Apps isn’t enough for you.
Here’s a couple of other nifty specs packed into the transportation-friendly A10:
  • 3.2-inch HVGA touchscreen display
  • Built-in accelerometer (for tilting to portrait or landscape mode)
  • 1,500mAh battery
  • WebKit browser
  • 5-megapixel AF camera
  • Automatic geotagging
  • Electronic compass
  • Support for Microsoft Exchange
The Garmin-Asus A10 will be released first in Europe and Asia-Pacific region in mid-2010. There’s no information on a North American release nor pricing anywhere yet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Transportation's bicycle policy hits potholes

WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a weekend bicyclist, might consider keeping his head down and his helmet on. A backlash is brewing over his new bicycling policy.
LaHood says the government is going to give bicycling — and walking, too — the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money. The former Republican congressman quietly announced the "sea change" in transportation policy last month.
"This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized," he wrote in his government blog.
Not so fast, say some conservatives and industries dependent on trucking. A manufacturers' blog called the policy "nonsensical." One congressman suggested LaHood was on drugs.
The new policy is an extension of the Obama administration's livability initiative, which regards the creation of alternatives to driving — buses, streetcars, trolleys and trains, as well as biking and walking — as central to solving the nation's transportation woes.
LaHood's blog was accompanied by a DOT policy statement urging states and transportation agencies to treat "walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes." It recommends, among other things, including biking and walking lanes on bridges and clearing snow from bike paths.
Transportation secretary is normally a quiet post, a Cabinet backwater. But LaHood has been the administration's point man on an array of high-profile issues, from high-speed trains and distracted drivers to runaway Toyotas.
The new policy has vaulted LaHood to superstar status in the bicycling world. Bike blogs are bubbling with praise. A post on calls him "cycling's man of the century." The Adventure Cycling Association's Web site calls LaHood "our hero."
"LaHood went out on a limb for cyclists," Joe Lindsey wrote on "He said stuff no Transportation secretary's ever said, and is backing it up with action."
The policy has also been embraced by environmentalists and many urban planners.
Word of the policy change is still filtering out beyond the bicycling and transportation communities, but the initial reaction from conservatives and industry has been hostile.
The National Association of Manufacturers' blog,, called the policy "dumb and irresponsible."
"LaHood's pedal parity is nonsensical for a modern industrial nation," said the blog. "We don't call it sacrilege, but radical is a fair description. It is indeed a sea change in federal transportation policy that could have profound implications for the U.S. economy and the 80 percent of freight that moves by truck."
LaHood said he has been surprised by the response.
"It didn't seem that controversial to me," he wrote in a second blog item. "After all, I didn't say they should have the only voice. Just a voice."
At a recent House hearing, Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, suggested jokingly to a Transportation Department official that one explanation for the new policy is that the secretary's thinking has been clouded by drugs.
"Is that a typo?" LaTourette asked. "If it's not a typo, is there still mandatory drug testing at the department?"
The new policy is not a regulation and, therefore, not mandatory, Transportation undersecretary for policy Roy Kienitz responded to LaTourette.
But it's LaHood's view "that the federal government should not take the position that roads and trains are real transportation and walking and biking is not," Kienitz said. "His view is it's all real transportation, and we should consider it based on what benefits it can bring for the amount of money we spend."
That didn't satisfy LaTourette.
"So is it his thought that perhaps we're going to have, like, rickshaws carrying cargo from state to state, or people with backpacks?" asked the congressman.
Bicycling advocates have been blasting LaTourette. Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, with 300,000 affiliated members, called his comments "a little childish."
LaTourette said in an interview that he thinks bike paths, bike lanes and projects that make communities more walkable are fine but shouldn't be funded with money raised by a gasoline tax paid by motorists. The federal gas tax pays for most highway and transit aid, although lately general Treasury funds have been used to supplement the programs.
LaHood noted that LaTourette supports federal funds for a bike path in his district.
"The point is, on his Web site he's bragging about the fact that he got some money for a bike path," LaHood said. "He knows people in his district like them."
LaHood, 64, said he and his wife have biked on weekends for years. Three days before his announcement of the new policy, LaHood stood on a table to speak to a gathering of hundreds of bike enthusiasts in Washington. He drew cheers when he vowed the Obama administration will put affordable housing next to walking and biking paths.
"I'm not going to apologize for any of it," he said in the interview. "I think this is what the people want."

This article can be found here:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prospect Park West’s two-way bike lane is on a roll

The Brooklyn Paper

The city is moving ahead with its long-stalled plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Prospect Park West — despite the continued opposition of Borough President Markowitz and the drivers he says he represents.

The lane, which was approved last year, will stretch from Grand Army Plaza to Bartel Pritchard Square, and will run along the eastern curb alongside a lane of parked cars that will protect cyclists from car traffic.

But the new bike lane comes at a price — one that many opponents say is too steep: one lane of southbound car traffic will be eliminated from Park Slope’s speedway, and 22 parking spaces will be lost.

“It’s going to impact traffic terribly,” Jack Nayer, a Park Slope local, said at a public hearing on the subject on Monday night. “Just a few yards away is a bike lane — it’s called Prospect Park! Why not use that?”

Nayer echoed the concerns of perhaps half in the crowd of roughly 75 people who came to the informational “open house” at Congregation Beth Elohim on Eighth Avenue to learn about the looming project.

But city officials said that the lane would alleviate a pressing problem on the street: speeding traffic.

Many drivers are using Prospect Park West as if it were the Daytona Speedway — a claim backed up by recent research. On the eve of Monday night’s meeting, Park Slope Neighbors, a civic group that supports the bike lane, released a report that showed outrageous speeding on Prospect Park.

Volunteers from the group recently clocked cars and discovered that 85 percent exceeded the speed limit, with a startling 30 percent averaging 40 miles per hour or more.

A survey by the Department of Transportation also hinted at another problem that would be alleviated by the bike lane on Prospect Park West: cyclists riding where they aren’t supposed to.

A tally of 349 cyclists last year revealed that nearly half were riding on the sidewalk — a result of having no way to legally bicycle northbound in Prospect Park.

Borough President Markowitz doesn’t think the bike lane will fix these supposed problems. In an interview with WNYC earlier on Monday, he not only said he opposed the cycle path, but also took a swipe at Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

“We just disagree on certain instances where I’m acutely aware that she wants to make it hard for those who choose to own automobiles,” Markowitz said. “I really believe that … she would like to see more people stop car usage and use their bicycles or walk.”

Markowitz later reiterated that he has supported some bike lanes in the past — including one on Ninth Street — but remains convinced that the Prospect Park West bike lane would cause traffic congestion and exacerbate the already woeful parking situation in Park Slope.

But supporters of the project sought to allay opponents’ fear over lost parking spaces, saying that the traffic-calming effect of the lane was worth the loss — an effect that drew some scoffs. Advocates also noted that the cuts proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would eliminate the B69 bus, which runs along Prospect Park West.

Eliminating the bus stops on that portion of the route should cover all of the 22 lost spaces, said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope).

“I am completely opposed to the MTA [service] cuts,” Lander said. “But that is a silver lining — if there is one.”

The Department of Transportation says that construction of the bike lane will begin in June, though it said the same thing last fall before Markowitz interceded, possibly causing the near year-long delay.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Smart transport in South Korean transit systems

South Korea and Japan streets ahead in smart transport

By Nicolai Hartvig, for CNN
  • Intelligent transport systems well developed in South Korea and Japan
  • GPS updates South Korea's 17 million drivers with traffic updates
  • Faster commute times, less accidents ands pollution has been the result
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- Juwan Yoo was tired of calling up the old-school telephone hotline to find out when his bus would come -- and excited about the iPhone's arrival in South Korea.
So the 17-year-old developed the "Seoul Bus" application, which crawls public transport Web sites to give real-time updates for all bus stops in the capital and its surrounding provinces. More than 400,000 people have downloaded the free app, Yoo told CNN.

Yoo is now affectionately known as "the high school student" to South Korean traffic researchers and officials after he ventured into intelligent transport systems (ITS).

For more than a decade, South Korea and Japan have been rolling out their world-leading ITS, pouring money and political capital into ideas beyond the carpool lane.

Drivers race through expressway toll gates as their wireless wallet pays the fee, while GPS updates in half of South Korea's 17 million registered cars tell them how many minutes delay they can expect and how to take a faster route. Public buses are fitted with shrieking dashboard road-nannies that help drivers stay on schedule. Millions of passengers seamlessly transfer using the ubiquitous T-Money travel card, finding their next bus or subway train on up-to-the minute electronic schedules.

"Our transportation life in Korea has much improved -- and our quality of life as well," Kee Yeon Hwang, the director of the Korea Transport Institute (KOTI), the South Korean government's official research arm for transportation, told CNN.

By many measures, it has also saved time and money. Average speeds on the roads of Seoul has increased from around 20 to 24 kilometers per hour in the past five years. South Korea estimates the total savings of its ITS systems, including automatic toll collection, fewer accidents and less pollution, to be around $1.5 billion a year.

South Korea's ITS has always been government-led and heavily centralized, quickly pushing the country from research to national implementation. The funding continues unabated, to the tune of $230 million dollars annually until 2020.

"The government knew exactly what it had to do. It invested the money and led this as a government project," Young-jun Moon, a research fellow at KOTI's Department of Green Growth Policy and Implementation, told CNN.

"Installing fiber-optic lines along the expressways is very expensive, for just one kilometer you had to invest $100,000. We now have 3,500 kilometers of expressways, all with fiber-optic lines that are the backbone of our communications."

The construction industry helped turn South Korea from a post-civil-war wasteland into a thriving modern economy -- and since the early 1990s, has been in partnership with information technology.
"ITS costs less than one percent of the investment necessary to build a four-lane road," Moon said.
Most roads still get grid-locked and Japan knows the cost of its problem. Drivers there lose 3.5 billion potential working hours to traffic jams, at an equivalent of $109 billion a year, according to the country's Highway Industry Development Organization.

Meanwhile, commuters and transported goods in the U.S. are stuck for 4.2 billion hours a year -- a full work week per person at a total cost of $87.2 billion, according to the Department of Transport's Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
That missed productivity could be particularly costly, as economic rival China ramps up its own investment in ITS, warns a new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITFT), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

The U.S. is still stalled in the research phase and the ITIF report calls for a federal approach comparable in scale to the Interstate Highway System launched in the 1950s, with national real-time traffic information in the 100 largest cities by 2014 and a mileage-based user fee system by 2020.

It is ironic, then, that South Korea's traffic setup was adopted from the Intelligent Vehicle Highway System, an ITS forefather pushed by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration in the early 1990s.

"The majority of experts in Korea were educated in the United States," says Hwang. "We learned from the United States but we didn't see many things practiced there."

A patchwork of state and local responsibility for U.S. roads is a hurdle, something the European Union is also facing as it seeks to introduce ITS standards.

Politicians tend to favor old school road works, fixing potholes and building new roads instead of investing in unseen technology.

The U.S. is expected to spend more than $500 billion dollars on surface transport infrastructure until 2015, while the Department of Transportation's ITS strategy for 2010-2014 keeps intelligent transport funding at about $100 million per year.

Even in South Korea, some jurisdiction tussles remain. The National Police Agency controls the country's traffic lights and adapts them according to drivers' complaints rather than extensive data offered by traffic planners, Moon explained.

The government is also facing bandwidth gridlock as it attempts to switch wireless traffic communications to the world standard 5.9 GHz. In an odd coincidence, that frequency in South Korea is heavily dominated by broadcasting companies beaming mobile TV to commuters.

There's another, decidedly more low-tech issue.
"Driving behavior is very important. Our car culture has not had a long history," Hwang said, citing people running red lights.

"People often violate traffic rules but unless you keep the rules, the system cannot be workable."
South Korean planners are looking to link the upgraded transport to the country's next economic driver, green technology. Still in embryo, the ideas include data systems that allow drivers to map the fastest and most eco-friendly routes.

Find this article at:

NBC Reports on the Misuse of Placards in Los Angeles

It’s a problem that’s gotten out of control, nearly one in ten California drivers claim to be disabled and have placards, which let them park free all day at meters and on streets reserved for residents only.

But NBCLA found, many of these people are able-bodied drivers, illegally taking away parking from the rest of us. Because of our report, the Department of Motor Vehicles is going after them in a huge way.

DMV officers conducted a sting operation in Downtown LA, looking for drivers who are illegally using disabled placards. We watched as they confronted one man who parked his car using his wife’s placard, so he didn’t have to plug the meter near his clothing store.

When asked, “You didn’t know it was illegal to use your wife’s placard?”

“No, I didn’t know,” he replied.

This DMV crackdown, is in response to NBCLA’s undercover investigation, where we found 80 percent of the cars in a large section of Downtown LA were displaying disabled
Placards, that often belong to other people.

“We will actively investigate, and conduct enforcement operations,” says DMV chief Vito Scattaglia.

NBCLA also found placard abusers hogging most of the parking in other areas, like Beverly Hills, and Westwood.

We watched as one woman parked her Jaguar, day after day, on a Westwood side street, even in spots reserved for residents only. She displays a placard, which allows her to Park there all day, while she works at a nearby travel Agency.

Our investigation found she’s using a placard, issued to a 75 year old man.

She admitted she knew that what she was doing was illegal.

NBCLA also talked to LADOT traffic cops. We asked one cop, “Do you think all these people with handicapped placards are disabled?”

“Oh, no,” he replied.

He says they’re told to write parking tickets, and leave the placard cheaters alone.

NBCLA also spoke with Jimmy Price, head of LA’s parking enforcement. We asked him, “There is something you could do about this?”

“Absolutely,” Price replied.

State law allows city traffic officers to cite placard abusers and to do sting operations, just like the DMV does.

NBCLA asked Price when the last time the city did a sting on placard abuse on city streets.
He couldn’t recall but said, “We have limited resources, and yes our primary responsibility is issuing parking citations.”

So with no help from the city, the DMV is cracking down on the problem in areas we exposed.

On three recent mornings, agents spread out across a section of downtown. When they spotted drivers using placards, they questioned them.

During this one downtown sting, the DMV confiscated dozens of placards, towed cars of placard abusers and wrote 46 criminal citations for placard misuse, a record for a DMV ting of this kind.

If found guilty, these people face a maximum penalty of $3500 dollars and six months in jail.

“What we’ve found here in the last couple of days has just been unbelievable in terms of the violations,” Scattaglia tells NBCLA.

Because of the sting, there appear to be a lot more places to park in this part of downtown. Store owners tell us the word is spreading, that if you use someone else’s placard you could get busted by the DMV.

The city of LA could be doing a lot to stop placard abuse. Cities like San Francisco have teams that look for placard cheats. Last year, San Francisco confiscated 2000 placards that were being misused. The city of LA seized just 33 placards.

If you want to report a motorist who is illegally misusing a placard, you can notify the DMV by filling out this form:

Do you have a story for us to investigate? Email us at:

First Published: Mar 3, 2010 10:11 AM PDT