Bikes and Mass Transit are changing Los Angeles

Posted on April 8th, 2009 at 5:37 am by LisaNewton



Los Angeles, like many other cities worldwide, is trying to implement across-the-board alternative modes of eco- friendly transportation and mass transit, to improve our quality of life.

In Southern California, all new mass transit and strategies for transportation improvement, must also take into account their costs, economies of scale, and environmental impacts that any new program will have upon the health, safety, and welfare of its residents.

Because of our very temperate climate, Los Angeles has more transit alternatives than colder cities–namely bikes.

Yes, you heard it right, bicycling!

Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, too much money is going to road/parking projects and not enough to bike/mass transit projects. Here are some examples:

  • Never realized – 1996-2002 LA citywide bicycle master plan: $60 Million

  • Repaving 3 Miles of the 710 Freeway: $75 Million
  • Average annual costs of Los Angeles auto accidents: $10.5 billion
  • Construction of a single car parking space in a multilevel garage: $7,000+
  • Per bicycle parking space on a typical U-wave rack: $50+ Source: GaryRidesBikes
  • Because it’s no longer sustainable to have a city based on car travel only, what was once thought only a pipe-dream just a short while ago is quickly becoming at least a possibility.

    Most U.S. cities are implementing a combination of mass transit, increased bicycle usage, and walker friendly communities as its transportation base.

    In fact, based on The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more than $46 billion for transportation projects has been approved for California, which includes more than $17 billion specifically earmarked for increasing public transportation.

    What types of Mass Transit do they want to implement?

    Projects highlighted in the report include:

  • High-speed rail linking northern and southern California
  • The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Project
  • Subway service along Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles
  • Downtown connector between Los Angeles subway lines
  • San Diego Trolley expansion to University City
  • New downtown transit centers in San Francisco and Anaheim
  • Perris Valley Line in Riverside County
  • Bus rapid transit service in cities from San Diego to Oakland
  • Caltrain upgrades between San Jose and San Francisco
  • Light rail expansion in Sacramento to the airport and south of the city Source:CIRPRIG

  • Currently, from a total of Los Angeles County’s 6,400 miles of surface streets, only 481 miles of that have bike lanes and many these aren’t safe. Like the bike lane on Santa Monica Blvd–cars have to cross over a bike lane when they turn right.

    Photo by BikePortland

    Photo by BikePortland

    Another great alternative to bike lanes would be bike sharrows–a painted bike icon with at least two chevrons painted on top. Sharrows let drivers and bikers know that the right lane is shared by both. They are a reasonable and cost effective way to add more miles dedicated for bicycle transportation, and could easily be placed on many of our city’s streets with very little expense.

    Riding the Metro and bike commuting go hand in hand. Of course, you don’t have to combine both, but if greater distances are required, combining a partnership of alternative transportation is optimal.

    All LA metro buses now have bike racks on their fronts, which are capable of holding two bikes. Folding bikes can be brought onto the bus or train. Currently, the only drawback is that no bikes are allowed on subway trains during rush hour.

    What is one of the cost benefits of providing more bike friendly facilities?

    It’s estimated that the savings per mile, in terms of reducing congestion, are $.13 in urban areas, $.08 cents a mile in suburban areas, and $.01 cent per mile in towns and rural areas. Now, if you take the number of residents in LA, 10,363,850, multiplied by the average number of miles driven, 23 miles, and then multiplied that number by $.13, you’ll see a savings of $30,987,912 annually.

    That money can be used for additional investments into bike infrastructure.

    Can it be done?

    Yes. It’s already being done in cities across the USA including:

    Davis, California
    Portland, Oregon
    Palo Alto, California
    Tucson/Pima Eastern Region, Arizona
    Boulder, Colorado
    Corvallis, Oregon

    These are just a few examples of what happens when communities, business, and government come together to accomplish a goal. It takes time, money, and energy to implement solutions to vexing problems, but Los Angeles has these in droves.

    I don’t usually get into policy or political issues here on Travelin’ Local, but alternative transportation is something I firmly believe in.

    Hey, California, a car isn’t the only way to get around anymore.

    Creating infrastructure for bicycles isn’t about the money, our costs are cheap comparatively, it’s about political will.”

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