Today we presented a project titled (un)Rock the Casbah, an earthquake resiliency strategy for the city of Algiers prepared with the team: Eric Tunell, Tucker Franz, Andrew Esmalian and Giovanni Zuniga.
In Homebuilding and Industrial Decentralization in Los Angeles, Greg Hise dispels the popular notion that dispersion in Los Angeles was the result of the automobile. Instead, Hise makes the case that these proto-suburbs were intended to be live/work, to borrow a term from our generation’s lexicon. These “scientifically planned” communities grew around large, primarily defense contractors, employers, not organic, unplanned “sprawl” falsely attributed to the growth of Los Angeles. Kaiser Community Homes built neighborhoods strategically with the assistance of large industry and government—these communities were the result of decisive, intentional planning.
The critical view of suburbs that emerged in the late 20th century, that continues into the 21st century, too simplistically views the development as a bad idea, judged by current metrics.. It is important to view the genesis of the suburb from the context of the early-1940s. Hise offers a portrait of an Oregon family who won a house in the Southern California suburb in a radio contest. Mrs. Ward George lived in Lebanon, Oregon in a house with no running water in a town where “35% of [the houses] lacked a private bath or required major repair."1 The nearest city, on which the Ward family depended for goods and services, was 40 miles away. By contrast, the Ward’s (and many other Americans) were offered the chance to own a new home, with all modern conveniences, built in a neighborhood with churches, shops, schools an parks—what must have seemed like utopia.
Communities, such as Panorama City where Mrs. Ward George lived, were commercial ventures by wealthy capitalists in search of a return on their investments, jointly conceived with business requiring large numbers of employees. But, importantly, they were also answers to contemporary problems. That they spawned a slew of problems in the future needs to remind planners that today’s solutions may be tomorrows problems. It may be unfair to accuse planners of the 1940s of lack of foresight; there were housing and employment issues that needed to be dealt with, and they were. Problems arose once the industries that these communities were built around either closed or left town, requiring inhabitants of these nodal communities to drive beyond their neighborhoods for work. It would be impossible to imagine 2016 Detroit in 1950s Detroit.
The lack of jobs within a suburb produced the commute, the commute did not produce the suburb. The commute is responsible for many of the problems associated with suburbs: congestion, smog, reliance on fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and mass inequality. It would have taken an especially prescient planner to have envisioned all of these effects when tasked with post-war housing demands. However, planners today can learn lessons from past mistakes. Primarily, we need to plan for change. Flexibility, adaptability, and elasticity are key components to any planned development, magnified by the rate of change of current technologies. We may not know exactly how people will use our buildings, infrastructure, and parks in 30-40 years, but we must design envision the ability to adapt to many scenarios.
Los Angeles faces a similar growth problem today, highlighted by dramatically rising housing costs associated with shortage of stock. Downton Los Angeles alone projects the addition of 125,000 residents by 2040, all of which will require housing, jobs and a functioning infrastructure.2 As planners, we must set to solving the problems of today, while minimizing the problems these solutions create in the future.
1Hise, Greg. 1996. Homebuilding and Industrial Decentralization in Los Angeles: The Roots of the Post-World War II Urban Region. In, MC Sies and C Silver, Planning the Twentieth-Century American City : 243.
2“DTLA2040.” DTLA 2040. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2016.
From the earliest cave-painting maps to today’s computer-driven cartographic methods, the products have reflected contemporary tools and technologies. As innovation allowed humans to travel greater distances, mapped areas grew simultaneously: the ship allowed for mapping Earth, satellites provided access to the galaxy. Production (and reproduction) innovations provided those in power greater distribution channels for their maps.
Cartography is an exercise of power. Only the educated are both adept with current technologies and possess the intellect required for the abstract thinking inherent in the process of scaling and flattening the world (and beyond) into a mappable output. Not only does the cartographer decide the content and organization of the map, he or she must also have the means of production to create the map. This has been true throughout history as empires used cartography to control and dispatch their armies, to plan empirical expansion, and to maximize financial gains through efficient trade routes with other countries. As the powerful have written history, so too have they drawn the maps. Michel Foucault referred to the process of cartography as a “technology of power.”
Our reliance on maps has increased as we have become an increasingly mobile society. Through advances in mobile technology and GPS, maps play a larger role in our daily lives than in any time in history. Though there are competitors, (Uber, Lyft, Apple, TomTom et al.) Google is by far the largest cartographer in the 21st century, using its fortune to map every square inch of the globe while utilizing its dominant distribution channels. As Medieval Kings sent sailors and cartographers on mapping missions by sea, Google sends satellitesto space and the ubiquitous Google Cars equipped with 360 degree cameras to cities to map our contemporary world, then coded and transmitted to billions of screens across the world. Medieval maps (et al.) amplified power by showing in detail the palaces and buildings of the wealthy and powerful, while the neighborhoods and buildings of common people were simply rendered as dots. Google employs a similar hierarchical strategy by showing different categories of information the further the viewer is zoomed. This prioritizes some businesses (advertisers) by showing their locations at the default scale, but requiring the viewer to zoom to see other businesses, essentially creating a class-structure for business visibility.
The Situationist critique of cartography is as applicable today as it was in the 1960s. The Situationists espoused “psychogeography,” an experiential, phenomenological relationship to the urban environment, inherently absent in the cold science of cartography. When a viewer looks at a map from a birds-eye view, human life and activity are removed, along with any non-administrative ideas of edges or borders.
When one uses Google Maps for directions, there is no differentiation between routes, paths are optimized for efficiency in time over appeal, interest, safety and joy, effectively suppressing urbanity. In addition to the options of automobile, transit, bike, and walk, perhaps users could input their gender and interests. Conceivably, using machine learning and variably overlays, psychogeography could be a consideration in route optimization.
In sprawling American cities, between 30-50% of developed land is devoted to the automobile, incentivizing citizens to use their cars as their primary mode of transportation and requiring a parking space at both ends of the journey . 1 Drivers expect those parking spaces to be cheap—or free—and to be conveniently close to the final destination, an expectation resulting in myriad lots per square mile. The edges of parking lots lead to dead zones on city blocks, effectively deactivating a public space. Hazard is introduced by curb cuts in sidewalks, putting pedestrians and their pets on an inevitable crash course with vehicles entering off-street parking lots. Finally, ample cheap parking encourages driving, causing congestion in our urban cores with thousands of drivers cruising slowly on the hunt for parking. The result of decades of this shortsighted development strategy is that cities are subservient to blankets of unsustainable land use: parking lots.
Cheap parking is deceptively expensive. Ignoring the value and opportunity cost of the land, the cost to build parking ranges from relatively inexpensive at $4000 for an off-street surface parking space to $40,000 for an underground space . 2 To recoup the costs of providing parking, owners would be required to charge exorbitant rates, well beyond what the public is used to paying. Instead the cost is factored into the price of products and services, requiring all to pay, whether they use the parking lot or not. The cost to build on-street metered parking is even greater, as the cost to build and maintain roads must be included. On-street parking is underpriced, leaving taxpayers subsidize the difference, as much $324 billion, or 3.6% of GDP–only slightly less than national defense . 3 Subsidizing masks the problem of underpriced parking, leading to expectations of ample, cheap parking.
A pedestrian is killed by an automobile every two hours . 4 This would seem to have little to do with parking, as cars sitting still are substantially less hazardous than their moving counterparts. However, in many cities there are multiple off-street lots per block, necessitating curb cuts for access, creating a hazardous mix of pedestrians and vehicles. The curb cut proliferation began in the first half of the 20th century with “municipal parking lots [becoming] one of the most dominant features of Downtown America by 1940” . 5 The process of carving up downtown sidewalks continued through the century, as Jeff Speck explains in Walkable City, “In the interest of driver convenience, most American cities handed out curb cuts in the seventies like candy at Halloween, to banks, restaurants, dry cleaners, hotels … anyone who asked” . 6 The result of too much candy is, unsurprisingly, decay in the vitality of street life due to insecurity in pedestrians being pit against adversaries well beyond their weight class.
Ubiquitous parking leads to congestion in cities. In the Los Angeles neighborhood of Westwood Village, the average driver spends 3.3 minutes (or 0.5 miles) in search of a cheap curbside parking spot . 7 Studies show that during peak hours as many as seventy-four percent of cars in downtown areas are cruising for parking, causing congestion both by slowly “trolling” for parking as well as “side friction” caused by curbside parkers entering and exiting spaces . 8 Worse, vehicles may come to a complete stop while waiting for others to exit curbside parking. The aggregate values of Westwood Village cruising are astonishing, adding 3,633 vehicle-miles travelled (VMT) per day and 945,00 VMT in a year–in Westwood Village alone . 9 The external impacts of cruising delays buses, increases noise pollution with inevitable honking, and in extreme scenarios leads to instances of road rage.
Parking lots create dead zones in communities with their long edges adjacent to sidewalks offering nothing of interest to pedestrians. Allocating this space for uses that activate communities (e.g. housing, schools, shopping, cafes, cultural institutions, parks) will help alleviate the housing shortage experienced by cities in our post-recession economy, as well as create desirable, lively, walkable communities. The United States has over three parking spaces per registered vehicle, differing in size depending on the intended use: standard, compact, disabled, and van .10,11 A standard parking stall is eight-and-a-half feet wide by eighteen feet deep, resulting in an area of 153 square feet. In 2013, 76.4 percent of the workforce—roughly 96 million people—drove to work alone, the area to park their cars (stall, access and turning lanes) required one-thousand square miles of space, the land area of the state of Rhode Island .12 Alarmingly, the ratio of registered cars to parking spaces in the United States is 3.1:1, resulting in 800 million parking spaces, the land area of Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut combined .13,14 Parking lots, while necessary in lesser amounts, are an excessive, wasteful use of land when built at the current required ratio.
A city synonymous with sprawl, and a microcosm to cities dealing with decades of automobile incentivisation, Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the United States. Angelenos spend 81 hours a year in their cars, which has led to being included among the ten most polluted cities in the nation .15,16 Nearly every parking statistic cited herein is met or exceeded in the County of Los Angeles. Mikhail Chester found in a 2015 study that Los Angeles County currently has 18.6 parking spaces, 3.3 for every registered vehicle .17 Spatially, that is 1000 square feet per car. Aggregately, parking consumes two-hundred square miles, five percent of Los Angeles County’s total land area. Los Angeles is in the throes of a housing crisis leading to unattainable rent and home prices. To give land to the storage of idle automobiles before addressing housing for tens of thousands of Angelenos is misguided at best, and arrogant at worst.
As society reaches peak-automobile, ideas are being enacted to reduce dependence on cars, instead returning cities to the people that inhabit them. Solutions include presently deployable strategies like rewriting the zoning code, incentivizing public transportation, and market rate dynamic parking costs. Near-future strategies primarily revolve around autonomous vehicles, and related technologies obviating the need for car ownership.
Without changes to zoning, all other strategies are moot, as noted in The Smart Growth Manual “The first step is to implement policy acknowledging that suburban-level parking requirements undermine urbanity” .18 Draconian zoning laws stipulating minimum parking requirements should be eased to right-size our current parking surplus, especially along transit corridors. In addition to their spatial requirements, current parking minimums add astounding project costs—$40,000 per underground parking space—which are passed on to the consumer in hidden costs of goods, services and rent. Locations of lots need to reconsidered and regulated so they cease chopping up our sidewalks. To return streets to pedestrians, all surface lots should be mid-block, hidden behind buildings and accessible through alleys. Mid-block parking keeps pedestrian-car interaction to a minimum, increasing safety while providing the opportunity for a vibrant street life, as sidewalks are faced with shops, cafes and other points of interest, instead of the edge of a parking lot.
If zoning changes are made with the goal of lowering the reliance on the automobile, cities must provide alternatives. Multi-modal transportation is a strategy overflowing with positive, sustainable effects. Public transportation allows vehicles to move larger densities of the population, especially when compared to the single occupancy commute taken by the majority of Americans. Bikes are great for short trips, with the added benefit of promoting a healthy lifestyle. A deliberately planned bike infrastructure is paramount for keeping cyclists safe. Alternative modes of transportation will work only if well-planned and incentivized, while ending incentives for automobiles. Transit orient development should be encouraged through density bonuses and other ordinances. In lieu of offering parking, building owners can attract tenants with transit passes. Getting people out of their cars and to their destinations using alternative modes of transit will greatly reduce the necessity for oversized parking lots.
Current parking rates do not reflect the costs incurred in building and maintaining spaces, necessitating a subsidy; drivers pay too little for parking. To discourage driving, the number of parking spaces should be reduced and the rates should be dynamic, reflecting current market value. Higher costs at peak congestion times leads to fewer cars, thus easing traffic .19 A robust sensor network with devices embedded in individual parking spaces can relay data reflecting real-time parking capacity. To reduce cruising, these data can also be accessed by mobile applications guiding drivers to the locations of available parking. Removing drivers from the road for the 3.3 minutes usually spent cruising for spots will help to relieve congestion. In 2010, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency launched SFpark, it’s pilot program implementing dynamic parking rates in association with a sensor network, publishing an evaluation summary four years later. The study found many improvements: parking availability improved, it is easier to find a parking space, it is easier to pay and avoid parking citations, greenhouse gas emissions decreased, and vehicle miles traveled decreased. Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the study is that average parking rates were actually lower .20
The most sustainable future for cities is to decrease dependence on the automobile. Providing adequate transit alternatives lessens the need for vehicle ownership, while ridesharing services and the inevitable autonomous car may obviate the need entirely. After dropping its passengers curbside, autonomous cars can self-park in offsite lots when not in use. When lots are designed only for sensor-laden cars with doors that need not open, the square footage needed is substantially lessened. Instead of parking, perhaps cars are put to use transporting others, creating a passive income for owners. With computers preconfiguring optimized routes, one shared autonomous vehicle can do the work of nine current cars, relieving both congestion and parking demand by a factor or eight .21
Technological solutions come with their own share of friction. Services like Uber and Lyft have the potential to obviate car ownership, but they currently operate in a largely unregulated sector with an unknown legal future. When cities (e.g. Austin, Texas) have proposed regulations which the ride sharing companies opposed, they simply pulled out of the city. Such actions do not inspire confidence in people considering rideshare as an alternative to car ownership. Federal and local governments should work with representative of ride-sharing corporations (and vice-versa) to insure a future of ride-sharing is available to all denizens of cities by enacting proactive (instead of reactive) policy.
Land is a precious and finite resource. It is not sustainable to continue the growth pattern that built parking lots across large swaths of available land area in US cities. If population growths and current parking requirements were to remain constant, a parking lot would blanket the entire City of Los Angeles by the end of the 21st century. To stem this tide, zoning regulations must cease their current reinforcement of automobile-centered development. Concurrently it is imperative to incentivize alternative modes of transit, while actively discourage people from driving. Finally, embracing new and emerging technologies like Internet of Things connected sensor networks and autonomous vehicles will greatly reduce the populations need to own a car. Officials from the private and public sectors need to work together to create the framework for the adoption of new transportation modes. The reduction of the amount of land dedicated to parking requires an orchestration between multiple factors, all with the intention of reducing people’s dependence on the automobile.
1Eran Ben-Joseph, ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, 1st ed., 1st Ptg edition (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2012), 14.
2Eran Ben-Joseph, ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, 1st ed., 1st Ptg edition (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2012), 17.
3Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking, Updated Edition, Updated edition (Chicago: APA Planners Press, 2011), 207.
4National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2015, February). Pedestrians: 2013 data. (Tra c Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 124). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1.
5Eran Ben-Joseph, ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, 1st ed., 1st Ptg edition (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2012), 62.
6Jeff Speck, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, Reprint edition (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), 182.
7Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking, Updated Edition, Updated edition (Chicago: APA Planners Press, 2011), 351.
8Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking, Updated Edition, Updated edition (Chicago: APA Planners Press, 2011), 358.
9Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking, Updated Edition, Updated edition (Chicago: APA Planners Press, 2011), 357.
10Michael Kimmelman, “Taking Parking Lots Seriously, as Public Spaces,” The New York Times, January 6, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/arts/design/taking-parking-lots-seriously-as-public-spaces.html.
11Statista, “Number of Cars in U.S. 2014,” Statista, accessed September 13, 2016, http://www.statista.com/statistics/183505/number-of-vehicles-in-the-united-states-since-1990/.
12Brian McKenzie, “Who Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States: 2013,” accessed September 13, 2016, http://www.census.gov/library/publications/2015/acs/acs-32.html, 1.
13Michael Kimmelman, “Taking Parking Lots Seriously, as Public Spaces,” The New York Times, January 6, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/arts/design/taking-parking-lots-seriously-as-public-spaces.html.
14Statista, “U.S.: Number of Full-Time Workers in August 2016,” Statista, accessed September 11, 2016, http://www.statista.com/statistics/192361/unadjusted-monthly-number-of-full-time-employees-in-the-us/.
15Laura Nelson, “Los Angeles Area Can Claim the Worst Traffic in America. Again,” Latimes.com, accessed September 13, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-la-worst-traffic-20160314-story.html.
16American Lung Association, “2016 ‘State of the Air’ Report Finds More than Half of Americans Live with Unhealthful Levels of Air Pollution,” American Lung Association, accessed September 13, 2016, http://www.lung.org/about-us/media/press-releases/2016-state-of-the-air.html.
17Mikhail Chester et al., “Parking Infrastructure: A Constraint on or Opportunity for Urban Redevelopment? A Study of Los Angeles County Parking Supply and Growth,” Journal of the American Planning Association 81, no. 4 (October 2, 2015): 268–86, doi:10.1080/01944363.2015.1092879, 274.
18Andres Duany, Jeff Speck, and Mike Lydon, The Smart Growth Manual, 1 edition (New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2009), 136.
19Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking, Updated Edition, Updated edition (Chicago: APA Planners Press, 2011), 305.
20San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. (2015, June). SFpark: Pilot Project Evaluation Summary). San Francisco: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, 12-13.
21Daniel J. Fagnant, Kara M. Kockelman, and Prateek Bansal, “Operations of a Shared Autonomous Vehicle Fleet for the Austin, Texas Market,” Transportation Research Record, no. No. 2536 (2015): 15.
This is the first time (in my adult life) that I have ridden a bike more miles in a month than I have driven a car, which is the primary goal of doing this tracking exercise. A secondary goal is to walk more miles than I drive, but the miles just pile up when you get into the car to go to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Perhaps that will change when we get a Whole Foods Downtown in a couple months.
Despite all the biking and walking, I put on 4 pounds. I fell into "I deserve it" mode after long days on the bike or on foot and binged on a dozen cookies or whatever. I know that it takes some time to lose weight cycling and muscle weighs more than fat and all that, but this was definitely the cookies. Now I am back to calorie-counting and exercising at the gym.
Downtown institutions should encourage visitors to arrive by modes other than the automobile. Some do, some don't. The other day I wanted ride my bike to MOCA, so I went to their site to check bike parking information and found nothing other than how/where to park cars. With bikeshare coming and too many cars down here already, we really need to start making cycling/walking the norm. Let's make it difficult to find automobile parking on the website.
I walked by the Grand Ave. location on one of my dog walks to check the bike rack situation and saw no safe-seeming, off-street parking. I hear the Broad has great bike parking facilities. Step it up, MOCA.
I rode my road bike for the first time in a couple of weeks and it felt so awesome. On flat stretches it feels roughly the same as my computer, but on climbs and descents it's a whole different ballgame. I am planning some longer rides with friends now. I really need more friends.
who ride bikes.
Presented without commentary mostly because I have other (money-making) things to do, but trust me all of these are good, daily reads. I recommend reading in Feedly.
- A View from the Cycle Path
- Bicycle Dutch
- Bike Hugger
- Bike Snob NYC
- Biking in LA
- California Bicycle Coalition
- Citizen Rider
- Commute by Bike
- Flying Pigeon LA
- LADOT Bike Blog
- Pedaling Nowhere
- People for Bikes
- The Radavist
- Tenspeed Hero
A few months ago our automobile options included an old 1994 pickup truck and our Fiat. With the Vespa, the new (to us) public transit options that come with living downtown, and the fact that our studio is less than five miles from our home, I actually remarked (and believed) that we may never have to buy another car. Ever. Well, the catalytic converter was stolen from the truck, and the cost of a replacement CC proved to be the death knell for the good ol' truck. Fiats are small, of course, but when it is your only car, and you have an 80 pound pit bull, it feels small. So here we are, car shopping. Or at least talking about car shopping. I really wanted to hold out until Elon Musk saves the world with a long range, $35k Tesla in a year or two, but I think we need to purchase sooner than that. We intend to remain a one car couple, so the Fiat may be getting traded.
I want to buy electric now, and I am willing to deal with range anxiety for a couple of years. We don't drive many miles now, and we can rent a car to go out of town. But, I can't buy an electric car.
A primary reason for moving downtown was to be better citizens and drive fewer miles. Having become friends (eh, acquaintances) with many of my neighbors, I know I am not alone. We are the demographic who care about our transportation choices. There are many people in my 20-story high rise who care about their environmental footprint, and would like to avoid oil for ethical reasons. We are the customers for electric cars. But, we can't buy an electric car.
Here's the problem: I have nowhere to charge it. I pay over $200 a month for a parking space in my building. I haven't counted, but I estimate there are 200-250 parking spaces. There are exactly zero charging stations. I have looked all around the garage for even a 120V outlet to no avail. There is currently nothing in the zoning code that requires parking garages to accommodate EVs. From my window on the 12th floor of my building, I can count 5 public parking lots/garages that also provide exactly zero charging stations.
I haven't read it completely, so please correct me if I am wrong, but it looks like going forward all new residential construction must provide for 3% of spaces to be EV charging "ready." I am not entirely sure if this just applies to wiring, or an actual charging station, but either way, 3% is way too small a number.
California has always been a leader in championing the electric vehicle. Why don't we do the same thing here? Fuck 3%, make it 50%. Make it more. And make it mandate retrofitting existing buildings. If I pay $200/month and there are 200 stalls, that's $40k/month my building is grossing in parking alone. How much would it cost to upgrade 3% (6 spaces) of the spaces? I think less than $40k.
I now have all my transit data in Google Sheets. I am pulling my data from a variety of sources, some I am totally happy with while others are temporary until I find a better way. My walking data comes directly from Apple HealthKit, but I am using the Quantified Self app to export the data to a CSV file. All of my cycling data comes from Strava. I am trying out a variety of apps to track mileage/rides on my Vespa. We use Metromile (and love it) for our pay-per-mile car insurance. I can track specific trips and monthly mileage in the app or on the website. I just need to note which trips are mine and which are Sacha's since we are now sharing a car. I can use the TapToGo site from Metro to track my public transit rides, however it only shows you the station at which you entered train/bus, which of course makes sense because you don't tap out. I will need to make some sort of note of my ride, which will actually give me something to do during my ride. Uber & Zipcar are easy as you can see all of your rides right in the app.
July Transit (in progress)
I was ready to note that too often the road conversation is caged in a match of cyclists vs. drivers, and at least in comment sections can get pretty ugly. I was going to write that 95% of the drivers I come into contact with on my bicycle commutes are courteous and give me more than the mandated 3' when they are passing. I would guess I come into contact with 1-2 semi-assholes per day that speed by a little too fast and a little too close. Honking has actually been a rare occurrence so far. But yesterday I got into it with an asshole driver that makes me change my mind about all this. He came racing up behind me on a side street in Chinatown blaring his horn at me. He was pissed that I was riding in the middle of the street. I was, which is my right, but I was about to move to the side after I passed a group of pedestrians in the road. He raced around me honking and I motioned for him to come back, which is when we began screaming at each other. He seemed mentally unstable and was a couple decades older than me, so I decided right away not to escalate this too far. I did ask if the reason he was in such a hurry was because there was a Docker's sale nearby, a reference to his current outfit. The moral of the story is: drivers, don't be dicks. Cyclists, only be a dick when necessary.
Also, people drive way too fast on Spring Street in DTLA. In the mornings, there are people in the far left lane (inches from the sidewalk) going 65 MPH. That should never happen that close to pedestrians.Every time Meaux-Meaux pees in the morning I am scared for both of our lives. Drivers won't just stop driving fast because. It is the duty of the city to solve this problem physically/geometrically.
I got a commuter bike and I am loving it. I am only 7 months into urban cycling and I was given a lot of advice when I mentioned on Facebook that I was buying a bike. I am totally happy with the given advice and my purchase of a Cannondale CAAD10. However, I am not sure that one's first city bike should be a clipped-in racer. There is a lot going on around you, and a lot of starting and stopping. I feel much, much safer on my commuter. Again, super happy to have the Cannondale, but I would advise people to get comfortable on a commuter/hybrid first.
Road bike purchased in July.
All Vespa data (up to July 2015) is estimated as it had not been automatically tracked.
Fiat data is a combo of all automobile data. I had a 1994 Nissan Pickup until a couple months ago. For simplicity's sake I have combined all automobile mileage under Fiat. (Unlike, for complexity's sake, not combining my commuter and road bike miles. I am interested to see the difference in pleasure riding (road) and commuting.)
TapToGo seems to only store trip info for 6 weeks in the past or so. Therefore, there will be no public transit data before July 2015, when I began careful tracking.
Zipcar account inactive until June 2015.
I need to add shoes to the icons pictured above.
But let's start elsewhere. I am trying to drive less. A large part of the decision to move downtown was to be closer to a public transit hub. At the time of the move, I was teaching in Pasadena, Koreatown and Burbank. Driving to all of these location in Los Angeles traffic is not a good way to spend one's time. It's a total drag.
It's easy to say "Copenhagen this..." or "Berlin that...." and to lament the public transportation (or lack thereof) in your own city. I used to complain that the LA Metro is great if you are going to Universal Studios. That pessimistic quip wasn't true a few years ago when I said it and it certainly isn't true now.
In most major world cities, one doesn't need to choose where to live and work based on transit options, the rail lines and bus system are so robust and complete that it would be hard to not live near transit. LA's transit isn't quite that. LA is a geographically huge place, and we got a late start. But things are looking good. I haven't read the entire LA Mobility plan, but I will this week and will discuss here.
Which brings me to what I am doing now. I will attempt to document my transit. My fleet currently consists of:
- A road bicycle
- A commuter bike
- A Vespa
- A Fiat
Additionally, I will be walking and taking public transportation. And Uber.
It's easy to track all of this. I will track my weekly cycling mileage using Strava, broken down between bikes. Essentially, my road bike is for pleasure and my commuter is for utility, though it is fun too. The Vespa and Fiat I will track mileage the fashioned way—by making notes in my iPhone. Metro has a great service that allows a user to see all of his/her trips via their website, and I will convert those trips to mileage. I will use the built-in pedometer on my phone to track walking. I will do a generic steps to miles conversion.
I am into living an examined life. I also don't believe in critiquing from the sidelines. The only way to make our city great is to be involved and to be vocal. As an architect, I am trained in visualizing and analyzing information and figuring out solutions at various scales. I am going to use the skillsets to help create a better transit infrastructure in Los Angeles.
Like many of you, I am appalled at some of the recent decisions by our elected officials. Gil Cedillo's opposition to bike lanes and the chosen Hyperion bridge proposal are particularly frustrating examples. Automobile-centric design and planning are 20th century. With the dawn of autonomous vehicles, LA's growing public transit system, car/ride/bike sharing services and the growing number of cyclists, LA is in dire need of 21st century solutions and thinking, and I want to be involved.
A couple of weeks ago dirty, filthy thieves stole the catalytic converter from my 1994 pickup. This good ol' pickup has been in my family since she was purchased new 21 years ago. Evidently catalytic converters contain trace elements of platinum making them attractive to dirty, filthy thieves. A new catalytic converter costs ~$1000, which is almost the value of the pickup itself. Being a man of logic and reason, I cannot bring myself to fix her back up. She has served her purpose for 21 years and now she will be donated to KCRW.
Since SB and I moved to Downtown Los Angeles, it has been on my mind that we don't need to be a 2-car family, partially due to the cost of parking in our building. I am also trying to be healthier and a better citizen, so I have decided to bicycle, take public transportation and Vespa more.
It is still quite a scare riding a bike in LA, but the only way to make it better is if citizens en masse take to pedaling. Ditto for public transport, one cannot expect the shortcomings of LA transit to improve without the citizenry involved. And I want to be involved. Also, the train is pretty fun. Buses, eh, so-so.
I have been transit-vespa-cycling for the past couple of weeks and really digging it so far. But, it's made me realize I need two bicycles. My fancy road bike is great for longer distances with little to haul, but I need a commuter. I'll add that to my fleet soon.
Of course, all of this is subject to change when Elon Musk saves the world in a couple of years.
State GOVERNOR: EDMUND G. "JERRY" BROWN
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: GAVIN NEWSOM
SECRETARY OF STATE: ALEX PADILLA
￼￼CONTROLLER: ￼￼BETTY T. YEE
TREASURER: JOHN CHIANG
￼ATTORNEY GENERAL: KAMALA D. HARRIS
￼￼￼￼￼￼INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: DAVE JONES
￼￼￼￼￼￼MEMBER STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION 3rd District: JEROME E. HORTON
￼US REPRESENTATIVE 34th District: ￼￼XAVIER BECERRA
￼￼￼￼￼￼STATE SENATOR 30th District: ￼￼HOLLY J. MITCHELL
￼￼￼￼￼￼STATE ASSEMBLY 53rd District: MIGUEL SANTIAGO
GOODWIN LIU: NO
KATHRYN WERDEGAR: NO
THE REST: YES
￼Office No. 61: ￼￼JACQUELINE H. LEWIS
￼￼￼￼￼￼Office No. 87: ANDREW M. STEIN
￼SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: TOM TORLAKSON
￼￼￼￼￼￼ASSESSOR: ￼￼JEFFREY PRANG
￼￼￼￼￼￼SHERIFF: ￼￼JIM MCDONNELL
PROP 1-WATER BOND. FUNDING FOR WATER QUALITY, SUPPLY, TREATMENT, AND STORAGE PROJECTS: YES.
￼PROP 2-STATE BUDGET. BUDGET STABILIZATION ACCOUNT. LEGISLATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT: YES.
PROP 45-HEALTHCARE INSURANCE. RATE CHANGES. INITIATIVE STATUTE: YES.
￼￼PROP 46-DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING OF DOCTORS. MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE LAWSUITS. INITIATIVE STATUTE: NO.
PROP 47-￼CRIMINAL SENTENCES. MISDEMEANOR PENALTIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE: YES.
￼PROP 48-INDIAN GAMING COMPACTS. REFERENDUM: NO.
￼P-SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS, GANG PREVENTION, YOUTH/SENIOR RECREATION, BEACHES/WILDLIFE PROTECTION MEASURE: YES.
I went to Texas, well, Arkansas actually, in the Fiat a couple weeks ago. I feel like I am always scouting cities and towns to move to Some Day. Observations from the trip:
- Arkansas & Oklahoma are the most beautiful places I could never live. I saw a little pond in a clearing in the forest that was the most idyllic scene I have seen in years in Arkansas. Unfortunately, people.
- AT&T 4G coverage is way better on the 10 than the 40. I only had 2 short outages on the 10 when I was super close to Mexico before and after El Paso. On the 40 I had outages more than half of the time. Don't get your Netflix on Route 66, or something else that rhymes with "kicks."
- Albuquerque is awesome. I could live there. A fun minor league baseball team, an architecture program, outdoorsy stuff, and great food. It was by far my favorite stopover of the trip.
- I didn't go to Marfa. I stayed in Van Horn in a hotel designed by the same architect who designed the Paisano in Marfa. It was difficult not to turn right off the freeway and drive the extra hour to go to Marfa. Next time.
- I have done this solo drive probably 50-60 times in my life. It's just part of who I am now.
- My dad is an awesome man.
A few thousand words:
Somewhere Something was invited to be "architects-in-residence" at the WUHO booth at Dwell on Design this year. It was fun. We built a bunch of little interactive prototypes. People seemed confused and excited.