Southern California environment news and trends

How to get a bike rack or corral on your street

Wish your favorite coffee shop had a bicycle rack right out front? Just request one from the city by filling out the handy online Sidewalk Bicycle Rack Request Form. Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s bicycle program installs about 400 bike racks a year by following up on these requests — though right now, new rack installations are on a temporary hold while the department waits for a new order of bike racks to arrive.

“If everything goes well, we could have them in a month, month and a half,” says Michelle Mowery, LA DOT’s Bike Program Senior Coordinator. You don’t need to wait to put your rack request in though. Mowery says her current wait list is only about a dozen requests long. Once the new racks arrive, the city will start going through that wait list, adding on to the 4000 or so bike racks already installed throughout the city.


Master bus riding in Los Angeles with your smartphone

What will get more Angelenos riding public transit? High gas prices, less free parking, and more frequent and timely transit service are the replies I hear the most to that question, but Wired recently reported on a study that gave a new, different answer: Smartphones.

How so? The reason has to do with a sense of autonomy — a sense that many drivers feel they lose when they stop driving and start relying on buses and trains. “The point is for transit agencies to provide enough information to put riders in control of their experience and have greater choice in when and where to ride,” reports Wired. “People don’t want to feel they are at the mercy of paper schedules, even if they are, and there’s nothing worse than waiting for buses that may or may not be on time.”

In recent months, smartphone apps for public transit takers have gotten much more robust and user-friendly — but many transit newbies don’t even know these services exist. Bus-curious — but don’t want to get stuck on an unfamiliar street corner, waiting for a bus that only comes once an hour? Try these apps to get you on your way.


Back to the future: Metro to drop day pass prices back to $5 in July

metrobusad Morning greens:

Need relief from high gas prices? Metro’s got a new deal for Angelenos on the way. Come July 1, the Metro Day Pass — which gives you unlimited rides on Metro buses and trains for a day — will cost just $5, down from the current $6.

Why a drop in the Day Pass rates — as opposed to the price of single fare rides or monthly passes? Because the $5 number has a big financial resonance. “The reasons why the day pass was selected as far as reduction in price was because it is the pass that reflects just about what the price of gas is now,” says Helen Gilstrap, communications manager at Metro, who adds that the Day Pass discount’s also expected to draw potential new riders and “be a benefit to the broadest population of our transit users.”

Oil already hit a 30-month high this month, but summer usually means even higher gas prices. That makes hot days a good time for more eco-friendly public transportation options — especially as more studies about the health implications of freeway pollution continue making headlines.


Morning greens: Expo testing begins, AB 32 stalls


Metro begins testing rail cars on Expo Line tracks. Metro’s The Source reports testing began this morning. LA Times reports that “After numerous delays and cost overruns, the first phase of the project is scheduled to begin carrying commuters between downtown and La Cienega Boulevard in November.” SM Mirror reports that the second phase of the Expo construction, which would extend the line from Culver City to Santa Monica, took two steps forward with a pair of votes from the board of directors of the Expo Construction Authority.

Court upholds freeway air pollution monitoring rules. Reports Greenspace: “The San Francisco-based court ruled that the EPA’s approval of limits on the amount of motor vehicle emissions allowed in the region were adequate, and California could therefore move ahead with transportation plans and projects. A lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2008 had demanded a comprehensive monitoring of air quality along freeways, including the 710, where traffic averages 12,180 vehicles per hour -– more than 25% of them diesel trucks.”