Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Traffic Before the Automobile (High Res B&W Photos)

Detroit Traffic 1907
"The very first fatalities caused by automobiles were protested in the streets as the tragedies they were. Mayors issued proclamations for public mourning. Contrast this to today, where Americans tolerate over 40,000 deaths per year from motor vehicles as an acceptable loss to be grieved in private."

For a tour of early US cities before the automobile visit Rebel Metropolis' Exploring Life Before the Automobile.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

San Clemente Adopting Bicycle Master Plan

  • OCTA acknowledges by 2035 the demand on our transportation system will outstrip the capacity to pay for improvements.

  • The key to success will be moving people around by non-motorized means.
  • In Long Beach businesses resisted some bicycle innovations in the business districts, in the end motorists adjusted, business improved. Innovation prevailed.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mill Valley Councilmembers on the Plaza

As one means to further dialog with the public, the city council of Mill Valley CA is holding public meetings "on the plaza". The city holds citizen participation and open communication between the Council and the community as core values of good governance. The council is also developing a communications plan through community outreach. Mill Valley Patch story here. Feedback comments from community members at Marin News here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Next Village Entrance, it's not about Smarts

Maybe the axiom by Mark Twain best explains the mental posture of Laguna Beach city council promoting the over-priced over-built Village Entrance and ineffective parking structure in June. 

Mark Twain said “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

The focus of controversy in the city design proposal was to park 580 automobiles in a 4-story parking structure big as a football field, then hide the entire garage inside a public park so nobody would notice.

Despite several years of recommendations made by civic groups, expert testimony by hired mobility consultants and the overwhelming majority in public workshops opposed the parking structure , the city refused to deviate from it’s original June plan.

Despite the debunking presented by LetLagunaVote, the city council maintained their posture to support the $65 million unmodified plan.  That begs the question: do facts actually matter enough to change the minds of decision-makers?

Researchers are interested in the science of ‘communicating science’ to decision makers in order to form better policy and  manage issues like wood smoke, climate change, fracking, acid rain, Evolution, cigarette smoke and seat-belts. Through experiments researchers showed there are several mechanisms present which encourage communication or impede it depending if an ideological pre-disposition is present. (GRIST “How do you get people to give a damn about climate change?”)

It might be obvious that people not polarized by strong ideology are open to communication of new ideas posed in a consensus message. An effective consensus message might be “seat-belts reduce auto fatalities by 50%” or “97 out of 100 climate scientists agree global warming is due to greenhouse gas emissions” or “cigarette smoke causes cancer”. People with a strong affinity to a particular ideology will be more difficult to motivate by that way.

The Smart Idiot Effect, Risk vs Literacy
It is not so obvious the higher the degree of education in either liberal or conservative ideology, the more difficult it is to persuade with a consensus message (the “Smart Idiot Effect”). For these folks a persuasive argument must be delivered in a framing strategy, put threatening information in a context that makes it palatable for building consensus.

So for long-term smokers the framing message might be “digital cigarettes will stop the craving to smoke” rather than “smoking will kill you”.   

Now here's the really interesting part. The same research shows when confronted with a correction of views by substantial facts, the intellectuals dig-in their heals.  The research reads "ideological subgroups failed to update their beliefs when presented with corrective information that runs counter to their predispositions. Indeed, in several cases, we find that corrections actually strengthened misperceptions among the most strongly committed subjects”,   ( “Fooled by Certainty”, Small Wars Journal)

Does this explain the disregard-for-facts and denial from city council during the VE debacle? The research warns us to communicate persuasively you must pick a strategy that is effective for the type of people targeted, from political idealogs to community passives. They say to try different approaches to see which ones work in your world.

One researcher says those who practice communication of science facts do not invest enough in the communications in the first place. He says further “It’s a mistake to assume that valid science will communicate itself...” -LS

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sadik-Khan TED Talk

TED talk video (14:02 minutes): The Commissioner, Department of Transportation, New York City, Janette Sadik-Khan (summary below)

As Laguna Beach city leadership re-assesses their urban planning mission following the defeat of the Village Entrance proposal, there are lessons to be adopted from other cities nation-wide.

Listen to the transportation commissioner of New York City reveal how she and Mayor Bloomberg reduced traffic, improved safety and increased business revenues on the streets of New York City. Watch a re-assuring engaging humorous presentation showing results before and after, how New York City applied complete street interventions to bring these improvements.

Here's a summary of Janette's presentation:

  • City streets are a large asset hidden in plain sight
  • Update street assets quickly inexpensively and it's popular
  • Cities are global marketplace, humanity's future is the future of cities
  • Design of cities is key issue to accommodate growth
  • Today pedestrians take shelter, cars go fast as possible
  • Maximize mobility efficiency by allowing cycling and transit
  • Better mobility raises city revenues
  • Better mobility choices improve public health/fitness
  • 350,000 people (shoppers) walk through Time Square per day
  • NY Time Square used a 6-month pilot program to test ideas
  • Success is measured by good results and driven by data
  • -Pedestrian injuries down 33%
  • -Travel time down 17%
  • -Pedestrian injuries down 33%
  • -5 new flagship stores
  • -Retail rents doubled
  • Brooklyn project: sales up 172% in 3 years
  • 57 miles of dedicated bus lanes
  • 50 new pedestrian plazas
  • Build it and they will come because people flock to public space
  • Focus on how infrastructure improves quality of life
  • No need for big planning studies, no computer models
  • You need a development plan with a mission and goals
  • You need to know where going and why
  • Re-allocate automobile space to pedestrian space
  • Do bold experiments to watch results
  • Get a buy-in: show how project worked well in pilot programs
  • Get a buy-in: allow experiments for change, allow change-back
  • "More people on foot is better for business" Macy's
  • Use quick-action approach, add paint, seats, transit, cycle lanes
  • Use inexpensive removable materials to allow changes
  • NYC built first 30 miles of parking protected bike lanes
  • -They show 49% increase in business sales
  • -They show 47% decrease in commercial vacancies
  • -They show 50% reduction in street accidents
  • -64% NY approve bike lanes, politicians would enjoy poll numbers this good
  • Safety in numbers: no net increase in injuries despite increased usage
  • City Bike Share Program launched in summer of 2013
  • Dispenses 6000 bikes across NYC, average daily ridership 36,000 trips 
  • Program shows 3 million trips, 7 million miles ridden already
  • Riders are diverse as NYC, young old male female black white
  • It is possible to improve a city's major asset: the streets
  • -it's quick
  • -it's cheap
  • -results are immediate
  • -popular with people
  • re-imagine your streets they are hidden in plain-sight.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Community Workshop Scheduled Tuesday 12 November 6:00pm

View of site for 65 more parked cars
UPDATE: Good News! In a decision during the public workshop November 12 the city council rescinded their earlier 3:2 vote to proceed with the Village Entrance and parking structure. Will the city mindset seek to appease the Parking Gods or will they study better religion? Stay tuned for further developments. -LS

In it's continuing quest to disguise car parking facilities as a Village Entrance, the city purchased the Christmas tree lot for $5.3 million to pave another parking lot. The p-lot designed for 65 cars will cost $92,230 per parking space when completed. Please attend the next city sponsored community workshop at City Hall to hear the proposal.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The New Deal: Seeking Compromise in Legacy Parking

In preparation for another public workshop to review a parking lot extension in place of a parking structure, the Laguna Beach City Council is wisely considering better alternatives albeit with a proposal entrenched in legacy planning.

In "Path Opens to Town Entry without a Car Garage" Jennifer Erickson writes "Rita Conn, chair of Let Laguna Vote, which draws support from political liberals and conservatives, called on the council to postpone finalizing the land deal until after next week’s workshop as a “good faith” measure, and to rescind its original vote approving the project."

Meanwhile advocates for a balanced mobility plan in Laguna Beach remind the Council, planning officials and concerned residents that "You don't know a thing about parking until you read this book."

The Workshop is Tuesday November 12 at 6:00pm City Hall.  -LS

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Let's Try a Smarter Elephant

Don't miss that title: "Automobile Dependence & Denial"

Back Cover:

"The United States has slipped car-by-car and road-by-road into a massive dependency on a transportation system which has become a public addiction. Until we kick this suicidal habit, the nation's efforts to escape dependency will be frustrated by public subsidies-the free use by motorists and the trucking industry of costly urban space and municipal services (which are far greater than generally understood)."


"The Elephant in the Bedroom not only analyzes these often ignored intertwined problems, but also outlines practical ways in which we could turn this devastating system around and start to unravel the complicated grasp on our lives held by the internal combustion engine"


Stanley Hart, civil and structural engineer, Cal Berkeley
Alvin Spivak, mechanical engineer, New York University

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Contrast of Two Beach Cities

The city of Newport Beach is very busy designing a Bicycle Master Plan. Their open-house meeting is today at 4:30pm, the public is invited to attend. 

Meanwhile Laguna Beach purchased another land partial at $5.325 million plus $670,000 for asphalt paving to park 65 more cars, that's $92,230 per car.  This purchase  supplements the planned Village Entrance and parking structure for $65 million.  

Does anyone see the contradiction in urban planning policy for these two neighbour beach cities?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Laguna Beach Tour de Coop Sunday!

Do you know where Laguna's chickens live? Find-out where, bring the family, join the free community bicycle ride to find our chickens.

Join us Sunday November 3 9:00am check-in at Anneliese's Schools Willowbrook Campus on Laguna Canyon Road.

Meet our hosts at Seeds Arts and Education.

More ride event details here.

Ready to pedal?  Register here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tonight's Community Workshop: Why Landscape?

Tonight Tuesday October 29 the city of Laguna Beach hosts a workshop, the community is invited to pose questions for a panel of experts. The invitation says this is a workshop about city landscaping. A separate but informative flyer says the city is preparing a "Landscape and Scenic Highways General Plan Element".

Why is the city of Laguna Beach occupied with beautification of a CalTRANS state highway with landscaping? Freeway daisies and highway Oleanders are NOT some of my favorite plants, how about you? Do flowers make highways any safer for pedestrians or cyclists? Maybe they should address road-user fatalities on Laguna Canyon Road first.

If you think our city has it's priorities correct, please attend the meeting at 7:00pm Tuesday 29 October 2013 and choose from a selection of your favorite road-side shrubs.

You may also offer the city some guidance by completing this on-line city sponsored survey and offer your opinion at every opportunity where the survey question says 'Other'. Please offer your ideas ASAP.     -LS

Monday, October 21, 2013

Take-away from Public Health Forum

The Active Transportation Forum
Complete Streets and Active Living for Orange  County

This forum was brought to us by the Department of Public Health at UCI and the Alliance for Public Health of Orange County. The research presented shows the role our transportation system has on the quality of public health.

"In order to improve the health of Orange County residents, we need to have a healthy and safe transportation system with multi-modal options. It will be necessary to engage the community, enhance policies and re-prioritize transportation funding to enhance the county-wide transportation system."

19 speakers and featured guests impressed our audience with these rather startling results from their research. Some highlights:

  • Obesity costs California $41billion p.a. in public health related costs.
  • The savings from walking and biking could save California $4.1 billion
  • The gain in economic activity from replacing 15,000 cars with walking/biking is $127 million
  • A Lancaster boulevard gained 49 new businesses, 800 jobs, and $273 million in new business revenue by adopting active transportation
  • Typical bike user topology today: Strong and Fearless < 1%, Interested  60%, No Way group 33%. Laguna's cycling mode share < 1%, Costa Mesa is 2.8%
  • Business activity along LA's CycLAVia is up 10-50% 
  • The Active Transportation Program for bicycling/walking was enacted September 2013 SB-99 funded in Cal state budget for $130 million p.a.
  • To build an active transportation network successfully, raise the perception of safety and build-in street safety at the same time
  • 20-30 somethings demand new active mobility plans, not dad's plan
  • Google, Adobe, Yahoo are promoting active transportation at their campuses nationally because their tech employees demand it
  • Orange County businesses are leaving because of car congestion
  • OCTA does not hear input from city leaders about active transportation
  • Long Beach Mayor Bob Forster learned to ride a bicycle, he now challenges OC city mayors to ride the Long Beach active transportation network with him. From Bob: "Bring those candy-ass politicians up here to ride with us, see if they can keep-up."
  • Travel in Southern California: Walking and biking compose only 16% of all trips, but sadly 10% of all injuries and 25% of fatalities
  • Walking and biking compose 14% of fatalities but receive only 1.6% of federal transportation funding
  • Pamela Galera, City Planner, City of Anaheim: Transportation is moving people not their cars, cars are here to stay so to avoid CARMAGEDDON we need a better plan. The cities of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Santa Ana show the same commitment.
2/15/19 UPDATE:  This slide from @TUMInitiative shows the toll on worldwide human life-span due to life-style choices.     -LS

Monday, October 14, 2013

Meanwhile UCI offers Laguna Solutions

Active Transportation Forum

Complete Streets and Active Living for Orange County! 

Friday, October 18, 2013 

10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Complementary Lunch

The University Club, University of California, Irvine 

RSVP deadline Wednesday 10/16

The forum aims to make connections between elected officials, planners, traffic engineers, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, non- profit organizations, educators, public safety and health care leaders interested to identify challenges and opportunities, share best practices and develop priorities for Active Transportation as a region. 

To Register:

Please click on the following link:

Active Transportation Forum Registration

For more information or sponsorship opportunities please contact: (714) 887-9845 or 

The Forum is presented by:  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Community ACTION Meeting

STOP the Village Entrance Parking Structure
Saturday, October 19, 1:00pm
We’re organizing for change!
RSVP: 949 497-5148 or for location
Know the plan! Learn the facts! Save our town!

Monday, September 30, 2013


This Tuesday 1 October a new design concept for the Village Entrance will be presented to the Laguna Beach City Council. This parking garage disguised as a "Village Entrance" does not serve visitors nor residents for the purpose of easing traffic congestion; it sits on questionable soil; it will be financed by a revenue bond to circumvent residents right to vote; it puts Laguna in annual debt risk for $2.1million(est) for 25 years. Make no mistake, put lipstick on a pig it's still a pig.

City Hall has heard us, now it is time for them to listen. Come support Let Laguna Vote at the City Council meeting October 1.

When: Tuesday 1 October 5:00pm (city meeting 6:00pm)
Where: City Hall, 505 Forest Avenue Laguna Beach, 949 497 3311

For more information follow these links:

Laguna Beach City Agenda October 1 2013
Agenda Item 14 Village Entrance Project Update - Staff Report
Let Laguna Vote Website

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities

Tuesday 3 September 2013 6:00pm

The City of Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee convened their monthly meeting in a mournful mood following the untimely death of fallen cyclist Debra Deem, a resident of Laguna Beach. The committee meets monthly sponsored by the city of Newport Beach.


6- Committee members
6- City staff members
2- Newport Beach Police Department
1- Expert Consultant Alta Design
74 - Audience

Noteworthy Public Comments:
  • The city of Newport Beach should direct CalTRANS to ACTION on PCH
  • The city to take jurisdiction over highway if CalTRANS can't do job
  • PCH needs dedicated bike-lanes as was done in Long Beach
  • Identify the CalTRANS individual causing gridlock and work on him
  • High-speed interchanges have no place in a community, too dangerous
  • Highways are inappropriate for golf-carts and likewise cyclists
  • 4-deaths in Newport caused by Terrorists would cause uproar
  • Sharrow markings in roadway work, they identify the bike riders space 
  • Class I separated bike lane is preferred to Sharrows
  • Better bike visibility is BEST defence from vehicular collisions, use FLASHING LIGHTS  and BRIGHT CLOTHING
  • Motorists practice an entitlement to drive in our culture, needs change
  • Improve road usage, let's rid ourselves of tribalism behind the wheel
  • Teach road users respect and humility, change comes slow and hard
  • Components of bike planning: Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation 
  • CalTRANS District 12 Director Ryan Chamberlain (949) 724-2000

Meanwhile back in Laguna Beach ............

Coincidentally at the very same time the city of Laguna Beach City Council held their regular scheduled closed session meeting with a prepared agenda. Outside council chambers, Laguna residents brought their comments.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


TODAY! Tuesday, Sept. 3 from 5 to 6 pm, the City of Newport Beach will hold its Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee Meeting at 100 Civic Center Drive in Newport Beach. For agenda, location, map details see the calendar:
SURVEY! In order to ensure that the Bike Master Plan considers the type of bicycle safety improvements that we believe will help minimize the deaths of our cyclist friends, please take theNewport Beach Bicycle Survey AND show up to this meeting to voice your opinion.  
WHO'S NEXT?  As most of you know, we lost another cyclist in Newport Beach this week, Debra Deem.  Debra was the wife of Paul Deem, an Olympic Cyclist and owner of Cycle Werks.   On 8/27 at 4:27 pm, Debra was westbound on East Coast Highway, according to a police news release. A minivan also traveling westbound collided with her.  Debra was taken to Mission Hospital where she passed away from her injuries.
ADDITIONALLY, one year ago in September is the month where we lost two women cyclists and a third injured in three consecutive days.  We all remember and now we mourn another death.  PLEASE WEAR YOUR NEWPORT BEACH MEMORIAL RIDE T-SHIRT 
-April Morris, Anaheim 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Let Laguna VOTE! holds Kick-Off

FLASH: 30 July 2013  Concerned Laguna Beach residents met to organize, form strategy, and dispatch a resident action committee to oppose the City's plans for building a parking garage without a vote from residents.


State agencies and consultants hold reservations about the garage:
  • California Department of Transportation:  "The Department prefers more remote parking..."
  • Laguna Beach City response to EIR:  "An alternative project site would be financially unfeasible"
  • $80,000 traffic consultant Workshop I:  "A multi-modal transport plan is preferred to building parking garages"
  • MACTEC Engineering:  "Groundwater was encountered at depths from 13 to 23 feet below grade"  (expected at 30 MSL)
  • Fact Check:  Construction will displace 380 existing parking spaces for 5 years  
Read more facts at             "Let Laguna VOTE!"

Saturday, July 27, 2013

400 VIP Parking Spaces for only $40k

Bryan Jones is the Transportation Director for the city of Carlsbad, Department of Public Works. Here is his what he says:

We added 200 custom "bike the village" Dero Bike Racks to Carlsbad's downtown village...equates to 400+ new VIP parking spaces for customers for about $40,000 total! As compared to $10,000-$15,000 per vehicle parking space...equals inexpensive rejuvenation! Our business owners were shocked to see how many customers ride now! And now I get calls from business owners to install them near their business as they see the value it is having for other businesses!

Build it and they will come. -LS

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Flexible Parking Requirements Spur Business in Santa Monica

(This information is condensed from a recent post at As Laguna Beach plans to develop a multi-million dollar parking garage on Laguna Canyon Road, lessons may be learned from a garage building project nearby. Santa Monica’s commercial areas were sleepy, under-performing and shabby just a few decades ago. To revive it's commercial district the city approved millions in funding for municipal parking structures in the heart of downtown. City leaders planned to revitalize the business district but those garages alone weren’t enough to generate the commercial transformation Santa Monica sought. What Santa Monica needed was a change in approach to parking requirements for commercial business. The critical policy change was to create a flexible process allowing developers to build, and businesses to operate with fewer on-site parking requirements. In 1986 the Santa Monica City Council approved a business assessment district to fund commercial improvements. Highlights of the changes were:

  • It gave developers the ability to opt-out of required on-site parking by paying a fee.
  • It allowed changes in a given building's land-use specification, the required amount of parking necessary for a retail establishments was relaxed.
Today downtown Santa Monica has thriving  pedestrian-friendly retail streets filled with successful restaurants and shops.  The north side of Wilshire Blvd maintained the old pre-1986 Standard Parking Requirements,the south side implemented the new Flexible Parking Requirements.

Properties in the flexible parking requirement area generate eight times more sales tax revenue per parcel than the properties in the standard parking requirement area. Businesses are generating all that revenue with a fraction of the onsite parking.
  • Parcels with flexible parking had an average of 4.4 spaces each.
  • Parcels in the standard parking averaged a hundred spaces each.
  • For flexible parking 80% of the street frontage was retail
  • For standard parking 30% was dedicated to retail despite ten times the amount of frontage dedicated to parking infrastructure.
These charts show to what extent the 1986 council decision was responsible and how much difference was due to change in parking policy.


So, the flexible side of Wilshire Boulevard has lots of thriving businesses, less on-site parking and a more pleasant pedestrian environment. The standard side has fewer businesses but more parking spaces including surface parking lots two blocks from the ocean. Santa Monica discovered how to create a vibrant pedestrian-friendly district by reducing on-site parking.

For tables of this data and the complete article see the recent post at This data is from a recap article for the  L.A. Department of City Planning by graduate student Carter Rubin. His research adviser was the inimitable parking guru, UCLA Urban Planning Professor Donald Shoup. Read the report in its entirety here.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Safe Driving Rules

Lots of cyclists on the road this summer, please remember these safe driving rules-of-thumb:

Don't drive in the O-Zone

  • When you pass a cyclist without crossing the yellow line you are breaking the law.
  • When you pass a cyclist while oncoming traffic is present you are breaking the law.
  • When you pass a cyclist in a no-passing zone you are breaking the law (this should be obvious yes? Because it’s called a “no passing zone.”)
-Albert McWilliams

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Advantages of Cycling Mobility

CSTFLB's Advantages Cycling Pucher album on Photobucket

Source: “How to Increase Cycling and Walking-Lessons from Across the Globe”, John Pucher Rutgers University,  Ralph Buehler Virginia Tech.  New Book: “City Cycling” summary and TOC. (Click control to pause, bottom right)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Global Cycle Share

CSTFLB's Global Cycle Share Pucher album on Photobucket

Source: “How to Increase Cycling and Walking-Lessons from Across the Globe”, John Pucher Rutgers University,  Ralph Buehler Virginia Tech.  New Book: “City Cycling” summary and TOC. (Click control to pause, bottom right)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Global Cycling Safety Trends

CSTFLB's Safety Statistics Pucher album on Photobucket

Source: "How to Increase Cycling and Walking-Lessons from Across the Globe", John Pucher Rutgers University,  Ralph Buehler Virginia Tech.  New Book: "City Cycling" summary and TOC. (Click control to pause, bottom right)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bicyclist Killed on Laguna Canyon Road

Two bicyclists were rammed by a car on Laguna Canyon Road Friday morning, one cyclist died at the scene.  See details in local news sources here:

(UPDATE 8 July) Five more collisions reported. A motorist collided with cyclists in three separate attacks during a morning driving rampage in Monrovia. In  Ontario a motorist hit-and-run left a cyclist critically injured. A motorist killed a Chatsworth cyclist July 4. This has not been a good weekend for cyclists in So. Cal.

(UPDATE) Two days later Sunday 30 June 38-year old Lake Elsinore resident Lucia Ruano was riding south on Grand Avenue at Marvella Lane in Lake Elsinore when she was hit by a silver Ford F150 pickup at 8:37 am. She was pronounced dead just 35 minutes later at the Inland Valley Medical Center. 40-year old Lake Elsinore resident Jay Dustin Sorrell was arrested after the collision for investigation of drunken driving and gross vehicular manslaughter. Sorrell was too drunk to drive at 8:30 on a Sunday morning.

(UPDATE) 20 June 2013 a 22 year old cyclist died in a collision with a Fedex truck. Chelsea Kashergen appeared to be riding correctly in a residential neighborhood (photo) when struck. Biking in LA reports seven cyclists have died in the last eight days. 

Bicycling fatalities are nearly 45% ahead of last year in the seven-county SoCal area just halfway into the year. And this comes as we head into the 4th of July weekend, which is traditionally one of the most dangerous times of year for area bike riders; last year seven cyclists were killed within a week of Independence Day. More at Biking in LA.

Monday, June 24, 2013

If only Laguna had Bike Parking Problems


While watching this video consider:
  • the space spared for auto driving
  • the space spared for auto parking
  • the silence of commuter traffic
  • the absence of road-rage
  • the emissions from bikes is zero
  • the health of the bike commuters

Village Entrance Plan 'C'

The popularity of the proposed Village Entrance with adorned parking garage was revealed in newspaper op-eds this week by residents demanding public approval thru a referendum vote. Better solutions for removing car traffic congestion are proposed, like this one. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pinched Parking

"Everybody knows the key to a good small downtown business is gargantuan gobs of (preferably free) parking. "    Right?

Ian Sacs P.E. takes an objective look at studies conducted in major US cities to discover if that premise is true. After-all every small retail business relies on that statement because urban planners, architects and policy makers have done so for decades. Urban design guides specify parking requirements handed-down for millennia.
"So it is written and so it shall be done". 

Ian looks at several studies showing what conditions promote downtown health and a vibrant  business district. What follows are highlights to those studies, you'll see ample parking is not a necessary intervention. "The one about the parking-pinched merchant...", Ian Sacs P.E., Planetizen.

Click to Enlarge
San FranciscoA Metro Transit Agency study showing 85% of visitors walk, bike or take transit. Other studies show merchants widely overestimate the number of patrons arrive by car.

Parking is Left Out
Michigan: This study included sixteen downtown characteristics, and analyzed their relative importance to health of the downtown district. Here is a high-brow chart of the findings. Three factors did not correlate to downtown health:  "Streetscape improvements," "Parking," and "Quick-stop shopping." See "Evaluating the Health of Downtowns, a study of Michigan Small Cities", U. Wisconsin-Coop Extension Center for Community Economic Development.

Philadelphia:  Econsult Corporation, assessed the performance of 265 commercial corridors and identified factors shown to improve them.  The study found that there was a consistently positive correlation between parking-spaces-per-store and shopper patronage, real estate values and retail sales:

"Along pedestrian-oriented commercial districts surrounded by dense residential neighborhoods, the availability of parking seemed to play less of a role in commercial districts success. This is likely because many residents are choosing to walk to the corridor instead of drive. So while parking may help an automobile-oriented commercial district better serve its customers, the study suggests that too much parking actually serves to decrease property values as compared to property values surrounding pedestrian-oriented commercial corridors."

From the LISC Institute, for Comprehensive Economic Development, "White Paper: New and definitive evidence on what works to revitalize commercial corridors", 2011.

New York City: The NYC Department of Transportation shows some startling statistics after applying street interventions for balanced mobility there:
  • 49% increase in local retail sales along its 9th Avenue segment
  • 49% fewer vacancies
  • 74% of users prefer the new configuration
  • 172% increase in retail sales, Pearl St. Brooklyn  
  • 77% increase in seated pedestrians
"In Europe, where this kind of modal manipulation is perhaps most advanced, the techniques used by transportation planners to actively better balance demand for various transportation options are generally called 'Mobility Management'. 
From the NYC Department of Transportation,  "Measuring the Street: New Metrics for 21st Century Streets", NYCDOT. 

New York City: 2006 A study of pedestrian space in Soho found 89 percent of people using Prince Street arrive by subway, bus, walking or bicycle (PDF), 9 percent arrive by car.  By 5:1 shoppers say they would come to Prince Street more often if they had more space to walk, even if it meant eliminating parking spaces." Rethinking Soho", Aaron Naparsteck,

Click to Enlarge
San Francisco: 2008 Columbus Street, the TA found that motorists accounted for only 14 percent of all users accessing the Columbus Avenue shopping district (PDF).

More studies:

Toronto 2009
West Palm Beach FL 2009

Find the last 3 examples and more in "The Myth of Urban Driving Shoppers", Matthew Roth, 2009,    -LS

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bike Lane$ Mean Buck$

 Laguna Beach relied on a transportation system spawned from roots in 1913 New York City, that system is dominated by the private car as a single mode of mobility and worked well till now. Today our transport infrastructure is fixed by space and cost of building new roads, yet the demand for parking and single occupancy vehicles (SOV) increases with no relief. The solution is a balanced mobility plan that removes SOV's and increases mode-share of alternative transport.

Laguna Beach needs to set new goals for its streets if we are to meet the needs of flexible demand in mobility  and address the danger of vehicle collisions, traffic congestion, non-existent bike networks, and environments that are inhospitable for pedestrians. New York City and Portland have transformed their  streets by balancing their transportation plan  with an economic benefit for businesses located along new transportation routes, see the summary by

From a DOT NY study: "Built in 2007, it was controversial at the time (like everything else bike-related in the city). But a study by the Department of Transportation  finds that it’s paid dividends economically. Local stores between 23rd and 31st streets have seen a 49% increase in sales, compared to an average of 3% for Manhattan as a whole."

From a Portland Oregon study: "People drove to a convenience store an average of 9.9 times per month and spent $7.98 per visit for a total monthly expenditure of $79.73 while people who biked made 14.5 convenience store visits, spending $7.30 per trip for a total of $105.66 per month. A study by Kelly J. Clifton, Portland State University here"

Want to make some money? Build your business on a bike-lane, see the summary article by FastCoExist here. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Model for Successful Laguna Business

A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is a legal instrument cities use to allocate resources to businesses, like the number of parking spaces a business is allocated for patron and employee parking. Most Laguna businesses view adequate parking as the Holy-grail of business success: too little parking and a business expects to flop.

In 1992 Laguna Coffee Company (LCC) was allocated 4 parking spaces, the business operated with 3 spaces and was short one. In contrast Mozambique has 1-3-6 on and off-site parking spaces! Today in a move to satisfy customer requests, improve ambience, and improve walk-in traffic the Laguna Coffee Company has petitioned the city of Laguna Beach to R-E-M-O-V-E 3 PARKING SPACES.

Why would any Laguna Beach business take such a risk? What does LCC know that others don't? LCC knows that business success means serving PATRONS  not their CARS. The point: city planning departments through years of unbroken tradition operate with a bias for serving cars not walk-in traffic. The Laguna Beach City Council will grant or oppose the new CUP for LCC tonight (AB-15). Laguna Coffee Company on FaceBook

UPDATE: The city may grant a business a conditional use permit to allow the reduction in parking where the proposed use is an outdoor cafe' for public seating or cafe patrons use that contributes positively to the pedestrian environment. See the staff report for the agenda bill here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"City of Bikes", by American Pete Jordan

LA Times, AFP/Getty Images
Most of the nearly 400 pages in fact, concern themselves with a breezy, highly detailed account of the origins and history of Dutch bicycle culture. Once upon a time, Americans actually biked more than the Dutch. But then the automobile was invented. Cars chased most bicycles off U.S. streets. The Dutch, living in a small country with little free space, never quite allowed that to happen.  

The bicycle mode-share in the Netherlands is over 35% in the US 1%. Why did the bicycle regain popularity in Holland, what's the benefit? Video: How the Dutch got their cycle-paths.

In Jordan's account of the recent history of the Amsterdam biking scene, there are lessons for Angelenos and residents of other bike-unfriendly cities. If you want a cycling paradise, you're going to have to fight for it. The Dutch did, especially in the counterculture 1970s, in protests and policy fights with cycling's universal enemy, the automobile. Book Review by Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times/Living/Books.