May 10, 2018




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Get Out & Ride--It's Bike Month!


SCAG Crosses Road to Big Data


"Crossroads" was the theme last week at SCAG's General Assembly. We go for the actual Assembly--when all 191 cities and six counties vote on governance issues (our wonky pleasure). But normal people go for the workshops, exhibits, and high-minded policy conversations. With over 1,000 attendees, it's an impressive event. But what caught our eye was the Future Communities Framework Report, which charts SCAG on a path to create a regional open data platform based on public sector demographic, land-use, transportation, and public opinion data. The plan includes a policy lab, tool builder, and much more. It is an innovative and ambitious effort.  Southern California is well-served by the effort.  


Campaign Wishes & StreetCar Dreams


  • Headline of the Week.  We really appreciate the directness of the Ventura Star for their editorial in support of SB 1: How the Gas Tax Will Save Lives.  

  • Yes on Proposition 69. Vote-by-Mail ballots will be arriving soon. Fortunately, Proposition 69 has strong support and hardly any opposition. The Republican Party retained neutrality at their convention last weekend. There is reason to be cautiously optimistic, but only if you vote.

  • CTC to Approve Projects Next Week.  Next week, the CTC is set to approve $2.7 billion of program awards that will leverage another $6.5 billion to improve freight and goods movement, ease congested corridors and support regionally significant local projects.  The list includes a lot of big, high profile projects that are important to communities across the state. Thanks SB1.
  • Query the No Project Alternative.  Just as we are starting to get excited about the idea that there is finally funding for projects both old and new- the proposed initiative could take them all away. That is food for thought. It's one thing to complain about 12 cents at the gas pump--quite another to reject projects that will ease the commute or fill a pothole. It's a good frame to engage.  


California Ranks 1st for SuperCommuters


Five of the nation's Top 10 "Supercommuting" regions are in California.  Stockton tops the list.  Followed by Modesto, Riverside, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. A super commuter is defined as someone who travels 90 minutes or more one way to work each day.  Interesting data point: these commuters are more likely to take transit options if they are available, which make the SB1 investments in projects like the Altamount Commuter Express, Metro-link, and Redlands Passenger Rail line really, really wise. Thanks SB1. 


By the Numbers: Bikes


  • 66 million: people who rode their bikes during the Spring of 2017.
  • 47 Million: people who rode their bikes in the Spring of 2008.
  • Portland, Oregon: Highest rate of bike commuting (6%)
  • 4th: Ranking of Oregon for quality of roads by US News & World Report
  • 301%: Increase in bike commuting in Sacramento from 2000-2013. 
  • 2:1: the ratio of men who commute by bike compared to women
  • Education level most likely to bike: graduate or professional degree
  • Education level next most likely to bike: less than high school degree
  • $6.2 billion: Estimated size of the bicycle market in 2015.
  • 263,000: Estimated electric bike sales in the US in 2017.
  • 535,000: Number of electric bikes sold in Germany in 2015.
  • 3.3 million: Number of electric bikes sold in China in 2016.
  • 28 mph: Top speed of an Electric Bike made by Trek
  • 25 mph: average speed of Tour de France victor, including mountain stages
  • 12 to 15 mph: average commute speed on "normal" bike
  • 1 hour: approximate time that top speed can be maintained on flat roads
  • 60%: estimated growth for the global electric bike market by 2025.
  • £7,791 ($10,500): 5-year savings a UK commuter can realize by switching to an e-bike

Sources: Census Newsroom,  US News, StatisticaBike League, Cycling Industry NewsPedegobikesThe Guardian


Sharing Economy Learns to Share the Sidewalk


The fight for the sidewalk is on. There was that brief rollerblade fad in the 90s (so embarrassing). And then skateboards came back (so cool). Even electric skateboards (less cool). And bikeshare. But none of that prepared cities for the electric scooter invasion. They just appeared. In San Francisco, the city attorney issued a cease and desist order.  But before we throw scooters under the bus, it's worth asking why they're popular. SFMTA reminds us that they are both a problem and a solution. Under a new SFMTA pilot plan, companies must have a permit to operate that includes a plan to avoid obstructing sidewalks. Read SFMTA's Staff Report and Ordinance.  


The Bike Month Playlist


"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride" said President Kennedy. Of course, May is Bike Month, and across the state, local and regional governments are encouraging people to put some mettle in their pedal rather than their pedal to the metal. So we add our May is Bike Month Playlist (to go with our California Dreamin' list) with 32 songs (not ranked) about our most noble invention. 


Is Micro Transit a Macro Answer?


There is a small buzz about Micro-Transit; or small buses that can flex routes. Need clarification? The Eno Center has a great report to get you up to speed. At least three agencies--Sac RT,  OCTA, and LA Metro are either in process or about to begin experimental micro-transit pilots. OCTA's staff report for OC Link has some rich detail.  But will it be enough to reverse falling transit numbers?  Is this an innovative-last-mile solution for suburban neighborhoods?  Maybe.  But it's not without critics who claim it's inefficient and drives up VMT.  Nevertheless, we paraphrase Metro's Joshua Schank: "transit agencies have to accommodate the new expectations of existing and new customers." Sometimes thinking small creates big change.  


BUILDing Permits


The BUILD program -- or Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development-- is the new TIGER. In April, the Administration announced availability of $1.5 billion. Funds are awarded competitively to projects like roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports, or intermodal transportation that will have a significant local or regional impact. USDOT is hosting webinars for applicants and those that crave the excitement of a federal agency webinar: 

All webinars are from 11:00 am to -1:00 pm PST - so pack a lunch. Although the new BUILD includes provisions that make projects in rural areas more competitive, it also significantly caps the level of federal investment in a project at 20 percent (read T4America critique).  Applications are due by 8:00 PM EDT on July 19, 2018.


State Agency EJ Report Card


The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) has released its 2017 Environmental Justice Agency Assessment.  The assessment looked at how well 15 state agencies develop, implement, and monitor policies that address environmental issues that impact low-income communities and communities of color. The report found a few bright spots--including the increased attention to the issue--but ultimately found that several agencies fell short in implementation.


Quick Hits for Bike Month


  • Bike Share Basics. Public or private? Docked or dockless? E-bike or e-scooter? It’s complicated. But bikesharing is now big business, and cities need to understand how these emerging systems operate—and who operates them.

  • Pushing Pedals to the Next Generation. SFMTA supports an effort to teach the next, post-post millennial generation how to ride a bike . . . in their PE class.  

  • The (Con)census in Bikes.  According to census data, there are now nearly a million bike commuters in the U.S.--and California ranks among the top 5.  Berkeley tops all with 10% of workers commuting by bike.   

  • Are E-Bikes Killing Active Transportation and Transit?  They are disrupting technology in the Netherlands where E-bike ownership reduced conventional bike, car and public transportation usage. And they are coming to San Francisco and other cities.  But are we ready for it?  As this Slate article notes, we’re putting powerful vehicles capable of almost 30 mph in the hands of riders who don’t have the experience to operate them safely.

  • Language of Shared Mobility.  As options for shared mobility explode, FTA shares the jargon.


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