Like many Los Angeles area folks, I’m crazy about cars. Fortunately, I’m able to incorporate my love into my work, and covered the L.A. Auto Show on Press Day 1 yesterday. Unfortunately, my day was ruled as much by the cars on the roads outside than by the shiny new models inside the Convention Center.
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Need an 8-minute frivolous diversion?
With my camera rigged up to the eyepiece of my spotting scope (with duct tape and adhesive putty), from my backyard I pointed it at Sunset Boulevard between Descanso (just out of view at the bottom) and the Maltman bend in Silver Lake (at the top) to timelapse capture the afternoon traffic flow.
Before The Event That Never Was, I wrote about the need for a rail line along the 405 corridor. I exchanged a few emails with Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition, who shared some insight as to how to get such an important piece of the transit puzzle off the ground (or rather, under.) He said they have been in talks with Los Angeles Council Districts 6 and 11, and that they would begin promoting through social media sites.
The Valley-Westside Rail project is now up on Facebook. You should like it.
I asked Bart how people could get more involved. He said that we need to start by garnering support from neighborhood councils. So, that’s where I began, with a few emails of my own:
This past weekend, the closure of the 405 and the media attention it received resulted in a ripple effect on the entire freeway system. Drivers got lucky. Businesses did not. This further illustrates the need for viable transportation alternatives. Specifically, a more comprehensive regional rail network.
As a contributing author for Blogging.LA, I wanted to get your input on a newly envisioned Metro rail line from the Valley to the Westside, by way of the 405 corridor.
The other day the entire world collectively pointed and laughed at the obvious publicity stunt unleashed by JetBlue, where they announced plans to offer $4 fares from Burbank to Long Beach to avoid carmageddon. But flying seems pretty fast right? I mean, you are in a plane and all. But how fast is it really? Fast enough to beat Wolfpack A? Seriously, easily the most elite street cyclists in LA, possibly in the country started doing the math and think they can make that trip faster on bike than JetBlue can in a plane. You know what? I think they are right. I’ve seen the hustle in action. I’ve seen Wolfpack A win race after race. I think this is totally legit. Several folks are already trying to get JetBlue to accept the challenge. Let’s see what happens!
UPDATE: IT’S ON! Details being finalized right this very second, but this is happening. Point to point. It’s a battle of commuters. A house in Burbank to the Long Beach Aquarium. More details soon!!!
Having participated in Bike Week going back to its beginnings in the mid-1990s, it’s good to see how far the events have come from such humble origins. But one thing that’s always perplexed me through those years is how big the collective emphasis is on biking “to” work, with pretty much a total divorce from that whole “from” part.
Though the Law of Commuting states, “What goes out, must come back,” year in and year out Bike Week organizers ignore that all-important second part. On the designated “Bike To Work Day” that “To” part is taken literally. Mornings are chock full of strategic events and pitstops and various freebies, sprinkled with the occasional councilpersons who’ll don helmets and grins and pedal under an MTA sign and past a camera pool. And if you’re in the right place as you pedal, you might find a few scattered Starbucks that’d give up a free drip coffee if you rolled there before 9 a.m.
But pretty much after that hour things are broken down and packed up and put away — which is literally half-assed; a willingly missed opportunity to keep the good vibrations and awareness going on for that integral return trip. Well, with this coming edition of Bike Week (May 16-20; with Bike To Work Day on May 19) I’m pleased to report some progress has been made. Not by the city or the county or Metro, but rather by the LA County Bicycle Coalition who for better or worse is gonna help returning cyclists get their drink on.
Chicago’s outgoing Mayor Daley wants high speed rail from the city’s downtown to O’Hare International Airport. It would be the first of its kind in the United States – meaning that it would be fast, convenient, and far too logical for American politicians to actually build.
Your move, @villaraigosa.
A few years back, I proposed the Metro Flyline – a rail network from Union Station to every airport in the region. It was kind of a joke, in that not many people need to hop a train from Downtown Los Angeles to fly their personal jet out of Van Nuys Airport. But what about a line that did service the major transportation hubs in the region? A high speed TRIANGLE, connecting LAX, Bob Hope in Burbank and Union Station.
Put it all underground. Run the whole thing elevated. Tunnel through every living room in Beverly Hills.
I don’t know where the money would come from. I don’t know ridership numbers. I don’t know environmental impact blahbitty blah. What I do know, is that people would use it. Isn’t that what mass transit is for?
The point here is that it’s time for Los Angeles to start thinking big again. No matter how far-fetched and ridiculous it may seem. Let other cities celebrate highway widenings and Target openings. We’re better than that.
Maybe someday, we’ll have a mayor that won’t mind rolling up his sleeves and putting in a solid 8 hours of work.
Did you know there was a bike ban on Metro Rail during rush hour? That ban is gone, effective immediately. The Source wants to know how you feel about that.
But, exactly how will Metro handle the possible flood of fixies? There has been some talk of removing seats from rail cars. Instead of simply placating cyclists, why not encourage them by going a step further?
What Metro needs now is a multimodal rail car with bike storage. Sound far fetched? Plans were drawn up in 1976.
That a hearty band of like-minded pedventurers followed me through the Eastside at the beginning of last month for my 2nd Annual March March is old news, but what’s just come up is an awesome slow-mo video my friend Steven made of various aspects of the trek and I am helpless not to share it here:
If the embed above doesn’t work, the video can be found here: http://vimeo.com/22766801
Chicago is known for its L – a heavy rail transit line that is elevated through its downtown core. But, did you know that Los Angeles almost had it’s own L?
It would have been on Wilshire, the transit corridor currently known for its underground Subway To The Wiltern. It would have been part of the Red Line, from Union Station to the Miracle Miracle, up through West Hollywood, back to Hollywood, and on to NoHo.
The plans were drawn up in 1983. Twenty-eight years ago.
Metro has put up the renderings and maps for what could have been.
As much as I like to bike around Los Angeles whenever possible, I’m occasionally known to and prone to taking long walks around and across town. Aside from joining in the last four of the awesome annual Great LA Walks organized by Franklin Avenue Blog’s Michael Schneider, I’ve gone on ferthehelluvit strolls over the full length of Cesar Chavez/Sunset Boulevard from Union Station to Gladstones in February 2007, and the whole stretch of Western Avenue from Griffith Park to land’s end in October 2008 (with fellow Blogging.la’er Julia, among others). Last year, I went on my first March March by going from USC to the top of Baldwin Hills Overlook State Park and back, primarily along Jefferson and Adams boulevards.
So with March coming up again fast, I figure it’s high time I put the word out where I’ll be marching next in case any like-minded crazies wanted to join me — and you should because on March 5 I’ll be heading east to explore an historic and amazing thoroughfare I’ve pushed bike and gas pedals over many times, but until now have never pedestrianated upon: Whittier Boulevard.
We’re doing things a bit different this time. Instead of an out-and-back all on foot, we’ll be multimodaling by gathering at Union Station for a 10 a.m. departure to board the Gold Line out to East Los Angeles. Along the way we’ll be detraining at a few stations for quick loops and looks around those stops’ vicinities. Eventually we’ll reach the end of the line at Atlantic Boulevard and from there we’ll then head south to Whittier and begin the return trip westward until we cross the historic 6th Street viaduct. We’ll then cut up through the Arts District and make our way into downtown and back to Union Station via Los Angeles Plaza and Olvera Street.
With the inclusion of the Gold Line getting us east, this walk’s total distance will depend in part on the number of tangents we take. The main stretch back to Union Station from East Los Angeles through Boyle Heights is about 7.5 miles, so the total will probably fall somewhere between the 10- to 14-mile range. If I had to guesstimate a more specific number I’d say 12 miles.
So, to recap:
- What: 2nd-Annual March March — Whittier Boulevard
- Starts/Ends: Union Station (main entrance)
- When: March 5, departing at 10am (if raining that day we’ll try again March 12, 10am rain or shine)
- Costs: Bring money for food/drinks and a $6 Metro Day pass is highly recommended
- How far: About 12 miles, give or take
- How long: Approximately 5 hours. Could be longer, could be shorter.
Any questions, drop them in the comments or tweet me @wildbell. Hope you’ll come along for the stride.
With news spreading that the owner of The Edison has purchased Clifton’s Cafeteria – a downtown institution at 7th and Broadway – let’s take a moment to remember what once was, and could be again:
Notice that 1) there is no metal grate covering up the building, and 2) the sign reads “Open 6am to Midnight.”
Tear down this wall. The streetcar is coming.
Ah, the romance of the rails. Union Station in downtown Los Angeles is a gorgeous reminder of a time when travel was slower, more deliberate and perhaps a bit more civilized. Union Station is a great cathedral of modern life, a hushed but bustling place.
Built in 1939 for $11 million (which is about $168 million today) and originally known as LAUPT, or Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, the Spanish Mission style station was actually a bit late in the history of Grand Railroad Terminals. But Los Angeles was booming, having had a large population influx starting in the 20’s. LA needed a major terminal and the LAUPT was built to combine two local railroad terminals and three trainlines: the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe.
Now LAUS, also referred to as LAX (no really!), Union Station sees approximately 1.5 million travelers a year and generates over $55 million in ticket sales. With Amtrak, bus lines and local train service running through it, Union Station is full of city life. And this being LA, it gets used as a set or backdrop in many a movie and tv show.
Part of the original Station plan was the Harvey House Restaurant. Fred Harvey started opening restaurants at railroad stations after the Civil War. He made a deal to partner with the Santa Fe railroad and “civilized the west.” Harvey Houses were the first to employ women as servers as Mr. Harvey found them more reliable then the wild men out in the west. Harvey House Restaurants served good food at reasonable prices in elegant surroundings. And when you peek in the windows at the former HH, or are lucky enough to be invited to a private party there, you can see how swell of a place it must have been in it’s heyday. (Our own Lucinda Michele wrote about it a while back.)
I highly recommend an afternoon in the area, you can shop and eat at Olvera Street, then have a cocktail (and/or dinner) at Traxx Restaurant and Bar, then head over to Chinatown. (We had a great time at Union Station during Classic Eats #2 in 2009.)
Even more highly recommended is to take the train from Union Station somewhere. (I mean, if you aren’t already a regular commuter…) I was fortunate enough to take the Coast Starlight from LA to Seattle last summer. Seeing LA from an angle I don’t normally get to see was fascinating.
San Francisco is turning out the lights at the 1939 Transbay Terminal. Then they make go boom.
In a strange turn of events, Los Angeles is being credited with better efforts in historic preservation of its landmarks. Also, a pig just flew by my desk.
Photo of San Francisco Transbay Terminal from Mark Pritchard’s photostream