Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Expo Line

As I drove into work this summer (sorry driving was my only option), I would always find myself glancing at the construction workers building the new light rail.  With so much controversy and hype built up around the new Exposition line, outlined by a USC staff writer, finally there was something concrete to show for it.  At first I was upset with all of the construction, since the streets that I use to get home were always closed or obstructed making my commute even longer after I had worked all day.  But overtime I adapted to the construction process and changed my regular path as I wondered where the rail line ended up.  It is odd to think that at USC people only talked about how the rail line was going to affect our campus and never mentioned what other areas the line traveled through or the major destinations that it was constructed to reach.  To be honest, this is part of the reason why I chose the Expo line for a blogging topic, so that I could learn more about it. 

You would think that once the tracks are laid down and the wires have been strung that a rail car would come flying down Exposition, but I have yet to see this happen.  The tracks are isolated from everything around them as they are surrounded by fences and not a single sole has been seen on them for weeks.  They must be working on other parts of the track.   For every football game, USC fans had to travel over the red carpet that covered the tracks, so that no one would get injured.  It makes no sense why the tracks were laid down in this area and have been lying vacant for months to only be crossed by people on Game Day.  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to construct this part of the route at a later time period as to not interfere with the thousands of people?  Maybe this was a test to see what traffic congestion would be like with the new train in place. 

Regardless the case, it was hilarious to watch the police trying to control the drunken crowd and yelling at people to not cross until they had the right-of-way, even though the street was closed to through traffic.  People would sneak past the cops and run across the street completely ignoring their demands just to get to their seats in the Coliseum a few minutes earlier. These actions may seem silly now, but someone is bound to get hurt in the near future.  I predict that one of these days, a student is going to attempt to run across the tracks thinking that they can make it before the train swishes by, and do to their impaired judgment get hit by the train.  This is one of the reasons why President Sample pushed so hard to have the train below ground or moved to Martin Luther King Blvd instead.  Eventually, someone is going to get hurt or die and then the city will reconsider their decision and realize that maybe this was not the best idea.  Just by walking through campus on Game Day you will understand what I am talking about and the potential risks. 

Expo Park/USC Station provided by the official Expo website

In my recent research paper, USC students admitted that they would utilize the Expo Line once the construction was completed.  Out of the 72% of students that have used the Los Public Transportation System, 68% are planning on riding the Expo.  45% of the remaining 28% of student who have never ridden the public transit system did agree to ride the Expo train, which is a huge improvement and the signs of a good trend of increased ridership.  Of course, the car still trumps all other forms of transportation because everyone feels it is more convenient and reliant.  It will soon be revealed if students really ride the Expo line or if this project is another drain on Los Angeles. 

So I went to a transit expert at USC and learned that she is worried about the Expo line being a light rail train instead of a heavy rail train, which will probably be needed in the future do to increases in population.  Once light rail tracks are laid, you can’t just go and rip them out, so regardless this decision is permanent.  To put the train below ground would probably have cost 10 times the amount of putting it at grade.  No matter what none of the options are perfect because in this case you can’t go below ground or above ground.  Bus rapid transit would also increase congestion and increase the problem of increased wait times due to traffic, since Los Angeles does not have designated bus, which is ridiculous and another topic for another day.  I guess the light rail will have to do and hopefully will be up and running shortly, but I remember reading somewhere that it might take another year. 

Anyway, what is up with the blue d├ęcor at the stops?  Don’t people know this is USC!  As one of my professors pointed out, whoever designed the train stops must have been from UCLA!  The bruins strike again!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Driverless Cars Hit the Roads

1.2 million people die in car accidents each year around the globe according to the World Health Organization.  In 2009, over 30,000 alcohol related car accidents occurred in the United States alone, with 2,800 of these occurring in California according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia (FARS).  Everyone knows that drunk driving has been a major player in the amount of car crashes and fatalities seen in the United States, but did you know that drowsy driving is also a large factor?  41% of drivers admit that they have dosed off while driving causing 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and over 100,000 accidents each year (American Automobile Association (AAA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). 

Watching the road narrow, as my eye lids get heavier and heavier with the desire to stay awake screaming from my body as I try to fight against the sleeping urge while I am traveling 60 mph down the freeway.  This reoccurring nightmare has forced me to wake up in a sweat with a large pit in my stomach of the fear of crashing into a car around me.  In today’s competitive environment, people are forced to work 18 hour days that result in these intense lifestyles, which have you begging for more time as you race against the clock.  But whatever you do, don’t drive a car or let someone get inside of car when they have not had any sleep.  It is just as bad as drunk driving because sleep deprivation will impair your judgment.  Situations like these are the reason why naps were invented!  Napping is my favorite thing to do and helps me get through the day in a healthier way than energy drinks, caffeine or even 5-hour energy can.  A 15 minute cat-nap in a car can save an innocent life long enough for someone to reach their warm, cuddly bed.  Another way of looking at it is, if a person injured or even killed someone in a tragic accident because they fell asleep at the wheel, then they would never be able to sleep after that incident.  So sleep now and drive later… or take a cab, the bus, call a friend or walk. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way that could cut the number of car accidents a year in half?  Not having to deal with the stress of driving through traffic congested areas. An option that would allow people to text and talk on their phones while sitting in the driver’s seat.  Being able to have a few drinks at a party and not have to worry about having to call a taxi or burdening your friend to take you home.  Or for people that can’t obtain a driver’s license, the freedom of operating and owning a car.  Well all of these things are possible with the invention of driverless cars

Google's Driverless Car provided by Edmunds Inside Line

According to the New York Times, Google has been test-driving their version of a driverless car, which has turned out to be a Toyota Prius with a weird metal attachment on the roof.  Little does anyone know that this piece of metal is the base for cameras, lasers and radar censors that track the surrounding traffic.  7 cars have been tested that each have driven 1,000 miles each without human intervention and 140,000 miles in total with only minor help.  The car would have been accident proof, if it wasn’t rear-ended at a traffic light.  Don’t get too excited because mass production is still a few years off. 

Driverless cars will revolutionize transportation by decreasing air pollution, since the cars can drive closer together and still be safe.  These so called “robot” cars are less likely to crash and so can be made of lighter material, which will reduce gas consumption.  Artificial intelligence is all the craze in Silicon Valley and the technology that has made these cars possible.  But can we really trust these cars with our lives?  Will they ever malfunction resulting in a fatal accident?  It is too early to tell, but the statistics so far have disproved these theories.  Google is doing everything in their power to run as many test simulations as possible in order to work out any of the kinks.  If driverless cars are no longer a dream of the future but have become a reality, what else is being secretly tested in Silicon Valley?  We will just have to wait and see what the next big technological boom will bring and hope that it will change society for the better. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Proposition 23- To Vote Yes or No, That is the Question

With elections just around the corner, opponents against proposition 23 have been out campaigning for weeks trying to gain support to stop prop 23 from being passed.  I decided to have a look at the facts myself and look at both sides of the argument.  For those of you who don’t know, if proposition 23 passes, then implementation of AB32 will be delayed until unemployment levels reach 5.5% or less for 4 consecutive quarters.  Currently, the unemployment rate is above 12% as shown in the graph below.  It has been predicted that it will take a few years for the unemployment rate to reach down to 5.5% in California.  

*Graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Supporters of proposition 23 are arguing that with the implementation of AB32, which will begin in 2012, it will hurt our economy further by increasing costs of gas, homes, cars, and hurt economic expansion in California.  However, opponents are arguing that this proposition will eliminate one of the most influential laws in the United States and that environmental progress will hinder, since unemployment levels will not drop for a few years.  They are arguing that our air quality will get worse and that job loss will occur from the new clean technology industry that is developing.  No one knows for sure what the effects on the economy would be once AB32 gets implemented.  

I am sure you are asking yourself, well this is great but how does this have anything to do with Los Angeles transportation?  Well to answer this question, I decided to ask one of the Prop 23 campaigners on campus who have been trying to rally support for weeks now.  They have been very persistent and in order to avoid them I would have to look down at the ground or pretend that I was on a phone call, since I never had time to stop except for today when I decided to go up to them.  The funny thing about this situation is that this week I have had literally no voice, so it has been impossible to talk to anyone about anything, so I had to bring one of my friends along to translate my silent whispers.  

So we went up to this guy, who was more than excited to talk to us, since it seemed that no one had bothered to approach him all day and instead he had to hustle to grasp people’s attention.  He explained that prop 23 has everything to do with transportation, since implementation of AB32 will stop, which will impact SB375, which was created to generate a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  All of these things are related and connected in a sense and AB32 and SB375 will be directly or indirectly impacted if prop 23 is passed.  

SB375 states that each city in California must create a “sustainable community strategy” or a general land-use plan that combines transportation and land-use elements to meet the emission targets outlined by AB32.  By 2020, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to 1990 levels.  SB375 promotes construction along transportation lines to increase public transit use and reduce urban sprawl.  If people were in close proximity to pubic transit routes and within walking distance from stops, then I believe that public transit use would increase and people would leave their cars at home.  

The worst part, he argued, is that California is the leader in paving the way for the implementation of environmental regulations and laws and if prop 23 gets passed than all of their hard work to reduce air pollution levels in California will be lost.  In addition, it will stop the momentum of other states implementing similar environmental laws and hinder the bright future that lies just beyond the horizon of providing a more environmentally conscious society that wants to take the necessary measures to reduce their carbon emissions.  

Another interesting fact is that 2 major Texan oil companies are supporting this measure and that none of the oil companies in California are.  Does anyone know why this is?  The prop 23 guy did not really explain why. 
 
Maybe I am missing some pieces of the puzzle, but it seems that there is something fishy going on behind prop 23 and maybe the proposition was not entirely thought out properly and some facts are missing.  Regardless, I am not sure what side I am going to take on this issue, but will probably vote no, since AB32 was a revolutionary law and took a long time to get passed.  For the momentum to stop now might have catastrophic effects and we might not get this close again for another few years in actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels.  AB32 gives us hope to achieve this overall goal.  Since 2006, when AB32 was first passed, it seems that no one has really come forward and stated any major problems with AB32 until now, so why the change?  

Please feel free to comment with any additional information that I might have left out or any thoughts that you might have (BTW I covered the major highlights and didn’t go into a lot of detail, especially in terms of AB32 and SB375).  I hope that I have been somewhat helpful in providing information about prop 23 and hopefully you are a more decisive person than I am.  If I can’t make up my mind about this proposition, how am I supposed to vote on the more important things on the ballot like Governor?  Well that will be for another time!  Happy voting tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Los Angeles Walking Adventures

For most of my life, I have relied on my own two feet to get me around.  Walking is one of the joys in my life as it has acted as a calming method in times of stress or a simple way to catch up with my mom after a rough week.  Every night after dinner, my mom and I would go on a walk around our neighborhood and talk about any topic that popped into our minds.  Around the holidays, we would watch little trick-or-treaters running by in hopes of getting the most candy or admire the sparkling Christmas lights that lined each house.  These 30 minute walks with my mom are memories that I will cherish forever, but my walking history extends way past these moments. 

From an early age, I have been walking to school, Target (my favorite store), work and my friend’s houses.  Because I lived in a beach community, I was within walking distance to retail locations, the grocery store, the dry cleaners and of course the beach.  There was no need for me to have a car because I could walk anywhere I needed to go.  Of course it took a little bit longer to walk than it would have with a car, but it gave me time to think, take time to appreciate my surroundings by smelling the roses and was great exercise.  It also helped me to develop navigation skills that have been useful now that I drive a car.  Once I got into to private high school and was forced to travel thirty minutes by car or an hour by bus, I finally realized the limitations of walking.  With an inadequate public transit system and long distances to travel, a car is a necessity.  However, now that I am in downtown Los Angeles, I have found myself leaving my car at home and venturing out on walking adventures.   

Would you believe that there is a series of secret stairs that are just waiting to be explored in Echo Park? 

Echo Park Stairways Map provided by Echo Park Historical Society


Back to a time when walking was how everyone got around, when no cars existed, these were the stairs that people used to get up and down the hills.  Now these stairs lie dormant to the occasional passer by, but the majority of them are hidden behind a forest of shrubbery to take you back in time, leading you to some of Echo Park’s historical landmarksWalking tours are available that are probably super fun, but if you’re a girl like me who loves excursions and exploring hidden arenas, then venture off on your own.  Be the tour guide and take some friends up the Baxter stairs of 230 steps that always have everyone huffing and puffing as they have climbed to the top or the stairway located behind Dodger stadium in the hills.  Whichever you choose, you are up for an experience that could lead you any which way.

What are you waiting for?  Find a location and go on a walking adventure with a friend, relative or even by yourself to experience historical Los Angeles for what it really is on your feet. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blogging Soul Mate

What better way to find cool new bloggers or fascinating websites, but to join a social bookmarking site and follower users that share similar interests?  It saves so many hours in my day that I spend searching Google on various topics.  This way I can look through people’s tags and find sites on any topic I want and I didn’t have to do any of the work.  A whole new world has been opened, now that I am a Delicious user. 

I have been on a quest to find my blogging soul-mate, which I have to say has been an ordeal.  I guess I have a wide variety of interests, because I can’t find anyone that tags like me.  Maybe I am just being too picky!  After lowering my tagging standards and focusing strictly on searching for people who are transportation enthusiasts, I found Infrastructure Usa.  Even though, this user only has 47 bookmarked sites, it was the way in which they tagged their sites.  Infrastructure Usa’s number 1 tagging category is transportation, which perfectly aligns with my interests.  25 different sites are listed under transportation and another 16 under transit.  Hence a large percentage of their bookmarking revolves around transportation, meaning that this user has already tagged great sites in their library for me to use in future posts or in my research paper.  Infrastructure Usa only tags a few new sites each month, which is beneficial because it is impossible to search through people’s tags when they are tagging every single site that they come across.  This user is meticulous and only tags the websites that they feel will be most influential to them, so I don’t have to spend tons of time sifting through users cluttered internet worlds.  The one criticism that I do have about Infrastructure Usa is that it would be helpful if they wrote a small comment about each site, so that I can decide ahead of time if the article or blog is worth reading instead of having to click on each site and skim the introduction.  But their detailed categories do help the situation and help me to find exactly what I am looking for amongst their sites.  For 47 bookmarked sites, Infrastructure Usa has 124 tags and 20 different tagging categories, which shows how thorough this person is in selecting websites. 

Infrastructure Usa has tagged all sort of sites related to urban sprawl, current transportation politics, and the wave of the future in regards to new bullet trains across the United States.  The downside is that Infrastructure Usa does not just focus on transportation in Los Angeles, but in cities all across the United States, which expands past my blog.  But for all of my transportation enthusiasts, Infrastructure Usa opened the doors to some really cool sites.  The Infrastructurist-American under Construction (inspiration for Infrastructure Usa’s name?) is a blog that talks about everything that is transportation related in the entire world, including electric cars, the bullet trains in the world, thanksgiving traffic, banning cell phone use in cars, etc.  Literally, this blog seems to cover every topic related to transportation and then some.  I am sure that whatever transit topic or current project that you are interested in, there is probably a post written about it on Infrastructurist.  I will keep this site in mind when I am stuck about what to write about on my blog or looking for transit resources or current events in the transportation realm. 

Since Infrastructure Usa is all about transportation and making cities more sustainable, they tagged Streetfilms, which documents livable streets worldwide and posts their videos on this website for everyone to see.  Streetfilms is connected to the Streetsblog website and has proven to be one of the most popular transportation blogs.  But if you haven’t heard about Streetfilms yet then you must check it out right now and watch car-free clips (if you hate cars), health and safety clips (if you are worried about air pollution’s effect on our health, like me) or bicycle clips (if you want to experience places made just for bikes to roam free).  Regardless of your interest, there is a clip for everyone that is entertaining, informative and acts as a great procrastination resource. 

Infrastructure Usa might not be my blogging soulmate, but they will definitely be my blogging friend as I have found some great websites and blogs from their library, which I suggest everyone check out and see what sites you might discover as you sift through the tags. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Response to the USC Bike Ban

I decided to research the USC Bike Ban as a potential post and couldn’t believe all of the fuss this issue has caused.  Most of the comments weren’t even from USC students.  Some facts needed to be set straight, so here are my comments below: 

Comment on LADOT Bike Blog

I go to USC and am not a bicyclist. However, I have to agree that the bike ban seems a bit ridiculous. After reading through the comments, I had a few things I wanted to bring up. It is important to understand that only half of Trousdale is bike-free, and that is mainly because we have various career fairs, student involvement fairs and other events held on Trousdale during the day.  DPS blocked off that section of Trousdale to ensure that there is no congestion or bike accidents considering the concentration of students in this area.   

There needs to be some sort of bicycle education because there are some students who don’t exactly know how to ride bikes, or at least ride them responsibly. I remember seeing this girl accidently hit a pedestrian on her bike, but she didn’t even notice and rode off without even apologizing.  She was so wrapped up in her text conversation that she didn’t even realize she had hit a person, which is ridiculous.  I witness at least one bike accident a week, if not more. Not everyone at USC is like that girl, but these are the people that have given bicyclists a bad name on campus. 

Bikerdude, I am glad that you are taking action and that you wrote a letter to President Nikias. However, I am not sure if an online education course is the best idea.  For instance, freshmen are required to take an alcohol education course online, but most of them don’t read the slides and just keep clicking “next”.  I believe in bike education, but feel that students won’t take the online course seriously and it won’t solve the problem in the long run.  A bike safety talk during orientation or welcome week might be more beneficial. This session could be followed by students registering their bikes with DPS right outside to ensure that everyone’s bikes get registered, which has also been a growing problem.  In any case, the bike ban is not the best solution. 

Comment on BikingInLA

I totally agree with Brett Griffith in the sense that everyone is exaggerating all of the articles’ points and needs to see what the bike ban really means for USC.  All of the articles concerning the USC bike ban can’t comprehend why USC can’t implement an adequate bike policy just like all of these other California schools.  However, the various UC campuses that were mentioned are much larger than USC, which is actually a very small and condensed campus.  There are various bike traffic jams at USC during peak hours on some of the smaller walkways, especially the walkway in front of Annenberg School for Communication.  Because of this, it makes sense that the main throughways of the USC campus should be used for bikes or should be divided into bike and pedestrian lanes in order to separate the pedestrians and bikes.  There is also a huge aesthetics problem in regards to the bike racks and the fact that the throughways are lined with an endless line of bikes.  Most students don’t even park their bikes in the racks and instead just leave them in between other bikes or wherever is convenient for them, since they are late for class.   Consequently, the accumulation of bikes in front of the buildings is ridiculous and probably 2-3 bikes wide, which makes it harder for everyone to walk the campus.   There are tons of issues facing the bikes and I believe that an adequate solution will be made soon and the bike ban will be lifted.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Research Questions

Over the past few weeks, I have been searching for resources to use in my upcoming research paper.  Do you know the feeling when you have that perfect article in your mind, but no one has written it yet or maybe you just can’t find it?  Well welcome to my world! I have spent hours trying to find scholarly journal articles that pertain to my research topic and are current, not written in the 70s or 80s.  So far, I have about 10 articles, which is a good number, so it is time to expand my research to blogs and public opinion articles.  I want to how the public feels!  Why do people drive cars if they are only traveling a few blocks?  How come people will ride their bikes to class, but hop in a car when they are getting dinner?  What form of transportation do college students prefer?  Do safety, time of day, weather, and convenience have an influence on what mode a student chooses in a given day?  Or do students change their modes throughout the day as a result of these factors?  Are there any other factors that influence a certain mode of transit?  Why don’t students ride public transit that often?  I feel that this information is eminent; especially since many schools in California have been designing master transportation plans in order to accommodate cars, pedestrians and bicycles in the same area and decrease conflicts amongst these modes. 

I would love to have as much feedback as possible and your opinions on whether these questions would make a great research paper.  I am in the works of creating a survey, so keep an eye out for the link in an upcoming post.  Constructive criticism would be valuable because I want to work out the kinks now before I get too far along in my research and survey and then have to backtrack.  Hope to hear from you soon!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Urban Sprawl and Public Health Annotation

As every college student knows, it is impossible to have a second to breathe, yet alone be able to sit down and read a book for pleasure.  Therefore, all of the reading I do is for one of my classes.  But every once in a while, a teacher will ask their students to read something that changes the way people look at the world and sparks something inside of them;  an undeniable urge that grows stronger with time and creates advocates for a specific cause or helps dictate a career path. My inspiration for this blog stems from the book Urban Sprawl and Public Health, which has completely transformed the way I see the urban landscape today and view planning issues. 

Would you believe that sprawl is one of the leading factors contributing to the poor air quality in Los Angeles?  Los Angeles’ major downfall is its “sprawled-out” nature that developed our automobile-dependent and suburban seclusion mindsets.  Without a car, you might as well be stranded because there is no way to get around by foot safely in LA suburbs (I suppose you could always share the road with the cars and parade down the middle of the street, but that sort of thing doesn’t tickle my fancy).  Has anyone heard of sidewalks?  Literally, I have been forced to walk on horse trails, woodchips, and plants (I still feel bad about this one!), which all could have been avoided with a few slabs of concrete.  What about a decent public transportation route that doesn’t just run 2 or 3 times a day, but actually has a routine schedule that actually drops you off near your location and doesn’t force you to walk over a mile?  It all has to deal with privacy and trying to keep other people out of their secluded, exclusive areas that feel these added elements will be aesthetically unpleasing.  (I am sorry about my little rant; now let’s go back on topic.)

The mix of sprawl and our automobile driven mentality in society has resulted in numerous health concerns such as obesity, lung cancer, asthma and even death.  Frank and Jackson educate their readers about the origins of urban sprawl and explain the causes of air pollution in great scientific detail as well as other urban problems such as water quality, mental health, and physical activity.  Demographics, social economic status, gender and age are all taken into account in the various studies referenced in the book.   But Frank and Jackson conclude the book with the idea of smart growth with is supposed to act as the solution to many of these health problems.  By utilizing better transportation modes and mix-use planning, which are the basic ideas of smart growth, a healthier living environment for all will develop.    

All you have to do is read pages 22-25 to figure out what chapters might be of interest to you.  Each chapter has a conclusion at the end, which summarizes the main points of the chapter and makes it easy to find valuable studies and information.  Urban Sprawl and Public Health is a great research tool especially for topics like air pollution, land-use, transportation, water quality, sprawl, health concerns associated with these topics and many more.  Frank and Jackson force their readers to see these issues in a new light, while still providing an immense amount of detail, making it a valuable educational guide and reference tool.  Whether you are writing a research paper or want to learn more about the health effects of sprawl, I recommend reading this book or at least skimming the conclusions at the end of each chapter because I have used this information numerous times in conversations or class discussions throughout the last 2 years. 

Works Cited:
Frumkin, H., Frank, L. D., & Jackson, R. (2004). Urban sprawl and public health: designing, planning, and building for healthy communities. Island Press.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pothole Laziness

What is black, cracked, and might actually cause damage to your car?  All of you public transit advocates might be cheering at the fact that the villainous car might have a weakness, a form of kryptonite.  Well if you didn’t already guess, the hero in all of this is a pothole.  But if a car is your transportation preference, then you are in trouble because the roadways in Los Angeles are lined with potholes. 

Probably every person in Los Angeles has experienced the inconvenience of a pothole at least once in their lifetime.  (Realistically, probably more than one since I remember at least 3 distinctively.)  But in all of my pothole encounters, nothing tops the cluster of potholes in the intersection of Aviation Boulevard and Imperial Highway, right under the 105 freeway.  It is not just your average; run of the mill, foot wide hole in the ground, but literally the left lane (heading North up Aviation towards LAX) is so uneven and bumpy that you would think a bunch of groundhogs were nesting under the pavement.  Cars are forced to either drive straight across the pothole collection and risk damage to their car or swerve to the left, into the line of oncoming traffic.  (Wow, what great options! Either I damage my car or die!)  For over a year now, the street has remained in this condition, which is ridiculous.  I can’t believe that the potholes have still not been fixed.  How hard is it to fix a pothole? 

The culprit here is not the city, but the Los Angeles car drivers.  Hundreds of cars cross this intersection on a daily basis and I am guessing that not one of them has ever tried to alert the city to the street damage.  The City of Los Angeles is not a mind-reader and cannot keep an eye on every road in order to fix the damage within a moment’s notice, which is why they rely on the citizens of Los Angeles to keep them informed.  But if we don’t tell them about bring these potholes to their attention, then we as drivers cannot complain because we are responsible.  I admit that I have been driving down Aviation on a regular basis for over a year now, and I never once picked up the phone to put in a request.  Part of the reason was that I had no idea who to contact or what steps I needed to take in order to fix this problem.  I also have been so busy that I hardly have time to relax anymore.  I guess I assumed that one day someone would call it in and it would be fixed, since other potholes in my area have been fixed in a timely fashion.  But a year has past and no one has come to repave the road.  Instead of changing my route to school, I have decided to take a stand! 

Ironically, it is super easy to put in a request to have a pothole fixed.  You just have to call the Bureau of Street Services at (800) 996-CITY (2489) or fill out the service request form online.  Make sure that you know the cross streets of the pothole location and preferably the address of a nearby building.  Now no one can say they didn’t know what steps to take and will have to put in a service request.  Please help our roads stay in good condition and not deteriorate, since it is very expensive for the city to repave our roadways especially in lieu of the current California budget crisis.  I guarantee that the cluster of potholes on Aviation started out as a single pothole, which could have been avoided with a single phone call.

That is all for now, but I will keep you posted on what happens to the potholes.   

Monday, September 13, 2010

Trio

The Transportation Mind of Los Angeles (Hello World)

Greetings loved ones,

Let’s take a journey through the LA roadways!

1, 2, 3 BOOM!!!!  3 seconds.  It took me 3 seconds to realize that I was not going to stop in time.  3 seconds before my car rear-ended the SUV in front of me.  Don’t underestimate the Christmas rush-hour traffic near the local shopping malls or else your car will end up like Toyo (my poor little 98’ Toyota Corolla that will always hold a place in my heart).  All I wanted was a burger from Happy Burger, but instead I got a totaled car, 2 nice cops, and muscle relaxers for my aching back (Ironically, to this day I have never tasted their burgers because I am afraid they are jinxed).  It’s been over 2 years since the accident and I still have an inability to drive with any of my friends because I flinch whenever they get too close to the car in front of them.  My subconscious has blocked the chilling event from my head, so I cannot exactly remember what happened.  But I do know one thing; the day I got in a car accident changed my life forever.   

But the world has continued to turn and now I am a student studying real estate development at one of the best universities in the world.  Urban planning has become a passion of mine as I have been introduced to it by my professors and see a need for CHANGE!!  I was born and raised in Southern California and have lived here my entire life. I love living in Los Angeles.  But the Los Angeles that I know has traffic that rules our roadways, as thousands of people commute to work every day.  Traffic has gotten so bad that stopped rush hour traffic on the freeway has turned into a regular pastime. Often, it seems we wait an eternity to get to our final destination.  I will admit that I am that woman who puts on make-up in the car when the traffic slows my car to a halt.

I did not always used to drive cars, and instead got around using public transportation.  Growing up in Manhattan Beach, I was able to walk anywhere or take the bus to the neighboring cities.  I have some of the best stories from my adventures on the Metro bus, but you will have to continue reading my future posts in order to read them because I don’t have enough time now to tell you.  But through all of my experience, I have found that people will only ride the Metro bus for 3 reasons:
  1. People don’t know how to drive or have no driver’s license
  2. People have a driver’s license, but no car to drive
  3. People enjoy taking the bus and this is their preferred method of transportation
Isn’t it crazy to think that some people actually ride the bus everyday for the pure pleasure of riding the bus?  Who would ever want to ride the bus for fun?  I wish that the public transit system in Los Angeles was more efficient and did not require lots of time and patience just to get from point A to point B.  Riders are usually forced to transfer a few times from bus to bus or even from bus to train or light rail just to reach their final destination. 

Therefore, my goal is to address these inefficiencies that have resulted in the major transit problems in Los Angeles and try to figure out a way to solve them.  I want all of the transportation enthusiasts out there to give me their opinions and ideas and participate in an active discussion about what is happening within the realm of transportation in Los Angeles.

But I really want to get people to leave their cars at home and encourage them to hop on a bus and experience public transit for what it really is.  I know it can be scary to leave the comfort of your car (because that is all you know), but I promise that you will survive.  Most people keep to themselves, so the buses are usually quiet, which gives you plenty of time to partake in my favorite pastime: people watching.  It’s perfect, because everyone is focused on their next stop than on the people around them.  So I challenge everyone to take a chance and step outside of their comfort zone and experience the Los Angeles public transit system and create some stories of your own!

That is all for now, but I look forward to taking a wild ride with you through these issues and relaying personal experience with a pinch of academic research and interviews to address these problems.  I want to see what LA can do to become more pedestrian, bike, and public transit friendly and hit on issues such as race, class, gender, etc.  This is a new era where cars need to stop ruling the roadways!



Way to Go, I Finally Found a Blog! (Profile Blog)

I hate reading.  It is my least favorite thing to do, so the fact that I actually read the last sentence of the post says something about this blog and its authors.  Way2Go-Transporation for the 21st Century is sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and consists of a group of bloggers: Peter Ashcroft, who is an automotive focused policy analyst, John Mimikakis, who is a senior policy manager, and Kathryn Phillips, who is the director of the California Transportation and Air Initiative.  It is ideal that the bloggers appear to specialize in public policy, since the mission of the EDF is to unite community, business and government in order to find realistic solutions to the looming environmental issues that society seems to ignore.

I love how out of all of the posts, (each blogger seems to post at least once every 2 weeks, which adds up quickly) I was attracted to Carrie Denning, a blogger who will no longer be writing for the blog. 
California has long been considered a car-culture. Images of iconic drives along Big Sur and through redwood forests are as ubiquitous as surf boards and the Golden Gate. Meanwhile, the East Coast is often synonymous with fast and sleek metro systems packed full of commuters.
How ironic is it that Carrie is heading to the East Coast and is forced to drive, when the East Coast has some of the leading public transit systems in the world?  It is refreshing to hear that Los Angeles is not the only city that is in dire need of an updated public transit system.  Her writing style personifies what I want my blog to represent. Carrie’s strong voice doesn’t overpower or force ideas onto her readers like the Jesus-freak protesters that picket at nearby community colleges or at the end of the Rose Parade.  She wants her readers to develop their own opinions.  Instead of coinciding with emotional reactions (which as we learned from the Gulf, does not help things), people can think about them differently and develop well-thought out, viable solutions.  I can’t believe that this blog doesn’t have a huge fan base, which is evident from the lack of comments and the fact that technorati.com has never heard of this site. 

Kathryn Phillips caught my attention as she also writes with a similar captivating style.  “Stimulus Plan? Taking Transit Can Save You $10,000” begins with her co-workers explaining how they are going to spend their mad money.  Saving $10,000 is a huge incentive for people to utilize public transit more often and fight against the general public’s misconceptions.  But how does using public transportation turn into $10,000?  I had to finish reading in order to find the answer and see what the catch was, because this seemed too good to be true.  By the end of the post, I knew the answer and became an advocate for a Senate bill that fights for the addition of funds to our public transit systems.       

Way2Go’s blog grabs its audience’s attention and tries to reach out to the American public for support and help.  They have great topics, which will help me start thinking about posts for my blog; however, I want to interview actual people in the field and not just use literary articles as my main source of information. Instead, I want to get input from students, faculty, and experts in the transportation field and begin a discussion about how to improve Los Angeles’ public transit.  I am so excited to connect with my readers and inform them about what issues Los Angeles is facing right in their backyards.



Seemingly Friendly (My Voice Post) 

Here are four tips to make you seem “friendly” over the internet (examples from Erinwdesign’s blog “Living in Los Angeles without a Car”, LILAWAC!):
  1.  Don’t be afraid to share your calluses with the world.  Erin (for short) did this in two ways that instilled trust in her readers as she confided in us with personal information.  “I am ashamed…I have been coveting other bikes lately.”  “I am ashamed” makes Erin seem like a victim and get the sympathy of her readers, but at the same time a sense of trust has developed, since she appears to be letting her readers in on a little personal secret of hers.  The ellipsis inserts a break in the sentence, which increases the reader’s anticipation of her secret, since the reader wants to know why she is ashamed.    

    Later in the same “The Urban Machine: Handlebar Tape” post, Erin shares detailed information with her audience that people don’t tell just anyone, because they don’t want to be judged or evoke a bad response.  Clearly, Erin didn’t care. “The callouses (sic) developing on the palms of my hands…” Erin lets her readers know that she is open and wants her readers to get to know her on a personal level.  (Calluses is spelled wrong in Erin’s post, but that lets us know that she isn’t perfect and I don’t judge because I am one of the worst spellers ever.) Sharing personal information with your audience (information that you would only tell your best friend) is key to developing that strong fan base. 
  2.  
  3. Buy a bike and name it Ruby.  I had so much fun and even chuckled a few times after reading about Ruby.  You would think Ruby was a red bike, but surprise surprise, Ruby is blue as shown in the picture. Not red, but blue, which is odd in my eyes. I am sure she has a reason for naming her bike Ruby. I just wish she explained because now I’m curious. Ruby is not just any normal bike, but is the love of Erin’s life. Why else would Erin bother taking a picture of her bike? (Craigslist? But she would never sell her best friend!)  It is nice of Erin to introduce us visually to Ruby, which helped to spice up her blog and break up the endless stream of black on the page.  Erin explains that “buying Ruby was an easy decision, one ride and I decided I HAD to have this bike, it was THE ONE.”  Capitalization screams drama and excitement, letting her audience know how special Ruby is to her.  When Erin called Ruby “THE ONE”, I sensed the love between her and her bike and how in Erin’s eyes, Ruby is priceless.  When you reach a point when you care what your bike thinks of you and feel that you are cheating by looking at another inanimate object; the bike has transformed into its human form.  Her passion about being car-free just jumps off the page, but not in an overwhelming way, since she explains her adventures with Ruby in “A car when you need it”
  4. Anyway, I wanted to share with you how I make [zip-cars] work: I have to ride my bike up to UCLA, then stuff it in the back of the car and drive it away. I guess I could also park the bike nearby... but I would spend the entire day worried about whether or not it would be there when I got back. So behold, Ruby getting a ride in a Honda Insight.
    Would anyone worry about something they didn’t care about?  Of course not. this further emphasizes my point that Ruby is human, since Erin spends all her time with Ruby.  Erin comes off as a down-to-earth person just trying to make a difference, which is a hard thing to convey over writing.  I feel like if we met we would be friends, because I also talk to inanimate objects, like my splendid stuffed animals.  My advice for you is if you want to be relatable, make inanimate objects appear human.
  5. Who cares about formatting? Insert a picture in the middle of the page! Make your blog appear more informal and close your eyes and randomly insert a picture into the text.  Walla, from a visual perspective, it looks like you don’t care about the display of your blog and that your main focus is the written word.  (Now you appear to be super deep and a real artist, even if it wasn’t your intention.)  I truly believe that Erin did not have a clue on how to format her blog, but it doesn’t matter because her uncaring nature to take the effort to figure it out shows how insignificant appearance is to her.   
  6. Channel Yoda and teach your fellow Jedi! If you are going to use language that is specific to your field of study, please place a link to what it means so that your audience has a clue to what you are talking about.  If it’s not common knowledge, attach a link.  I have no knowledge about bikes or why there is tape on the bike etc, so it was nice that Erin attached a link to what “MKS half clips” are or the bike store “Palms cycle”. Your reader will admire you because you just taught them something new. 
Above all, BE TRUE TO YOURSELF and your blog will ROCK!

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    My Voice Post

    Here are four tips to make you seem “friendly” over the internet (examples from Erinwdesign’s blog “Living in Los Angeles without a Car”, LILAWAC!):
    1. Don’t be afraid to share your calluses with the world. Erin(for short) did this in two ways that instilled trust in her readers as she confided in us with personal information. “I am ashamed…I have been coveting other bikes lately.” “I am ashamed” makes Erin seem like a victim and get the sympathy of her readers, but at the same time a sense of trust has developed, since she appears to be letting her readers in on a little personal secret of hers. The ellipsis inserts a break in the sentence, which increases the reader’s anticipation of her secret,since the reader wants to know why she is ashamed.
    2. Later in the same “The Urban Machine: Handlebar Tape” post,Erin shares detailed information with her audience that people don’t tell just anyone, because they don’t want to bejudged or evoke a bad response. Clearly,Erin didn’t care. “The callouses (sic) developing on the palms of my hands…” Erinlets her readers know that she is open and wants her readers to get to know heron a personal level. (Calluses isspelled wrong in Erin’s post, but that lets us know that she isn’t perfect andI don’t judge because I am one of the worst spellers ever.) Sharing personalinformation with your audience (information that you would only tell your best friend) is key to developing that strong fanbase.
    3. Buy a bike and name it Ruby. I had so much fun and evenchuckled a few times after reading about Ruby. You would think Ruby was a red bike, but surprise surprise, Ruby is blue as shown in the picture. Not red,but blue, which is odd in my eyes. I am sure she has a reason for naming herbike Ruby. I just wish she explained because now I’m curious. Ruby is not just any normal bike, but is the love of Erin’s life. Why else would Erin bothertaking a picture of her bike? (Craigslist? But she would never sell her bestfriend!) It is nice of Erin to introduceus visually to Ruby, which helped to spice up her blog and break up the endlessstream of black on the page. Erinexplains that “buying Ruby was an easy decision, one ride and I decided I HADto have this bike, it was THE ONE.” Capitalization screams drama and excitement, letting her audience knowhow special Ruby is to her. When Erincalled Ruby “THE ONE”, I sensed the love between her and her bike and how inErin’s eyes, Ruby is priceless. When you reach a point when you care whatyour bike thinks of you and feel that you are cheating by looking at anotherinanimate object; the bike has transformed into its human form. Her passion about being car-free just jumps off the page, but not in an overwhelming way,since she explains her adventures with Ruby in “A car when you need it”.
    4. Anyway, I wanted to share with you how I make [zip-cars]work: I have to ride my bike up to UCLA, then stuff it in the back of the carand drive it away. I guess I could also park the bike nearby... but I would spend the entire day worried about whether or not it would be there when I gotback. So behold, Ruby getting a ride in a Honda Insight.
      Would anyone worry about something they didn’t care about? Of course not. this further emphasizes my point that Ruby is human, since Erin spends all her time with Ruby. Erin comes off as a down-to-earth person just trying to make a difference, which is a hard thing to convey overwriting. I feel like if we met we wouldbe friends, because I also talk to inanimate objects, like my splendid stuffed animals. My advice for you is if you want to be relatable, make inanimate objects appear human.
    5. Who cares about formatting? Insert a picture in the middle of the page! Make your blog appear more informal and close your eyes and randomly insert a picture into the text. Walla, from a visual perspective, itlooks like you don’t care about the display of your blog and that your main focus is the written word. (Now you appear tobe super deep and a real artist, evenif it wasn’t your intention.) I trulybelieve that Erin did not have a clue on how to format her blog, but it doesn’t matter because her uncaring nature to take the effort to figure it out showshow insignificant appearance is to her.  
    6. Channel Yoda and teachyour fellow Jedi! If you are going to use language that is specific to yourfield of study, please place a link to what it means so that your audience hasa clue to what you are talking about. Ifit’s not common knowledge, attach a link. I have no knowledge about bikes or why there is tape on the bike etc, soit was nice that Erin attached a link to what “MKS half clips” are or the bikestore “Palms cycle”. Your reader willadmire you because you just taught them something new.
    Above all, BE TRUE TO YOURSELF and your blog will ROCK!

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Profile Post

    Today, I spent hours trying to find a blog that did not translate the newest federal and state transit policy initiatives into plain English (like a knock-off news reporter) or read the criticisms that “green” activists had about these policies without providing actual statistics or realistic solutions to improve the policy. But just as I was about to give up my search, I found Way2Go-Transportation for the 21st Century, which is sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and consists of a group of bloggers that are actually trying to provide realistic solutions to make our communities greener. What I love about this blog is that the writers talk about their own personal experiences with these problems and then provide statistics and opinions from other literary sources in order to inform their audience, but in an interesting way that is easy to understand.

    I hate reading. It is my least favorite thing to do, so the fact that I actually read the last sentence of the post says something about this blog and its authors. The blogging team consists of Peter Ashcroft, who is an automotive focused policy analyst, John Mimikakis, who is a senior policy manager, and Kathryn Phillips, who is the director of the California Transportation and Air Initiative. However, it was one of their old bloggers, Carrie Denning, whose writing style personifies what I want my blog to represent. Each blogger probably posts at least once every 2 weeks, but I feel like each blogger might post on a more frequent basis. The bloggers appear to specialize in public policy, which is ideal since the mission of EDF is to unite community, business and government in order to find realistic solutions to the looming environment issues that society seems to ignore and pretends don’t exist.

    As soon as I read the first line of “Back to the Car”, I knew that I had to share this blog because of its relevance to my own personal feelings about public transit and because of Carrie’s strong hook.
    California has long been considered a car-culture. Images of iconic drives along Big Sur and through redwood forests are as ubiquitous as surf boards and the Golden Gate. Meanwhile, the East Coast is often synonymous with fast and sleek metro systems packed full of commuters.
    How ironic is it that Carrie is heading to the East Coast and is forced to drive, when the East Coast has some of the leading public transit systems in the world? It is refreshing to hear that Los Angeles is not the only city that is in dire need of an updated public transit system. Carrie writes with a strong voice, but not one that is overpowering and forces ideas onto people. She always concludes with her personal feelings towards a topic after providing actual evidence. Her audience has the freedom to think about these issues critically and generate their own ideas on their own, which creates an academic learning environment and allows for people to see these problems in a new light. Consequently, they think about them differently, which later leads to more well-though out ideas that are actual viable solutions instead of an emotional reaction. I can’t believe that the one blog that I found interesting does not seem to have a huge fan base, which is apparent from the lack of comments on this post and the fact that the blog is not ranked on technorati.com. But Carrie does have a fan base, based on the comments on her other posts.

    Kathryn Phillips also caught my attention as she also writes with a similar style that is captivating. “Stimulus Plan? Taking Transit Can Save You $10,000” begins with her co-workers remarks about how to spend all this extra money, which in turn promotes public transit by putting it in a new light and fights against the general public’s misconceptions. Her catchy intro allows for people to get attached to her post and then continue reading on learning about how a bill is going through the Senate that would add funds towards transit and fight against the current funding cuts. 

    Way2Go’s blog grasps its audience’s attention and tries to reach out to the American public for support and help. They have great topics, which will help me start thinking about posts for my blog; however, I want to interview actual people in the field and not just grab my sources from news articles or other online sources. Instead, I want to get input from students, faculty, and experts in the transportation field and begin a discussion about how to improve Los Angeles’ public transit. I am so excited to connect with my readers and inform them about what issues Los Angeles is facing right in their backyards.

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Hello World

    Hi everyone,

    My name is Amy and I am currently a student studying real estate development. However, I will admit that urban planning has become a passion of mine as I have been introduced to it by my professors and see a need for CHANGE!! I was born and raised in Southern California and have lived here my entire life. I love living in Los Angeles. But the Los Angeles that I know has traffic that rules our roadways, as thousands of people commute to work every day. Traffic has gotten so bad stopped rush hour traffic on the freeway has turned into a regular pastime. Often, it seems we have to wait an eternity to get to our final destination. I will admit that I am that woman who puts on make-up in the car when the traffic slows my car to a halt.

    I did not always use to be a car driver, however, and instead got around using public transportation. Growing up in Manhattan Beach, I was able to either walk to any place that I needed to go, or I would take the bus. Through my experiences, I found that people only use the Metro bus for 3 reasons:

    1) People don’t know how to drive or have no driver’s license

    2) People have a driver’s license, but no car to drive

    3) People enjoy taking the bus and this is their preferred method of transportation

    The third reason is the most uncommon, but I have found that some people do ride the bus everyday for the pure pleasure of riding the bus. However, the public transit system in Los Angeles is not efficient and requires lots of time and patience. Also, riders will probably have to transfer a few times from bus to bus or even from bus to train or light rail just to reach their final destination.

    My goal is to address the transit problems in Los Angeles and try to figure out a way to solve them. I want all transportation enthusiasts to give me their opinions and ideas and have an active discussion about what is happening within the realm of transportation in Los Angeles.

    I also want to get people to leave their cars at home and encourage them to have their first public transportation experience. I know it can be scary for those people who practically grew up in their car, but I promise that public transportation is safe. Most people just keep to themselves, so the buses are usually quiet. Everyone is just trying to get to their destination and is mostly focused on waiting for their stop than on the people around them. So I challenge everyone to take a chance and step outside of their comfort zone and experience the Los Angeles public transit system in any city!

    That is all for now, but I look forward to diving into this issue and relaying personal experience as well as academic research and interviews to address this problem and see what LA can do to become more sustainable and pedestrian, bike, and public transit friendly. This is a new era where cars need to stop ruling the roadways!