Category Archives: News

SANBAG Releases I-10 HOV/HOT Lanes Draft EIR for Public Comment

The clock is now ticking after San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) finally released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed I-10 HOV/HOT lanes this past Monday, April 25. With the comment period closing June 8, interested parties have just a little over a month to review and weigh in on several gigabytes worth of information. SANBAG really should’ve taken the proactive step and opened up for a 60-day comment period, but that ship is likely sailed. In either case, there will be a more in-depth review of the proposed projects at a later date, but it’s important to get the word out about the comment period.

A quick glance through the Executive Summary shows a project steeped in the height car-centric planning and design that has led to a region consistently ranked as highly sprawled and that is completely out-of-line with state goals and the economy of the 21st Century. Though the No Build is provided by way of comparison, the report focuses on the two build alternatives: extending the existing HOV lane from Haven Ave. in Ontario to Ford St. in Redlands or constructing HOT lanes from the LA/SBD county line through to Yucaipa. Those options come with a price tag of around $660mn or $1.7bn respectively, but either figure is almost certain to increase after more involved design and construction activities are undertaken.

Those price tags might ultimately be this project’s undoing. Although San Bernardino County’s Measure I allocates funding specifically for a HOV lane on I-10, it will likely not be anywhere near enough to cover the full cost of that alternative. Additionally, as the State continues to cut funding from transportation projects due to the volatility with gas tax income (which is set to enter free fall soon) as well as an increasing focus on moving the transportation paradigm away from its car-centric focus, it seems increasingly unlikely that SANBAG would be able to procure many State funds for a project so diametrically at odds with the State’s goals. Perhaps they will be able to get more luck out of the Feds, but even the USDOT has realized that we can’t build roads indefinitely.

This Draft EIR also provides some insight into recent reports that SCAG* is frantically fighting to delay the implementation of SB 743, which will replace LOS with VMT as a significant impact under CEQA, and is another prime example how other agencies are hampering Caltrans’ efforts to modernize. SCAG’s Transportation Committee is chaired by a representative from Ontario (by way of SANBAG), a city right at the literal crossroads of this project and a similar proposal for I-15 and where a sprawling new community of over 46,000 homes is currently under construction. The Executive Summary casually mentions that the two build options are forecast to result in a 3% (HOV) or 10% (HOT) increase in VMT, something which the forthcoming CEQA thresholds would certainly consider a rather significant impact in need of mitigation since they aim to set a threshold of significance at 15% below baseline. Needless to say, SANBAG and its member jurisdictions are not interested in being told that they need to reign in the parade of building more freeways and overbuilt stroads that dice up the region, even as they struggle to maintain what already exists.

Of course, a project this large has not gone ahead completely unnoticed. While the HOV option was expressly included in the Measure I extension that was passed way back in 2004 with around 80% support, the HOT option was not. Not surprisingly, SANBAG is seeking to get more bang for the buck by leveraging that money with private investment to build and operate the HOT option. However, the prospect of including tolls has piqued the interest of the Tea Party in the area, who have continued to turn out in force to protest this “Agenda 21 plan to force us out of our cars”. Considering that SANBAG and its member jurisdictions continue to build and widen roads with reckless abandon [PDF], that claim couldn’t be further from the truth. At the same time, they are attracting some public interest against the project, which may ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise if it delays or stops the project.

As mentioned above, a far more in-depth (and boring) look at the project will be undertaken at some point in the future. But for now, it’s imperative that everyone head over to the project website, http://www.1015projects.com, access the Draft EIR documents, and comment on it. Though considering the size and magnitude of the document and project, it would be nice if SANBAG would extend the comment period, that doesn’t seem likely, so look and comment early. Comments can be sent to the following address:
Aaron Burton, Branch Chief, Caltrans District 8
Attn: I-10 CP Draft EIR/EIS Comment Period
464 W. 4th Street
San Bernardino, CA 9240

*Though SANBAG is large enough to be an MPO itself, the regional MPO is SCAG.

Winter Cycling Congress 2015: Five Lessons from Leeuwarden

Attendees of #WCC15 listen as members of the local Fietsersbond explain Leeuwarden's "Park and bike" lot.
Attendees of #WCC15 listen as members of the local Fietsersbond explain Leeuwarden’s “Park and bike” lot. All photos by author.

On Tuesday, 10 February 2015, bicycling advocates from around the world gathered in Leeuwarden, NL to discuss best practices for winter cycling. Topics ranged from best practices in maintenance to just having fun on a bike in winter conditions. Though the Inland Empire doesn’t often get much “winter”, it was still a very educational and informative time for an advocate from the Southland. Of course, a few of our friends up the hills actually do also get something that resembles winter, so some of this stuff is actually even more useful to them.

Design for winter maintenance

Winter is typically the time of year when many areas see the worst weather and that which would most seriously impact cyclists. The anticipated maintenance provider should be part of the planning team from the beginning to ensure that they are able to maintain what is being built.  If the normal sweepers won’t fit on a protected bike lane, for example, then perhaps it is time to invest in a smaller one that will. Snow clearance is the natural obvious topic, but the methods are not always uniform, it really depends on local conditions.

Light it up
The "UFO bridge" in Zoetermeer provides a unique lighting experience to users.
This bridge in Zoetermeer provides a unique lighting experience to users.

Many times, paths, especially those outside of urban areas, lack any sort of lighting whatsoever. As a result, they are not socially safe places for people to be and as the days get shorter, people will avoid them. Providing lighting along key routes is a good way to keep people pedaling all year round, especially in places that have no winter weather challenges.

Communication

The other glue that holds the entire puzzle together is communication. Let people know what to expect, when to expect it, and where to expect it. Let people know whom they should contact when those expectations are not met. Also critical is making sure that internal communication is also outstanding. (This is one issue with designating meandering “linear parks” as bikeways. If the Streets/Public Works department is not responsible for maintaining them but the Parks department is unwilling or unable to, it causes problems for all.)

“A to Bism”
Dutch bikeways are designated as either functional/transportation (red) or recreational (green). This sign has directions to various destinations around Utrecht.
Dutch bikeways are designated as either functional/transportation (red) or recreational (green). This sign has directions to various destinations around Utrecht.

When biking is easy, convenient, and safe, people will bike. That was the message of “A to Bism” that Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize shared with the group on Day Two. This should be obvious and intuitive, but continues to be a novel idea on the planning stage and with dire consequences. When bikeways are built that are first and foremost aesthetically pleasing and recreation-focused, people will only use them when it is leisurely to do so. If people are going to use them at other times, there has to be a clear benefit for doing so.

Data counts

Last but not least comes the accountability. Data is a critically important piece of the puzzle of bicycle usage really all year, but especially in winter. Robust data collection is really what ties everything together. Identifying how many people choose alternative routes during or after a storm, for example, can help prioritize clearance efforts in those areas. Collecting feedback from the users is also important as they often have areas of concern that the agency in charge might not be aware of or rate as highly with their own internal methodologies.

These five elements are essential to the success of any winter biking plan. Whether “winter” means six straight months of snow or nothing below 60 degrees, the basic elements remain the same. Making biking easy, keeping infrastructure maintained and lighted, collecting data, and communicating what’s going on is the key to keep people pedaling all year long. These should tide everyone over until next year’s Winter Cycling Congress, which is set to occur in the Twin Cities.

Today’s News

Well, it’s that time again. Here’s what’s going on.

  • Riverside recruits volunteers to be ‘eyes on the streets’ to keep kids safe, gangs at bay (PE)
  • FDNY and New Yorkers lament that fire trucks can’t access streets with irresponsibly parked cars because of sidewalks (NBC NY)
  • City of Colton will be hosting a forum this evening to gather input on community services and activities (SB Sun)
  • Senator Liu chomps at the bit of paranoia from the recent Governor’s Highway Safety Association report, proposes mandatory helmet law for California
  • New SF app maps the size of a transit shed in different scenarios (CityLab)
  • Palm Desert taking preliminary steps for new condos (Desert Sun)
  • Riverside to remove parking, widen sidewalks leading to Mt. Rubidoux (PE)
  • Metrolink derailment leads to delays trains (LAT)

That’s it. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment!

Today’s News

As mentioned yesterday, I’ll be in The Netherlands for a couple weeks. I’ll do my best to keep up these posts, but I’ll apologize now for them being at erratic times of the day.

  • Carnage: Suspected DUI driver leads CHP on pursuit, dies at scene of crash (PE)
  • Carnage: Two injured after motorist rolls SUV in a parking lot (Desert Sun)
  • In response to fatal hit-and-run, Upland is restoring crossing guards (SB Sun)
  • Perhaps people aren’t buying trucks because of low gas prices (LAT)
  • HOT lanes can benefit those who don’t carpool or use transit (TTC)
  • Automakers not doing enough to protect connected cars from cyber attacks (RDF)
  • Steam car from a simpler era lives on (SB Sun)
  • Roads continue to be giant money pits, but Governor Brown thinks that a vehicle mileage fee can fix that (KPCC)
  • Protected bike lanes arrive in Houston (SBUSA)

That’s it for today, folks. Stay safe and stay tuned for more tomorrow.

Today’s News

The end of another week couldn’t come soon enough, IE fatalities on the streets are completely out of control. It would’ve been great to end the week early after yesterday, but the outrageousness continues. Without further ado:

  • Carnage: Man dies after a steel pipe on a truck comes loose and hits him (SB Sun)
  • Coachella Valley cities jockey to have their road expansions on top of CVAG’s priority list (Desert Sun)
  • Keep those fireplaces off again today (PE)
  • Inattentive motorists in Moreno Valley cited for not yielding to pedestrians (Valley News)
  • Is the real problem on our stroads the standards? (Strong Towns)
  • SANBAG is still taking comments about their Short-Range Transit Plan (VVDP)
  • Moreno Valley bridge to close for at least six months after suffering damage over the weekend (PE)
  • The vast majority of American highways are crumbling while most of the money continues to go to projects to build new stuff (SBUSA)
  • CVAG, RCTC seek input and will hold meetings concerning rail service to the Beaumont Pass and Coachella Valley areas (RCTC [PDF])

Have a great weekend! Hopefully, this one is better than last.

Today’s News

Well, that wasn’t long. People are definitely dying on the roads of the Inland Empire again.

  • Carnage: One dead in crash in San Bernardino (PE)
  • Carnage: Man killed while exiting his vehicle on I-15 (VVNG)
  • Carnage: Elderly man killed while crossing the street in San Bernardino (PE)
  • Carnage: Elderly woman killed while crossing the street in Rancho Cucamonga (PE)
  • Menifee’s Cimarron Ridge Draft EIR now available
  • Palm Springs’ 750 Lofts project wins approval from City Council (Desert Sun)
  • Victorville pays off SANBAG debt early, prepares for road spending spree (VVDP)
  • Murrieta gas prices are acting as a regional barometer (Murrieta Patch)
  • Riverside County DOT wins grant to expand GIS mapping of collisions (Valley News)
  • To get rid of ‘bikelash’, change the language (SBUSA)
  • Don’t fire up any wood today (PE, AQMD)

Wow. Hopefully, a better tomorrow.

Today’s News

Hard to believe that it’s already the middle of the week. Here’s what has or is happening:

  • The Rideshare Program is now signing up workers [PDF] who work in Riverside or San Bernardino Counties
  • CA Strategic Growth Council will be holding a meeting about the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities components of the Cap-and-Trade program tomorrow in San Bernardino (CA SGC [PDF])
  • SoCal water use is down 23 percent (RDF)
  • PSUSD turns on new solar panel arrays (Desert Sun)
  • ICYMI: Gas taxes don’t come close to covering road costs (WP)
  • More traffic at Ontario International, but smaller market share (PE)
  • Planned Walmart in Apple Valley ruled illegal (VVDP)
  • More coverage on the goodies for California in Obama’s proposed budget (RDP)
  • Internet can’t believe that bad transit forces a man to walk up to 23 miles to work, collectively bands together to buy him a car
  • The Redlands Passenger Rail Project will have quiet zones at the grade crossings in the city (RDF)

Incredibly, it appears that although there were some bent fenders, no one died on Inland roads over the last day for the first time in at least three weeks. Let’s keep that up.

Today’s News

It looks like six more weeks of winter await! Or so said Pawtuxet Groundhog yesterday. SoCal apparently hasn’t received that memo yet. But now, let’s look at what memos have been received.

  • The Transit Coalition explores future RTA plans for express bus service on HOT/HOV lanes
  • Carnage: Woman dead after hit-and-run on SR-18 in Apple Valley (VVNG)
  • Carnage: Woman killed on I-15 in Victorville (VVNG)
  • Coachella Valley students ask for cleaner air (Desert Sun)
  • Secretary Foxx and President Obama give a nod to more transportation choices going forward (CityLab)
  • Wyoming legislature shows how out of touch with reality they are with bill requiring hi-viz vests for cyclists (SBUSA)
  • CSUSB Palm Desert set to expand (Desert Sun)
  • Does the IE have any attractive cities?

That’s all for today! Check back tomorrow for more.

Today’s News

Well, welcome to another week and another month! Here’s what happened over the weekend:

  • San Bernardino County Parks received a $3.4mn grant to complete the next long-awaited phase of the SART
  • Adelanto consider putting more jails in the city on hold for 50 years (VVDP)
  • Carnage: Woman killed walking on SR-60 in Moreno Valley (PE)
  • Carnage: Motorcyclists killed in Apple Valley (VVDP, VVNG, PE)
  • Carnage: Truck collisions results in honey barbecue chicken (PE)
  • Riverside forum recalls desegregation of Riverside schools (PE)
  • MoVal bridge out after getting hit by cargo on a truck (PE)
  • Burning wood comes under fire for PM2.5 emissions in new SCAQMD research (SB Sun)
  • One of the world’s oldest cyclists passes in Long Beach (LAT)

That’s all for today, stay tuned for more tomorrow.