Tag Archives: metro

seen from the bus

In another place, some brief thoughts about riding the bus today. No claims to being anything but about riding the bus this evening, but what riding a bike means touched on some of the things I was trying to say:

And we’ve been talking through Goffman in class today, how Goffman sees the marking of the territories of the self. I don’t remember exactly how he phrases it, but he says something to this effect: That in all of our marking of territories, we’re trying to do both demonstrate our respect for others and establish a kind of regard in others for ourselves. And it’s not as though this is ever a simple process, but I think it’s easier to do in some places than others. What makes the bus such a heartbreaking place is how often you find the incommensurable moments between the territories of others and ourselves. More often than not, it’s something between the bus driver and passengers, some way in which the driver closes out passengers, refuses to open the bus’ doors, makes people feel acutely the sense of not being quite in control. And because I think there’s something to that, some way in which the bus requires us (as passengers, though my escape is always the bike, the recognition or declaration that I could always ride my bike if the press of people got too bad) to accept the fact that we’re on someone else’s time and in someone else’s place.

I don’t think you have to deal with that in the same way when you drive a car (Joan Didion’s quip that what makes Los Angeles unique is that it’s the only city you could drive to buy a hamburger at 3 a.m.). There’s something to the way in which cars become our territories of the self, and the way in which riding the bus forces people to confront the limits of their selves. And that maybe was what made this sight so heartbreaking: This man, when he got off the bus, would rather have walked calmly (be cool on the street, nobody wants to be the person running with your hands full, nobody wants to be seen as that guy) to catch his local transfer, but he would have missed his bus. And so something slipped, he broke into a shuffling run, hands clutching plastic bags of groceries, trying to make his way home.

And back to schoolwork. Thanks to those who commented on the Crank Mob thoughts – I’ve had some more stumbling thoughts kicking around but have yet to find the time to put things together. But best wishes to everyone.

bus-only lanes and bikes

Damien Newton posted a story this morning about proposals to create bus-only lanes along Wilshire Blvd in an effort to develop what Metro calls “Bus Rapid Transit”. It’s a great idea in many respects, though it seems to be a ways from actually being realized.

Damien quoted a couple of the other people who spoke at the recent meeting:

Both speakers testifying on behalf of the Bus Rider’s Union spoke about the joys of bus riding and want to see the bus-only lanes be added to the road quickly.  Joe Linton, speaking on behalf of Green LA, commented that bus-only lanes need to be supported by an attractive, walkable pedestrian environment and the lanes need to be well marked as open to bicycles to avoid the confusion that occurred when bus-only lanes opened in the Downtown.  Others testified that the bus system in the surrounding areas will need to be bulked up to support the BRT system just as it supports the subway and light rail systems.

It’s Joe Linton’s point that I want to take up briefly. Not having really ridden in Downtown, I can’t say much about the interaction between bikes and buses in those bus-only lanes. However, having seen Wilshire at rush hour, I’m not sure that opening the bus-only lanes to bikes is the greatest idea. As I understand it, a bus-only lane would greatly speed bus traffic, so long as there wasn’t anything – read: bikes – in that lane. And asking bikes to take the lane along cars in heavy traffic strikes me as a questionable project. My suggestion, then, is this: Educated cyclists that riding Wishire might not be in their best interest. Even if there were a bus-only lane open to cyclists on Wilshire, I still wouldn’t want to ride: too much traffic, poor road conditions, and perfectly viable parallel streets make riding on Wilshire a no-go for me.

I think the cycling community might be better served by establishing parallel infrastructures rather than establishing bike infrastructure on already existing arterials (although the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. testifies to the success of those projects). At the same time, I alllow that cyclists’ best chance for pushing through infrastructure developments is linking those projects to bus and metro projects around the greater LA area. An interesting time ahead.

in praise of the 714

One of the arguments against biking in Los Angeles – at least, one of the common arguments you hear on the Westside, where I grew up – is that the size of the city precludes using a bike as your means of transportation. There is, after all, a certain perverse logic to the city, an almost sinister immensity. Never mind the fact that people (see Will, especially, but also Gary and BikeGirl) manage without a car (and in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not one of them), biking in Los Angeles sometimes seems daunting because the city seems so… well… big.

With that in mind, I’d like to sign the praises of the Metro 714. One of my greatest reservations about moving out to Koreatown from the Westside was how much further away from UCLA I’d be. But prior to moving, I looked on the Metro service map and figured out that I could probably subway to bus to campus without too much trouble. Problem was, the Sunset line (the 2 and the sometimes mythic 302) took anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour and forty minutes, and I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much time in traffic every day.

The other option I had in mind was the venerable 720, which a friend of mine rides between Koreatown and Westwood. There were two problems with that: First, the 720 never leaves Wilshire, which puts you down at WIlshire and Westwood when you get off the bus – not the worst thing in the world, but when coupled with the crowds of people that cram onto the 720 (and that’s my second problem, the crowds), I just couldn’t bring myself to pedal down to Vermont and Wilshire, wait for the 720, sit in a crowded bus, and then have to pedal the rest of the way up to campus once I got off the bus.

Enter the 714. It doesn’t go as far west as the 720 or the 704, but that keeps most of the crowds off it. It doesn’t run all that late into the evening, but I’m usually trying to bike home then anyways. It has the advantage of only making a handful of stops between Vermont and Beverly and its western terminus at Santa Monica Blvd and Cañon, runs roughly every twenty minutes, and best of all, I can almost always plan the trip will take me the same amount of time. The ride I have left (the map of the whole route is here) isn’t long enough to really wear me out, even though it ends with a stiff hill, and is usually pretty peaceful.

There’s no sitting on Sunset while the DWP decides to jackhammer one lane of traffic during rush hour; no full bus racks that leave me fuming while I wait for the next Rapid to come through; no reason, really, not to ride the 714 (and not to mention the fact that UCLA subsidizes my TAP pass).

As a last aside on mixed transit, Gary of Gary Rides Bikes put up a good post a little more than a week back on his sterling experience using public transportation to cover a huge swath of the city. The general Metro page, with a couple of good tips, can be found here, with a handful of other rules to live by here. While on that site, Metro also has a section on Bikeway Planning. I have yet to look through it, but it seems worth a look. And, while not actually about public transportation, BikinginLA is continuing his thinking about ways to legislate our way to a better biking world.