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damientalks's podcast

SGV Connect is Streetsblog Los Angeles' podcast that explores the people, places, projects and events that make up the changing face of transportation in the San Gabriel Valley. SGV Connect is hosted by Damien Newton and includes interviews by Brian Velez. This feed also hosts SGV Connect's predecessor podcast, #DamienTalks.
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May 27, 2018

With Kris Fortin still touring Japan, last week Damien spoke with Lisa Grater, the Transportation and Parking manager for the City of La Verne. The University of La Verne is a “Silver” level bike-friendly campus for its efforts to support student and staff bicyclists with traditional and some out-of-the-box thinking.

One program that has enjoyed success is the campus’ bike library program. Students can check out bicycles from the university’s transportation department for short-term borrowing at no cost. The library program, which now has nearly two dozen bicycles, has grown at the same time that the campus launched a bike share program. Different systems for different user needs, Grater explains.

Grater also credits the relationship between the University and the City of La Verne for the campus’ success creating a bike-friendly atmosphere. For example, the two worked together on creating and manning ‘pit stops’ on Bike to Work Day earlier this month and city officials and Councilmembers visited the one on La Verne’s campus.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

May 15, 2018

o you have strong feelings about the re-opening of the Walnut Creek Wash bike and pedestrian trail? Are you concerned about providing safe passage to school for West Covina’s children?

Tonight, the West Covina City Council will meet to discuss the city’s proposed active transportation plan. At a meeting earlier this month, the Council voted to postpone the discussion and vote on the plan after public comment tilted against the plan’s road diet proposals and concern about safety along a currently-closed bike trail along the Walnut Creek Wash. For coverage of that meeting, read this story in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

SGV Connect talks to long-time resident and public health expert Claudia Goytia. Goytia assures that the Council is not anti-bike and has a history of doing long deliberations before approving or opposing staff recommendations. However, she believes that the Council should hear from residents and other stakeholders who support improving the city’s transportation infrastructure. You can email the city manager at Chris.Freeland@westcovina.org.

If you want to attend and testify, the meeting will be tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the West Covina City Council Chambers, 1444 W. Garvey Avenue. You can read the full agenda for the meeting, here.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

May 1, 2018

This week on SGV Connect, we go back to Pasadena to check-in with Greg Gunther. A lot has happened since we last talked, just a couple of weeks ago as anti-road diet forces rallying behind the banner of Keep Pasadena Moving stormed a community meeting on a proposed road diet for Orange Grove Boulevard.

Gunther explains how the Union Street Protected Bike Lane Project is different than the propose Orange Grove Blvd. project. Gunther also urges everyone to attend next Wednesday's meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. For more information, visit the city's website, or listen to our podcast.

In addition to the road diets and protected bike lane stories, we also discuss Metro's bike share system in Pasadena. Metro is considering moving some of the Metro Bike stations in Pasadena to be more effective and is looking for community feedback. You can answer their online survey, by clicking here.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Apr 26, 2018

As we inch closer to "Bike Month," Bike SGV has some fun ways you can connect with local advocates in a laid back and educational format. Throughout May, Bike SGV will be hosting a series of fun events such as the Bike-In Movie Night (May 3) and the Birds and Bikes of SGV Ride (May 12).

But before one can join a group ride, they have to know how to actually ride a bike. Kris Fortin and Andrew Yip discuss the new Bicycle Education Safety Training (BEST) classes being offered in conjunction with Metro. The classes run from basic classes for new cyclists to experienced bicyclists who just want a refresher. A list of all the classes being offered throughout LA County, including those by Bike SGV, can be found here.

We'll be back next week with a look at the politics surrounding road diets and progressive street design in Pasadena. Talk to you then.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Apr 20, 2018

I am very excited to introduce the new co-host of SGV Connect, Kris Fortin! If Kris' name seems familiar to you and you're not sure why, it's because he has a long history with Streetsblog as the former reporter for Boyle Heights on Streetsblog Los Angeles and the current reporter for Orange County for Streetsblog California. In between, he served as a reporter based in Santa Ana for the Orange County Register.

For those of you that don't know Kris, this is a great "get to know you" podcast that talks a little about his personal and his professional opinion. Now that you know what he looks like, and know he'll be at CicLAvia this Sunday. If you see him, say "hi."

If you want more Kris, you can find all his stories for Streetsblog here, his super-popular story on the Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade here, and a profile on Kris that appeared on Bike SGV's Tumblr earlier this week here.

 

On a personal note, I think regular listeners to this podcast know the tragic reasons we're looking for a new co-host, and may have noticed our output dropped a little at the end of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. When I heard Kris had moved back to Alhambra, I was excited to know I might have the chance to work with a co-host that I knew, trusted and liked. I love doing this podcast and love hearing from everyone that listens, but it's been hard these past six months and I'll never forget Brian. But I'm excited to start our next chapter, and I know that Kris and I will be able to build on the work that Brian and I started.

Mar 19, 2018

This week, SGV Connect talks with Scott Chan, the program director for the Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement, and a longtime advocate for safe streets in Alhambra.

Our conversation starts with discussing the state of bike planning in Alhambra, a city that commissioned but never approved a bike plan a decade ago. However, given the lack of strong planning in the document, Chan believes the city did the right thing. There's no time like the present for the city to consider changing course and creating and packing a new bike plan in the near future.

We also discuss the state of "710 corridor planning" for the city now that the 710 tunnel project in the San Gabriel Valley is likely never going to happen. However, the city has some funds, and access to more through regional specific grants, to improve mobility in the area. Some outside the box thinking could lead to big changes in a short time.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Mar 7, 2018

It's been a couple of years since we last checked in with Greg Gunther, a safe streets advocate in Pasadena. While progress on installing the Playhouse District parklets has stalled, Pasadena is moving forward on some other projects.

Most notably is the Orange Grove Boulevard Road Diet (official website, here) a plan to turn one of Pasadena's most historic streets into one that best serves the community instead of cut-through traffic looking for an alternative to the 210. The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition is encouraging the city to approve a road diet plan for the street. You can get involved by emailing the City Council, by clicking here.

We also discussed a plan to improve the Rose Bowl Loop to improve conditions for all users. One of my first big stories was covering a wonderful car-free evening in the Rose Bowl loop in the pre-CicLAvia era. It was a wonderful night, and I've always wondered why more wasn't done to make the loop a more safe and attractive place to ride a bicycle or push a stroller.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Feb 20, 2018

Monterey Park is a hillside suburban city in the San Gabriel Valley, 7 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles. The city boasts a population of 60,269 people and will soon also be home to a protected bike lane for 1.6 miles on Monterey Park Pass as part of a complete street project. We talk about the project in the podcast, but if you want to read more about it, check out Joe Linton's coverage from January.

Today SGV Connect speaks with Thomas Wong, a resident and activist in Monterey Park who served on the city's environmental commission and currently sits on the Board of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. Our discussion covers the road diet, other bicycle and pedestrian planning, what the city might do with Metro funds from the 710 Corridor congestion alleviation plan, and the state of transit in the City of Monterey Park.

This episode marks the first in a series that we will be producing that takes a deeper look into the cities of the San Gabriel Valley. A second edition will be coming in early March.

SBLA San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Jan 17, 2018

In just about two hours, the Metro Board of Directors Parking Committee will meet to discuss a major update to the agency's parking policies. This policy, if passed in committee and the full Board of Directors next Thursday, would dictate how parking, both car and bicycle, would be allocated at future Gold Line Foothill Stations.

Today, we talk with Wes Reutimann about the need to increase bike parking at the future stations and some of the politics around parking policy. At most of the Foothill stations that opened in 2016, bike parking remains oversubscribed; leading Bike SGV and others to call for more parking at future stations.

The meeting begins today at 2 p.m. in Metro HQ in Downtown Los Angeles. We'll post an update after the meeting's over and details on next week's meeting.

#SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.

Dec 21, 2017

In today's Ask the Editor podcast, Streetsblog contributors Damien Newton, Melanie Curry, Jason Islas, and Kristopher Fortin talk about some of the main stories Streetsblog California covered in 2016.

But we didn't get very far, because there are so many stories to talk about. Streetsblog California covers statewide issues, which tend to be policy-focused and wonky, but we also cover local stories that reflect the influence of those policies on the ground. Right now we have Kris Fortin covering Orange County, and Minerva Perez reports on local issues in the Central Valley. We'd like to be able to cover local stories all over the state, to help local advocacy efforts learn from each other, but we are limited in our capacity, both in time and manpower. Womanpower. Peoplepower.

Which brings us to the reminder that these podcasts are also fundraisers. Please click here to donate to Streetsblog California to support unique coverage of the issues you care about.

Those issues include the gas tax bill, S.B. 1. In the podcast, we talk about how this long-overdue gas tax increase raises money for needed infrastructure maintenance. Over the last year we reported on how the bill got passed and what the final bill ended up including. We followed up with reporting on how state agencies in charge of transportation funding have been formulating guidelines to spend the money wisely and, we hope, not just on building new roads that will mean more needed maintenance in the future (and won't solve congestion). Here, we also touch on the effort to repeal the bill, which would be a giant step backwards.

See the S.B. 1 website, here, which is the state's first move towards advertising the benefits coming from the gas tax: “Your Tax Dollars At Work.”

We also talk about the Active Transportation Program, which got a shot in the arm from S.B. 1—doubling funding for the program over the next ten years—and which in turn is kind of a poster child for the state to show immediate results from S.B. 1. And that brings its own complications, including the possibility that not-so-great projects could get funding just because they do something for bikes or pedestrians, rather than create a true transformation in the way planning for active transportation happens.

As Melanie points out in the podcast, transformational change is a slow process, but in California, it is going in the right direction. Sometimes.

Finally, we attempt to answer one of the questions we got from readers in response to our previous podcasts. This question was related to S.B. 1. Getting Around Sac asked: how much of the state's road projects are paid for by state gas taxes? And the answer is: we don't know, and we're not sure anyone else has pinned down the answer. That's because the state's transportation funding system is complex beyond belief, even without the so-called gas tax swap that will eventually be repealed by S.B. 1.

Here's a link to some Caltrans charts that explain it in less than three hours.

But to the question: even with the new, higher taxes, state gas taxes probably don't cover a much larger portion of road charges than they did in 2015, when it was about 25 percent. In that year, more than half of all transportation spending was from local tax measures, many of which are sales taxes.

Which means, to answer an unstated but underlying question: no, roads are still not paid for mostly by gas taxes.

Here are some references for people who like to delve into the complexities of transportation funding. A Legislative Analyst Office report here describes S.B. 1 in some detail. And here's a report that takes apart the “user pays” myth of gas taxes.

And remember to donate to Streetsblog California so we can continue to study and write about these issues and future ones, statewide and local.

Dec 20, 2017

Believe it or not, here at Streetsblog we prefer to cover good news. That doesn't mean we wear Rose Colored Glasses all the time. Rather, when something happens to improve our transportation networks or how people experience their community; we like to write about it.

Which is one reason that yesterday and today's podcasts are so much fun, because when it comes to transportation reform in the San Gabriel Valley there is a lot to celebrate.

Today, I talk with Wes Reutimann of Bike SGV and Joe Linton of Streetsblog Los Angeles. We talk a lot about the 626 and how awesome it was. But we also talk about road diets, protected bike lanes and e-buses. There's a lot of good things happening locally, and it's nice to take a moment and reflect on the some of the highlights of 2017.

#SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.

Dec 19, 2017

As the year begins to wind down, SGV Connect will broadcast twice this week to look back at some of the biggest stories in the San Gabriel Valley this year.

Today, we talk to Felicia Friesema with Foothill Transit and Albert Ho with the Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority.

For Foothill Transit, we discuss their recent fare and service changes as well as the march towards electrifying their bus fleet.

For the Construction Authority, we review the march to the groundbreaking of Phase II of the Gold Line Foothill Extension and review the timeline to bring Phase II online sometime in the not-so-distant future.

A little later this week we'll continue the conversation with Joe Linton, the editor of Streetsblog Los Angeles and Wes Reutimann with Bike SGV.

#SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Dec 15, 2017

Welcome to the third podcast in our end-of-year-fundraising series in which we address questions from you, our readers, about almost anything you want to know.

Today our editors Damien Newton, Jason Islas, Melanie Curry, and Kristopher Fortin answer a few ringers in some perhaps unexpected ways. Damien thinks we may have gone off the rails a bit, but it all comes together to make some sense in the end.

We addressed a question from Kathleen Ferrier, who asks: 

(block quote) What are the top three strategies for countering inflammatory NIMBYism? What have you seen work?

Jason, who has had plenty of experience in his advocacy work with Santa Monica Next, thinks the first strategy is to get rid of labels. Our answers, in brief: pay attention, don't assume, and be human. While “Not In My Backyard” knee-jerk opposition to efforts to fix things is definitely a problem, it doesn't always stem from the reasons you might suspect, and you have to listen to find out what underlies people's objections to change.

Our second question is kind of related, in that it demands a human response. Jeff Tumlin asks:

Why don’t we talk more about the neuroscience of mobility? Like how being stuck in congestion triggers our fight-or-flight responses, shutting down the prefrontal cortex of the brain and reducing our ability to think through the consequences of our actions? Or why hopping on a bike can bring simple joy, and trigger the biological precursors of social trust?

Listen in to hear how we think this should play out—and to hear about what might or might not have been a response to last week's podcast about sidewalks.

And don't forget that we are asking for donations to keep Streetsblog California alive and well into the next year. Please support our work by clicking here and donating today.

Do you have a question you want us to talk about? Submit it in the comments below, or by email to melanie [at] streetsblog.org, or tweet them @streetsblogcal

Support journalism that covers the issues you want to know about. Streetsblog California reports on issues few media outlets cover, and we can't do it without you. Click here to donate today.

 
Dec 8, 2017

Today, the editors at Streetsblog California bring you the second podcast in our “Ask the Editor” series, in which we attempt to answer readers' questions about whatever you want to ask.

This podcast series is part of our year-end fundraising effort to keep informing you, our readers, about local and statewide policymaking, funding, and laws affecting your transportation options. Please consider supporting our work by clicking here and donating today. Who else, we ask you, could bring you a podcast dedicated to: sidewalks?

That's right, today's podcast addresses several questions we received from readers about sidewalks, a crucial part of our transportation system that is frequently ignored and almost always under-appreciated. At some point, everybody is a pedestrian, and everyone is affected by the presence—or absence—as well as the condition of walkways wherever they're headed.

“Why don't sidewalks get all the love they deserve?” asked our friends at Los Angeles Walks. We agree that sidewalks are not given the attention we need them to have. How much love do they deserve? Plenty!

Reader Getting Around Sac also asked why California law makes property owners responsible for maintaining sidewalks, which are part of the public right of way. It's true that's what the law says—and also that it changes from place to place. Some cities split costs with homeowners; some use parcel taxes, or require new owners to make needed repairs at the time of purchase. Los Angeles, for one, has its own complicated relationship with sidewalk repair rules, and some there don't think Vision Zero safety efforts have anything to do with sidewalk repair needs.

We learned a little bit about the history of the sidewalk law—it was created during the Great Depression, when cities had no money to build or maintain anything. The question sent us off on a discussion of equity and liability, and then right back to our first question, because nobody seems to want to take responsibility for sidewalks.

Do you have a question you want us to talk about? Submit it in the comments below, or by email to melanie [at] streetsblog.org, or tweet them @streetsblogcal

Support journalism that covers the issues you want to know about. Streetsblog California reports on issues few media outlets cover, and we can't do it without you. Click here to donate today.

 

Dec 1, 2017

Streetsblog Editors Tackle Your Questions

Welcome to the first podcast in our Ask the Editor series, in which the editors at Streetsblog California attempt to tackle your questions about almost anything you want to know. Today we discuss three of the questions we've received from our readers. Next week we will talk about more of them.

You can still submit questions either by emailing them to melanie@streetsblog.org or tweeting them @streetsblogcal

By the way, this is also a fundraiser. Yes, in this podcast we attempt to show how lovable we are, and how deserving of your support, because it's not enough that Streetsblog California brings you news about sustainable transportation that few other outlets report on. We also want you to know that we're kinda fun. And, it seems, a little bit wonky, if this podcast is anything to judge by.

Please consider supporting to our work to bring you information about local and statewide policymaking, funding, and laws affecting your transportation options by clicking here and donating today. [LINK]

You will hear Kris Fortin, our reporter in Orange County; Melanie Curry, editor of Streetsblog California and fearless explainer of wonky topics; Damien Newton, founding editor of Streetsblog LA and director of the Southern California Streets Initiative, which oversees all the Streetsblogs in California; and Jason Islas, Editor of Santa Monica Next and associate director of SCSI.

In this inaugural podcast, we tackle three questions from readers and supporters. We were hoping for softballs, but you, dear readers, sent in some doozies. Or maybe we just like to talk too much.

The first question was from our friend Pedal Love, who asks: “I believe that car crashes are the number one cause of preventable death in youth under 21—am I correct?”

Yes, it turns out to be so—for youth ages 15 to 24, the most common cause of preventable death, according to the Center for Disease Controls, is car crashes. And they are the fifth most common cause of preventable death for people age 0 to 14. 

The question is, why? Does it go up at age fifteen because that is when people start navigating traffic on their own? Maybe it has to do with the dearth of driver education in California, or the ease with which even inexperienced drivers obtain drivers' licenses. There's a lot to unpack here.

The second question came from Marvin Norman, a regular reader and a member of the Streetsblog California steering committee. “When,” asks Norman, “will the VW Electrify America money start to show up in projects on the ground?”

Damien tells us that the $2 billion settlement agreement between VW, the federal government and several states—with California, whose regulators caught VW cheating diesel emissions tests, at the forefront—is already on the ground in other states, and “coming soon” to California. A timeline, here [PDF], shows electric charging stations being planned and built by the end of 2018, and an electric car-share program being developed for a 2019 launch.

On the ground: 
https://electrek.co/2017/07/10/vw-ev-charging-network-electrify-america/

coming soon: 
https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/vw_info/vsi/vw-zevinvest/documents/california_zev_investment_plan_supplement_062917.pdf

The third question was from Jeffrey Tumlin, planner at Nelson\Nygaard, first leader and formulator of the Oakland Department of Transportation, and also a Streetsblog California steering committee member. His question was about congestion, and why we can't seem to solve it although we throw so much money at it.

Transportation investments have a powerful effect on public health, land value, social equity, economic opportunity, CO2 emissions, air quality, and other values. But no transportation capital project has ever succeeded in reducing congestion – at best, all infrastructure does is congestion chokepoints around. Why in California do congestion metrics remain central to most transportation funding formulas and performance analyses? If California thinks of itself as a global leader, why don’t we learn from other countries in doing more sophisticated business case analyses to ensure good outcomes from our transportation tax dollars?

A quick summary of the ensuing discussion, which does it no justice: because habit, inertia, lack of understanding of or belief in the concept of “induced demand,” political expediency, and funding. 

But there is some hope. California is finally in the process of changing rules to require new developments to measure and report on how much vehicle traffic they produce instead of just how much congestion they produce. [LINK] 

And the new gas tax will fund several programs that could help shift the focus away from just congestion. The Congested Corridors program, for example, will—if it's done right—invest in figuring out how to move people through congested corridors, not just cars. That program is set for adoption at the next California Transportation Commission meeting on December 6, so cross your fingers (or contact a commissioner).

http://www.catc.ca.gov/programs/SB_1/103017_SCC_Draft_Guidelines.pdf

http://www.catc.ca.gov/ctcstaff/members.htm


Listen to the podcast, and please consider donating to Streetsblog California.

Nov 28, 2017

Two weeks ago, SGV Connect spoke with Doug Strange about the role advocates can play bringing positive change to their communities. Today, we speak with Justine Garcia, the Transportation Program Analyst for the City of Glendora about how progressive transportation planners working in small cities can bring about big changes.

For her work, Garcia is being honored by Bike SGV at the 2017 “Noche de las Luminarias.” This annual party will include tacos, games of skill and chance, a special stocking-stuffer-silent-auction and raffle to benefit Bike SGV. The event will be on Saturday December 2, 2017, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Jeff Seymour Family Center at 10900 Mulhall Street in El Monte. For more information, visit the event page at Bike SGV.

Get a preview of the party by listening to today’s podcast where Garcia discusses everything going on in Glendora, and how stakeholders can get involved in some of the changes that will be occurring.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Nov 14, 2017

Doug Strange started an Internet chat group to talk about bicycling issues in the city of La Verne. Out of that group, the La Verne Bicycle Coalition reformed, to push for better laws and projects in a city, that in Strange's view has "zero bicycle infrastructure."

For his work in La Verne, Strange is being honored by Bike SGV for his advocacy at the 2017 "Noche de las Luminarias." This annual  party will include tacos, games of skill and chance, a special stocking-stuffer-silent-auction and raffle to benefit Bike SGV. The event will be Saturday December 2, 2017 (3:30-5:30pm) at the Jeff Seymour Family Center (10900 Mulhall St., El Monte 91731). For more information, visit the event page at Bike SGV here.

Get a preview of the party by listening to today's podcast where Strange discusses the state of infrastructure and advocacy in La Verne and how a group of excited activists can make a difference in their city or community.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.

Oct 24, 2017

Still mourning the unexpected loss of Brian Velez, this week SGV Connect picks up one of Velez's story ideas and runs with it: what happens to Foothill Transit buses between shifts; and what happens to items left behind on the bus (or on the bike rack) by riders.

SGV Connect talks with Roland Cordero of Foothill Transit to talk about the daily maintenance of the buses and Foothill Transit's Lost and Found. If you've stumbled on this article because you lost something on Foothill Transit, just click here to go to Foothill Transit's official fact sheet for lost items.

Cordero was also a guest last year, when we discussed Foothill Transit's e-bus program shortly after the rollout of the first electric-only bus line.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.
Oct 11, 2017

As many of you know, a couple of weeks ago our friend and my co-host Brian Velez passed away peacefully in his sleep. Brian was a great partner in this venture and I miss him both personally and professionally.

 

About a week after his passing, I reached out to some friends with Bike SGV to see if someone wanted to share some stories with our listeners. Edward Duong shares a story with us from outreach for the 626 that I’ll read at the end of the podcast.

 

But first, I was honored to have a chance to interview Diane Velez, Brian’s sister and co-worker at Bike SGV. She shares some stories from their lives together growing up and we discuss how that informed his work with us and with Bike SGV.

 

There’s a couple of ways that Bike SGV and the Velez family are honoring Brian going forward.

 

A slow-paced memorial ride in Brian’s memory will be held on Sunday October 15th.

• What: Brian Velez Memorial Ride

• Where: Chalan Rest Stop on the San Gabriel River Path (Where San Gabriel River Path crosses Arrow Highway; see map link below)

• When: Sunday October 15 (5:00pm)

• Route: Chalan Rest Stop to Azusa River Wilderness Park and back. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/tVowWDsRZm12

The Velez family is creating a Brian Velez Scholarship Fund to honor his service to the community and give back to other young leaders. If you wish to donate in Brian’s name, you can do so in the following manners:

• Check: Please make checks out to “Diane Velez” and mail to: BikeSGV, 10900 Mulhall St., El Monte 91731.

Paypal: Via velezdiane@gmail.com

• Venmo: @Diane-Velez

 

RIP Brian, we all miss you very much.

Aug 31, 2017

This week, Damien talks with Frank Ching, the Senior Director, Parking Management for Metro about the early feedback and impacts of the new parking program at the El Monte Bus Station. Earlier this week, Metro began charging $2 for parking at the Bus Station to riders' TAP accounts as a way to make certain that those parking in the lot were actually doing so to use the bus service.

The early impact shows that the program is working, the need for an overflow lot has vanished and at least anecdotally there has been little change to ridership. This experience mirrors what has happened when fully subsidized parking is replaced with a fee-based system in other Metro lots.

In today's podcast Ching not only discusses the program in El Monte and rail stations across the county, but also the future of the program and any near-term tweaks that could be coming to the parking plan at the El Monte Bus Station.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Whole Foothill Transit is mentioned in this podcast, they were not involved in the content for the podcast in any way.

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunes, Google Play, or Overcast.

Aug 17, 2017

This week, Brian Velez talks to a pair of horse riders in the San Gabriel Valley about their experiences, challenges and all of the reasons to choose riding a horse as their preferred form of transportation. 

The first interview is with Alejandra from Avocado Heights. A horse owner, Alejandra tells stories and outlines the costs of owning, caring for and riding a horse both in terms of money and time.

The second interview is with Deputy Hector Beltran, with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office. Deputy Beltran tells stories from his time as a horse owner, including a sad tale of a horse's death after being spooked by a driver. He also explains some of the rules and regulations for owners and riders in L.A. County.

This is one of our longer interviews, the podcast runs nearly a half hour and we do our best to only lightly edit for brevity.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episode of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn and iTunes.

Aug 9, 2017

Nisei Week is an annual festival put on by the Nisei Week Foundation in Downtown Los Angeles' Little Tokyo District. The nine day festival features everything from a parade, to a film festival to a competitive eating competition with pretty much everything else in between. A full schedule of events can be found on Nisei Week's official website.

Today, #DamienTalks with idori Mizuhara with Community Arts Resources and Cory Hayashi with the Nisei Week Foundation about this year's festival which begins at the end of next week. Hayashi does a great job of briefly laying out the history of the event and highlighting some of his favorite parts of this year's festival. 

Mizuhara works on the Go Little Tokyo campaign with Metro and the Little Tokyo Neighborhood Council. This campaign is designed to help the community thrive during construction of the Regional Connector in the area and to preserve the cultural events, and places that help make Little Tokyo a unique place to live, work and visit. The campaign, is working to provide transportation options beyond the car for people visiting the festival. Read more about that effort at Go Little Tokyo's campaign website.

A quick programming note, we are not going back to the #DamienTalks format for our podcast in the San Gabriel Valley. #SGVConnect will return in the next week or two with the promised podcast on mobility for horse riders.

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored podcast that Metro pitched to us and agreed to sponsor. No discussion was made as to any editorial comments made by me nor did Metro receive any questions from me ahead of time. If you would like to sponsor a podcast, email me at damien@streetsblog.org)

Aug 4, 2017

After watching bike share systems come to neighboring cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Long Beach and others; in July it was Pasadena's turn to launch its own bike share system. Shortly after the launch, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (COG) earned a grant to expand bike share to 14 other cities throughout the valley.

Today, SGV Connect's Damien Newton talks with Streetsblog Los Angeles editor Joe Linton and the Pasadena Complete Street Coalition's Blair Miller. Miller is also a member of the City of Pasadena's Transportation Advisory Committee.

In our conversation, we discuss the rollout of bike share in Pasadena and how the system is working and being perceived. From there we transition to a discussion of the regional network of Metro bikes and other systems before talking about future bike share systems that will be coming to cities throughout the San Gabriel Valley thanks to the state grant received by the COG.

"Bike share is an exciting opportunity because we hope it will get more people out and riding," Miller concludes. "I hope that Los Angeles, Pasadena and other cities in the San Gabriel Valley can keep going in the direction their going to get more people out and riding."

Towards the end of the discussion, Linton mentions an upcoming piece by Streetsblog L.A.'s Sahra Sulaiman that looks at some of the equity issues (pricing, location) that surround bike share in Los Angeles and throughout the world. He hopes that the COG's plans take reporting on these issues seriously to insure that bike share is a system that works for as large a group of riders as possible. 

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episode of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn and iTunes.

 

UP NEXT : Horses!

Jul 13, 2017

Every now and then, one of our interviews turns up some breaking news. The 6 stations that will be part of the next Foothill Gold Line Extension will have twice the bicycle parking as the six stations opened last year. Much of that increased parking will be in the form of "bike rooms" similar to the bike hub currently opened at the El Monte Bus Terminal.

While final details and designs on the rooms are not yet available, much of the rest of the station design will be unveiled at a series of public open houses tonight. Staff will be on hand to answer questions. Models of the station and samples of the local art will also be on hand.

Today, SGV Connect talks with Albert Ho, with the Foothill Gold Line Extension's media relations team about the meetings and of course about the bike parking.

Here's a full list of the upcoming meetings:

Thursday, July 13
San Dimas Senior/Community Center
201 E. Bonita Avenue
San Dimas, CA 91773

Tuesday, July 18
Palomares Park Community Center
499 E. Arrow Highway
Pomona, CA 91767

Wednesday, July 19
Montclair Senior Center
5111 Benito Street
Montclair, CA 91763

Monday, July 24
Alexander Hughes Community Center
1700 Danbury Road
Claremont, CA 91711

Thursday, August 3
Hillcrest Retirement Community
2705 Mountain View Drive
La Verne, CA 91750

Monday, August 7
Glendora Library, Bidwell Forum
140 S. Glendora Avenue
Glendora, CA 91741

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Jun 28, 2017

Welcome to the latest episode of SGV Connect, Streetsblog Los Angeles’ podcast covering the San Gabriel Valley, featuring hosts Damien Newton and Brian Velez. SGV Connect’s new episode includes a series of interviews conducted by Brian Velez on the pending report by the U.S. Department of the Interior examining whether or not previous administrations followed proper procedure in creating national monuments.

A National Monument is a place of historic, scenic, or scientific interest set aside for preservation usually by presidential proclamation. The San Gabriel Valley National Monument covers 342,177 acres of the Angeles National Forest and 4,002 acres of neighboring San Bernardino National Forest.

Velez interviews Congressmember Judy Chu and Los Angeles resident Roderick Burr, two supporters of keeping the San Gabriel Mountains Monument as it is. He also speaks with Glendora City Councilmember Judy Nelson, who opposed parts of the designation of the monument in 2014 but currently has a more supportive view.

A final report, due in August, could decide whether or not Trump challenges the National Monument designation made by the previous administration. In the meantime, there is a lot of waiting, and a lot of unease, from supporters of the monument.

#DamienTalks is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

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