Wednesday, December 2, 2015

UCLA Health Continued (3) The first steps [...] have already been made and further progress is inevitable.

Olga Yokoyama, Distinguished Professor at UCLA, has shared with us a letter written to UCLA Health CEO Mazziotta and laid out the arguments for doing more and doing it now. In her letter she speaks about her personal experience using a bicycle, and the obstacles she has faced in the past.
I made a lonely case whenever there was a bicycle parking problem, including the management at the Faculty Center, whom I told that the Faculty Center needs to have a bike rack near the entrance to prevent people like me from parking my bike next to a traffic sign across from the Faculty Center (and getting in trouble with campus police). It was a distinctly odd topic to bring up at the time, and the fact that it was a graying female faculty member raising it made it only more difficult for those addressed to respond.
This bike rack has now been planted and is well used, not least due to her insistance. She also refers to the "gray couple happily biking" that is used to advertise the UCLA Health System. She encourages him to lead a concerted effort to make such happy cycling a reality for more people and she concludes "I do feel optimistic about the world when I imagine Westwood full of pedestrians and bicyclists, with only an occasional car passing by."
A lot more needs to be done to make all the locations of UCLA Health in Los Angeles attractive for cyclists, and to provide programming and education for staff at the hospitals. The resources currently given to transportation services are too limited and the standards are not exactly professional. Close communication between the users, well trained experts, and the health providers, and transportation services is a must if the planning is to be done to the appropriate professional standards.
Thank you, Olga. Please let us know when you hear back from Dr Mazziotta.
Image linked to pdf

Monday, November 16, 2015

UCLA Health Continued (2): Questions for the Chief Marketing Officer

Pattie Cuen
Chief Marketing Officer 
UCLA Health System 

Dear Pattie Cuen, 

We have been in touch previously about a Community Health Program featured in Vital Signs. I was glad that you were able to schedule one presentation about the health benefits of cycling in 2011. 

The UCLA Bicycle Academy would now like to express our disappointment that you have not taken up a sponsorship request from Santa Monica regarding their bike-share system. We have been told that your office had been contacted repeatedly to consider if the UCLA Health logo should appear on 500 Breeze bikes which are now operating. As you know, UCLA Health operates a hospital and a large number of medical offices in Santa Monica. Your support for a public transportation system which has, according to CDC experts, significant health benefits, would seem an excellent fit, both regionally and because of your commitment to community health. Why were you not able to take advantage of this opportunity? Has there been some administrative barrier that prevented you from pursuing this? Has someone whispered something bad about bicycles? 

The corporate mission of UCLA Health is to increase market share among those who need medical help. But you also have a responsibility to enable the public to lead active and healthy lives with fewer visits to the doctor. Putting your brand onto bicycles advances this community benefit and connects your brand with a young and trendy audience who represent an urban, "car-light" lifestyle of the future. I know we are in agreement because of this memorable image, which so effectively presents the rejuvenating abilities of the bicycle. 

It so happens that the City of Los Angeles is also planning to launch its own bike share system soon. They too are looking for a major sponsorship partner. I want to encourage you to reach out to them and work towards placing the stamp of an enlightened health provider on the most healthy mode of transportation. 

News today is that America's obesity problem is still growing, up from 34 % to 37%. This may sound like a economic opportunity for some in the health business. I hope you hear it as a different challenge: How could the UCLA Health brand support the active living arguments which flourish inside public health programs around the country, including the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, where you teach healthcare marketing. 

Please share with us the reasons why you declined the Breeze Bike request so that we can work towards removing such obstacles in the future. 

We have copied Dr Mazziotta because we are currently discussing with him a more rigorous approach about how UCLA Health sites can support and increase the numbers of those who do not drive. We believe marketing should play an important part in this conversation. 


Dr Michael Cahn 
Secretary, UCLA Bicycle Academy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

UCLA Health Continued (1): The medical establishment as a bicycle friendly employer

We had a short answer from Mazziotta, who writes: The UCLA Health System always wants to support activities that improve the health of the campus and the community that surrounds it. Your request to more effectively support sustainable and more healthy mobility would fall under that umbrella. That said, almost all of the items that you mention in the email correspond to traffic flow, bike lanes and bicycle storage in and around the campus. These activities are overseen and controlled by the campus rather than the Health System or the School of Medicine. As such, I will forward your comments and requests to the appropriate people at the campus level and have them respond accordingly. 

Karwaski from UCLA Transportation followed up with a more substantial answer. It includes the memorable term "erosion of entropy", as in: "While this is admittedly a complex process involving multiple jurisdictions, the combined public relations value along with the real-world utility of having such a facility will erode any entropy within the various partners." He also warmly acknowledges of our own work.

Image linked to pdf

His answer is here.

I then tried to draw the campus architect into this discussion. Referring to the plans for a new UCLA Health office location in Reseda, I raised technical questions which the campus architect quickly, too quickly, referred back to UCLA Transportation.

I asked:

With reference to our correspondence with Dr Mazziotta, aimed to insure that the UCLA Health System offers safe, attractive and welcoming bicycle facilities at all its locations, I would like to ask how the project # 947785.01 referenced above will contribute to this goal.

I would like to know: 

1) Do current procedures for this and similar tenant improvements include negotiations with the landlord aimed to increase the number of users and employees who will choose active and healthy means? 

2) Which nationally recognized standards do you apply when establishing the amount, type and placement of bicycle facilities (eg ABPB?) at locations used by UCLA Health?

3) Does the absence, presence and quality of such facilities play a role in SCAQMD compliance? 

4) When making changes that serve to attract a greater number of visitors without a car, it is good practice to put a $ value on the savings achieved for every car not parked. How have you calculated this value? Do you have a conflict of interest policy in place when weighing such savings against the income achieved through parking charges and valet parking services? 

My sense is that both the Architect and the CEO of the Health System imagine that UCLA Transportation is doing a job which it really is not equipped to provide. Traditionally, UCLA Transportation was strictly limited to work on the Campus. The questions we raise are specifically off campus. Moreover, support for healthy modes is not only a question of putting a bike rack somewhere, - most likely next to the refuse bins. It is about programming, about base-lines, about education, about a change of culture when selecting, renting, refurbishing, using locations for UCLA Health System. To provide that kind of service for such a large entity with diverse regional premises, some big, some small, where none so far exhibit any traces of having had the benefit of a professional bicycle planner, is a daunting job. Creating a bicycle plan and implementing it over such a varied geography will surely take a number of years. It will take more than "Karwaski will fix it" to make the UCLA Health system a truly bicycle friendly employer.

UCLA Health has a very strong marketing team, who have given us the image of the senior cyclists who happily ride along the beach. That marketing team also looks to it that most of the buildings UCLA Health uses across town carry the trademark blue color of our campus. It would be nice if the same care and attention that is needed to create this consistent marketing message was applied to make these sites fit for a healthy cycling future. Like the UCLA blue, this process would offer a great public relations value, but more than that, it would also have real-world utility, offering healthy modes to the communities where UCLA Health works.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The UCLA Health System needs a Bicycle Master Plan

The UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative was a milestone. Our public health experts led the way. The campus commitment is significant. Applause. Applause. Applause. But UCLA Health, that part of UCLA which employs more than 50% of all UCLA employees, always seemed distant when UCLA Transportation worked hard to reduce car trips and support cyclists. The Tiverton Bike Route blocked by building work, Bicycle racks replaced by valet parking for cars, and off campus locations, well, we just don't know. It is time to find out what UCLA Health is really doing for healthy and sustainable modes on and off campus. It is time that the high standards of support for non-motorized modes developed by UCLA Transportation are applied to all sites where UCLA Health operates.

Hence our invitation to Dr Mazziotta, the Vice Chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences, the Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the CEO of the UCLA Health System.

Click on Image to view pdf 

To prepare for the conversation with Dr Mazziotta, we need to hear from those who are involved with the medical schools and UCLA Health, be it student, staff, faculty or patient. Please point us to areas where small changes would have a big effect. Tell us about unsafe infrastructure, about a history of collisions, about administrative processes which discourage alternatives to cars use, and all the other malignant side-effects of that well ingrained notion that everybody drives a car in LA. The car-centric default is alive and well here, even though it leads to obesity, diabetes, asthma and cancer (evidence). Tell us how you were able to commute between UCLA and the VA hospital before 9/11, how that embarrassing Tiverton closure affects you or your colleagues. Are there questions which a public record request could answer? Are there conflicts of interest which make it difficult for UCLA Health to come on board with the bicycle turn?

Please come to our monthly meeting at noon on 5 November 2015 where we will prepare our dialogue with Dr Mazziotta. Please leave a comment on this page, email, tweet or share your thoughts on social media.

UCLA Health could be missing the train towards a better bike-able future. Even Cedars-Sinai tells you where to park your bike. Our health system is not "against"cyclists: They just don't own the problem that many not-yet-cyclists would choose healthy and sustainable modes if the right support and infrastructure was in place. That is what needs to change.

Lets try to give this big ship a slightly different direction: Back in 2006, the Bicycle Master Plan was virtually boycotted the largest unit (by $ and people) of UCLA: Not a single representative of UCLA Health is among the 67 names acknowledged on the first page. Things change late in 2014, when two deans of the Medical School, Linda Sarna and Eugene Washington, spoke out in support of bike lanes for Westwood. Mazziotta can build on this support and on the research in Public Health to bring his own houses and hospitals (6 hospitals and a large medical group) in order. As he unites the various leadership roles on the medical campus, now is a unique moment to move towards a Bicycle Master Plan for UCLA Health.

In the meantime, Noel, Physical Therapist at UCLA Rehabilitation, rides ahead with some sensible advice.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Contraflow Cycling is coming to UCLA

Taking your bicycle to North Campus, to Bunche Hall, to Public Affairs, Urban Planning, along Dodd Hall, to the Art History Library or to attend the meeting of the Bicycle Academy at Lu Valle Commons (BTW, our next meeting is on Thursday, 8 October 2015 at 12 noon at Lu Valle), a certain sense of guilt might accompany the cyclist. Guilt in the sense that the direct path up Portola Plaza is, legally speaking, wrong-way-cycling.

20 September 2015: Wrong Way: Do Not Enter
Heavy duty signage, fit for an interstate off-ramp, red and loud and in duplicate

This sense of guilt or embarrassment also affects the UCLA cyclist insofar as he identifies with his campus but finds no shortage of cycling arrangements which could be improved. So many small steps are still needed to optimize our campus for those on bikes! One such small step has now been taken at Portola Plaza. If the signs on the ground don't deceive us, here the waiting is over soon. The ONE-WAY lettering on the ground has already been erased and the bicycle road marking has been painted precisely where the engineer has left his telltale instruction which resembles a pair of cherries. Contraflow Cycling is coming to UCLA: Guilt-free cycling up north Portola Plaza.

A palimpsest of road lettering: ONE WAY yields to contraflow (looking south)

A spray-painted "pair-of-cherries" bike marks the place for a fully fledged bicycle symbol 

And here is a preview of the pieces still missing to mark a important step for UCLA cycling. $17.51 volume discounts available

Our campus is a big and complex machine: two years went by between the proposal and the implementation of this new arrangement. Two graduation seasons have come and gone, but now Portola Plaza is ready. Contraflow Cycling exempts cycling traffic from "One-Way" and "No Entry" signage. The legalization of two-way cycling on one-way streets has been very successful in urban areas in Europe. In many cities (and across some entire countries: Belgium, France) it has become the default for all (all!) one-way streets.

A wider use of "No entrance except cyclists" or "Bikes OK" creates a slight advantage for people on bikes. It advertises a small privilege for those who choose sustainable modes for their journeys. It helps to tilt the traffic system a little bit towards healthy modes. The introduction of contraflow cycling at Portola Plaza also recognizes that it is very difficult to direct bicycle traffic here in the same way in which you can direct cars through a one-way system. People on bikes will always default to the shortest path, just as they will default to the path with the least gradient. Contraflow cycling has sometimes been associated with higher incidence of collisions, but where it has been properly evaluated, it actually seems to reduce the risk of traffic collisions.

The new arrangement helps to regularize an informal cycling practice that would be hard to enforce. The signage alerts drivers to the presence of bicycles, it shows that UCLA Transportation takes support for healthy modes seriously, it is not expensive, and it could become a precedent for similar arrangements in the wider LA region. Well done!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Westwood Boulevard: UCLA claims its Great Street

Main Street UCLA: A Timeline

May 2008 In his inauguration speech UCLA Chancellor Gene Block outlines a plan to "transform the life of our campus" by building staff and faculty housing on and near the campus to "reduce traffic, cut commuting costs and bring a new vitality to Westwood."

June 2010 First elections held for the Westwood Neighborhood Council. A group called Westwoodbruins (Brozen, Freedman, Matute) does not receive enough votes. Since then the elected NC has aligned itself very closely with homeowner groups in the neighborhood and has repeatedly voted against any bicycle infrastructure on Westwood Boulevard. They say: "We support bicycles, but it is just not safe on Westwood Blvd."

March 2011 The 2010 Los Angels Bike Plan, adopted unanimously by all members of the LA City Council (including Koretz). The plan includes a backbone bike network along major arterial roads. The entire length of Westwood Blvd is designated as a Backbone Route and marked for priority implementation.

Feb 2013 Ryan Snyder of Ryan Snyder Associates prepares a number of road design options for the LACBC, including one which involves a flexible use of road-space (floating bike lanes) in some areas.

LADOT public hearing about planned bicycle infrastructure. It has been called "the single most unpleasant bike meeting". The convenience of drivers and the safety of cyclists collide head-on. Since then, the tone and level of understanding at such meetings has much improved.

May 2013 Calla Wiemer puts out the first of her studies on Bicycle Endangerment on Westwood Blvd. She also conducts an analysis of parking on Westwood Blvd which shows that on-street parking constitutes only a small percentage of overall parking supply on this street.

Nov 2013 After much agitation by homeowner groups, Koretz "kills" the study necessary to install bike facilities. Such direct intervention by a City Councilman with LADOT has been traditionally tolerated by the city council. Some familiar with administrative policies call this an undemocratic and ineffective procedure. Because strategic transportation decisions require a much wider vision than the limited scope characteristic of localized homeowner groups.

Autumn 2013 LACBC starts the Ride Westwood Campaign and organizes a series of meetings of the Bicycle Ambassador Program

Nov 2013 Connecting UCLA, a web-site produced by Mark Vanwenendal, highlights the barriers faced by cyclists trying to reach UCLA

Bicycle supporters speak at LA City Hall against Koretz's decision and demand a fair and honest study about implementing bicycle infrastructure on Westwood Blvd.

UCLA Bicycle Academy and Bicycle Coalition at UCLA meet Keith Watson, the Vice-Chancellor for Government and Community Relations, discussing the need for bike lanes for UCLA commuters.

Jan 2014 UCLA Bicycle Academy and Bicycle Coalition at UCLA meet with Jay Greenstein, Transportation Deputy for Koretz, at the office of the Chancellor for Government and Community Relations, again discussing the need for bike lanes for UCLA commuters.

Bicycle Coalition at UCLA conducts Bike Counts

Jan 2014 Letter by Prof David Eisenberg addressed to Chancellor Gene Block requests the establishment of a Healthy Campus Access Committee. The letter has been signed by two UCLA Nobel Prize winning scientists and about 100 additional faculty, staff and students.

Jan 2014 A Public Records request yields documents from Koretz office which throw some light on how the homeowner groups pressured the elected politician. The opposition is led by the leadership of the Westwood South of Santa Monica HOA, Comstock Hills HOA, Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association, the person elected to the UCLA Faculty / Staff seat on the Westwood NC, etc. Some notes on how the bike lane was killed have been presented here.

March 2014 Offer Grembek et al publish Safetrec Berkeley report A Comparative Analysis of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Around University Campuses. It includes data for Westwood collisions involving people on bikes for which no police reports were generated.

June 2014 Mayor Garcetti includes Westwood Blvd (between Wilshire and Le Conte) in his Great Streets Initiative, which represents a broader agenda to activate public spaces, provide economic revitalization, increase public safety, enhance local culture, and support great neighborhoods. Additional funding for Great Streets is made available.

Nov 2014 In response to Koretz' intervention against bike lanes, Ryan Snyder of Ryan Snyder Associates develops the "Remove Nothing Plan." This plan was not commissioned by a local agency. It was "donated" to the Westwood community and has since helped to overcome the absence of an official planning process, since Koretz stopped LADOT from proceeding.

Nov 2014 Deans of the UCLA medical school (Prof Eugene Washington, Prof Linda Sarna) co-publish letter in Huffington Post arguing in support healthy and sustainable modes in the vicinity of UCLA, especially on Westwood Blvd

Dec 2014 UCLA Bicycle Academy requests that the statement by the deans of the Medical School be discussed at a meeting of the Westwood Neighborhood Council. Report here.

Prof Linda Sarna, Dean of the School of Nursing, addressing Westwood NC 

Jan 2015 Westwood Community Council hosts a well organized meeting around Ryan Snyders proposal ("Remove Nothing Plan"). The meeting remains respectful and collaborative. Objections become more technical, focus on difficulty on how to mix bikes with buses, right turn movements etc

Feb 2015 Westwood BID holds two public meetings to hear from the community in the village. In each case, Ryan Snyder outlines the proposal, followed by questions and expressions of support. Jay Greenstein, transportation deputy for Councilmember Koretz, is present and expresses Koretz's interest in a equitable solution.

March 2015 UCLA Graduate Student Association and Undergraduate Students Association adopt unanimously a resolution calling for bike safe Westwood Blvd. The Sierra Club, West Los Angeles Group, adopts a resolution calling for a Bike Safe Westwood Boulevard 

Local Business which support bike lanes in Westwood:

(as of 5 March 2015)

"Bike lanes are very beneficial. It is less pollution than driving and bike lanes make it safer for our employees and for our customers. It is easier to park a bicycle. Also, five or six of our employees commute by bike - and they are always on time."
Michael Long, Manager, 800 Degrees Pizza, 10889 Lindbrook Dr 

"I think it would be a good thing because a lot of students ride their bikes and it would insure their safety going through traffic."
Arron James, Manager, Nekter Juice Bar, 10912 Lindbrook Dr

"I don't like to see Westwood Blvd narrowed, but I do like the idea of bike lanes."
Michael Newman, Dixon, Howell, Westmoreland & Newman, 924 Westwood Blvd

"It would be nice if we had bike lanes."
Jay, Chilly Ribbons, 1135 Westwood Blvd

"It would be much safer if there was a bike lane"
Rick Hartman, Owner, Westwood Sporting Goods, 1065 Gayley Ave

"Of course, we need more bike lanes, especially on the major boulevards, so people don't have to ride on the sidewalk. They also need to return all these bike-racks. All the trees and parking meters have bikes."
Paysa Fong, Designer, Gene Fong Associates, 1130 Westwood Blvd

Ferri Fathi, Executive Director of 
"I, personally, and Vintage Westwood and its parent company, Vintage Senior Living strongly believe in healthy and safe living alternatives.  Adding bike lanes on Westwood Blvd. would give everyone a safe alternative to driving a car and makes the side walks safer for pedestrians. Many of the seniors living at Vintage Westwood enjoy having the freedom to walk around the village and be able to run errands, go to doctors’ appointments, restaurants, and theaters and museums without having to depend on someone to drive them.  Safe side walks on Westwood Blvd. will make their walks around the village much safer and stress free." 
Vintage Westwood Retirement Community,  947 Tiverton Ave

Prof David Heber, Director, Nutritional Medicine and Obesity, founding director Risk Factor Obesity Weight-Loss Program, Weyburn Place
"I am very supportive of bike lanes. They are a proven health benefit. Physical activity on a daily basis is very important to stay healthy and avoid metabolic disease like diabetes."

Gizelle Strohkendl, Muriel Chastanet Jewelers, 1111 Glendon Ave "would like to endorse the marking and creating of bicycle lanes to and from this university town to help alleviate traffic and parking and to make our roads safer for all."

Matt Canale, Manager of Helen's Cycles Westwood, writes:

1. We deal with multiple car-bike related accidents every week.
2. Sales and repairs at our store are up significantly over the past two years. 
3. We work with Whole Foods employees and help them purchase and maintain their bikes. We also work with California Pizza Kitchen, the Sushi place at Gayley and Le Conte, Hotel Palomar to name a few. 
4. Helen's Cycles Westwood supports bike lanes on both Westwood and Gayley. 

"At the Hammer, we support healthy and alternative modes of transportation that make the museum even more accessible to local audiences. Many of our visitors and employees bike to the museum regularly, and we are interested in making this option both safe and appealing to those that want to pursue it."
Kathleen Shiroma, Associate Director, Hammer Museum

"I think bike lanes are always good to have. I don't see why there should be an issue."
Ben Keith, Manager, Urban Outfitters, Westwood Blvd

"We shall be very glad to have bike lanes everywhere."
Shoba Basabanag,  Manager, Ahhs, Westwood Blvd

"I think bike lanes in Westwood and in the city are a good idea. We have a new bike parking corral on Broxton and we encourage cycling."
Emmanuel Bautista, on site manager, Westwood Village Farmers Market

"I don't see why not."
Michelle Rhine, Managing Partner, California Pizza Kitchen. (CPK operates a bicycle delivery service in the village)

"We need bike lanes, yes, but I don't think Westwood Blvd is the best street for it. I think bike lanes are better on Gayley."
Fred Silver, Manager, Bel Air Camera

"A great idea."
Linda Goss, UCLA Blood & Platelet Center, Gayley Ave

"I just wish there was a bike lane."
Joe, Westwood Wireless

"One of our employees comes to work with a bike. He would be much safer with bike lanes."
Luis Benites, Radio Shack, Westwood Blvd

"I see the buses and the cars here and I have to say Westwood Blvd is not an ideal street for cyclists. It sees quite a bit of traffic. The side-roads are probably safer. But the cyclists are not going away, so we better make some bike lanes to make it safer for them"
Andrew Olson, Mayhem Smoke Shop, Westwood Blvd

"We would love any kind of help in Westwood. If it was safer to go down Westwood Blvd with a bike we would also profit from it."
Veronica Clarke, Owner, Capelli Lounge, Gayley Ave

Opinion and coverage in Daily Bruin by Nate Holmes (Walkable Street Culture), Julia McCathyDylan SmithSam Hoff (2013), Sonali Kohli (2010, "Lack of Bike Safety prompts Protests")

Additional Resources:
Daily Bruin Editorial - March 12, 2015
UCLA GSA Bike Safe Westwood Blvd Resolution
USAC Bike Safe Westwood Blvd Resolution
Sierra Club Resolution Calling for a Bike Safe Westwood Boulevard
Westside Today on Bicycle Mobility
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
Velo Club La Grange
TIMS based collision data
Bike Counts: