FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Media Contact: Colleen Farrell | SBCCOG | 424-271-4681 | [email protected]
SOUTH BAY CITIES COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS BEGINS WORK ON FIRST-OF-KIND SUBREGIONAL LANE NETWORK FOR SLOW-SPEED, ZERO-EMISSION VEHICLES
Network Will Provide a Work-Around for Skyrocketing Fuel Prices, Establish Equitable Transition to Zero-Emission Vehicles, and Create a “Clean, Fun” Way to Get Around
TORRANCE, CALIF., June 27, 2022 – The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) commences technical consulting work to create signage for a new 243-mile lane network, called the South Bay Local Travel Network (LTN), which will support the growing personal micromobility market of lightweight, zero-emission vehicles. The LTN is designed to accommodate neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), which appear similar to golf carts, along with e-scooters, e-bikes, one-wheels (electric skateboards) and other personal devices. (Watch video to see examples: https://youtu.be/AHELK76s6l4).
The transportation firm Fehr & Peers will begin planning sharrow marking (street markings that indicate that cars and slow-speed vehicles are sharing the road, which make it safer for all travelers), along with wayfinding signage and parking elements in support of the LTN. Vehicles using the LTN will operate at speeds below 25 mph.
“Prioritizing the least expensive segment of the market—local use vehicles—will speed the transition to the state’s plan of 100% clean energy conversion by 2030 by getting zero-emission vehicles into the hands of drivers from all economic backgrounds—not just those who can afford a full-sized electric vehicle (EV),” said Drew Boyles, SBCCOG board chair. “We’re excited to drive the advancement of this next-level innovation to local travel that offers a new, safe, clean and fun way to get around the South Bay.”
Along with the technical consulting work, the SBCCOG will also embark on a yearlong project to develop the branding and other details necessary to implement the first two corridors of the LTN in the Beach Cities of El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach, as well as across the inland cities of Gardena, Lawndale and Hawthorne.
In related news, Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi, 66th District, has introduced Assembly Bill 2432. If passed, the bill could support the LTN by authorizing cities to develop NEV plans. Such a plan is required for the addition of street markings or signage that specifically references NEVs, so it would allow cities to designate the LTN as an NEV route.
SBCCOG research shows that 70% of trips in the South Bay are 3 miles or less and 90% are within 10 miles. Additionally public transit mode share is less than 3% in the subregion, largely due to inefficient service for noted travel patterns. This means most South Bay residents use internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles with an average weight of 4,000 pounds to make short trips. As of May of 2021, the region’s residents were collectively paying more than $1.5 billion annually for gasoline and $9,000 individually for automobile expenses. These numbers are conservative given that, in the last 12 months, gas prices have risen 62%, according to https://gasprices.aaa.com/.
The SBCCOG’s Route Refinement Study for a South Bay Local Travel Network proposes a route that would overlay onto the South Bay’s 2,000 miles of existing streets—dedicated to micro-devices.
The SBCCOG’s study highlights the following additional eye-opening statistics:
- 64% of total trips originating in the South Bay terminate in the South Bay, averaging seven minutes each trip in travel time, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) South Bay Matrix, 2015
- Only 9% of trips originating in the South Bay terminate outside of the 25-mile radius
- 28% of car trips are a mile or less, nationally
- Autos are parked 95% of the time
The study cites the following potential benefits of the proposed LTN:
- Allowing restaurants and retailers to use parking areas without losing capacity (small vehicles require less space)
- Providing residents and overnight visitors with a special uncongested path around the South Bay
- Providing congestion relief for automobiles by redirecting smaller/slower vehicles from travel off the major arterials and busy roads
- Reducing transportation expenses (gas, car payments, maintenance) for residents
- Improving street safety due to the reduction of average speeds
- Providing accessibility for those that have mobility/physical challenges
- Increasing the appeal to employers in the area, attracted to a “green economy”
Using Metro’s 2017 “Slow-Speed Network Strategic Plan,” as a conceptual starting point, a Caltrans Sustainability grant provided funding to design and then refine a sub-regional network of safe, slow-speed streets into a near-ready planning guide for South Bay cities to implement. The project methodology was data driven, using GIS coded datasets, city policy preferences and field testing. Network design choices for the qualities and characteristics of streets were critically reviewed and tested for safety, usability, proximity and/or integration into the existing street infrastructure, including bicycle networks. The route segments that evolved as the final proposed LTN reflect multiple iterations of data gathering, map-making and stakeholder feedback.
The SBCCOG’s service territory includes 15 cities and areas of Los Angeles City Council District 15, along the Harbor Freeway corridor into San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles. In the initial phase of the project, street and route refinements were slated only for the beach and inland cities, excluding communities located on the Peninsula and San Pedro due to their hilly terrain which presented challenges for sustaining vehicle battery power. However, COVID-19 became a catalyst to the growing market of e-bicycles and the development of batteries with greater range and capacity to navigate hilly topography, so the geographic range of the study was expanded to include these communities. In July of 2020, e-bike sales jumped 918% in Manhattan Beach and more than 800% in Hermosa Beach, compared to the same period in 2019. Globally the market grew 54% during that same period.
Successful implementation of the LTN will coincide with the availability of safe and secure parking and charging facilities in residential communities and commercial districts. The final route refinements, as well as planning for the Local Travel Network’s Wayfinding and signage, are expected to be completed at the end of 2022. Once completed, cities will submit applications for Metro Measure M funding to implement the network in their communities. Approval of funds is anticipated in the summer of 2023, with completion of the first two corridor projects anticipated in 2024.
By visiting https://bit.ly/LocalTravelNetwork, residents can also look up their own neighborhood to see if the destinations they frequently visit would be included in the network.
ABOUT SOUTH BAY CITIES COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS:
The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) is a joint powers government agency of 16 cities and the County of Los Angeles which share the goal of maximizing the quality of life and productivity of the subregion. Within this structure, cities and Los Angeles County maintain the qualities and characteristics that make them unique and independent, while also coming together collectively to address issues of common interest for a greater good of the communities through partnership, persuasion, performance and advocacy. For more information about the SBCCOG visit http://southbaycities.org