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Rideshare’s Rise Coincides with 34% Fall in WeHo DUI’s



by Ethan Ward, Crosstown LA

In 2010 and 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was making about 3,100 arrests each year for driving under the influence. Then, in 2012, Uber arrived; Lyft followed the next year. Suddenly, the number of DUI arrests started to drop.

By 2017, DUI arrests had fallen 32% from five years earlier. Though DUIs started ticking up again in 2018 and 2019, they’re still 30% below their 2010 level. (Coincidentally, 2018 was the year recreational marijuana became legal in California.)

There could be many reasons for the decrease, such as more awareness of DUI penalties, such as fines and jail time. Yet the Sheriff’s Department said rideshares do help.

“We stress to all of our community members the importance of using rideshare,” said Sgt. David Jennings, of the traffic division at the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster station. “There’s no reason why anyone should get a DUI. Anyone who is drinking should partake in those services.”

The department conducts law enforcement for various LA County cities – from Compton to Malibu – as well as unincorporated areas. Crosstown was unable to get reliable data on DUI arrests for the City of Los Angeles.

A spokesperson for Uber said trips peaking at prime drinking times, such as Friday and Saturday nights.

“Drinking and driving is 100% preventable,” the spokesperson said.

Studies conducted in other cities, however, have shown inconsistent connections between rideshares and drunk driving. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that Uber’s impact on alcohol-related crashes in four American cities had varying results. Other variables, such as city density and availability of parking, also had an effect on alcohol-related crashes, researchers found.

Despite the decrease since Uber and Lyft came on the scene, DUIs are still a serious issue here in LA County.

In LA County, almost 25,000 people were arrested for DUIs in the last decade by the Sheriff’s Department, averaging out to about six DUI arrests a day.

In 2019, 5% of the DUI arrests to the Sheriff’s Department resulted in injury or death.

Of the four LA cities with the highest number of DUI arrests last year, West Hollywood, famous for its nightlife, saw the biggest decline — dropping nearly 34% from 2018 to 2019.

Of the other top cities for DUI arrests, Compton saw the largest increase, at 120%. Lancaster, located in the Antelope Valley, saw the second-highest increase — over 20%. Both stations are addressing DUIs through increased traffic enforcement.

Jeff Yeh, a local criminal defense attorney, has represented numerous clients in DUI cases at his private law firm. He has even had cases where both his client and the person they hit were charged with DUIs.

He said that sometimes people were already out with their vehicle, and did not plan on drinking ahead of time. Instead of leaving their cars parked overnight, which could lead to parking fines, they opted to drive home intoxicated, instead of using Uber or Lyft.

Base fines for people arrested for DUI in California are between $390 – $1,000. With penalty assessments, fines can be even higher. None of this includes fees for towing and vehicle impound or someone’s insurance premium going up.

Shields for Families, a non-profit in South LA, has provided DUI prevention classes for more than 10 years through their Place of Family Program.

“[Avoiding a] DUI is like [addressing] any other substance abuse issue,” said spokesperson Leyla McGuire. “It’s up to the person who is going through it and what they want or don’t want to change about their lifestyle.”

How we did it: We examined Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department publicly available data for DUI arrests from Jan. 1, 2010 – Dec. 31, 2019. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.

Crosstown covers the neighborhoods of Los Angeles in a different way — through data — to help people make their neighborhoods and the city safer, healthier, and more connected.

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During Pandemic, Lime & Bird Pull Back; Spin Steps Up



The scooter fleets could be stalled for a while during COVID-19 — unless advocates urge companies to keep them open. Image source: Derrick Pollack/Creative Commons

(Streets Blog USA) — The two largest micromobility companies are pulling their fleets in response to the exploding Covid-19 pandemic — but some smaller players are stepping up to provide citizens with the essential solo transportation services they need to weather the crisis.

Lime — the largest micromobility company in the world, with roughly 120,000 scooters in 30 countries — announced on Wednesday that it is pausing operations apart from a handful of cities in the Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Bird, the second-largest scooter provider with fleets in 100 cities worldwide, pulled back this week, too, albeit only in Europe, San Francisco and San Jose.

And Uber’s scooter division, Jump, pulled out of Sacramento today; the company did […]

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Limiting Risks on Vulnerable Public Transport Overseas



Photo: Wikimedia Commons

by Yale Zhuxiao Wong for The Conversation

Public transport in our cities is highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks such as the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, public transport is the lifeblood of our cities, so it’s desirable to keep services running as long as possible.

Australia can learn from what has been done overseas, especially in China, where concrete strategies to reduce the spread of the virus on public transport helped eventually to contain the disease.

The confined spaces and limited ventilation of public transport vehicles could lead to infections among passengers, while frontline transport workers are particularly exposed. An outbreak among these workers could bring entire fleets to a standstill. It would also disrupt the travel of health workers who need to be mobilized during the pandemic.

Unions representing transport workers have rightly voiced their concerns and imposed actions including a unilateral ban on cash handling. The Australian government has offered guidelines for drivers and passengers. Transport authorities have engaged expert taskforces and begun the process of sourcing products like hand sanitisers.

While these steps are important, surely we need advice beyond general instructions to “practise good hygiene” and “use disinfectant wipes”?

What are other countries doing?

In China, despite most of the country being in lockdown, public transport was entirely suspended only in Wuhan and its commuter belt. Buses were then used to move medical staff and deliver goods.

Most other Chinese cities ran reduced public transport services, with a heavy focus on hygiene and sanitation.

In most cities, the temperatures of transport staff are checked daily. They are equipped with adequate protection gear like face masks and gloves. Masks are compulsory for all staff and passengers, as is common practice across Asia.

In a typical city like Shenzhen, the bus fleet is sanitised after each trip. Particular attention is paid to seats, armrests and handles. At depots and interchanges, this is done as often as every two hours.

Buses are filled to no more than 50% capacity (one person per seat). On-board cameras are used to enforce this rule. Floor markings (also adopted in Europe) provide a guide to minimum distances between passengers and encourage social distancing.

Across China, health control checkpoints are being used at train and metro stations (as well as in many public and private buildings). This enables temperature checks and the tracing of the movement of people, in case of contact with a suspected COVID-19 carrier. In many taxis, buses and metro carriages, passengers are encouraged to scan a QR code to register their name and contact number, to help with contact tracing.

China is using QR codes to help trace sources of viral contact and contraction. Joe Ma, Author provided (No reuse)

Constant public education reminders are broadcast to passengers.

Cities across Asia are providing hand sanitiser gel in public transport vehicles and interchanges. Cleaning of air-conditioning filters has been enhanced. To increase natural ventilation and reduce the risk of infection, some operators have retrofitted window vents to air-conditioned fleets.

Some bus operators have retrofitted opening windows to help increase air circulation. Kowloon Motor Bus, Author provided

Hong Kong rail operator MTR is even using a fleet of cleaning robots to disinfect trains and stations. In Shanghai, ultraviolet light is being used to disinfect buses.

In Europe, many public transport agencies have closed off use of the front door to reduce infection risk for drivers. Passengers now use the rear door (all-door boarding has been common practice).

What’s happening in Australia?

One of the best ways to reduce infection risk is to step up cleaning efforts. Public transport operators are already doing this, but not to the extent required during the course of the day.

Most private bus operators (contracted to government) are simply not equipped to take on the massive task if required to disinfect their vehicles, say, three times a day. For many operators, drivers are required to “sweep” their bus at the end of their shift. Buses undergo a full interior clean overnight.

There is no capability to clean buses en route during shifts. Extreme cases like biohazard incidents (blood and vomit) require vehicles to be taken out of service.

To increase the frequency of cleaning, perhaps a government authority could organise “rapid response” cleaners stationed at terminals. While this might cause delays between trips, it would reduce the pressure on individual operators. Having a cleaning crew work across multiple operators would also be more efficient.

The government could provide free health services via video consultation for frontline transport workers. The critical role of the transport sector also warrants their protection through government-issued face masks, especially given how hard it is now to source these in the community.

These proactive measures based on disease prevention should always be preferred to any reactive approach after a major outbreak hits our transport system. Industry associations like the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and International Association of Public Transport (UITP) have developed a suite of responses that can be adopted.

Our transport authorities and operators must step up in this critical time of need.

Yale Zhuxiao Wong is a Research Associate, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney.

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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Coronavirus Poses Problems for Thousands Crowded at US Airports




(TMZ) — There is a mad dash to get back into the U.S. from various parts of the world, and it’s causing pandemonium at the nation’s big airports and potentially exposing thousands of people to the coronavirus.

This photo is from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, where a huge crowd is lined up for a passport check. Everyone also had to wait in a separate line to have their temperature checked. The woman who took this photo says she waited 4 1/2 hours before clearing the line.

Trump has restricted entry from 26 European countries, but Americans are allowed to return home. Nevertheless, there has been a mad scramble to come back and it’s caused a logjam.

CDC infectious disease expert member of the President’s task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, acknowledged Sunday the large crowds at airports were not ideal and urged people to take a breath and pace themselves before all returning at once.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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