By Ryan Snyder, August 18, 2015
MOBILITY 2035 THE DISCUSSION--The
City of Los Angeles has taken an historical turnabout in placing higher
priority on people than cars in its recently passed Mobility Plan 2035.Its Vision Zero
goal is to eliminate traffic fatalities; something we have always just
assumed was a fair price for transporting ourselves. As a long-time
critic of an autocentric Department of Transportation (DOT), for the
first time I can now say I am very proud of DOT, our Planning Department
and our City.
Plan 2035 calls for many new miles of bus lanes, protected bike lanes
and pedestrian safety improvements. We’ll have new ways of getting
around. Safety comes first in this plan, even if it comes at the expense
of slowing cars. It seems so logical, but it took us way too long to
conclude that people’s lives are more important that saving motorists
five or ten seconds.
Plan 2035 recognizes that we have to address climate change, health,
safety, and overall livability. Planning our city for people does that.
Planning for automobility undermines all of those goals.
I believe that addressing climate change is the most urgent of these, I
first want to focus on livability. Think of our favorite cities --
Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC,
Barcelona, Paris – they are places that put people first. You can walk,
bicycle or take transit. But having not sacrificed the soul of these
places to the auto leaves them livable, interesting, rich in
architecture, and places you’d want to live or visit.
think of the cities that place the auto first – suburban San Bernardino
County (or much of southern California for that matter), Phoenix or
Houston. Are these places you want to visit on the weekends, take your
out of town visitors to show, or go to on vacation? Would you choose to
live there? I doubt it.
we plan our city so that it is safe for an 8-year old boy to walk to
school, or our 80-year old mother to walk to the store, we plan a city
that is good for people. When we make it safe to bicycle to work, we
plan a healthy city where Type II diabetes and premature heart ailments
are kept in check. When we make it convenient to use public transit, we
clean our air and reduce the threat of climate change. When we plan
this way, we plan a safe, healthy, livable, sustainable community.
That’s what Mobility Plan 2035 is about.
are already complaining about congestion that might result from the
Plan. As if congestion is our greatest worry. This may be a shocker to
some, but congestion shouldn’t be our greatest concern. When it is, we
just seek ways to keep the cars moving at the expense of all of our
other community goals.
people are threatening to sue. These are the same people who scream
about traffic congestion, and are the ones who fight attempts to provide
attractive alternatives so that we don’t have to be stuck in
congestion. You can’t complain about congestion, and at the same time,
complain about providing options to driving. Let’s be clear about one
thing – it’s the cars that cause the congestion. It’s not bicycles,
buses or people walking. It’s cars. One person taking up 150 square feet
of street space wherever they go causes congestion.
Let’s be clear about another thing. Each of us driving around with
two tons of steel never was a sustainable transportation mode. Cars are
largely responsible for climate change and this is the greatest threat
to humankind. Tiny concerns over traffic congestion pale in comparison
to the destruction of human habitability that awaits us from climate
change if we keep our heads in the sand and fail to address it with
drought in California we have come to see that we are all responsible to
do our part in reducing our water use. We have to adopt the same
mentality when it comes to driving. We all need to do our part to
carpool, walk, take the bus, or bicycle when we can. We need more
attractive transportation options in order for more of us to use other
modes. We should embrace these options, not fight them.
disturbing are the City Councilmembers who want to gut the Mobility
Plan out of concerns over traffic congestion. Paul Koretz wants to take
bike lanes off of Westwood Boulevard, the street leading into UCLA. A
plan has been sent to Koretz’s office that shows that bike lanes could
be added to Westwood Boulevard without removing any travel lanes or
parking. No skin off of anyone’s nose.
widespread community support for the bike lanes, Koretz is carrying
water for a small group of well-heeled homeowner association leaders
that don’t want people on bicycles in their way when they drive. These
are the same people who convinced him to remove the bus lanes from
Wilshire Boulevard in their neighborhood. Councilmember Koretz
simultaneously talks about the urgency of climate change, but his
actions show he really cares more about re-election and he believes
these people are key to that.
Angeles is poised to move into the next era of transportation
planning. It’s one that can leave us a safer, healthier, sustainable
and more livable city. I hope the City Council has the wisdom to keep
Mobility Plan 2035 in tact when a few Councilmembers look to appease the