By Richard Risemberg, January 5, 2016
JUST SAYIN’--The New Year is here: the time when Americans make all
sorts of resolutions they know they won’t keep. And since the City of
Los Angeles as an administrative entity has not, so far, been very good
at keeping to its own resolutions—note the modest progress on
implementing Complete Streets and Vision Zero, and the roadblocks
already being set up in front of Mobility Plan 2035,–I offer a grand
resolution absolutely free of charge to City Hall. Hell, even if they
don’t ignore it as completely as I expect, they won’t keep it anyway, so
it fits right into the tradition.
“I , the City of Los Angeles, hereby resolve to stop pandering to motorists, and start building a city for people.”
like more of that “War on Cars” crap, doesn’t it? But the fact is, that
the “War on Cars” is a suicidal one waged by cars themselves, who are
eternally in each other’s way—and the rest of us, the diverse urban
cultures that struggle to live and thrive among our snarl of battlefield
streets, are collateral damage.
Listen: even CalTrans now admits that you can’t build your way out of congestion: thanks to induced demand, new lanes, roads, and parking spaces fill up within a very short time. The truth is , that no matter what you do, the intensity of congestion will remain the same, or get worse:
absent techniques such as congestion charging, motorists will see roads
as a free resource to be exploited to the ultimate limit. In any
thriving city, there will always, always, always be the same intensity of congestion in all facilities that permit cars. The way to reduce congestion is to grant less space to cars. There will still be congestion, just less of it.
there will then be space to allocate to more efficient modes of
treavel, such as walking, cycling, and transit, as well as to community
space or economic development. Those who do not feel comfortable driving
in clots of traffic will have other options that they do not have
now—since we have been subjected to an eighty-year automotive jihad
designed to force us all to drive everywhere, all the time, forever. A
social engineering failure at its worst!
Magic technologies won’t
solve the problem: massed ranks of platooning robocars won’t do it,
ragged amateur armies of Uber galley slaves won’t do it, feeding
electric power from Four Corners into Tesla batteries won’t do it.
emulating the San Francisco earthquake of 1989 wlll do it: back then,
Mother Nature tore down the Embarcadero Freeway, and San Fran replaced
it with a Complete Street comprising just a couple of car lanes, a
couple of bike lanes, a trolley line, and big wide sidewalks. And the
waterfront suddenly turned into a commercial and community centerpiece!
is hard to do without tectonic assistance (though many cities are
starting to tear down freeways voluntarily), because the
congestionnaires are very good at whining loudly to make us all
subsidize their predilection for driving three blocks to pick up a
bottle of cinnamon whiskey (this week’s slug of choice for the
obliterati, who will then ever so fragrantly run us down)….
if we wish for Los Angeles to remain a world-class city, we will have
to emulate what San Francisco, New York, Paris, Seoul, and other
thriving burgs have begun to do, and push back against the insurgence of
private cars, an insurgence that crushes our cultures even more
effectively than it squashes our neighbors.
LA can do it. LA could do it. All it takes is resolution …