The new normal? A family bicycling on downtown Los Angeles’s green bike lane. Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock
The day is coming when we will no longer be able to pick on Los Angeles for its addiction to the automobile; the city known for its traffic jams and hostile streets has been reversing this image in its shifting transportation priorities.
Take for example the video below released by the Mayor’s Office– “LA Back on Track“.
In it, several bold comments are made by government officials that reflect the culture change taking place in the region. Art Leahy, Metro CEO, acknowledges the reality the city faces, stating,
“LA is trying to cope with a history of being auto-dominated. We’re approaching the end of the era of cheap fuel, we have a greenhouse gas problem, global warming, we have congestion…”
However, with ridership at its highest since World War II, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky points out that Los Angeles County is in a unique time,
“We are living in the golden age of rapid transit infrastructure construction in the city of Los Angeles and the county of Los Angeles.”
But perhaps most telling is a comment made by Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa,
“We can’t keep this addiction going on single passenger automobiles, we have to have alternatives.”
The video also points to visible evidence of advancements towards a new, less car-oriented Los Angeles such as: the implementation of several new rail lines and carpool lanes; the addition of dozens of new bike lanes; hosting a 10-mile long block party on streets temporarily closed to cars in the heart of Los Angeles; and making real-time bus waits accessible on cellphones. Regular Angelenos comment on how these transportation advancements are reducing dependence on driving and making life easier.
Yet, impressive as the video is, it doesn’t even cover the full extent of the transformation Los Angeles is undergoing. In a few months the city will kick off its latest transportation game-changer– a bike-share program that will eventually feature 4,000 bicycles available to the public to rent, the second largest of its kind planned in the country.
Los Angeles has long struggled with a car-centric transportation system but the problems it faces are not unique. As more cities move towards sustainable futures, Los Angeles may soon serve as a model of how to successfully reduce dependence on driving.