Streetsblog Responds to City Watch Columnists Attack on Bus-Only Lanes
I'd like to begin by stating I have nothing but admiration for activist Harold Katz's nearly 40 years of involvement with traffic and transportation issues in Los Angeles. But respectfully I think he is wrong headed in his recent commentary for CityWatch titled "Bus-Only Lane will Turn Wilshire into Traffic Mess."
I am not going to engage in a battle of statistics--my focus is on the larger picture. I would have to believe to some extent the concerns raised about auto accidents being caused by the bus lane can be addressed by their design and associated mitigation measures. I don't see a fatal flaw in the basic concept of the lanes. And I don't know why there is a concern the project will result in a unending stream of LAPD motorcycle traffic officers giving out traffic tickets to poor innocent auto drivers victimized by the big bad bus lanes.
The unstated premise is that facilitating automobiles is the ultimate goal of improving mobility. When Harold decries that in his view a "bus rider will save 5 minutes and the thousands of auto drivers will lose 26 minutes" he avoids the question how many bus riders will benefit and whether the improvement for bus users exceeds the cost to auto drivers.
The El Monte busway proves a single lane used by high capacity vehicles can carry as many people as 4-5 lanes of mixed flow traffic; Wilshire has the potential to have similar results. The lanes also have incredible symbolic value -- instead of the lipservice long paid to the goal of our region being committed to having mass transit NOT automobiles as its priority it will be expressed as a tangible part of the landscape in the form of these lanes. And if Wilshire is a success it will be a model for other bus lanes. The 1995 Metro Long Range Transportation Plan included what was supposed to be 101 miles of bus lanes along major arterials. After all these years isn't it time to implement that long deferred part of our new vision of our future transportation network?
By the way, along most of Wilshire the curb lanes are only available for parking during non-peak hours. The bus lanes only reallocates them for buses in the peak hours, so "the parking question" Harold hints at I think is moot.