Redefining a 180

In yesterday’s Times, Steve Hymon discusses the changing attitude at LADOT about how best to move people throughout the city. The headline, "L.A. officials do a 180 in traffic planning" suggests that we were about to read some radical stuff. Maybe he was going to discuss Gordon Price’s argument that LA needs to be more like Vancouver and plan on how to design the roads to best move people, not cars . Maybe he was going to discuss charging people to use our highways through a toll or HOT Lane system and redirect that money towards transit. Instead, this is what we was meant by a "180 in traffic planning":

By the 1950s, the politicians and planners of Southern California had made their bet: Freeways would solve the awful traffic gripping city streets.

Now, Los Angeles officials are taking a different tack. With the Santa Monica Freeway congested, they’re looking at increasing the capacity of Olympic and Pico boulevards to ease traffic on the Westside.

Life has a way of coming full circle, eh?

Oh. So the "180" is adding capacity arterial streets instead of adding capacity to the highways.

How radical.

Later in the article, Gail Goldberg, head of City Planning proposes something that would be truly radical for Los Angeles, but then dismisses the idea out of hand.

"One way you can move toward less congestion is if you provide people better accessibility and walkability and more pleasant streets," said Gail Goldberg, the city’s chief planner, who is not wild about the Olympic-Pico plan. "But as a city we’re not ready for that conversation yet."

I’m sorry, but who says that this city isn’t ready for that conversation?

Cyberspace is filled with blogs dedicated to bike, bus and train advocacy. And organizations, from the BRU to the Transit Coalition to SO.CA.TA. to the LACBC to C.I.C.L.E. all exist because people are tired of car-culture warriors making all of the major transportation decisions for Los Angeles.

In just the past couple of weeks, public meetings for the city’s Bike Master Plan were overflowing with cyclists demanding better facilities.

Pedestrian advocates, tired of waiting for the city/county to do something about our unsafe and unpleasant roads for pedestrians are taking matters into their own hands. It seems that every month there is a new walkabout planned for somewhere in LA County. A walkabout is an event where the community patrols its own streets to discover how to change them into pleasant pedestrian environments. In February, one was held by the neighborhood council in Woodland Hills. This Saturday, there is another one in downtown Pasadena.

And for transit users, their reactions to plans to reduce service are also telling. Hundreds of people took time off from their evenings and weekends to beg the city not to cut service.

In short, the people of Los Angeles are ready for a real 180 in transportation planning. We’re ready for streets that are safe to walk and bike on. We’re ready for a world class transit system. Angelenos are ready, but is there a public official willing to lead us there?

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