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John Fisher

LADOT’s John Fisher on the Future of the American City

8:27 AM PDT on June 1, 2010


There are few names that draw such heated debate in the bike community than "John Fisher," one of the assistant general manager's at LADOT; but the man viewed by many as the most important figure at LADOT when it comes to department policy.  After all, General Manager's come and go, but John Fisher is a fixture.

Recently, the popular monthly magazine The Atlantic featured an interview with Fisher as part of it's "The Future of the American City."  There's a lot of car-talk in the interview, but both the interviewer and Fisher find some time to talk bicycling and pedestrian issues.

I bike to work every dayand I find myself constantly wishing that all the cars on the road woulddisappear. What do transportation engineers take into account when consideringbikers and pedestrians?

In the last few years, there's been a real emphasis onimproving the environment for other modes of travel, for bicyclists, forpedestrians, and for the handicapped. We try to make our streets safer forpedestrians. We have a major program to put in flashing lights and a warningsign that will flash only when a pedestrian is crossing, called a smartcrosswalk or smart activated pedestrian warning. We're trying to becomecredible with the motorists--when these lights are flashing, there really is apedestrian, so yield to the pedestrian.

We've looked at some of our streets and determined that someare mainly for through travel but others are for retail and pedestrianfriendliness. We've looked at how to make the sidewalks wider, how we canprovide more streetscape features such as decorative lighting, trees, and crosswalks.

With bicyclists, there are activists in many of the majorcities demanding more facilities for bicycles, so we're looking at how we can restripeour streets to accommodate bicycle lanes. I think in time there will be somestreets where we'll deemphasize the streets for vehicular travel and make themavailable for bicycle travel.

While the parts on pedestrians sounds encouraging, the part on cyclists is a little depressing.  At least it's an honest appraisal of where the LADOT is in their thinking.  It sounds like the advocates pushing for bike boulevards and road diets have their work cut out for them.

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