How About An Inclusive Movement?

(ed. note – I know a lot of you already know Jessica Meaney with the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership. But did you also know she’s also on our local Board of Directors for Streetsblog? This editorial will be the first of many you’ll see from our Board Members going forward. – DN)

Photo Credit: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/riveras/5070523306/in/pool-saferoutesca#/photos/riveras/5070523306/in/pool-1530705@N25##Madness Rivera##

Many opportunities and challenges await Los Angeles, an amazing city.  At the forefront of these issues is transportation planning, or more specifically a lack thereof.

SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protect Act, is a great opportunity to elicit and collaborate among the many voices working and supporting livable communities throughout California.

As Los Angeles steps up its investments in public transit and high-speed rail, it is critical that these bus stops, stations and the roads that get your there, are accessible to everyone irrespective to demographics. To achieve significant mode split change, better public health and so on, we need bold leadership and commitment, leadership that uses our transit systems, walks and bikes. Having people drive to catch a train or bus is not the goal.

Transportation planning has revolved around two trips a day – home to work and work to home.  People, especially mom’s, tend to make 4-5 trips a day.  With strategic and coordinated efforts to sync up transportation and land use investments – many of these trips could be done by walking and/or bicycling, frequently trips that are under 3 miles.

12% of all trips in Southern California are done walking and/or bicycling – the majority walking.  If we want to get mother’s, grandparents, and kids out walking and bicycling we will need better infrastructure (such as cycletracks, bike boulevards, wide landscaped sidewalks, outdoor seating at cafes, great public spaces and so on).  Most people are not comfortable riding their bike next to heavy traffic.

Walking and bicycling needs to become a part of everyone’s lifestyle, not just the brave or hardcore but by regular people of all ages and abilities.  These trips could be fun and a way to bring physical activity back into our daily lives.

Los Angeles needs livable inclusive streets, multi-modal planning and leadership to move these concepts forward.  We need these issues to be addressed as legitimate concerns on the trips to City Halls, Sacramento, and Washington DC.

Now is a time to celebrate leadership, visionaries and the countless other people working to champion our community public spaces. The co-benefits that can be seen with walkable and bikable communities are tremendous and need to be planned with consideration of all.

We need more leaders from all sorts of backgrounds to champion’s livable streets efforts.   Adonia Lugo, a PhD Candidate studying Bicycling in Los Angeles, states it succinctly, “LA actually has a remarkably diverse network of people striving to improve conditions for cyclists.”

I’d like to celebrate all the people in our communities, colleges and universities, public agencies, non-profits, in their free time – that are working on these issues, some behind the scenes and some out in front.   To me, right now, there seems to be great collaboration happening among many groups, with potential for more.  All of those who worked hard to leverage dedicated funding from Measure R at the City of LA to support pedestrian and bicycle investments – thank you.  Now with a soon to be adopted Bike plan (that had tremendous collaboration) and potential for great pedestrian and walkablity investments, and 3 scheduled cicLAvia’s for 2011 – there is much reason to see there is indeed progress.

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who is out there contributing to this movement.  Come out and share your story, your  perspective and needs and thoughts – write a column for Streetsblog, send in a idea for a story, be a part of a movement striving to be inclusive with a common goal in mind – a even better Los Angeles.

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