L.A. Streetsblog 2011 Politician of the Year: Antonio Villaraigosa
[caption id="attachment_67110" align="aligncenter" width="562" caption="...and did we mention he appeared in both Streetfilms we've done this year? And he wrote an article for Streetsblog? That's good stuff too...DN"][/caption] Back when Streetsblog launched in 2008, we were pretty hard on the Mayor. But 2008 was a different year. I jeered when he took his turn as Metro Board Chair three years ago, the major story of our first months of coverage was a plan to speed up traffic on Pico and Olympic Boulevards, and he regularly appeared on television touting the most recent accomplishment of his Tiger Teams at LAPD whose job was also basically to keep cars moving. What a difference three years make. I don't think anyone is going to get Villaraigosa confused with Rahm Emanuel when it comes to transportation planning, but the change in language, attitude and projects from the Mayor's office is striking. Press conferences are scheduled to announce buffered bike lanes and CicLAvias. While Villaraigosa is often blamed for the city's finnancial crisis (something which Streetsblog doesn't have an opinion) transit advocates around the country can't stop talking America Fast Forward. L.A. still has a long way to go, Joe has written about some of the problems with implementing the Bike Plan, but to go from Tiger Teams to America Fast Forward, from Pico-Olympic to buffered bike lanes and from a directionless transportation policy to a national leader in funding strategies is a major shift...and one that deserves a reward.