Los Angeles City Council takes a leap of faith and approves a new transportation plan, (Mobility Plan 2035), that would remodel the LA streetscape over the next 20 years. The new plan could see the “sacrificing of car lanes to make way for bikes and buses”, according to the NY Times. The plan aims to substantially increase the availability of bicycle lanes, bus-only lanes and pedestrian safety features with a long term push to prod drivers out from behind the wheel.
This is a huge change of thinking for a city that has been unofficially labelled the ‘world’s worst for traffic congestion’. As the Council looks to the future to try and solve LA traffic issues, community members fear the city will come to a gridlock.
The Mobility Plan’s reduction in the number of car lanes will be a test for the people of LA. According to one Council member, who voted against the plan, “the reality is that Southern California is built around the automobile”. Whilst forty years ago there was a lawsuit against the Council to convert a freeway lane into a car pool lane, things have slowly changed with the introduction of 87 miles (140 kms) of subway and light rail networks around the county of Southern California.
With the introduction of the new plan, the Council hopes to create a movement to encourage people to get out of their cars, onto sidewalks and into the transport system. Council would like to see the idea of “different neighbourhoods for every task” changed and encourage people to walk or bike for their daily needs within the local community.
For the Mobility Plan to be successful, Council has major cultural hurdles to overcome. A major shift in commuter transport choices will be necessary as the car still reigns: nearly 80% of Los Angeles commuters get to work by car and only 1% travel on bikes.
The intentions are positive, but the execution maybe challenging.