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Transport Planning in LA...sigh

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  • Richard Risemberg
    http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/la-me-lopez26mar26,1,5224690.column?coll=la-news-columns ... -- Richard Risemberg http://www.living-room.org
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 26, 2004
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      http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/la-me-lopez26mar26,1,5224690.column?coll=la-news-columns

      > March 26, 2004

      > Steve Lopez:
      > Points West
      > Taking the Slow Lane to Traffic Reform

      > It's about 5:30 in the evening rush, and as I look out the window of the 92 bus on Glendale Boulevard in Echo Park, I notice that we're being passed by a pedestrian.
      >
      > It isn't even a contest. We're getting smoked.
      >
      > All three lanes of northbound traffic are jammed as far as the eye can see, and this, of course, is the norm. Every morning, you'll find the same miserable spectacle in the southbound direction.
      >
      > But as the bus chugs along at a snail's pace, that's not all that's got me worked up.
      >
      > I count nearly 40 passengers on our bus. In every car I can see into, the driver is alone.
      >
      > Sure, I used to be one of those drivers, plying highway and byway in the Nissan Sentra. I'm on the bus now because of a bike accident that keeps me from getting behind the wheel.
      >
      > But don't cry to me about gas prices soaring past $2 a gallon, because it's not as if there's been a public clamor for fuel-efficient cars. I've been saying for years that we ought to double the price of gas, kicking all the extra over to trains and buses.
      >
      > In fact, it just so happens that from where I now sit on the bus, it's clear to me how we can get traffic moving again.
      >
      > I'd like to take one of the three lanes on Glendale Boulevard — or any major boulevard — and give it to buses exclusively.
      >
      > That's right, you punish drivers who travel alone, and you reward bus passengers by speeding them past all those single-occupant vehicles. Until local planners begin to think this way, the nation's worst traffic is only going to get worse.
      >
      > Speaking of local planners, the day I got stuck on Glendale Boulevard, L.A. Mayor James Hahn released what he called his "Comprehensive Report to Address Los Angeles Traffic." After reading it, it occurs to me that I've been entirely too generous in referring to the mayor as Slim Jim.
      >
      > There is little in the report that hasn't been considered or isn't already being done. And there's even less that could be called remotely bold or imaginative. Unless, perhaps, you think it was a stroke of genius to suggest that we "establish a county-wide outcome-based performance measurement process to reflect conditions like improvement in travel times for people and goods."
      >
      > The whole report reads like that. Get a printout off the mayor's website and read it next time you're stuck in traffic.
      >
      > The mayor wants to "implement a comprehensive traffic education and awareness campaign." He's going to "integrate traffic calming objectives into the City's public and private project review process."
      >
      > What in God's name is he talking about?
      >
      > We should have known we were in trouble when he appointed a "Transportation Task Force" to spend a year looking into the traffic problem.
      >
      > Was the man not born and raised here?
      >
      > We've got too many cars on the road and not enough incentives for people to get their fat behinds out of them.
      >
      > That's what I want a mayor to say. And then I want him to take the lead in transforming a backward city paralyzed by traffic into a progressive city of designated bus lanes, bike lanes that take advantage of great year-round weather and airport train lines that actually make it all the way to the airport.
      >
      > Who needs a task force, and who needs more than 10 minutes to figure out what's wrong?
      >
      > In the press release announcing the findings, I came upon the following quote from one of the task force members: "This report represents a much needed focus that impacts each one of us every day. The results were developed by a group of talented and diverse individuals and I know that the mayor is determined to implement many of these recommendations." — Alan Skobin, chairman of the Smart Growth Committee of the Transportation Task Force and Vice President of Galpin Ford.
      >
      > Galpin Ford?
      >
      > What, couldn't Hahn get someone from Shell Oil or Firestone?
      >
      > Fewer cars, Jim. Not more. Get it?
      >
      > A couple of weeks ago, my colleague Kurt Streeter wrote about a trial designated bus lane on Wilshire Boulevard in West L.A. The new lane was formerly used for parking, and bus passengers loved zipping past cars stuck in traffic. But some merchants complained that business was down with less parking, despite ample spaces on side streets and in rear parking lots.
      >
      > "People don't like to be inconvenienced," one merchant said.
      >
      > Precisely. Let's all gnash our teeth in never-ending traffic tie-ups so we don't have the unimaginable inconvenience of walking half a block.
      >
      > Here's a surprise:
      >
      > Judging by the mayor's report, Slim Jim is weak-kneed on bus lanes.
      >
      > His task force worries about the impact on business, downplays improved travel time for bus riders and recommends "a conservative approach to implementation."
      >
      > I'm on Glendale Boulevard right now, witnessing the results of the conservative approach. That pedestrian who passed my bus is nearly out of sight.


      --
      Richard Risemberg
      http://www.living-room.org
      http://www.newcolonist.com

      "Until you stop looking for simple answers, you will not be happy. You
      will not even be human."

      RR
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