September 8, 2015

Is L.A. a more progressive city than YVR?

Here’s more evidence (despite the usual ‘Carmeggedon’ headline:
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A Los Angeles Plan to Reshape the Streetscape Sets Off Fears of Gridlock

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LOS ANGELES — This city of fast cars and endless freeways is preparing to do what not long ago would have been unthinkable: sacrificing car lanes to make way for bikes and buses. …
Not surprisingly, in the unofficial traffic congestion capital of the country, the plan has set off fears of apocalyptic gridlock. …

For Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Mobility Plan 2035, as the new program is being called, is part of a larger push to get people out of their cars and onto sidewalks that began with the expansion of the mass transit system championed by his immediate predecessor, Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

The salad days of driving here — when, so the saying went, it took 20 minutes to get anywhere in this city of 500 square miles — are gone, Mr. Garcetti said, and he has encouraged residents to instead stay local and shop at nearby businesses. “The old model of a car­centric, different ­neighborhood­-for­-every-task city is in many ways slipping through our fingers whether we like it or not,” Mr. Garcetti said. “We have to have neighborhoods that are more self-contained. …

Mike Bonin, one of the city councilors who sponsored the mobility plan, said residents were eager to go “car­light.”

“The number of folks who say they’d like to bike or walk more is huge,” Mr. Bonin said. “And the number who say they don’t because they think it’s not safe or clean or convenient is roughly the same.”

Many changes to the streetscape are already taking place. Mr. Garcetti was recently in East Los Angeles, signing a directive that laid out a goal of cutting traffic deaths to zero in 10 years. Traffic signals had been added to the street behind him, curbs had been widened, and tighter enforcement of speed limits was promised all over the city.

Similar changes are coming to other neighborhoods, where streets are being put on “road diets” — meaning that lanes will be removed to slow traffic and make life on foot and two wheels safer and more appealing. (Mr. Villaraigosa once broke his elbow while biking after a taxi cut him off.) ..

Mr. Garcetti compared people who fear that removing lanes will make the streets horrific to lobsters boiling slowly in a pot: The changes may make traffic 15 percent worse instead of just 5 percent worse each year, he said, but the situation is already becoming untenable.

“The lobster dies eventually,” he said. “And we’re getting close to that boiling point.”

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Full article here in New York Times.

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