Monday, June 27, 2011

Eagerly Awaiting CARmageddon 2011

Los Angeles Traffic
(image via lonut lordache)

In Los Angeles, where the weather is a constant 73 degrees, conversations revolve not around the temperature but the traffic:

Best Shortcut (Crescent Heights, 6th Street, Benedict Canyon)
Bottlenecks (101/110 interchange, 405 at Wilshire,)
The exact time when rush hour begins and ends (7:25am-10:45am and 3:30pm-6:45pm)
Record paces across town (18 minutes from Ocean Ave to Broadway)
Childhood memories of sailing along the 10 freeway (Once upon a time)
That band that's going to jail for doing a concert on the 110 (Not worth mentioning their name)
Fastest route over the hill: Sepulveda, 405 or Laurel Canyon (I won't say except that it's not listed)
PCH or 101 to get to Malibu on a Sunday morning (101 if your headed to Zuma beach or beyond)
Are Saturdays just a congested as weekdays? (Yes)
Surface Streets or Freeway (Depends. See rush hour times)
I would go see Dudamel if not for the 10 freeway at 6pm (Rich man's problem)
Fastest route to LAX (La Cienega or Lincoln)

So when the city announces that a major freeway will be closed for 48 hours, the whole city goes nuts. Well not the whole city. Some see it as an event worthy of celebration, CARmageddon Weekend!

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The few, the brave, the cyclists of Los Angeles relish in this proverbial sabot being tossed into the machine that is the broken L.A. transit network.

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They see a test case for exposing the gridlock caused by a failed strategy going on 70 years, and celebrating how viable the alternatives could be. In general, transit experts agree that a better city can be realized with a mix of transportation options, rather than the outdated obsession of favoring private automobiles over all other forms of travel.

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Cyclists could not agree more.

Many cyclists (myself included) are thrilled with the gains made recently by cycling advocates, including the adoption of a robust bicycle plan that promises to bring unprecedented and comprehensive bike facilities to this auto-centric metropolis. Perhaps this city is slowly starting to realize the potential of this shift away from automobiles. For example:

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The aforementioned Los Angeles Bicycle Plan (image via Damien Newton, LA Streetsblog)

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CicLAvia #1 & #2, with #3 on the way (image via CicLAvia)

Los Angeles Critical Mass (<span class=
The success of Critical Mass, now rated one of the country's largest rides (Europe reigns on this count), where June's ride saw 1300+ cyclists participate peacefully in a 30 mile tour of L.A. with the full support of the LAPD (image via Barleye)

Los Angeles Metro - Blue Line
The expansion of mass transit rail and subway projects (image via rjmcconnell)

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The passage of Measure R and Mayor Villaraigosa's 30/10 proposal to gain federal support for accelerating those transit projects (image via Damien Newton, LA Streetsblog)

As the top ranking US city for the worst traffic, and air pollution, L.A. is literally at a crossroads: whether to continue building out our automobile infrastructure to accommodate an ever growing population of cars, or to shift to a new paradigm of that embraces the quality of life of each and every resident through a balanced mix of transportation methods.

So if you have a bicycle sitting in your garage, pump some air in those flat tires and ride it everyday, but especially the weekend of July 16th and 17th, when 600,000 drivers will try to figure out how to make their way across town, by any means necessary. This small action will remind your fellow citizens trapped in their cars that there is another way to get from point A to point B.

1 comment:

Heather Taylor said...

this weekend will be such an adventure! love your take on the city