Los Angeles was built around the car. It is a sprawling city, designed like a large suburb. This design crowds our streets with row after row of cars.
In addition to the impact on carbon emissions, it is simply unpleasant for car commuters to deal with traffic in the city. Worse, attempts to alleviate this pain by widening highways and increasing parking minimums usually have the opposite effect, by inducing demand and ensuring that even more cars are driven.
On roads designed solely to maximize the number of cars that can pass through them, cyclists face an impossible choice: ride on the sidewalks, where they may be a danger to pedestrians, or ride in the streets, where they risk their own lives instead.
And bus commuters face unenviable dilemmas as well. Should they spend three hours each way on a bus that costs them a couple dollars to ride, or shell out for an expensive rideshare that will get them across town in one hour? Should they be late for work, or spend an entire hour’s wages just getting there?
These are complex problems, and they are going to be challenging to solve. We need a comprehensive reform of our transit modes that preserves the nature and character of our neighborhoods. We also need to balance the needs of commuters with the needs of local communities.
We can start by making public transit frequent, fast, and more accessible. We can also redesign our transit corridors so that buses do not share the right of way with cars, and bikes have dedicated lanes where their riders will be safe.
Done properly, these reforms will actually decrease congestion, even for car drivers. Fortunately, I have dedicated my life to studying sustainable urban design. I look forward to contributing to solutions to these challenging problems.