Sweeping Changes in L.A. – What Will Happen?
Los Angeles is a major motor city engaged in a seemingly endless battle with traffic jams. For many years, the city has toppled trees, paved through canyons, and even flattened hillsides to expand roads in an effort to improve overall traffic flow. This has proven to be less of an effective long-term solution and more of a temporary stopgap measure. Roads quickly fill up after they are constructed – and it’s back to square one.
Many city planners have been pushing alternative solutions for a long time, saying that simple road expansion is no longer a viable option. Only now are legislators starting to heed their suggestions. They recently endorsed a sweeping policy that would approach the traffic issue from a different angle: rather than prioritize automobiles, improve safety and convenience for cyclists, pedestrians, and public transportation so more people are willing to get out of their cars.
Known as Mobility Plan 2035, the plan calls for hundreds of miles of new bicycle and bus-only lanes, as well as other major road redesigns, including the reduction of car lanes in some of the city’s mightiest boulevards. Not only that, it also seeks to reduce traffic collision fatality rates all the way to zero within 20 years. Changes in this direction have already been implemented throughout the city in recent years.
The plan is extremely comprehensive, affecting nearly every section of the city, including Hollywood, Downtown, San Fernando Valley, the Westside, and South Los Angeles.
Opponents of the plan believe that it will only serve to exacerbate traffic congestion and even contribute to delays by emergency vehicles. Backers believe otherwise, saying that slower traffic can actually in some ways alleviate traffic problems. They also point out how the plan would vastly improve public safety.
“This is a document that helps us prioritize public safety so that those who are walking and bicycling and trying to get around [without] a car don’t get killed,” said City Councilman Mike Bonin, a major backer of the plan. “Right now, only 5 percent of those hit by a car going 20 mph die. Over 80 percent of those who are hit by a car going 40 mph die.”
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