Los Angeles Plans to Shift Lanes on Transit

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Friday, August 14th, 2015
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A new policy on the verge of approval by the municipal government of Los Angeles promises to radically transform the transportation environment of a city long renowned for its immense freeways and severe traffic congestion.

The Mobility Plan 2035 initiative, currently under review by the Los Angeles City Council, outlines a raft of measures for overhauling Los Angeles’ transportation environment over the next two decades, with the goal of reducing the number of cars on the roads by raising bicycle and bus usage.

Key measures include the introduction of hundreds of kilometres of lanes for the exclusive usage of buses and bicycles, and the redesign of some of the city’s most critical transit thoroughfares, including Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way.

The new initiative marks the largest overhaul of Los Angeles transportation policy since the turn of the century.

The plan envisages adding as many as 300 miles of protected bike lanes to the city, kept isolated from vehicle traffic by physical barriers such as curbs.

Public transportation in California’s largest city is also set to receive a boost, with the addition of 117 miles of new bus-only lanes, as well as 120 miles of streets that are made exclusive to buses during rush hour.

Certain key transit routes, including Sunset Boulevard and Venice Boulevard, would be equipped with both protected bike lanes and roads for buses alone.

The plan has already generated opposition amongst many city residents, who note that the city’s own environmental impact report has already provided a negative assessment of its potential effects.

According to the environmental impact report, the projects outlined by the plan are likely to worsen both traffic and noise pollution, increasing the percentage of key street segments with E to F grades for Level of Service – a standard yet controversial measure of congestion levels – from 22 per cent to 36 per cent.

LA planning officials have countered by saying the report depicts a worst-case scenario that assumes few drivers will switch to bicycles or public transportation.

According to Westside Councilman Mike Bonin, one of the plan’s main advocates, this worst-case scenario is unlikely to become a reality, with other research indicating that it will instead result in a 38 per cent increase in walking, a 56 per cent increasing in public transportation usage and a 170 per cent increase in bicycling.

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