Los Angeles. 2028. The Summer Olympics return for their third trip. The Olympic Committee has fulfilled their promise to only use recycled materials. An easy promise in a city with so much existing Olympic infrastructure. But will the Olympians be able to breathe? Will Los Angeles, America’s manufacturing hub, be forced to shut down factories (and the ports!) for weeks preceding the Olympics in order to ensure adequately clean air? Or will this not be enough? Will all Olympic events be held indoors? Will Olympians compete wearing filtration masks and oxygen tanks?
It’s interesting to contemplate the future of Los Angeles in November 2019, when the iconic dystopian film Blade Runner was set. Will Mayor Garcetti usher in a post-apocalyptic nightmare where Tesla’s Cybertruck is the only vehicle safe enough for LA’s mean streets? Or will it be the future we voted for when we overwhelmingly voted to spend 1% more on everything we buy in LA County for the sake of a real transit system and car-free streets?
Transportation Electrification Partnership
It’s hard to say what LA’s future holds, considering that neighborhood councils basically run this town. Micromodal infrastructure is hard-won and easily dismantled. The city has re-designed Spring and Main streets’ bike lanes so many times not even locals understand what’s going on. Yet massive highway-speed streets crisscross the county and remain solely devoted to cars, while sidewalks in most of LA remain empty because walking in LA is a deadly sport, almost as deadly as cycling or scootering.
On Monday, the Transportation Electrification Partnership promised to have a set of goals toward zero emissions by 2028. This excellent chart was included in the booklet we were given at the launch event. What I like is that it’s comprehensive. What I don’t like is that it only plans for a 20% shift toward people movement that’s not private vehicles. But the electrification of goods movement is massively important. Particularly from where many Angelenos sit, squarely between highways and rail lines carrying so very much stuff thanks to diesel motors.
Yes, Metro LA continues to tunnel new lines as you read this. That’s going great. Though not as great as it’d be if all Metro lines were completely under or above ground. It’s bad enough a metro pass costs $100/month, but that public transit is always slower than cycling in this city is obscene. That is, if you survive the ride to your destination. Many cyclists don’t here. After years of fighting for safe cycling infrastructure in LA, it seems it will never happen under Garcetti and the current city council, or the current governments of the 107 cities within LA County. Until the cities of LA County unite and understand that their economic survival depends on making streets safer for humans, nothing will change here. People have discovered push scooters, like it or not. LADOT’s Seleta Reynolds developed this great tool to help cities manage the
scourge fleets — The Mobility Data Specification. Cities interested in better managing scooter & bike share programs are buying it, and there’s this great map that will show you where all the scooters are.
What progress Los Angeles has made includes BlueLA Car, an electric car share designed for low-income folks, everything Metro LA is doing, except fare hikes, and LADWP’s drastic increase in rebates for buyers of used electric cars. The rebate has more than tripled from $450 to $1500! Still, if you want a $1500 rebate for being TRULY green and junking your gas-guzzler, that comes from the state’s Bureau of Automotive Repair and comes with an astounding number of hoops to jump through. The details of which are more clearly explained here. Garcetti has not done nearly as much for improving micromodal safety as previous mayor Villaraigosa had done. That 20% goal will be much easier to reach if LA had protected bike lanes all over town to accommodate all those scooterists and get them off the sidewalks.
Members of the Transportation Electrification Partnership included a nice range of government agencies, consultants, and manufacturers. Some were obvious, such as electric (and locally-made) bus manufacturers BYD and Proterra, automakers BMW, Audi, Nissan, and of course Tesla. All automakers were invited to the table, but the only ones present at the discussion were BMW and Audi, both of which also sell electric scooters, like this E-tron you can charge in the trunk of your E-tron. Automakers who weren’t at the table showed how completely they’re stuck in the past, preparing their displays at the nearby LA Auto Show.
In two years, Mayor Garcetti will step down. Will his replacement be even more beholden to the auto industry? Or will they be focused on building an LA that can enjoy this perfect weather, preventing it from becoming the fiery hellscape we’re driving toward? For our readers outside of LA, this writer gives a very accurate “people’s view” of what it’s been like living in LA under Garcetti. I know, because I lived here too, until his failure to grow the safe bicycle infrastructure Villaraigosa started drove me out. Garcetti, Zero means ZERO. Not 25%.