CiclaValley has a ton of opinions about the state of Los Angeles’ infrastructure, but come this week, I’ll have more of an idea where we stand nationally.
The National Association of City Transportation Officials will be convening here for their annual conference with our ciudad on full display for the next four days.
As frustrating as it is to follow progress being made in this city, I’m not the person working with budgets, dealing with politicians and making the decisions to implement better infrastructure.
Most of the people attending are professionals at doing this or at least have more skin in the game than me.
Will they see Los Angeles as woefully behind in making progress or see this region making moves to set the foundation for better things to come?
I’m not going to say, but there are a number of questions visitors should ask about Los Angeles to get a better picture of where we’re at:
The day before the start of NACTO, revelers will have been treated to one of the biggest and most significant open streets event in the country.
CicLAvia’s Celebrate LA honored the LA Philharmonic’s 100th year anniversary by linking their two homes of Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl (well, close by) with an eight mile route.
I imagine this event will open conventioneers imaginations for what Los Angeles could be.
Not necessarily them envisioning hundreds of cyclists packed on each block everyday, but how this City isn’t too large to feel connected.
This CicLAvia was unique because it connects a number of diversified neighborhoods and should give outsiders a different perspective than the one most people get making connections on freeways.
They’ll get an idea that LA does have a vibrant framework for street life and what an amazing city this could be.
Or maybe they just went to Disneyland for the day.
There’s no doubt our Mayor has national aspirations unless you believe many of our urban problems can be solved with trips to Iowa.
While we Angelenos have opinions of our own, I’m curious to see what people outside our bubble think about him.
Is he seen as a leading advocate for environmental issues through all his appearances and press?
Do people make a connection that visibility to being a proponent of alternative transportation as well?
Nationally, people only get tidbits of information and if you’re proactive in providing it, you can gain those valuable first impressions.
While he is on his second and final term as Mayor, he still has four years left in office meaning there is a lot of time to leave hi mark.
Does he still have a directive for change as he finishes out?
Since the conference and many of the walkshops will be in and around the downtown area, what most of what visitors have to judge us by will be in the few miles nearby.
You can say that this area carries the most cohesive examples of active transportation in the City of Los Angeles.
Luckily, this district has the most progressive council member with projects like My Figueroa and Main & Spring Forward coming online.
At the same time, recent progress in DTLA can only mask years of inactivity so much evidenced by roughshod road conditions.
Visitors will also only get a small and incomplete sampling of this vast metropolis.
Imagine if this conference took place in the Valley, one of the deadliest regions in the state where very little stands in the way of speeding cars.
This is a closer representation of the dangers everyday Angelenos face.
Initiatives You May Remember
I have a saved google search looking up “Vision Zero” and “Los Angeles”.
Whenever other big cities are adding their name in the conversation, we often get mentioned in articles as leading adopters along with New York City and the like.
This is about as far as most press clippings go, so the perception could be we’re a front-runner nationally in applying this policy, although people have started to call out the lack of results.
Visitors will not see Vision Zero plans from a year ago to improve safety and mobility along corridors such as Fletcher, Temple and Lankershim as these projects either disappeared into thin air or received a watered down version of improvements.
Another Garcetti initiative suffering from extreme invisibility is his Great Streets project that aimed to revitalize a corridor in each of the City’s fifteen districts.
Some have come online, with examples on Reseda, Van Nuys, Venice and Cesar Chavez to name a few, but they are in the minority as a number of these projects never came to fruition.
It’s questionable to judge this program’s activity as they haven’t even sent out a tweet in nearly two months and their Facebook is even more dismal.
While these programs could be transformative, conventioneers will have to sort out what they see versus what they are able to experience.
Already, it’s interesting running into a few Nactitioners at CicLAvia and seeing their excitement for being here.
Maybe I’ll get caught up in all this enthusiasm and focus on how cities are vibrant, exciting centers of activity that we can just keep improving on.
We’ll see if that euphoria sticks with me after the conference ends.