Today on the Streetsblog Network, Jarrett Walker at Human Transit talks about how the push for better transit in Los Angeles provides an example for planners in other parts of the world, especially in newer cities that don’t benefit from European-style density. Walker acknowledges that LA has a long, long way to go toward building a world-class transit system (read the post in full for all his caveats), but argues that the power of its image in popular culture gives it a unique influence as it moves forward:
Los Angeles has built a strong consensus about the desperate need for transit, and this is the story that impresses foreigners. Every television viewer in the world has seen images of Los Angeles and what life is like there. And one thing they’ve all been shown, over and over, is that this is a city for cars, a place where cars mean freedom, and your car is your most important fashion statement. When I tell them that the popular mayor of Los Angeles is spending major political capital on a campaign to accelerate transit development in his city, to the point of demanding a complete rethink of how the Federal government funds transport projects, eyebrows shoot up. It’s one of those little jolts that can change our notion of what’s possible, wherever we are.
More from around the network: Transportation for America looks at how the high cost of transportation can make living in rural areas unaffordable, even when housing costs are low. Bike Portland has an interview with Bike Snob NYC on the occasion of his debut in polite society. And Cap’n Transit makes a comparison between buses and burgers. Trust us, it’s worth reading.