In major cities across the nation, urban planners are examining ways to reduce traffic, encourage alternative methods of transportation, and reduce serious injuries among cyclists and pedestrians. While New York City and San Francisco seem to be moving ahead with banning cars from certain areas of the city, Los Angeles is still considering the implications of this major shift. Proponents of a car ban in downtown Los Angeles hope that such a motion will create safer spaces for walkers, bikers, and joggers along city streets, ultimately reducing the number of pedestrian or cycling-related injuries overall.
What the Proposal Entails
As of mid-February 2020, Jose Huizar, a Los Angeles councilman, had requested city officials to explore the possibility of banning driving and parking along downtown’s Broadway street. The proposed ban would impact only a small stretch of the street—approximately 1.5 miles—but the effects, Huizar believes, would be significant. Under the ban, Huizar thinks that that the street would be much safer and more efficient for those who prefer to walk, cycle, or take public transportation instead of driving. The initial plan is for the streets intersecting with Broadway to allow cars and other vehicles to continue to cross Broadway, but with clear traffic signals that prevented such vehicles from turning onto Broadway itself.
While proponents of the plan are championing its ability to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, others are taking a more cautious stance. According to Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Core business improvement district, “Some ideas are great and can still have unintended consequences.” Those who share Besten’s view urge everyone to examine every angle of the proposal in great detail to make sure the benefits outweigh any potential downsides. As this proposal will entail gathering support from local businesses, residents, and restaurants in the area, it will be a considerable amount of time until any clear decision is made.
Promoting Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety
One of the major benefits of this new project, according to those who are in favor of adopting it, is reducing the number of pedestrian, cyclist, and scooter injuries. With no cars around to cause congestion or collide with walkers, joggers, or cyclists, the hope is that fewer accidents will occur, resulting in a significant reduction in serious injuries. Large urban centers around the country are experiencing an uptick in fatalities and serious injuries involving pedestrians and bikers, so this ban on cars could potentially help to counteract this trend. While many people worry that banning cars from Broadway would simply make traffic on nearby corridors even worse, it’s worth examining all the aspects of this proposal to make sure the final decision is informed and carries the most potential benefits.