In 2015, Los Angeles passed the Mobility Plan 2035 to improve the flow and coexistence of everyone on the roads and sidewalks. Now, the “Healthy Streets LA” ballot measure wants to make it essential that this Mobility Plan is enacted when streets are repaved, but needs to get on the ballot first.
You may not smoke cigarettes, but living in LA is doing the same thing to your body. The organization Streets for All found that residents “smoke” the equivalent of four cigarettes a day just by breathing. This is one of the reasons they want “Healthy Streets LA” to make it to the ballot. This initiative would create a safer and greener city by improving public transportation, environmental standards, and protecting cyclists and pedestrians.
While freshman NGOs and Social Change major Chanel Williams doesn’t smoke, she was surprised by just how bad the air quality is in LA.
CHANEL WILLIAMS: I wouldn’t equate it to that, like I wouldn’t think about it in that way. So it’s pretty interesting.
Michael Lagos also doesn’t smoke. He is a freshman architecture major and agrees L.A. needs to have more ways to travel around the city.
MICHAEL LAGOS: There’s a lot of places in Los Angeles that need more developments like that for accessibility purposes.
Williams agrees with Lagos, but wants to make sure changes are made with traffic in mind.
WILLIAMS: If it’s going to like cut off too much like street space that can create more traffic and we already have like a big traffic problem here.
Currently, out of the 3,137 miles in the Mobility Plan only 95 have been implemented. The organization Streets for All, was founded by Michael Schneider who wants to speed up the process.
SCHNEIDER: Three percent of those improvements have been implemented in seven years. So that’s a rate that it would take about 200 years for the city to fully implement their own plan.
The measure needs around 93,000 signatures or eight city council votes to get on the ballot. Schneider sees “Healthy Streets LA” as more than a way to improve accessibility and air quality; it’s an issue of life and death.
SCHNEIDER: If you look at the city’s high injury network, which is the six percent of streets to make up the majority of injuries and deaths in the city, the majority are in South LA, East LA, downtown and central LA. And so if we want to do a service to people in those communities stopping them from dying in the street just by trying to bike or cross the streets, the ballot measure would be a great first step.
It feels impossible to imagine Los Angeles without terrible traffic and pollution, but the “Healthy Streets LA” ballot measure believes it can make the impossible a reality. Until then, don’t forget to look both ways when crossing the street.
Correction (Mar. 3): A previous version of the piece had a transcription typo saying “the pedestrian would be a great first step.”