Inspired as I have been by the progress made by Transportation Alternatives in NYC, I’m really looking forward to my “neighborhood” LACBC chapter meeting (the TA equivalent). I’ve contacted the Chair who gives me directions to a nearby restaurant. I Uber over -
Did I say Uber?
Like many New Yorkers, I have mixed feelings about Uber. In New York City, these cars make for more congestion, more competition for beleaguered taxi drivers, depreciation of medallion value - a huge investment loss. But in Los Angeles, I’m a convert. One statistic alone is enough to win me over: Uber has reduced DUIs in Los Angeles by 30%. Yes. And if you’re willing to carpool, you can get mostly anywhere you’re going, in a very spread out city, for $6 including tip. And have some great conversation.
But Uber isn’t the only thing that’s different. Here’s the destination of my meeting:
But as the evening wears on, I have greater and greater appreciation for my TA affiliation.
This group is fairly new, with a new Chair, and in the throes of growing pains. Tonight, tensions run high because the name of the group was changed without everyone being present, and some members have ruffled feathers.
The Executive Director is there and tries to calm down the tensions. “I want everyone to feel comfortable in this space,” she says.
All of a sudden, it feels very Southern Californian.
As I left NYC, we at TA were on the verge of getting approval for a protected bike lane from 8th Street to 34th on 6th Avenue - a major victory - and another one on Amsterdam Avenue was in the offing.
I try to convey these victories to the group to give them hope, but they just gaze at me with a far-away look in their eyes as if I were speaking another language.
I feel for them. The passions for safe streets are just as strong here as they are back home. It never occurred to me until tonight how many things have to be in place before a foundation is built to move forward and actually get results. And in fact, TA’s “Overnight Victories” are the products of years of work.
I’m rooting for this group to get its footing. I’ll be curious to see the progress they make while I’m here.
Meanwhile, I plan to attend another meeting on the West Side the next day, which promises to be much more contentious…