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08/24/2009: "A Dream to Make True"
I was riding across Third Street on my way home this morning, and swooping across its lanes as I made my left, I suddenly recalled an idea I'd pondered in a vague way several times before.

Third is not a huge street as streets go in Los Angeles--just another "four-lane" cutting through the 'hoods, one of many dozens in just this part of town.

But it's not really four lanes: add the left turn lanes (which are nearly continuous here) and the parking lanes, and you have a seven-lane street--and it's not even that impressive!

Good wide sidewalks too...I've often thought, what would this street look like in a car-free or car-lite city?

And I realized it would need only two lanes...

Think of it: one twelve-foot lane in each direction would be plenty for:After all, no cars means no parking required--you can park plenty of bikes on the sidewalk, in racks by the curb, without impeding pedestrians. And in busier areas you can run heavy-rail underground--better, where feasible.

We've already seen that cyclists spend more than drivers anyway, as far as streetside commerce is concerned. True, you can't bring a washing machine home on your bike (unless you have a bakfiets)...but you can't do that in your car either; you still need a delivery truck.

So you're down from seven lanes to two...oh, hell, let's call it two and a half, to be fair!

If every "four-lane" street in LA were only two and a half lanes wide, LA might be half its present size! (About 70% of the city's surface is paved for cars.) More efficient, cleaner, less frustrating, more neighborly, richer...all that money and space now wasted on cars, all the water thrown away because it can't soak into the soil, all the endless expense of moving things all those extra miles just because we've made the city "for cars," all the hearts destroyed by inactivity and stress caused directly by driving and its accommodation.


Still, the streets are here....

But they still don't need to be so wide!

Imagine parks along the center of each formerly seven-lane street, or schools, or rows of apartments or small houses, or little businesses, or urban strip farms...there is a wealth of possibilities! A treasure, swamped in asphalt and battered by horns and hard words as traffic hurries ever-slowly through this town.

We can do better. And if we have any sense, we will do better!

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