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Do Something Radical

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As Guest Day Editor, Fred Camino of MetroRiderLA, will be joining LAist with a few posts throughout today. Read his introductory interview here and check out his site.

Last weekend, the LA Times had a commentary piece by Michael Balter wherein he proposed the "radical" idea of forgoing the subway-to-the-sea (claiming its construction to be unlikely) and instead changing the entirety of Wilshire Boulevard into a car-free bike, pedestrian, bus, and light-rail thoroughfare. Clearly a "far out" idea - I don't believe any city in the United States has ever converted 15 miles of a previously high traffic street into a car-free zone - in fact if you look at Wikipedia's list of car-free places, you'll notice that most car-free zones in the United States are recreational in nature or on small private islands. Let's not forget that Wilshire is one of the busiest arterials in the city, passing through wealthy neighborhoods that have been long been resistant to transit and change, and that NIMBY's have long had a stranglehold on local politics in this city. Even if we ignore those things, the planning process alone for these types of transit projects take years (the Expo Line to Culver City which will open in 2010 entered it's planning stages almost 20 years before that), surely the subway-to-the-sea has had much more thought put into than Balter's Wilshire Utopia idea. But that's what makes the idea so "radical" isn't it? Ideas don't have to contend with reality, so they can be as "radical" as they want. And "radicals" who only have ideas, aren't really all that radical, since an idea never did damn thing. It's easy to look at our leaders and call them cowards for not embracing radical ideas like the one that Michael Balter has proposed, or less radical ideas, like a subway down Wilshire Boulevard. It's not so easy to be make radical changes in our own lives.

I say it's time you consider doing something radical.