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Sundance Talks Sustainable Transit

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Mia Birk of Alta Planning, the company that is working on the LA Bicycle Master Plan | Screen Capture from Sundance

As part of Sundance Channel's green programming, tonight's episode of Big Ideas For A Small Planet features cities tackling transit with green solutions. No, Los Angeles is not featured (save for a couple stock shots of an orange Metro bus), but the ideas presented in the episode are all something the region could or is already looking into.

"Transport," which airs at 9:00 p.m. highlights New York City's sustainable transit operations, rapid bus system, congestion pricing plans (they say it could take 110,000 cars off NYC streets) and bicycle lanes. Portland's bicycle system is featured as well -- of note is how the bike industry helps the local economy by bringing in $80-100 million dollars a year.

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Public Transportation saves the United States 1.4 billion gallons of gas a year, according to the show, but for cities facing troubles increasing transit ridership, the episode points out obvious notions that need to be brought up again and again. Giving people attractive options in places where the only sensible way to travel is driving is essential. You especially can't encourage people to bike and walk unless you have the infrastructure. Even musician David Bryne chimes into the bicycle conversation saying "the idea is you make it secure enough that a kid could ride and feel safe. Then it's not an extreme sport anymore" (Siel at the LA Times points out that he was hurt in a recent biking accident). Another expert said that driving goes against what our bodies need -- we are built to move, not the occasionally pedal push and gear change, something that goes in line with what the mayor of Bogotá, Colombia preached when he visited Los Angeles a couple years ago.

For any Angeleno who is ready for change and excited to see the possibilities, Big Ideas For A Small Planet is a must see.