Archives for posts with tag: transportation
Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, image courtesy of Metropolitan Transit Authority and metro.net

Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, image courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority and metro.net

Here’s the thing: international airports, especially those on the scale of LAX, need better access to public transportation.  Our city does house the nation’s 3rd busiest airport, after all.  While buses serve that purpose to an extent, a connection to our ever-growing light rail system would be an extremely convenient and traffic-reducing solution.  Think of all those people who won’t be on the 405 anymore if they can get to LAX via train!

Naturally, the powers-that-be had thought of this, and were already addressing the issue:  Metro (LA’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority) has been holding open meetings since 2010, and LAWA was making plans of their own.  This is all well and good, but today the two entities announced they would be collaborating as the plans moved forward.  This might seem like an obvious step to most, but in a city where bureaucracy sometimes rules over practicality, this is a huge leap in the project actually being executed, and executed well.

Funded by partially Measure-R, this extension between the Green Line and the Expo Line will become the Crenshaw Corridor, which will connect to a new LAX People Mover, presumably dropping off individuals at each terminal.  As is the case with projects of this scale, us Angelenos won’t be able to ride the line to LAX until 2020, but in the scheme of things that is actually a pretty quick turnaround.

Beyond the direct transportation benefits this new addition will give, its sure to improve real estate and business opportunities along its path as well.  So start investing along the Crenshaw Corridor!  That is, as soon as they decide which of the four plans to go with.

This has the potential to create some new and interesting opportunities along a new path in LA.  Plus, if LAX travelers and locals alike could take a ride that plugs them directly into the Metro transit network, this extension could have rippling benefits to other transit-oriented and transit-adjacent developments along other lines as well.  Lets hope they have the sense to put in some developer incentives, bike paths, and park and ride lots, and we should be good to go.

Los Angeles.  Its a place like no other- for better or for worse.  One of the qualities its most known for is its (drumroll, please) exorbitant traffic!  We all know the story of how is came to be:  the glory of this start-studded sunbelt city includes the tearing out of the red car system and replacing it with freeways, helping the previously small town become a car owner’s heaven.  As the bedroom communities spread further and further out, more people needed to drive into the city for work- and little about that fact has changed in the last 40 years, except perhaps that it has become more crowded and slightly less smoggy.

There are a myriad of reasons why we need to reconsider transportation in Los Angeles, and that need is old news.  Between political and economic problems, the city doesn’t have the power to do more than incremental changes- many of which have already happened and seem to be working out well.  The bigger problem, in my opinion is the urban form.  LA is the densest city in America, if you can believe it.  Denser (on average) than NYC.  Its this southwestern low-rise density that lets us have lots of crowding and still manage to sprawl all over southern California.  Because of this density, its very difficult to recreate the public transportation system that was once here.  What can we do about it?  That is an excellent question.  And one I’m not yet prepared or qualified to answer.  I believe its going to take a bit more studying and digger of this problem before I can claim to know what the next steps should be.

In the mean time, I found this delicious infographic on Good.is on how people move through LA.  Its relevant and  quite nice, so here it is:

Be sure to check out the full article on Good.  And I’ll be sure to figure out what LA is/should/would be doing with its transportation routes and system.

In his book The Image of the City, Kevin Lynch spoke about the idea of “imageability”, or “that quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer.”[1] The imageability of a city is linked to the five elements he has defined: nodes, paths, landmarks, edges, and districts, all of which can be observed by anyone in any city.  Between these five concepts intertwining and interacting, a person can develop their own image of a city, an interesting convergence of the personal conception and public physicality.

There are two aspects of these elements that I find particularly intriguing: external v. internal, and perspective.

1- The dichotomy of external and internal interactions with the various elements is one of the components that makes them so comprehensive in expressing an urban environment.  Landmarks and edges are elements that are observed from the outside, and they provide direction and definition without a necessary close proximity to the observer.  Districts, paths and nodes, however, are more experienced internally, with the user utilizing them in a physical way.  Of course all of the elements can be used both externally and internally, but I believe the mixing of the two concepts in the creation of an image of a city makes it that much richer.

2-Perspective: it changes everything.  Lynch brought this up in chapter 3 of his book, and I find it fascinating to think that a user with a slightly different purpose can experience the elements of a city in such a different way than I would.  It opens up practically infinite possibilities for what in an urban environment can be defined as any of the elements in particular- not only can your path be my edge, but it could also be my landmark or node.  This is obviously a stretch in many situations, as some elements are more flexible and others are rather linear or spatial, but it still brings up a very important point about imaging a city: one perspective is definitely never enough, and multiples may show a side that a designer has never conceived.

This brings me to the reason I’m discussing Lynchian ideas in this blog: we will be riding the train line from Ann Arbor to Detroit soon, each looking at different aspects along the way, and discovering how those aspects might apply to Lynch’s five elements philosophy.  In first thinking about it, I see the train line as a path, Ann Arbor and Detroit as districts, the train stops as nodes, and many things along the way as landmarks.  I’m not sure what I believe to be the edge in this situation- perhaps the city or county boundaries?  Do social edges count, like that between Detroit and Grosse Point?  I’m curious to see how the trip itself will change the perspectives I have on these elements in relation to the train line we’ll be riding.


[1] Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City. (Cambridge:  MIT Press, 1960), 9