Chances are at some point I have written about LA doing the most interesting things in the realm of urban planning and all that entails. I don’t have any links available, but I know I have because I FEEL it. From bus signalization pre-emption, to massive investment in new subway lines, to the restoration of the LA River as something other than a concrete flume.
You may not see the improvements yet because they’re laying the groundwork. And they have to because they are congested. They are low on transit, low on highway capacity, and high on driving. They’re also geographically landlocked between mountains and ocean so they can’t keep sprawling and call it progress!
What I really want to talk about though is their open data effort. Open data requires collection of data (which we need more of), publishing it for private research/developers (which we need more of), but also creating data visualization for those of us that aren’t Mr. Robots. Ya know, the general public.
And LA has done that. Here. Where you can scroll through maps of geolocated traffic collisions with color coding for severity. They’ve even identified high risk for injury corridors because who cares about dings when we should be caring about hospital visits. (Here is where I would invite you to find my post about conflict points. Accidents are going to happen. It’s naive to think we can design them out. What we CAN do is keep people from dying and reduce the number of injuries on our roads.)
Speaking of progress, look at the level of discussion of 20 potential improvements for Philly’s new mayor to implement. It’s like a bullet point list of best practices.
Philly is interesting to me, not necessarily because I visit frequently, but how it is changing. I first noticed this when compiling data sets on all cities to see where educated millennials were flocking to. Philly was way up on the list.
The primary reason why is the remnant and malleable urban fabric that was/is more affordable than DC or NYC. Millennials are makers. They like to shape the world around them. Old buildings, new ideas as Jane Jacobs might say. The bike lanes they’ve implemented and the subsequent rise in bicycle commuting there is all part of the chicken/egg aftermath of them showing up in the first place. A city has to both attract talent and retain it, then be shaped by it. Now, they’re at the forefront of urban progress.