Making communities accessible.

With as spread out as the Los Angeles metropolitan area is, we should have a public transportation system that’s the envy of the world. Sadly, this is not the case and most of us have simply resigned to being a “car city.” Furthermore, the San Fernando Valley is even more isolated the longer its residents don’t have access to any kind of rail line that extends through the Sepulveda Pass and towards LAX.

This kind of interconnectedness needs to be a priority the more our population grows and puts further strains on our already packed traffic patterns. While private businesses have introduced rideshares and scooters to help step in where our government has lagged behind, these are stop-gap solutions that don’t look at our transportation needs as a whole.

The result has been an inefficient patchwork that all but requires automobile ownership, an assertion that doesn’t line up with the needs of all working people. While Southern California has a reputation of car traffic, the number of cycling and walking commuters rises every year, undercutting the argument that “complete streets” aren’t feasible. The two options that lie ahead are either to continue to stand in the way of workers and recreational bike-users or invest in these people that are leading the way on alternative forms of transportation.

And like with all things, investments in people have a solid rate of return. This is true not only for the people, but for businesses, and our local economy, in general. Think of all the hiring talent that businesses have lost out on because their top choices have concerns about their commute. Think of the last time you didn’t go to an event or restaurant because you were worried about finding parking. Think of all the businesses that go under because our infrastructure has isolated them away from consolidated shopping centers. These are all massive opportunity costs that are in the way of our free market exchange of commerce, and it benefits no one by allowing them to continue.

But success builds on success. By pushing for a larger implementation of “complete streets,” no road would be repaired without including the infrastructure that would make for a more connected society. Bike lanes, bus corridors, and mapping out possible light rail for major traffic spots. Expanding the LA Metro to parallel the 405 is just one part of the goal. Making the San Fernando Valley accessible, interconnected, and vibrant is not just possible, it’s crucial.