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'Trafficking in Chaos'

December 15, 1986

Help! I am fed up with the countless hours I must spend on the streets of Los Angeles every day trying to get anywhere. As a field representative for an insurance company, I am constantly in my car visiting various accounts I service.

Now I am told in a recent report by the Southern California Association of Governments (Metro, Dec. 5) that the worst is yet to come. I can look forward to more people, more traffic, and more smog by the year 2010.

If this is what I and thousands of other frustrated motorists in Los Angeles can expect then we might as well junk our cars and get our tennis shoes or bikes.

Now I do not have a degree in engineering, nor do I pretend to know the fine points of city planning. However, desperation and despair over the traffic glut have driven me to make some common sense demands of city officials.

Synchronize all traffic lights immediately. It is absolutely ridiculous to have to stop every two blocks because of poorly timed lights. This is a waste of fuel, a source of pollution, and frazzles the nerves of drivers.

Eliminate all excessive traffic lights. By this I mean lights on non-major access thoroughfares. I have sat at a light for up to one minute even though no cars are flowing across the intersection.

Stagger work hours. The model for traffic planning during the Olympics showed the potential for this method. Businesses downtown, in Westwood, Century City, and other major centers can space the arrival and departure time for their employees every five minutes between 7-8 a.m. and 4-5 p.m.

One-way streets downtown. There should be no traffic lights, or completely synchronized lights on these streets. There should be underpasses or overpasses for pedestrian use on these streets.

Ban traffic downtown and in other central business areas during peak travel periods. There should be designated parking lots where commuters or shoppers can park. A system of mini buses would carry them to stores, restaurants, or work.

No work by Caltrans or freeways or streets between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Nothing irritates many motorists more than to be stuck on the freeway because a lane is closed by Caltrans for repair or cleaning. Schedule all work at night or in off hours on weekends.

The creation of a traffic flow enforcement division. Such a unit would have the authority to synchronize and monitor traffic lights, remove stalled cars from traffic lanes, and coordinate traffic pool plans with private industry.

Of course, these steps would probably not be necessary if Los Angeles had a fully functioning, efficient rapid transit network. We don't. So city officials, the time is now. Do something. The year 2010 is here now on our streets.



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