Many urban pundits are buzzing over a chart tweeted this week by Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Rick Cole, who’s soon to become Santa Monica’s City Manager. The figures, from a yet-unknown Los Angeles city planning report, indicate the daily miles driven by Angelenos has been on a study decline since 2002.
Thirteen years ago, Angelenos were driving nearly 12 miles a day, or 11.91 to be exact. Even with the economy booming in the early- and mid-Aughts (when people usually drive more, since they’re commuting to work, and the mall), the daily driving skewed downward. By 2013, the last year studied, Angelenos were driving 10.76 miles a day, over a mile less than in 2002.
Without the full study it’s hard to say definitively what’s beyond the decline. A few things are certain, though: the city has invested heavily in bike- and transit infrastructure. Protected bike lanes have opened across the city, along with parking for cycles and sharrows painted on streets; the Gold Line began operating in 2003 (from DTLA to Pasadena) and was extended to East L.A. in 2009; the Expo Line started shuttling people between Culver City and DTLA in 2012; and the popular busways known as the Silver Lane and Orange Line opened during that time. There’s also been shocking increases in gas prices, as well as a growing notion that driving less is better for the environment, if not one’s soul.
One thing that isn’t reflected is traffic, which seemingly got much worse this past decade. That reality certainly encouraged people to try alternative transportation, including walking more and living closer to where they work. Stay tuned for more details from this mysterious traffic report.