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Mayors Voices: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Los Angeles: home of the freeway and land of the Range Rover. But look a little closer, and you’ll quickly see that LA is undergoing a transit revolution that’s fundamentally changing how we connect our communities. We’re laying the foundation to get Angelenos out of their cars, into public transportation and onto green space.

Last weekend, for the second time in 15 months, we closed down a 10 mile stretch of one of the most congested freeways in the country for an entire weekend. Despite predictions of “Carmaggeddon,” Angelenos stayed off the roads and instead walked, used public transit, or rode their bikes all around the city.

I believe that Carmageddon became “Carma Heaven” not only because we feared an apocalyptic traffic jam, but because Angelenos are aching for a day without a car. They’ll get another chance this Sunday when we shut down another 10 miles of streets, not for construction, but for the LA’s fifth “CicLAvia.” From Chinatown to South LA, from Mid-city to Boyle Heights, hundreds of thousands of Angelenos will set out for what has become a veritable bike block party.

Eastsider Carlos Morales will jump on the bike he lost 200 pounds on by riding along new bike lanes with his friends. Westsider Claire Atkins will put her dog Mumford in the basket of her beach cruiser and take a tour of Chinatown. Newlyweds DJ and Roee will rollerblade over to Boyle Heights to get those famous tamales they’ve been meaning to try, and the Brady Family will take their twin boys on their first train ride: the light rail Expo line from Culver City to Staples Center. It’s the magic of CicLAvia. Angelenos can leave their cars and home and head to the intersection of community, of health, of play, and, of course, bikes.

The magic doesn’t have to be temporary, however. That’s why we are working to reducing our carbon emissions by making it easier for Angelenos to get from point A to point B without a car.

During my time as Mayor, Los Angeles has opened four major transit lines, and we have or will break ground on four more. Once complete, this unprecedented investment in our infrastructure will create a rail network that has doubled in size. But we’re not just focusing on our trains – we’re looking long-term to build over 1,600 miles of bikeways over the next 30 years. And we’re looking towards innovative models of transportation as well. Just a few months ago Los Angeles launched an extension of our Orange Line Busway. It’s of note because it’s the only dedicated busway in Southern California and is lined with bikepaths to provide a better quality of life to residents in the San Fernando Valley.

Together, we’re placing a premium on our people and making sure Angelenos have the choices need to get around town without leaving a carbon footprint behind. It’s what we want, and what we deserve.

You can hear more from Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa’s office onTumblr