Frequently Asked Questions – updated June 2, 2015
What is the Mobility Plan 2035?
Mobility Plan 2035 is a comprehensive revision of the 1999 City of Los Angeles Transportation Element of the General Plan that provides the policy foundation for achieving a transportation system that balances the needs of all road users. The Plan is intended to guide the City’s mobility decisions through year 2035. The Plan comes with supporting documents that will further align the City’s street standards, processes, and procedures with the goals of the proposed Plan.
What does the Plan actually do?
The Plan by and large is a policy document and what actually results from the new goals, objectives, policies and programs depends largely upon future actions and decisions of the City’s leadership, funding opportunities, the effectiveness of staff and community input. The Plan essentially lays out a strategy that, depending upon how it is implemented, could result in such achieving such objectives as: decreasing transportation related fatalities, establishing slow school zones, providing frequent and reliable, on-time bus arrival, increasing vehicular travel time reliability, expanding bicycle ridership, expanding access to shared-use vehicles, installing pedestrian access curb ramps at all intersections, improving coordination and communication between regional transit providers, installing more street parking occupancy detection capabilities, installing publicly available EV charging stations, sharing real-time information to inform travel choices, reducing the number of unhealthy air quality days and increasing economic productivity by lowering the overall cost of travel in the City.
What are the Networks and how will they be implemented?
The purpose of the various networks (Pedestrian, Neighborhood, Transit, Bicycle, Vehicle) is to: ensure high-quality pedestrian access, provide a slow speed network of locally serving streets, improve the performance and reliability of existing and future bus service, provide safe, convenient and comfortable bicycling facilities and provide reliable vehicular access to the regional freeway system. Specific design solutions for corridors and/or intersections are not determined at the citywide level. The networks are concepts that represent suggested corridors that were identified by a combination of data analysis and community input. These suggested corridors are meant to be a starting point for discussion which may evolve into discussion of looking at parallel corridors if desirable. More specific information about each network is included in the maps and programs in the Action Plan in Chapter 6. Improvements to the network corridors will require funding, additional design development, community engagement and environmental analysis in order to be implemented.
Why do we need a Mobility Plan?
We’ve outlined a few reasons why this Plan is important.
Health and Safety: By making streets safer for all users, the Plan will reduce the number of collisions on our streets and allow people of all ages and abilities to feel comfortable walking and biking in their neighborhood. Walking and biking are also popular forms of physical activity and exercise. This Plan responds to the unmet needs of users that prefer to use more active forms of transportation.
Economy: Streets that are attractive public spaces help spur economic development. The plan also makes better use of our limited public resources by concentrating public investment on projects that will provide the most benefits for the greatest number of users. Los Angeles also has a busy network of truck routes, and prioritizing goods movement is central to this Plan because it is also central to our regional economy. And providing safe, convenient, and low-cost travel options preserves household income for other essential needs while also protecting against fuel price increases.
Environment: Our city is faced with real and adverse health and environmental impacts from air pollution and climate change. Rethinking how we plan our transportation system not only addresses one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gases – transportation accounts for 40% of GHG emissions – but also addresses the larger question of how we will grow in the future in a way that is environmentally sustainable. The plan not only targets reductions to air pollution, but also will improve water quality and reduce the urban heat island effect by increasing the amount of permeable surfaces through the creation of “green streets.”
Equity: An important part of the effort of the Mobility Plan is ensuring that we distribute our limited resources equitably. It is important that the plan increase mobility for traditionally underserved neighborhoods, providing them with better access to jobs, schools, and activities. We’ve been careful to consider areas where current car ownership rates are low, or the number of bicycle and pedestrian collisions are high in order to prioritize our investments in the places with the greatest need.
What are “Complete Streets?”
Complete Streets can mean a lot of different things to different people. We think of “Complete Streets” as a movement centered on redesigning streets so that they better accommodate multiple users. But the concept was also embodied as the Complete Streets Act, a bill passed by the California legislature in 2008 which requires cities to consider the needs of all transportation users. There is no single solution for making a street, or a network of streets, more “complete.” As part of the plan, we created the Complete Streets Design Guide, which provides communities and engineers with a playbook of potential ways to redesign a street in a way that meets the policies put forth in this plan, but allows the design to be tailored to the unique users of the streets while complying with the legislative requirements.
Why did the Planning Department take the lead on a Mobility (transportation) Plan?
The Mobility Plan is a component of the larger vision and goals for the City that are described in the General Plan. The Mobility Plan was led by the Department of City Planning staff because the City’s Charter charges the Department with managing the City’s General Plan. Staff from the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and the Mayor’s Great Streets Team were key partners working with us.
We also had a Task Force of over 40 different transportation related agencies, organizations and stakeholders who met regularly. For a complete list, see the Acknowledgements page of the Mobility Plan.
I hear the Mobility Plan is going to reduce car trips, this is LA, and we need cars.
It’s true that the Plan aims to reduce the number of vehicle miles driven each year by 600 million miles, but this doesn’t mean that everyone is expected to get out of their cars. The Plan wants to make it easy for everyone to use the streets, which means facilitating all modes – transit, walking, biking, and, of course, driving.
If cars remain the only viable way for future Los Angeles residents to get around, this will mean worsening congestion and unhealthy environmental outcomes for all of us.
Families, the elderly, people with disabilities, they all need cars! This plan is going to make life harder for some of our most vulnerable populations.
Families with young children or people with different or limited forms of mobility especially depend on automobiles to be able to manage their day to day errands and commutes. However, it’s possible that a young person that lives right off a bus route would consider taking transit a few days a week instead of driving alone. And this means one less car to have to sit behind in traffic.
There are also plenty of vulnerable populations that do not or cannot drive, including people that cannot afford a car or those that are unable to drive. For these residents, The Plan is focused on expanding and enhancing their mobility options. The Plan also responds to the needs of people who walk or bike to get around, and protects their right to do so safely.
We don’t need bike or bus lanes taking away vehicle lanes; we need to widen our roads.
Unfortunately, land is a limited resource, and we have learned that it is not sustainable or even possible to widen our way out of congestion. We must provide multiple options for getting around that enable us to accommodate all the road users we have now. We need to use our streets far more efficiently than we do now, and we cannot do this by increasing vehicular capacity alone. In order to live within our limited land area, we must have a variety of real, viable transportation options and maximize the value of the existing roadways we have in place.
Why did we reclassify all of the arterial (the big ones) streets?
We realized that in order to begin thinking differently about how we used our streets, we had to start with how we named them. Instead of referring to arterial streets as “major or secondary highways,” we wanted to shift to using names, such as Boulevard or Avenue, that are indicative of grand public places. We are also trying to “right size” our streets and, therefore “live within our means” rather than habitually widening roadways to meet the prescribed “highway” widths. To this end, we examined the predominant existing street dimensions, carrying capacity and adjacent uses of each arterial roadway. Based upon this analysis each arterial was then identified as either a Boulevard I, II, Avenue I, II, or III.
I never heard anything about a Mobility Plan, why didn’t the public get to be a bigger part of this? Is this going to bring more development to our already congested neighborhood?
The Plan is a citywide policy document; it does not automatically set into motion any projects. This is not a land use plan, meaning that it does not change what can be built or where. As always, future development projects are subject to regular planning review, and any planning for future growth is the subject of the Community Plans, many of which are in the process of being updated.
We would not be at this point today without the generous input from residents, businesses, community leaders, scholars, and other stakeholders who took time out of their lives to provide feedback on the Plan. Over the four year course of this plan we’ve met with and heard from hundreds of stakeholders. As this was a citywide policy document, it was important to get a wide cross section of representatives from different community groups and organizations, all with different concerns and opinions, and the Plan reflects the balancing act required to Plan for a city as large and varied as LA with five common goals for the future of transportation in this City: Safety, World Class Infrastructure, Access, Increased Collaboration, and Clean Environments & Healthy Communities.
How do I read this plan?
The Plan 2035 is organized into five goals that together highlight the City’s mobility priorities. Each of the goals contains objectives (targets used to help measure the progress of the Plan) and multiple policies (broad strategies that guide the City’s achievement of the Plan’s goals). Policies have programs linked to them, which make the Plan actionable. The Mobility Plan is the start of the conversation around re-envisioning how our streets will operate in the future. We have no doubt that the future will bring new solutions along with new challenges. For example our chapter on technology attempts to address some of ways that emerging technology will change our transportation system. We’re setting benchmarks and focusing priorities to help guide the City when making decisions about future transportation related investments.
What is an EIR?
EIR stands for Environmental Impact Report. The environmental review process is a mandatory part of CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires that all projects be subject to environmental review. It’s a testament to California’s robust environmental stewardship that even Plans, not only autonomous “shovel-ready” projects require environmental review. In the case with EIRs, the “environment” refers not only to natural features such as air, water, and wildlife, but the products built into the environment as well, including traffic, community cohesion, noise, in addition to ensuring that the plan does not with conflict existing plans. This Plan aligns with existing plans like SCAG’s Regional Plan, and the SCAQMD Air Quality Plan.
What does the plan have to do with Metro?
Metro is responsible for countywide transportation projects. Some of the most visible of these projects include the Purple and Crenshaw lines, the Gold Line and the Regional Connector. One of the aspects of this 2035 Mobility Plan is to plan for how our local and citywide streets will connect to and benefit from this ever growing rail network as well as existing stations. A big challenge for rail and bus transit is what planners call the “first-last mile” problem. Or, when you want to ride rail, how do you get to the station? Can you walk there easily? Is there a direct bus route or safe bicycling access? While Metro is working to expand and enhance rail and bus service throughout the region, the Mobility Plan specifically addresses ways in which the city can complement expansion by connecting neighborhoods to the stations.
What happens next?
The Plan is meant to be a citywide guide, but implementation at the community level will focus on each neighborhood’s unique challenges and needs. While the Plan identifies a variety of policies and strategies it doesn’t prescribe specific solutions for select corridors and/or intersections. Instead, we’re imagining a process that will include conversations with community members and elected officials, and the examination of data to identify and learn more about specific community concerns. From there, a comprehensive package of improvements can be identified. Depending upon the unique characteristics of the area, the package could include the identification of improved off-street parking options, street calming improvements, wayfinding, improved cross-walks and an area shuttle bus. This community centric approach will be coupled with other broader initiatives that will include supporting Metro on their expanding transit network, collaborating with regional partners to increase transportation funding, developing a network of “mobility hubs” meant to facilitate and support multi-modal access to and from major transportation stops, finding more opportunities to introduce “green street” solutions to treat and infiltrate stormwater and expanding the role of the street as a public space.
Where can I find out more information and who do I contact if I have questions?
We have heard a lot of questions about the terminology being used in the Mobility Element. This section was created as a reference to help explain the words and phrases that may sound unfamiliar.
Accessibility: Accessibility is the ability to reach destinations. While mobility focuses on how you are getting somewhere, accessibility emphasizes where you are going and incorporates land use aspects within transportation planning. Accessibility is the goal of a good transportation system with the end result of increasing the ease of traveling to desired destinations such as jobs, recreation, and other resources.
Active Transportation: consists of pedestrians and bicyclists. Active transportation refers to an interconnected system of pedestrians and bicyclists that are better integrated with and more likely to use public transit.
Alignment: identifies the general location of a current or future roadway.
Bicycle-Enhanced Network (BEN): The proposed BEN is a network of streets that will receive treatments that prioritize bicyclists. This network is a subset of the 2010 Bicycle Plan and will supplement the system.
Bike Boulevard: A roadway that motorists may use, but that prioritizes bicycle traffic through the use of various treatments to slow motorists and enhance the bicycle level of service. Directional signage, bicycle amenities, and other enhancements are most often used together.
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans): State agency responsible for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the State highway system (includes interstate and state highways)
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): CEQA was enacted in 1970 to protect the environment by requiring public agencies to analyze and disclose the potential environmental impacts of proposed land use decisions. Any public or private project with potential adverse effects upon the environment is subject to CEQA and must be reviewed by decision makers and the public. For more information, visit the California Natural Resources Agency page on CEQA Guidelines.
Capacity: Capacity is the measure of a transportation facility’s ability to accommodate a moving stream of people or vehicles in a given period of time.
Complete streets: Also known as living streets, complete streets are designed to be safe and comfortable for road users of all modes, ages, and abilities. This includes: pedestrians, public transit vehicles and riders, bicyclists, and motorists. Read more about complete streets in our blog post.
Complete Streets Networks: A layering of different street networks based on mode of transportation, with each layer incorporating complete streets principles. The concept of Complete Streets Networks is being utilized in this update of the Mobility Element. Read more about it in our blog post.
Enhanced Complete Street System: Is a network of major streets that facilitate multi-modal mobility within the citywide transportation system. This system consists of four networks: Pedestrian-Enhanced Districts (PEDs), Bicycle-Enhanced Network (BEN), Transit-Enhanced Network (TEN), and the Vehicle-Enhanced Network (VEN). The four proposed networks work together as a layered network of complete streets.
Environmental Impact Report (EIR): An environmental impact report is a document that describes and analyzes the significant environmental effects of a project and discusses ways to mitigate or avoid these effects (California Code of Regulations §15362). An EIR is required under CEQA if an initial study indicates that a proposed project may cause one or more significant effects on the environment.
“First-mile, last-mile” solutions: A term used in transportation planning to illustrate the hurdle of getting people to and from a transportation hub and their final destination. An example of a first/last-mile solution in the city of Los Angeles is the DASH system in Downtown. It connects people from Union Station to their workplace and vice versa on their commutes home. Another solution could be compact, foldable bikes that can easily be brought onto buses, rail, or trains. First and last mile solutions encourage the use of public transport by offering easy ways to connect people to and from their final destinations. See the City’s 2009 “Maximizing Mobility in Los Angeles” for more information about first-mile, last-mile solutions in LA.
General Plan: The policy foundation for all growth and land development in a jurisdiction. The City of Los Angeles General Plan consists of the Framework Element, eight additional elements, and 35 Community Plans forming the Land Use Element. The Mobility Element will replace the City’s 1999 Transportation Element.
Geographic Information System (GIS): A collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, storing, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.
Goods movement: The transport of for-sale products from their manufacturing origin to their final destination where they will be sold. Moving goods can involve many different types of transport such as airplanes, cargo ships, trains, and trucks.
Green streets: Streets that incorporate environmentally-friendly design or infrastructure. Examples of green street measures are permeable paving and native plant landscaping, which can both help conserve water and reduce urban runoff without sacrificing aesthetic quality.
Lead Agency: The primary public agency responsible for managing and carrying out a project. (The City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning is the Lead Agency in the Mobility Element Update project)
Livable neighborhood: The concept that a neighborhood that meets the needs and desires of its residents, businesses, and visitors. Factors impacting livability include safety, affordability, health, access, sustainability, diversity, or businesses. A livable neighborhood is often described as a neighborhood that kids can play safely in or where people enjoy spending time in their local community.
Mitigation Measure: If a proposed project is subject to CEQA, mitgation measures are proposed to eliminate, avoid, rectify, compensate for, or reduce that effect on the environment.
Mobility: Mobility is the ability to move around. It takes into consideration how people are getting from place to place (i.e. walking, biking, bus, auto, etc) and how fast. In general, improving mobility improves accessibility.
Mode share: Also called mode split, refers to the number or percentage of travelers using a certain mode of transportation.
Multi-modal transportation: Refers to a transportation system that considers various modes or ways of getting around (public transit, walking, biking, car, etc.)
Non-Motorized Transportation: Refers to modes of travel such as walking and biking. (also includes equestrians)
Notice of Preparation (NOP): A Notice of Preparation is a document stating that an EIR will be prepared for a particular project. It is the first step in the EIR process (14 California Code of Regulations §15082). The NOP includes a description of the project, location indicated on an attached map, probable environmental effects of the project.
Pedestrian-Enhanced Districts (PEDs): The proposed PEDs are areas where pedestrian improvements are prioritized relative to other roadway users. These areas may be located near schools, transit stations, areas of high pedestrian activity, areas with high collision frequency, or other placemaking opportunity areas.
Performance metrics: Standards and measurements for performance results. In transportation planning, the most commonly used performance metrics measure vehicle throughput and delay (congestion).
Regional Transportation Plan (RTP): A plan to meet the region’s long-term mobility needs by connecting transportation and land use policy decisions. The RTP is prepared by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), which is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) of this region.
Right of way (ROW): The legally granted access that a roadway or other transportation facility can use. It is important to note that the right of way can extend beyond the asphalt in a street and can also include non-street land such as former railroad lines.
Sensitive receptors: A term from the Environmental Protection Agency that refers to areas with occupants more susceptible to the adverse effects of exposure to toxic chemicals, pesticides, and other pollutants. Sensitive receptors include (but are not limited to) hospitals, schools, daycare facilities, elderly housing and convalescent facilities.
Single-occupancy vehicle: A private car that is being used to transport only one person, the driver.
Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG): SCAG is a Joint Powers Authority and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for this region. Their main task is to develop a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and Federal Transportation Improvement Program (FTIP) every four years. These documents identify transportation priorities for the region.
Street classifications: Arterial – Major streets that are very wide with multiple lanes; Non Arterial – Local streets that are not very wide. These are the type of streets that usually run through neighborhoods. Learn more about street classifications here.
Streetscape: The visual appearance, physical forms, and character of a street. Examples of streetscape elements include roadways, medians, sidewalks, street furniture, crosswalks, signs, open space, and landscaping, among many other factors. View common street features in our Street Features Glossary.
Transit-Enhanced Network (TEN): The proposed TEN will improve existing and future bus service on arterial streets by prioritizing improvements for transit riders.
Transportation Demand Management (TDM): Strategies that influence long-term travel behavior. The aim of TDM is to improve mobility and decrease negative impacts such as traffic congestion and air pollution. TDM strategies can include: ride-sharing, providing commuter subsidies, promoting walking and biking, and encouraging flexible work schedules.
Transportation System Management (TSM): Strategies that make better use of the existing transportation system by improving signalization, re-striping lanes for turning vehicles, or providing real-time traffic information. TSM strategies aim to increase efficiency and capacity in the short-term.
Vehicle Enhanced Network (VEN): The proposed VEN consists of enhancements, on a select group of streets, to prioritize the efficient movement of motor vehicles.
Walkable neighborhood: A neighborhood in which people can safely and easily walk to a variety of local destinations and resources.