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An Interview with the General Manager of the Los Angeles DOT
Eddie Kim interviews Seleta Reynolds, the general manager of the city of Los Angeles' Department of Transportation, who was hired by mayor Eric Garcetti "with an eye toward finding ways to improve the city not just for drivers, but also for walkers, cyclists and transit users."
The interview begins with a discussion of the city bus service known as the DASH, which is close to completing a service expansion that keeps up with the changes in Downtown (such as the ongoing investment in the Arts District).
Also discussed in the interview is the city's Vision Zero initiative, announced in August 2015, and setting a target for zero traffic fatalities by 2025. To summarize the current state of the LADOT's efforts on the Vision Zero initiative, Reynolds explains the following:
We’re almost done with our crash profiling, where we identify high-injury networks — where we have the most severe crashes with people walking or biking. Now we’re doing the deep dive into “Why?” It’s kind of like archaeology: What can we learn from the crash reports that we get from the enforcement side of the department, and how do we layer that info on top of what we know about the physical environment?
Reynolds makes another telling point when comparing the political culture of the San Francisco area, where she worked previously in her career, with that of Los Angeles. According to Reynolds, Los Angeles lacks the robust public dialogue found farther north. "There needs to be a safe space for that to occur," says Reynolds. "Part of that is, my engineers and planners need to know that if they make a mistake while speaking, I have their back. But it’s a lot of work, and not everyone is comfortable with it. This can lead to a place where people hold their cards very tightly and not be open and honest."