Why is the traffic so bad on the Westside? Well, the Hummer that Los Angeles transportation chief Jaime de la Vega drives can't be helping.
So reports Steve Lopez, the Los Angeles Times columnist who's actually started the Bottleneck Blog, inviting readers to post "gripes and ideas for solutions." Lopez' latest blog post has a picture of de la Vega's Hummer: "No, those aren't Priuses underneath it. Those are the tires."
In fact, Lopez went to have a little chat with de la Vega recently. De la Vega clammed up about the Hummer; the press secretary's best defense was that "de la Vega's vehicle is not the largest in the Hummer line."
Of course, the transportation issues in Los Angeles are much bigger than just de la Vega's Hummer, as big as that may be. Los Angeles public officials have been "taking huge campaign checks from developers and rubber-stamping their projects," says Lopez, despite the fact that the city hasn't even put together a formal transit plan up for debate.
But de la Vega's Hummer can, in a way, serve as a microcosm of all that's gone wrong with transit planning in Los Angeles. Transit officials who don't care to take public transit, city leaders who, in fact, take part in creating the "the bigger the better" car culture of Southern California (Schwarzenegger also owns Hummers), the disconnect between some public officials and the constituency they serve.
Not surprisingly, many anti-Hummer campaigns have sprouted up in the last few years, from FUH2 -- which invites people to flip off Hummers -- to ihumpedyourhummer -- which asks you to make videos of Hummer humping -- to the Environmental Working Group's Ronald McHummer sign-o-matic -- which lets you create your own subversive anti-Hummer message.
For a somewhat more encouraging look at Los Angeles officials and public transit, you can watch LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa take the Red Line on MetroRiderLA. Of course, Villaraigosa took this ride just a few weeks after he was called out for riding a GMC Yukon everywhere....
Stay up to date on Hummer and Yukon-riding politicians, read suggestions for solutions, and put in your own two cents on the Bottleneck Blog.