Transportation is a key influence on what gets built and where. Los Angeles is notoriously the largest American city which grew up entirely within the embrace of 20th Century automotive culture. Now that California is grappling in earnest with climate change, transportation is bound to change quickly, and the architecture and design of LA are bound to change with it.
Although a popular documentary film declared it dead ten years ago, the electric car never left, and now it’s a bigger deal than ever. As part of National Drive Electric Week, automakers, car enthusiasts, activist organizations, and curious families gathered for a showcase and celebration on Exposition Park on Sunday, September 11, and had a chance to test-drive over a dozen models. (The timing was awkward, as the 2017s are just about to be released, but it gave the curious a chance to get the basic idea in a variety of flavors.)
Electric cars are a small and relatively conservative part of a dramatic rethinking of how Los Angeles gets from place to place, already in progress. The city recently posted a sprawling and fascinating strategic report called Urban Mobility In the Digital Age that covers mass transit, self-driving vehicles, environmental and civic concerns, and exciting and inevitable changes to the city’s infrastructure. (Alissa Walker at Curbed LA provides a handy synopsis.)
The electric car didn’t just survive. It was an early indicator of how dramatically urban planning will change as transportation technology explosively grows, climate change becomes too serious to ignore, and builders, designers, governments, and entrepreneurs collaborate on a more sustainable future. The next phase of transportation history is still in its infancy. But, for starters, don’t be shocked to see more of these little guys buzzing around on the freeways.
– Emerson Dameron, A+D Intern
– Photo Credit: Emerson Dameron