Los Angeles, California, has caused a significant amount of environmental damage as it has expanded. It has seemed the iconic imagery and sense of opportunity that the city provides came with an inherent cost.

But now the L.A. City Council has taken an impressive new approach, which looks set to change L.A. for very much the better, whilst also maintaining what has made it great.

Leaders have endorsed sweeping changes to the arrangements of roads in the city, including some of its major boulevards, including adding more bike and bus lanes, and removing car lanes.

The policy approach is called Mobility Plan 2035, and among its goals will be to improve travel efficiency and safety for pedestrians and cyclists, whilst also enticing people to stop driving cars. It specifically intends to reduce the fatality rate from traffic collisions to zero within 20 years, making L.A. a greater city to live in.

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City Councillor Mike Bonin, a lead supporter of the plan, says L.A. currently has a "legacy of shame" in the number of children and senior citizens who have died on the city's roads. He points out that at present, 80 percent of residents who are hit by a car travelling at 65kmh are killed.

A recent analysis by the Los Angeles Times found pedestrians make up 10 percent of every person involved in traffic collisions, whilst disproportionately making up 35 percent of road deaths.

It needn't be said, Los Angeles is a city synonymous with cars, and this change in transport policy marks a significant turning of the tide - not only the L.A. situation, but as an example to other cities around the world.

Transport advocates and local businesses are applauding the Mobility Plan, because they believe it will provide more options for people to walk, bike and use public transport services.

However, opponents are planning to mount a legal challenge, saying the policy approach will cause increased traffic congestion, and even pulling a card expressing the thought it will delay emergency vehicles.

Meanwhile, on the economic front, Councillor Jose Huizar, representing the downtown area, says some streets in the district have already had car lanes removed, which has had a positive effect.

He says small businesses in the area are receiving increased custom, as foot, cycle and vehicle traffic is required to move more slowly, and is consequently noticing amenities that they previously would have flashed past.

On Tuesday 11 August, councillors signed off on a Statement of Overriding Considerations, emphasising the benefits of the Mobility Plan will outweigh the costs.

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