Friday, February 20, 2009

First thoughts about the last mile

One of the issues in getting people to use public transportation is the "last mile" problem - how do you get people from, say, a light rail station to their office if it's not located within a few blocks. It's this conundrum that dissuades some potential users from leaving the car at home - how do they travel the last mile? This is often talked about regarding public transportation, but what about here in L.A. where cars are still so dominant?

As I ride around Santa Monica and think about bike access issues and general congestion, I was wondering if there could be a version of the "park & ride" idea we could apply here. Generally park & ride is where people in suburban areas drive a short distance to a parking area where they connect with public transportation for the longer haul to where they work. The problem in L.A. is that if you are not on the current Metro rail routes, long distance transportation sucks and takes forever.

But what if there was a good parking area say, near the 405/10 interchange, or around the VA - somewhere short of the westside commuter destinations? Commuters from the Valley could drive their car to that parking area with their bike, and then ride the easy mile or two to their office, easing congestion in the business districts (and getting in a bit of exercise, but not so much they are a sweaty lump once they get to the office). It seems far better than trying to cram more and more parking into the downtown Santa Monica/Westside business district. It requires a little in terms of infrastructure, but certainly way less than accommodating all those cars downtown.

What am I missing? Seems like a good way to go.


  1. I did just that earlier ths week: parked my car at Veteran Admin, took the bike to UCLA, safed parking charges, returned with bike to ca, drove on with car to downtown - there is plenty of mileage if combining modes, as they call it, and it is more than just bikes on busses. Park and cycle may be a better name for this, because Park & Ride is already pointing to the bus or train.

    I was thinking about something similar with regard to downtown parking business: Here the whole economy of distance will change if you threw a few bikes into the equation

  2. Works for me since early summer. I have used a NJ park and ride for this a couple times.
    Lotsa different places to park, no tickets yet. I do a car/bike relay to work. Oh I went on a multimodal date last night! Snowy ride home this morning.

    NJ Transit has a 'last mile' shuttle service from some train stations to a bunch of office parks.

  3. A multimodal date - that's great. It's so nice when your significant other is bike-friendly.

    And this park & bike idea seems like one cities should really consider. A lot of bank for the buck.