traffic congestion on freeways under freeway signs

Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Launches Initiative Focused on Transportation

The UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge has launched an initiative called TRACtion — for Transformative Research and Collaboration — that will bring UCLA scholars together with community stakeholders to address key topics related to sustainability: transportation, energy, water and ecosystems. The program will begin with a two-year series of activities and funding opportunities that will tackle the region’s seemingly intractable transportation challenges. Called Transforming Transportation in Los Angeles, this track will tap the expertise of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), which will work with community-based organizations and advocacy groups to identify barriers to a more equitable transportation system, then fund research to fill some of these gaps. TRACtion organizers held a Jan. 26 kickoff meeting that included California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin, UCLA faculty from several disciplines, and community organizations engaged with transportation and environmental justice. “These are voices that will disagree and push each other,” said Adam Millard-Ball, professor of urban planning and acting director of ITS. “If we don’t make some people uncomfortable, I don’t think we’ve pushed people far enough.” He said it is critical that the effort encompass expertise from across numerous disciplines. Involving political scientists, for example, might illuminate how elected officials determine transportation policy; historians could help explain how the car has come to dominate transportation discourse; artists and designers could help ensure that solutions are shared with the public in engaging and culturally relevant ways. “Transportation equity and sustainability are too important to be left to transportation scholars alone, and we need these sophisticated, multidisciplinary perspectives,” he said.

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