connect / 2014

The Alternative Travel Project - Go car FREE for just ONE day!

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by the Alternative Travel Project

The ATP project will guide Angelenos toward making car-free travel choices through surveys, analyses, education and inspiration.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

The ATP project will guide Angelenos toward making car-free travel choices through surveys, analyses, education and inspiration.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The Alternative Travel Project encourages people to volunteer days outside the bubble of their cars & find new ways to travel. We believe that the steps an individual takes toward alternative travel, even for a single day, can have local, regional & global impact. While cars are often a necessary part of our modern existence, they don’t have to be a part of our every day. Our project involves an awareness campaign & surveys of the attitudes and users of ‘alternative’ methods of travel in LA. We will collaborate with CicLAvia during 3 events, and feedback our results through videos and an app developed to track ATPers activity. The future we envision for 2050 is for LA to be a city where car-free travel is the norm, not the exception.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

During 3 CicLAvia events we will share information on the Alternative Travel options that are available across Los Angeles. We will survey participants on their awareness of car-free travel to gauge the level of consciousness amongst the city’s residents.

By taking a baseline survey at the December 2014 CicLAvia event, and repeating the process at the March & May 2015 events, we can measure the impact of our efforts with a group of Angelenos who are likely to have a fairly high perception & positive view towards Alternative Travel.

We will also undertake two surveys within the Arts District, as part of a neighborhood pilot where transit connections are being improved, and redevelopment in housing and business is growing. This area is a great example of a neighborhood where the walkability is high, access to transit is good and there are plans to improve it even further.

We will speak with residents and local businesses twice during the course of the year; using results from these surveys as a comparison to the information collected during CicLAvia – where the majority of individuals already somewhat embrace ATP.

In response to our awareness campaign, we hope to gather stories highlighting the positive impact of an ATP lifestyle, and find out if, over the course of the year, more participants choose to take the Open Streets model into their everyday lives.

Can we encourage the ‘CicLAvia only’ cyclist/walker/metro user to replicate a multi-modal lifestyle for some everyday journeys?

Alongside data collection, we will expand the information provided on our website, & produce two new videos to encourage and inspire ATP action within Los Angeles, & around the world. We will also develop a smartphone app for participants to track their ATP mileage – allowing us to build a regional & global view of our impact in terms of CO2 saved, miles traveled and calories burned. This information will feed into a page on our website to be shared worldwide.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CONNECT today? In 2050?

Traveling car-free for just ONE day, will bring people into closer contact with all that the city has to offer. It will increase foot and bike traffic to the local community and create an opportunity to discover new people and places. By bringing people face to face with their neighbors and local businesses, they are more likely to frequent the walkable area surrounding their homes and choose to invest more in their own community. Alternative Travel also brings a sense of togetherness and connection with fellow passengers. Where drivers only see those around them as traffic and a source of stress, travel by public transit, walking & cycling humanizes the journey and our fellow citizens.

Los Angeles is filled with distinctive challenges when it comes to travel, and is known as ‘car-centric’ and for its ‘horrific traffic.’ ATP plans a different future perception of the city. By encouraging a culture shift in how we travel in LA and working with mainstream media and the raconteurs of our city to export this lifestyle, we can create a new, more positive LA story.

Today’s reality is that huge improvements in infrastructure have been made in recent years, but despite this vast change in the availability of public transportation, so many residents are still unaware of the possibilities on their own doorstep. ATP will make car-free travel in LA ‘hip’, it will help to break down the stigma attached to taking the bus and highlight the benefits of leaving the car at home.

By shifting people’s attitude to car-free travel, demand will naturally rise, and in turn this will lead to higher frequency services, a safer system, and quicker journeys

Through our website, videos and social media, we will provide information on the news and services of agencies and non-profits working to improve travel infrastructure. ATP will be a one-stop-shop for information on all car-free travel in Los Angeles and inspire our community to get involved in shaping the future of the city and how we move.

Let’s experiment by going car-free for just one day in 2014; let’s empower the citizens of Los Angeles in 2050 to embrace car-free living as a rule, rather than an exception.

Whom will your project benefit?

Our project will benefit Angelenos who are unaware or nervous about the opportunities for walking, cycling or taking transit in their city. It will also benefit the County of Los Angeles in attracting new talent amongst the millennial generation who place a high value on transit availability.

According to a Transport for America study: 54% of millennials surveyed say they would consider moving to another city if it had more and better options for getting around, and 66% say that access to high quality transportation is one of the top three criteria in considering deciding where to live next. “This survey reinforces that cities that don’t invest in effective transportation options stand to lose out in the long-run,” says Michael Myers, a managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation.

We don’t want LA to lose out by 2050!

Our project will also benefit LADOT, Metro and their current users, by providing a positive, vibrant and exciting perspective on commuting by transit. We will work with the agencies to break down the stigma associated with transit in LA & empower their customers to appreciate their contribution to improving air quality, road traffic, social cohesion, and their own health.

By providing a fun, fresh and engaging view of LA’s ATP options, we aim to create new customers for transit, walking and cycling, and a platform to receive feedback on how the service works for those leaving their cars at home for the first time.

Despite its reputation as a car-centric city, 80% of LA County residents live within walking/biking distance (3 miles) of the frequent transit system, and the LA County MTA carries over 1.46 million passengers per day – the second highest in the country after New York City! This fact is a huge surprise to most locals and we want to help to change that by bringing more people to public transit options.

As we learn more about the motivations to embrace or avoid alternative travel across Los Angeles, we can begin to further understand how the infrastructure can better service its customers and increase its value to the population of LA.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Collaboration with like-minded organizations is integral to ATP. Much of the information we share with our supporters includes best practice examples, opportunities for involvement in community campaigns, and notice of events being held by other organizations.

In addition, we have been able to meet and share ideas with a variety of partners; including CicLAvia, LA County Bicycle Coalition, the Mayor’s Office, Metro, LADOT, Safe Routes to School & LA Walks. Collaboration with CicLAvia will include a physical presence at their events. CicLAvia will provide tent space at one of the hubs along their route, as well as promotion of our project. During these events we will invite Metro & LA DOT to share information on local transit options.

We will invite participants to join our community by volunteering car-free days between CicLAvia events & encourage supporters to share their stories, tips & triumphs with us via social media. Collaboration with CicLAvia is confirmed, and we have worked with them at two previous events. CicLAvia benefits our project by bringing a huge audience, already familiar with Alternative Travel. Factors critical to the success of this collaboration are that we ensure enough volunteers to undertake the survey aspect, provide a welcoming booth to encourage people to visit us, and have a robust survey in place. We will ask participants to sign up to a mailing list so that we are able to follow up at a later date with the same group. Within our ‘ATP lifestyle’ neighborhood pilot area in the Arts District, we hope to work with local retailers, theHUB community of impact professionals, LA Clean Tech Incubator, GenesisLA & the Little Tokyo Services Center as well as the property developers creating new living spaces in the area. These collaborations are not confirmed, but we are in the process of introducing our project to these organizations. Success in the Arts District relies upon listening to what is important to the local people and understanding how ATP can benefit their neighborhood. To carry out these surveys we would like to collaborate with the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA – their Institute for Transportation Studies would be a huge asset in assisting us with survey work & data analysis. This collaboration is not yet confirmed, though our collaborator CicLAvia is already working with the Luskin School & other UCLA researchers on several related projects, making this a natural partnership with the school.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Connect” metrics?

  • Median travel time to work
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Number of public transit riders
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
  • Transit-accessible housing and employment (the share of housing units and percentage of jobs that are located within a half-mile of transit) (Dream Metric)
  • Total number of social media friends (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Los Angeles is currently experiencing the beginnings of a travel renaissance. Its citizens are beginning to look toward an alternative to their cars. Through collaborations with advocates across the city we aim to catalyze a tipping point in this culture shift. In sharing local and international success stories we aim to increase awareness of the benefits of car-free travel, and encourage a greater demand for the infrastructure to support such options.

The ‘CONNECT’ metrics that will be most greatly influenced by our project are the number of public transit riders, and transit-accessible housing & employment. Both goals are direct aims of our organization, which is to inform & inspire people to travel car-free.

We hope to encourage development of an ATP community within LA who will create a greater demand for access to public transit; and we will work with LA County and its transit agencies to implement this infrastructure for their citizens. This ties in with the metric to improve government responsiveness to residents’ needs.

In addition, our message to ‘Get Involved’ in the decision making processes regarding access to transit, walking and cycling; coupled with our collaboration with CicLAvia, directly correlates with the metrics to encourage attendance at cultural events, participation in neighborhood councils, and attendance at public/open street gatherings.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

3 specific metrics possible from development of a phone app include measurement of: Miles traveled lbs of CO2 saved Calories burned

These results will be shared on our website – providing feedback to the ATP society, and highlighting the positive impact of both their own individual energies, as well as the combined effect of the worldwide ATP effort.

Specifically to Los Angeles, we will measure changes in awareness and those taking part in ATP. This will be based on short, simple surveys carried out over three consecutive CicLAvia events, and twice within the Arts District area. We will question participants on their attitude and knowledge towards alternative travel in Los Angeles, and how this changes when they travel to other cities or countries. We will take note of ‘transplants’ to LA and how their travel lives changed upon becoming Angelenos.

We will request that participants taking the survey allow us to email them with the same questions six months later to track whether or not their opinion and participation in car-free travel changes after learning of the project.

Sample Questions: Closest ATP option to home How often do you use ATP (once a week/month/year/never) Do you have a TAP card? Yes/no Does your business / apartment complex provide bike furniture/showers Perception of walking/cycling in LA on a normal day: definitely/likely/maybe/never Perception of car-free travel in LA positive/negative/indifferent/unaware Would you be more likely to ATP in another city/country than LA? What is preventing you from using car-free travel? Fear/unavailability of service/ time taken for similar journey/ nothing I am an ATPer already

Metric changes we can measure between surveys: Change in % of those aware of ATP Change in % of those using Alternative Travel options Change in perception of car-free travel in Los Angeles Change in infrastructure available

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

ATP was founded as a response to personal experience. Our founder, Stana Katic moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. As a newcomer, with experience living in Chicago, Toronto and Europe she felt an immediate sense of isolation as a result of being stuck in her car while moving around the city. By making a decision to explore the city using alternative modes of transportation Stana found it possible to take in her new surroundings at a slower, more relaxed pace; to absorb the city from different perspective and most importantly, to escape the bubble of her car & truly engage with the city and it’s citizens.

ATP has since received similar stories of social connection from Los Angeles and from around the world. Couples who met on the bus and eventually married; schools taking up the challenge to travel car-free on Fridays, favorite spots discovered while walking to work, health benefits from switching a commute to cycling – and a global community of followers who have embraced the project, and one another.

Another lesson from our four years of existence as a small organization is the value of joining forces with similar organizations in order to expand our audience and inspire our supporters to get more involved in their own communities.

Collaboration allows us to share specific campaigns that improve the access and safety of alternative methods of travel. We plan to produce a new video during late 2014 encouraging ATPers to take this next step with us, from volunteering their own car-free days, to becoming involved in advocacy campaigns that improve conditions for ATP and support growth of the movement in their local area.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Our current supporters span the globe and have already inspired some grassroots activities in several other countries. Locally we have generated interest from local agencies in Los Angeles through attendance at community meetings and seminars, involvement in the CicLAvia press conference on two occasions, participation in the Music Center & Grand Park ‘Earth Day 2014’ event, and exploratory meetings with some of the city’s leaders in Alternative Travel advocacy and infrastructure.

LA is at a tipping point, with a growing number of residents looking for an alternative to their cars as their only means of transport. Increasing levels of traffic, and growth of the public transit and bicycle infrastructure are finally providing a real alternative to life stuck behind the wheel.

Based on our outreach to local organizations during 2014, ATP are now in a position to begin to drive forward our mission and begin this new phase. Implementation of this project is possible due to our continued relationship with CicLAvia, as well as a growing relationship with Metro and LADOT.

Our online platform is well developed and has a varied and committed audience that we are able to bring with us as we develop the organization and begin to collect our own data. The tools and personnel required to carry out data collection have been identified, and a group of professional advisors is in place to support the organization’s growth.

In practical terms, we are able to ‘piggy back’ onto a large and loved event, without the need for the expense or personnel required to host an event ourselves, but with the benefit of a large audience, already partaking in ‘alternative’ modes of transportation within a festival-like atmosphere.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

One of the greatest barriers to growing the ATP community in Los Angeles is the perception of car-free travel and the link between cars and status. Travel without a car in LA is often seen as being a result of low socio-economic circumstance, rather than choice. Typically, attitudes in countries where multi-modal transportation is well developed, this is not the case. ‘People in the EU can see in their media that cycling is not done by cheap or poor people, that its done by people who value health, the community, the environment…It’s not something for those who have less power but more.’ Eljo Kamberaj – Ecovolis activist.

ATP will empower, inform and support those choosing to travel without their cars in Los Angeles; it will become the recognized lifestyle choice for the young professional, for kids traveling to school, and for artists seeking inspiration from their surroundings.

We want to create a vision of life outside the car as a positive and desirable experience, where café culture enlivens the streets, professionals enjoy a newspaper during their commute, where it’s possible to know your neighbors as your pass them daily on the sidewalk. We believe that the related effects of fostering such a community spirit will lead to improved local business, reduced crime, an increase in volunteering and other civic activities; including engagement in political decision making.

Using trans-media to share the benefits of living in this type of society, along with the obvious improvements to air quality, local traffic, public health and the environment, we aim to create a desire to not only join us in volunteering car-free days, but also in encouraging colleagues and friends to join in.

A second barrier to ATP success in Los Angeles is that people are often unaware of the Alternative Travel options that are now in place, or are nervous to use it for the first time. A trip by Metro and walking that could take 20 minutes longer than driving may dissuade many potential users, but in highlighting the importance of reducing road traffic, and sharing the benefits of alternative travel, we hope to shift that opinion so that supporters find the positive aspects of ATP rather than focusing on the fact that travel may require a little more planning than always taking the car. Sharing stories from ATPers across the globe we hope to shine a light on the opportunities for connection that ATP brings to a person’s day.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach
  • Quality improvement research