Resurrecting a pledge to use more public transit as Los Angeles grapples with gridlock, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has begun stepping aboard more buses and rails to encourage Angelenos to leave their cars at home once a week.
"If I said to everybody, `Get out of your car and take public transit,' the likelihood of people doing that isn't great," Villaraigosa said Tuesday after arriving on the 710 Metro bus to catch the Purple Line at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue.
"So the goal is: Get out of your car once a week. I want to model that."
Villaraigosa's "Go Metro with the Mayor" effort is a pledge from his first 100 days in office to ride public transit once a week. While he said his work schedule prevents him from using it more frequently, the overall goal is to lead by example.
But the real test of Villaraigosa's leadership will be whether he can stick to the new routine.
It's a model Los Angeles - and the nation - needs as mayors in major cities gush about the benefits of public transportation but don't always practice what they preach.
I hope that Villaraigosa succeeds. It's not easy to plan even a single workday around public transit when you are accustomed to driving, but if the mayor can do it, maybe more people will be willing to give it a try.
I ride my bike to work when I don't have to run any errands that require driving, and sometimes that means I only get to bike to work once a week. It's not so bad, though, since I live only 1.5 miles from work, and hopefully more people will find living near their place of business a viable option. With the number of fancy condominiums and lofts going up all over Downtown, that actually has a chance of happening (for those who can afford it, anyway).
If enough people follow the mayor's example, maybe we'll be able to see the thick haze of smog over the skyline clear just a little bit.