Mike, what’s your job in Transportation Services?
I’m a Transportation Planner. I generally oversee bicycle and pedestrian planning. I still oversee a bit of the Zipcar carsharing program. I was heavily involved with the AQMD survey. It’s a state mandated survey that tracks travel patterns for employees. You may have seen the data from this survey in the State of the Commute report. I’ve been doing this job for about six years now.
What do you like best about your job?
I think the variety and the different projects. Sometimes I review engineering documents for projects, sometimes I work with the marketing team for a new campaign, and sometimes I get to work with the bike shop. I think my job is unique as it has a lot of variety.
I’m currently drafting UCLA Transportation’s Active Transportation Plan. It’s basically our master plan for employees and students who walk or cycle to UCLA. The goal is to eventually combine the health aspects of walking and cycling with our goal to reduce traffic, as well as to promote sustainability on campus.
What’s your vision for alternative transportation at UCLA in the future?
I guess in the near future, we’re going to have major projects that could facilitate transit. One of them is the Expo Line expansion. And then ultimately, it would be the expansion of LA’s subway system. There is a plan to connect the Valley to the Westside through the Sepulveda corridor, but that’s more likely to happen in the distant future.
When I first started in this job, the main goal of alternative transportation was to reduce traffic congestion. The focus has now shifted. Today, the health benefits of alternative transportation are central. I think that in the future, this will only grow.
When I went to high-school, I was enrolled in a driver’s education program, so it was only natural that I got my driver’s license then. Today, people wait longer until they get their driver’s license. They want to live closer to where they work, so they can either walk or take public transportation. L.A. will still have a car culture in the future, but I think that people will be more concerned about the environmental aspects of commuting as well.
What some highlights you’ve been working on that might be of interest to our blog readers?
I was the principal writer for the implementation progress report. In 2006, we adopted the bicycle master plan. It’s a self-assessment on the progress we’ve made on our goals. It gives us an idea of where we are, when we work towards our goals. We look at the amount of trips to and from campus, and which commute options people use. We then draw conclusions on which commute options to further promote, and which promotions to stop.
We’ve also noticed how important communication with other departments is. We now want stronger connections and partnerships with departments that have construction on campus.
You’re also involved in the Zipcar program, I heard?
I was involved from the very early stages of program and oversaw transition from Flexcar to Zipcar. I helped to structure and organize the program. Back then, Zipcar didn’t have an LA office, so we doubled as the Zipcar office for our customers. Some of the most frequent problems are cars were not being put back in their original parking space, or customers exceeding their monthly time limit. However, if they go over the limit, we have to enforce it, and sometimes even remove people from the program.
Are there any upcoming projects that might be interesting for our blog readers?
We are currently working on a plan for a campus wide bikesharing program. We’re looking to release the proposal in early summer. We’ve been looking at bikesharing programs of other universities for several years now and we’ve done an extensive amount of research and talked to multiple vendors.
We’re now working on the financial aspects of the program. You have to think about many different aspects. For example: Should the bike stations be accessible for visitors, or only for UCLA students, staff and faculty?
After the decision whether or not to go ahead with the program has been made, it would take probably another six months until the program could start.
Thanks so much for this interview, Mike. Good luck with the bikesharing project! I’m sure this program would make many students very happy.