Q: Besides being so impressed with BART as a boy, what influenced you to build your career around transportation and transit?
Kim: Right out of college, I was hired as an aide and field deputy to California State Senator David Roberti who represented parts of Los Angeles. This was during the development of the Los Angeles Metro system, so I attended many meetings with agencies and stakeholders.
I saw the good, the bad and the ugly of transportation planning and decision-making. But as that subway system grew, I saw its positive impacts on the communities of Los Angeles. And that made all the political maneuvering and negotiations between stakeholder groups more than worthwhile.
Q: What are America’s major transportation challenges and what is needed to solve those?
Kim: We need to completely rethink our built environment and transportation landscape to emphasize equity, safety and mitigating climate change. And we have a golden opportunity to do this with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
The BIL and U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT’s) Equity Action Plan can be used to accomplish much-needed progress around issues such as transit access and pedestrian safety in low-income communities.
Q: What are the top priorities you’d like to see accomplished with BIL funding?
Kim: I'm troubled by the data on fatalities and serious injuries going up, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists in low-income communities. In Los Angeles, for example, 65 percent of road fatalities happen on six percent of city streets, most of which are in historically black neighborhoods such as South Central and West Adams.
These communities often lack basic pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure such as sidewalks, protected bike lanes and crossing infrastructure. They would greatly benefit from the approach that’s known as “road diets” or “complete streets.” These involve redesigning large arterial roads to make more space for pedestrians, bicyclists, scooters, and other users, as well as traffic calming measures such as islands and roadway narrowing.
I’d like to see state DOTs, which will disburse most of the BIL funding, provide leadership guidance and best practices to encourage local jurisdictions to advance these kinds of projects in communities with the highest rates of road injuries and fatalities.