Earlier this year Move LA started working on legislation to prioritize shade as an essential need for low-income transit riders and people of color who are on the frontlines of climate change. The bill would treat bus and pedestrian shelters and street furniture as a matter of statewide concern and identify the number of bus shelters and their locations, as well as gaps in this critical infrastructure.
During the heat wave we experienced last September, LA Times reporter Rachel Uranga wrote a lengthy piece on the challenges bus riders face in Los Angeles, where less than one in four bus stops provide shelter even though temperatures can become very hot. As I write in this article, we are in the midst of a climate emergency now and make too many riders stand and wait in the hot sun.
It doesn't have to be this way, but because the permitting process is so challenging in the City of Los Angeles (see graphic), we have built a fraction of the shelters that are needed for climate-resilient communities, which disproportionately impacts riders who are low-income, seniors, BIPOC, or people with disabilities.
Shelter provides respite from the heat. A study published in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine found the rate of emergency department visits for heat-related causes increased 67% for African Americans, 63% for Hispanics, 53% for Asian Americans, and 27% for white people from 2005 to 2015.