1956-oldsmobile-golden-rocketLA has long been celebrated as a city of “mobility,” a place that was defined by its freedom of movement, where you could zip across the Southland feeling cool in a stylin’ car.

But now we are trapped in gridlock of our own making. Can we change that? Can we restore a sense of fun to getting around?

Find out at a KCRW/DnA/Helms event coming up.

Recent studies find that LA has among the worst traffic in the nation, with LA drivers wasting around 60 hours annually behind the wheel; the LA 2020 commission found that traffic would not even be relieved by all the new public transit currently under construction; the report found drivers would shave off a mere three minutes from their drivetime.

Traffic-jam-Los-Angeles-007So should we throw up our hands in frustration and accept that we are in a permanent state of staying still? Or are there ways to keep moving, with the style and panache we enjoyed for so long, along with a commitment to safety and cleaner energy?

These are the questions we will be asking at Reinventing The Wheel, a public event about the future of mobility taking place May 18. In a large garage space at Helms Bakery, some of LA’s smartest designers and thinkers about mobility will come together to talk and showcase ideas about moving, from the latest in bike and eBike design through to the Hyperloop and the infrastructure that has to change to keep us moving.

Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 7.42.15 AMSpeakers include Michael LejeuneCreative Director for Metro Los Angeles who grapples with the challenge of persuading Angelenos to integrate public transit, along with walking and biking, into their lives.

Also, Harald Belker, designer of cars for reality and fantasy; he’s worked for Porsche, Mercedes and now the consumer robotics company Anki.

One of his most influential creations was the automated car system for the movie Minority Report. He will discuss how far we have come with realizing that dream and why automation — and smart infrastructure – has to be the future. 

We will also hear from Geoff Wardle, Director of Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center College of Design; he will share ways in which his department is reinventing mobility, understanding that the car can no longer dominate.

web_getting_started_promo_Craig Hodgetts is an architect who will address the viability of ultra-high speed transit, that he is exploring in aSuprastudio” for UCLA’s school of Architecture and Urban Design, about Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept.

Also joining us to share ways in which to stay upbeat in the face of gridlock: KCRW’s very own traffic queen Kajon Cermak (below left, enjoying her drive).

Kajon resize_1000The space at Helms will be filled with exhibits of mobility ideas by Los Angeles designers and companies, among them: City bikes and all the attachments that make city biking more manageable, by Venice-based Linus, and an exhibit of TAP cards custom-designed for LADOT.

Toyota’s Calty design studio, located in Newport Beach, will show off its most advanced cars, ranging from its smallest to its fastest, both designed to utilize as little energy as possible.

Art Center’s mobility research department will showcase their dream schemes, including an autonomous micro-shuttle, a suitcase that doubles as an automated wheelchair, a foldable three-wheeler, an advanced App for figuring out traffic patterns and an innovative eBike created by Art Center grad Gabriel Wartofsky (right) that may go into production.

You can also check out the new Ford-Pedego eBike and the latest E3 Metro eBike from iZip; Pedego and iZip are Southland-based companies that believe the regions long distances and steep hills make eBikes the way forward in our electrified transit future.

Gabe Wartofsky and BikeAnd people can get to play Anki, an interactive game featuring robotic cars, designed by Harald Belker.

Just in case you happened to think electric and hybrid cars were a new invention, Petersen Automotive Museum will showcase some of its classic, Space Age-era, alternative energy vehicles.

Also enjoy live music from KCRW DJ Aaron Byrd, complimentary beer from Father’s Office, and some of L.A.’s hottest food trucks.

caroline-bike-featureimage4In addition to checking out Linus‘ latest bikes, novices and seasoned cyclists can also learn more about cycling in the Southland with folks from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and you can meet our own Caroline Chamberlain (left) who is exploring her journey to “Becoming a Biker” on DnA.

The event starts at 12 noon and goes ’til 3PM. KCRW DJ Aaron Byrd will provide a musical backdrop to the afternoon. Tickets cost only $15.

So come and learn what personal mobility will look like in the future, and how we can keep moving even as traffic grinds to a halt.

When: Sunday May 18th 12:00-3:00 PM

Where: Helms Bakery; 8723 Washington Avenue, Los Angeles

Tickets: $15. Click here for tickets.

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