LAC Fitbit Interview: Mountains, Streets and Crosswalks

Zaki hiking at Mt. Baldy

Zaki hiking at Mt. Baldy

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership continues to work with participants in Los Angeles County in a Fitbit Challenge. Community members, students, teachers, writers, parents, public agency staffers, business owners, leaders, policymakers and more are tracking their steps by wearing a small device called a Fitbit. What is a Fitbit? It is a sophisticated pedometer that tracks your levels of activity and a great tool for raising one’s awareness daily behavior. We think insights into the built environment can be gleaned from actively engaging pedestrians in Los Angeles County.

Zaki Mustafa has worked in transportation infrastructure and policy for 28 years. He is the elected president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Executive Officer for the Project Delivery at the City of Los Angeles, Department of Transportation (LADOT). Zaki uses his Fitbit and walking experiences to promote safer walking and bicycling in the transportation projects he manages at LADOT. He thinks that planning agencies need to consider the needs of pedestrians when they are interacting with bicycles and cars. It is especially important when pedestrians are crossing the streets and supports the implementation of the new continental cross walks in City and County of Los Angeles. The continental crosswalk is a new crosswalk design standard that heightens the visibility of a pedestrian crossing to drivers and includes a set-back limit line to reduce cars from encroaching onto the crosswalk. Also, in promoting the increase of walking and bicycling in the county, the LADOT incentive program supports companies and their employees to encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation. 

Various crosswalk treatments (http://www.sfbetterstreets.org/)

Zaki believes that other cities and counties will follow by example in getting over fears and policy barriers for designing streets that are more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians. He thinks that the engineering departments are especially responsive to the success of pilot projects in other jurisdictions. The Los Angeles County parklet, temporary extension of the sidewalk to the street, program grew out of observing similar projects in San Francisco. See LADOT parklet Factsheet.

Additionally, Zaki enjoys the increased quality of life that walking has to offer. He takes Metroink or the bus from Rancho Cucamonga to LADOT headquarters during the weekdays. He finds that taking public transit eases his stress and increases his number of daily steps. The Fitbit adds a social component to his walking, since human nature is competitive, Zaki is more motivated to take the stairs to his office on the 10th floor about 3-4 times a day. Fitbit’s interface also provides a place for social relationship building with his family and friends. In his own neighborhood, he jogs or walks with his family every day before dinner and organizes easy to strenuous hikes with his friends in the mountains, such as Claremont Loop, Ice House Canyon in Mt. Baldy and Mt. San Antonio Loop in Mt. Baldy trails.

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