Last December, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city would become “an unmistakable leader on urban mobility.” Tech companies designing futuristic “low-noise electric aircraft” — think flying cars — would be invited to join a new, first-of-its-kind Urban Air Mobility Partnership that L.A. would help launch through Urban Movement Labs, a public-private organization closely tied to the mayor’s office. 

The popular response was skeptical, to put it mildly. Curbeds Alissa Walker was dismissive: “City leaders are, once again, distracted by (the extremely uncertain prospect of) a shiny, whirring object while ignoring the most basic, everyday transportation needs of regular Angelenos.” University of Southern California urban planning professor Geoff Boeing was even more blunt: “Oh FFS why can’t the mayor and LADOT give us something actually useful like a coherent network of protected bike lanes or…

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