By ALBERTO GONZALEZ

I couldn't agree more with Charles Crumpley's Comment column of Jan. 22 ("Let's Do Lunch Or Maybe Not," about how heavy traffic in Los Angeles inhibits lunch meetings). Because fighting traffic eats up so much time, I often end up eating at my desk when I should be meeting with clients.


However, there are several small things that I do and that each of us can do to help improve this situation. In the following examples, I've found that a little planning can truly go a long way:


-Try a business breakfast instead of a business lunch. You can schedule a time that would let you avoid traffic better. Also, breakfasts are less time consuming and more affordable.


-Get familiar with the transit, biking and walking options. I discovered that the Metro Rapid buses I see going by my office every five to 10 minutes all day long also pass by dozens of great restaurants. With the time it takes me to get my car out of my building's garage and then find a parking spot at the restaurant, I've found that the bus believe it or not can be faster than driving.


-Evaluate where you choose to live or work. Having a rail line, HOV lanes or good bus service nearby can save a lot of hassles, time and money.


If our community can work together on this issue, we'll be able to make even larger-scale improvements throughout Los Angeles.


Around the world

I recently had the opportunity to join a group of people from around the world interested in solving transportation problems not all that different from L.A.'s. We toured cities that successfully integrated transportation and urban planning solutions into the development of their communities. These solutions focused on improving citizens' lifestyles, businesses' potential and the environment.


Some cities took dramatic steps which at first seemed Draconian, but which now have been embraced by the communities they impacted.


A few examples:

-Faced with rapidly increasing development and an already choked highway system, London imposed a congestion management "use toll" for anyone driving into the city. The toll discourages trips by car into the city, but encourages use of transit, biking and walking all of which the toll revenues support.


The results: Traffic congestion has markedly decreased, transit service has improved with ridership increases, pollution has gone down, and much to the surprise of critics retail and entertainment revenues have gone up.

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