Opinion Opinion L.A.

BMW's solution to L.A. traffic: A river-going submarine

That $1.08-billion plan to restore the Los Angeles River? Small potatoes. The folks at BMW are thinking big-time when it comes to the river.

What if you could avoid L.A.’s notorious traffic by traveling around the city in a mini, self-driving submarine?

Imagine — you could whoosh downtown in minutes in your own submarine-like pod.

SLIDE SHOW: 10 reasons to salute L.A.'s transportation future

It is the brainchild of BMW Group DesignWorks USA. The conceptual plan was offered as part of the Los Angeles Auto Show’s annual design challenge. This year’s theme is “Biomimicry and Mobility 2025: Nature's Answer to Human Challenges.” BMW came up with the idea of using the river as an alternative to clogged freeways.

And it makes perfect sense.

The river itself follows some of L.A.’s most congested freeways — from the 101 in the San Fernando Valley to the 5 through downtown to the 710 to Long Beach. Then there are miles and miles of tributaries that snake through the region as narrow, concrete-lined channels.

The L.A. River has always been one of the region’s most underappreciated assets. Turns out, we just need to stop thinking of it as a waterway and start making it a speedway.

Of course, there are all kinds of real-world, practical problems with using the flood-control network as a high-speed rapid-transit system. Most of the year, the river is only a couple of feet deep, so you’d have to pump lots of water into the system to operate a submarine. Where would we get that much water? Then there are plants, fish and other wildlife in the river that could be impacted by high-speed watercraft. And there’s money and safety and stuff like that.

But don’t let details deter this big idea. Submarines in the L.A. River: This is the future.


Kicking Obamacare’s problems down the road

When is a super typhoon more than just a super typhoon?

Killed or injured cyclists had it coming? Get a grip, motorists.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • What is a taxi and what is not?
    What is a taxi and what is not?

    L.A. has no authority to regulate services such as Uber, Sidecar and Lyft. It should stop trying.

  • Should cyclists need a license to ride?
    Should cyclists need a license to ride?

    Bicyclists remind drivers all the time that they have as much right to be on the road as car drivers. OK, so should they be licensed like drivers are? We hear that from our commenters on the Roadshare page. I hear it from friends who, driving, get exasperated by bicyclists they see flouting the...

  • Killed or injured cyclists had it coming? Get a grip, motorists.
    Killed or injured cyclists had it coming? Get a grip, motorists.

    It shouldn't have come to this, but it did: Some drivers need to be reminded that no cyclist --  anywhere, ever -- deserves to be hit or killed in a car accident.

  • Obama's fourth-quarter foreign policy surprises
    Obama's fourth-quarter foreign policy surprises

    Six months ago, President Obama's foreign policy looked stymied. Negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians were at a dead end. Russia was gaining ground in eastern Ukraine. U.S. efforts to end the war in Syria were ineffective. A new extremist army, Islamic State, was marching into Iraq.

  • Ukraine should put Russia to the test
    Ukraine should put Russia to the test

    Ukraine is now strong enough to seize the initiative to create a lasting cease-fire in its Donbas Rust Belt, currently occupied by Russia and its proxies. And Russia may be weak enough to be receptive. It is in Kiev's interest to do so. A state of permanent war with Russia would damage...

  • The great fear of the great outdoors
    The great fear of the great outdoors

    Americans find ourselves in a period — arguably, the first in our nation's history — when our unease about being in nature is coming to outweigh our desire for it. We have a growing intolerance for inconvenience, a feeling well captured by the suburban fifth-grader who memorably...