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This City Was Sick of Tech Disruptors. So It Decided to Become One.

To rein in traffic-snarling new mobility modes, L.A. needed digital savvy. Then came a privacy uproar, a murky cast of consultants, and a legal crusade by Uber.
Will micromobility, bikesharing, ride-hailing, and other modes get an all-seeing traffic control system? L.A. hopes so.
Will micromobility, bikesharing, ride-hailing, and other modes get an all-seeing traffic control system? L.A. hopes so.Illustration: Andrea Chronopoulos

In spring 2018, Seleta Reynolds, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, issued a grave warning about the new generation of urban transportation companies such as Uber.

“A lot of these private actors and companies are not mobility companies,” Reynolds told an audience at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “They are data companies. And they are building new empires on top of a platform that we are absolutely not ready for.”