Cool idea generates heated response in LA

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When I first read this story, it was a week or two before I travelled to France for a holiday in the middle of a heatwave. I have to admit, I could see why the media might have poked fun at the idea, but, standing at a bus stop in 30-plus degree heat and having just missed the previous bus, I found myself standing so that I was in the shade of the (thankfully large) bus stop flag and timetable case to keep the sun off me.

So, what’s the story? Los Angeles city transport department (LADOT) officials held a press conference in May to unveil an improvement to the passenger experience for users of bused in LA, an invention known as ‘La Sombrita,’ a ‘shade and lighting pilot’ design which seems to have been brought to life as a result of responses to the LADOT’s gender equity action plan to address the needs of women who rely on public transit.

However, the invention, rather than a high-tech, solar-powered, water-mist-cooling, all-singing, all-dancing affair, turns out to be a metal mesh screen, not that different to the flag and timetable holder I was hiding behind. The unveiling quickly made headlines across social media, with plenty of jibes and jokes. Another social media photo posted by the designers, Kounkuey Design Initiative, revealed the turquoise screen also has a solar-powered night light built in.


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