Deborah Murphy featured on a panel at Zócolo Public Square: Cars and freeways didn’t just shape the landscape of contemporary America; they shaped the national culture as well. Southern California in particular has reveled in the pleasures of the automobile, from Sunday drives and drive-in theaters to the car race in Rebel Without a Cause. But between the pressures of climate change and a younger generation’s preference for denser living and public transportation, there is a serious backlash against the car, especially in L.A., where drivers spend more than 60 hours a year stuck in traffic. Are our cruising days over forever? Petersen Automotive Museum executive director Terry Karges, DUB Magazine founder Myles Kovacs, Los Angeles Walks founder Deborah Murphy, and Drexel University Center for Mobilities Research and Policy director Mimi Sheller visit Zócalo to discuss the future of car culture, in Southern California and beyond.
Are you interested in ways to make your neighborhood better for people walking, bicycling and taking transit? Is the street you spend time on challenged by narrow sidewalks, fast-moving vehicles, or a lack of nice places to linger, meet a friend, read a book, check your email, have a coffee, sit with your charming canine companion, or people watch?
We ultimately want to bring permanent physical changes to our streets that address mobility, quality of life and public space accessibility issues within our communities. Typically, we think about our local government and elected ofﬁcials initiating big projects to create public space opportunities, like neighborhood parks with grass and trees, or streetscape plans and road diets with physical infrastructure. However, these types of projects can sometimes take years—even decades—to come to fruition. The funding required is nothing to sneeze at, involving hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars. At the same time, neighbors don’t always agree on improvements like sidewalk bump-outs or cycletracks for bike riders. Pouring concrete is permanent, and we all know people sometimes don’t like change. Continue reading
Walking is the active solution to a safe, accessible, fun, and equitable city. Everyday freeways are set in gridlock emitting noxious fumes and make the need for immediate change more apparent. The February 2015 report prepared by UC Berkeley and UCLA, found that transportation causes nearly 40% of the carbon emissions. However, 90% of California’s state budget is currently invested into highway development. As of now, CA’s spending is in direct conflict with its environmental goals.
Increasing the budget for active transportation will provide the critical resources that will actually improve air quality, health, and happiness in our communities. 1 in 5 trips in CA are already on foot or by bike; if you design for pedestrians, then you get more pedestrians. There is no more time to invest in highways, we must take the steps to mitigate these problems.
Sign up for the second annual Finish The Ride on Sunday, April 19th, to either ride, run, walk, or roll, to help raise awareness of the safety issues faced by vulnerable road users on L.A. and California roads.
Take 10% off the registration price and help support LA Walks by using promo code SUPPORTLAWALKS while registering. In addition to getting a discount, you’ll help LA Walks with 10% of the registration fees collected under the LA Walks promo going to LA Walks!
The Dry River walk, led by walk ambassador Jack Moreau, will exhibit the Arroyo Seco Bikeway and Eugene Debs Park as community assets for Los Angeles and discuss the issues behind connecting the areas with bicycle and pedestrian transportation.
The Arroyo Seco is a natural creek running from the Angeles National Forest into Downtown LA where it meets the Los Angeles River. It now serves as the only piece of bicycle and pedestrian exclusive roadway in the North East LA. While this path offers an incredible asset to the community, chain link fencing encloses it and greatly decreases usage. Parks border the majority of the path, but there are only four access points each about a mile apart. The Arroyo Seco can become a major alternative transportation corridor for all of NELA and beyond. The path could be extended north into Pasadena as well as south into DTLA. Eugene Debs Park can be connected to the City of LA through the bike path and become a leading green space advocacy center for everyone. However, rising rates of homelessness in the area bring very difficult questions as to the equitable course of redevelopment.
As we walk, we will view hidden treasures of NELA and learn from community leaders about access to the Arroyo Seco.
The walk is a little over 2 miles. There is one pretty significant hill in Debs Park, but it is very fun and pretty!
Developer Yuval Bar-Zemer discusses ﬁve ways he’s seeing pedestrian improvements contribute to a more ﬁnancially viable L.A. As told to Los Angeles Walks steering committee member Daveed Kapoor.
We know walking is good for our communities and good for our health. But how does designing for walking help businesses—and the city—improve their bottom lines? As founder of Linear City Development, Yuval Bar-Zemer has led the transformation of several neighborhoods by paying special attention to pedestrian life. Over lunch at Urban Radish, a new Arts District grocery store developed by Linear City, Bar-Zemer described ﬁve ways he’s seen walking boost L.A.’s economy.
Like many of you, I prefer getting places without driving whenever possible. There’s a convenience store, a family taco stand, and a coffee shop a few blocks from my house. I live across the street from a park where I take my dog, and if I need a bus, there are two stops close by. All I need to do to get there is head down the middle of the street.
Why, you may ask, would a guy in a wheelchair brave busy Blake Street, going head-to-head with semis who seem to be on their way to Fast and Furious 18? The tacos are good, but c’mon, I’m risking my life for that al pastor! My nice convenient neighborhood is, in many ways, a microcosm of the problems associated with pedestrian travel for people with disabilities in L.A. There’s a good chance that you’ve actually seen people in wheelchairs or scooters on the road before. Trust me, these are not people trying to start some kind of impromptu disability rally or Critical Mass: Wheelchair Edition. They are simply pedestrians who do not have the physical ability to maneuver through the labyrinth of cracks, holes, and other obstacles that litter city sidewalks. Although incredible progress has been made in the realm of public access since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990, there is no regulatory body roaming around ensuring that standards are being upheld. That being said, sidewalks that were completely accessible via wheelchair when the concrete was poured in the 90s may today look like a demolition crew just took a lunch break. Continue reading
Do you ever wonder why different neighborhoods and streets in Los Angeles look the way they do—and why some places seem to be more walkable than others? The history of how our land was developed includes economic demand, neighborhood preferences, and transportation infrastructure. But the most direct way that we collectively influence what our communities look like—and how walkable they can be—is through government regulation of land use, especially by planning and zoning.
Zoning is a regulatory system that most local governments employ to control how land is used. As the name suggests, it divides places into different zones. Depending on what zone a piece of land is located in, there are rules that restrict what types of activities can be carried out on the lot, as well as the location, size, and shape of buildings allowed on the property. And the physical structure of these communities inﬂuences how people live and how they move about their neighborhoods.
The City of Los Angeles is facing one of the biggest changes to the way it looks and functions—it is fundamentally updating its zoning code for the ﬁrst time since 1946. The 1946 code helped shape a postwar city of single-family subdivisions with a growing reliance on cars. Revised zoning rules can hopefully strengthen the ways that a 21st century Los Angeles is transforming and help residents build a city where walking is a convenient and safe way to travel. Zoning is potentially our most powerful tool to create a more walkable Los Angeles.
Alissa Walker: First, thank you for such a great conversation with Mayor Garcetti at Occidental College in February. With Villaraigosa we saw this empire-building when it came to transit, bike lanes and CicLAvia but we didn’t get to hear him talk much about walking. Now we’ve got a mayor who walked ﬁve miles to City Hall on Walk to Work Day! How else is Garcetti’s approach different, in your opinion?
Christopher Hawthorne: Villaraigosa, near the end of his time in ofﬁce, really began paying attention to pedestrian safety and the crucial connections between walking and transit. But it took almost eight years for his administration to get to that point. Garcetti is unusually knowledgeable about and genuinely interested in these issues, as was clear in the Occidental conversation we had; and we’re still very early in his term. The question with him will be execution—or maybe a combination of execution and nerve. How willing will he be to fund improvements to pedestrian access, and sidewalks when they conﬂict with some voters’ (and media outlets’) desires to keep car trafﬁc moving as swiftly and efﬁciently as possible? And how willing is he to defend controversial or even unpopular changes to street design?