Los Angeles Is Talking About Safe Streets

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It was an energizing week for pedestrian rights here in LA, with plenty of discussions in the media about what it will take to make the city safe and accessible to all walkers. Los Angeles Walks was honored to be included in four articles on the growing movement around safe streets in the city.

First the Los Angeles Times released its map on the most dangerous intersections for walkers in the city. Our own Deborah Murphy was interviewed by Laura Nelson about the corner of Slauson and Western:

“There is so much work to be done here,” Deborah Murphy, an urban planner who runs Los Angeles Walks, a pedestrian advocacy group, said as she surveyed the streets on a recent afternoon. The wide intersection, anchored by three strip malls and a gas station, felt like a highway: Cars sped through it, and vehicles leaving parking lots narrowly zipped past children on bikes and old women with wire carts.

Away from L.A.’s congested core, wide streets like these can invite speeding or rapid lane changes. Adding taller buildings or trees that arch into the roadway could narrow drivers’ field of view, Murphy said, adding more shade for pedestrians and subconsciously signaling drivers to slow down.

Another factor that makes Slauson and Western so dangerous, Murphy said, is that pedestrians must cross five lanes of traffic, or about 70 feet, to reach the opposite corner.

“That’s a long way for an able-bodied person,” Murphy said. “Now think about people who do it in a wheelchair.”

At each corner of the intersection, one ramp points people with wheelchairs or strollers into the middle of the intersection. The better, but more expensive option, Murphy said, would be to add one ramp at each crosswalk. The city also could install sharper curbs that force drivers to brake as they turn, she said.

In other coverage about the LA Times study, you can hear Deborah on KPCC discussing dangerous intersections and how they might be made safer. Special thanks also to Curbed LA who nodded to our own map of dangerous intersections published in our Footnotes publication last year.

Finally, the LA Weekly followed up on the Hyperion Bridge story by interviewing Deborah as well and featuring the work of LA Walks. A group of residents are suing the city, claiming that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not fully considering pedestrian safety:

“Why would we restore the historic belvederes and then not let pedestrians experience them on the south side?” asks Deborah Murphy of Los Angeles Walks. A key force in the debate, Los Angeles Walks wants city officials to take more seriously the physical safety of those on foot — as well as access for the disabled.

Read more here and share these stories to spread the good work being done by pedestrian advocates everywhere:

Los Angeles Times – Walking in L.A.: Times analysis finds the county’s 817 most dangerous intersections

KPCC – LA Times crunches data to reveal county’s 817 most dangerous intersections

Curbed LA -The Five Most Dangerous Places For Walkers in Los Angeles

LA Weekly – Do You Have to Sue to Get the City of LA to Design with Pedestrians in Mind?

Walk Into That Good Night: 5 Summer Evening Walks

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The sunshine this summer is beckoning us all to step on the sidewalk, trails, and sand for fun and adventurous walks! There are many opportunities to join a curated walk with host speakers, surprising sights, and friends. Check out our calendar for a full list of walking-related events around Los Angeles.

It’s not just Los Angeles Walks offering these guided excursions, here’s a list of Bob Inman’s Night Walks:

Silver Lake Loop
Thursday, July 23, 6:30-9:30pm
Details

Santa Monica – Ocean Park and Tongva Park
Thursday, July 30, 6:30-9:30pm
Details

Windsor Square, Hancock Park, Larchmont Village
Thursday, August 6, 6:30-9:30pm
Details

Sepulveda Basin
Thursday, August 20, 6:30-9:00pm
Details

Downtown LA from Grand Park
Thursday, August 27, 6:30-9:30pm
Details

Los Angeles Walks Is Looking for a Policy & Program Manager

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Help Los Angeles Walks Grow! Full-Time Position Starts September 2015

Los Angeles Walks seeks an enthusiastic and experienced Policy & Program Manager to help take this small, dynamic organization to the next level. The Policy & Program Manager will be responsible for leading the Vision Zero campaign and coordinating with partners on this long term campaign to improve roadway safety across the City of Los Angeles. This is a great opportunity to have a real impact on the city you live in and to help guide a small and growing organization. Our work promotes safe, active transportation, justice for under-served communities, and better health for all.

Los Angeles Walks is led by an active, engaged steering committee. This position will be the first paid position for the organization. The potential candidate will have the opportunity to shape the growth and long term direction of the organization in partnership with the steering committee. We are looking for someone with strong leadership and organizational skills and a desire to make change in Los Angeles.

Hiring is on a fast track; the position will start in September; applicants should send in materials by 5pm on Thursday, August 6th.

View and download the full job description here.

For consideration, please forward resume, cover letter and writing samples to hello@losangeleswalks.org

Community Speaks Up and Acts Out For Hyperion Bridge Safety

As Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx stated during the recent UCLA Complete Streets Conference, “the design of our roads are a reflection of who we are”. let’s hope that we are an inclusive and thoughtful city who cares for everyone, whether they walk, bike, roll or drive. ‪#‎safestreetsforall‬‪#‎saveoursidewalk‬

Don Ward spoke for the community in opposition to the proposed bridge redesign plan. Watch the video above or read full text here:

Good morning.  My name is Don Ward, I was born in east hollywood, I grew up in the area and I care deeply about my city. This morning we are announcing legal action to defend the community against the City’s rushed and ill-conceived approval of an unsafe design for the Hyperion Avenue Viaduct. The project approved by the City Council last month fails to provide safe access to everyone who uses the bridge and falls short of the City’s vision of promoting safe, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods. This project fails to safely and conveniently connect an entire region of Angelenos starving for park space to what is arguably our city’s greatest natural asset, the LA river. We love this city and believe it is capable of building great public works, and so we challenge the City of Los Angeles to reconsider this project and build a bridge that lives up to its ideals.

Some have said that Angelenos are addicted to cars and so it is unreasonable to create safe convenient spaces for people walking and biking. But our outreach to local residents around the bridge found the exact opposite: well over 1,000 people in Atwater Village and the surrounding neighborhoods signed petitions in support of a more balanced project. That support includes dozens and dozens of letters written by businesses, school principals, parent and student groups, religious and even political leaders. People want options. Their voices should count for something.

It is not Angelenos that are addicted to cars, but our city government that refuses to provide safe convenient alternatives. In the face of overwhelming support for a better bridge, the City steamrolled the community. In order to force through a cars-first project, the City overturned its community advisory committee, ignored the neighborhood councils, the businesses, the parent groups, the petition signatures. The city manipulated the results of its traffic study and manufactured an arbitrary deadline to create pressure and to coerce the Council’s approval before the end of the term. Just a matter of weeks after settling another lawsuit over sidewalks, the City will again go to court to defend its second-class treatment of people who walk. The public deserves better. The public deserves safe convenient options.

We are under no illusions that rebalancing our streets is easy. It will require robust public discussion and some hard tradeoffs. In order to do that, we need the City to be an honest broker in these conversations so that we can make decisions based on hope, not fear. CEQA is the public’s defense to ensure that our leaders make decisions based on accurate information and in full view of the public. That didn’t happen in this case, so regrettably we must take this action to ensure transparency and accountability.

We hope that with more time and another chance to evaluate the options with open minds, thought and reason will prevail. Our communities deserve a historic bridge that is safe and accessible for people walking and biking, and people with disabilities. Only by breaking this addiction to cars-first thinking will we be able to restore our city to health and create great streets worthy of our great city.

With that, I’d like to refer any questions to our attorneys. Thank you.

Follow along as we track the lawsuit unfolding. Also watch how StreetsBlogLA and the Los Feliz Ledger cover the news.

City of Los Angeles Sidewalk Infrastructure Program

We’d love to see all Los Angeles City sidewalks as a smooth as the path at Echo Park lake for strolling and rolling for people of all ages and abilities. #lasidewalks

We’d love to see all Los Angeles City sidewalks as a smooth as the path at Echo Park lake for strolling and rolling for people of all ages and abilities. #lasidewalks

Jessica Meaney, managing director of Investing in Place, is a transportation advocate who has been living intentionally car free in Los Angeles for over 15 years. Academically trained as a sociologist, Jessica’s approach to transportation policy began with looking at the key roles public transit, walking and bicycling play in social cohesion and  community health. Jessica’s policy approach has focused on using transportation finance research and advocacy efforts to achieve those outcomes, particularly in low income communities and communities of color.

The sidewalks in the City of Los Angeles represent one of the most critical public spaces, but are not yet afforded the same luxuries many other transportation infrastructure projects enjoy such as strategic planning, data and inventory collection, comprehensive funding or being viewed as a core part of the transportation network. The City of Los Angeles has backlog of broken and unmaintained sidewalks totaling over 10,000 miles with a estimated price tag to fix over $1 Billion. Since the mid 1970’s the City has not kept up with maintaining its sidewalks, and for the past ten years has been discussing this issue in committees that consider motions, staff reports, and numerous public testimony on how sidewalks should be funded and maintained. Yet still no inventory or strategic plan exists on this basic infrastructure need (see recent Los Angeles Times article).  A recent legal settlement with disability advocates on the quality of the City of Los Angeles sidewalks has the potential to change all this.

And currently, Public hearings on this issue are being held across the city. City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Joe Buscaino are hosting a series of joint meetings of the Budget and Finance and Public Works committees to get input from the public on what the city’s program to repair sidewalks next to homes and businesses should look like.  See meeting flyer here.  For questions on the Public hearings call City Clerk Michael Espinosa at 213 -978-106. For substantive questions about Los Angeles Sidewalks call Staci Sosa in the Chief Administrative Office (CAO) at 213-978-2752.

SOUTH LA
Tuesday, June 30, 6pm
Estelle Van Meter Senior Center
606 E. 76th St., Los Angeles 90001

WEST LOS ANGELES
Tuesday, July 28, 6pm
Mar Vista Recreation Center
11430 Woodbine Street, Los Angeles 90291

EAGLE ROCK/EASTSIDE
Wednesday, July 29, 6pm
Center for Performing Arts
2225 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles 90041

VALLEY
Thursday, July 30, 6pm
Van Nuys City Hall
6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Los Angeles 91401

And the Los Angeles Times is asking people to share their broken sidewalks (and location) using #lasidewalks andsubmit them here. Share your LA City sidewalk pictures and stories with #lasidewalks with the Los Angeles Times or email Investing in Place – we’d love to hear them.

Through transportation finance research done over the past few years, it has shown that sidewalk maintenance and quality are consistently underfunded and represent great infrastructure need. As the region considers a new transportation sales tax for the ballot in 2016, should sidewalks be part of this conversation? According to Los Angeles County voters polled by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the answer is a resounding yes.

#MobilityMondayLA; Support a Safer, More Sustainable Transportation Future for L.A.

MMondayTake Action to Support the City of Los Angeles Mobility Plan!

Please join us today, Monday June 15th for #MobilityMondayLA to show support for Mobility Plan 2035:

  1. Email and call your councilmember (find your councilmember here) – sample below
  2. Share/tweet that you did it! (sample tweet: “I just called @PaulKoretzCD5 to support Mobility Plan 2035. You should too! #MobilityMondayLA”)

Later this month, the Los Angeles City Council will consider Mobility Plan 2035, the first comprehensive update to the city’s transportation policies since 1999. A lot has changed since the 1990s: we now have regular CicLAvias, everyday bike ridership has spiked, and the voter-approved expansion of the region’s transit system is rapidly under construction. Our streets are now seen as places for people, not just thoroughfares for cars. Technologies like real-time transit info, ride hailing apps, and bike share promise to give Angelenos new tools to take full advantage of the new infrastructure being built. The adoption of the unprecedented Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles earlier this year has grounded mobility conversations in the context of health and equity, recognizing that better transportation policy provides economic mobility for underserved residents while promoting community health and active transportation. And, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Sustainable City pLAn calls for increasing walking, biking and transit to 35% of all trips in just 10 years to help meet the city’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. The resulting Mobility Plan 2035 is a plan that is right for Los Angeles and right for our multimodal future.

What does the Mobility Plan do?

  • Makes safety the City’s #1 transportation priority, particularly the safety of children walking to school.
  • Sets design speeds for city streets and provides engineering and enforcement solutions to stop the constant increase in speed limits.
  • Doubles city funding for walking and bicycling.
  • Calls for annual bicycle and pedestrian counts by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT).
  • Sets a performance metric of zero increase in car travel per person.

You can see the entire Mobility Plan 2035 and EIR here.

As with any significant progress, skeptics and naysayers are vocally opposing the Plan, either in whole or in part. Some neighborhood groups are fearful that a transition away from a car-dominated city to a balanced system might snarl traffic or delay emergency responders. Meanwhile, a vocal minority are taking this opportunity to attack specific projects, which threatens to piecemeal a well-planned citywide network. This Plan is supported by a broad base of residents, business groups, environmental organizations, and health advocates. Now is the time to demonstrate that support to the City Council.

Continue reading

Port of LA Waterfront Walking Tour with Doane Liu – July 11

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On July 11, join Los Angeles Walks and Walk Ambassador Doane Liu for a walk along the LA Waterfront Promenade at the Port of Los Angeles, passing the Cruise Ship terminal, the Fanfare Fountains, the USS Iowa, the Downtown HarborPorts O’ Call Village, the commercial fishing docks, and end at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, a handmade artisan marketplace.

We will meet at the Catalina Express terminal and will depart at 10am sharp
These is a small café at the terminal if anyone wants to arrive early for coffee or breakfast. The Catalina Express terminal is located at Berth 95 at the port.  There is a small fee for parking here.  The first hour is free and its $2/hr after.

The walk is very flat and nicely paved for the entire distance.  It is suitable for kids, strollers, wheelchairs, dogs, etc.

The walk will be about 2.3 miles one way. You can either join us for the walk back or take the Red Car Trolley back (which picks up close to Crafted and will drop you off very close to our starting point).

Purchase tickets here on eventbrite. We hope to see you there!

 

If you walk in Los Angeles, support legal sidewalk vending

Photo by Rudy Espinoza

Photo by Rudy Espinoza

The Los Angeles City Council is considering whether and how to legalize sidewalk vending. Public hearings are being held to get residents’ viewpoints before a vending ordinance is drafted. LA Walks supports the legalization of sidewalk vending. We encourage everyone who cares about walking in LA to attend one of the two remaining vending hearings:

  • Downtown LA. Thursday, 6/18 at 6 pm. 200 N. Spring Street, LA 90012
  • South LA. thursday 6/25 ay 6 pm. 10950 S Central Ave, LA 90059

Here are some reasons why people who like to walk in LA should support a permit system for legal sidewalk vending:

1. Sidewalk vending makes LA more walkable. Walkable cities have a mix of uses and destinations, people out on the sidewalks at all hours, sights and smells and interactions to keep streets lively. Sidewalk vendors are destinations, gathering places, eyes on the street, colors and flavors all in one.

2. Legalizing vending helps ensure that everyone has a right to use our streets. Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust: a history of walking, reminds us that walking has long been a political act. Women, minorities and gays and lesbians have all had to struggle to gain the social right to walk out in public. Environmentalists. pedestrian groups and disability rights advocates had to campaign to gain ordinary people open space and infrastructure on which to walk/roll. Unions helped win time for people to stroll and recreate. Legalizing sidewalk vending is part of this legacy of expanding access to the city.

3. Vendors and pedestrians can share space on our sidewalks. LA Walks worked with The Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign to recommend that vendors be required to locate so as to leave at least 5 feet for pedestrians to pass by. This exceeds federal ADA requirements.

4. The war on vending has long been linked to car dominance. LA banned sidewalk vending in major business districts starting in the 1930s and citywide in 1980. Vending on sidewalks was restricted partly to make space for pedestrians – after the city defined people as jaywalkers and kicked them out of roads. Banning vending drained life from city streets. The irony of eliminating sidewalk vending to make space for pedestrians, pointed out by Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and Renia Ehrenfeucht in their book Sidewalks: Conflict and negotiation over public space, is that removing vendors as ‘obstructions’ also removed one of the main reasons why people liked going outside and walking.

5. Immigrant vendors helped bring pedestrians back to Los Angeles streets. Sidewalk vending is the original tactical urbanism. When immigrants from Latin America started coming to Los Angeles in large numbers in the 1970s and 1980s, they brought with them life experience in cities where people used public space. By returning commerce to (and placing culture on) the sidewalks, vendors have brought people back to streets as or more effectively than most intentional street-changing designs, programs and policies. As the City moves to make walking safer and more convenient, it would be wrong to exclude these pioneers of a more walkable Los Angeles.

6. Legal vending can help make LA a just and diverse place worth walking in. Walking is the most democratic form of transportation. People can walk (or roll in a wheelchair) even if they lack funds to own a vehicle or if they are too young to have a drivers license. Walking also exposes residents to each other. It fulfills one of the basic purposes of a city- which is bring people in contact with those different than themselves. As Los Angeles becomes an increasing costly place to live, legalizing vending can help ensure that low income residents can start a business and have a future in LA.

7. Vending is Los Angeles. What Roy Choi said when he introduced his Koji truck in 2008 applies to vending in general: it takes “everything about LA and put it into one bite.” I think we all know in our hearts that we can’t have ‘great streets’ in the City of Los Angeles without sidewalk vendors.

For more information on sidewalk vending in LA, visit http://streetvendorcampaign.blogspot.com/ or look for these book chapters by LA Walks’ Mark Vallianatos:

  • “Compl(eat)ing the Streets: Legalizing Sidewalk Food Vending in Los Angeles,” in Incomplete Streets: processes, practices and possibilities. Routledge, 2015
  • “A More Delicious City: how to legalize street food,” in The informal American City: beyond taco trucks and day labor, MIT Press, 2014.

Moving Forward for a More Walkable Future

hyperion-bridgeAfter two years of community organizing and outreach from neighbors and pedestrian advocates, the Los Angeles City Council unfortunately voted 11-0 to approve the plan to retrofit the Glendale/Hyperion Bridge with just one sidewalk this week. Los Angeles Walks is deeply disappointed by this decision and we feel it is a direct result of the lack of a comprehensive policy to improve the safety of people walking and bicycling throughout the City of Los Angeles.

Even with thousands of signatures from neighbors supporting ‘Option 3’ which included two sidewalks, buffered bike lanes, three traffic lanes and signalized crosswalks connecting the Glendale Blvd and Hyperion Ave sections of the bridge complex, the Council ignored the community wishes and instead voted for ‘Option 1’ which would preserve four lanes of traffic, provide a sidewalk only on the north side of the bridge and narrow unbuffered bike lanes with no condition of approval for a signalized crosswalk between the two bridges. The City of Los Angeles must do better — and that begins with a comprehensive, citywide policy to ensure the safety of people walking and bicycling is the top priority of all projects. We will continue to work to ensure the Hyperion Bridge design includes additional crosswalks to enable safe crossings and improved access for people with disabilities.

While the Glendale/Hyperion Bridge retrofit is a stinging defeat for the safety of Angelenos — Los Angeles Walks is hopeful for the upcoming policy debates around the Mobility Plan and a citywide Vision Zero policy in the coming months.

In the coming weeks, we need you to speak up in favor of the Mobility 2035 Plan. The City Council’s Planning and Land Use (PLUM) and Transportation committees will review the City’s new Mobility Plan after more than four years of community input and it is likely to heard by the full City Council before the end of the month. The Mobility Plan sets citywide goals and policies for transportation for all modes in the City of Los Angeles. It includes a Vision Zero goal of eliminating transportation related deaths in LA by 2035. The Plan establishes a new Complete Streets Design Guide as the manual that determines how our streets are designed: from the width of sidewalks, bike and vehicle lanes to the design of crosswalks and curb ramps. The Mobility Plan also proposes that the city should increase funding for active transportation and create pedestrian enhanced districts on major streets and a neighborhood network of traffic-calmed residential streets.  Once adopted, the Mobility 2035 Plan becomes part of the city’s General Plan, the guiding document for how Los Angeles grows and invests in infrastructure.

We need you to let City Council members know that you care about walking, safety and complete streets and want the Mobility Plan to be adopted. Help make Monday, June 15th ‘Mobility Monday’ in LA:

  1. Call or email your councilmember to ask them to support and adopt the Mobility Plan. Contact info is at http://lacity.org/city-government/elected-official-offices/city-council/council-directory or email all 15 councilmembers at cityhall@empowerla.org
  2. Use the hashtag #MobilityMondayLA on twitter and facebook, tagging city council offices so they see support for the Plan

We are also hard at work launching a greater Vision Zero campaign, because no loss of life on our streets is acceptable. We will have more information about our Vision Zero campaign in the coming days and look forward to continuing to work with you to make Los Angeles a safer and more walkable city.