Meet Our New Policy & Program Manager Emilia Crotty!


Emilia and her chihuahua terrier Chewy.

Los Angeles Walks has come a long way in the last few years, growing in new and exciting ways to help make walking in LA even more safe, accessible, equitable, and fun. And as part of that, we’ve hired our first-ever policy & program manager Emilia Crotty!

Emilia comes to us from New York City where she started Bike New York’s education program and helped launch the city’s bike share program, Citi Bike. But she’s always been a walker at heart, and we’re so excited to have her expertise and enthusiasm. We asked Emilia a few questions about what she hopes to bring to LA Walks, so read on to learn about how bike safety led her to Martha Stewart (no kidding), hear what LA does better than New York when it comes to walking, and find out why her grandmother was her walking hero.

Emilia! Welcome to LA! What’s been the coolest thing you’ve done so far?

I’ve been covering a lot of ground since I landed here a month ago, but the coolest thing I’ve done so far has to be CicLAvia, which took place a few days after I arrived. Walking the route with members of the Los Angeles Walks steering committee, who have so much love for LA, and then riding the route later that day, provided such an energizing and positive first impression of the city and my place here.  

You come to us from New York City, tell us about what you did there.

I lived in New York for 16 long years! While there, I developed Bike New York’s education program, which I’m really proud of, and then became part of the small team that launched Citi Bike, the city’s bike share system. I did a little bit of everything at Citi Bike, but mainly developed the system’s community-based initiatives. I earned a master’s degree in public health, and for five years served as a voting member of my community board (read: neighborhood council). All the while, I was a member and activist with Transportation Alternatives, the city’s bike/ped/transit advocacy group.     

And you were on MARTHA STEWART! Tell us more!

Ha! Yes, I was on the Martha Stewart Show, largely thanks to Bike New York’s terrific communications staff, who aimed to make me famous. Martha is big into biking, which was pretty clear—I don’t think I actually got a word in during my appearance! I was grateful for the opportunity to educate and encourage a predominantly female audience, though, and was really satisfied when former high school friends messaged me to say that the segment inspired them to go for a ride with their kids.   

What do you think LA does better than NY when it comes to safe streets?

This might be unexpected, but I have to say that LA drivers seem to be more respectful of pedestrians than drivers in New York. In NYC, turning drivers often roll towards pedestrians, pressuring walkers to hurry up and get out of the way. In my limited experience here, I’ve noticed that drivers tend to stop and remain stopped until I’ve made my way across the street. (A few notes: I know this is not every walker’s experience. I know that I’ve only walked in a tiny fraction of LA. I also know that positive reinforcement has a strong influence on sustained behavior change, and try to point out when drivers get something right.)  

Most people in this line of work have some pretty powerful childhood memories when it comes to walking. Do you have any formative moments?

Absolutely. Through my entire childhood I walked to and from school with my two sisters – probably about a mile and a half each way (and sometimes carrying my trombone case). Most of the time we got home before my mom, a teacher in a nearby town, and usually we’d arrive home only to realize we’d forgotten our key and were locked out. I have strong memories of spending whole afternoons walking around town to see if anyone within our network of neighbors and family friends had a back-up house key we could use.  

Is there a hero that you have when it comes to walking?

To be honest, my active transportation heroes up to this point have all been bicyclists (like Annie Londonderry, who ditched her family in Massachusetts to ride around the world in 1894). But, I realize now that my nana, Constance Zingara, is my walking hero. A widow from the age of 50, she lived car-free in Jersey City, New Jersey, walking or taking the bus everywhere she went until her death at age 88. She could haul grocery bags, climb stairs, and navigate Port Authority Bus Terminal like no one else. I also have a world of admiration for Deb Hubsmith, founder of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, whose work with everyone from families to federal officials has impacted kids across the country.  

What do you see as the greatest challenge before you at Los Angeles Walks?

I think the greatest challenge will be to convince people that we have the power to change something that’s broken—an urban environment that does not serve pedestrians very well. That environment is enormous; the institutions, policies, and funding sources needed to fix it are tremendously complex; and it’s been broken for a long time. But, I learned in New York City that change really is possible. (And if you don’t believe me, watch this.) 

What are you most excited to see or do here in LA?

My twin sister and I signed up to run the LA Marathon, which I’m excited about (and also dreading). When you’re not in it to win it, which we’re not, marathons are a really special way to experience a city, like CicLAvia. Training for the marathon will also give me an excuse to venture across the city with no agenda except to cover a lot of ground. I like that.    

How would you like to see people get involved with LA Walks?

Consider becoming a Walking Ambassador and lead a walk in your neighborhood. Or, just get together with your neighbors and friends to talk about walking conditions in your area. You don’t have to come up with solutions (we can help with that), but just get the conversation started. Some of the most effective and long-lasting groups I’ve been a part of started over coffee in living rooms and cafes.   

What’s one thing that maybe some people don’t know that we should know about you?

For a few years in New York I was in an adult marching band that played at community events, small fundraisers, and protests. I told myself that I’d get back into it after grad school, so maybe making it public here will pressure me to follow through. 

Be sure to say hi to Emilia at our upcoming events. And! If you want to help support LA Walks as we continue to grow, consider making an end-of-the-year donation or purchasing some of our sweet LA Walks merchandise. Both make great holiday gifts for a walker you love!

Footnotes Feature: Hollywood & Highland

For the past two years, Los Angeles Walks has published Footnotes, our annual report on the state of walking in LA. Over the next few months we will be posting pieces from our April 2015 edition here, particularly as the articles become most relevant. Today, one day after celebrating the new pedestrian crossing at Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave., we present an essay about that place written by LA Walks steering committee member Alissa Walker.   

Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. crosswalk on June 16, 2015. Photo via LA Times.

Hollywood and Highland 
Alissa Walker

For three years I watched pedestrians cross the intersection of Hollywood and Highland every morning while I brushed my teeth. I lived on a hill two blocks away, just far enough away to feel like I was gazing down upon a distant, miniature city, but close enough to see people waiting for the 780 bus as it sighed to a halt.

What I remember most about living so close to Hollywood and Highland were the horns. Honking at drivers trying their darndest to turn left on a very yellow arrow. Or hapless selfie-taking tourists jogging across five lanes of traffic. Or one of several costumed Spidermen taking too much time in the crosswalk. And then, every once in awhile, the horn would be punctuated by a smash.

Hollywood and Highland is one of the busiest intersections in the city for walkers, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. Both Los Angeles Walks and a recent report by the Los Angeles Times have highlighted the high number of pedestrian collisions here. But what’s interesting to note is that this intersection is already pedestrian-only some of the time—it’s often closed to cars to accommodate premieres at one of the many theaters on this block. Hollywood needs to go ahead and close this intersection to cars permanently—close it all the way to La Brea. Before it’s too late.

There’s no better place to do it. Hollywood is home to one of LA’s most notable landmarks which just happens to be all about walking. The terrazzo stars draw millions of pedestrians to Hollywood every year to examine these blocks on foot; you can’t see the sidewalks from a car or a tour bus. Imagine if the Walk of Fame not only celebrated famous Angelenos but also honored LA’s pedestrians, too.

Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. as of November 15, 2015, after installation of new pedestrian scramble crosswalk.

Creative Catalyst Artist Wanted for LADOT Post


(Groundswell mural in Brooklyn, NY. Image via NYC DOT)

On Friday, November 6 applications are due for the City of Los Angeles’ first Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence. The artist will spend the next two years “stimulating creative thinking and innovative projects” at the Department of Transportation (LADOT), and will be selected through a community-driven process managed by both the Department of Cultural Affairs and the LADOT.

The focus of the residency will be to identify creative interventions in alignment with Vision Zero, the city-wide goal to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within ten years.

City agencies have incorporated art into safe street initiatives before, including “Justice at the Crossroads,” the mural (above) created in partnership with NYCDOT by Groundswell youth advocates, and “Curbside Haikus,” also in New York City. But LA’s Creative Catalyst Artist residency is the first known program to take a creative approach to the work of an entire city agency – one typically focused on service delivery.

Recognizing that the success of Vision Zero depends on the city’s ability to shift public perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors around traffic deaths – a true culture change, as Danielle Brazell, Dept. of Cultural Affairs general manager described it to the LA Times – the program intends to reflect the numerous ways designers, performers, curators, and other creatives can help.

Applications are due by 5pm on Friday, November 6. Apply online here.

Hollywood & Highland Scramble to Launch in Mid-November

A pedestrian scramble in Chicago

A pedestrian scramble in Chicago. Image via the Chicago Triune.

Three months after Council Member Mitch O’Farrell announced that the dangerous intersection at Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. would be redesigned, the promised improvements will appear soon, according to the Hollywood Entertainment District BID.

In mid-November, LADOT will install diagonal crosswalks, creating what’s called a “pedestrian scramble” (see an example from Chicago above). The scramble will officially launch with festivities – including a marching band! – on Sunday, November 15 at 1pm (more details).

Here’s how pedestrian scrambles work: during the crossing phase of the light cycle, all drivers come to a complete stop, including those intending to turn. All pedestrians then cross in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time.

Pedestrian scrambles eliminate conflicts for turning drivers, who no longer have to wait for throngs of people to clear the crosswalk, and they create a safer and less stressful crossing experience for pedestrians. And Hollywood and Highland could use it. According to the LA Times, the intersection is one of the most dangerous in the city. Drivers struck 38 people here between 2002 and 2013; one pedestrian was killed.

Once the new crosswalks are painted, Los Angeles Walks volunteers will join the BID at Hollywood and Highland to prompt people to walk or wait, as warranted by the new signal lighting system. We’ll also spread the word about the work of LA Walks. (For example, did you know that our executive director has been working on this very project for years?!) Join us! Email to volunteer.

Watch this 3-minute Streetfilm to learn how to use a pedestrian scramble and to find out about Los Angeles’ robust history of diagonal crosswalks.

Updated November 11 to include details on the Sunday, November 15 scramble launch event. 

People St Grant Application Window Opens Nov 1

Ballet folklorico at July 30, 2015 ribbon cutting at Bradley Ave. Plaza in Pacoima. Image via People St.

Ballet folklorico at July 30, 2015 ribbon cutting at Bradley Ave. Plaza in Pacoima. Image via People St.

LADOT’s award-winning People St program is a citywide initiative that invites community members to partner with the City to install plazas, parklets, and bicycle corrals in their neighborhoods, transforming underused asphalt into vibrant community spaces.

People St is a competitive application program, and will open its second application cycle on November 1. Potential partners will have until December 15, 2015 to submit their applications for all People St plaza, parklet, and bicycle corral projects. Find more information here.

Need some guidance? On Tuesday, November 3 at 6pm, LADOT will offer a People St community application workshop, a 90-minute information session about the program and application process.

Need some inspiration? Check out People St on Facebook for photos and updates.

From Rail to Park; On Foot from Union Station

Elysian_Park_Los_Angeles_CAOn Saturday, November 14th Walk Ambassador and National Park Ranger, Anthony Bevilacqua will lead us on a walk to connect with open space, history, and art. This walk will start from Union Station wind us up into Elysian Park and back. Along this roughly six mile roundtrip walk we’ll learn about the LA State Historic Park efforts and more.

Tickets are $15 in advance/$20 at the ‘door’                                                                 Get your ticket today! 

When: Saturday, November 14th 10am to 1:30pm                                                       Where: Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St. LA, CA 90012.                                             Meet outside of the Alameda (main) entrance of Union Station near the Fred Harvey Room

Legalize Street Vending


Join Los Angeles Walks and our partners at the Los Angeles City Council Economic Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 27th to support legalizing street vending in Los Angeles. Street vending adds vibrancy to our sidewalks and helps create a sense of safety and community. The Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign is advocating for the development of a system that permits food vending on Los Angeles sidewalks. The campaign is driven by a coalition of organizations from all across the city, who are passionate about creating jobs, bringing healthy food into low-income neighborhoods, and cultivating vibrant and safe streets. Come show your support!

When: Tuesday, October 27th at 1pm                                                                         Where: Los Angeles City Hall (200 N. Spring St.) Room 1010

Learn more about the Los Angeles Street Vending Campaign.

Walktober WalkLAvia on October 18!


It’s Walktober! How are you celebrating? Walk with us at CicLAvia on Sunday, October 18!

Meet up at the MacArthur Park Metro Red Line Station plaza at 10am and walk with us to Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights. Bring your family and friends for this one-way six mile, accessible walk that ends just a few blocks south of the Marachi Plaza Metro Gold Line Station. The walk should take around 2-hours and we’ll tweet along the route so folks can join us at any point along the walk. See you this Sunday!!

RSVP on Facebook to receive updates about the walk.

Walk to School Day LA!

One of our favorite Walktober events is Walk to School Day!

This Wednesday, October 7, nearly 100 schools have volunteered to organize special walking events bringing students, parents, teachers, staff, administration, and many community members to school on foot. This is an important time for everyone to learn a great walking route and speak up about the importance of safe streets. We need to educate and support the younger generation to embrace their feet and share the walk to school. To make it even more fun, all walkers get the chance to win some prizes by participating in their school’s event.

Check out the map to see if your school is one of many leading the march:

Don’t see your school on the map? Become an organizer! There is still time to contact LADOT and receive your training and materials to organize a walk to your school. Just fill out this form like 1-2-3!

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Alone

FB Banner


California Rideshare Week is almost upon us (Oct 4-10) and Metro Los Angeles has prepared a fun and engaging program to educate and encourage all modes of transportation. A new and exciting schedule reveals creative mobility-inspired events:

  1. Karaoke Rickshaw with free giveaways for commuters singing pop hits in English, Korean, Chinese, and Spanish.
  2. Guided bike rides and carpools sharing the ride to Ambulante Film Festival.
  3. Eastside Commuter Interviews gathered and published through social media to engage and discuss traveling in various communities in person and online. #Mobilizate
  4. Prize giveaways by logging your trip on the Commute Calendar at You can win 7-day Metro passes, gift cards, handbags, and more!

What’s the best way to get to work? Walking of course! Nothing runs more efficiently than two feet on a healthy breakfast.

But first, how do we Rideshare? Just don’t drive alone! Instead you can ride the bus, take the train, walk to work, start a carpool, or join a vanpool. Driving alone contributes to a lot of the problems we face here in Los Angeles.

Got it. So, why should you Rideshare?

  1. 37.3% of Greenhouse Gasses are produced from transportation (CARB)
  2. 71% of those emissions originate from passenger vehicles (CARB)
  3. 72% of Angelenos are commuting to work by driving alone (Metro Rideshare Survey)

With this in mind, we should all be thinking about how we can do our part and walk whenever possible. It’s important that we cut back on the emissions to reduce the serious risks in both environmental and public health. This is why we need to educate our family and friends because FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS DRIVE ALONE!

Be part of the solution and support Metro Rideshare Week by attending events and spreading the word.