LA will invest $1 billion in new sidewalks

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After several years of litigation the City of Los Angeles agreed to fix the city’s broken sidewalks and ensure accessibility and safety for all. This legal agreement represents the largest disability payout in the country. The settlement calls for a citywide sidewalk repair plan and spending over $1 billion in funds to fix and improve sidewalks throughout the city (see LA Times and Legal Aid Society coverage and analysis).

Next steps include developing a work plan and prioritization of efforts. Right now the City has over $27 million in approved budgeted funds to get started on this work this year. The source of transportation funds for this work beyond the initial $27 million has not yet been identified. The city is also creating a position to monitor the work and will draft reports on its progress twice yearly.

In order to leverage the funds for this scale of infrastructure rehab (over 10,000 miles of sidewalks within the city), an inventory and prioritization process is needed to develop a citywide strategic plan. The data collected and metrics used will enable articulation of detailed costs and an implementation program. Social equity and public health data will need to be critical parts of the performance metrics process to ensure the best outcomes for the highest needs communities in the City. Having a solid strategic plan will enable the city to compete for federal, state and regional transportation funds to complete the infrastructure repair.

Project delivery, transparency and coordination with other Citywide transportation projects will be critical for the sidewalk repair program. 30 years seems like a long time to wait to fix the city’s broken sidewalks, and this process should be accelerated to be completed within 10-15 years. Metro’s 30/10 program offers an example of how this could be done.

However, the City of Los Angeles struggles with delivering transportation projects in timely manner. During the October 2014 Street Transportation Project Oversight Committee and Transportation Committee meetings (audio of meeting, discussion at 58 minute mark), staff discussed the current backlog of safe routes to school, walking, and bicycling projects. This backlog of projects, totaling close to 1/4 of a billion dollars, is waiting for delivery by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Bureau of Street Services (BSS). These are combination of federal, state, and Metro grant funds that the city has been awarded but has not yet implemented.

It is exciting to see the City of Los Angeles ready to fix its broken sidewalks and focus on improving multi-modal travel as seen in the draft mobility plan and DOT strategic plan, but it is critical that the funding and efficient project delivery becomes aligned with these policies goals.

—Jessica Meaney, Investing in Place

Photo via @sidewalksinla

How to Make Walking Better in Your Neighborhood

Photo by LA Times

Photo by LA Times

By Marc Caswell – Pedestrian advocate and transportation policy expert. Download 311 at 

From our 2014 report Footnotes: A Report On the State of Walking in LA. Donate to get a printed copy. Special thanks to Melendréz for funding the printing of our 2015 Footnotes report. Read more from Footnotes.

311 is a walker’s best friend

While Los Angeles Walks continues to push for large-scale changes across the City, we need you to help make sure the City is aware of needed repairs and improvements in your neighborhood. The City of L.A. has launched 311—a one-stop customer service program where residents can let the City know what they need, and we want to make sure better walking infrastructure is a top issue.

To get started, you can dial “311” on your phone or go to If you have a smartphone, you can download the MyLA311 app.

So, what walking improvements can you request with 311? 

Curb ramps: If you see an intersection crossing that doesn’t have a curb ramp, be sure to include not only the intersection but which corner specifically.

Uneven pavement: If there is a broken sidewalk or some other defect that could cause someone to trip, be sure to note the nearest address.

Blocked sidewalks: If there is garbage or a plant that is making walking on the sidewalk difficult, you can report the offending address to 311.

Crosswalk repairs and installations: If crosswalk paint is faded (or was never painted), snap a photo to make your report more clear.

Signal timing: Federal law require all traffic lights to have a pedestrian countdown that is white for at least three seconds, and then flashes red for at least one second for every four feet of street width.
If the timing seems too quick, you can report it.

Broken streetlights: If you notice a damaged or missing streetlight, you can easily request a repair.

To get your issue prioritized higher, identify these repairs as a “hazard.” Once the city is made aware of a dangerous condition, there is a greater legal urgency to fix it if it can help them avoid lawsuits. So, by mentioning that it is a hazard, you can expedite your request. While the City might not act upon your requests immediately, it’s important to show the demand for better walking conditions by making as many requests as we can. Thanks for your help!

Stories from the Streets: Remembering My Cousin Marlene


By Andy Martinez – Board Member of Multicultural Communities for Mobility, find more at

From our 2014 report Footnotes: A Report On the State of Walking in LA. Donate to get a printed copy. Special thanks to Melendréz for funding the printing of our 2015 Footnotes report. Read more from Footnotes.

On Valentine’s Day, when people normally spend time with their loved ones, I received the terrible news that my cousin Marlene Barrera was killed by a driver in a crosswalk at the intersection of Bronson and Fountain across from Le Conte Middle School. As my cousin and her nine-year-old daughter walked into the crosswalk, the driver of the big rig truck sped through a stop sign into the intersection. Her maternal instincts immediately came into play, and she pushed her daughter out of the way to protect her from the oncoming truck.

The dangerous intersection now serves as a memorial site where many of the parents’ biggest fears came to reality. Right now, the daughter is experiencing intense trauma from witnessing the death of her mother. It has impacted her to the point where she can hardly speak. She directs the very few words she does manage to say to her grandmother: “When is Mom coming back?”

Emotionally, it has taken a toll on me, and I feel regret for not having seen her as much during the last few years. My extended family, including Marlene and I, lived together in the early 90s in MacArthur Park after they had recently immigrated to the U.S. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are playing with her when I was four years old.

The intersection currently lacks a traffic light or significant safety design. Parents had been pleading with the City of Los Angeles for years to get a crossing guard but the City claimed there weren’t sufficient financial resources. Parents became discouraged after such a minimal response and disappointed that their families’ safety wasn’t considered a priority. Parents of Le Conte students I have spoken to after the tragedy now refuse to let their children walk by themselves to school because of the
fatal collision.

Last year, as an active board member with Multicultural Communities for Mobility, an organization dedicated to educating and empowering low-income cyclists, pedestrian, and transit users, I spearheaded several pedestrian and bicycle safety workshops throughout L.A. County. Only five months ago, I planned a pedestrian safety workshop right here in Hollywood.

This is why I feel ever more determined to seek justice for low-income pedestrians. We have met with Council Member Mitch O’Farrell’s office and are working to both rectify the intersection and look at citywide legislation to improve safety for pedestrians.


Los Angeles Pedestrian Bill of Rights, 1987

car in crosswalkLos Angeles City Council file Number 87-2261 S4, dated December 18th, 1987

My, how far L.A. walkers have come—or have we?

“In the City of Radials, it’s nothing short of radical” claimed LA Times writer Patt Morrison in 1987 after the “Pedestrian Bill of Rights” was first declared by two councilmen. 27 years later, we’re still fighting for many of these basic pedestrian rights.

Improving streets is an ongoing process between many partners. It is important that we do not miss the mark on safe street designs. Strong policies and leaders will help us realize the rights granted to all walkers in Los Angeles decades ago.

Los Angeles City Council file Number 87-2261, dated December 18th, 1987

MOVE that Council adopts the following statements as the “pedestrian Bill of Rights” for Los Angeles

The People of Los Angeles have the right to:

  1. Safe roads and safe places to cross the street
  2. Pedestrian-oriented building facades, trees, flower stands, trash cans, awnings, etc.
  3. Safe and comfortable bus stops and public
  4. Transit stations
  5. Appealing use of landscaping and available
  6. Open space
  7. Full notification of all street widening that impinge on public open space and sidewalks
  8. Access to streets and buildings for disabled people
  9. Clean surroundings, requiring removal of graffiti and advertisements from public property
  10. Have needs of pedestrians considered as heavily as the needs of drivers
  11. Public works of Art

FURTHER MOVE that City departments use this pedestrian Bill of rights of Way to evaluate the needs in future decisions

From our 2014 report Footnotes: A Report On the State of Walking in LA. Donate to get a printed copy. Special thanks to Melendréz for funding the printing of our 2015 Footnotes report. 

Mapping LA’s Pedestrian Collisions

Map researched and designed by Rosten Woo – an artist, designer, writer, and educator in Los Angeles. 

Safe streets bring positivity to our communities. Currently, 20-25% of all trips taken are on foot or bicycle, but they account for 39% of fatalities and only 1% of funding. Take a look at some of the most dangerous streets in our city and help us build the solutions for a SAFE city.


Click to enlarge.

From our 2014 report Footnotes: A Report On the State of Walking in LA. Donate to get a printed copy. Special thanks to Melendréz for funding the printing of our 2015 Footnotes report. 

Map: The Worst Intersections for Pedestrians – LAist

Mapping LA’s Most Dangerous Intersections for Pedestrians – Curbed LA 

Confessions of a Ped


D.J. Waldie is the author of Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir and Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles among other books. His essays on the politics and history of Los Angeles appear weekly at Portions of these pieces, in a substantially different form, were originally posted to KCET.

Place. The other day while walking to mass, I crossed the cement apron that leads out of the alley behind the houses on Clark Avenue. I’ve crossed the alley from the time I was a boy and through the 32 years I walked to work following my father’s death.

But this time, a sheet of water—probably leaking from a backyard hose—spilled across the concrete.

For the first time, I noticed that inscribed in the concrete were names, but almost worn smooth. Children had written awkwardly, haphazardly in the wet concrete but with respect for each other. Their names didn’t overlap.

The loose water had brought out the faint letters.

I’m not inattentive. The qualities of the everyday interest me. Yet here were persistent marks of lives that had neighbored mine for years and which I had never seen, would never have seen except for the contingencies of that moment.

I stopped. Continue reading

People St. Invites Communities to Reimagine Streets Across L.A.


Valerie Watson is the Assistant Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles. For more information on People St visit or e-mail

Bring plazas, parklets, and bicycle corrals to life in your neighborhood through this new citywide program

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

Sign the Step in the Right Direction

PeopleStWebsiteGraphicWalking 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.

5 Truths About the Economic Impact of Walking

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 1.51.14 PMDeveloper 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.

Continue reading

Roll With Me: A Different Perspective on Pedestrian Travel in L.A.

LA Sidewalk

photo by LA Weekly

Andy Janicki is an ADA Compliance Analyst with Los Angeles Metro’s Civil Rights Department.

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