Hooray for People St: New parklets and plazas announced

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Congratulations to People St! Three plazas and four parklets supported through the LADOT’s program will find new homes in communities parched for the space in an effort to strengthen communities, build business, and improve health. We’ve seen how the first four pilot parklets in Highland Park, El Sereno and Downtown have provided pedestrian space for these communities. This time the lucky winners are North Hollywood, Pacoima, Palms, Pacific Palisades, Downtown, and Leimert Park.

These projects can have very profound effects on communities because they offer a special destination for community members and businesses to congregate. If we can gain more support for these projects then we can ensure that every community has public space to visit! Read more and check out the proposals at Curbed LA, and if your neighborhood didn’t get picked, don’t worry, there’s another application window opening on October 1.

Why isn’t LAPD ticketing drivers in the crosswalk?

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Earlier this year, we published a response to the LAPD jaywalking crackdown asking officers to please focus their energy on ticketing drivers who were blocking or in some cases blatantly driving through a crosswalk while pedestrians were present—something we saw and documented as a far bigger safety issue on downtown streets. Two weeks ago, Melanie Freeland was verbally berated and nearly hit by a driver who purposely sped through a crosswalk, then dismissed by a police officer who saw the entire incident. We asked Melanie to share her story, as well as the letter she sent to LAPD.

On Wednesday June 18, I was crossing Flower Street heading east at 6th Street during my lunch hour. I was walking in the crosswalk, with the signal, when a vehicle heading east on 6th Street in the outside lane failed to yield at the light when making a right-hand turn. The car came to a quick stop in the crosswalk, startling me and I stopped walking to look at the driver, expecting to see an acknowledgement or nod of apology for nearly hitting me. Instead the driver laid on the horn, long and loud.

Confused, I looked at the crosswalk signal which was still a clear walk signal, not even counting down, with other people around me continuing to cross the street. I pointed to the signal and held my hands up in a “I don’t understand” signal to the driver. He then proceeded to roll down his window and lean his head out, yelling expletives which—in summary—demanded I get out of the street. I had my cellphone in hand so I held it up to snap a photo of him and his license plate. Upon seeing this he hit the gas, swerved, pealing out as he continued down Flower Street. He missed hitting me and other pedestrians in the crosswalk by only a few inches.

I work downtown at 5th and Flower and usually walk somewhere in the neighborhood for lunch or for after-work activities so I’m acquainted with the average driver’s antics when they’re in a hurry. Yet I was admittedly shaken after this event.

I continued to cross the street and it was when I turned to cross 6th Street that I noticed a police car was sitting two cars back at the red light. I flagged him and he pulled over. I asked if he had seen the car. He said, “I did. Did you hear me hit my PA?” I said no, at which time he asked if I was okay and why I was “blocking traffic.” To be clear, he specifically asked if I was on any medication.

I explained I was in the crosswalk to cross the street with a clear walk signal—he was at the same red light waiting—and that the car nearly hit me, then threatened me verbally and threatened me with his vehicle. He explained that he had seen the driver lean out the window but couldn’t hear what he said or the events preceeding, that so had assumed I was blocking traffic, thus why he had hit the PA.

At this point I was extremely frustrated with the situation. I questioned the officer about the vehicle code, asking him if a driver could enter a crosswalk and then proceed through it while pedestrians were in the area without being ticketed. He told me that unless someone was injured then a ticket could not be issued. I requested a follow up and left him with my information and the information of the car and driver.

After conferring with Los Angeles Walks, we were able to find two sections of the City’s vehicle code which we think expressly empower officers to ticket drivers who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians. Below is the letter I sent to LAPD.

My question is this: If a pedestrian can be ticketed for potentially impeding vehicle traffic by beginning to cross the crosswalk after the countdown, then why aren’t cars being ticketed for entering the crosswalk, which not only impedes pedestrian traffic but often endangers their safety?

We are waiting for a response from LAPD.

Hello Officer Saletros,

I’m following up with you on an incident that occurred on 6/18 at the corner of 6th & Flower. A silver Mercedes with CA license plate [redacted] failed to yield to me in the crosswalk while attempting to make a right hand turn on red and I had a clear walk signal. The driver proceeded to verbally assault me and cut through the occupied crosswalk inches from my person. I spoke with you briefly after incident at which time you explained that you had witnessed a portion of the events and relayed your understanding of the vehicle code which did not allow you to ticket the driver.

Thank you for your follow up call confirming your interpretation of the vehicle code noting that in order for a violation to occur a pedestrian must be injured in the incident. I have since followed up with the pedestrian advocacy group, Los Angeles Walks (cc’ed here).  They noted that LAPD officers in the past have done sting operations to catch and ticket drivers that are violating the pedestrian right of way in crosswalks.  They pointed me to 2 relevant sections of the LA Municipal Code. I’ve copied them below for your reference (emphasis mine).

89.32.  RIGHT OF WAY AT CROSSWALKS.
The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk or any intersection.

SEC. 89.16.  CITATIONS AND ARRESTS.
(b)   Any police officer is authorized and empowered to issue citations to any person violating any of the provisions of this division on the same forms used for violation of traffic laws or ordinances by the Police Department of the City and in accordance with the provisions of Sections 40500, 40501 and 40502 of the Vehicle Code, or to place such person under arrest in cases where arrest is authorized for similar offenses under the provisions of said Vehicle Code.

Can you review and let me know whether either of these codes allow an officer to ticket a driver in the future for a hostile action such as the incident explained above? If not can you please confirm what code section that is used when ticketing driving during pedestrian crosswalk sting operations?

Thank you for your assistance,
Melanie Freeland

Update: Most traffic tickets are actually written for violating a state law—and crosswalk safety is no different. The California Vehicle Code also requires drivers to yield the Right of Way to pedestrians crossing the street.

VC 21950 says the following:

(a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection

Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative Could Mean Big Change Near You

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As a means to promote job growth, public and environmental health, and safety in our communities, Mayor Garcetti announced the order to begin work on Los Angeles’s Great Streets at a press conference last week. Working laterally across dozens of City of LA departments the initiative will see large alterations across the cityscape, making portions of each council district more pedestrian friendly. Mayor Garcetti boasts strong dedication to a livable street movement because, as he stated, “Our streets are our largest public asset, forming and reflecting the character of our neighborhoods, our people, and our city.”

It’s an important but still very small step—the Streetsblog LA reported that there will only be 12.4 miles of actual redevelopment, which when compared to the size of Los Angeles is nearly negligible. But with the funding and attention given to communities, both struggling and established, and this is undeniably a fantastic step in the most positive direction. Research released this week from LOCUS and Smart Growth America even named L.A. specifically as a city with the most walkability potential in the country. As the plans unroll and begin to break ground, we hope to see major changes everywhere we walk.  

Here are the first 15 Great Streets!

1.     CD1: North Figueroa St between Avenue 50 & 60

2.     CD2: Lankershim Blvd between Chandler & Victory

3.     CD3: Sherman Way between Wilbur & Lindley

4.     CD4: Western Ave between Melrose & 3rd St

5.     CD5: Westwood Blvd between Le Conte & Wilshire

6.     CD6: Van Nuys Blvd between Victory & Oxnard

7.     CD7: Van Nuys between Laurel Canyon & San Fernando

8.     CD8: Crenshaw Blvd between 78th St & Florence

9.     CD9: Central Ave between MLK Blvd & Vernon

10.  CD10: Pico Blvd between Hauser & Fairfax

11.  CD11: Venice Blvd between Beethoven & Inglewood

12.  CD12: Reseda Blvd Plummer & Parthenia

13.  CD13: Hollywood Blvd La Brea & Gower

14.  CD14: Cesar Chavez Ave between Evergreen & St. Louis

15.  CD15: Gaffey St between 15th St & the 110

Footnotes: A Report on the State of Walking in LA

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We have been hard at work on our first annual report on the state of walking in LA. We have a lot of great contributions from local writers, illustrators, designers, and policymakers, and the piece was produced by our own steering committee members, designed by Colleen Corcoran and edited by Alissa Walker.

The report includes both personal stories, tips for walkers, metrics on pedestrian issues in LA, and more serious policy discussions. We hope you’ll check it out!

We’ll be posting articles online over the next few months, but you can get your copy by donating to Los Angeles Walks …and help fund our Spanish language version!

Thanks to all the contributors! Rudy Espinoza, Christopher Hawthorne, Randal Henry and Manal Aboelata-Henry, LA History, Andy Janicki, Daveed Kapoor, Dylan Lathrop, Andy Martinez, Outpost, Mark Vallianantos, DJ Waldie, Valerie Watson, Brian Rea, and Rosten Woo.

And thanks to DJ Waldie, who mentioned our publication in his latest KCET column while reflecting upon what it means to be a pedestrians in LA.

Welcome Crenshaw WALKS!

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We’re happy to welcome Crenshaw WALKS as our newest partner in advocating for a more walkable LA. Join their Facebook group to find out more about what they have in the works, including a meet-and-greet before the Leimert Park Art Walk. Details on that below!

Crenshaw WALKS Meet and Greet Prior to the Leimert Park Art Walk
Sunday March 30
1:00 to 2:00 pm

KAOS Network
4343 Leimert Avenue, Leimert Park

Invite friends on Facebook

Apply for a People St project in your neighborhood

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Los Angeles Communities can now easily transform underused areas of L.A.’s largest public asset—our 7,500 miles of city streets—into active, vibrant, and accessible public space with People St, a program of the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Eligible Community Partners can apply for approval to install three innovative types of projects: Plazas, Parklets, and Bicycle Corrals.

These temporary project types have one thing in common: they are situated below the curb. Unlike repurposing a vacant lot into a park, or planting trees along a sidewalk – both examples of above the curb improvements – People St projects reallocate pieces of the roadbed, where you step down from the sidewalk, as their home.

  • Plazas are installed in underused or redundant road space by blocking off a segment of street with heavy planters and colorized or textured surface treatments.
  • Parklets and Bicycle Corrals are installed in on-street or metered parking spaces.
  • All three People St project types transform below-the-curb roadbed into spaces for people to enjoy.

 

Sounds Great! How Do I Start? 

People St offers an application-based process for Community Partners to receive approval to install a Plaza, Parklet, or Bicycle Corral. Through peoplest.lacity.org, potential Community Partners can access an online-application portal and the materials required for the application process, including downloadable PDF Application Manuals and Kit of Parts documents.

Each year, LADOT opens an application window, a time during which Community Partners can submit an initial project proposal. In 2014, there will be two windows available so we can get a jump-start on projects all over the city. You can apply during the March to April window or wait until the regular, yearly window opens in October.

Introductory Application Window
March 3–April 30, 2014

Regular Annual Application Window
October 1–November 28, 2014
(October—November every year thereafter)

 

Using a set of established criteria to assess each proposal, LADOT selects a limited number of applications with which to move forward. Considerations for proposal selection include: organizational capacity, site location, site context, community support, and access needs for public spaces. Those selected then work closely with LADOT to complete the process of bringing a project to life.

Go to the Get Ready page of the People St website for an overview on what you can do to build support for a project, identify a viable site and potential Community Partner, and prepare for an upcoming application window.

Make sure to download the Application Manuals from the Plaza and Parklet pages of the website – these are your guide to all of the requirements and considerations for Plazas and Parklets. The Bicycle Corral page points you to the latest info for this project type. In these materials, make sure to review the site location criteria, the hard and fast rules for where you can and can’t locate these types of projects. Design professionals like architects, planners, and landscape architects can help you out with this if it’s not totally clear at first if the slice of street you’ve earmarked meets the criteria.

You can fast-track questions on site location feasibility to LADOT staff by filling out the Inquiry Form found at the bottom of the Get Ready page.

For more information on People St 

visit peoplest.lacity.org    /   e-mail peoplest@lacity.org

 

via Valerie Watson, LADOT

The City of Los Angeles declares Complete Streets Day

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Last Friday, Councilmember Jose Huizar introduced a resolution to proclaim March 5, 2014 as Complete Streets Day in the City of Los Angeles. The idea is to celebrate the City’s early accomplishments in implementing complete street projects in the City of Los Angeles.

Here is an exerpt from Deborah Murphy’s speach at City Council Chambers during the Complete Streets Day celebration this morning.

I am here today to support councilmember Huizar in his declaration of complete streets day in los angeles so that we can celebrate the vital accomplishments that we have made in the past few years to create SAFE streets – safe, accessible, fun and equitable streets – that are for everyone.

Councilmember Huizar has exhibited courageous leadership to implement strategies to transform the streets in his district to slow down drivers, to make it safer to walk and bike to school, shopping and work, to have a safe park to park your bike, to encourage people to linger in their neighborhood shopping district, to promote transit ridership, to recognize that streets are our largest open space network.

I would also like to recognize the appointment of two pedestrian coordinators, margot ocanas and Valerie Watson, in 2012, something that I have encouraged the city to do for over 20 years. their safe routes to school strategic plan and people st programs are responding to the demands of our communities that want safer streets so that their kids can walk and bike to school and for neighbors to meet and hang out with each other at a parklets or plaza.

In addition to the accomplishments, we need to have a larger vision for what our streets mean to our city, how they are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods where our kids walk to school, where our seniors stroll, where our merchants conduct their business, where we can capture the vital and rare water resources that we have, where we create shade and provide habitat, where we all shop, meet, walk our dogs, chat with friends, celebrate our city and more.

We must develop a comprehensive and thoughtful policies and programs to deal with the state of our streets.  We have many proposals on the table that each go part of the way that need to be coordinated. We have the 50/50 program, the save our streets bond proposal, the mayor’s great streets program, the green streets program, the complete streets initiative, the transit corridors cabinet ideas, the new mobility element – where most of these ideas can be incorporated, and other efforts.

We need to be thinking about this issue in a holistic and sustainable manner and we must include safety as a critical part of our efforts. We must develop a VISION ZERO campaign like san Francisco and new york. We must reduce crashes as peds and bike make up 39% of our crashes, yet only receive less than 1% of the funding and make up over 25% of the trips in los angeles.

 Los angeles walks encourages the city council of los angeles to have the courage to show their leadership to create streets for the future – not just repairing streets, or greening streets, or transforming parking spaces into park spaces but Complete, great, transit-oriented, safe, green, fun and place-making streets.

 Remember we are all pedestrians, every cyclist, every transit rider, every driver is a pedestrian.

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Here is the Council resolution below!

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LA Walks, Clínica Msr. Oscar A. Romero and Univision’s Unete al Reto

Standing: Noe Castillo, Lidia Castillo, Erika Flores, Mario, Tilza Castillo, Louis Vasquez and Marcos Bedolla. Kneeling: Deborah Murphy, Erik Al and Rebecca Pleitz.

Standing: Noe Castillo, Lidia Castillo, Erika Flores, Mario, Tilza Castillo, Louis Vasquez and Marcos Bedolla. Bottom Row: Deborah Murphy, Erik Al and Rebecca Pleitz.

Los Angeles Walks estaba encantada de unirse a Univision Unete al Reto de acogida Erika Flores, Rebecca Pleitez de Clínica Msr. Oscar A. Romero, Entrenador Marcos Bedolla para hablar de los beneficios de caminar.

A caminar al menos 20 minutos diarios. Ayuda al cerebro, corazon, huesos y evita estres. Vea las imágenes de la entrevista y filmación haciendo clic aquí. Univision gracias!

En Ingles: Los Angeles Walks was thrilled to join Univision Unete al Reto host Erika Flores, Rebecca Pleitez from Clínica Msr. Oscar A. Romero, and trainer Marcos Bedolla to talk about the benefits of walking.

A walk at least 20 minutes daily. Helps the brain, heart, bones and avoid stress. See pictures from the interview and filming by clicking here. Thanks Univision!

Call to Action: Prioritizing pedestrian safety in Los Angeles

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Yesterday, Mayor Garcetti’s driver, a Los Angeles Police Department officer, struck a pedestrian at the corner of 2nd and Spring, in downtown Los Angeles. The pedestrian, a 60-year-old woman, was alert and responsive when taken to a nearby hospital, where her condition is stable. The Los Angeles Times (whose headquarters are located at the intersection) posted security footage showing the collision.

As Angelenos are well aware, LAPD has been citing people with $197 tickets for crossing the street after the countdown signal has started, instead of addressing the thousands of violations that occur every day when drivers encroach on a crosswalk while pedestrians are present. In a single day of walking around downtown, we saw drivers routinely block the crosswalk, causing pedestrians who have a walk signal to have to walk around the cars.

In fact, this morning, at the very same intersection where the collision occurred, we saw this SUV blocking the crosswalk in a similar manner.

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Los Angeles Walks calls on Mayor Garcetti to convene a high-level working group of leadership from his office, LAPD, the City Attorney’s office, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Works, the Bureau of Street Services, the Department of Planning, and pedestrian advocates and community leaders to address pedestrian safety issues citywide by developing and implementing a City of Los Angeles Pedestrian Safety Action Plan to improve street design and address enforcement issues. In 2010, there were over 219 fatal collisions on our streets, 100 of those deaths were pedestrians. This is a significant public safety issue for all Angelenos.

We’ve seen leadership in the city among policymakers, community-based organizations, and local neighborhoods to support a safer and more walkable Los Angeles. We call on the Mayor to make this a priority by committing funds to this effort and making it central to his Great Streets initiative. We are thankful for Mayor Garcetti’s leadership as a Council member to create two pedestrian positions in the Fall of 2012, (when the city’s first ever dedicated pedestrian staffers at the Department of Transportation started), but we now need him to expand this effort and provide adequate resources and prioritization for these efforts.

“Now is the time for all good women, men and elected officials to come to the aid of pedestrians in Los Angeles by allocating more funding, more staff and more attention to the safety of our city streets for all users,” says Deborah Murphy, Executive Director of Los Angeles Walks. “The City of Los Angeles has funding to complete a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan but has yet to initiate the project. We must act now to assure that we have safe and great streets in Los Angeles. As we have counted on Mayor Garcetti in the past to provide strong leadership on pedestrian issues, we need him more than ever to walk the talk and provide the funding and staff to implement pedestrian safety measures that truly change how we all operate on our streets.”

We propose the following steps to increase safety citywide:

1. Fund the development of a robust Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, to be completed by December 2014. This Plan should include the following recommendations that have been shown to decrease pedestrian-related collisions:

  • Provide a pedestrian head start phase to signals, especially in high pedestrian traffic areas such as Downtown, Hollywood, near major transit stations and stops, schools, and commercial centers.
  • Restrict right turns on red in high pedestrian areas, especially near transit stations and stops.
  • Increase crossing times for pedestrians, especially around major transit stops and stations.
  • Increase enforcement of drivers encroaching on crosswalks rather than ticketing pedestrians in the crosswalk during the countdown phase.

The development of the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan needs to result in the implementation of both design interventions and enforcement strategies that improve the walking environment and decrease pedestrian related collisions in the City of Los Angeles.

2. Ask all Council offices to immediately appoint a representative to the City’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee to ensure widespread City involvement, transparency and information sharing of this public safety and mobility initiative.

3. Support a street bond the City of Los Angeles considers to fund the entire street, including sidewalks, not just fixing potholes. End the city’s inaction regarding sidewalk infrastructure maintenance for the past 40 years.

If the Mayor of Los Angeles is truly committed to creating Great Streets, pedestrian safety needs to be a priority. No street can be a great street unless it is a great street for people. We need real solutions to making our streets great and our communities safer and we look forward to working with the city to make this happen.

Help us draw attention to #LAsidewalks

Not only is this sidewalk in disrepair but it's also not possible for someone in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller to naviagate.  Send us your pictures of sidealks or social media with #lasidewalks

Not only is this sidewalk in disrepair, but it’s also not possible for someone with a wheelchair or  stroller to navigate. Send us your pictures of sidewalks on social media tagged #LAsidewalks

Last month, our executive director Deborah Murphy took Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez for a walk in Koreatown. He was surprised by what he saw.

On Vermont, walking north, the pedestrian-heavy sidewalk was like a sloped mountain trail, with jutting uplifted chunks of concrete and crappy attempts to smooth over the worst of it with asphalt patch jobs. At Westmoreland Avenue and 6th Street, an orange cone and yellow crime scene tape marked cracked pavement that looked like it had been hit by a meteor.

If we’re going to spend $3 billion, Murphy said, shouldn’t a disaster zone like this get some of the money?

In the article published last week, Lopez discusses the upcoming $3 billion Los Angeles City Street Bond and why it’s critical that the bond includes funding for sidewalks.

“According to a 2012 Bureau of Streets report, Los Angeles has an estimated 4,600 miles of bad sidewalks, many of them dangerously buckled or uplifted by tree roots that haven’t been maintained in decades.”

Both columnist Steve Lopez and City Councilmember Buscaino, who is interviewed in the piece, encourage Angelenos to get involved to let policymakers know how they feel about the conditions of LA’s sidewalks. Los Angeles Walks supports prioritizing what sidewalks are repaired in this Street Bond. We recognize not all 4,600 miles of existing broken city sidewalks can be addressed with this potential funding source, but encourage using criteria to prioritize high need areas based transit use and intense commercial districts.

We have a few ways you can easily help!

  • Take the poll! We’ve teamed up with LA 2050 for an online poll to let Angelenos vote on whether the potential LA City street bond should include funding for sidewalks.
  • Send us your pictures of our city’s sidewalks—good and bad! The easiest way is to use social media and include #LAsidewalks so we can find them in our searches.  Not a social media fan?  Email them to us at hello@losangeleswalks.org and we will post them on our Flickr stream.

We love this wide sidewalk and community-provided shade for bus riders. Plus there are chickens to visit with at the school garden while you wait for the bus!

Thanks for your support of this important issue, and we’re looking forward to your photos!