Walk with us to celebrate LA’s 233rd birthday on August 30

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Did you know that Los Angeles was founded by a group of walkers? It’s true! The Pobladores, or founding families, walked nine miles from the San Gabriel Mission to downtown LA in September of 1781, and every year since then a group of their ancestors have retraced their steps.

Join us for the annual walk on Saturday, August 30 starting at 6:00 am! Meet at the Mission for the walk to Olvera Street, and free shuttles will take you back to your car at the end of the day. There’s also a bike ride for those who want to do the route on two wheels. See you then! More details on Facebook.

Building Safe and Healthy Streets with Vision Zero

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LA Walks has partnered with LA Streetsblog and Place It on an LA2050 proposal in search of support for our Vision Zero campaign. Vision Zero aims to decrease fatalities and injuries from vehicle crashes to as close to zero as possible. Unsafe streets kill hundreds and injure thousands, thus discouraging residents from biking and walking in their neighborhoods. As part of this proposal, LA Walks will conduct community workshops, local walks, media coverage, and policy advocacy as a means to educate and build support for vision zero policies. Vote for us today!

Vision Zero policies will benefit large populations and regions of Los Angeles by making streets safer and encouraging active transport. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 5-14 and the second overall cause for people aged 15-44. More support for non-car based infrastructure and development can decrease these fatalities and encourage more active transportation. More biking and walking will reduce obesity rates and air pollution further making our cities healthier places to live. Safer streets directly benefit low-income families (who are more likely to live in areas with busy roads) that either do not own a car or suffer from high transportation costs due to their necessity of a car. Furthermore, women and elderly who currently are less likely to bicycle due to discomfort riding in fast and dangerous traffic are expected to bicycle at greater rates with Vision Zero policies.

We can only accomplish a #VisionZero goal with your help. You can vote for our proposal until September 16, so vote for us today and help us spread the word!

The New Streets of LA Panel on August 7

New StreetsCome downtown to the Levi’s Commuter Workspace this Thursday, August 7 to see LA Walks’ executive director Deborah Murphy, among other leading policy makers, talk about building a more livable Los Angeles with safer streets and vibrant communities. This event is first installment a program new series called CicLAvia Explores, where the organization aims to further engage Angelenos to positively transform their relationships with their communities and each other.

The New Streets of LA
Thursday, August 7
7:00 to 10:00 pm

Levi’s Commuter Workspace
157 W 5th St 

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Register for the event here.

The Levi’s Commuter Workspace will be open all month with events and workshops. Check out more about the space here.

Game Changer: Walk with us to a Dodger game!

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LA Walks is taking a swing at the walkability of Dodger Stadium! Join us for a superb afternoon of walking, cheering, eating and drinking as we walk to the stadium from Chinatown. Guest speakers will guide the way and explore new walkability improvements as well as the issues that prevent Angelenos from walking or taking public transit to the games. We’ll help document the points of improvement along the way so that we can build a better plan to change our streets.

We’re going to knock this walk out of the park by sitting in the ALL YOU CAN EAT section in the stadium and watch the Dodgers destroy the Milwaukee Brewers. The walk is August 16th and begins at the Chinatown Gold Line Station. We look forward to watching baseball just as much as discussing improvements to our streets.

Tickets are $45, which includes a seat in the All You Can Eat Section and a $15 donation to LA Walks (equal to a game day parking pass). Game time is 6:10 pm.

Update: Here’s some really cool news, as part of the Movies at Dodger Stadium series, they’ll be screening The Natural after the game. You can watch from the field as part of your ticket!

Game Changer: Scoring one walk at a time
Saturday, August 16
Meet at the Chinatown Gold Line station at 4:00 pm
Purchase tickets here on Eventbrite!

See who’s going and invite others on Facebook!

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

Streetsie Victory!

jessica and alissaCongratulations to our special LA Walks steering committee members, Jessica Meaney and Alissa Walker, recipients of LA Streetsblog Streetsie Awards! These two individuals show outstanding work in the name of livable streets through advocacy and journalism, respectively. As a means to celebrate their accomplishment, LA Walks is co-hosting a walk with Streetsblog LA starting in Echo Park and moving to an undisclosed party location (you’ll get the address when you RSVP).

Saturday, July 12, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Meet at the Boathouse on Echo Park Lake.

Family friendly, all are welcome.

$10 donation suggested, but pay what you can!

Buy your tickets on Eventbrite to reserve your space and invite people on Facebook. All details here.

LA Walks x LA2050: Walk, Talk, & Listen

LA Walks x LA2050: Walk, Talk, & Listen from Rafiki Tree Productions on Vimeo.

In April, we hosted a walk through Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park highlighting a lot of the great local initiatives in the community as part of an LA 2050 Listening Grant. We met with non-profit directors, local business owners, artists, and city officials to talk about how our streets ought to be improved. If you weren’t able to join us for this fun walk, check out the video we made and let us know what you think! And thanks to LA 2050 for supporting us!

The Big Parade is this weekend!

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It’s one of the best weekends of the year! The Big Parade kicks off Saturday morning in Grand Park, with a two-day, 35-mile walk through LA that ventures up or down over 100 stairways! The routes and timetables have been posted so you can join at any time and walk for as long as you’d like. (And if that’s not enough for you, there’s also a prologue Friday in Mt. Washington and Highland Park.)

Check out the Facebook events for more information and to share with friends. There may even be a special appearance by LA Walks along the route! We’ll see you out there!