Stories from the Streets: Remembering My Cousin Marlene

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

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. 

WalkLAvia – The Valley 3/22

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On Sunday March 22, Los Angeles Walks will walk the CicLAvia route – this time in the Valley! – starting at North Hollywood Red Line Station at 10am. Look for the Los Angeles Walks banner and our Executive Director Deborah’s bright dress to find our group. Walk with us!

Find your way along the route with the CicLAvia Neighborhood Guide to discover the foundations of today’s vibrance, secrets, and smells in the San Fernando Valley.

Amuse your friends, family, and self with LOADS of activities throughout the route. Pop up cycle tracks, nature walks, jazz groups, climbing walls, we honestly couldn’t list it all here. See the Activities Along the Route section on CicLAvia’s page for a very full list of how to fill your Sunday. And just so that you know absolutely everything about what you can get into this weekend – CicLAValley provided the Mother of All Valley CicLAvia Guides.

Perceive the Valley guided by a shifting musical landscape as geo-sonic harmonies come through your headphones. Walk With Me app offers fiction fused with reality while natural, musical, and vocal sounds superimpose the live noise of the surrounding area.

Have a good week and hope to walk with you Sunday!

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.

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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

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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 KCET.org. 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

Is Car Culture Dead? — a panel on 3/11

CarCulture-600x414Deborah Murphy featured on a panel at Zócolo Public Square: Cars and freeways didn’t just shape the landscape of contemporary America; they shaped the national culture as well. Southern California in particular has reveled in the pleasures of the automobile, from Sunday drives and drive-in theaters to the car race in Rebel Without a Cause. But between the pressures of climate change and a younger generation’s preference for denser living and public transportation, there is a serious backlash against the car, especially in L.A., where drivers spend more than 60 hours a year stuck in traffic. Are our cruising days over forever? Petersen Automotive Museum executive director Terry Karges, DUB Magazine founder Myles Kovacs, Los Angeles Walks founder Deborah Murphy, and Drexel University Center for Mobilities Research and Policy director Mimi Sheller visit Zócalo to discuss the future of car culture, in Southern California and beyond.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2015 7:30 PM

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

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

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.

SIGN THIS PETITION TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION

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.

Join us March 7 for Dry River Walk

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The Dry River walk, led by walk ambassador Jack Moreau, will exhibit the Arroyo Seco Bikeway and Eugene Debs Park as community assets for Los Angeles and discuss the issues behind connecting the areas with bicycle and pedestrian transportation.

The Arroyo Seco is a natural creek running from the Angeles National Forest into Downtown LA where it meets the Los Angeles River. It now serves as the only piece of bicycle and pedestrian exclusive roadway in the North East LA. While this path offers an incredible asset to the community, chain link fencing encloses it and greatly decreases usage. Parks border the majority of the path, but there are only four access points each about a mile apart. The Arroyo Seco can become a major alternative transportation corridor for all of NELA and beyond. The path could be extended north into Pasadena as well as south into DTLA. Eugene Debs Park can be connected to the City of LA through the bike path and become a leading green space advocacy center for everyone. However, rising rates of homelessness in the area bring very difficult questions as to the equitable course of redevelopment.

As we walk, we will view hidden treasures of NELA and learn from community leaders about access to the Arroyo Seco.

Purchase Tickets through Eventbrite here

The walk is a little over 2 miles. There is one pretty significant hill in Debs Park, but it is very fun and pretty! 

  • We will meet up at the Highland Park Station
  • Walk Avenue 60 to the Arroyo Seco
  • Walk down Arroyo Seco path
  • Exit bikeway through “stairs to nowhere
  • Hike through Debs Park to the Audubon Center. Walkers can then continue hiking if they please or follow us back to the Gold Line.
  • (Here is the map)

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