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

Re-Zoning Los Angeles: Can we legalize a walkable City?

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Mark Vallianatos is a Los Angeles Walks steering committee member and policy director at Occidental College’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute. You can read more about the updates to L.A.’s zoning code, and find out how you can get involved at recode.la

Do you ever wonder why different neighborhoods and streets in Los Angeles look the way they do—and why some places seem to be more walkable than others? The history of how our land was developed includes economic demand, neighborhood preferences, and transportation infrastructure. But the most direct way that we collectively influence what our communities look like—and how walkable they can be—is through government regulation of land use, especially by planning and zoning.

Zoning is a regulatory system that most local governments employ to control how land is used. As the name suggests, it divides places into different zones. Depending on what zone a piece of land is located in, there are rules that restrict what types of activities can be carried out on the lot, as well as the location, size, and shape of buildings allowed on the property. And the physical structure of these communities influences how people live and how they move about their neighborhoods.

The City of Los Angeles is facing one of the biggest changes to the way it looks and functions—it is fundamentally updating its zoning code for the first time since 1946. The 1946 code helped shape a postwar city of single-family subdivisions with a growing reliance on cars. Revised zoning rules can hopefully strengthen the ways that a 21st century Los Angeles is transforming and help residents build a city where walking is a convenient and safe way to travel. Zoning is potentially our most powerful tool to create a more walkable Los Angeles.

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“L.A. Is Changing In Some Profound and Dramatic Ways” Q&A With Christopher Hawthorne

by_the_numbersLos Angeles Walks steering committee member Alissa Walker talks to the Los Angeles Times architecture critic.

Alissa Walker: First, thank you for such a great conversation with Mayor Garcetti at Occidental College in February. With Villaraigosa we saw this empire-building when it came to transit, bike lanes and CicLAvia but we didn’t get to hear him talk much about walking. Now we’ve got a mayor who walked five miles to City Hall on Walk to Work Day! How else is Garcetti’s approach different, in your opinion?

Christopher Hawthorne: Villaraigosa, near the end of his time in office, really began paying attention to pedestrian safety and the crucial connections between walking and transit. But it took almost eight years for his administration to get to that point. Garcetti is unusually knowledgeable about and genuinely interested in these issues, as was clear in the Occidental conversation we had; and we’re still very early in his term. The question with him will be execution—or maybe a combination of execution and nerve. How willing will he be to fund improvements to pedestrian access, and sidewalks when they conflict with some voters’ (and media outlets’) desires to keep car traffic moving as swiftly and efficiently as possible? And how willing is he to defend controversial or even unpopular changes to street design?

 

 

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Stories From The Streets: Walking To School In South LA

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Randal Henry and Manal Aboelata-Henry are the founders of Crenshaw WALKS. You can find them on their Facebook Page.

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It’s 7:20 on a brisk, sunny Monday morning in Crenshaw Manor. Brothers Taj and Sadiq check the velcro on their Hush Puppies and take one last look to make sure lunch pails and homework folders are tucked into their backpacks. Check. Off they go to the nearest Metro station, about a 12-minute walk. Many people walk in the neighborhood, so most days, Taj and Sadiq say hello to other walkers along the way.

If the car traffic on Coliseum Street isn’t too heavy and the lights at Crenshaw and Rodeo are just right, they’ll stroll up the platform just in time for the 7:40 train. They might even have an extra moment to find a penny someone’s left behind at the TAP machine. Some days they get stuck waiting for a lull in the steady stream of cars at an unmarked crosswalk at Coliseum or the light at Crenshaw won’t turn until they’ve seen the eastbound train bolt through the intersection. In that case, they wait for the 7:52 train. But, either way, the seven-minute train ride will get them to school well in time for their 8:05 bell.

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Street Vendors Can Help Make Great Streets

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(Photo Credit: Rudy Espinoza)

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Rudy Espinoza is a supporter of the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign. Learn more at lastreetvendorsforla.org and LURNetwork.org

Street vending is illegal in Los Angeles. This surprising fact is something that 40  L.A. organizations hope to change this year, thanks to a motion currently making its way through City Council.

Legalizing street vending will create thousands of jobs and bring healthier food into low-income food deserts through a proposed incentive program. It’s about  time that we embrace the thousands of vendors who are operating in the informal economy, many of them women who are chronically unemployed and in desperate need of income to support their families. They are not criminals; they are entrepreneurs.

But street vendors offer us more than just their food, they offer an example of how creativity and a people-centered approach to entrepreneurism can make L.A.’s streets safer and more pedestrian-friendly. Street vendors contribute to great streets.

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Help match our $25K donation!

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We are very excited to announce that Los Angeles Walks has received an anonymous end of year donation of $25,000! This donation is a HUGE step towards our goal of hiring a staff person in 2015. We are humbled by the generosity of this donor—THANK YOU!

As a volunteer run organization, we have been able to accomplishment a lot to date. However, we have some very big efforts in 2015 — like Vision Zero and addressing the hit and run epidemic — that need a lot of attention and time. We need to hire a staff person to move forward with this work.

Join us in honoring this anonymous donor by helping to match this donation. We challenge the rest of our friends, partners, and followers to donate $25, $250, or $2500. If we can raise another $25,000, we will be able to hire our first staff person to focus daily on our ongoing work. Until now, Los Angeles Walks has been entirely volunteer driven, and we need someone who can represent us at active transportation meetings and public hearings, organize walks and other fun events, communicate regularly with supporters like you. Your support will make the difference for our organization to build energy, constituency, and success.

We have seen many changes as the result of our efforts. Just last month, DOT installed a crosswalk at the unsafe intersection on Humboldt St. and Ave. 26!  We identified and reported that problem on our Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park walk, then DOT conducted a survey and fixed the problem. These actions matter and we need to make more of them to achieve our goals.

DONATE NOW TO MAKE OUR STREETS SAFE FOR ALL!!

Walk This Way LA — working group meeting **Tuesday, Feb. 3**

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Have you heard about our pedestrian wayfinding project Walk This Way LA? We’re developing wayfinding signs to make it easier for Angelenos to walk in their neighborhoods. We need volunteers to help with planning and outreach in our pilot area of Leimert Park, as well as other neighborhoods around LA. If you want to get involved with this project, our first working group meeting will be

**the evening of Tuesday February 3, 2015**
(note, time is corrected from an earlier post that said February 2)

Save the date and stay tuned for meeting location, TBA.

Why isn’t there better pedestrian access to the Arroyo Seco?

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I started the DRY RIVER project to map out the legal and “homemade” entrances to the Arroyo Seco Bikeway as well as potential new points of access along the route.  As a resident of Highland Park, I commonly use the space for running, biking, and relaxing, however, I noticed several points of surprising oversight in its construction.

The Arroyo Seco Bikeway stretches through Northeast LA to South Pasadena winding beside the 110. It offers excellent pedestrian and bike only transportation through some of the largest parks in the region.  However, access to the bikeway is extremely limited by chain link fences lining each side.  Half of the entire bikeway does not have any access points as it runs alongside Ernest Debs Park and Hermon Park.

Opening access to the Arroyo Seco Bikeway opens access in NELA to parks and alternative transportation.  It is easy to add gates where there is fencing so that local residents can easily access the river.  As of now, NELA’s greatest alternative transit corridor is simply closed behind a chain link fence.

Read more about the project here!

-Jack Moreau

 

Become a Walk Ambassador!

B2gIDOPCcAE1aiRPassionate about your neighborhood, Los Angeles history, art, food, culture and walking? Then share your passion with the Los Angeles Walks community! We rely on passionate individuals to share their Los Angeles with us each month as Walk Ambassadors. Walk Ambassadors design and lead us on walks to explore the many diverse neighborhoods that make up the City of Los Angeles. Our walks range from being 1.5 miles to 10 and along the way we meet artists, residents, community leaders, and learn about the past, present and future of our communities.

Pitch your idea for a walk by submitting a completed Planning Your Walk form to hello@losangeleswalks.org. Walks need to be in the City of Los Angeles, but other than that there are no limits! Check out some of our 2014 walks by scrolling through our archives.

**Deadline extended through January 20**