Join the launch of Active Streets L.A. on August 24

Los Angeles Walks is excited for the launch of Active Streets L.A., which endeavors to empower communities to create safe walking and bicycling routes to parks, schools, and local businesses along their neighborhood streets. Join us for a day of fun, family-friendly activities, including FREE LUNCH and raffles for a bike, Mamas Chicken Gift Cards, and grocery store gift cards.

Active Streets L.A. Launch
Saturday, August 24
10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Bike/Walk is at 11:30 a.m.

Angeles Mesa Elementary School
2611 W 52nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90043
(View map)

See who’s going and invite friends on Facebook.

Download the flyer here (in English and Espanol).

Active Streets L.A. is a partnership of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), TRUST South LA, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) with funding through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

$3 billion road bond gets a second look

Nice bump outs

On January 9 we headed to a City Council meeting with many of our street-minded friends to stop a bond measure planned for the May ballot that would allocate $3 billion to repairing roads across the city. Wait—why would we want to prevent streets from being repaired? It’s not that we don’t want the streets to be fixed, but we were concerned about how the streets would be improved. The proposal focused on improvements for cars only, only making changes to sidewalks if money was left over. The way we see it, If LADOT is going to fix some of the most troubled streets in the city, this is a great opportunity to turn them into livable streets that can serve not only cars but bikers and walkers, too.

Our own Deborah Murphy and Jessica Meaney testified along with about 20 other bike and pedestrian advocates. In the end, the council decided not to put the bond on the ballot and conduct outreach to find a better solution. You can read more coverage on Streetsblog as well as on LACBC’s blog, plus you can download the policy brief [PDF] which we signed as an organization.

We’ll be sure to post any news we hear about meetings, but in the meantime you can contact your councilperson to let them know how you feel about the bond.

 

Los Angeles Walks responds to the revised Mobility Element

Strolling the new East Cahuenga Alley in Hollywood.

Late in 2012 the Los Angeles Departments of Transportation and City Planning released their revised Mobility Element plan looking at new ways of moving around the city, using its streets for mobility and beyond. You can see all their recommendations at the LA2B.org site. Los Angeles Walks responded to their Recommendations for a Pedestrian-Enhanced Network with this letter. You can respond by leaving a comment here.

Claire Bowin and Jane Choi
Los Angeles Department of City Planning
200 N. Spring Street, Room 667, MS 395
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Re: Mobility Element: Recommendations for Pedestrian-Enhanced Network

Dear Ms. Bowin and Ms. Choi,

We write as the steering committee of Los Angeles Walks, a volunteer supported organization dedicated to promoting walking and pedestrian infrastructure in Los Angeles, educating Angelenos and local policymakers concerning the rights and needs of pedestrians of all abilities, and fostering the development of safe and vibrant environments for all pedestrians. Los Angeles Walks is pleased that the City of Los Angeles has launched an inclusive process to update the mobility element of the City’s General Plan and is seeking to embrace complete streets, safety and multi-modal transportation as goals for mobility in Los Angeles.

We appreciate that city staff are considering pedestrian safety and enhancements as you revise street classifications and design a complete streets network for Los Angeles. It is encouraging to see that you are considering wider sidewalks as one method for improving walking conditions in the city. As you are aware, and as many commentators in the online and in-person components of your public outreach on the mobility element have noted, larger and better-maintained sidewalks are a necessary but not sufficient condition for enhanced walkability. Other factors that influence peoples’ decisions whether, when and how far to walk include:

  • Conditions, urban design and land uses on the building side of sidewalks that can detract from walking (such as parking lots, curb cuts, blank walls, and large front and side set backs); or that enhance walking (such as buildings extending to the front of property lines, multiple storefronts on a block, transparency in facades, ground level retail)
  • Block length and spacing between crosswalks
  • Conditions on the street side of sidewalks that detract from walking (such as fast, noisy, polluting vehicular traffic); or that enhance walking (such as frequent transit service, bike lanes, low speed limits and traffic calming, street trees to buffer traffic)
  • Safe street crossings at both signalized and unsignalized locations
  • Pedestrian amenities on the sidewalk (such as seating, shade, landscaping)
  • Public safety including adequate lighting
  • Land use and zoning rules that influence whether people live within walking distance of the destination that they need to visit regularly

While a mobility element and street classifications can’t remove all barriers to walking in Los Angeles, we believe that a complete street network can be designed to substantially enhance walking and to prioritize pedestrians uses where appropriate. Los Angeles Walks suggests designating three ‘layers’ of pedestrian-enhanced streets that can be used in different parts of the city and in some spots combined to create world-class walking streets. We also encourage street design standards that enhance pedestrian
safety in all locations.

  1. Shared Space streets: The city should designate certain narrow, low-traffic streets as pedestrian-enhanced shared spaces. In these streets, pedestrians would be expected and encouraged to walk not just on sidewalks but in all areas of the public right of way. Cyclists and some vehicles will also share the space with pedestrians. Very low speed limits and traffic calming road designs to prevent motorized vehicles from moving fast would keep all users safe in shared space streets. Alleys, low-traffic residential streets (especially narrow streets that lack sidewalks) and some short streets, dead ends or cul-de-sacs, etc are the types of streets that could be designated as shared space streets. The city could look at the Dutch woonerf as a model for shared space streets.
  2. Pedestrian overlay zones: Pedestrian overlay zones (or pedestrian oriented-district designation) can help make major commercial corridors and centers into better and safer places to walk. These zones address land use issues that impact the pedestrian experience. Los Angeles is increasingly using urban design guidelines, community plans and specific plans to shape a more pedestrian-oriented streetscape. A number of cities including Seattle use such zones to restrict new land uses that are unfriendly or dangerous to walking (such as car-oriented businesses, drive-through retail, parking lots at the front of businesses, excessive driveways and curb cuts, blank walls, etc); and/or to phase out/ amortize existing grandfathered/ non-conforming uses. We would anticipate that commercial and mixed use corridors, areas near transit stations, and new transit-enhanced and bicycle-enhanced networks would be good locations for pedestrian overlay zones.
  3. Car-free areas: The city should designate some blocks or districts as car-free areas. CicLAvia and temporary street festivals and famers markets prove that residents of Los Angeles will throng to streets when they do not have to contend with motorized traffic. Many cities around the world have made parts of their street network off limits to cars to enhance pedestrian access, create great public spaces, reduce pollution, promote public health and boost commerce and tourism. Los Angeles should identify areas that have high pedestrian activity or potential and plan to phase these in as car-free zones. The city can learn from the logistics of cities throughout the world in terms of granting limited access for delivery vehicles and emergency services; clustering parking on the edge of car free areas, etc.
  4. Streets designed for pedestrian safety and appeal: Walking safety and appeal can be enhanced along all streets through street standards that limit the speed that cars and trucks drive. As the City updates its mobility element, it should institute a moratorium on street widenings to endure that no street becomes more dangerous to pedestrians and/ or a worse place to walk. Street cross sections and design, including the number of lanes used by motorized traffic, the width of lanes, and intersection, signal, crosswalks and other traffic calming treatments can help ensure that vehicles do not exceed posted speed limits. The City should also reduce speed limits, starting with its ability to cut speed limits to 15 mph on residential streets in school zones.

Los Angeles Walks looks forward to continuing to provide input on the city’s revised mobility element.

We are happy to meet with city staff to discuss these and other ideas for enhancing pedestrian safety and access throughout Los Angeles.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss these or any other ideas in more depth or if you have any questions or concerns regarding our comments.

All the best,
Deborah Murphy, Founder
Los Angeles Walks

CC: Los Angeles Walks Steering Committee

Top image: EaCa Alley in Hollywood is a great example of how to transform a space for cars into a pedestrian-friendly zone.

Volunteer with LADOT to evaluate the city’s new crosswalks

Continental crosswalks press conference

Remember those new continental crosswalks that are being installed all over Los Angeles? LADOT is looking for volunteers who can help evaluate the improved crosswalks and pass along feedback on how to prevent pedestrian-vehicle collisions. The LADOT’s announcement is below, you can check out all the details and register here. It sounds like a great way to serve your city and meet some fellow walkers. Hope to see you on the streets!

New and improved crosswalks are being installed all over the city! Volunteers needed!

The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has developed a new design standard for a higher-visibility crosswalk. The “Continental Crosswalk” more effectively defines pedestrian space in the roadway, advising motorists that pedestrians may be present. LADOT seeks volunteers to conduct fieldwork before and after the new designs are installed in order to evaluate the effect of Continental crosswalks in reducing vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

Volunteers will work in teams to collect data on driver compliance with limit lines and crosswalk striping as well as yielding and collision avoidance at some of the city’s busiest intersections with the highest incidence of pedestrian collisions.

Please use the link below to sign up for one or more of the pre-installation fieldwork shifts and an orientation/training session:

Fieldwork:

· Thursday, January 31: 7 AM – 10 AM | 11 AM – 2 PM | 4 PM – 7 PM

· Friday, February 1: 7 AM – 10 AM | 11 AM – 2 PM | 4 PM – 7 PM

Orientation/Training:

· Wednesday, January 30: 9 AM – 10 AM | 12 PM – 1 PM | 4 PM – 5 PM

Sign up here!

If you have questions or would like more information, please email us at LADOT.crosswalk.study AT gmail DOT com

The 12 best things to happen to L.A. pedestrians in 2012

stopped at adams and figueroa where the city's 1st traffic signal was installed

From pedestrian coordinators to polka-dotted plazas, this was definitely a banner year for L.A.’s walkers. Across the city, we’re seeing physical improvements to our streets and sidewalks as well as a changing perspective from citizens who are actively proving a certain ’80s song wrong. Of course, we still have a long way to go—we still have far too many pedestrian collisions, including a recent “epidemic” of hit-and-runs—but we definitely think 2012 was a big step in the right direction for making the city more safe, accessible and fun for walkers. So, in no particular order, here are our picks for the 12 best things to happen to L.A. pedestrians this year.

1. The city appoints two pedestrian coordinators: Walkers won two official advocates in City Hall this year as the LADOT named two pedestrian coordinators: Margot Ocañas and Valerie Watson. The duo is working hard to update L.A. pedestrian infrastructure—like signaling, striping, and signage—and improve safe routes to schools and transit. And speaking of safety…

2. L.A.’s first continental crosswalk: Just this week, L.A. saw one of its greatest pedestrian victories as a “zebra stripe” crosswalk debuted at the intersection of 5th and Spring. Our own Deborah Murphy spoke at the press conference with Mayor Villaraigosa on how the new design will help make walkers more visible. 53 more crosswalks are planned for 2013, at intersections prioritized due to their high rate of pedestrian collisions.

3. Jeff Speck’s Walkable City book: Part urban planning primer, part love letter to walking, the former design director for the NEA’s fantastic book makes an excellent case for why focusing on the pedestrian experience will improve our cities. Not since Jane Jacobs have we seen a writer who describes a vibrant American sidewalk with such eloquent, blissfully jargon-free writing. The book only has a few examples from L.A., but maybe that’s a good thing—learning from the stories of other cities in this book will certainly help to inspire some change right here at home.

Sunset Triangle

4. Sunset Triangle Plaza: Who would have guessed that a half-block of chartreuse polka-dots would get so much attention? An unprecedented collaboration between Streets for People, the L.A. City Planning Commission and the L.A. County Department of Public Health resulted in the city’s first street-to-plaza conversion in Silver Lake for only $25,000. The plaza itself needs some tweaks—the color’s still controversial, neighbors complained about the loss of parking, ugly plastic barricades showed up after a car took out a few planters—but the good news is that the process is documented, and any community can adapt (and improve on) the model for their neighborhood.

5. Parklet pilot program approved: In August of this year, the City Council approved a new pilot program pioneered by the UCLA Complete Streets Initiative to build parking space-sized parklets across the city. Four locations were announced right away, and if the six-month program goes well, more will pop up around L.A. in 2013. We’re all for the parklets, but we prefer the more L.A.-specific name: Let’s call them “plazitas!”

6. Christopher Hawthorne’s Boulevards project: As part of a series that launched this year, the Los Angeles Times architecture critic has been documenting L.A.’s famous boulevards, from Sunset Boulevard’s changing personality to Harbor Boulevard’s history of political unrest. The fact that the architecture critic at our paper of record is focusing on L.A.’s streets shows a true shift in the city’s attention to urban design. Bonus: Maybe because of Hawthorne’s project, the L.A. Times launched a campaign to let readers report damaged or missing sidewalks.

7. Police return to Pedestrian Advisory Committee: After Los Angeles Walks, Midnight Ridazz and LACBC presented at City Council, police representatives re-joined the LADOT’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, signifying a unified commitment to safer streets. Especially in light of the recent rash of pedestrian deaths on L.A. streets, this partnership is extremely important. (If you’d like to attend an upcoming meeting, the committee is still looking for representatives from many council districts, details here.)

At the station

8. Opening of the Expo Line and Orange Line extension: These two projects illustrated the dedication of the city to providing transit options for its residents as it continues building (rebuilding?) a world-class transportation system. The Orange Line now connects the extremely popular bus rapid transit line to rail in Chatsworth, and the new Expo Line brought much-needed service to South L.A. and Culver City. And, despite political battles, the second phase of the Expo Line is on schedule, which means we might be riding that light-rail-to-the-sea as soon as 2015.

9. The L.A. Weekly’s hit-and-run investigation: A devastating feature in the L.A. Weekly just a few weeks ago explored the tragic “epidemic” of hit-and-runs on our streets: 48 percent of traffic accidents in Los Angeles are hit-and-run offenses (much higher than the national average of 11 percent), and approximately 100 pedestrians are killed each year in Los Angeles by hit-and-run drivers. Yet the city and LAPD are not doing enough to prosecute and prevent these crimes (read our response to the article). Investigative journalism like this is important to amplify the conversation about safer streets, and we applaud the Weekly for taking on this issue. Update: They even did an excellent follow-up article on how hit-and-run victim Don Ward tracked down the driver who hit him.

10. Big objects moving through L.A.’s streets: First it was a boulder for LACMA, then it was a space shuttle for the California Science Center. (What’s next? One of the pyramids creeping up the PCH en route to the Getty Villa?) But instead of eliciting groans from drivers, closing our roads to move Levitated Mass and Endeavour to their destinations transformed L.A. into massive street parties where people discovered new ways to navigate the city without their cars.

Walkways

11. It started to feel like everyone walks in L.A.: From the Big Parade to the Great L.A. Walk, from Trekking L.A.’s neighborhood walking tours to the L.A. Conservancy’s exploration of historic districts, we saw a groundswell of pedestrian tours, itineraries, and events throughout the city. Our only regret is that we can’t possibly keep up with all of the pedestrian urban exploration happening around us!

12. Rebirth of Los Angeles Walks: Of course we couldn’t help but include a revitalized Los Angeles Walks in our round up. You might know that L.A. Walks has been around in some form since the ’90s, but 2012 saw our official relaunch with a new steering committee and vision for the city. After our awesome karaoke fundraiser in April, we set to work on our campaigns, hosting three community meetings across the city, and we organized “WalkLAvia” parade down Figueroa during the autumn CicLAvia. And we got plenty of press which helped connect local walkers to our cause. We’re excited for 2013 and hope that you’ll join us as we work to make L.A. a great place for walkers. Thanks to everyone for your support!

Did we miss your favorite pedestrian moment for L.A.? Let us know in the comments!

—Alissa Walker