Getting LA to Walk the Walk

“The song says ‘nobody walks in LA,’ but that maxim could not be further from the truth,” says Michelle Craven, recent UCLA Master of Urban and Regional Planning graduate and former Los Angeles Walks Steering Committee member. “In fact, every trip begins and ends with a walk – drivers walk to and from their cars, cyclists walk to and from their bicycles, transit riders walk to and from bus stops and train stations, and pedestrians walk all the way.” Yet there is no centralized oversight of local pedestrian issues because until recently the City of Los Angeles lacked a pedestrian coordinator and, more importantly, it still lacks a pedestrian master plan.

Why is it critical for the city of LA to adopt a pedestrian master plan?

  • Nearly one in four household trips in LA is made on foot.
  • The pedestrian fatality rate in LA is among the highest in the nation.
  • Despite the prominence of walking, local transportation agencies devote little funding, staff, and other resources to pedestrian issues, yet have developed comprehensive and detailed plans for driving, public transit, and bicycling.
  • Failing infrastructure – such as missing and broken sidewalks – makes the roads less safe for pedestrians and discourages Angelenos from walking. This, in turn, reduces opportunities for people to be physically active, which has devastating effects on public health.

Michelle spent the last year volunteering with Los Angeles Walks and working on a comprehensive research project to answer the question, “How can pedestrian advocates convince the City of Los Angeles to adopt a citywide pedestrian master plan?” Michelle conducted an extensive literature review and case studies on cities that have adopted pedestrian master plans. Based on her findings, Michelle issued six key recommendations to help pedestrian advocates convince the city of Los Angeles to adopt a citywide pedestrian master plan:

  1. Identify a local government champion who will support your goals and help you accomplish them.
  2. Identify and secure funding for the project.
  3. Build a diverse coalition of advocates.
  4. As an advocacy group, lead the citywide campaign.
  5. Generate media attention around pedestrian issues to educate the public.
  6. Conduct community outreach to educate residents on pedestrian issues and the benefits of proposed solutions.

Read Michelle’s full report here to learn more! Since completing her master’s degree at UCLA, Michelle has returned to her native East Coast and is working for the New York City Department of Transportation under Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Los Angeles Walks is actively working to encourage the city to adopt a comprehensive pedestrian master plan, commit staff and funding resources to pedestrian issues, and consider pedestrian infrastructure whenever it makes planning decisions. If you are interested in helping us with these efforts, join our mailing list and come to our upcoming community meeting on November 15 in Leimert Park!

—Rachel Bennett; all content courtesy of Michelle Craven