In 2012, our steering committee had a good laugh at our meeting watching this clip from Midnight Cowboy where Ratso Rizzo yells “Hey, I’m walking here!” at a fast-moving taxi rolling into a New York City crosswalk.
But in all seriousness, shouting “Hey, I’m walking here!” was far too representative of our own Los Angeles experience—a place where walking doesn’t get enough respect.
We found ourselves becoming inspired by other entertaining yet educational stunts that highlighted walking, like a group of pedestrians that actually moved a car which had stopped in the middle of the crosswalk in Brazil. Or Peatónito, who takes to the streets in Mexico City as the masked defender of pedestrians. Or, closer to home, Walk Raleigh, which installed guerrilla signage for walkers that helped pedestrians to better navigate their city.
We realized we needed the same kind of cultural touchstone for Los Angeles: a movement bringing attention, safety and a bit of fun (okay, maybe a lot of fun) to walking so we could help build a healthier, happier, more vibrant Los Angeles.
But the solution is not simply to get more people walking—it also requires that streets and sidewalks be redesigned to slow down vehicles, protect pedestrians from roadway traffic, and keep walkers feeling safe.
With these ideas in mind, Los Angeles Walks launched Hey, I'm Walking Here! (or in Español, ¡Ay, Estoy Caminando!), the first-ever pedestrian campaign for Los Angeles. Our campaign will not only increase pedestrian safety, but also highlight and celebrate walking as a conscious act that’s happening all over the city. And by expanding upon our existing Los Angeles Walks work, including awareness, events, community meetings and action, we’ll be able to support long-term efforts to build a more walkable Los Angeles.
Activities funded through our Hey, I’m Walking Here! campaign included:
• Creating a bilingual Hey, I’m Walking Here!/ ¡Ay, Estoy Caminando! publicity campaign using buttons, posters, bandanas, stickers, public art, urban interventions, happenings, infographics, social media and a few surprises.
• Authoring a regular publication (Footnotes) which provides updates on the state of walking in L.A., highlighting the benefits of walking as a healthy and civic-minded action, and providing tips on how to make your L.A. neighborhood more walkable.
• Organizing two days of action where we took to the streets in super hero costumes to help pedestrians cross at high traffic crossings around the city.
• Designing a pilot program for a pedestrian-focused, urban wayfinding system that also serves as a publicity campaign throughout the city, to help Angelenos understand the distance between neighborhoods and landmarks, and see that more places are walkable.
Many Los Angeles residents already love to walk and are instinctively drawn to areas good for walking—places like parks, the beach and walkable commercial districts. But most Angelenos have not taken the next step to consider how their neighborhoods can become more walkable. Our Hey, I’m Walking Here! campaign taps into this latent desire to help Angelenos request more pedestrian amenities, build more vibrant communities, and promote the act of walking in Los Angeles.