It was an energizing week for pedestrian rights here in LA, with plenty of discussions in the media about what it will take to make the city safe and accessible to all walkers. Los Angeles Walks was honored to be included in four articles on the growing movement around safe streets in the city.
First the Los Angeles Times released its map on the most dangerous intersections for walkers in the city. Our own Deborah Murphy was interviewed by Laura Nelson about the corner of Slauson and Western:
“There is so much work to be done here,” Deborah Murphy, an urban planner who runs Los Angeles Walks, a pedestrian advocacy group, said as she surveyed the streets on a recent afternoon. The wide intersection, anchored by three strip malls and a gas station, felt like a highway: Cars sped through it, and vehicles leaving parking lots narrowly zipped past children on bikes and old women with wire carts.
Away from L.A.'s congested core, wide streets like these can invite speeding or rapid lane changes. Adding taller buildings or trees that arch into the roadway could narrow drivers' field of view, Murphy said, adding more shade for pedestrians and subconsciously signaling drivers to slow down.
Another factor that makes Slauson and Western so dangerous, Murphy said, is that pedestrians must cross five lanes of traffic, or about 70 feet, to reach the opposite corner.
“That's a long way for an able-bodied person,” Murphy said. “Now think about people who do it in a wheelchair.”
At each corner of the intersection, one ramp points people with wheelchairs or strollers into the middle of the intersection. The better, but more expensive option, Murphy said, would be to add one ramp at each crosswalk. The city also could install sharper curbs that force drivers to brake as they turn, she said.
In other coverage about the LA Times study, you can hear Deborah on KPCC discussing dangerous intersections and how they might be made safer. Special thanks also to Curbed LA who nodded to our own map of dangerous intersections published in our Footnotes publication last year.
Finally, the LA Weekly followed up on the Hyperion Bridge story by interviewing Deborah as well and featuring the work of LA Walks. A group of residents are suing the city, claiming that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not fully considering pedestrian safety:
"Why would we restore the historic belvederes and then not let pedestrians experience them on the south side?" asks Deborah Murphy of Los Angeles Walks. A key force in the debate, Los Angeles Walks wants city officials to take more seriously the physical safety of those on foot — as well as access for the disabled.
Read more here and share these stories to spread the good work being done by pedestrian advocates everywhere: