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  #81  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2012, 10:41 PM
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Seeking Pedestrian Advocates in L.A., Where People Actually Do Walk


Apr 13, 2012

By Nate Berg

Read More: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/com...-do-walk/1756/

Quote:
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"Everybody's a pedestrian," says Deborah Murphy. "You get out of your car and walk to a shop, you're a pedestrian. You get off your bike and walk to your job, you're a pedestrian. You get off the bus, you're a pedestrian." It might seem like semantics, but the clarification is important, says Murphy, an urban designer and long-time pedestrian advocate in Los Angeles. By thinking about pedestrianism as a natural act rather than a specific interest, it become clear that the idea of making the city a better place for walking really does serve the interests of all. This frame is what makes it hard to believe that – despite its population of nearly 4 million and predominantly pleasant weather – the city of Los Angeles does not have a pedestrian advocacy organization.

- Nearly every big city in the U.S. has one of these groups. There's Walk San Francisco, Transportation Alternatives in New York City and the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition in Portland. But L.A. has no equivalent. Murphy is trying to change that. She's spearheading a group called Los Angeles Walks, which is aiming to make pedestrian safety and planning a more important part of the city's conversation. It's a newly formed effort, but an old idea for Murphy, who originally started the pedestrian advocacy group in 1998. That effort eventually fizzled. "People were too dispersed around L.A. to come to regular meetings and many of the people were already involved in other transportation and environmental organizations," says Murphy.

- Though she is the head of a committee that advises the city on walking issues, pedestrian safety and planning haven't really been prioritized by city officials. Or residents, for that matter. But things are starting to change. With a dedicated segment of funding from a transportation-focused sales tax increase, the city is currently on a path to hire two pedestrian coordinators to better understand the needs of the city's walkers. The two coordinators could be on the job as soon as this summer. For Murphy, that's long overdue. "I've been trying for 20 years to get a pedestrian coordinator on staff at the city of Los Angeles," says Murphy. "We really need like 15 positions, but we've got to start somewhere." She says the fact that the city is finally coming around to focusing more effort on the pedestrian side of transportation creates even more need for an active and vocal advocacy group. The more people that are involved, the better informed the city can be about where changes are needed.

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  #82  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2012, 1:52 AM
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http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lano...destrians.html

CicLAvia organizers estimate that 100,000 people participated in the bike festival Sunday, on par with expectations for what has become L.A.’s marquee event for pedestrians and cyclists.

There were no major incidents during the event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and there appear to have been no arrests, according to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department.

This was Los Angeles’ fourth CicLAvia, which shut down numerous streets to traffic from East Los Angeles to East Hollywood and turned them into one big bike lane. The first event was held in 2010.

The event is intended to inspire people to get out of their cars, explore the city and burn a few calories at the same time.

Ten miles of city streets in and around downtown were blocked off as cyclists and pedestrians enjoyed music, food and a range of activities from rock climbing to dancing.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also used the event to unveil a new $16-million, privately funded bike share program that aims to add 4,000 bicycles at 400 kiosks across the city.

The idea of shutting down part of a city to motor vehicles began as a weekly ciclovia (Spanish for “bike path”) event in Bogota, Colombia, almost four decades ago and was later adopted by several cities in Latin America and the United States.
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  #83  
Old Posted May 15, 2012, 2:27 AM
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Atlantic on the move


May 13, 2012

By Christopher Hawthorne

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment...8106.htmlstory

Quote:
The 5600 block of Atlantic Avenue doesn't look like much at first glance, especially if you're zipping through at 45 mph. A dry cleaner, a pupuseria, a T-shirt shop and a medical marijuana dispensary line the low-rise street in the North Village Annex section of Long Beach. About a third of the storefronts are vacant. But if you climb out of the car, you'll notice that this classic commercial strip — convenient for drivers, charmless and alienating for everybody else — is in the midst of a remarkable evolution.

- The changes along Atlantic are emblematic of the way urban planners, architects, shopkeepers and neighborhood activists are remaking the boulevards of Southern California, reversing decades of neglect. The boulevard, in fact, is where the Los Angeles of the immediate future is taking shape. No longer a mere corridor to move cars, it is where L.A. is trying on a fully post-suburban identity for the first time, building denser residential neighborhoods and adding new amenities for cyclists and pedestrians. In the process, the city is beginning to shed its reputation as a place where the automobile is king — or at least where its reign goes unchallenged. Cities across the U.S. followed L.A.'s car-crazy lead in the postwar era. This time around we might provide a more enlightened example: how to retrofit a massive region for a future that is less auto-centric.

- Smaller-scale and bottom-up initiatives — pedestrian plazas, food trucks, guerrilla gardening on long-forsaken medians — are also bringing new urban energy to dozens of major streets. That transformation is the focus of a series of stories that begins with this look at Atlantic, which carves a long, gently meandering path along the eastern outskirts of Los Angeles, from Alhambra south all the way to Long Beach. "Boulevard," which comes to us from the French, shares its roots with the word "bulwark," a barricade or protective wall. In Los Angeles the boulevards have had the opposite effect, not dividing the city but stitching it together, providing a loose super-grid for the vast region. The boulevard is the only part of the built environment in Southern California that operates simultaneously at local and regional scale. It defines the neighborhood block even as it gives sprawl a spine.

- The sheer scale of L.A.'s major boulevards makes improvements along their length piecemeal and hard-won. Atlantic is 25 miles long, roughly twice the length of Manhattan. And even as more Southern Californians embrace walking and bicycling, they are finding that cities have allowed streets and especially sidewalks to crumble in recent decades. Not just in L.A. but across the U.S. we've neglected the simple act of walking for so long that we now face a patently absurd task: redesigning our streets, often at significant cost, just to make it possible for citizens to put one foot in front of the other without feeling unwelcome, unsafe or a bit eccentric. Along Atlantic, officially a boulevard along its northern stretches and an avenue further south, the dominant architecture reflects a region still in thrall to automobiles and petroleum. Its most recognizable landmarks — Dale's Donuts in Compton, for example, whose doughnut-shaped rooftop sign is nearly twice as tall as the building itself -- are designed to be glimpsed through a windshield.

- New construction on Atlantic is much more likely to be built right along the boulevard than behind a massive parking lot, as existing buildings tend to be. The Kipp Raices Academy, a 2-year-old charter school in East Los Angeles painted in various shades of green and gray, comes right out to the sidewalk. So does a Vons supermarket in downtown Long Beach recently remodeled by KKE Architects. So, with decidedly uneven architectural results, does the massive new Atlantic Times Square development in Monterey Park, which combines ground-floor shops and restaurants with 210 condos on its upper floors. It attempts to bring together the street-front energy of nearby Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, with its noodle shops and cacophony of signs in Chinese, and the upscale residential amenities and flashy lighting of Rick Caruso's Americana at Brand complex in Glendale. It is not a happy marriage.

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