LA’s Sunday Streets: A Simple Switch by Ingrid Peterson

(Editor's note: As you probably noticed, I'm out of town.  To make sure that you're provided with original content, I've enlisted the help of other transportation activists from around the city to write opinion pieces for Streetsblog.  Here, 4sbb creator Ingrid Peterson makes a pitch for LA to have it's own Sunday Streets program.)

Attention Los Angeles: There is a simple and effective way to provide a weekly relief to your self-inflicted traffic woes: Go CAR-FREE Sundays!   

As an incentive to participate in this voluntary program, neighborhoods all across town will host events to be known as “LA’s Sunday Streets.”   

Each week, interested neighborhoods would collaborate with local law enforcement to determine which streets to close for their event. Certain obvious locations like Griffith Park could host a monthly event (like New York City’s Car Free Central Park) where the park would be closed to automobile traffic, but open to wide array of alternate modes of human powered locomotion. 

Our own Rose Bowl in Pasadena recently attempted a similar event to great success.

“LA’s Sunday Streets” would provide the opportunity to view the street in fresh ways. The physical infrastructure (i.e. the roads) are already in place. What we need is a new awareness of how to use that space. How can we effectively turn a “road” into a “Livable Street?” 

My point is this:

The shift in our awareness of the road can be directly achieved by allowing people to walk, ride, roll or stroll freely in an area through which they are very accustomed to driving. 

Bringing a “Sunday Streets” program to Los Angeles is not a protest of any sort, but rather a celebration of the streets ability to connect people. We are ready. For evidence of this you need look no further than the flourishing street festivals, farmers markets and community events already underway every week in LA.   

The civic infrastructure for street closures and public events is firmly in place, it is up to us to help it realize its full potential. Luckily, There are many places to turn for inspiration: 

Here is the spoke card: 

10_10_08_ingrid.jpg

 In Los Angeles we have a bright and vibrant bicycle culture. We range from the folks at C.I.C.L.E to the vast array of Midnight Ridazz. From LACBC to the Arroyofest and the LA Marathon, we’ve got it. Our roads, though largely unmarked with bike lanes or sharrows, still provide wide stretches of asphalt to cruise along, leading us into new neighborhoods to explore. 

Of late, a whole swath of clever folk have discovered that in fact is it completely possible to ride a bicycle in Los Angeles. They are convinced that doing so provides a viable and reliable mode of transportation to a long list of destinations, most notably their workplace.  I’ve heard talk of other side effects like “good health” and “fun.” 

Perhaps we (that clever bicycle community) can now reach out a bit and spread this joy. Nobody likes spending their whole lives stuck in traffic, in a box.  

Los Angeles also stands ready to learn from other cities like San Francisco, Portland, Davis, Boulder, Seattle, Vancouver, Paris, NYC, Bogota, Mexico City and on and on down the list of European cities whose bike friendliness may never be surpassed. (Yeah, Copenhagen)

So, for your consideration I give you: 

LA’s Sunday Streets! 

My, perhaps, ambitious idea: Echo Park to Silver Lake!  

Close down Sunset Blvd to vehicle traffic from Echo Park Ave to Hillhurst. Approximately 2-3 miles.  

It may not be the integrated bike network we would all love to see completed at long last, but it is a simple step towards addressing the larger problem of how we view our streets and by direct consequence, how we see each other.  

Then we can unleash our radical bicycle agenda and start taking away lanes from cars and handing those wide sunny boulevards over to those of us who would rather ride. 

Whose streets?

Our streets! 

See also:

Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt

http://www.howwedrive.com/

Removing cars to create public space

http://planetizen.com/node/35337