(Los Angeles Walks also provided this handy info-sheet with all the information about the group in one handy place. Download your copy today.)
It was the summer of 2008 and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Dorothy Le and Los Angeles Walks’ Damien Newton were pushing the Metro Board to include a 1% set-aside for bicycle and pedestrian projects in Measure R.
“How many of you walked as part of your commute to get here today?” I asked the Board during my testimony. To his credit, Board Member Richard Katz raised his hand. Of course, in truth nearly everyone walks as part of their commute, yet the state of advocacy on pedestrian and pedestrian safety issues is scattered across the region. For years, there has been no powerful and centralized lobby for pedestrian issues.
For years, Deborah Murphy has been a one-woman band, beating the drum for pedestrian safety at City Hall and with city officials. At various times she’s been joined by a handful of people for specific campaigns or time frames, but has never had a group of activists willing or able to put in the time and effort to create a fully functioning advocacy group. Today, Los Angeles Walks has a dedicated team pushing forward: Alissa Walker, Jessica Meaney, Alexis Lantz, Michelle Craven, Colleen Corcoran join Murphy in making the new Los Angeles Walks.
But to really get off the ground, they need your help. The group’s first fundraiser will be on April 21 at Atwater Crossing from 7:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. and there are a variety of ticket prices so that one can donate at a level that works for them. If you can’t make it but want to donate, scroll to the bottom of the ticket page and you can do that too. Too broke to buy a ticket? Submit a picture to their photo contest of you walking, and maybe you can win your way in.
At this point, the group is organizing and has identified a pair of major campaigns to tackle in the next year. The first step in both plans is to identify the 15-20 most dangerous transit stops in Los Angeles and narrow the list to five target areas for improvement in the next 18 months. Using this data, they hope to create a “Safe Routes to Transit” plan and get it adopted by Metro to insure that walking to and from these stops is a safe experience. They’ll also overlay that data with local Safe Routes to School’s plans and make sure those areas are addressed at the same time the city tries to insure safe passage for school students.
While these long-term plans begin to come together, the group involves itself with the traffic safety issues of the day. Los Angeles Walks leads the charge for the city to finally hire a full-time pedestrian coordinator and works with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and other safety groups to oppose speed limit increases.
And as an added bonus, if you get to the fundraiser early and you can hear me sing Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight.” Of course, I won’t need the Karaoke equipment to do that, but it’s always good to have some musical backing.