We’re closing in on the end of the year, and that means it’s Streetsie time! The annual Livable Streets awards program honors the best (and worst, but for now just the best) stories from Streetsblog throughout the year. We’ll have our own pick for Streetsie Award winners and via polls, we also will have “People’s Choice” winners. Nominees were made by Streetsblog L.A. staff and board, and we did get some emails when we solicited readers for suggestions.
We’ll announce our choices on January 2. “Reader’s Choice” winners will be announced on Monday, January 6. Voting closes at 5 pm on January 3.
And if you want to honor one of our nominees beyond a vote, consider making a donation in their name to Streetsblog before the end of the year.
Elected official of the year:
Mike Bonin – The Westside’s new Council Member wasted no time placing himself in the center of regional transportation. He lobbied hard to be named City Council Transportation Committee Chair, a member of the Metro Board of Directors and vice-chair of the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors. Bonin earned headlines for his quick response to the Venice Boardwalk hit and run tragedy and for successfully pushing to change the city’s rule banning parking at broken meters; but under his leadership the City Council Transportation Committee has become a factory for progressive transportation policy.
Mike Gatto – While Gatto’s reaction to the Damian Kevitt hit and run was laudable, working to pass legislation that will make the capture of hit and run drivers; Gatto was also one of the first elected officials to oppose the high-speed redesign plans for the Hyperion Bridge.
Jose Huizar – For a time it seemed that every major story had a Jose Huizar element. Huizar worked hard to draft a compromise that left the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane partially intact with a mayor-elect and other Council Member chomping at the bit to rip it up. This says nothing of his leadership on Parklets, the Streetcar, the growing Downtown Bike Lane, the Eagle Rock bike lanes, etc…
Pam O’Connor – The Mayor of Santa Monica, is also a long-time Metro Board Member. This is more of a lifetime achievement award nomination as O’Connor has been an unflagging supporter of rail expansion and building bikeways that make sense. Thanks to a successful Metro grant, Santa Monica also found itself as a leader on bike share as Los Angeles and Long Beach continue to spin their wheels.
Civil Servant of the Year:
Paul Backstrom – Backstrom has been on this list for years. As the point person on transportation for Bill Rosendahl and now Mike Bonin, he’s either authored or helped move every good piece of legislation that’s come through the city. He’s also largely responsible for some of the fixes that are occurring along the Expo Bikeway.
Nate Baird – We had a lot of discussion over which leader from LADOT Bikeways to nominate for this award. Michelle Mowery is the head of the department, but she’s been out of the public eye for the most part and there has been some pushback concerning her profile in the Times. While both Baird and Tim Fremaux have been designing bikeways and defending them in front of hostile crowds, we’re giving the nod to Baird this year in part because there’s a rumor we won’t have him to kick around much longer. Also, he just had a kid and I’m a sucker for babies. (Whoops: those adorable pictures on his Facebook page are him with his nephew. Dang…)
Claire Bowen – Claire has been involved with a lot of different projects over the years, the L.A. Bike Plan being one of the best known to Streetsbloggers. However, I’m going to leave the description of her work to the email that nominated her. “she has been the “border collie” for the myriad city staff, agencies, elected officials,and consultant teams working on the effort. Her vision, dedication, and amazing progressive perseverance is laying a foundation that will truly change the morphology of our city — a new blueprint for our 6,500 miles of streets — for the better.”
Allan Crawford – Allan Crawford is the outgoing bike coordinator for the City of Long Beach. Do I need to say more?
Sam Morrisey – Morrisey oversees a lot of the great bicycle and pedestrian implementation in Santa Monica. There’s a lot of great people working on bicycle and pedestrian planning in the city, (Michelle Glickert, Beth Rolandson, Francie Stephan to name a few), but we didn’t want to flood the Streetsies with Santa Monica staff and picked Morrissey as this year’s nominee.
Advocate of the Year:
Jessica Meaney – The leader of the local branch of the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership and Steering Committee Member for Los Angeles Walks has changed the way politicians talk about transportation. By building a big-tent alliance with schools, parents, transportation safety advocates, law enforcement, sympathetic politicians, neighborhood groups and anyone that will listen; Meaney and her team(s) have brought pedestrian safety issues to the forefront.
Calla Weimer – It takes a lot to speak out for safety and livability when you’re surrounded by a community that is overtly hostile to pretty much anything that brings about even minot changed to the car-centered lifestyles. Weimer is a tireless advocate for bicycle safety and infrastructure in West L.A., particularly the stretch of Westwwood Boulevard. Weimer made the case counting on research about the dangers of the road and safer alternatives to win the day. Unfortunately, the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowner’s Association convinced Paul “Portraits in Courage” Koretz to pull the plug on a study of bike lanes, “floating bike lanes” and any other changes to the Boulevard.
Vision Hyperion – The Vision Hyperion team was almost all volunteers and they beat back the Bureau of Engineering who was backed by two local City Councilmembers and the Mayor for one of the dumbest redesigns imaginable. The team developed professional-level design, an aggressive neighborhood council strategy, a dedicated lobbying campaign, and brought a huge turnout to the only public hearing for the project. There’s a lot of great advocates involved in the team and it’s hard to pick out one person as “the leader,” but heavy props to Tomas O’Grady, Mooney Starr, Sodder Studio, Roadblock, Aaron Lawrence, Deborah Murphy, Dan Koeppel, and many, many others.
Journalist of the Year:
Laura Nelson – We’ve picked on Los Angeles Times transportation writers in the past, but Laura Nelson brings her “A” game to every column, reporting on the meat of the story and not treating those with differing views as a sideshow. She also uses social media to make sure she’s reaching out to everyone interested in a story, not just the people in the rolodex. She’s great. We love her.
Alissa Walker – A freelancer writer whose work has appeared just about everywhere, Alissa is a consistent voice for safe and livable streets especially for pedestrians. She’s also not above destroying reporters who write about the stereotypical L.A. without bothering to do any actual research. And, she’s possibly the best user of social media I know right up there with Gary Kavanagh, Roadblock and Joe Anthony. Walker is now the Urbanism Editor at Gizmodo.
The #roadsharela Team – After slogging through the maddening and wildly inconsistent “Summer of Cycling” series in the Daily News and other members of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group; there was some dread when the Los Angeles Times announced their opinion series on sharing the road. While the work of Paul Thornton, Robert Greene and Carla Hall wasn’t a home run every time, it was both a solid series and an honest effort to really understand what’s going on on the streets. That Thornton’s angry piece about how people need to stop “joking” about running down cyclists had all the passion of a Ubrayj comment doesn’t hurt either.