In Case It Wasn’t Clear, Advocacy Can Get Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding in #RoadBond

The Times chose a dire picture of Deborah Murphy, who is a member of our Board of Directors for Streetsblog L.A. But I've always liked this one because it illustrates one of L.A. Walks' central messages: that everyone is a sidewalk user and that sidewalks are a public space that has maximum flexibility. Photo:##http://www.losangeleswalks.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/deb_mayorG.jpg##L.A. Walks##

The Times chose a poignant and serious picture of Deborah Murphy, who is a member of our Board of Directors for Streetsblog L.A. But I’ve always liked this one because it illustrates one of L.A. Walks’ central messages: that everyone is a sidewalk user and that sidewalks are a public space that has maximum flexibility. Photo:L.A. Walks

While Steve Lopez’s ongoing coverage of the sad state of Los Angeles’ sidewalks isn’t exactly breaking ground for regular Streetsblog readers; when an L.A. Times columnist starts asking questions there are usually some interesting answers. Today’s column, featuring Deborah Murphy, poor sidewalks and Councilmember Joe Buscaino was no different.

Responding to a direct question about whether or not funds from a future bond proposal, and one could appear on the ballot as soon as later this year, could partially fix sidewalks as well as streets; Buscaino handed the question back to Lopez.

Standing on some of the most broken sidewalks in the city, the Councilmember honestly stated that he knows sidewalk conditions are terrible, but he’s trying to get a bond measure passed to fix L.A.’s decaying streets. If a sidewalk component helps get that passed, than expect a sidewalk component written in the measure. If it does the opposite, then it probably won’t.

Buscaino said he’s open to drafting the bond measure with public input, and in a way that gives it the best chance of passing.

“I’m anxious to hear if residents across the city are willing to put in the sidewalk issue,” he said.

This wouldn’t be the first time a public outcry for bicycle and pedestrian funding helped cause transportation funds to be dedicated towards improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

In 2008, the “1% for bikes 1% for peds.” campaign did not get the Metro Board to change the language in Measure R. However, the petition and public testimony campaign did spook Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to “guarantee” that 10% of the city’s local return from Measure R would go into bicycle and pedestrian projects. Those funds cover most of the bicycle lane projects that are now on the ground and the two “pedestrian coordinator” positions that have improved the city’s Safe Routes to School’s program and created People St.

Murphy offers the perfect argument as to why it should be a no-brainer to include sidewalk fixes in any road bond. But whether or not sidewalks appear in a proposed “fix it first” road bond is going to be a political decision, not a policy one.