(Max Podemski is the Planning Director of Pacoima Beauftiful…but you already knew that, right? – DN)
In recent years, the media has been filled with stories about Los Angeles transformation into a more livable and walkable city. This has been spurred by recent developments such as CicLAvia, the expanding transit and bike network, and revitalized older neighborhoods.
In many ways, this is not so much the emergence of a “new city” but rather Los Angeles returning to its roots. Los Angeles did not develop around the automobile but around a massive intra-urban rail network the legacy of which still influences development. The city also has a rich history of walkable, commercial business districts along major boulevards as described in Richard Longstreth’s book “City Center to Regional Mall.”
The “good bones” are evident in neighborhoods across Los Angeles.
Many Los Angeles neighborhoods are laid out on a grid, have a mix of relatively dense housing types, and thoroughfares lined with vintage commercial storefronts. These qualities combined with the city’s Mediterranean climate should make it one of the finest places to walk in the country. So why in so many respects is Los Angeles such a terrible place to be a pedestrian?
The simple answer is that we have engineered our streets to be highways.
Over the decades, they have been widened to the point that the sidewalks are so anemic in some places that telephone poles and other utilities block them. What has made it easy for a person to drive on Sepulveda or Sunset as an alternate to the 405 or 101 has resulted in streets that are incredibly dangerous to pedestrians.
In no area is our streets lack of regard for pedestrians more apparent than in one of the most fundamental features of a walkable street: crosswalks. Read more…