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
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
- San Francisco boldly leads California
with their “Sunday Streets” Program
- The LA Times recently told us of how
in Mexico City, Bicycles rule the Sunday Streets:
- or how about Portland with their popular
- Not to be forgotten from earlier in
2008, Car-Free Wilshire was an exciting success and a model for car-free
days to come right here in Los Angeles:
- In 2006, C.I.C.L.E. hosted an event
called “Life Can be So Car Free”
Here is the spoke card:
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,
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.
Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt
Removing cars to create public space