This morning, L.A. City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell hosted a groundbreaking event for a project that will make Beverly Boulevard safer and more pedestrian-friendly. O'Farrell was joined by community leaders and city staff from the Bureau of Public Works and the Bureau of Street Services.
O'Farrell spoke of the importance of making streets safer for walking. He enumerated some infuriating numbers, stating that the city of L.A. saw "134 pedestrian fatalities" last year and "hundreds more injuries." O'Farrell acknowledged that L.A. is the "hit-and-run capital," mentioning one particularly outrageous hit-and-run crime: in San Bernardino last night, a driver ran a red light and took the life of a woman who was eight months pregnant.
The $1.37 million Beverly Boulevard Transportation Enhancements project was funded by a grant from California's Active Transportation Program (ATP). It will upgrade pedestrian facilities along a ~2.5-mile stretch of Beverly Blvd from Koreatown's Vermont/Beverly Red Line Station to just east of Beverly's intersection with Glendale Boulevard, near downtown Los Angeles. The western portion of the project - the stretch of Beverly from Vermont Avenue to Rampart Boulevard - is on the city's Vision Zero High Injury Network of streets that experience a higher share of traffic deaths and injuries.
The project's enhancements include new curb ramps, newly-reconstructed driveways, new curb extensions, two new landscaped median islands (at Lafayette Park Place and at Occidental Boulevard), 19 new street trees, new bike racks, and continental crosswalks.
Construction is already underway and is expected to take nine months.
These safety improvements are rather basic. They will result in a safer and better street for people walking - as well as for people using wheelchairs, strollers, and grocery carts. On their own, they are unlikely to transform this car-centric stroad-like stretch into a highly walkable place. The improvements are modest steps in the right direction, with the potential to catalyze more walking with fewer deaths and injuries.