Eyes on the Street: Walk to School Day 2019

Leo Politi students and families walking along pop-up safety improvements on today's National Walk to School Day. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A. except where credited otherwise
Leo Politi students and families walking along pop-up safety improvements on today's National Walk to School Day. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A. except where credited otherwise

Today is National Walk to School Day. In Los Angeles, there are a handful of related events hosted by local agencies, elected officials, and nonprofits. Streetsblog L.A. visited the L.A. City Department of Transportation (LADOT) Safe Routes to School Program’s (SRTS) pop-up traffic calming demonstration at Leo Politi Elementary School in Pico Union.

The safety demonstration was located along 11th Street between Westmoreland and Magnolia Avenues. It included a temporary traffic circle, painted curb extensions, and crosswalks. LADOT Safe Routes to School Director Margot Ocañas described the temporary improvements as part of a longer process of engaging the community. Ocañas hopes that the city can secure state funding to install permanent traffic calming features.

Leo Politi Route Map
Map of 11th Street/Leo Politi School pop-up traffic calming – via LADOT
These Leo Politi students led the walk from the nearby LAPD station
These Leo Politi students led the walk from the nearby LAPD station
Even with Police escort on foot, these drivers honked at families as they walked across xxx
Even with the walkers escorted by police on foot, these drivers impatiently honked at families walking in the crosswalk at the temporary traffic circle at 11th Street and Westmoreland Avenue
High visibility crosswalk and traffic circle at Westmoreland
LADOT used temporary materials – tires, hay bales – to test the pop-up traffic circle at Westmoreland
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Temporary curb extensions at Elden Avenue

LADOT also hosted an event with city and school district leaders and elected officials walking with students to Menlo Avenue Elementary School in South Los Angeles.

Mayor Eric Garcetti walking xxx
For National Walk to School Day, Mayor Eric Garcetti walked with families to Menlo Avenue Elementary School this morning – Photo via office of Mayor Garcetti
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L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner, and Mayor Eric Garcetti visited a Menlo Avenue School classroom – photo via office of Mayor Garcetti

Other L.A. Walk to School Day events included Los Angeles Walks’ People vs. Streets events where superheros helped students walk to two central L.A. schools. Los Angeles Walks provided the images below.

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L.A. Walk People vs. Streets National Walk to School Day flier
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Safety superheroes at Vista Charter Middle School – photo via L.A. Walks
Superheroes walking safely across Temple Street - photo via L.A. Walks
Superheroes walking safely across Temple Street – photo via L.A. Walks
Pedestrian heroes at xxx
Pedestrian heroes at Franklin Avenue Elementary School – photo via L.A. Walks
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Superhero helping pedestrians cross safety – photo via L.A. Walks

Sadly, with school back in session for just over a month, there have been a spate of headlines that reiterate the need for improvements to ensure people can get to school safely. Last month a driver hit and killed a crossing guard in L.A.’s Valley Glen neighborhood. On Monday a driver killed an eight-year-old on his way to school in Oxnard in neighboring Ventura County.

To prevent future deaths, LADOT needs to go beyond temporary improvements like today (and earlier) and needs to fast-track permanent traffic-calming. Lives are depending on this.

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