Using Our Streets as Public Space

Closing streets to automobile traffic and opening them up for other uses, like recreation, shopping, walking, bicycling, and community events, can have a transformative effect on a neighborhood. Events like this October’s CicLAvia where 130,000 people showed up to walk or bicycle on 10 miles of streets spanning from East Los Angeles to Hollywood, indicate that Angelenos are looking increasingly toward our streets as important public spaces that can do more than just move vehicles. Many of our online Town Hall members agree: the suggestion that the City create more pedestrian and cycling events is the most “seconded” idea, and as such, we have added a new poll for members to vote on and provide comments for. How frequently should we close streets for these types of activities?

LA/2B’s online Town Hall members have a number of ideas on how we can rethink our streets. Noting how park poor Los Angeles is, and the fact that the City’s alleyways account for over 900 linear miles of pavement, one member proposed creating pedestrian-only green alleyways to provide lengths of park space across the City. Many others noted the success of popular street events like farmers’ markets, Sunday Streets, and First Fridays, and how they serve the purpose of reclaiming streets for Angelenos, encouraging the discovery of new neighborhoods and businesses, creating a space for residents to socialize and experience the City, and bringing awareness to the feasibility of alternative transportation. With greater frequency of such events, closing streets to cars may become less of an imposition to residents, as they appreciate the multiple other uses of a street beyond moving from A-to-B.

These ideas will factor into the Mobility Element’s policies and programs for our transportation future. As we move forward with our online Town Halls and community workshops, we will continue asking for your input to determine appropriate mode prioritizations for our Layered Network. Which streets, for example, should have a pedestrian priority? Which streets are best utilized as important public spaces and would therefore deserve context-sensitive cross-sections? What sorts of streetscape elements and design characteristics would improve the public realm? By incorporating these factors through the Mobility Element, the City will pave the way for the living streets that many Angelenos are asking for in their communities.

Posted 1:59 PM by Michael Sin
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