By Bianca Barragan, January 14, 2014
It's no secret that the city is pushing (and has been pushing) to create more public space in Los Angeles, and the data, showing a rise in public transit use and a small but noticeable decline in car usage, suggests that if you build it, people will come out of their tiny pods and interact with each other. LA's reputation as a city that requires a car is seeming less and less deserved these days, and even non-Angelenos are noticing. Salon has examined how LA's "notoriously car-centric metropolis [is] reinventing its smoggy identity" (which, it argues, we never deserved; it's at least part-myth that the city was designed for cars), and they found that there's actually lot being done to shake off these misconceptions and make LA more welcoming to walkers. We've noticed the same thing and thought we'd round up some supporting evidence—here are LA's biggest recent achievements in creating public space that benefits everyone:· Grand Park's success as an increasingly relevant part of LA life, seen most recently in their incredibly well-attended New Year's Eve party
· Mayor Garcetti's Great Streets program, which will make streets more accessible and livable for all users (perhaps you've already seen their parklets)
· The incredible popularity of CicLAVia, which regular shuts down miles of city streets to cars and opens them to people
· Grassroots activism, especially in South LA and East LA, to reclaim public spaces and advocate for more accessible streets
· The 63 percent increase in bike commuting from 2000 to 2012, and the data showing that nearly 20 percent of all trips in LA County were made on foot (17.6 percent) or on a bike (1.4 percent)
· LA's WalkScore is now higher than bike-centric Portland's (by one point)
· The ambitious MyFigueroa project, a four-mile-long makeover that would bring a bikeway and all the pedestrian-friendly bells and whistles to a section of the street running between Downtown and South LA (Though it's currently in legal limbo, it's not dead yet.)
The installation of 19,770 "continental crosswalks", which have been shown to reduce pedestrian accidents by 25 percent
· Bike lanes, bike lanes, bike lanes, from the upcoming Slauson overhaul to the Second Street Tunnel.
Which is not to say there's nothing to the idea that LA prioritizes cars over people (see: those $250 jaywalking tickets or our estimated 4,600 miles of craggy sidewalks that probably won't get fixed); there's still a lot of very basic work to be done if LA's going to get real about becoming a non-car-centric city, but the ever-expanding list of spaces for people shows it's certainly evolving.
· L.A. Ditches Traffic Jams: A Hollywood Renaissance for Walking and Biking [Salon]