5 Ideas That Will Make LA More Livable For Bikers & Pedestrians

If there’s one thing Angelenos talk about more than anything else it’s traffic. And for good reason — LA seems to be trapped in eternal gridlock. How can we transform one of the most car-dependent cities in the US into a haven for bikers and pedestrians?

Five submissions to the Goldhirsh Foundation‘s LA2050 challenge — which invited participants to come up with the most innovative and creative ways to tackle Los Angeles’ biggest problems — have some interesting ideas.

CicLAvia: Get Connected LA
During CicLAvia, the largest cost-free and car-free event in the United States, the streets are “owned” by the pedestrians and cyclists who make creative use of this temporary outdoor space in ways that promote active transportation, the arts, improve public health and protect the environment. CicLAvia enables people who are perfect strangers, of all ethnicities, from diverse geographic points, with disparate income and educational levels, to come together and communicate with each other across every social border and boundary. By connecting dozens of diverse city neighborhoods, CicLAvia encourages residents to explore resources within and beyond their own insular territory.

CicLAvia envisions a 2050 in which an expansive network of vibrant public spaces, new infrastructure and free events allow Angelenos to seamlessly connect with the city’s diverse communities and populations. The heightened sense of social connectedness created by universal access to public spaces and gatherings will yield a significant increase in civic engagement — more Angelenos will vote, volunteer and play an active role in their communities.

Goodlifer: 5 Ideas That Will Make LA More Livable For Bikers & Pedestrians

Bike L.A. 2050 – Bike Safety Through Visibility
Bike L.A. 2050 would like to make biking a safer, healthier option for commuting in L.A. through the use of highly visible public monitoring of bike traffic. To launch the project, bike counters with digital displays will be installed in high traffic locations in Los Angeles to improve awareness of the number of bicyclists using the streets and bike lanes. These digital counters have been installed with much success in cities like Seattle, Portland and in several European cities in Sweden, Denmark and Germany. They are highly visible beacons that have proven successful in broadcasting awareness to drivers, pedestrians and other bikers and help improve the visibility and safety of bicyclists on city streets. This will in turn lead to more people feeling comfortable choosing to commute via bicycle.

By 2050, a large network of monitoring devices and sensors would be installed throughout the L.A. region, both stationary counting devices and mobile sensing devices via bike-mounted sensors, mobile apps on cellphones and other open source counting, measuring and monitoring devices. This open data would be aggregated and made available to the public and to L.A. County to integrate into existing and future smart city traffic monitoring programs, allowing bicycle traffic to be included in city and county-wide realtime traffic monitoring programs. The biggest success indicator would be increase in public awareness of bike safety, a measurable reduction of bicycling accidents involving vehicles, improvements in human health and well-being due to increased outdoor activity, reduced vehicle miles, improved air quality and a sense of wellbeing and community that has been documented in cultures that use bicycles for commuting.

Goodlifer: 5 Ideas That Will Make LA More Livable For Bikers & Pedestrians

What’s the BF(B)D? Connecting Neighborhoods through Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts
A bicycle-friendly business district is where a community comes together around bicycles to bike to area shops and restaurants – and where merchants and employees ride, too. It’s the integration of bicycling into a business district’s operations, events, and promotions. Bicycle-friendly business districts improve local economies by strengthening connections between residents and their local businesses, increasing small business revenues, and improving neighborhood vitality and connectedness, all the while improving public safety, environmental health, and GLH – Gross Local Happiness.

The ‘alienation’ that has historically defined the LA urban landscape – largely due to fast-moving cars that move through a place but don’t stop and connect with it – is starting to change. Bicycle-friendly neighborhoods are one of the strongest trends to emerge around the U.S. as a way to improve social connectedness in our communities. Getting people out of their cars and onto bikes as a mode of transport – particularly on the weekends for neighborhood shopping, dining and errands – is creating lasting, meaningful change for individuals, neighborhoods, and our local economies.

In 2050, vibrant local business districts will be at the center of community life, with safe and convenient biking and walking connections to neighborhoods. The 38 BIDs in the City of LA and hundreds across LA County will multiply as the economy shifts to favor local retail, prompting redoubled investment in currently struggling commercial corridors. Bicycling and walking to local destinations will be how families choose to spend their leisure time because it is pleasant and social.

“Hey, I’m Walking Here!”: A Campaign Celebrating Pedestrians in the City of Los Angeles
The benefits of walking reach beyond individual fitness to make communities into healthier places to live, work and play. Walking instead of driving, even for short car trips, decreases air pollution and reduces respiratory and cardiovascular ailments as well as some kinds of cancer. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Angelenos under the age of five, and the second-leading cause of death for children and young adults ages five to 24. Making the city safer for pedestrians can also make the city more equitable: Most pedestrian deaths in L.A. occur in low-income neighborhoods where many residents do not own cars.

But the solution is not simply to get more people walking — it also requires that streets and sidewalks be redesigned to protect pedestrians from roadway traffic, slow down cars and trucks, and keep walkers feeling safe. With these ideas in mind, LA Walks proposes to launch “Hey, I’m Walking Here!” (or in Español, “¡Ay, Estoy Caminando!”) — a campaign which will not only increase pedestrian safety, but also highlight and celebrate walking as a conscious act that’s happening all over the city. And by expanding upon our existing LA Walks work including awareness, events, community meetings and action, we’ll be able to support long-term efforts to build a more walkable LA by 2050.

Building Blocks LA: changing the shape of Los Angeles through imaginative urban planning
Social connectedness in Los Angeles is influenced by the city’s built environment and how Angelenos come together to shape the city. To tap into the imagination of Angelenos for a more inclusive and connected city, an art-planning-policy collaboration will hold 40 workshops throughout LA to allow diverse groups of residents to share ideas, bond and inspire each other by building physical models of how they want the city to look in coming decades. The project team will translate these creative models of LA into policy ideas to influence the comprehensive revision of the city’s zoning code that starts this year.

LA 2050 will make space for people rather than for cars. When people build their ideal city, they often make sue to include more bike lanes/paths and transit and parks and plazas. They rarely pave their model with freeways and more parking than has ever been created in the history of the world (which Los Angeles was long known for). Los Angeles in 2050 will remove much of the parking that scars our landscape and will use some of that space for places where people can meet and interact. Humans are social animals, and the main attraction for people to be out in public spaces is other people.

Visit the LA2050 site to check out all the amazing entries. Show your support for human-powered transportation alternatives by voting for your favorite.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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