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Actions Speak Louder than Words on Pedestrian Friendly Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, March 27, 2008, at 02:59PM
Illegal Walking Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Pedestrians pass around the closed section of sidewalk at 2nd and Grand.

Curbed yesterday took a reader complaint about the closed off sidewalk on Grand Ave, across from Disney Concert Hall. The reader was complaining about the effect the closure would have on tourists wanting to take pictures of Frank Gehry's concert hall.

While certainly the Disney is a highly visited attraction, the situation illustrated has far more bearing on those of us who live in Downtown and are trying to buy into the idea of a pedestrian urban lifestyle. As we discussed last May, Los Angeles treats sidewalks as second class citizens, not hesitating to close off a span for a year at a time while a project is under construction.

Our city leaders love to tout Downtown's pedestrian potential, but how can we possibly believe their commitment to making Downtown a walkable place when it's so acceptable to force those on foot to take the long way around?

The problem is not simply one of convenience. As shown in the shot above, pedestrians are going to continue to walk where they want to walk, whether the sidewalk is closed or not. Surely we have to recognize this and accommodate it instead of simply turning a blind eye?

The spot in front of Disney is particularly egregious, given that Grand Avenue has a large center lane. The city could easily re-stripe the street and put in dividers to allow for a temporary sidewalk along the east side of the street during construction of upper 2nd and the eventual work on the Grand Avenue Project.

And while we're on the subject of closed sidewalks... A particular favorite of mine is the zig-zag one has to do to walk Main from the Historic Core to City Hall. Between 3rd and 2nd, the east side sidewalk is blocked for Motorpool contruction. Between 2nd and 1st it's the west side that's closed, for construction of the LAPD HQ. The resulting crosswalk waits and extra signals make the walk especially frustrating.

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