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DLANC Complete Streets Working Group Wants Pilot Project Ideas

By Valerie Watson
Published: Thursday, July 07, 2011, at 07:53AM
Complete Streets Working Group

I have lived on Spring Street for 4 1/2 years, and I love my neighborhood, walk every day to work, bike to hang out with friends, and buy local ('cause I can!). But there's one aspect of our neighborhood that really stands out as in need of improvement: the streets!

Downtown streets are designed to move vehicles through Downtown as efficiently as possible, at the peril of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders. In fact, about 75% of the public right-of-way along Spring and Main streets, our most pedestrian-activated throughout a 24-hour period, is devoted to vehicular traffic, while only 25% is afforded to sidewalk space. Many a Downtowner has countless stories of feeling invisible while standing at an intersection waiting to cross with a vehicle of one sort or another wooshing by to beat the red light, inches from your nose, or from your patiently waiting dog.

Should vehicles really be racing through our dense urban core at 45-50 mph? Do we really need up to 5 traffic lanes (when peak-hour parking restrictions are in effect at “rush hour”) slicing through our neighborhood on each major street? This is unacceptable for a burgeoning neighborhood. It's bad for pedestrian and bike safety, it's bad for sidewalk experience, it's bad for business, and it's just plain antithetical to good urban design and community-building.

We want people flocking to, not speeding through, Downtown LA.

The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) Parks and Transportation Committees are joining forces to create a community-generated Complete Streets Vision for Spring and Main streets, as well as to implement a to-be-determined pilot project as a first step toward achieving this vision. Complete Streets are roadways that are designed to balance the needs of all those who use streets, including pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, buses, delivery trucks – people of all ages and abilities.

Building from recent progressive City policy (Downtown Street Standards (PDF); Bike Master Plan; Mayor Villaraigosa’s Directive for Bike Master Plan Implementation (PDF)), leveraging the enormous positive growth in residents, businesses, street life, and cultural activity, and in keeping with the tradition of DLANC's effective community advocacy (the crusade of blogdowntown’s own Eric Richardson to remove the contra-flow bus lane is a great example!), DLANC is spearheading this effort to articulate a vision for Spring and Main as a pair of streets that achieves a healthy parity amongst modes and honors the investment within, and spirit of, the neighborhood.

We’re looking for creative ideas for a pilot project that can begin to shift the balance on these two streets, which are a critical couplet in Downtown public life. Join the DLANC Complete Streets Working Group this Thursday, July 7, at 7:00 PM at The Exchange (114 W. 5th Street – 5th between Spring & Main) as we start to hammer out our ideas. All are welcome.

If you can’t make it to our meetings, start talking with your neighbors, folks who own and work in the businesses Downtown, and strike up a conversation on the sidewalk with a stranger – find out what they think could be improved and report back to us! You can also leave your ideas in the comments below for the Working Group to consider.

Valerie Watson works as an urban designer with Meléndrez, a Landscape Architecture, Planning and Urban Design firm, and is a Board member of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, through which she is the chair of the Parks Committee and works to improve the public realm of Downtown LA. She can be reached at


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