We are Too Accepting of LA's Hostile Urbanism

 Photo of Vernon by: Dave Bullock, June Gloom Series 

In LA and in so many cities across the country we've grown too used to hostile forms of urbanism that make it unpleasant to walk, bicycle, and generally hang out outside.  'Hostile urbanism' refers to streetscaping elements or design moves in the public realm that are generally unfriendly to the human being. As an example, think about what it's like to walk next to a freeway edge or through an underpass with chain link on all sides and no light.  Think about the noise and smells that we've gotten used to, as we walk along the edge of a 10 lane arterial street.  Good design, thoughtful urban design needs to be prioritized and needs to be funded to avoid these mistakes, these inhumane moments all around our city. It's a matter of respect - respect for the human, respect for our city, respect for ourselves. (Picture: Flickr Oatsy 40)

Read about Hostile Urbanism here, in a recent article from LAist, with insights from Here LA's Amber Hawkes.

Good News for LA!

Image: Ma Yansong, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art design - Exposition Park, Los Angeles

George Lucas has selected Los Angeles for his new museum (the final decision was being made between Los Angeles and San Francisco).  The project will bring tens of thousands of construction jobs to the region, according to Mayor Garcetti and the museum will have an endowment of at least $400,000 and focus on fine and popular art.

“As a museum uniquely focused on narrative art, we look forward to becoming part of a dynamic museum community, surrounded by more than 100 elementary and high schools, one of the country's leading universities as well as three other world-class museums.” - board announcement

SAMO's MANGo Project is Moving Along

Come out for the Community Forum tomorrow, Monday, January 9th, between 6:30PM – 8:00PM - to give your input about the next phase of the MANGo (neighborhood greenway) project on Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica.  The project is transforming a residential corridor into a walkable, bikeable, and beautiful green street.

Here designers Amber and Shannon oversaw the initial planning phases of the project in 2014, which included conceptual design, a pilot installation along the corridor, and a community festival that drew hundreds.  In 2015 the first phase of the project was constructed - a series of traffic circles, as envisioned and tested in the pilot.  Now regarding the eastern end of the route, the Forum will discuss the planned improvements near the Edison Language Academy.

See more information and Forum location here

 

Regarding the Northern Crenshaw Line Extension

Want to see the newest on the northern Crenshaw Line extension, through the City of LA and/or West Hollywood, between the Expo Line and the Red Line?  

Check out the new article from Urbanize.la that breaks down the alternatives and discussed the options.  

Here LA is working with Metro, AECOM, and Gensler to visualize the various alignment and station opportunities for the line.
 

How Self-Driving Vehicles will Transform Urban Planning & Urban Places

Image from: Marc van der Chijs

Lots of dreamy articles and pieces are circulating this year about the impact of self-driving vehicles on our cities. 

Here are some of our favorite take-aways and thought points:

"Vehicle automation will require 80 percent fewer cars on any given highway"
- Carlo Ratti, Director, MIT Senseable City Lab

At the same time, the easier it becomes, the more that people might opt to take a self-driving vehicle. "Unless these vehicles are shared, we’ll probably see a dramatic increase of the number of cars on our streets."    
- From: Gizmodo

"Distances will become less of an obstacle as our autonomous vehicles promise media-saturated interiors that smoothly deliver us from walkable bubble to walkable bubble."
- From: Beyond Google’s Cute Car


"...many transportation plans which project outcomes decades into the future focus almost exclusively on the problem of automobile congestion and prescribe increased infrastructure in the form of new roads as the primary cure. Experts and trends, however, point to a future that will be increasingly multi-modal."
- City of the Future, National League of Cities


"...exactly how cities will change depends entirely on one thing: who owns all of these self-driving cars. There are three options for ownership when it comes to autonomous vehicles. We could continue with our current system, in which people own private cars. We could begin using shared fleets, owned by companies like Google, municipal cab companies, or cities themselves, that operate a bit like taxis, picking up one person at a time. Or—and this is the method preferred by many urban planners—we could turn to shared fleets that also offer shared rides, like Uber Pool, in which you take the backseat with some strangers headed in the same direction."
- From Slate.com

We need to take care: "Rivers of older cars—who, in the future as today, tend to be poorer—may be excluded from certain parts of the city (as they already are in Paris) or shunted into traffic jams while AVs race by in another lane."
- From Slate.com

Keep your eyes on one of the first test cases, as Uber tries out a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh
- Uber's roll out of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh.
 

Now That's What You Call an Active Storefront!

Greetings from First Fridays in Long Beach, where one storefront window was made alive by dancers in playful outfits.  We all know now that a great ground floor helps nurture a vibrant street life and indoor-outdoor interaction but sometimes it doesn't hurt to be reminded!

The Bohemian Mermaid: Making Long Commutes Brighter Since 2015

We love to check on this piece of street art along the walls of the 10 Freeway hoping that it stays put.  Two important ingredients for successful cities: Fun and Surprise in the urban realm.  In L.A, it's nice to see the human handprint on the City.

What is With This?

Just west of the 110 Freeway, adjacent to Downtown Los Angeles, this chain link fence cage was recently installed, it seems, in response to the tent community that had been set up there and had been growing over the months. The cage is fenced on all sides including the top, blocking off a good 1/2 of the sidewalk.  This is an offensive and truly bizarre technique for addressing the issue.  We can use positive and proactive- rather than reactive and unfriendly - ways to design our streets.

Ever wondered what this is on Sunset Boulevard?

Have you ever passed this little sidewalk placard with Billie Jean King's name on it on Sunset Boulevard just east of Echo Park Avenue and wondered what in the world it is?  It's a remnant of the Avenue of Athletes, a project from the 1970's - brainchild of camera shop owner, L. Andrew Castle.  An article from the LA Times in 1985 explains, "at Castle's urging, the City of Los Angeles in 1974 declared the 10 blocks of Sunset Boulevard between Elysian Park Boulevard and Alvarado Street to be the Avenue of the Athletes, allowing sidewalks to be dotted with tablets bearing the names of superstar jocks."  Apparently in 1985 there were around 32 plaques, but most of them have been removed or covered today.  It's always nice to see evidence of "city layering" from years and years of change - something that can be tough to find in LA, the city of constant-change.

Read the 1985 LA Times article here