My failed attempt to get a crosswalk
Last December, I embarked on a mission to find a solution to a problem in my immediate neighborhood. Trying to cross Moorpark St. on foot (or left turns in a car) during rush hour is a nightmare. There is just too much constant flow and you really have to have a brave moment to cross at the unmarked crosswalk because as we all know, there is about .001% of drivers in the city who actually understand that you must stop for pedestrians in these cases.
I gathered up all my reasons for why there was a need for a solution at this particular intersection and wrote them down: it's in the River Implementation Overly (RIO) which is planned to be a walkable greenbelt around the LA River, it's part of a school route, there is a DASH stop, the shopping and restaurant district that is Ventura Blvd. is the next street over and most importantly, it would take 7 to 10 minutes to get to the other side of the street if you walked to a light and then back on the other side -- it even took 7-minutes for a friend to make a right turn during rush hour once.
In my letter, I even went a little esoteric and brought up the fact that the city was publicizing a walkable model. "If the planning commission is going to publicly state in a meeting that they want less parking spaces in apartment/condo buildings to encourage less car use as an ideology, then they should encourage easier ways for pedestrians to access public transit and being a pedestrian in general so they are sold on not using a car."
Almost a year later after sending my letter our to the city, I received a response back this past Friday from the Department of Transportation (DOT) with a big "unable to approve your request." Why? It stated that street lighting was inadequate and one other thing that exasperates me: "the volumes of pedestrians measured crossing Moorpark Street were too low..." It's a catch-22. Who wants to a try to cross a street they can't? So they don't try anymore. Neighbors drive to the Starbucks one block away on Ventura. Very disturbing.
With leadership from the popular Gail Goldberg in the Planning Department and the newly appointed Rita Robinson at DOT, there is hope for policy changes on approaching the walkability of this city. Will "people first, not cars" be a phrase heard around City Hall? Probably not soon enough, but one day, it will.
Photo by moxievision via Flickr