In March, the Los Angeles City Council voted to initiate a feasibility study exploring the creation of a pedestrian-only segment on Broadway. The search could soon begin for additional streets where car-free zones may be possible.
Yesterday, 14th District Councilmember Jose Huizar introduced a motion which would direct the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to report on which streets in his district are the best candidates for similar open-streets projects.
"Car-free streets boldly reclaim the public space from vehicles that contribute to staggering levels of carbon emissions and limit individuals' ability to exercise, relax, play, and gather in those area," reads the motion. "We need more room in our city for pedestrians, bikes, scooters, and public transport."
The 14th Council District includes Downtown, as well as the Eastside and Northeast Los Angeles communities of Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Eagle Rock, and Highland Park.
The motion, which has been referred to the Council's Transportation Committee for consideration, notes the temporary decrease in vehicular traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic present an opportunity to obtain data on which streets are the best candidates for car-free zones.
Efforts to expand pedestrian and cycling infrastructure at the expense of vehicular travel lanes has been a controversial practice in Los Angeles, with mixed results. On the Westside, a "road diet" in the Playa del Rey neighborhood sparked a recall campaign targeting City Councilmember Mike Bonin. Meanwhile, Hollywood stakeholders are in the midst of a multi-year effort to widen sidewalks and add bike lanes along the Walk of Fame.
Downtown Los Angeles has perhaps seen the greatest concentration of these projects, with protected bike lanes already in place on Spring, Main, and Figueroa Streets, and a new stretch of protected lanes soon coming to 7th Street.
While the initiation of a formal study of additional car-free zones will depend on City Council approval, a new program launched this week by the City of Los Angeles may offer a sneak peak. The program, called "Slow Streets," gives residents an opportunity to limit automobile access to certain corridors to create additional space for recreation activities during the COVID-19 stay at home order. For more information, click here.
- City of L.A. to Explore Car-Free Zone on Broadway (Urbanize LA)