Pedestrians in L.A. Get New Focus, Times Two

Amid all the attention L.A.'s recent transit expansion and car culture receive, you couldn't blame the area's pedestrians for feeling like the odd ones out. But with the city’s first official pedestrian coordinators on the job, that may soon change.

Damien Newton profiles Margot Ocanas and Valerie Watson, the city of L.A.'s first official "pedestrian coordinator" and "assistant pedestrian coordinator." Hired using a portion of the funds the city receives from Measure R (the sales tax funding the region's transit expansion), Ocanas and Watson were brought on with the intent of improving the city's Safe Routes to Schools Program. But, as Newton notes, "[b]y rebuilding LADOT's data gathering, review, and pedestrian toolbox for children, Ocanas and Watson believe they can make the city more responsive to the needs of all pedestrians."

"Our primary focus is on a Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan," explains Ocanas. "It's very much an umbrella strategic plan that forces a data driven prioritization process...As we put that in place in the first year we can leverage those processes and data gathering and methodologies to a more universal pedestrian segment."

So what about that song - you know, the thirty-year-old one about walking in L.A. that became an "unofficial motto for the city"? It's become as outdated as the fashions in this video from the same album by Missing Persons, says Alissa Walker. "In fact, Los Angeles ranks just behind Portland, Oregon in walkability according to Walkscore. So why, she wonders, hasn't the city been able to shake its 30-year-old punch line?"   

Full Story: Will Los Angeles Ever Be a Safe Place for Kids? Meet the Women Charged with Creating Safe Routes to Schools

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