Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park: Improving first and last mile access one street at time #GoAve26

The experience of taking transit starts when someone leaves their front door and ends at their destination. If walking to the bus stop involves tripping on broken sidewalks and darting across unsafe crosswalks, or if biking to the train station means a stressful ride on a high-speed street with no bike lane, then people will seek better options.  So it is exciting to see that over the past year, local non-profit LA Más has been looking into this issue along Avenue 26,  in the Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park neighborhood of the City of Los Angeles.  Avenue 26 is a busy and important place to the community for mobility options – with several heavily used bus lines, along with the Gold line light rail running right thru it.

With community events and outreach, LA Más has been working to improve the walking, rolling and bicycling conditions along the Avenue, with their strategies informed by community input they have been collecting over the past year.  So it is exciting to see LA Más in hold a “Block Party” this weekend (Saturday August 26 11am-3pm) to continue deepening community engagement in this effort – but also to celebrate the launch many of their temporary physical design interventions to make getting to and from public transit stops along Avenue 26 easier, safer and more welcoming.  And as they unveil their temporary physical interventions – like painting freeway underpass walls, improving visibility of crosswalk markings, providing places to sit and more – there will be tacos, music, art workshops and paletas to celebrate the community!  Investing in Place will be there and thinking – how can this work inform improving access to bus stops and train stations in other parts of the region.

Because not surprisingly what LA Más has found as barriers for community members to access transit in their Avenue 26 report, “Clear Paths to Transit,” is very similar to what Metro found in their 2014 report:

  1. Long Blocks – Transit Riders prefer direct routes to their destination – long blocks often equate to unnecessarily long routes, or unsafe crossing activity.
  2. Freeways – Freeways carve our region into a number of ‘pedestrian islands.’ Links between these islands are effectively broken by dark and unpleasant underpasses or equally challenging overpasses.
  3. Maintenance – Many of our basic walking and rolling surfaces are buckled, broken and generally impassable to all but the nimble footed.
  4. Safety and Security – Pedestrians in Los Angeles County are victim to some of the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the country. The neglect of infrastructure also adds to the concerns over personal security.
  5. Legibility – It is too easy to get lost in Los Angeles County. Effective transit systems utilize sophisticated yet simple signage and wayfinding strategies. These strategies do not currently extend much beyond station boundaries.

With the implementation of Measure M projects and programs beginning soon – many of which contain opportunities to fund and improve first/last mile access to bus stops and train stations, the work LA Más is doing comes at an incredibly opportune to time to inform and apply their lessons learned

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