Thursday, May 17, 2012

Remaking LA’s Boulevards as Public Places

The boulevards in Los Angeles are undergoing a remarkable transformation after decades of neglect and auto-centric urbanity. Instead of a roadway designed for rapidly moving cars, dotted by scattered structures and bill boards, these boulevards are starting to evolve as rich urban places with bike trails, pedestrian pathways and small scale retail plazas. The boulevards have begun to “reassert themselves as places where the whole messy range of urban life has room to play out”. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is extending subway, light rail and bus networks across the LA county, using funds from the Measure R sales-tax increase, which is expected to raise $40 billion over the next 30 years. It has added 1,600 miles of bike lanes, and encourages small scale initiatives such as pedestrian plazas, gardening on the medians and pedestrian friendly community programs.

Instead of funky structures behind a massive parking lot, newer structures engage the street, and allow street life to develop in front of them. They seem to have learned from the people friendly street life at night along some sections of the Boulevard which seem to thrive with informal gift shops and eateries.

Reference: Christopher Hawthorne, Atlantic on the move, Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2012

Here is a video on the Alleys of Los Angeles:

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