LOS ANGELES (April 13, 2020) – Urging a more “family-friendly” approach to how our streets are used during the COVID-19 crisis, City Councilmember Mike Bonin today called on the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) to open more space on city streets for residents to walk, bike, run and play during the COVID-19 crisis.
Responding to an increasing number of requests from residents — especially seniors, families with children, and people with disabilities — Bonin, who serves as Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee, wrote a letter to LADOT general manager Seleta Reynolds, asking her to consider proposals and make recommendations to temporarily repurpose space on some city streets to give Angelenos more opportunities to get outside while still honoring social distancing protocols and remaining in their neighborhoods.
“During the past month, we have all experienced the ways in which our neighborhood infrastructure does not support new patterns of local essential travel, and does not provide sufficient space for local recreation,” Bonin wrote to Reynolds. “Our sidewalks are too narrow, our streets continue to be unsafe for biking, and some motorists are taking advantage of congestion-free streets to speed recklessly even as more people are moving around on foot and bike.”
Bonin said residents are eager to comply with public health directives and are looking for ways to get fresh air and exercise, on their own neighborhood streets, while maintaining social distancing.
“As the father of a 6-year-old, I know firsthand that being able to spend time outside is a matter of physical and emotional well-being – for children and adults. We have the opportunity right now to make our streets more family-friendly,” Bonin added.
Bonin said the problem is particularly acute for renters and people living in multi-family buildings without a yard. He noted that the greatest number of requests for better use of public space in his district have come from apartment-rich neighborhoods, such as Del Rey and West LA. The Del Rey Neighborhood Council has formally requested a “temporary emergency safe streets network” to support essential travel while constituents in West Los Angeles have developed an idea for neighborhood slow zones so that residents can exercise safely on local streets while following social distancing directives.
“The Del Rey Neighborhood Council is proud to be the first NC to resume meeting during the COVID-19 crisis. At our April 9th meeting, we passed a motion calling for the City to open streets to pedestrians, bikers, joggers, and families,” said Del Rey Neighborhood Council President Matt Wersinger. “While each street must be carefully chosen and with the community’s support, we believe that with fewer cars on our roads and more people on our narrow sidewalks, Los Angeles should embrace what is working well in many other cities and give more safe space to those who are walking in our neighborhoods.”
With businesses and schools closed and most motorists staying off the streets, the concept of using public spaces for more family-friendly gatherings is growing in popularity. Officials in Minneapolis and Oakland are temporarily converting some streets to open space or slowing streets to encourage residents to use their neighborhoods to walk, bike and play while Safer at Home orders are in effect.
For more information about Councilmember Mike Bonin, please visit 11thdistrict.com.