This past weekend, a 24-year-old woman was fatally struck by a car as she crossed a street in my neighborhood. Although there are far too many accidents like this in LA, they always feel removed from my day-to-day life, like they’re on some foreign street in a distant neighborhood far across town. In this case, since it happened on a street where I regularly walk and ride, I really felt like this could have just as easily been me. While it shouldn’t take a tragic death to get Angelenos to care about pedestrian safety, it seems like this incident has particularly resonated with my neighbors. We all want to do something about it.
As more and more people choose to walk, bike or take transit, there will be more people on our sidewalks and crosswalks. Yet LA needs to undergo some drastic changes—both physically and behaviorally—to adjust to this new lifestyle. Our streets and sidewalks need to become our most prized spaces in the whole city: beautiful, clean, safe places that are designed for all Angelenos—and that includes Angelenos in strollers and wheelchairs, too. Even if we’re just walking to our cars, we’re still using those streets and sidewalks. We are all pedestrians.
That’s why the timing could not be better for the advocacy group Los Angeles Walks. Founded by the talented urban designer and tireless pedestrian advocate Deborah Murphy, Los Angeles Walks is a volunteer-driven organization that works to make walking safe, accessible and fun for all Angelenos. And a group that includes myself, Alexis Lantz, Jessica Meaney, Colleen Corcoran, Michelle Craven and Anthony Crump are now working with working with Deborah under a fiscal umbrella of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to begin a local grassroots effort that supports everyone who walks in LA.
And how better to do that than with karaoke!?
On Saturday, April 21, we’re holding what I’m pretty sure is LA’s first-ever karaoke fundraiser for walking in LA. The event will be at the fantastic Atwater Crossing (ATX) and will feature karaoke hosted by KJ Paul. Food and drink will be available for purchase and some of LA’s most famous pedestrians (maybe even you?) will be belting out songs on the karaoke stage.
Please come out and sing your favorite songs about walking—yes, including that song—and support walking in LA. Tickets start at just $10, but there are also ticket levels that include cool LA Walks buttons (Stroller, $20) and an LA Walks poster (Flâneur, $50). And if you donate more than $100, you’ll get one of the coolest incentives I’ve ever seen: A portrait of you as an LA walker (just like the walkers you see illustrated above) by the awesome Colleen Corcoran! Makes a great Mother’s Day gift!
I’m really looking forward to working with this group to make some real changes to the pedestrian environment, so I hope you’ll join us for a night celebrating the future of walking in LA. And be sure to walk there if you can! Let us know where you’re walking from and we can publicize your route so others can join you.