In San Francisco, city officials cut the ribbon in late January on a car-free zone along a roughly two-mile section of Market Street. Now, Los Angeles is looking to follow suit on one of its historic commercial boulevards, announced City Councilmember Jose Huizar.
Earlier today, Huizar introduced a motion which requests a study of creating a car-free zone on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles - a corridor known for its vintage commercial buildings and historic movie palaces.
“Broadway was once one of the nation’s cultural centers. Our successful initiative - Bringing Back Broadway - has signaled the return of vibrancy to the area,” said Huizar in a statement. “Creating pedestrian-friendly zones where people are out of the car and walking along the street will enhance businesses and contribute to the further revitalization of the area. Pedestrian-friendly zones are a sure way of creating safer streets, a sense of community, and a connection between residents and local merchants.”
Bringing Back Broadway, launched by Huizar in 2008, includes a streetscape master plan which calls for sidewalk extensions and traffic-calming measures along a roughly 1.36-mile stretch of Broadway between 1st and 12th Streets. To date, the plan is roughly 30 percent complete, according to a news release.
A new streetcar loop is also slated to serve Broadway, though the project has yet to break ground. Approximately $590-million has been secured for the construction and operations of the proposed system.
Huizar's motion instructs the City's Economic and Workforce Development Department, the Bureau of Street Services, the Bureau of Engineering, the Department of Transportation, and the Planning Department to report back on the feasibility of removing cars from Broadway between 1st and 12th Streets. Consideration is to be given to existing streetscape and streetcar plans, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and accessibility for parking and loading - especially for the historic theaters along the corridor.
The proposal comes at a time when Broadway has seen increased interest from investors. In addition to numerous historic structures now under renovation - such as the Tower Theatre, which is being transformed into an Apple Store - construction is also nearing completion for the 35-story Perla condo tower at 4th Street.
A full car-free zone on Broadway would go a step further than past efforts in the City of Los Angeles, where efforts to reduce vehicle travel lanes have been met with fierce opposition from motorists - most notably in Playa del Rey, where a "road diet," along Culver Boulevard resulted in a recall campaign targeting City Councilmember Mike Bonin.
In other communities - including Downtown - road diets have proved less controversial. Just east of Broadway, sections of Spring and Main Streets have been converted to two-way protected bicycle lanes, building off existing active transportation infrastructure. Several blocks west, the MyFigueroa project added protected bicycle lanes to a 2.5-mile stretch of Figueroa Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the Financial District. A similar slate of improvements is also planned for 7th Street.
Elsewhere in Los Angeles, the City is also considered plans to reduce - though not completely eliminate - vehicle travel lanes on a portion of Hollywood Boulevard in favor of bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks.
- Downtown (Urbanize LA)