LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has started temporarily closing portions of residential streets in an effort to give pedestrians and cyclists more room to travel and protection from motorists during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Eric Garcetti said May 15.
The first streets to become part of the program are in the Sawtelle and Del Rey neighborhoods of City Councilman Mike Bonin’s 11th Council Districts.
The first phase of Slow Streets LA covers about seven miles of West Los Angeles streets, Garcetti said. A dozen applications for the program have been submitted for neighborhoods around the city.
Residents can apply online to have their neighborhoods included in Slow Streets LA to reduce automobile traffic to allow more people to travel without a motorized vehicle and better maintain social distancing.
“This is an exciting moment for us to have a little bit more space in our neighborhoods to do what we’re already doing, walking, taking a young baby out in the stroller, skating, biking,” Garcetti said. “We’re not fully closing any streets. We know that families still need to be able to drive to and from their home. So emergency access will always be allowed.”
Slow Streets LA will close portions of neighborhood streets across two-mile stretches, Garcetti said. This has been done in the Sawtelle and Del Rey neighborhoods.
According to Bonin, the Del Rey and Sawtelle neighborhoods were first in line for the new program due to the continued advocacy and organizing of neighborhood leaders, who consistently voiced the concerns that residents were finding it difficult to maintain proper distance from others on narrow congested sidewalks, and were feeling unsafe walking on the street amid speeding cars and construction trucks.
According to the Slow Streets LA website, residents and neighborhoods using a slow street must adhere to health guidelines of the Safer at Home orders.
Gathering of groups, barbecuing with other people, playing games involving physical contact and other gatherings are prohibited.
“Not everybody lives right next to a park with hills, not everybody’s close to the beach, and we should make sure that hard-hit communities and those that are more inland or in flatter areas have the same exercise capacity as other places,” Garcetti said.
Additional information and applications are available at www.coronavirus.lacity.org/slowstreets.
Wave Wire Services