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West Hollywood is the latest local city to rethink public space by closing a street to cars to create more space for walking and biking (and possibly alfresco dining).
The city council voted unanimously to launch a limited pilot program on Robertson Boulevard, creating a no-car zone from Santa Monica Boulevard to El Tovar Place, just north of Melrose Avenue. The street will change to a pedestrian area on weekends, from 6 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Monday.
The pilot launch is scheduled for mid-April and will then be studied for three months. Based on the results, West Hollywood city officials will then decide to continue the program and potentially expand the vehicle ban to include Friday Night.
Municipal council members John erickson and John D’Amico co-sponsored the motion. D’Amico spoke of lingering road safety concerns on the roadway, which in a pre-pandemic period is a high traffic area for drivers and pedestrians who participate in the nightlife. The Abbey, a popular bar and restaurant on Robertson near Santa Monica, draws many revelers to the neighborhood, creating heavy congestion of personal vehicles and carpool drivers.
Another reason: to give restaurants and other struggling businesses more outdoor space and create a “pop-up atmosphere for businesses,” D’Amico said.
“We know that our businesses, our visitors and our residents are responsible, and they want to do the right thing,” he said. “They want to make sure people are not infected and keep their social distances, so we are confident that an area like this, well planned and used by business, will really accomplish what the county does.” could not do in the past year. , which kind of helps chart a course through this pandemic that allows businesses to succeed and stay open. “
The program is also well received by local law enforcement. Captain Ed Ramirez of the West Hollywood Sheriff Station said pedestrians and other road users face “inherent dangers” on this section of Robertson Boulevard. Ramirez shared stats from early 2018 through this month for the stretch of street included in the pilot, which showed:
- There have been 62 recorded traffic collisions, 23 of which resulted in injuries
- Three pedestrians were struck by people driving cars
- Sheriff’s deputies issued 281 traffic citations, mostly for distracted driving, non-yielding to pedestrians, and non-compliance with traffic lights
Ramirez said he would like the schedule to be expanded to include Friday evenings as well. One reason he gave: if cars can’t get on the road, local MPs won’t spend as much time writing tickets and filing crash reports.
“I would much rather use our officers for actual crimes that are being committed … rather than writing quotes,” Ramirez said. “The actions taken by the city and the city engineers are absolutely helping.”
This shift from law enforcement by police to designing “self-enforcing” streets is now part of the local and national debate on how to best save lives and reduce road violence.
However, not everyone is convinced by the idea. Much of the public commentary from local residents included concerns over traffic fallout and fears that creating more space for people to shop and dine would send the wrong signal amid a devastating pandemic.
D’Amico said the city will continue to enforce health and safety rules for businesses that use the space. He believes that much of the negative feedback comes from residents “who are afraid of any changes.”
“They mean, ‘How dare you. I have lived here for 25 years, I don’t want people I don’t know to park in front of my house. “I just think West Hollywood… is a different city than it was in 1995. And I see it’s a different city, most of our people see it as a different city. that there are a lot of opportunities in this kind of thinking around reinventing the way we use our public space and deliver it to the public, vehicles that currently only use it to pass. “
LEARN MORE ABOUT STREET REIMAGINATION:
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