May 06 2011

Car-Centric Architecture and a Vision for Los Angeles

In a previous post one of our other bloggers, Jessica, wrote about the excitement of CicLAvia,

“I believe if cities adopted a building style that considered cyclists, instead of being optimized for cars, this “Bikitecture” would promote safer and friendlier streets for the city.”

Jessica, I could not agree with you more. The building style that currently exists is car-centric. Another thing to consider is if cities were built for people, let alone bicycles; they would be fit for children, the elderly and moms pushing their prams.

The marketing of CicLAvia has been infectious by a number of outlets.

  • Friends telling one another;
  • Los Angeles City also jumped on the bike bandwagon and got Lance Armstrong to open the event.

Again, all of those outlets affect the culture of this event even though, for several months, we have marketed CicLAvia as more than just your basic cycling event. The bikes come out in full force and people expect to be able to ride through the city faster than if there were cars there.

There are riders who are more experienced than others, but over all our branding has turned it into a cycling event and we are going to have to change this. As an urban planner, to me CicLAvia is about enjoying the city in whatever way possible without a car. If we only promote bike culture instead of a livable street, we may be perpetuating the conflicts that occur between cyclists and pedestrians.

The Department Of Transportation had street closures worked out with the event producers to minimize the impacts of the event on the city as a whole. And the priority was safety but they still managed to make congestion occur.

As a participant in CicLAvia last year, I could not imagine a better day of community engagement. I assisted as an event planner for CicLAvia this year and my perspective was that the supporting city departments still have so much more to do to their architecture to avoid the same kind of congestion that happens when there are cars. It’s going to take a re-envisioning of the streets for us to have the ability of moving about the city in a place that is normally congested.

After the event there was a meeting with the Mayor’s office, Metro, and the DOT where all could talk about how the event could improve. They discussed the planning of the next event as well as marketing the new culture of LA. They are trying to promote the use of the streets, buses, and business that will bring people to the neighborhoods that they are seeing for their very first time.

The best CicLAvia story I heard was that of a child that went missing for 2 hours from Melrose and Heliotrope and ended up at the other end of the event. She had ridden all 7 miles on her own unafraid, not because the event allowed her to ride her tricycle but because she was surrounded by a community that had created a space for her to be free amongst them.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 6th, 2011 at 5:30 pm and is filed under Architecture, Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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