Last December, our steering committee had a good laugh at our meeting watching this clip from Midnight Cowboy where Ratso Rizzo yells “Hey, I’m walking here!” at a fast-moving taxi rolling into a New York City crosswalk.
But in all seriousness, shouting “Hey, I’m walking here!” was far too representative of our own Los Angeles experience—a place where walking doesn’t get enough respect.
We found ourselves becoming inspired by other entertaining yet educational stunts that highlighted walking, like a group of pedestrians that actually moved a car which had stopped in the middle of the crosswalk in Brazil. Or Peatónito, who takes to the streets in Mexico City as the masked defender of pedestrians. Or, closer to home, Walk Raleigh, which installed guerrilla signage for walkers that helped pedestrians to better navigate their city.
We realized we needed the same kind of cultural touchstone for Los Angeles: a movement bringing attention, safety and a bit of fun (okay, maybe a lot of fun) to walking so we could help build a healthier, happier, more vibrant Los Angeles.
But the solution is not simply to get more people walking—it also requires that streets and sidewalks be redesigned to slow down vehicles, protect pedestrians from roadway traffic, and keep walkers feeling safe.
With these ideas in mind, Los Angeles Walks is launching Hey, I'm Walking Here! (or in Español, ¡Ay, Estoy Caminando!), the first-ever pedestrian campaign for Los Angeles. Our campaign will not only increase pedestrian safety, but also highlight and celebrate walking as a conscious act that’s happening all over the city. And by expanding upon our existing Los Angeles Walks work, including awareness, events, community meetings and action, we’ll be able to support long-term efforts to build a more walkable Los Angeles.
Activities funded through our Hey, I’m Walking Here! campaign will include:
• Creating a bilingual Hey, I’m Walking Here!/ ¡Ay, Estoy Caminando! publicity campaign using buttons, posters, bandanas, stickers, public art, urban interventions, happenings, infographics, social media and a few surprises.
• Authoring a Hey, I’m Walking Here!/ ¡Ay, Estoy Caminando! publication for L.A. which will provide news on the state of walking in L.A., highlight the benefits of walking as a healthy and civic-minded action, and provide tips on how to make your L.A. neighborhood more walkable.
• Organizing a Hey I’m Walking Here! action day where local communities will be empowered to make temporary, attention-getting improvements to local walking infrastructure (like a Parking Day focused on pedestrians).
• Designing a pilot program for a pedestrian-focused, smartphone-compatible urban wayfinding system that also serves as a publicity campaign throughout the city, to help Angelenos understand the distance between neighborhoods and landmarks, and see that more places are walkable.
Many Los Angeles residents already love to walk and are instinctively drawn to areas good for walking—places like parks, the beach and walkable commercial districts. But most Angelenos have not taken the next step to consider how their neighborhoods can become more walkable. Our Hey, I’m Walking Here! campaign is intended to tap into this latent desire to help Angelenos request more pedestrian amenities, build more vibrant communities, and promote the act of walking in Los Angeles.
How to Join Our Campaign
Of course, supporting our project benefits everyone in L.A. because more walking equals a healthier, safer, more vibrant city. But we'd like to give you something extra special for helping us make this campaign a reality.
BONUS: Everyone who pledges will get a set of our brand-new Hey, I'm Walking Here decals designed by Colleen Corcoran. Stick them somewhere to let people know where you’re walking in L.A. Dare we say these would look great on a car?
If you pledge at the $10-$50 level, you'll be the first to receive our new Hey, I'm Walking Here! campaign materials, including...
...which you can proudly wear as you walk all around town. All our materials are designed by our amazing graphic designer and steering committee member Colleen Corcoran.
At the $100 level, you'll join us at the Los Angeles Walks Dinner on the evening of Saturday June 1 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. The dinner will be a chance to meet and mingle with your fellow pedestrian advocates, including our special guests and honorees Margot Ocañas and Valerie Watson, the new pedestrian coordinators for the City of Los Angeles. It will be held at the home of our founder and executive director Deborah Murphy, a beautiful midcentury modern house designed by by J.R. Davidson and remodeled by R.M. Schindler, nestled in the hills of Silver Lake. In addition to being an urban designer, Deborah's also a caterer and has planned an amazing meal inspired by the street food of L.A.
If you back us at the $200 level, you'll get TWO tickets to the dinner as well as all our campaign materials (buttons, poster, bandana). All details including address and directions will be sent to backers on Friday, May 31 at 12:30 p.m. (The reward copy doesn't say this since we can't update it once we've launched, but rest assured we'll confirm that you have two tickets.)
For just $250, in addition to TWO tickets to the dinner and all our campaign materials, you'll join one of our steering committee members for a custom L.A. walking experience. (The copy doesn't say this for every reward since we can't update it once we've launched, but rest assured we'll confirm that you have two dinner tickets.)
- Learn how to commute car-free with Alexis Lantz.
- Have Jessica Meaney teach you how to maximize your daily FitBit activity (includes a FitBit!).
- Head out on a transit and walking tour with Mark Vallianatos to learn how land use policies shaped Los Angeles.
- Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Spring Street Parklets with Daveed Kapoor.
- Meet Colleen Corcoran for an urban nature adventure.
- Explore the secret restaurants and alleyways of Chinatown with My La.
- Have Alissa Walker design you an architectural walking tour that ends with ice cream.
All tours take place in Los Angeles at a time and place which are mutually agreeable to all parties (and you can bring more friends on the tour with you). Read more about our custom walking adventures.
And finally, for $500, you'll join L.A.'s pedestrian coordinator Valerie Watson and our founder Deborah Murphy on a very special walk to learn practical, actionable steps for how to improve a street or block in your own L.A. neighborhood. This would be a great benefit for a school or neighborhood group to share. And for this level you'll get TWO tickets for the dinner and two of all the campaign materials as well. What a deal!
If you can't donate at this time, head over to our website and add yourself to our mailing list so you can join one of our free upcoming events!
Why Should Los Angeles Walk?
Walking is a “magic app” for creating a healthy, vibrant city. As the most common type of physical activity, walking is an easy and effective way to improve fitness. It reduces body fat and bad cholesterol, cutting the risk of some of the leading causes of death in Los Angeles. Walking extends life—walking 75 minutes per week adds 1.8 years of life; walking 2.5 hours per week adds 7 years of life. Walking regularly also improves mood and reduces fatigue.
The benefits of walking reach beyond individual fitness to make communities into healthier places to live, work and play. Walking instead of driving, even for short car trips, decreases air pollution and reduces respiratory and cardiovascular ailments as well as some kinds of cancer. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Angelenos under the age of 5 and the second-leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 5 to 24. Making the city safer for pedestrians can also make the city more equitable: Most pedestrian deaths in L.A. occur in low-income neighborhoods where many residents do not own cars.
And these benefits can also lead to greater social change. Walking increases our contact with our neighbors, builds social capital and civic awareness and puts more eyes on the street to reduce crime. In a city like L.A. with a diverse population but a history of social inequality and residential segregation, walking also allows people to explore new neighborhoods and can help reduce barriers of class, race, language and location.
Walking also brings significant economic benefits. Studies show that streets that have received pedestrian improvements such as street porches, pedestrian plazas and traffic calming have often found a boost in sales. Property values are also higher in walkable neighborhoods than in comparable sprawling places. As living in a walkable area becomes more desirable, walkable cities have an easier time attracting businesses and people with ideas for starting new businesses.
In a city where less than 20% of all trips are taken on foot or bike, we believe that even a small increase in awareness around the benefits of walking will have a dramatic impact across the city. Our campaign is perfectly timed to build upon increasing momentum around walking, and be a tipping point towards a healthier, more walkable L.A.
About Los Angeles Walks
Los Angeles Walks is a volunteer-supported organization dedicated to promoting walking and pedestrian infrastructure in Los Angeles, educating Angelenos and local policymakers concerning the rights and needs of pedestrians of all abilities, and fostering the development of safe and vibrant environments for all pedestrians.
Urban designer Deborah Murphy founded Los Angeles Walks with the goal to raise awareness of walking and advocate for exceptional urban design to help foster a more walkable city. In the fall of 2011, Alexis Lantz, Jessica Meaney, Colleen Corcoran, Alissa Walker, Michelle Craven and Anthony Crump all joined Deborah under the fiscal umbrella of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to begin a grassroots efforts at an increased level to support walking in L.A. In the summer of 2012, My La, Rachel Cushing Bennett, Karen Mack, and Mark Vallianatos joined the Steering Committee, and Michelle Craven returned to her native east coast to work for the New York City Department of Transportation under Janette Sadik-Khan. In the fall of 2012, Daveed Kapoor and Tilza Castillo joined the Steering Committee.
Our logo and all materials (including the buttons, poster and bandana you'll receive when you back us) are designed by Colleen Corcoran.
Our Kickstarter video was made by Ana Haase-Reed.
We are forever grateful to the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition for serving as our fiscal sponsor. That's also why your donation will be going to them when you see your bank statement.
Thank you for supporting us, and for everything you do to make Los Angeles a great city for walking! Because remember: Everyone walks in L.A.
Risks and challenges
Despite what some ‘80s pop songs might say, Los Angeles has incredible potential to become one of the world’s most walkable cities. Even our reputation for sprawl works to our advantage: Los Angeles developed as a series of of neighborhoods connected by an interurban rail system, meaning that there are multiple historic downtowns and commercial corridors that provide interesting places to walk. We also have the fastest-growing transit system in the United States, which becomes a “walk extender” because it allows people to walk to a bus or train, take transit, then continue walking to destinations.
But creating the first-ever city-wide campaign to highlight and celebrate pedestrians won't be easy. We realize that there are many challenges for this campaign. Here are the three biggest ones that we see:
• The size of the city of Los Angeles provides the biggest obstacle, but also an opportunity for growth. How can we expand our capacity to reach all Angelenos?
• We all know (too well!) about the existing stereotypes of L.A. as a car-centric city. How can we convince our audience—as well as the media—that walking for transportation in L.A. is feasible and enjoyable?
• Underserved communities are of the greatest concern to us since more people in these areas cannot afford to drive and must walk instead. How can we be sure to serve the city's most transit-dependent communities?
We hope to address these challenges in several ways:
• Convening community meetings in three neighborhoods across the city where residents will assess the “good, bad and the ugly” for pedestrian activity, highlighting unsafe or unsavory walking environments to improve on the “Hey, I’m Walking Here” campaign.
• Building partnerships and coalitions with organizations interested in public health, transportation, urban design, sustainability, equity and more.
• Increasing advocacy efforts with elected officials and decision-makers to make Los Angeles more walkable, including addressing design and maintenance of sidewalks in underserved communities.
• Educating local residents about how to ask for higher-visibility crosswalks and lower speed limits on their streets (especially near schools).
• Holding regular group walks to underscore how walking is a fun way to explore the city and promote healthy lifestyles.
• Organizing pedestrian parades and events during CicLAvias (WalkLAvia) to make sure walkers have a welcoming space when streets are closed to traffic.
• Sending action alerts to our growing list of walking activists when there are opportunities to improve safety and promote walking in L.A.
A pedestrian advocacy movement is overdue in Los Angeles, yet the timing could not be better. In the Fall of 2012, the City of Los Angeles hired its first-ever pedestrian coordinators as a result of leadership and advocacy from groups such as Los Angeles Walks. Walking events like the Great Los Angeles Walk and Big Parade have steadily increased in numbers over the last few years. And in the past year local press have covered more walking-related stories, from Christopher Hawthorne’s recent series on L.A. boulevards in the Los Angeles Times to the LA Weekly’s focus on hit-and-run collisions. We believe the moment is right to bring attention to walking in Los Angeles.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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