One of the ills Kar Kultur brings with it is the fragmenting of neighborhoods, as blocks are sundered by wide streets teeming with fast and all too often deadly traffic. People are either coerced into driving by the contrived and complete absence of comfortable and safe alternatives, or they just stay home. And you can’t get to know your neighbors when all you see of each other is a shadowy figure behind the windshield of a speeding car. This inhibits commerce as well, since drivers don’t want to interrupt their momentum to scan the local storefronts. Instead, they just follow their fellow lemmings to the great financial cliff of a distant mall, sucked into the whirlpool of the parking lot to be spit out later, stripped of money and spirit by the sharp-toothed minions of distant corporations.
Building bike lanes, improving sidewalks, and slowing car traffic are not only proven ways to reduce road deaths and injuries of all sorts;they also build cohesive neighborhoods and support the local businesses that provide the majority of jobs in the US, and return much of the money they earn to the neighborhoods their owners and staff tend also to live in.
Such neighborhood businesses are better at funding government services as well, from administration to schools, parks, libraries, and emergency services, all dependent on tax revenues. The famous “Taco John’s” study is a good quantification of this effect; it shows how even a semi-decrepit pedestrian-oriented block is worth more to the community and the local government in cold hard cash than a glitzy automobile-oriented chain store taking up the same amount of space. I strongly recommend this well-written report on the study:
Just don’t expect our local ostrich, Gil Cedillo, to dare to read it himself. It might upset his shadowy out-of-district backers if he did so….
Meanwhile, if you want to get a really close view of that corner of NELA known as Eagle Rock, which, unlike Highland Park’s Figueroa corridor, is blessed with bike lanes and traffic calming on its main drag, Colorado Boulevard, here’s a suggestion: get yourself over there on Saturday, August 23rd (the day after tomorrow at posting time), for the Eagle Rock Walking Tour. Put on by Walk Eagle Rock (which also advocates tirelessly for cycling facilities), it will focus on “community and civic engagement. Eagle Rock has a long history of being an active community and it certainly would not be as fantastic as it is today without the efforts of residents taking the time to participate, on all levels, to improve the neighborhood.”
Just the kind of neighborhood network building we need here in Highland/Cypress, to lay the groundwork for the onstreet networks we’re being denied by our so-called local leadership.