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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

In our first installation of Explore LA!, we thought we’d so something quintessentially Angelean, like take a trip to the movies! This Saturday, August 15th, the Los Angeles section of the American Planning Association (APA) is hosting a special tour and movie night at Cinespia‘s Movies All Night Slumber Party. APA explorers will be Guided by professionals and treated to a walking tour of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hollywood Forever has history-laden past and serves as the final resting place for some of Hollywood’s earliest stars.  The site is also a great place for thinking about urban planning and the utilization and re-purposing of existing infrastructure because in more recent times, it has undergone a transformation from near-bankruptcy in the 90s to its revitalization and rebirth as one of Los Angeles’ more beloved landmarks in the early 2000s.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and more specifically the Cinespia (a portmanteau of two Italian words: “cine” as in cinema and “spiare” meaning “to spy”) screenings, has helped fill one of the most gaping voids in Los Angeles, the dearth of public gathering spaces. Now admittedly it’s not exactly “public” since you have to pay to attend the screenings, but there’s definitely a feeling of camaraderie among the masses of cinema-spies.

Watch the sunset at Hollywood Forever! (photo courtesy Flickr user Cuttlefish)

Like campers freely lending forgotten necessities it’s not uncommon to strike up conversations with strangers over a borrowed blanket. This bringing together of people for a shared experience is especially beneficial and needed in LA where we are so often shut off from others: either physically in our cars, or mentally on the bus or train with heads clad in earphones and sunglasses. It’s nice to experience Los Angeles in a way that, for once, isn’t so adversarial.

And why not arrive at the Hollywood Cemetery in a fun, shared-experience sort of way? The Hollywood/Vine Red Line Station is only a mile away; it’s an easy 15-20 minute walk and an even easier 5 minute bike ride. (more…)

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Spring (or is this one long perpetual summer?) is back and adventure options for those on two wheels are endless! After travelling to a few other places, we wanted to get back on our local tourism tip!

This bicycle tour features destinations in between the Red Line North Hollywood Station (in NoHo) and the Griffith Park Sunday Drum Circle. Yes, a drum circle! This 8.5 mile-long bike ride travels along different bike facilities (bike paths, lanes, and routes) and features a variety of LA neighborhood attractions from shops & entertainment in NoHo to nature & culture in Griffith Park.

Come along for the ride! To prepare, you need: a bike, a bike lock, some kind of map or smart phone, water, snacks, and don’t forget your sun protection, because it can get HOT!

Pleasant 8.5 mile-long features NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Griffith Park

Pleasant 8.5 mile-long bike ride features the NoHo Arts District, Burbank and Griffith Park. Photo: Google Map

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People walking, bicycling, and driving all share the road in downtown Seattle

This year’s annual conference for the American Planning Association (APA), Sustainable Seattle, was hosted in a city rich with sustainable practices and, appropriately for our interests, complete streets infrastructure.  The APA covers all faces of planning, but complete streets are increasingly a focus of urban (and suburban) planners everywhere. Complete streets that make up walkable, bikeable, and ultimately livable communities, have become the national best practice because they make for sustainable communities, a core tenet and charge of the urban planning profession. The integration of complete streets with retail, mixed-use development, the densification of cities, and sustainable practices were highlighted throughout the conference.

Though LADOT performs much implementation, we are also tasked with planning and project development, which is the area we inhabit in Bicycle Outreach and Planning. Attending the APA conference gives us a broad context for what we do, which can be really helpful in a time where cities are growing at some of the fastest rates ever.  Here are some of our take aways from the conference, followed with a few snapshots of Seattle’s pedestrian-first culture.

Bicycle, bus, and car networks seamlessly weave through the retail-lined Aloha Street

Network connectivity is the nexus of people, land, and local economic vitality

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(One of our Student Professional Workers, Jose Tchopourian, took a trip to the Northeast during his Spring Break from UCLA. In this post he shares his experience getting around by bicycle during his visit to three East Coast cities.)

The Northeastern United States may not be the most popular Spring Break destination for folks trying to avoid winter weather, however I decided to take on the challenge. Over the course of a week, my wife and I explored Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. on two wheels.

Chillin’ in Philly

Our first stop on this journey was Philadelphia. Our home base was the Fishtown neighborhood, located three miles northeast of the Center City and walking distance to cafes, restaurants, and the Girard MFL Subway Station. We explored the city on foot, by bike, and on transit. The compact footprint allowed us to visit multiple neighborhoods, but also destinations such as City HallReding Terminal Market, Barnes FoundationSchuylkill River Trail, South Philadelphia’s scenic architecture, and many more cultural and historic institutions.

Schuylkill River Trail, Philadelphia.

Although temperatures were below freezing, us two Angelenos managed to tough it out by traveling via trains and buses into the Center City and walking and biking between the many attractions. We found that pedestrian-oriented facilities are common around the Central City. Ample sidewalks and crosswalks, benches and trees, street lighting, squares and parks, and river banks create a pleasant walking environment. We found that bike facilities vary and include off-street bike paths along the rivers, on-street facilities such as buffered bike lanes, sharrowed routes, and streets without markings. Philadelphia’s narrow streets in the urban core facilitate transportation on bike and foot due to low motor-vehicles speeds and volumes.

Philly Bike Shop

A hip bike shop in South Philadelphia.

For all these reasons, Philadelphia is in the top-tier of bicycle commuting cities in the nation. Bicycle mode share is 2.3%, compared to 0.6% nationally. Notably, the share of women bicycle commuters is 33%, compared to 24% nationally. With the arrival of a bike share program later this year, the city will most likely maintain its lead and continue growing. (more…)

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