“Walk For The Dead” Urges Pedestrian Improvements in Los Angeles’ Highland Park

Protesters gather outside councilman Gil Cedillo's office in Highland Park. (NELA Art Gallery Night)

Young protesters gather outside councilman Gilbert Cedillo’s office in Highland Park. (NELA Art Gallery Night)

While Los Angeles implements plans for new bike lanes and other pedestrian improvements along its streets, there is still plenty of work to do. As part of that struggle, Highland Park residents and local activists this week staged the “Walk For The Dead,” along North Figueroa Street, wearing Day of the Dead makeup and costumes as a reminder of the pedestrians and bikers who have been killed by cars on the thoroughfare.

Figueroa Street at Avenue 57 (Sam Lubell/ AN)

Figueroa Street at Avenue 57 (Sam Lubell/ AN)

The road is often used as an alternate route to the nearby 110 Freeway, with cars traveling at excessive speeds, claimed the protesters. They also noted that while LA has chosen the road to become one of the its “Great Streets,” local councilman Gilbert Cedillo has resisted efforts to make Figueroa a “Safe and Complete Street,” with bike lanes and other traffic calming  measures.

“The community is sick of unsafe streets, and wants to see improvements,” said Eric Bruins, Planning and Policy Director for the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition. Bruins said that plans for bike lanes on the street have already been approved by the city’s Department of Transportation (as part of the 2011 city bike plan), but that the department is still awaiting Cedillo’s sign off. AN‘s request for comment from councilman Cedillo’s office has so far gone unreturned.

The Bike Coalition hopes that bike lanes are the first phase of improvements on the street, added Bruins. Future measures, dependent on funding, would include plantings, street furniture, improved crosswalks, and other pedestrian improvements. But for now safety is the chief concern.  “Our children deserve safe streets,” said local community leader Monica Alcaraz. “North Figueroa is not a Freeway.”

Protestor at "Walk of the Dead" in Highland Park (NELA Art Gallery Night)

Protestor at “Walk of the Dead” in Highland Park (NELA Art Gallery Night)

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