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Los Angeles Walks Leads the Charge Against Traffic Violence


At Los Angeles Walks, our mission is clear: we're committed to ensuring safe walking for everyone in LA. Unfortunately, children in grades K-8 face disproportionate risks from traffic violence, particularly in historically disinvested neighborhoods. This harsh reality means that many children in our communities can't access basic necessities like school and recreation without risking their lives.

To tackle this urgent issue, we've launched the Safe Street Slow Jam activations. This program works closely with community representatives to design and implement temporary safe routes to school over a three-day period. These events are short-term interventions aimed at highlighting the existing gaps in safe street infrastructure. As a nonprofit organization, we collaborate with community advocates, including teachers, parents, neighbors, and partner organizations, to brainstorm ways to make walking to school safer. We meticulously design routes for our event-day activations and incorporate theatrics and humor to raise awareness about the importance of improving infrastructure and design to protect our children.

Phase 1: Building a Short-Term Event with Long-Term Goals

Los Angeles Walks: School Street Pilots Help Reimagine Pickups and Drop Offs (past project).

In 2023, Los Angeles witnessed a traffic-related fatality every 28 hours, underscoring the urgent need for safer streets. Our initial phase involves exploring potential collaborations with groups in historically disinvested neighborhoods. What we've discovered is a shared desire for change and a sense of urgency. However, we recognize the challenge of maintaining momentum while acknowledging that permanent street infrastructure changes can take years. To address this, we emphasize the importance of building relationships with city officials and public agencies, sharing our experiences with the costs of infrastructure changes, and providing guidance on funding sources. Despite the challenges, we remain focused on the importance of walking safely in our neighborhoods, ensuring that our network of advocates feels supported and motivated to continue pushing for change.

Phase 2: Becoming a Safe Street Advocate

Los Angeles Walks: University Parks Parents Slow Down Traffic (past project).

This year, we're exploring collaborations with two groups: administrative staff at a local Koreatown elementary school and a neighboring partner nonprofit organization, and community advocates in Arlington Heights. We understand that people engage in transit advocacy for various reasons, and we aim to support them through every stage of their efforts. Our Slow Jam activation events serve as welcoming spaces to engage more advocates, fostering community building and a shared commitment to the cause. They also help forge relationships with partner organizations and city officials. Through smaller group discussions, we address logistical details, such as holding preparatory meetings with parents to discuss the benefits of walking to school, designing safe routes with volunteer support, and incorporating creative ideas to connect with the community. We also work closely with our volunteers from SoCal Families for Safe Streets, individuals directly impacted by traffic violence seeking policy changes, who share knowledge and support with logistics. Currently, we're in the midst of this phase, working towards developing partnership agreements and setting dates. The three-day event will include:

  • Day 1: Kick-off meeting with community partners and advocates, Los Angeles Walks and SoCal Families for Safe Streets volunteers, where we share details about safe street infrastructure, conduct a walk audit, and co-create a route for the event.
  • Day 2: Slow Jam activation.
  • Day 3: Post-event debrief where community partners and advocates invite city officials and public agency representatives to become involved in long-term changes.

Phase 3: The Slow Jam Activation

Los Angeles Walks: Walk to School Day at Vista Charter School and Franklin Ave. Elementary School (past project).

As summer approaches, we see an opportunity to conclude the school year with a fun and impactful event that galvanizes local interest in long-term infrastructure improvements. We'll work with partners to develop post-event strategies and utilize the summer break to advance safe streets campaigns for the next school year.

We're thrilled about the upcoming event and invite anyone interested in contributing, whether through crafts, sign painting, or lending a helping hand, to reach out to us at Join us in making our streets safer for everyone.

AuthorLos Angeles Walks