How can art-making workshops help build bridges, instead of walls, between Elysian Valley residents and visiting cyclist over the topic of pedestrian safety on the Los Angeles River Trail?
Elysian Valley, also known as Frogtown, was at the epicenter of the emerging narratives concerning the L.A. River revitalization process and Los Angeles gentrification. Many residents felt that the gentrification process started with the installation of the Los Angeles River Greenway Trail.
Originally a pedestrian dirt path in close proximity to single-family homes, this area of the Los Angeles River was paved to make way for Los Angeles River Greenway Trail. Conceptually the Greenway Trail would benefits all: exercising in open space, and encourage recreational cycling. However cyclist who wished to practice for competitive sports were colliding and injuring pedestrians. The paving and the surge of cyclist has displaced the original typology and activity in of the space, creating tension between residents that want to enjoy the open space and visiting cyclist that want to exercise. The Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch had organized protests and marches to bring awareness in the past, but was eager to explore an event that could be inclusive instead of alienating to cyclist.
The Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch saw the bike path not as a problem, but an opportunity to redirect the revitalization effort to benefit the well being of the Elysian Valley community. Their value and message was simple “Let’s encourage sharing the bike path.”
PathHack was a fun afternoon of free STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) workshops to create a community-inspired safe zone for pedestrians on the The Los Angeles River Trail (Greenway/Bike Path). The event’s aim was to talk pro-actively about the safety issues plaguing the space through delightful placemaking.
On November 21st, 2015 SuperCommunity in collaboration with the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch, the Los Angeles Bike Coalition and Spoke Cafe hosted residents, pedestrians and cyclist to raise awareness that the space is equally transited by pedestrians as it is by bike riders. The event offered workshops such as:
- Sign-making to talk about aspirations for the area and how people felt about the City of Los Angeles considers implementing speed limits.
- Bike fixing workshop
- How to incorporate EL wire on bikes and helmets to increase visibility for riders at night.
Participants could also sign the Neighborhood Watch petition to incorporate a slow zone in the area and play with the Browser Bike.
Browser Bike was an installation developed in collaboration with artist Aaron Fooshee. Participants at the event could jump on a stationary bike modified with an Arduino and pedal to browse through an Instagram feed filled with images from the neighborhood. Before and during the event people photograph the neighborhood with their phones and tagged them using #evpathhack to raise awareness of the people and things that make Elysian Valley unique.
Project funded through a 2015 Catalyst Initiative Grant from the Center for Performance and Civic Practice.
Maria del Carmen Lamadrid (co-lead) and Shawn Jackson (co-lead)
David and Jasmin de la Torre, Neighborhood Watch of Elysian Valley. Center for Performance and Civic Practice, LA County Bike Coalition and Spoke Cafe.
Date & Location
November 2015 at Spoke Cafe, Elysian Valley.
For more information view the report compiled by the Center for Performance and Civic Practice