Nobody Drives In LA — Sunset4All

I think it was in 2019 that Terence Heuston (LA Bike Dad) approached me to discuss the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition‘s Sunset4All at one of that street’s many coffee shops. He described to me the effort to reconfigure Sunset Boulevard — one of Los Angeles’s most iconic streets — to make it safer, and thus more attractive, to bicyclists. That vision involves moving the already-extant bicycle lane from the north/east side of the street to the south/west side of the street in order to make it bidirectional. It also involves swapping the bicycle lane with parked cars so that empty vehicles form a barrier between motorists and cyclists — adding a layer of protection for both cyclists and pedestrians.

The reconfiguration requires a slight narrowing of traffic lanes — something shown to slow down motorists — but the reconfigured Sunset 4 All would not remove any lanes of traffic — which would seemingly make it unobjectionable for motorists normally triggered by traffic calming measures. Nevertheless, reactionary NIMPS and NIMBYs have predictably voiced their objections to making the street safer, because, like the fabled scorpion on the frog, even assured self-destruction can’t stop them from acting according to their nature.

Not that I wasn’t already on board but the need for increased protections was further underlined when the driver of a speeding automobile hit and killed a pedestrian on Sunset Boulevard before slamming into a dumpster and light pole at the intersection of Sunset and Maltman Avenue. I don’t know the victim’s name because traffic violence, having long ago reached epidemic perportions, is ironically no longer deemed newsworthy — when 250 Angelenos are killed by motorists in an average year, it somehow becomes a mundane fact of life — and no amount of enforcement or “Slow Down Silver Lake” signs will ever convince reckless drivers to drive safely but a row of parked cars can stop them from killing pedestrians and cyclists. Engineering safer streets, however, can.

Diagram of Sunset Boulevard as is compared to Sunset Boulevard as it could be (Image: Sunset4All)

Additionally, Sunset could not just be made less dangerous, it could also be transformed into an attraction — a boulevard that attracts cyclists (and thus increased business) but also sightseers, drawn to Silver Lake, Echo Park, and nearby communities in East Hollywood and Mideast Los Angeles by shining a light on the communities’ rich and diverse histories and cultures — much as Angel Walks LA, Los Angeles Walks, or CicLAvia do with their work. Heuston asked me, if I had time, if I could make a map of the project if I had time. I didn’t have time, in the end. The pandemic kicked off and sucked up all of my time and energy. As it waned, I ran for office in Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. I did, however, make a very maximalist online map of some attractions along Sunset and accessible via short side trips either on bicycle or on foot with the intention of it being the basis of an actual paper map. I’m probably not going to make a paper map of this particular project but I figured, now that the Sunset 4 All campaign has officially launched, that I might as well share the online version which might prove interesting even to those with no intention of over going anywhere but by car.

Sunset 4 All has launched a crowdfunding campaign. Please check out their website and consider, if you’re in the position to, of offering financial support. To quote Streetsblog:

Sunset4All hopes to raise $25,000 from local safe streets supporters. Individual donations will be matched dollar for dollar.

And from the From the Sunset4All LACBC campaign page:

Sunset4All is a community-led project powered by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC). We are teaming up to transform Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards through East Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Echo Park into a “main street” for everyone. Through this crowdfunding campaign, we will deliver the initial engineering and outreach for protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements. If you help us reach our $25,000 goal, our angel donors are standing by to MATCH YOUR DONATIONS. Every dollar of your tax-deductible donation will be DOUBLED if we reach our goal!​

The NUMBER of donors is as important as the total number of dollars. The city of L.A. only installs safe street projects that have broad community support. Every individual donor is an individual VOTE for this project. Even a small donation is tangible PROOF that Angelenos support these designs for safer streets!

Please support Sunset4All

Support Eric Brightwell on Patreon

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA?, at Emerson College, and the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubiand Twitter.

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