Los Angeles Proposal Would Ban Cars Along 1.5 Mile Stretch

A proposal introduced in Los Angeles by Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar would ban cars along a 1.5 mile stretch on Broadway Street.

Other major cities including NY, San Francisco have adopted this trend to free up more space for transit vehicles and pedestrians.

Per ABC7, the councilman says the area has already benefited from an economic development initiative called “Bringing Back Broadway,” and the car-free concept would further enhance businesses.

Some visitors to the area are skeptical.

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“I think they’ve got a lot of pedestrian aspects to it, but if you close down this street, it’s just going to create more traffic and more problems for all the neighboring businesses as well,” said Greg Valentine from Huntington Beach.

Los Angeles Times reports banning cars from downtown streets is beginning to catch on in major U.S. cities, with New York and San Francisco moving to free up space for transit vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

But the trend hasn’t come to Los Angeles — yet.

A proposal introduced by Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar could change that. The councilman asked city officials last week to study the feasibility of a ban on driving and parking along a 1.5-mile stretch of Broadway between 1st and 12th streets.

Broadway is “an ideal street to go car-free,” Huizar said, because narrower roadways and expanded space for pedestrians have already begun to transform the iconic corridor. Eliminating private cars could make the street safer and more efficient for a streetcar that the city plans to build, officials said.

If approved, the ban would be the biggest transportation change along Broadway since the region’s streetcars were ripped out after World War II and the Metro subway opened in 1993.

Broadway would be the first major street in Los Angeles to go car free. Last month, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s office proposed a dramatic overhaul of Hollywood Boulevard along the Walk of Fame that could include far less space for private cars.

Business owners, residents and tourists along Broadway said the proposal intrigued them but was short on details. To succeed, they said, the car ban would need buy-in from residents, theater operators, hotels, restaurateurs and small businesses trying to hang on as rents rise.

“Some ideas are great and can still have unintended consequences,” said Blair Besten, the executive director of the Historic Core business improvement district, who said she was intrigued by the proposal. “We will need to reflect on how it will impact a major urban center.”

The study will include an analysis of how the city could ensure access to residential parking garages and commercial loading zones for bars, restaurants and retail stores.

Numbered cross streets would not be closed to traffic at Broadway, so cars, trucks and other vehicles could still cross Broadway at intersections with traffic signals, Huizar’s motion said. Fire trucks, police cars and buses would still be allowed.

It will take time to collect feedback from city departments and from the community, so “it is premature at this point to offer a specific timetable, what the final recommendations will be or what is expected to be the final cost,” Huizar spokeswoman Laura McKinney said in an email.