In a car-dominated culture, it is easy to design a city to suit the automobile’s needs to get from point A to point B. However, this plays an enormous impact on pedestrians and open spaces. By quarantining pedestrians to limited-to-no sidewalk space, and/or not providing proper crosswalks, these areas are not only less visually appealing, but, more importantly, can be dangerous for pedestrians.
However, with a bit of entrepreneurial planning and design, cities can transform the way people perceive spaces. By simply changing the design mindset from creating car-centric spaces to prioritizing the needs and activities of pedestrians and cyclists, an entirely new public space can emerge; a public space than can bolster economic development goals for adjacent and surrounding neighborhoods. The Brazilian urban planning collective Urb-i has cataloged before-and-after city transformations such as these.
We can add Silverlake’s Sunset Triangle Plaza to Urb-i's collection. Los Angeles City and County officials transformed underutilized space on Sunset and Griffith Park Boulevard into a vibrant outdoor plaza now home to festivals, food trucks, and outdoor movies. Los Angeles is an exemplar of car-culture cities, with 60% of its land devoted to streets and parking lots. However, steps to creatively transform areas into pedestrian-friendly public spaces are in the works with programs such as the City’s Great Streets Initiative.