When I lived in Sherman Oaks, I walked to Ralph’s. It was treacherous. I walked by several pedestrian dead zones. Strips of sidewalk that were void of people. The sidewalks were not even designed for people. As there was often nothing there for them. No store entrance, no street parking to use and then use the sidewalk, no tree to sit under, no bus to wait for. It was pretty dismal.
I’d also walk underneath the 101 freeway. A forgotten zone. It was still a construction site from repairs to damage done during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. 15 years of sandy sidewalks, heavy machinery, booming noises.
Then a few blocks of apartments buildings. None of them facing the street. No stoops or porches engaging the neighborhood. No, flat facades, with a tiny window if anything. Hardly any eyes on the street. No human interaction.
The walk was only a half mile but it was a lonely half mile. It was a half mile not designed for people.
Where the sidewalk ends. Not some edge of the world outlandish concept. It is right here in LA. All over the place they just stop. I guess it’s the thought that counts.
At the destination, Ralph’s, the treachery was not relieved but compounded. Your final mission was to cross the Ralph’s parking lot. You’re now walking amongst the cars. Cars and carts. All going different directions. Forwards, backwards, turning, circling. Sometimes 18 semi trucks are in the mix as they make the delivery. All sharing the same space. 2 footed pedestrians on a half mile walk and 18 wheel semi trucks finishing a 1,000 mile journey.
It was dangerous.
Now, Ralph’s is making a change. They are rebuilding. And they are building to the street!
Now a person can walk up to the front door and walk right in. They don’t have to cross a lot. The cars park on the side. And the trucks come in around back. It’s pretty smart. It is uplifting, even, to the human spirit that we are treated like a person. Not a nuisance to the ubiquitous LA car culture.
They moved it to the street. So that people can get to it, get inside, and feel comfortable. They’ve learned the lesson we are always preaching here at NNU. People spend money at your store. Cars don’t. Design for people.