L.A.’s Bus Stops Need Shade. Instead, They Got La Sombrita.
The idea seemed simple: Find an inexpensive way to add shade during the day and light at night at Los Angeles bus stops.
But the gallows, a perforated metal structure with a short overhang called la sombreta, has drawn backlash from critics who have derided the design, questioned its usefulness and whether it Will provide enough shade.
La Sombreta, which means the little shadow in Spanish, was designed in partnership between the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the Concierge Design Initiative, a development and design nonprofit that works in underserved communities. Is. The project was meant to address what the city says are one of the top problems residents have with downtown bus stops: many don’t have adequate shade or it’s too dark at night and they Feel insecure.
Only four structures have been installed across the city as the design is still in the pilot phase. But residents were quick to point out that the structure did little to provide shade at Los Angeles’ often-burnt bus stops.
“When I first saw it, I was like, ‘What is that?'” said Beatrice Ruiz, who lives in an apartment complex behind a stop in Boyle Heights, a largely Latino neighborhood where many Residents board the bus.
Department of Transport said that four prototypes were installed to include routes serving “low-income communities” with “above-average ridership.”
Ms. Ruiz, 35, said she tends to drive, but often sees people waiting at stops trying to take shelter behind power poles in shelters. On Wednesday, the new Sombretta cast a barely-there silhouette on the sidewalk. “It’s a joke,” Ms. Ruiz said. “Doesn’t it seem like they should have put something bigger? I don’t know why they put something so small.
In Westlake, another largely Latino, high-density neighborhood, bus riders agreed that the use of sombrates is limited, at least during the day. “I don’t think it covers much,” said Chelsea Oxlage, a business student who rides the bus at least once a week.
Ms. Oxlage, 20, said that on the hottest days, she chooses to walk around the neighborhood rather than hang out at the bus stop. But she was optimistic, she added, that the shelter’s lights would make the notoriously dark nighttime feel a little safer.
“It’s really dark in here,” Ms Oxlage said. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to do great.”
According to a recent report, women, especially women of color, are more likely to experience violence and harassment on the city’s public transportation system. Los Angeles Department of Transportation Report.
Experts said the prototypes highlighted the difficulties of improving public transport in car-dependent cities with policies favoring private vehicles. Coming up with new solutions for public transit is especially important as cities around the world try to adapt to the effects of climate change, he says.
Natalia Molina, a professor of American studies and race at the University of Southern California, said the fixtures were inadequate, especially in poor neighborhoods with fewer trees.
“Bringing a sombrero to parts of L.A. that could easily be 10 degrees warmer is like bringing a knife to a gunfight,” Ms. Molina said, “thanks to historical patterns of environmental racism and inequality.”
Department of Transportation spokesman Colin Sweeney said the city is “examining all possible solutions.”
“La Sombreta — granted entirely at no cost to taxpayers — is not a substitute for critical investments we need more of, like bus shelters and street lights,” Mr. Sweeney said in a statement Tuesday. “This pilot treatment is designed to test methods of creating small amounts of shade and light where other solutions are not immediately feasible.”
Many critics of the new setup argued that a tree would be an easier, greener solution. But that’s not possible on many of Los Angeles’ narrow sidewalks. Others joked about how small the fixtures were. But anything larger would require a permit, which would further delay any relief at city bus stops.
Jarrett Walker, an Oregon-based public transit planning and policy consultant who was not involved in the project, said adding trees or large bus stop shelters is difficult because many car-dependent U.S. cities have short sidewalks.
“We’ve inherited roads where everyone expects there to be four, or six, traffic lanes and parking lanes,” Mr Walker said. “The sidewalk is the space that’s left over after all of your allocations, and therefore the sidewalk is inadequate.”
Many cities have policies and permitting requirements that can often limit improvements to public transportation, Mr. Walker said.
“We’re stuck with this unfair street design and this unfair situation,” Mr. Walker said, adding, “So the things you try to do to solve the problem inside that box That she sometimes seems sad and inadequate.”
Sombrata fixtures can be installed in 30 minutes or less, and their small size means they don’t require permits or coordination with other agencies, according to the Conkey Design Initiative. The Department of Transportation said the setups were designed not only to provide shade, but also to use solar energy collected during the day to illuminate the stops at night.
A fixture costs 15 percent of the cost of a typical bus shelter, which can cost up to $50,000, according to the Conkey Design Initiative.
Faiza Moatasim, assistant professor of architecture in urbanism and urban design at the University of Southern California, said there is a “tremendous need” to find solutions for people who use public transportation in Los Angeles in a changing climate. are Shade is often easier to find in more affluent neighborhoods..
“Everything is different if you’re in a high-income neighborhood and a low-income neighborhood,” Ms. Mutasim said. “It’s a matter of making cities work for everyone.”