Mode Choice and Perceptions of the Built Environment in Watts and Jordan Downs
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Mode Choice and Perceptions of the Built Environment in Watts and Jordan Downs


The Jordan Downs housing development is a public housing complex in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. In accordance with the Jordan Downs Relocation Plan undertaken by the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority, the housing complex is currently being re-designed and relocated to an adjacent property. This relocation presents a rare opportunity for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) to address transportation equity concerns in the design of surrounding roads and sidewalks. The purpose of this project was to answer the following two research questions: 1) What built environment factors influence perceptions of mode choice for residents of Jordan Downs and the surrounding Watts community?; and 2) How can LADOT best implement transportation investments to best address these perceptions? Data were gathered through a combination of field observations, surveys, focus groups, and review of Census data, collision data, and analyses from prior community studies performed in the neighborhood. Census data found that the median age of residents of Watts was 21 years old and that there is a high concentration of schools in the neighborhood. Findings from prior studies conducted in Watts, such as the Watts Community Studio (2013), show that what residents enjoy in the community are its services and amenities, community support, and the perception that the neighborhood is improving. Ongoing challenges they identified were violence/danger, drugs and gang presence, and issues of cleanliness on the streets. Survey results for this study show that respondents did not walk, bicycle, or use transit more often because the “streets do not feel safe or comfortable.� Respondents also frequently cited the safety of children in the community and the presence of speeding motor vehicles as a major concern. Collision data from 2011-2017 revealed that the majority of the 402 collision victims were 1) pedestrians and 2) bicyclists. The majority of the victims were under the age of 24 (248 victims, 61.7%). Based on these findings, I recommend that LADOT should address the following improvements that respond to community perceptions of the built environment: A. Identify deteriorating roadway infrastructure, fix potholes and other damaged infrastructure for motor vehicles and bicycles while incorporating green street principles to enhance environmental sustainability. B. Create a comprehensive Safe Routes to School Program for children C. Implement traffic calming measures into streetscape plans on high priority corridors. D. Improve bus shelters. E. Provide better lighting to improve safety. F. Create a more connected bicycle network. G. Pilot test new shared mobility programs to provide greater access to shared bicycles and scooters.

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