A new scheme designed to improve lighting and shade at Los Angeles bus stops has raised eyebrows.
Four LA neighbourhoods are piloting 'La Sombrita' (a little shade) structures to protect female passengers by providing them with shade in the day and light at night. It is also designed to help people keep safe during periods of extreme heat.
The design process was led by the nonprofit Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI). It said: “La Sombrita 1.0 was designed within the existing design regulations to establish a baseline of what is possible. The participants in our resident advisory committee for the Gender Equity Action Plan expressed a clear need for lighting and shade, this is a way to move the needle on that, now.”
To some, it has gone down well. In a statement, Mayor Karen Bass called the pilot “a good step towards increasing the accessibility of our City’s public transportation system” adding that, “Improvements like La Sombrita will make our neighborhoods safer, healthier and more livable.”
LADOT Interim General Manager Connie Llanos noted that “Pilots like ‘La Sombrita’ allow us to test new, flexible, and low-cost ways to close gaps and remove barriers, getting us one step closer to providing Universal Basic Mobility in our City.”
\u201cWent to confront "La Sombrita" on Union and 3rd but it didn't budge. It wouldn't reveal its secrets or why it exists. So I had no choice but to embrace it to try and connect with it. But I left feeling cold, empty, and sunburnt.\u201d
— Albert Jaragua Corado (@Albert Jaragua Corado)
\u201cIt keeps getting worse! The light in La Sombrita doesn\u2019t even point down!\n\nLa Sombrita provides no light. It provides no shade. It took $200K to design. And the unit cost was \u201conly\u201d $10K.\u201d
\u201cThe wildest part about La Sombrita is that they held a full-on press conference.\n\nIf my bus stop shade/light thing cost $10,000 and provided neither shade during the day nor light at night, I would simply not talk about it.\u201d
\u201cThe dumbest thing about this design: Flip it upside down and you\u2019d have a seat that\u2019s far more useful than the \u201cshade\u201d\u2014even my not-giving-a-shit-about-the-bus roommate instantly saw that. So much money spent on this silliness\u2026 #lasombrita\u201d
— Jonathan Mertzig same handle@ urbanists dot social (@Jonathan Mertzig same handle@ urbanists dot social)
The La Sombrita pilots are installed now through mid-August for a three-month evaluation. For each pilot neighborhood, LADOT and KDI will be collecting data on “La Sombrita’s impact on comfort during the hottest part of the afternoon and feelings of safety after dark through observation and surveys” and “findings from the evaluation will inform future design iterations.”
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