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LA Metro, other institutions jump on 'Pokémon Go'

It's been just days since augmented reality game "Pokémon Go" began unleashing gamers on the streets, forcing unsuspecting city institutions and public agencies into refereeing with Pokémon "trainers" who are using public spaces as their playground.

Stories of players’ faux pas have trickled out across the country. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have already made public pleas for players to refrain from catching Nidorans or Geodudes on their grounds. Police departments have issued warnings about the hazards of throwing Poké balls while driving.

But in Los Angeles, there’s at least one agency embracing the craze full-on. L.A. Metro launched a new Twitter account, @PokemonGoMetro, dedicated solely to Pokémon sightings across L.A. — and the best ways to find them using public transit.

https://twitter.com/PokemonGOMetro/status/753266669720481792

“This game, because you cannot play while you are driving, is a great tie-in to our initiatives — which are walking, biking and taking transportation,” said Anna Chen, public information officer for L.A. Metro.

A few other institutions across L.A. have also used the allure of a rare Pokémon sighting to attract new visitors. The L.A. Zoo told the public on Twitter that you can spot a Nidoran among the giraffes and monkeys:

https://twitter.com/LAZoo/status/753252406125731841

The Getty Center also boasted its wealth of resources for trainers looking to build up their inventory:

https://twitter.com/thegetty/status/752622239741255680

West Hollywood city officials also reminded local businesses that they can use the influx of pedestrians to their advantage:

https://twitter.com/WehoCity/status/753257839657975808

But Chen said L.A. Metro hoped to use its new Twitter account remind city dwellers to stay safe while using the app.

“While we want you come out and walk and bike and experience this game, we also want to make sure: Don’t walk in traffic, don’t walk in tracks, definitely pay attention to your surroundings,” she said.

Other local agencies have had to disseminate warnings about safety, given reports of players using the app while driving, wandering into unsafe areas in the middle of the night or even using Poké Stops — designated locations for players to collect special items — to lure robbery victims.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Office tweeted a reminder Monday for players to be aware of their surroundings:

https://twitter.com/SCVSHERIFF/status/752519835716689921

The L.A. Sheriff’s Department also released an advisory Tuesday night offering tips for trainers to stay safe:

The California DMV tweeted out this message for those on the road:

https://twitter.com/CA_DMV/status/752969540489797632

With this advice in mind, trainers, go out and be the very best, like no one ever was.

By the way, KPCC’s office in Pasadena is a Poké Stop, so come on by. We promise not to rob you.