I hope to add a part two, perhaps part three in this series of ‘How to improve Yosemite Drive’.
Just a Note: In my posts where I re-imagine streets explaining the current situation always sounds similar, LA has long favored private car transportation over any other kind of travel and to no surprise, the streets reflect this car love. What we are constantly faced with day in and day out are streets that more resemble race tracks and anyone daring to cross a street or just get close better be careful. I know it can take a lot to change habits and standards, but these kind of posts are fun ways to imagine “what if”. This isn’t quite escapism, I just want to show how there are several ways we can reconfigure our otherwise “one size fits all” way of making streets. Having said that…. enjoy!
I have recently been interested in obsessed with re-imagining our streets as a better place to walk and bike, but can you blame me? One would think that will so much packed into The Rock we wouldn’t have such a massive reliance on cars but we do! The furthest distance anyone needs to travel in our town, from end to end, is about 3.5 miles (this is the approximate distance from Delevan Elementary to Eagle Rock Park). This is the absolute longest distance any single one-way trip can be in Eagle Rock taking a direct route. Why are the majority of trips still made by car?
The easy answer to why more people don’t walk or bike in Eagle Rock can be observed on any of the outings we make on a daily basis. Our portion of North Figueroa is just a sea of cars on a bumpy road. Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard the story is much the same with perhaps less bumps and more ‘waves’ of cars. All these streets have more car lanes than necessary as much of the traffic is local and therefore could should be substituted with a bike ride or walk.
Eagle Rock also has a pretty impressive transit service as well to further encourage less private auto travel with a 81, 180, 181, 780, and a Dash line on all the streets that are heavily used. These busses accommodate the streets I mentioned, but also one more street which I did not note: Yosemite Drive. This is of course where the 181 bus runs.
Yosemite Drive is frequently used by residents to bypass part of Colorado Boulevard by residents living on the lower eastside of Eagle Rock on the way to Glendale or Target. It is a shortcut connecting Eagle Rock Boulevard and North Figueroa Street. Yosemite is utilized in junction with Townsend Avenue to get from Eagle Rock to Highland Park. The street is also used to go to the library and Super A Foods by the residents living between Yosemite Drive and Colorado Boulevard (roughly). These are by no means criminal uses of the street, it is rather convenient to any ‘insiders’ who are aware of the street. These uses, however, when all combined with additional transportation uses of the street I did not mention like just leaving the area makes for constant use of the street throughout the day. This again is not a big problem or a crime on paper. However, the sheer amount of traffic coupled with expectations that the street will be a speedy connection makes for a less friendly street for uses not in private automobiles, and this is wherein the so-called ‘crime’ is. And this really is a shame because the street services many could be trips by walking or bicycling: two schools (ERHS and Rockdale Elementary so all ages of children are represented), two churches, two corner stores, Eagle’s Landing Cafe, the Rock Teen Center, and Yosemite Park. If these constituents don’t scream “I should be walked/biked to” I don’t know places do.
I regularly bike Yosemite Drive (contrary to what the street name may want me to do) and just the other day I was honked at by somebody who then swerved around me. This is the kind of interaction I expect on Colorado or Figueroa. Both of those streets I have been honked at by somebody seemingly incapable of switching lanes to go around me. Yosemite, however, is primarily a residential street and should be treated as such. I do not bike on the edges of Oak Grove Drive or Maywood Avenue, I take the lane because cars are not in a hurry and can pass peaceably. I feel the constant use of this street as an alternative to Colorado has raised speeds and given drivers a sense of entitlement which places their time at greater importance than the safety of any local residents not in cars. This should not be and this is where I would like to propose one potential change, among a few others, to Yosemite Drive.
While traffic calming devices can be complicated on streets like Yosemite that are about 40 feet wide and serviced by buses, there is a solution I see possible to apply here which is practiced in the Netherlands in a similar manner.
Make a section of Yosemite Drive “Not Through” to private cars but allow bikes, metro, and school buses to go through. I strategically picked the section of Yosemite between the two parts of La Roda to place traffic diverters and signage indicating only buses, bikes, and emergency vehicles allowed through. I have seen similar treatment like this in Berkeley where cars must turn while bikes and emergency vehicles may go through.
Proposed changes in drawing: Diverters between two sections of La Roda Ave allowing only buses and bikes to go through. Yield pavement markings. Zebra Crossing. Removal of street signal. Signage indicating only buses and bikes may travel through on Yosemite Drive.
Installing diverters will no longer require the stop light which is used to control the current situation, something I’m sure the homes immediately adjacent to this section will appreciate. No more green glare in the home at night. Diverting private automobiles will also obviously reduce through traffic, a benefit to the residents and anyone wishing to bike or walk to the many walkable destinations along Yosemite Drive. Such a change could also likely reduce car speeds. The current speed limit is 35mph which I find unbelievable, the same speed limit as Colorado Boulevard. I have been in a car on Yosemite before, the person that drives me on occasion unconsciously almost reaches 40mph! Anyway, speeds will likely be reduced because cars will not be racing through Yosemite, they simply won’t have enough time to be speeding since they will be diverted part-way through the street and if they are on Yosemite they must have some kind of business there and will be driving more carefully.
This map shows all the ways someone can exit/enter Yosemite on each side of my proposed diverters. Also, if absolutely necessary, cars heading East can go left on Rosemary Drive, right of Fair Park Avenue, right on La Roda Avenue, and then left to get back onto Yosemite Drive and bypass the diverters. Reverse the directions heading West.
Needless to say, I highly promote diverting traffic on this street as it is unnecessary for the Yosemite Drive to be through to anyone but those walking, biking and 181 or school buses. Colorado Boulevard is available for through traffic.
An other interesting piece of information: Before ERHS was rebuilt in the 70s Oak Grove Drive connected to La Roda Avenue instead of the front and back cul-de-sacs the school has now. I wonder how the two streets, particularly Oak Grove, would be utilized today if Oak Grove still ran the full length it did ‘back in the day’. Looking at the old photo, there appears to be no value to Oak Grove, likely part of the reason why it was cut off. That, plus the boy’s gym was built across the street, so safety became an issue, yadda yadda yadda.
What are you thoughts, reader, on how Yosemite Drive could better accommodate walking and biking? Or should the street be changed at all?