Note: In my part one post for how to make Yosemite safer I suggested some kind of barrier for private auto use yet still allowing buses and emergency vehicles to pass. If that is wanting too much, I still think there is much which can be done to improve the safety of the many pedestrians that use this street. Simply lowering the speed limit is about the cheapest way LADOT can promote safety for all. Here in part two I would mainly like to address speeds along Yosemite Drive.
What comes to mind when you think of Yosemite Drive?
Eagle Rock High School? Yosemite Park? Bilo’s Liquor Store? The Teen Rock Center? Fraternal Order of Eagles Center? 181 bus route? Rockdale Elementary? Connects North Figueroa Street to Eagle Rock Boulevard? Adjacent to Eagle Rock Elementary? a predominately residential street?
I personally have memories of cross country and track practice, running along Yosemite before navigating other streets to get to ideal streets for running, like Hill Drive or La Loma. I also think of walking or biking to and from a friend’s house.
Do you think of the street as one suitable for a 35mph street limit?
The reality is rather unfortunate. Despite so many qualities which would make Yosemite an ideal neighborhood street – housing a park, a couple corner stores, a cafe, churches, two bus routes and a great connector to all of Eagle Rock’s major streets – one of the major factors detracting from this is a 35mph speed limit on this predominately residential street. Despite being a narrow street only accommodating one lane of travel east and west, cars are encouraged to go the same speed as they would on parallel street, Colorado Boulevard. Colorado Boulevard of course is Eagle Rock’s widest commercial street and holds not one, but three lanes of travel east and west in addition to planted medians and left-turning pockets.
Perhaps it is unfair to say 35mph is Yosemite’s speed limit, while it is mostly 35mph, there are two, albeit brief, 25mph zones by Rockdale Elementary and Eagle Rock High. And naturally, the only way one knows if they are in a school zone is signage. However, those speed limits are only ‘enforced’ though when “children are present”. And if a car encounters a child outside of the school zone, yet heavily residential street? The car can continue zooming at 35mph.
But why isn’t all of Yosemite a ‘school zone’ with 25mph, or lower, speed limits? Children are abound all over this street everyday and surely more would have a greater degree of subjective safety if cars were slower, and feel more comfortable walking along Yosemite. As conditions are kids are still running to the corner store, waiting at one of the many bus stops along the street, going to Yosemite Park, Saturday school, Sunday church, PTSA meetings or other school-related gatherings at one of the nearby schools, participating in Students Run LA on weekends between 6:00-8:00AM and between 3:30-5:30PM on weekdays ( in recent years Eagle Rock High School has had one of the largest SRLA groups in all of LAUSD with 70+ students participating), going to a friend’s house, going to the Eagle’s Landing Cafe and the Teen Center… Children are not contained to the two school zones and safety should not be compromised outside of school zones, especially when the street is heavily used by kids.
In the 70′s, when the below photo of Yosemite Drive was taken, the street had a speed limit of 30mph. In addition to a lower speed limit you see three girls with bicycles, an almost unthinkable sight for Yosemite today.
Though naturally, LADOT has a strange way of assessing speed limits. It seems it would be much more reasonable, considering Yosemite’s conditions (narrow street, heavily used by children, services a park,etc…) that the speed be set so students, people living along the street, park visitors have a greater feeling of subjective, and physical safety.
If the speed limit cannot be lowered, perhaps the locations along Yosemite that have traffic lights could be converted to traffic circles? Considering children constantly cross the street throughout the week, a raised crosswalk might be in order…
The bottom line is, in my opinion, that 35mph with zero traffic calming devices on this very community, residential, and family oriented street is unacceptable and unsafe.
There is reason to be optimistic though, the most recent draft of the LA Bike Plan calls for Yosemite Drive to be converted to an “Enhanced Bike Route”. Current bike routes consist simply of a green sign on a pole that reads “Bike Route”. This practice does not increase physical or subjective safety, and is widely acknowledged as useless among cyclists, and LADOT staff alike. So, it is hoped that an ‘enhanced’ bike route may do more to increase safety, and encourage cycling. I will try to keep Eagle Rock updated on LA Bike Plan progression and specifically how The Plan relates to Eagle Rock.
Fun Fact: Did you know Colorado Boulevard is a designated Bike Route? It’s unbelievable but it is true, the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard has one of the bike route signs.