I’m not typically a proponent for adding parking capacity in Eagle Rock however I have recently thought of a situation which could please those who seek more car parking and those looking for a more pleasant pedestrian environment in downtown Eagle Rock– restoring diagonal parking on the block of Eagle Rock Boulevard between Merton Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.
Historic picture of Eagle Rock Boulevard between Colorado Boulevard and Merton Avenue with diagonal parking (and pedestrian oriented street lighting). Image credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
Below’s an overhead view of the same block of Eagle Rock Boulevard today, with largely the same historic buildings seen in the first picture.
This is where Eagle Rock Boulevard is at its widest. Just a few blocks before the street is only 2 lanes with curbside parking and a center turning lane– here the block has 2 left turning lanes, one through lane, and one wide right turning lane and curbside parking.
That’s an awful lot of space dedicated to having cars zoom through the community and miss all the local businesses on the block inhabiting beautiful historic buildings. Additionally, the sidewalk experience is rather unpleasant for a pedestrian. Trying to cross the wide street with fast moving cars or enjoy outdoor seating at Swork – the cafe that anchors the corner of this block where it intersects with Colorado Boulevard – the experience just isn’t all that nice.
It seems that this portion of Eagle Rock Boulevard, in it’s current configuration, is more conducive for funneling cars than attracting potential customers and encouraging people to pop into the local businesses. Given how excessively wide this portion of Eagle Rock Boulevard is (approximately 50 feet northbound with the 2 left turning lanes, and 40 feet along the brief portion when it is three lanes and curbside parking) there’s a lot of room for creative solutions to generating foot traffic, slowing down the street, and attracting potential customers. As suggested at the beginning of this post, one solution could be to restore diagonal parking that once existing along this block but also utilize the ends of the blocks, where parking is currently not allowed, to create sidewalk extensions. This would presumably only require the removal of one northbound lane, leaving 3 lanes in addition to the parking.
Below is a rough interpretation of the idea.
The green shapes at the ends of the block represent sidewalk extensions. Not only would these sidewalk extensions shorten crossing distance for pedestrians, it would make outdoor seating at Swork more pleasant by buffering the outdoor seating from the motor vehicles and allowing for calmer, quieter experience. The blue lines represent delineated diagonal parking spaces, which would increase the number of parking spaces along the block.
It’s uncertain how feasible this solution is from an engineering standpoint though one would assume that with enough funding coupled with political and community will, it could happen. And who knows, maybe it would make the block safer, more vibrant, and enjoyable than it is today while benefitting the adjacent businesses.