Crossing Colorado Boulevard

A lone pedestrian tries to cross Colorado Boulevard to reach Trader Joe’s

A vibrant commercial corridor is in part identified by how easy it is to cross the street. The easier it is to cross, typically, the more shopping and people friendly a street is. Think about Colorado Boulevard in Old Town Pasadena or York Boulevard between Avenue 50 and Avenue 53 in Highland Park. Both these streets have safe, convenient crossings on every block that make it easy to stroll while fostering a low stress environment for people on foot. Along these business corridors pedestrians are not confined to one side of the street for long intervals.

Conversely, on Eagle Rock’s main commercial corridor – which is frequently defined by Colorado Boulevard as it runs between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Townsend Avenue – only 7 of 12 intersections have crossing opportunities. At roughly 3,800ft long, the “downtown Eagle Rock commercial corridor” has two major gaps in crossing opportunities.

The first major gap is between Maywood Avenue and Hermosa Avenue, in which one walks roughly 1,200ft without any crossing opportunities.

The second gap is between Argus Drive and Mount Royal Drive, in which people on foot go 630ft without any crossing opportunities.

The limited crossing points are hardly conducive for visitors to take a spontaneous stroll along Colorado Boulevard and get a glimpse of all our local businesses.

“Downtown Eagle Rock commercial corridor” outlined in blue. The red blocks represent sections of Colorado Boulevard where pedestrians have no crossing points. Image credit: Google Maps

And of the pedestrian crossings we do have, not all are created equally.

Image credit: Google Maps

The non-signalized crossing at Colorado Boulevard and Hermosa Avenue (pictured left) only allows crossing on one side, making crossing at this intersection that much less convenient for pedestrians. (Note: This crossing is the only non-signalized crossing along all of Colorado Boulevard and didn’t exist prior to Renaissance Arts Academy Middle School moving in at Colorado Boulevard and Argus Drive about 5 years ago.)

Now compare this with conditions for people driving– motorists never have to go more than 350ft before being able to make a left turn or U-turn at an intersection (roughly the equivalent of a pedestrian wishing to cross the street) to reach the other side of the street .

Forcing pedestrians into having to stay on one side of the street for an extended period makes walking less convenient, less pleasant and less safe.

It’s not unusual to see people running across Colorado Boulevard at intersections that do not have any crossing provisions. While it is actually legal to cross at any intersection unless signs prohibit otherwise, not many are aware of or take comfort in this. Motorists tend to either be unaware of this law, ignore it, or  deliberately speeding up so to frighten pedestrians into a) running across the street or b) not crossing at all.

A pedestrian advantageously crosses Colorado Boulevard at LA Roda Avenue intersection during a break in the flow of cars.

The lack of crosswalks, particularly clear, well-defined crosswalks, really makes anyone walking feel as though they are being punished for walking.

But it’s not just pedestrians that suffer from lack of safe pedestrian crossings, motorists suffer a little as well.

Consider this common situation encountered by patrons at Casa Bianca Pizza:

There’s no parking on the south side of Colorado Boulevard or on Vincent Avenue south of the restaurant. There is parking however on the north side of Colorado Boulevard but because crossing is inconvenient and unpleasant the patron is left with choosing between two preferences– 1) Continue searching for parking on the south side or 2) Bite the bullet and cross at Vincent Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.

Hurrying across Colorado Boulevard at Vincent Avenue to get to their car. This is a common sight during the evenings Casa Bianca is open.

Those who cannot find parking on the south side of Colorado Boulevard close to Casa Bianca often choose to park on the north side and take their chances crossing at Vincent Avenue.

If one parks on the north side of Colorado Boulevard across the street from Casa Bianca and walks to the closest signalized crossing at Mount Royal (noted by the red line above) the total length of the trip from parking space to Casa Bianca is about 400ft. If one simply crosses at Vincent Avenue (noted by green line above), the length of trip from parking space to Casa Bianca is reduced to about 100ft.

While it is common practice to cross at Vincent Avenue, and arguably safe as there hasn’t been public outcry of the situation, it remains an unpleasant and subjectively unsafe experience. Motorists seldom yield to people crossing – if they even notice people on foot – and instead zoom by at 35mph+. People with children are probably much less likely to park on the north side of Colorado Boulevard as they would rather not have to inconveniently walk to the signalized crossing at Colorado Boulevard and Mount Royal Drive or risk rushing across at Vincent Avenue.

It seems that if Vincent Avenue had a marked, zebra crossing that benefit would be two-fold: the experience of crossing the street, and the issue of finding convenient parking, could be positively affect conditions for Casa Bianca patrons during the evening (and benefit local French restaurant Le Petit Beaujolais patrons in the mornings); and pedestrians simply strolling the street or walking for transportation get a nice, convenient crossing.

Of course, it can’t be said that Casa Bianca (or Le Petit Beaujolais) has exactly been at the brink of shutting its doors due to lack of parking, Casa Bianca is among the most well-known restaurants in Eagle Rock and has been in business for several decades. However, it ultimately seems that safe, convenient crosswalks along Colorado Boulevard – particularly at intersections in the big gaps where there are no marked crosswalks –  could go a long way to not only enhance the walking experience and spontaneous visits to shops and restaurants, but also enhance the experience of driving to destinations along Colorado Boulevard.

Maybe if Colorado Boulevard has more crosswalks more people will be seen walking and Eagle Rock can truly feel like the small town residents aspire for where something as simple as crossing the main street is pleasant, easy, and safe. After all, downtown Eagle Rock as it runs along Colorado Boulevard is a commercial corridor lined with small businesses, not a freeway alternative,  adjacent to single family homes; the street should be conducive for business and neighborly interaction, not speeding.

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7 thoughts on “Crossing Colorado Boulevard

  1. Parking is another problem that has yet to be addressed. Perhaps the city process to allow conversion of buildings into parking lots without huge permit issues should be explored.

  2. Jeff Jacobberger, the Civic Enterprise Associates planner hired by Take Back the Boulevard, should read and seriously consider the points you make in this column. I e-mailed him some suggestions for slowing traffic on Colorado Blvd a couple of months ago, never heard from him and was quite disappointed, but maybe you’ll have better luck. Here is his contact information: jeff@civicenterprise.com or 213-403-0170, ext. 3.

  3. un controled designated cross walks such as the one @ Hermosa & Colorado give the pedestrian a fase sense of safety. Since the cross walk including sign has been installed I have observed many unsafe crossings. The designated cross walk is not highly visable to motorists. This crossing and any others so designated should have some lighted control even if just yellow flashing lights.

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