In discussing Take Back The Boulevard (TBTB), the initiative seeking to improve various elements along Colorado Boulevard to make the street more safe and pleasant, it is not unusual for residents to be divided. Do we make more intersections signalized or add bike lanes to reduce speeding? Do we reduce number of travel lanes or increase amount of parking to make the street more pleasant? The community organizations that have spearheaded TBTB (Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful, the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Eagle Rock Community Preservation and Revitalization Corporation, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society, Occidental College, The Eagle Rock Association, and the Twentieth Century Women’s’ Club of Eagle Rock) have tried very hard to please all parties and incorporate all needs in pursuing a better Colorado Boulevard that functions for everyone.
However, while the general idea of improving safety through reducing speeding seems to have near unanimous support, there’s one notable conflict that emerges in almost all discussions of TBTB. All to often it seems neighbors break out into a “bike lanes vs car parking” debate, as though these are two ideas that can only work against each other. It appears to some as an either/or proposition: either we provide bike lanes, or we provide more car parking through converting parallel parking to angled parking, by reallocating superfluous travel lanes on Colorado and achieve the goal of reducing speeds.
Recently we’ve had some of the most beautiful weather of the summer, great for bicycling. This past week I took a few walks along Colorado Boulevard and occasionally snapped pictures of people bicycling along our commercial corridor. Here’s some of what I managed to catch with my camera…
Bicycling on Colorado Boulevard and Mount Royal Avenue
(This is a non-Eagle Rock specific post mostly consisting of thoughts on bicycle infrastructure design standards that dictate bikeway design in Los Angeles)
When bicycling on the streets of Los Angeles I am expected to ‘share the road’ with motorists. On quiet residential streets this is rarely an issue, cars seldom go above 20 miles per hour. But even on residential streets there is the occasional pressure to speed up or move aside when a motor vehicle approaches from behind. However, residential streets are pretty manageable and subjectively safe for myself, and the many people I see who simply enjoy to go for a ride around the block. Intersections are not an issue either as residential streets are usually narrow with little traffic.
However, the comfort utilitarian and recreational bicyclists feel on residential streets quickly disappears when traveling on major, commercial streets. One of the biggest hindrances to people choosing the bicycle for travel is how dangerous larger streets with greater amounts of traffic feel.
Bicycling in Eagle Rock is pleasant, for the most part. However, to reach the majority of destinations in our town we often have to negotiate with loud zooming cars on Colorado Boulevard, making bicycling less attractive when considering how to get somewhere.
Thankfully there is a bicycle friendly street that can serve as an alternative to Colorado Boulevard but it is perhaps not so well known. This alternative is Las Flores Drive.
Colorado Boulevard, the commercial center of Eagle Rock, will undergo a transformation if the initiative Take Back The Boulevard can maintain the momentum it is experiencing at the moment. A lot of ideas about how to improve the boulevard are being circulated– everything from angled parking to sidewalk extensions, to increased greenery, to bike lanes, and more! Just the other day Eastsider shared the idea of reversed angle in parking as solution.
While there are many popular ideas, I feel that it is important to reflect on the mission of this worthy effort to reclaim our main street from the dangerous freeway it currently resembles. Take Back The Boulevard seeks to transform Colorado Boulevard into a safe, sustainable, and vibrant street in order to stimulate economic growth, increase public safety and enhance community pride. Given that we cannot accommodate all the possible ideas being discussed due to limited space on the street I would like to share why I believe a solution that includes protected bike lanes, also known as cycle tracks, could fulfill as many of the desires of this initiative and is perhaps the most promising solution available.
In my last post I explored some traffic information about Colorado Boulevard. The results were surprising, showing that Colorado Boulevard on average carried no more than 35,000 average daily trips (the street is designed to carry between 30,000 and 50,000 average daily trips). Unfortunately Colorado also proved to be a rather dangerous street, but when the street resembles a freeway in width and speed in a popular downtown, the many crashes that have occurred along the Boulevard may not come as complete shocks.
In this post I thought I’d look at Eagle Rock Boulevard – our other major boulevard – as it runs through Eagle Rock, and Glassell Park.
It is common to accept the automobile as the primary means to move along Colorado Boulevard, or to reach the many destinations that line our well-known part of town. However, I recently found myself asking why driving is the primary means and I found myself curious about the actual amount of traffic that passes by, and other statistics about the street. Colorado Boulevard is a large part of our community, why not be curious about it, right?
Colorado Boulevard is a major highway class II, projected to carry between 30,000 and 50,000 cars daily. Traffic counts available from the LADOT website from the past 15 years shows that Colorado Boulevard seldom carries above 35,000. Continue reading
Did you notice? This block of Fair Park Avenue was repaved recently and in the process received a glorious bike lane. I don’t ride on Fair Park often and I have not been in the neighborhood lately so I don’t know when this actually happened but it is a wonderful movement towards a more bikeable Eagle Rock. Yes it only spans one block, between Maywood Avenue and Eagle Rock Boulevard and only 1188 feet long according to google maps. But consider this– Maywood is a low traffic street and Eagle Rock Boulevard already has a bike lane south of Westdale Avenue. The ER Blvd bike lane is supposed to be completed and run all the way to Colorado Boulevard in the near future as that portion of the street is in the ‘5-year plan’ of LA Bike Plan. Sounds like a bike network is quietly brewing in Eagle Rock…
Back in Eagle Rock for a brief visit and Friday, my first day back, I was greeted with many positive sights, making me optimistic for a safer, livelier, more active, and more pleasant neighborhood environment. Here’s what I saw:
Just five minutes into my walk and I saw some kids with active transportation: skateboard and bicycle
I recently read Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities. A great book covering political history of cycling in America, why Portland and Davis have succeeded in high rates of cycling, insights from various perspectives throughout and more. The book is short, easy to read, informative, engaging and anyone interested in bicycling as transportation should try to read it sometime. Bicycles aside, it was still an enjoyable book, you’ll likely only skip a few pages if you aren’t into bicycling but just want something good to read.
Now, other than recommending this book and gushing about how much I enjoyed it, I have an ‘Eagle Rock angle’ to add. This was a pleasure read so I didn’t want to take notes or think more than I had to, but there were times when I couldn’t help but to think of Eagle Rock and our local street designs and I would like to share some of those moments here.
“You know, if safety was our societal goal, we’d definitely get rid of automobiles” [Peter Jacobsen, Sacramento Public Health Consultant]