For a More Crossable Colorado Boulevard

College View 1

Colorado Boulevard before it went on a road diet (left) and after (right)

It may be hard to believe, but it has already been a year since Colorado Boulevard went on a “road diet,” gaining new crosswalks and buffered bike lanes in the process. The road diet, for those who may no remember, was officially completed in October 2013.

The changes along Colorado Boulevard have primarily been championed by the local non-profit organizations Take Back The Boulevard (TBTB) and The Eagle Rock Association (TERA), but reflect only one aspect of a grander vision to transform the boulevard into a delightful pedestrian-friendly commercial street.

While Colorado Boulevard gained two crosswalks during the road diet last year, TBTB would still like to see more crosswalks. Anecdotal experience along the boulevard suggests many of the shoppers and restaurant-goers feel the same way. There remain a few key intersections where pedestrians continuously cross the street to reach their destination. This post will highlight where these intersections are and explore the impact crosswalks would have.

Colorado Boulevard and Vincent Ave

Whether it is to have brunch at Le Petit Beaujolais in the mornings, or picking up pizza from Casa Bianca in the evenings, this intersection is used throughout the day. The reason, based on observation, is that the availability of parking on the north and south side of the Colorado Boulevard fluctuates. Sometimes there is more parking available on the north side of the street but one’s destination is on the south side. Conversely, sometimes there is parking on the south side but one’s destination is on the north side. A crosswalk here seems appropriate and well-warrented to encourage a more pedestrian-friendly Colorado Boulevard.

Unfortunately, for any crosswalk to be installed, some curbside parking must be lost. This is because adequate sight-lines must be provided so drivers can see pedestrians who intend to cross. While necessary, the amount of parking-prohibited curbside space the city requires almost completely negates the benefit a crosswalk in this situation would provide. The benefit of a crosswalk here is that it allows one to park their car, and then cross the street. However, if too much parking is lost, there may not be that open space to use in the first place. It is for this reason that crosswalk placement must be very carefully thought out.

The below placement seems it would be optimal in serving the natural desire to cross and adhering to the city’s sight-line requirements.
Vincent_Ave_XWalk
As noted by the red line in the illustration, a crosswalk located here would require the loss of 3 parking spaces immediately east of the crosswalk on the north side of the street to satisfy the city’s standards. No parking would be lost on the south side. The parking lost could potentially be offset to a degree by slightly shortening the bus-zone at Colorado Boulevard/Mt. Royal Drive to add a parking space on that end of the block.

Colorado Boulevard and La Roda Avenue

This intersection is also a popular space to cross. Fortunately, due to the existing configuration, it appears a crosswalk could be added here with losing no more than 1 parking space (the one immediately west of the crosswalk on the north side might have to go if a crosswalk here is added).
La_Roda_Xwalk

Colorado Boulevard and Shearin Avenue

Although a crosswalk was added to just a block away at Glen Iris Avenue, this intersection remains a spot where people are frequently seen running across to get food at one of the many popular restaurants in the area. A crosswalk appears it could be added at the expense of two parking space in front of The Oinkster on the north side of the street.
Shearin_xwalk
Fortunately, The Oinkster has its own parking lot, which can accommodate about two dozen patrons. The loss here is not as significant as it would be in front of a business with no parking lot, but it would still be felt. The loss in parking is not ideal, but the hope is that it can make it easier for people to park further from their destination and comfortably (and safely) cross the street to get where they are going. The added crosswalk here might – as it hopefully would at the other two locations – also encourage more locals to simply stroll over from their home to a local restaurant, knowing they don’t have to walk an extra 500 feet out of their way to use a safe, marked crosswalk.

Have A Seat

IMG_0833

Two people lean against the exterior of The Coffee Table and soak in the sun

The above photo – depicting two people leaning on the exterior of The Coffee Table on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock – was tweeted from the Walk Eagle Rock Twitter account on April 1, 2014. Within a couple hours it received 7 retweets and 8 favorites. The caption attached to the photo read “Eagle Rock could use more public seating. People are hungry for places to sit and enjoy the street.” 

Considering most tweets from the Walk Eagle Rock account receive no feedback, this picture seemed to resonate with people, and maybe there’s a good reason. Presently Colorado Boulevard, while it features some outdoor dining, offers no outdoor public seating for those looking to spend time on the boulevard. While Eagle Rock’s main street has new crosswalks and a growing number of thriving local businesses, there are few opportunities to comfortably sit outside, people-watch, and enjoy public life in the beautiful community we are fortunate to live in.

This is a bit of a shame, since people sitting and enjoying the sidewalk help bring the street to life. Look what happens on days Casa Bianca is open…
IMG_0251 Continue reading

A Transforming Colorado Boulevard

IMG_1175

Colorado Blvd now has bike lanes to improve the safety and comfort of people bicycling

Colorado Boulevard has long held a reputation as an unfriendly street with a notorious traffic safety record. Fortunately, thanks to local leadership from Councilmember Huizar, Take Back The Boulevard, and Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, changes have been made to the street within the past few months to improve safety and make the street more pleasant for walking and bicycling.

Continue reading

Crosswalks And Walkability

As many likely know by now, Colorado Boulevard will undergo some changes this August to make the street safer and improve conditions for walking and bicycling. Currently, one of the barriers to a pleasant and convenient walk on Colorado is the glaring absence of safe, comfortable crossing opportunities. In August, alongside buffered bike lanes, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) will also add a couple of crosswalks to where our neighborhood’s main street intersects with El Rio Avenue and Glen Iris Avenue. While additional crosswalks are sorely needed, one cannot help but to wonder if two additional crosswalks will be enough to make Colorado Boulevard a pleasant street for pedestrians.

Where Are Crossings Needed?

Upon a quick review of Colorado Boulevard, it appears that the LADOT opted to add crosswalks so that crossing opportunities are spaced more evenly throughout the neighborhood’s main commercial corridor; they will be adding crosswalks to the big gaps in crossing opportunities. While that certainly is one way to approach the need for crosswalks, it can overlook other details of the street, including: how people use the street and where crosswalks would be most useful.

On commercial corridors, crosswalks are most needed where people are found walking. While this may seem obvious, not all portions of commercial corridors are necessarily attracting foot traffic and this is certainly true of Colorado Boulevard. Due to the street’s history and inconsistent development patterns along its commercial portion, certain parts of the street attract more travel by foot than others.

The most walkable part of Colorado Boulevard is 0.7 mile long stretch between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Townsend Avenue. This portion developed as it did largely because it had a streetcar running along it, encouraging pedestrian oriented commercial development during the neighborhood’s earlier years. Thanks to the effort of historic preservationists, a considerable number of pedestrian oriented buildings remain here, and as a result, this part of Colorado Boulevard attracts the most foot travel because it provides the most pleasant and convenient walking experience. It is perhaps no surprise then that this is also where there is the most demand for safe and pleasant crossing opportunities.
Continue reading

Let’s Talk Crossing

Untitled
Sign telling pedestrians they are not allowed to cross the street at this corner

Colorado Boulevard needs more crosswalks, because while any corner unless signage dictates otherwise is technically an “unmarked crosswalk,” the experience of crossing at an unmarked crosswalk on the street is very unpleasant. Rarely, if ever, do motorists yield to pedestrians as they should at unmarked crosswalks. Here’s what one typically sees at Colorado Boulevard’s “unmarked” crosswalks:

Untitled
People running across the street

Untitled
Waiting for a break in the flow of cars (because the drivers won’t yield)

Untitled
Trying to make their way across because they are patronizing a business on one side but parking on the other.

Here are more pictures of people crossing Colorado Boulevard at unmarked crosswalks:
Continue reading

Show Your Support For Buffered Bike Lanes on Colorado Boulevard

IMG_8195
A cyclist rides by Eagle Rock City Hall, where the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meeting will be held.

If you want to see a safer, more civilized Colorado Boulevard be sure to voice your support at tonight’s Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meeting. The meeting will start at 7pm and be held at Eagle Rock City Hall, located at 2035 Colorado Boulevard. If you want to speak at the meeting, you must fill out a speaker card at the beginning of the meeting.
Continue reading