Over two years ago, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) first shared conceptual plans for bike lanes on North Figueroa Street between Colorado Boulevard and York Boulevard. The plans proved disappointing as they did nothing to address the excessive speeding the street experiences and hardly did anything to improve conditions for people bicycling. Bike advocate Joe Linton (author of Down By the Los Angeles River) suggested the LADOT consider a reconfiguration commonly known as a “road diet.” This would make the street look more like York Boulevard does between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 54.
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.
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:
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:
(Screenshot from Figueroa For All’s website– the Cypress Park Neighborhood Council meeting for Tuesday has been cancelled.)
Readers of this blog are probably familiar with Take Back The Boulevard (TBTB) – Eagle Rock’s community initiative to revitalize Colorado Boulevard through transforming the street to create a more pedestrian friendly environment. However, readers may be unaware there is a similar grassroots movement afoot to do the same for North Figueroa Street– Figueroa For All (or fig4all as it is known on twitter).
Figueroa For All, as its recently launched website states, seeks to make North Figueroa a more livable street– this includes advocating for bike lanes on the street between Colorado Boulevard and San Fernando Road. Figueroa For All’s website will be the go-to place for anyone wishing to keep up with or support the initiative’s efforts.
Are you interested in helping Figueroa For All and bringing bike lanes to North Figueroa? Here are four things you can do:
(“Creating bike lanes by reducing the number of lanes available to motorists will hurt businesses,” one of the many arguments presented against bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard. See “Bike Lane Concern #4″ below to find out if bike lanes are really likely to hurt local business)
Bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard, as planned in the Los Angeles Bike Plan, are coming closer to being a reality– a meeting on March 27th hosted by council member Huizar’s office will be held to determine based on community input how to move forward, if at all, with bike lanes on Eagle Rock’s main street.
During on-going opportunities for community input ( including the environmental impact review, and public hearing regarding the results of the environmental impact review) comments have been mostly positive. However, now concerns about the potential impact bike lanes may have are popping up in growing numbers. There is nothing wrong with this, concerns are well warranted for any proposed changes in town and a change to Colorado Boulevard’s public right-of-way will affect daily travel for many.
To gain a clearer perspective of what the current circumstances are, and what may possibly change as a result of bike lanes being implemented, it is beneficial to have the recurring concerns and questions people have regarding bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard actually be addressed. That’s what this blog post will attempt to do– address concerns that have been raised in conversations about bike lanes in the community.
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.