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.
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.
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.
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.
A recurring complaint about Colorado Boulevard is that the street does not provide enough parking. This may be a valid concern, but when we gain parking we usually have to lose something in exchange. Walkability, attractive store fronts, lively sidewalks…
Perhaps the three most known examples of where parking has been gained in Eagle Rock, the story has not been pretty.
First lets recall the event considered to have sparked the formation of The Eagle Rock Association, April 1st 1986:
“In response to the threatened destruction of the historic business buildings at the corner of Townsend and Colorado. Kathleen Aberman stands on the building’s roof in an attempt to ward off the surprise demolition by the owner.” – Eagle Rock Historic Society
In the middle right is the building Aberman tried to rescue. Photo credit: Metro Library and Archive
Another two views of the building
The building in the center of the picture is the one that was destroyed. Image credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
A close up of the building. Image credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
Aberman was unsuccessful in protecting the historic building at the intersection of Townsend Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. The building was demolished and replaced by a strip mall, which has close to 30 parking spaces.
Today the location looks like this
Photo credit: Google Maps
Was it worth it? Sure there’s enough parking now, but we lost a beautiful structure. On any given day the parking lot sits half empty and has made the corner rather unambitious and undesirable. When visitors rave about destinations in our neighborhood, never have I heard anyone cite this structure as particularly attractive or wonderful. Locals never brag about the aesthetics or social value of this structure.
More often, visitors and locals alike appreciate and enjoy locations with historic buildings that predate parking demand. Like the building now famous for housing Swork
Photo credit: UrbanPhotoAdventures
or the charming building that prominently features The Coffee Table
Another bitter, well-known tale in which the community gained parking takes place at the intersection of Eagle Rock Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard. The story is perhaps best described by Eagle Rock resident Rebecca Niederlander:
“More than 20,000 signatures were collected to help the city understand the value Eagle Rock places on its history and culture. Many people went to city hall meetings and spoke to the possibilities of compromises that could be worked to meet everyone’s goals. That streamline moderne building, was the flagship store for the Shopping Bag Grocery chain. And had a place in La’s history. But the LA Conservancy will tell you now, as they told us back when they offered, pro bono, all the help they could to try to get the building saved, that Los Angeles governmental agencies do not often work for the citizens and smaller communities of our city.
And so we as a community lost the possibility of having the Walgreens rehab and beautify our history, and the 14,000 sq. ft. building (pretty much the exact size of the one they built) was destroyed.” – Rebecca Niederlander
Niederlander describes the loss of a building located in the commercial center of Eagle Rock. We lost this
The Shopping Bag Building. Image Credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
And Eagle Rock gained this
Over 50 parking spaces and structures that have little aesthetic value, originality and historic merit– soulless faux mission inspired architecture.
Lastly, one of the most iconic buildings of Eagle Rock’s past was again lost in the name of parking in the heart of Eagle Rock.
Security Bank Building. Image credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
More pictures of the beautiful building
Picture credit: Metro Library and Archive
Picture credit: Metro Library and Archive
The building has since been replaced with this
Same corner that once featured the Security Bank Building. Picture credit: Google Maps
The corner has since been slightly cleaned up, now housing a Chase Bank, but the building is nowhere near as beautiful or socially valuable to the community. The lot has over 20 parking spaces.
At what point will Eagle Rock have enough parking? How many more historic buildings need to be destroyed before those that demand more parking are appeased?
Proponents for parking argue that it will benefit the local businesses from the added parking. This may be partially true but when I think of successful Eagle Rock businesses, there seems to be little correlation with amount of parking. Consider businesses like Casa Bianca, The Coffee Table, Brownstone Pizzeria– why are they successful? None of them provide any special parking lots for their customers, simply relying on curbside parking. Businesses like Oinkster provide many parking spaces (the property has about 20 parking spaces) though I don’t think parking has been the sole or primary reason for its success. One would think that if parking were a marker of success, the pitiful strip mall at Townsend Avenue and Colorado Boulevard would be Eagle Rock’s most prized possession– but it isn’t.
In a community like Eagle Rock, which is very walkable, and proud, with locally supported businesses it seems that a businesses’ success is measured by how valuable it is to the community, not by how many parking spaces it provides. If something is desirable, people will flock to it by any means necessary.
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.
Protected bike lanes essentially place a bike lane along the curb and place car parking to the left of the bike lane as a buffer separating motorized traffic and bicycle traffic. To read more about protected bike lanes concept check out the Los Angeles Department of Transportation Bike Blog’s recent post explaining these facilities.
So, installing protected bike lanes along Colorado Boulevard would result in what is known as a ‘road diet’, the removal of one travel lane in each direction. The new found space would be used to accommodate the proposed cycle tracks. Road diets have been proven, nationwide, to increase safety for all users. They have also been known to better the flow of traffic. Read about them here.
However, before I continue, let me share a couple rough drawings I made of what these protected bike lanes just might look like on our boulevard.
This first image is supposed to a rendering of Maywood Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, looking East.
Sketch Including Separated Bike Lane
Now what does separated bike lane do to fulfill the mission of Take Back The Boulevard? Well if one examines my rough sketch there are a few things being accomplished
1) Most obviously a safe space is created to allow travel for cyclists that doesn’t force cyclists to mix with pedestrians or automobiles. This facility will encourage more than just young fearless people to cycle. There is no pressure to ‘keep up’ with motorized traffic and provides an environmental, sustainable means of traveling along the boulevard
2) The bus stop is moved to an island that frees up space on the sidewalk and allows for speedier bus service as buses won’t have pull up to a curb. Bike racks can be placed on this island to again free up space on our precious sidewalks. This bus island also reduces conflict between bicyclists and buses– often bicyclists and buses ‘leap frog’ each other as a bicyclist passes a bus that is stopped then the bus passes the cyclist once in motion again. This removes such conflicts.
3) Crossings for pedestrians is made shorter by allowing them to wait at a refuge alongside the bus stop island.
4) While the moved bus stop frees up sidewalk space, the former bus stop space could also be used to plant trees to provide more greenery.
5) Greater buffer between pedestrians and automobiles, making outdoor dining (where it is available) or mere strolling more pleasant as the increased distances makes the sidewalks less noisy from cars whizzing by.
6) Cars will not be allowed to travel as recklessly as in the past since they will only have two lanes. This will likely result in more civilized speeds and careful, conscious driving. As Tom Vanderbilt notes in his book Traffic, when we make roads forgiving to motorists (like by allowing excess number of lanes), motorists tend to drive sloppier. It’s these kind of excessively wide streets that encourage illegal speeding, and unfortunately result in deaths too.
Here is an other view of the separated bike lane looking West on Maywood Avenue and Colorado Boulevard
Sketch with protected bike lane
1) Again a safe space for people of all ages to cycle is created
2)Pedestrian crossings become shorter by allowing the creation of a small refuge
3) The protective barrier between bicyclists and automobiles allows an opportunity to plant trees and other greenery in what is currently just plain asphalt
I realize it may be difficult to completely understand these drawings, however there are also existing examples of where similar spaces have been created. Take a look below where Colorado Boulevard could look for inspiration
Unlike other proposed solutions to fix Colorado Boulevard, configurations similar to what I share in this post consider all users– pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists.
Pedestrians get more spacious sidewalks by moving bus stops to islands, shorter crossings through the refuges, greater buffer from automobiles through the separated bike lane
Bicyclists get safe travel space away from automobiles and pedestrians
Transit users get loading platforms that will make getting on and off the bus, easier and faster
Motorists get safer streets that make traveling at the speed limit easier to do, they won’t have to change lanes to pass bicyclists. Potentially shorter waiting times at lights as pedestrians will be able to cross faster thanks to the pedestrian refuges.
Everyone gets a safer configuration, everyone will benefit from increased opportunities to plant greenery by some of the pedestrian refuges. This solution allows flexibility in space. Since bus stops will move to islands sidewalk space formerly used to accommodate the bus stop can be now used to plant trees, install benches, or simply allow a wider space for pedestrians. Colorado Boulevard is currently flooded with cars, this solution will make cycling, walking, and taking the bus more attractive than they currently are and reduce the demand for car parking, one of the problems of the way Colorado Boulevard is configured today.
I’d like to compare this solution to the proposed ‘reverse angle in parking’ that the Eastsider shared the other day. The angled parking creates more parking spaces for cars and could potentially create curb extensions at intersections for pedestrians. This solution also claims it could reduce conflict between bicyclists and cars pulling in/out of parking spaces but if cars stop suddenly to start parking bicyclists will have to swerve around– a not so safe action to take.
While it is an attractive solution in some respects it is awfully car centric. This design will do little to encourage more people to cycle or make bicycling safer. It seems to do nothing to make bus travel easier either. It also, while it will create a buffer between pedestrians and moving automobiles, will rather confine the sidewalk space. I have experienced firsthand that cars tend to pull in to angled parking spaces so that part of the car hovers over the sidewalk, making pedestrian space feel cramped. It also seems that by creating more parking spaces this solution will only encourage driving and wouldn’t be very sustainable, nor make the street more vibrant, in complete contrast with the goals of Take Back The Boulevard. On the other hand, encouraging multiple modes of travel as a thoughtfully constructed cycle tracks can do, the street will be less car centric (and more sustainable) and filled with people rather than cars (and be more vibrant). Because we have limited space I support a solution that will accomplish as many of the goals of Take Back The Boulevard, and implementing separated bike lanes seems to be a promising solution.
Further readings about Colorado Boulevard:
A post where I share additional reasons why I support separated bike lanes: “ In making the case for a calmer, more bike friendly Eagle Rock sometimes those who oppose the idea contend car traffic will slow down too much. However, as local resident Jack Burnett-Stuart points out
‘ It is 1.6 miles from the post office to Swork [via Colorado Boulevard]. If the average speed was reduced through a variety of traffic slowing measures (including changing the speed limit, but does anyone pay any attention to that?) from say 40 mph to 20mph, that would add 2 minutes 24 seconds to the time the trip takes ‘ “
Specific facts detailing current traffic levels of Colorado Boulevard: “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.”
Some simple, yet unfortunate facts about the danger of a car centric Colorado Boulevard: “…there has been approximately one reported accident a week over the past five years. More than half of the accidents involve injuries.
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.
Where are these people coming from that drive along our Boulevard? In trying to solve this puzzle it may be useful to know that 40% of trips in America within 2 miles from the home and 61% of trips are within 5 miles of the home. This indicates that a considerable amount of traffic along Colorado is local. But perhaps most of us already figured as much; I can recall a recent issue of the Boulevard Sentinel a resident suggested most of traffic along Colorado was local. Determining the exact percent of traffic along Colorado that is local may be difficult, but it is largely acknowledged that a sizable portion is local– that is, the cars reaching destinations along Colorado are likely within 2 or 3 miles of their home if one were to ‘guesstimate’.
If it can go undisputed that a considerable portion of Colorado Boulevard traffic is local – especially considering that the 134 freeway lies parallel for people traveling greater distances – I also want to know why so many locals do drive to reach destinations along the Boulevard. Lately I’ve heard many complaints about the lack of availability of car parking for some of the more popular destinations. Eagle Rockers have also noticed a consistent rise in gas prices, which is increasingly taking a toll at our collective pocket books. If people are going to spend hard earned money in economically challenging times and personal frustration to reach a destination on Colorado by car and have a parking space it can be concluded that people mostly do so because the automobile remains the most pleasant and most convenient option. That or we love driving ourselves crazy. I prefer to believe the former is true.
So driving is the most pleasant and convenient option for most. However, the street is surprisingly unsafe if one chooses to motor. As pointed out at fellow Northeast LA blog, Bipediality, for approximately the three miles that Colorado Boulevard runs through Eagle Rock, 226 crashes occurred between 2005 and 2009– that works out to about one crash a week in that time period. Additionally, Colorado is among the top 5 collision streets in the LAPD Operations Central Bureau. Seeing as 600 speeding tickets were issued in the wake of the horrific 2008 crash, it may not surprise you that one of the top five collision factors in the Central Bureau in 2011 is unsafe speeding– like the freeway kind of speeding Colorado Boulevard invites daily.
In short, there isn’t much good that can be said of Colorado Boulevard – it does not provide enough car parking, it carries relatively low volumes of traffic while providing 80% of the street to cars, traffic collisions and speeding are frequent, and the street remains unpleasant for those traveling on foot or bicycle or wishing to dine outdoors at one of our many eateries.
When locals could conceivably walk or cycle to reach the many hot spots along Colorado it seems driving is more of an endurance than choice people make freely when traveling along our main Boulevard because of its car-centric design.
This is why it is my firm belief that more people, most certainly locals, will choose to walk or cycle along Colorado if we can make it pleasant and convenient– but how do we achieve a street that truly encourages walking and cycling?
Because Colorado barely exceeds the minimum it is engineered for, the street could be made more efficient, safe and invite all modes of transportation if space were reallocated to pedestrians and bicyclists. Undoubtedly a street that is more pleasant will also be good for business. The reallocated space wouldn’t even be much of a loss to motorists as it appears cars have a superfluous amount of space to begin with. Protected bike lanes, sidewalk or curb extensions, more crosswalks… these are some of the things that have been demonstrated to increase foot and bicycle traffic where implemented. More bicycle and foot traffic means fewer people worrying about car parking and other frustrations associated with driving. Also, the space turned over to these modes of travel means cars are less likely to misbehave because the street won’t look or feel like a freeway through the neighborhood– the street simply won’t allow the degree of speeding and other unsafe behavior. Taking space from cars and giving it to pedestrians and bicyclists, a ‘road diet‘, has long been a proven safety enhancement on streets where they are implemented A street that gives people viable, pleasant choices in travel means transport can be more space efficient and our town will also be to accommodate more people and traffic in the future if necessary.
Realizing the surprising low volumes of traffic passing by given Colorado’s width, the many collisions and dangers the street presents, the inability to adequately fulfill current parking demands, gas prices, etc… a redesign of the street that allocates greater space to pedestrians and bicyclists seems promising. In recent months Long Beach and San Francisco have shown that pleasant and convenient streets to walk and cycle on will increase the demands for these modes of travel. As far as Eagle Rock is concerned with piles of evidence at our feet it seems our community has nothing to lose, and so much to gain if we had a redesigned Colorado that favors people over the automobile. A transformed Colorado can made more efficient, more safe, more pleasant, good for business and truly reflect the small town feel of our community.
And as I’ve mentioned before, a more pleasant, convenient and safe Colorado doesn’t have to remain a dream. Please considering volunteering to or becoming a member of The Eagle Rock Association to aid their efforts in making a better Colorado a reality through their newly planted ‘Taking Back the Boulevard’ initiative.
I find myself increasingly fascinated with the alleys of Eagle Rock. They are not so numerous but there are definitely enough of them for me to notice. Lately I have thought that if slightly reconfigured, some of Eagle Rock’s alleys can resemble Dutch bicycle streets. Dutch bicycle streets are narrow roads where cars and bikes share but cars are not allowed to pass cyclists and must go slow, partially because the conditions cannot accommodate speed. Sometimes there are diverters but most importantly the streets are often too slow and too narrow for a car to use it to bypass traffic. Bicycle streets are also frequently residential streets and perhaps more relatable to the Bicycle Boulevard concept pioneered in cities like Portland and Berkeley. If some of Eagle Rock’s alleys/parking lots were converted to Bicycle Streets I think cycling would be even more attractive in this town.
This being Eagle Rock, I spotted two friends while filming so you will hear me say ‘hey’ twice. Once to the banana-man and then again to a dark clad guy in the Super A parking lot. Throughout this day I also saw my ERHS counselor, a former classmate in his car, and was treated very kindly by the staff at Corner Pizzeria upon my first visit (I didn’t order anything, the friend I was with did). It is this kind of interaction I have while cycling or walking that can never be rivaled by car travel and leaves me confident that Eagle Rock remains a small town despite its spike in popularity.
In this video I mostly go through parking lots, but the feel is still very much like an alley. I also find myself thinking at times if we don’t stop the additions of surface parking lots, or amend parking requirements, perhaps parking can be planned so that a bike path is fit in. And if a street is completely lined with parking, it would be nice if there were a safe, direct path for cyclists to take like in this video.