Have A Seat

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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…
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A Transforming Colorado Boulevard

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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.

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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.
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Figueroa For All!

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(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:
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Addressing Concerns With Implementing Bike Lanes on Colorado Boulevard

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(“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.
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Subtle Signs of Take Back The Boulevard’s Efforts

(In my last post I asked if there was anything specifically I should write about in 2013, one reader requested I keep followers updated with the status of Take Back The Boulevard. So to kick off the year, here’s an update on the initiative.)

It’s been almost two years since Walk Eagle Rock first covered Take Back the Boulevard (TBTB)– the community driven initiative to make Colorado Boulevard a safer, friendlier street for  all.  While there were initially some public meetings following the launch of Take Back the Boulevard, the past few months have been relatively quiet. So what’s new? Why hasn’t the boulevard been taken back already?

According to Bob Gotham – chair of the Take Back the Boulevard’s steering committee – the initiative isn’t intended to transform Colorado Boulevard over night or even over a couple of years. To fulfill it’s goals, the initiative is realistically envisioned as an on-going process that will consist of short-term and long-term solutions to improve the boulevard. This is in part because any substantial, visible changes to the boulevard will only be able to move forward as funds are made available and if the City’s departments are willing to act. A safer, more pleasant Colorado Boulevard that functions for all users is at least a few more years off, but Take Back The Boulevard has taken steps towawrds bringing change to Eagle Rock’s main street. Let’s take a look…
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Pedestrian Friendly Elements in Berkeley

The summer is over which means that Walk Eagle Rock is migrating north to Berkeley for an other semester of university. While there’s no place like home, there are occasions on which I feel Eagle Rock can learn from Berkeley, particularly about street design and especially now with Take Back The Boulevard afoot.

Downtown Berkeley’s main street is Shattuck Avenue and  it may not resemble Colorado Boulevard much but there are elements from the street that seem they could be happily embraced along Colorado Boulevard. Let’s take a look…

 

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