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.

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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A Look at Eagle Rock’s Relationship with Parking

A recurring complaint about the Colorado Boulevard business corridor is that there is not enough parking. So what has happened as a response? Buildings have been torn down to make way for strip malls. But when we gain parking we usually have to lose something in exchange– walkability, attractive storefronts, lively sidewalks. Three of most well-known examples of where parking has been gained through this method 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

002 - L.A.T.L. 5 Line Car 1444 Colorado & Townsend Ave. 19471021

In the middle right is the building Aberman tried to rescue. Photo credit: Metro Library and Archive

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Take Back The Boulevard Makes Progress And Other Notes

Anyone excited to see a calmer, safer Colorado Boulevard there’s some good news for you. As Los Angeles is in the process of implementing its Bike Plan, the city holds quarterly meetings to discuss: bicycle facilities, which streets to prioritize for bicycle facilities, bicycle traffic education, outreach and more. These meetings are called the ‘Bike Plan Implementation Team’ or BPIT and they are open to the public. The most recent meeting was held on October 4th and Colorado Boulevard was discussed, here is an excerpt from the  LADOT Bike Blog‘s recap of the meeting:

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‘Take Back The Boulevard’ Goes Online!

Hopefully readers are by now familiar with the relatively new efforts in Eagle Rock to tame Colorado Boulevard, ‘Take Back The Boulevard’. I have previously written about ‘Taking Back The Boulevard’ here. The project comes as a culmination of Eagle Rock community groups and residents unhappy with the current dangerous, car-centric street conditions along Colorado Boulevard and seeking to make the street more of a destination than the mini-freeway it resembles today. The initiative is being spearheaded by The Eagle Rock Association. In doing a bit of research I noticed Take Back The Boulevard now has its own website with a clearly defined mission for the project and the website will likely be updated to keep residents informed of meetings and progress being made.

Take a look at the site yourself, http://www.takebacktheblvd.org/

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Some Facts and Thoughts About Colorado Boulevard

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

Highlight From TERA Newsletter 11-13-10

So this is a bit late, but I would like to highlight what I consider a relevant item to the Walk Eagle Rock audience.

 

From TERA Newsletter 11-13-10

Thank you TERA for taking resident concerns seriously and taking action. Getting bike racks in front of the Center for the Arts will be useful for future community meetings held there and the Eagle Rock Historical Society open archives, hosted most Saturdays mornings from 10:00-12:00.