Doing More With Less Space on Narrow Streets

In Northeast LA there are often spirited debates about how, if at all, our major boulevards should be transformed to be more pedestrian friendly corridors. Wide streets such as Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock or Broadway in Lincoln Heights have demonstrated that the large arterial streets were designed with more lanes than needed. This has allowed the excess lanes to be converted to bike lanes and curb extensions. Of course, it’s easy to contemplate changes to large streets that afford plenty of space. Colorado Boulevard, for example, is almost 100 feet wide! But what about our smaller streets?

Recently, The Eagle Rock Association (TERA) and Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) each wrote letters to Council District 14 representative Jose Huizar pushing for safety improvements on Yosemite Drive. While some minor specific improvements were requested in these letters, such as painting high visibility crosswalks or adding lighting, few major changes were ask for. Perhaps this is because Yosemite is a relatively narrow street. Between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Algoma Avenue it is only 40 feet wide. Between Algoma Avenue and Figueroa it is slightly wider, approximately 45 feet wide.

For a street that barely accommodates on-street parking and a single lane in each direction, some might think nothing can be done to enact more transformational changes. However, a number of nearby streets show it is indeed possible to do more with this type of limited space.

York Boulevard – Glassell Park

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York Boulevard in Glassell Park is 45 feet wide like much of Yosemite Drive, but has calmed traffic by removing a center turn lane to provide wider, better delineated parking lanes. Image via: Google Maps

York Boulevard between Verdugo Road and the border with Glendale in Glassell Park is 45 feet wide. It was initially just a single lane in each direction with on street parking. In 2003, the City narrowed the lanes to add a center turn lane. By adding a lane of traffic, the change invited speeding. This did not sit well with residents, who lobbied then Councilmember Nick Pacheco to have the center turn lane removed. After only a few months, the center turn lane was removed and the parking lanes were made wider and more visible.

Silver Lake Boulevard – Silver Lake

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The 45 foot wide Silver Lake Boulevard received bike lanes after removing a center turn lane. Image via: Google Maps

North of Sunset Boulevard in the Silver Lake neighborhood, most of Silver Lake Boulevard is 45 feet wide, like Yosemite Drive. In the late 1990s the City added a center turn lane to this little street that previously just had one lane in each direction with on-street parking. Residents complained then, as they later did in Glassell Park regarding York Boulevard, that the change encouraged speeding. Joined with support from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the residents successfully had the center turn lane removed and instead striped in bike lanes. Carrying well over 22,000 vehicles a day, Silver Lake Boulevard carries more than twice as much traffic as Yosemite Drive without the aid of a center turn lane.

Avenue 50 – Highland Park

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Avenue 50 in Highland Park is 45 feet wide and features bike lanes. Image via: Google Maps

Just 2 miles south of Yosemite Drive in Highland Park is Avenue 50, which is also approximately 45 feet wide for most of its length. Avenue 50 is similar to Yosemite Drive in several respects. It is primarily residential in nature, has a school that fronts the street, and connects 2 major streets (York Boulevard and North Figueroa Street). Traffic counts from the Department of Transporttion indicate Avenue 50, like Silver Lake Boulevard, is busier than Yosemite Drive (which carries approximately 11,000 cars a day). Instead of a center turn lane, Avenue 50 features bike lanes on the stretch that is 45 feet wide.

What Can be Done on Yosemite Drive?

Nearly a mile of the 1.5 mile Yosemite Drive corridor between Eagle Rock Boulevard and North Figueroa Street is 45 feet wide. As the other streets referenced in this post demonstrate, it is possible to remove the center turn lane to introduce bike lanes or a wider parking lane. Below is an illustration of what that might look like.

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Yosemite Drive in front of Rockdale Elementary. If the center turn lane is removed, there is enough space to add bike lanes and reduce exposure to automobile traffic.

With this change, Yosemite would become far more comfortable for bicycling. As York and Silver Lake Boulevard have shown, removing the center turn lane could be an effective means of slowing traffic with mere changes in paint on the street. If additional funding is identified, more concrete changes can be made. In Glendale, the 45 foot wide street Ocean View Boulevard was recently reconfigured to add bike lanes and curb extensions.

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Ocean View Boulevard in Glendale is 45 feet wide like Yosemite Drive, yet is far more pedestrian-friendly by providing bike lanes and curb extensions.

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Another view of Ocean View Boulevard in Glendale. The street is the same width as Yosemite Drive, yet pedestrians have fewer active lanes of travel to cross and a 10 foot shorter crossing due to curb extensions on each side of the street.

Is the only answer for Yosemite Drive to remove the center turn lane where possible to allow for the creation of bike lanes? Not necessarily. Though it appears to be a quick and effective calming measure that can simultaneously promote more bicycling. Few, if any, alternative measures could be as cost-effective and successful in promoting sustainable transportation. The more challenging design question for Yosemite Drive is what should be done on the stretch that is only 40 feet wide. That question can be explored in greater detail at a later date.

Do you have ideas for making Yosemite Drive a more people-friendly street? Are there any specific issues you would like to see addressed? Share them in the comments and let’s get a conversation rolling.

 

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NELA Livable Streets News – December 2017

In late November, we published a post, titled “Checking in on Local Livable Streets.” The post was intended to round up some recent news and updates related to making Northeast LA a better place for walking, bicycling, and taking transit. We also included some updates from South Pasadena and Glendale as they are nearby neighbors. Since then, we have attempted to track similar pieces of news and thought we would try doing a December edition. If time permits and there is enough interesting news, we will try to make this a monthly recurring post. And if you have any tips or specific updates you would like to share for an upcoming round-up, feel free to get in touch via facebook, twitter, the comments section or email.

ERNC asks for Safety Improvements on Yosemite Drive

In November we shared that TERA had asked Council District 14 as well as other local partners to explore short-term and long-term safety improvements on Yosemite Drive. This came in light of a traffic collision in October in which Eagle Rock High School students were struck by a car driver, sending one of them to the hospital with harsh injuries. Following TERA’s lead, the ERNC drafted a letter requesting very specific improvements, including Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at marked crosswalks. Since the ERNC’s request, the Federal Highway Administration has revoked approval to install new RRFBs, likely dealing a blow to any short-term solution to addressing safety on Yosemite Drive. If there is a silver-lining to be found in this unexpected news, it is that it will force a greater attention on actual concrete changes to Yosemite Drive.

Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council Asks for Speed Humps

Ok, so Boyle Heights is not in Northeast LA, but it is east of the LA River so we share that in common. At a November 29 meeting, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council introduced a motion requesting speed humps on Whittier Boulevard in an attempt to curb speeding. Well-meaning as the motion is, the City has a strict policy of not installing speed humps on busy, multi-lane streets such as Whittier Boulevard. Council District 14 has expressed interest in making improvements to the street, perhaps the BHNC and CD14 can partner on an initiative and bring some positive change to improve safety on the local commercial corridor.

Highland Park Neighborhood Council Asks CD14 for Safety Improvements on North Figueroa

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For years, local advocates have reached out to neighbors, attended meetings, rallied, protested, and even painted rogue bike safety improvements, all in the hopes of making North Figueroa Street a little less deadly. Years of advocacy reaching even further back sparked the formation of groups such as Figueroa for All (or #Fig4All) which has organized locals to make public comments and attend neighborhood meetings to speak up for safety.  Despite visible support, these efforts have been consistently blocked by councilmember Gil Cedillo, whose district includes much of the street. However, North of York Boulevard, the street is under the jurisdiction of Jose Huizar, a champion for safe streets and sustainable transportation. Considerably less attention has been paid to Figueroa in his district though the street can be just as harrowing there. On December 7th, the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council (HHPNC) passed a motion requesting safety improvements to Figueroa north of York Boulevard.

Alhambra Avenue in El Sereno To Get Package of Safety Improvements

On November 28th, Council District 14 held the final of several community workshops regarding safety improvements on Alhambra Avenue in El Sereno. At the workshop, CD14 announced a package of safety improvements that will come to the street, including: a road diet, bike lanes, new sidewalk, and a traffic signal. This announcement came only 9 months after the first workshop was held in March. A groundbreaking for the project will occur in January, according to The EastsiderLA. Council District 14 should be applauded for the swift, effective, and efficient approach they took to this project. We hope to see future safety improvements implemented with the same level of outreach and urgency.

Dockless Bike-Share Bicycles Appear on North Figueroa Street

On December 6th, a handful of dockless bike-share bicycles appeared on North Figueroa Streetspin.jpg. Unlike the public bikes in Downtown LA or Downtown Pasadena that are anchored by docking stations where bikes can be checked out and returned, these dockless bikes are free to roam wherever the users may find or drop them off. Peculiarly enough some appeared on North Figueroa. It is unclear if the bikes were simply a demonstration or an indication that private bike-share vendors are interested in bringing more bikes to the Northeast LA area.

On-going Sidewalk Repairs in Verdugo Village

The neighborhood immediately surrounding Verdugo Road west of Eagle Rock Boulevard is known as “Verdugo Village.” It is a quaint area with charming small-scale shops and single family homes. Charming as the area is, the sidewalks on Verdugo Road, the area’s main commercial strip, were in poor condition. For the past couple months, some of the sidewalks have been repaired and work was still underway in December. While new sidewalks are great, the street remains terrifying to cross, or bike on.

Livability in Burbank and Beyond

In early December, the City of Burbank announced it would extend existing bike lanes on Verdugo Avenue starting on December 13. Once completed, there will be continuous bike lanes on Verdugo Avenue from Clybourn Avenue to Victory Boulevard, approximately 2.2 miles. Meanwhile, The EastsiderLA reports that a pilot expansion of the Metro’s bike-share system into Echo Park has been an initial success. Could the success pave the way for greater bicycle infrastructure and bike-share coverage in Echo Park? Time will tell. Finally, the City of Glendale is seeking input on proposed changes to Central Park, the largest remaining greenspace in downtown Glendale. Public meetings to gather input will be held on January 18th and January 20th.

Did we miss something? Let us know!

Checking in on the Local Livable Streets Movement

Advocates for safer streets and more sustainable transportation are often frustrated by the slow pace of improvements. However, sometimes progress is not always visible, or it doesn’t receive widespread coverage, or it gets drowned out by some bigger news. Here at Walk Eagle Rock a number of livability-related efforts that affect Northeast LA caught our attention in recent months and we thought we would share them here to provide some added exposure.

Chances are we did not catch everything. So, if you know of something, please let us know in the comments, on facebook, twitter, or email us at walkeaglerock@gmail.com. And let us know if any of the below initiatives are of particular interest to you and we can try to follow up with additional coverage on it.

Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council Asks for CicLAvia event in 2019

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Excerpt from ERNC November 2017 minutes. Note “in Echo Park” is likely a typo meant to read “in Eagle Rock”.

At the ERNC’s monthly meeting in November, a motion from Boulevard Director Chloe Renee Ziegler to partner with the non-profit CicLAvia to bring an “open street” event to Eagle Rock in 2019 passed unanimously. A CicLAvia-like “open street” event would close streets to cars for a day while allowing people to walk, bicycle, scoot, and roll to explore the neighborhood and enjoy the local businesses. Nearby, CicLAvia events have been hosted in Pasadena, Glendale, Atwater and Echo Park. If Eagle Rock is lucky enough to host an “open street” event in 2019, it would likely span at least 2 miles, making the street closure much longer than the annual Eagle Rock Music Festival, which closes down less than a mile of Colorado Boulevard. A successful open street event could help get locals interested in walking and bicycling, and demonstrate that having a happy, thriving community does not necessitate dependence on car travel. Locally, a smaller proof-of-concept street closure event has been Highland Park’s successful El Mercado street fair on the two blocks of York Boulevard between Avenue 50 and Avenue 52.

Speed Humps Appear on Avenue 46 and Armadale Avenue

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New speed hump on Armadale Ave

It was a big deal when the City announced in 2016 it would re-instate its speed hump request program. Amid budget cuts, the popular traffic calming program was suspended in 2009. Even with its recent revival, it seemed unlikely that given its popularity that any new speed humps would make their way to Eagle Rock anytime soon. Fortunately, Eagle Rock received speed humps on not one, but two streets. Two speed humps were installed on Avenue 46 between Ridgeview Avenue and Corrliss Street while three were installed on Armadale Avenue between Campus Road and York Boulevard. While the speed humps were installed unceremoniously, they appear to have taken shape sometime in early November.

Speed Limit Set to be Lowered on NELA Streets

Back in October, Streetsblog reported that a number of streets citywide would see speed limits increase due to a notorious State law commonly referred to as the “85th percentile” law. In effect, the law requires speed limits be set to the speed that most drivers are going. If most drivers are going above the speed limit, the speed limit must be raised. Likewise, if most go below the speed limit, the speed limit is to be lowered. Northeast LA, will see speed limit reductions on the following streets:

  • Ave 26 between Pasadena Ave and San Fernando Rd (0.9 miles) – 35mph to 30mph
  • Ave 36 between Eagle Rock Bl and Fletcher Dr (0.1 miles) – 35mph to 30mph
  • Fletcher Dr between Ave 36 and San Fernando Dr (0.7 miles) – 35mph to 30mph
  • Townsend Ave between Hill Dr and Colorado Bl (0.35 miles) – 30mph to 25mph
  • York Bl between Arroyo Verde Rd and Eagle Rock Bl (2.72 miles) – 35mph to 30mph

The speed reductions are beneficial for two reasons: slowing cars will mean the streets are safer, and with a speed limit based on a current speed survey, LAPD is now legally allowed to perform automated speed enforcement. If all goes well, we will see safer travel speeds, and greater enforcement presence. Incidentally, most of the speed reductions are occurring on streets that have received road diets, suggesting that lane reductions are indeed an effective tool to curb unwanted speeding.

The Eagle Rock Association (TERA) Asks for Safer Yosemite Drive

On November 15th, TERA sent a letter to Councilmember Huizar asking that the City take measures to improve safety on Yosemite Drive after Eagle Rock High School students were struck by a car driver while crossing in a marked crosswalk. The letter asks for short-term as well as long-term solutions, requesting the City explore a variety of improvements ranging from bike lanes, sidewalk extensions, and crossing refuge islands. Given that two schools, a public park, and senior housing are all located on Yosemite Drive, the street is an ideal candidate for more pedestrian-oriented design and traffic calming.

Livability Improvements in Glendale, South Pasadena, and Beyond

In addition to the promising progress locally, improvements are also being made in neighboring Glendale and South Pasadena. Bike Walk Glendale brought to our attention that bike lanes and sidewalk extensions were added to Ocean View Boulevard in late October. Meanwhile, BikeSGV previewed the physical progress being made on extending the Arroyo Seco Bike Path from Highland Park north into South Pasadena. Urbanize LA reminded us that Metro expects to break ground on a bus rapid transit line connecting North Hollywood to Pasadena in 2020. The bus route would go through Eagle Rock, and quite possibly operate down the center of Colorado Boulevard in dedicated lanes where streetcars once ran.

In addition to the above items, we are also excited by TERA’s initiative “Rock the Boulevard,” which will take a community-driven approach to re-envision Eagle Rock Boulevard as a more pedestrian-friendly boulevard. We expect to hear more about that in 2018. We also hope our friends at Safer Verdugo will reignite their efforts to tame traffic on Verdugo Road in Glassell Park in 2018 as well.

Did we miss something? Any particular initiative you want to hear more about or get involved with? Let us know!

South Pasadena’s Transportation “Wish List” Needs More Bicycle, Pedestrian Infrastructure

Remember when the Metro Board voted to stop throwing money at studying the construction of the infamous710 freeway tunnel? Well, that money will still be spent on transportation projects, but what those projects are remain to be seen. Our friends at BikeSGV summed it up pretty nicely:

Almost $1 BILLION in Measure R funding originally set-aside for the 710-N freeway tunnel is being made available to cities along the proposed freeway corridor, following a Metro Los Angeles Board of Directors motion that took the 710 freeway tunnel alternative off the table.

How will the money be spent? That is still very much to be determined.

The City of South Pasadena has developed a detailed list of transportation projects, which they will discuss TONIGHT at 7pm at a special City Council meeting. The current list, per BikeSGV, includes:

  • New ‘hook ramp’ to the 110 freeway at Fair Oaks Ave ($38 million) and associated changes including bulb-out along parts of Fair Oaks Ave.
  • ‘Adaptive Traffic Control System’ for Fremont Avenue/Huntington Drive/Fair Oaks corridors – Signal synchronization, bulb-out removal, right-turn pockets, Class II bike lanes from Monterey Rd. to Huntington Drive and related changes to increase vehicle throughput ($10-20 million)
  • Study of a potential micro-transit circulator pilot project
  • Study of grade separations for Gold Line at key crossings (in conjunction with Pasadena)

BikeSGV notes that the list is surprisingly car-centric, and appears inconsistent with local policies and plans aimed at encouraging more walking, bicycling, and public transit. As if that weren’t bad enough, the City even has preliminary plans of what positive, sustainability-minded projects could look like but those plans are being ignored for this wish list.

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Fair Oaks Avenue envisioned with protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements. (Via BikeSGV)

Is all hope lost? Not quite. Foremost, if you live in the area, you are encouraged to attend tonight’s meeting and connect with BikeSGV (see bottom of their post) to explore strategy for getting the City to be more forward-thinking with limited public dollars.
Also, one of South Pasadena’s current wish-list items could open the door for active transportation. Specifically, the last listed item to “study of grade separations for Gold Line at key crossings” could benefit bicycle and pedestrian travel. South Pasadena has studied the potential for road diets on Monterey Road and Mission Street in the past but both projects have faced concerns about traffic congestion at Gold Line crossings. If both or either of these crossings are made grade-separated then that removes one of the barriers for a road diet. If South Pasadena ultimately is awarded funding for grade-separation at either location, a part of the project should include incorporating a road diet.
What would we like to see included in South Pasadena’s wish list? These three NELA-adjacent projects come to mind:
  • Closing the bike lane gap between the York Boulevard bike lanes and Pasadena Avenue bike lanes. (This is something Flying Pigeon LA suggested almost 4 years ago!) 
  • Improving bicycle connectivity on existing bike lanes on Pasadena Avenue in the vicinity of the Monterey Road Gold Line crossing. Eastbound bicyclists frequently ride against traffic on the sidewalk to bypass the confusing and uncomfortable left turn at Monterey Road. (See below illustration)
  • Build a two-way, on-street Class I bike path from the Arroyo Seco bike path to Arroyo Verde Street and Marmion Way to build out an “arm” of the bike path that is accessible from surface streets.

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If you walk, ride, or roll through the San Gabriel Valley, consider getting involved with these efforts to make sure that sustainable transportation is taken seriously and adequately funded with this one-time opportunity! Can’t attend tonight’s meeting? Reach out to BikeSGV or consider becoming a member to support the hard work they do!

Missing the Mark: Better Intersection Design Needed Around Glassell Park Target

The stretch of Eagle Rock Boulevard between Avenue 42 and El Paso Drive frequently causes confusion, frustration, and near-misses between various road users. Poorly placed bus stops and driveways, an off-set intersection, a driveway that double as pedestrian accessibility curb cut, high demand for left turns, and an unusual yellow yield traffic signal, these are some of the issues that make the area so dreaded by motorists and pedestrians alike.

There was some hope that when Target announced it was going to replace the vacant Fresh and Easy market that fronts the intersection that the company might kick in some money to address the awkward traffic situation. The Glassell Park Improvement Association (GPIA), a local non-profit community group certainly made it clear they wanted some traffic mitigation but their wishes appear to have fallen on deaf ears as the Target has opened and no changes have been made to the area.

The most viable suggestions to bring some order to this area have included calls for a traffic signal at Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 42, or a change to the signal at Eagle Rock Boulevard and El Paso Drive. We believe the area needs some re-thinking that is a little more comprehensive if the situation is to be made safer, more predictable, and more pleasant. Below is our attempt at something at is both realistic and meaningful:

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Eagle Rock Blvd between Avenue 42 and El Paso Dr as it looks today

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Same area imagined with modifications to create a “normal” intersection

The elements we propose changing include:

  1. Relocating the existing bus stop in front of Target to be south of Avenue 42. (It might also be possible to move the bus stop slightly north of El Paso Dr)
  2. Restricting parking between Avenue 42 and El Paso Dr on Eagle Rock Blvd (this would only affect a few spots in the northbound direction)
  3. Closing the 7/11 driveway on Eagle Rock Blvd closest to El Paso Dr (there would still be one 20 feet south of the closed driveway)
  4. Closing the driveway to access Target from Eagle Rock Blvd (there would still be the entrance/exit on Avenue 42)
  5. Signalizing the area to make a “normal” square intersection. Green lights on Avenue 42 and El Paso Dr would be synchronized to both be green while Eagle Rock Blvd has a red light.

The intersection functions poorly because bad decisions have been permitted one by one over the years with little regard to the surrounding context. So far, only ad-hoc solutions that address very specific problems have been applied but collectively the neighborhood has been left with what feels like at times an incoherent jumble. Our proposal would not be cheap and certainly is not the most visionary. However, we believe it reflects an investment at the scale necessary to change the area given the present circumstances that make the intersection so peculiar, confusing, and harrowing.

If you have ideas to address traffic in this area, or critiques of our design, feel free to let us know in the comments.

Safety Fixes Come to Broadway in Lincoln Heights

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Peak hour travel lanes have been removed from Broadway in Lincoln Heights, making room for parking and painted curb extensions.

In 2013 when the City proposed slimming Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock down from 6 lanes to 4 as a means of improving safety, some predicted the worst. Now, 4 years after the street shed lanes, the impact of lane removal on traffic flow appears to be negligible. Meanwhile, crashes have dropped and bicycle usage has increased. Virtually everywhere the City has installed road diets, the results have been the similar. At the cost of paint and a little added rush hour delay, communities have seen vast upticks in safety and people walking and bicycling.

The latest street to receive modest lane re-striping  in the NELA area has been Broadway in Lincoln Heights. The road diet was installed through the City’s Vision Zero initiative to reduce the number of people getting injured and killed in traffic. Serving as the neighborhood’s main commercial thoroughfare, Broadway is wide – approximately 70 feet curb-to-curb. Generally, the street is two lanes in each direction, a center turn lane, and curbside parking. Until a couple weeks ago, the street would also feature a third westbound lane during the morning rush hour by prohibiting parking. During the evening rush, the configuration flipped with a third lane of travel in the eastbound direction by restricting parking on that side.

A cursory glance at recent traffic counts suggest that accommodating an extra lane of traffic during rush hour was unnecessary. As a point of reference, Eagle Rock’s Colorado Boulevard carries about 34,100 car trips a day,  while Broadway only carries 29,000. So the City took action in early July to remove the rush hour parking restrictions in hopes of improving safety, and reducing the number of serious and fatal injuries that occur on the street. Now people are free to park on either side of the street without morning and evening restrictions. This could very well also help the businesses along the street, some of which limited their hours of operation based on the former parking restrictions.

In addition to restoring parking, the City also installed some painted treatment at intersections to encourage slower right turning movements. Some intersections were rewired to give pedestrians a green light before the light turns green for cars (during our visit we observed this improvement at Avenue 20, Daly St, and Griffin Ave).

The new configuration extends approximately 1.1 miles from Avenue 18 to Lincoln Park Avenue (though the westbound lane reduction is 2 blocks shorter, from Avenue 20 to Lincoln Park Avenue).

Below are pictures of the new configuration, starting Avenue 20 moving eastbound.

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Paint and raised pavement markers installed in former peak hour lane.

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Broadway, eastbound, crossing I-5 Freeway.

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Visible in foreground is former lane marking that has been scraped off. In the background paint and raised pavement markers to promote more careful turning movement.

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Paint, raised pavement markers, and flexible bollards to promote safer right turns.

 

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New 30 minute parking signs on Broadway. It may take time before people realize they can now park during rush hour.

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Here are some pictures moving in the westbound direction:

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At times it feels like there is enough room for bike lanes, but at 70 feet wide there would only enough room to add a bike lane in one direction. Maybe there could be a bike lane in the uphill eastbound direction and sharrows in the downhill westbound direction?

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Pedestrians get green light a few seconds before the light turns green for cars at Daly Street.

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Not all drivers got the memo that they should not be turning right in the painted area with raised pavement markers. Perhaps some flexible bollards could be added here.

It is worthwhile to note that 16 of the 18 intersections along the corridor have full traffic signals. People that oppose such road diets and other lane reductions often suggest the City should instead install traffic signals to improve safety. Yet despite having traffic signals at almost all its intersections, Broadway has long remained a dangerous street. Let’s hope that the new treatment improves safety conditions for the neighborhood.

(Around the corner from Broadway there are also peak hour lanes on Avenue 26 that might be worthwhile removing to make space for parking and/or bike lanes.)IMG_3909.jpg

Speak Up for Safety on Fletcher Drive!

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Will Fletcher Dr south of San Fernando Rd be made safer for all? 

It was just a month ago when the LA Department of Transportation (LADOT) Vision Zero team presented two different proposals to address safety concerns on a 0.75-mile stretch of Fletcher Drive between San Fernando Road and 2 Freeway on-ramp in the Atwater neighborhood. After the meeting, we provided some reflections on the meeting and two proposals presented. In short, our takeaways from the meeting were:

  • The meeting format was less divisive and more constructive than meetings held in the past.
  • As presented, the safety redesign options were limited and binary, people were forced to choose “either/or.”
  • While imperfect we strongly endorsed “Alternative 1,” which consisted of a traditional road diet as a pragmatic and cost-effective means of improving safety for all road users.

Since June’s meeting, there have been troubling signs of opposition. The Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce has opposed this project from the start, arguing that broad safety improvements somehow only benefit a “handful of cyclists.” Unfortunately, such framing is divisive and obscures the project goals. The goal is to reduce the the number of people that get hit and injured in traffic crashes. If successful, everyone – whether they ride a bicycle, walk, drive, or take transit – would benefit from a safer Fletcher Drive. Local research suggests that nearby road diets have cut crashes across the board by more than 30%, which clearly benefits the community at large.

The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council (SLNC) issued a post echoing the Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce. In its post, the SLNC decided to take a car-centric windshield perspective, focusing on the potential loss of travel lanes rather than the anticipated safety gains.

The Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce (SLCC) went one step further. Using a picture taken when Fletcher was abnormally busy, the SLCC issued a brief article stating that according to Councilmember David Ryu road diets are ” the most expensive and intrusive” way to improve traffic safety. The SLCC went on to state, “Yet, once again, a road diet is being prescribed for us.” This position is not based on reality. The cost to signalize an intersection with traffic lights can cost upward of $250,000. A road diet, on the other hand, often costs no more than $60,000 per mile. It is unclear why the SLCC or David Ryu believe paint on the ground  is more intrusive or costs more than installing traffic signals or rebuilding curbs. If the organization’s main concern is cost and intrusiveness, it would seem that a road diet would be embraced as it can be easily adjusted and costs little when compared to other traffic safety improvements.

Just a few days ago, KTLA traffic reporter Ginger Chan tweeted negatively of the proposed safety improvements.

She tweeted that a road diet could “hit” Silver Lake and implied this was something to dread by her use of “(gulp).” Like the local chamber of commerce and neighborhood council groups, she ignores the package of improvements proposed that extend beyond a mere road diet. One would think that Ms. Chan, who regularly reports and tweets about people getting hit and injured in traffic, would be among the the first to see the value in improving safety on local streets given the nature of her job.

This Wednesday, July 19, there will be a follow-up meeting regarding Vision Zero efforts on Fletcher Drive. It is expected the City will take more input and provide an update on the direction the project is taking. We strongly encourage friends, neighbors, and visitors of the area to show up and offer support for a redesign that prioritizes safety. The meeting details are as follows:

  • Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2017
  • Time: 5pm-7pm
  • Location: Atwater Elementary School, 3271 Silver Lake Blvd, 90039
  • Purpose: Show support for improvements that prioritize safety of those walking and bicycling in particular.