Pedestrian Plaza For Caspar Avenue

(Sorry for lack of updates, school is getting most of my attention, and rightfully so.)
It seems as though livable communities for LA are in the not too distant future. The first link, in case it does not direct where it should, shows us a quote from whoever updates the TERA facebook page. The quote is in response to my enthusiastic chant in support for pedestrian plaza’s for Eagle Rock and reads:

“Many of us in ER are working on creating more pedestrian friendly, bike friendly boulevards. We have the will, passion and willing leadership, but money and energy (to advocate for these changes) are always needed! Become a TERA member and support our efforts to make this happen!”

So, in case the message isn’t clear, donate money to TERA and volunteer any time you can to make Eagle Rock a bit less car-dependent. I know we live in a city THE CITY synonymous with cars but oddly enough, I can’t imagine anyone moving to Los Angeles because they absolutely love driving. If you love driving and oppose improvements for pedestrian and bicyclists, please, let me know…

…but I digress…

I really wish I had photo realism drawing capabilities, as it is I have mainly been an abstract artist with only one semester’s worth of knowledge from an intro drawing class at Pasadena City College. I am also photo shop illiterate. However, despite my shortcomings, I have tried to deliver imaginative recreations of local streets in Eagle Rock.

Lately I have been feeling particularly supportive of pedestrian plazas. Pedestrian space in LA is at a complete minimum though hopefully events like cicLAvia – the opening of 7-miles of streets in LA to pedestrians and bicyclists, and roller skaters, runners, etc on October 10th, 2010 – will encourage people to be more supportive of reclaiming space from cars.

While Eagle Rock has plenty of strip malls with misleading names like “Occidental Plaza” or even full malls like “Eagle Rock Plaza” they don’t comply with the most popular definition of the word –

plaza |ˈplazə; ˈpläzə|

1. a public square, marketplace, or similar open space in a built-up area.              (borrowed from my laptop’s dictionary)

Any ‘plaza’ we have in Eagle Rock right now is just a car parking lot, simple as that.

So… in my efforts of trying to imagine a more pedestrian friendly ER, I recently attempted creating a small plaza, without parked cars, on Caspar Avenue. my location might not seem ideal but I would argue to the contrary. But first let’s see the ‘before and after’ of the space I picked out

Caspar Ave between Camilo’s and Corner Pizza

Here’s how I evaluated the spot when seeing this picture:

  • Dead street (plant life and human life)
  • Broken meters
  • Bland
  • Has signs of life during morning drop off/afternoon pick up times at the adjacent schools.
  • Also looks lively when the Friday’s farmer’s market is in action

Did I leave anything out?

Here’s my rendition of the street as a pedestrian space rather than wasted space:

Say what you will about my drawing skills…

For the record, drawing cobblestone is not particularly fun. Anyway, in case the picture cannot explain itself, here are my changes in description:

  • Convert the area to be on level with the two adjacent sidewalks. This will make walking across from end to end easier, especially for handicap people. The ends would have wide ramps or a curvature to more easily allow car access of necessary and let bicyclists breeze through without damaging their bike or themselves if they pedal from Colorado Boulevard and turn right onto the pedestrian space.
  • Apply cobblestone or any kind of textured pavement. This will be aesthetically pleasing, and encourage cyclists to slow down. Bikes can of course ride on textured pavement but a slow pace makes the cobblestone less harsh while riding.
  • Add greenery, a bit of life and color.
  • Street furniture: benches, public art, trashcans, tasteful street lights intended for pedestrians (most street lights are aimed at cars, only giving pedestrians the residue light or no light at all)
  • Grid draining over where current open slits in the concrete let water flow in on the few occasions it does rain. This will also minimize trash which carried into the sewers. I find it unbelievable how many people treat storm drains like secondary trashcans. I guess “out of sight, out of mind” goes a long way to allow people thinking that tossing soda cans or chip bags  into a storm drain is okay.

There are other things that could be added, in fact, if you have suggestions please leave comments. Also, I should note that my drawing shows elements I would like to see, it does not represent how I would like the area to look exactly. I want to inspire ideas to you, readers. Something I have seen here in the Easy Bay, on the street Salano Avenue is a giant clock on the corner of an intersection. No doubt everyone has the time on their cellphones but it’s one of those additions or elements that calls ‘small town’. Maybe an analog clock on the brick wall of Corner Pizzeria that lights up at night. I suppose the point is, there is opportunity, potential– however you want to call it… little by little and by changing the way we view our urban space we can make leaps towards greater vibrancy, a more sustainable and livable town.

Now, I think this would be a great location for a pedestrian plaza. I’m sure it would enhance the experience of attending the farmer’s market. More people would sit and eat without feeling as though, oh I don’t know were… sitting-on-plastic-chairs-eating-off=plastic-tables-in-a-parking-lot-with-portapotties-and-trash-bins-in-the-background.

Closing car access here would also make walking and biking to St. Dominics or Eagle Rock Elementary safer. Walking along Colorado would be just that much safer too. It is also likely that business would improve for the neighboring establishments.

So what do you think? There are definitely other opportunities to create pedestrian plazas in Eagle Rock, this is just one option I find particularly attractive.

Bonus: Don’t think we can convert this little space? I urge you to take a look at what has been accomplished elsewhere…. hey, that street looks like Colorado Blvd! Maybe an extensive portion of Colorado Blvd will be converted to a pedestrian space!

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