NELA Livable Streets Roundup – June 2018

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Pic of the month: Arguably the best protected bike lane in all of Los Angeles can now be found on South Figueroa Street in Downtown LA.

As we hit the halfway mark in the year, several modest livability improvements surfaced seemingly out of nowhere. Is it coincidence or a sign of growing momentum?

Alhambra Avenue Safety Road Diet Completed

The biggest news this month is NELA livability has to be the completion traffic safety improvements made to Alhambra Avenue between Lowell Avenue and Brawley Street (1.25 miles) in El Sereno. (We hope to do a more detailed post about this project in the coming days). For those not familiar with the project, the package of improvements include:

  • Traffic signal, crosswalk, and curb extension at Lowell Avenue
  • Flashing crosswalk at Hollister Avenue
  • Upgrading all existing crosswalks to high visibility markings
  • Bike lanes
  • Dedicated center turn lane
  • Speed feedback sign
  • New sidewalk next to El Sereno Arroyo Park

What remains most fascinating about this particular project is the urgency and smart coordination with which it was implemented. The first in a series of community meetings for the project was hosted in March 2017. Just over a year later, the project was completed in tandem with routine street resurfacing, which means the bike lanes, crosswalk upgrades, and center turn lane all were achieved for free since the street gets re-striped when it is resurfaced anyway.

“My Figueroa” (Partially) Protected Bike Lanes A Reality

In Downtown LA the most high-profile bike lane project that has been in the works for roughly a decade is finally (mostly) completed. Although there are continuity gaps, there are now bike lanes along Figueroa between 7th Street and Exposition Boulevard by USC, part of a project known as “My Figueroa.” The design is far from perfect but was a huge undertaking and will finally provide safer accommodation for people walking and biking along the Figueroa corridor. In contrast to the Alhambra Avenue project, My Figueroa has dragged its feet and cost over $1 million per mile. Our view is that we should focus more on the cheap, nimble Alhambra Avenue type projects that can be implemented at a rate of 10 to 1. Yes, the gold-plated My Figueroa is a nice addition, but at what cost? There are hundreds of miles of streets that need safety improvements and the only way such can be realized is through swift implementation of re-painting streets.

Hollywood and Vine Pedestrian Scramble “Coming Soon”

The Militant Angeleno tweeted a sign that a pedestrian scramble crossing is coming soon to the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Seeing as a similar scramble has successfully cut the number of crashes at nearby Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, this improvement seems to be a no-brainer for a street filled with foot traffic as Hollywood Boulevard. Let’s hope the scramble is celebrated with the red-carpet treatment once it finally arrives and improves safety.

Avenue 26 and Humboldt Street Traffic Signal

Traffic signals are a costly measure that only really work to slow people down when the light turns red. When the light is green, speeding will still be an issue. So it is with mixed feelings that we celebrate the coming of a traffic signal to the intersection of Avenue 26 and Humboldt Street. And of course, it only came after someone died attempting to cross Avenue 26. What Avenue 26 would really benefit from is an Alhambra Avenue style road diet to tame traffic. The redeeming benefit of this particular signal is that it facilitates crossing at a small neighborhood hub– there are bus stops, street vendors, a recurring street sale and a few businesses centered around here. The signal also makes Humboldt safer to travel along as a bicyclist. Humboldt is an informal bike route used alongside a series of other minor streets to go between NELA and DTLA while avoiding freeway ramps and the madness at North Figueroa Street.

Could E-Scooters and Dockless Bikes Be Coming to Eagle Rock?

(Ofo Dockless Bike-Share and Bird E-Scooter sightings in Eagle Rock. Bird picture via Eagle Rock Facebook Group)

On a local Eagle Rock facebook group, residents recently debated the merits of bringing dockless e-scooters such as Bird to the neighborhood. Shortly after the discussion, a couple residents shared that they had signed up to serve as “nests” (households that charge e-scooters when they run out of battery) and a handful of e-scooters were even sighted outside of Swork Coffee. Around the same time, the yellow dockless bikes from company Ofo appeared near the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Townsend Avenue. Would an abundance of publicly accessible rental bikes and scooters help locals ditch the car for neighborhood trips? There’s only one way to find out, and maybe Eagle Rockers will get a chance to test it out. If proven successful, maybe “Bird” scooters should be re-branded as “Eagles”?

Political Courage For Livable Street on Local and State Level

The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) scheduled for their July 5th meeting an agenda item to follow up on an earlier request for safety improvements on Yosemite Drive. Also on the agenda is a motion to support The Eagle Rock Association’s (TERA) Rock The Boulevard grant application.

The City Council released the list of transportation projects that will seek State-level funding to implement. Included on the list are NELA projects:

  • Rock The Boulevard/ Eagle Rock Boulevard protected bike lanes
  • Eastern Avenue pedestrian improvements in El Sereno

After getting some negative publicity regarding faded markings on a bike route in East LA, County Supervisor Hilda Solis – a longtime champion for walking and biking – announced:

I am committed to installing, expanding, and maintaining high-quality and safe bike lanes where appropriate. Currently, our neighborhood streets in East Los Angeles are under construction with roadway improvements that include maintenance and new bike routes that improve safety for all commuters. These enhancements include smoother riding surfaces and clear sustainable markings. When complete, I’m excited to see even more East LA residents take advantage of these new bike paths!

Meanwhile, on the State level, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, representing our neighbors in Glendale and Atwater area, discussed how lower speed limits can improve safety. Around the corner from Glendale, NELA’s very own assemblymember, Wendy Carrillo, announced that the LA State Historic Park will receive $500,000 to develop a plan to provide safe access to the park.

Livability in Pasadena and Beyond

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Fresh bike path markings along the Arroyo Seco Bike Path

  • Mission Street Sharrows in South Pasadena: Mission Street in South Pasadena is a pleasant bicycle street lined with local shops and minimal traffic. The far west and far east ends of the corridor have bike lanes but the bulk of the corridor has nothing. The City recently installed “sharrows,” street markings reminding drivers to expect bicyclists. Like Avenue 26, what is really needed on Mission is a road diet, but sharrows are a step in the right direction.
  • Pasadena Traist Sunday Service Returns: After a 10 year absence, Sunday service has returned to Routes 10, 20, 31/32, 40 and 51 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • NELA’s Not-Yet-Built Taylor Yard Bike Bridge Up for Design Award: Once built, the Taylor Yard Bike and Pedestrian Bridge will connect communities to the Rio de Los Angeles Park and LA River. However, the bridge has already been nominated for a design award. One should be weary of such awards because the final product may not look like the rendering, but if it does NELA will have a beautiful, award winning bridge design!
  • Cellphone Service Coming to Gold Line Stations: Metro announced: “Cell service… in the Gold Line’s underground stations in Pasadena and East Los Angeles is scheduled to become available towards the end of [2018].”
  • Arroyo Seco Bike Path Re-Striped: In mid-June the edge markings and center line striping on the Arroyo Seco bike path were refreshed after what appeared to be decades of neglect.

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