The triangular surface parking lot outside of Delevan Elementary (visible in background). A row of trees planted in the parkway along Wawona Street visually obscure the park lot’s bleakness. Image via: Google Maps
Surface parking lots are seldom thought to be aesthetically pleasing. In fact, whether they are empty or cluttered with cars, the oil-stained asphalt areas are often considered downright ugly. Residents of Northeast LA – newcomers and old-timers alike – upon seeing photographs of beautiful buildings that once stood where strip-malls and surface parking lots exist today frequently lament the architectural losses. The damage can be observed throughout the neighborhood but there is no turning back to prevent the mistakes of the past.
Nowadays, locals are much more tuned into local development plans and it is difficult to imagine any existing buildings being demolished to create strip-malls or parking lots. Along much of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock such development plans are explicitly prohibited thanks to the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan. But there is no denying that we must live with many of the surface parking lots we have today into the foreseeable future, either out of necessity or because development can take decades to transform an area since it happens incrementally on a case-by-case basis.
Poorly marked crosswalk makes an unclear intersection more uncomfortable for pedestrians. Via: Google Maps
It could be you were driving to the 2 Freeway entrance on Wawona Street. Or perhaps biking to Fresh & Easy down on Eagle Rock Boulevard. Or, maybe, you saw families walking to and from Delevan Drive Elementary. If you live in the southwestern portion of Eagle Rock, have regular business that takes you to the area, or simply pass through for regional travel, chances are you are familiar with the bizarre five-way intersection of York Boulevard, Avenue 42, and Valley Vista Drive.
An aerial view of the intersection of York, Ave 42, and Valley Vista. Via: Google Maps
To be sure, Northeast LA is home to many unusual streets and intersections due to the local topography, but five-way intersections are still a bit of an oddity here. The York-Avenue 42-Valley Vista intersection can be particularly problematic because it is so heavily traveled compared to other odd intersections, which tend to be on residential streets with very little through traffic. A quick scan of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System reveals that this intersection has not seen many reported collisions but this does not mean the intersection is perfect, free of conflict, or even safe. Anecdotally, users of the intersection experience several issues, including: Continue reading
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…
San Fernando Road, the street students at the Sotomayor Learning Academies travel on to get to school. Image via: Google Maps
The students at the LA River School have a simple request– make the street their school is on, San Fernando Road, safe.
San Fernando Road is an unfriendly street, and students have documented this through a collaboration with the local news outlet KCET. The students even created a twitter account promoting their campaign, appropriately named “Restless Road,” which they have used to contact local city agencies and council members.
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.
A crash on Colorado Blvd by the Eagle Rock Plaza
In recent years Colorado Boulevard has been the most widely discussed street when it comes to talk of traffic safety in Northeast LA. The attention dedicated to Colorado Boulevard is well warranted, however it is not the only dangerous street in the neighborhood. There are many streets in Northeast LA that enable the kind of reckless driving we regularly experience and cause the crashes that scar the community. Ten years of collision data (2002 through 2011) accessible through UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System, or TIMS, reinforces the need to take traffic safety more seriously on all our streets.