Colorado Boulevard: Motorists’ Delight, Pedestrians’ Nightmare

To get to the first signalized crossing along Colorado east from City Hall, pedestrians must walk nearly five times the distance a motorist has to drive to hang a left or do a U-turn.

Pedestrians typically expect to walk about 350 feet alongside a street before crossing it—without jaywalking.

But in the center of Eagle Rock’s commercial district, on the six-lane stretch of Colorado Boulevard between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Townsend, law-abiding pedestrians who wish to cross the local highway often face a mini-hike, writes Eagle Rock resident and walking/biking advocate Severin Martinez in his latest Walk Eagle Rock blog.

On the north side of Colorado, along the four-block stretch between Maywood Avenue (the cross street where is located) and Hermosa Avenue (the location of the ), pedestrians must walk no less than 1,200 feet before hoping to cross—at a non-signalized crossing that leaves them at the mercy of drivers who aren’t texting or at least have good brakes.

If you’re the cautious type who will only traverse a street at a signalized crossing, however, you would have to walk another blocks east to Argus Drive. Martinez notes a striking contrast: Motorists have to drive no more than 350 feet to be able to hang a left turn or a U-turn on this “downtown” stretch of Colorado, where five of the 12 intersections (including the boulevard’s busiest intersection at Vincent Avenue, where is located, and where motorists face a double jeopardy of their own) have no breaks at all for crossing.

Click here to read Martinez’s full blog—and then start a conversation by sharing your views in the Comments section below about walking along Colorado Boulevard.


 Improving Colorado Boulevard—What Eagle Rock Can Learn From Hermosa Beach.

'Take Back the Boulevard' Moves Forward to Improve Colorado.

Patch Blog: Crashes Along Colorado—Some Preliminary Findings.

Correction: A pervious version of this article noted that the first signalized crossing for pedestrians on the north side of Colorado Boulevard walking east of City Hall is Mount Royal Drive. The first signalized crossing, as a reader correctly points out at the start of the Comments thread, is Argus Drive—a block short of Mount Royal.

Jennikate August 15, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Forgive me if I am reading this incorrectly, but from City Hall east to the first signal would be Argus wouldn't it?
Ajay Singh (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Yes—thanks for pointing that out—Argus is indeed the first signalized crossing for a pedestrian walking on the north side of Colorado east of City Hall.
Savateuse August 16, 2012 at 05:15 PM
My understanding of L.A. traffic laws is that you are legally allowed to cross the street at any intersection. So I fail to see what the problem is. All this endless hand-wringing about how un-pedestrian friendly Colorado Boulevard makes me very angry. The street has nice wide sidewalks on both sides and a wide median so you can cross halfway and pause if you need to. What more do you need? For those of us with lives, jobs, and places to be, the fact that it's so easy to traverse Colorado BY CAR is what makes Eagle Rock such a pleasant place to live. Unlike the rest of this gridlocked metropolis. Why are you trying to take it away? If you don't like to drive, then don't drive, but don't force your choice on the rest of us.
Bob G August 16, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Many feel, as does "Savateuse", that Colorado Boulevard serves its highest and best purpose when it functions as a pseudo freeway, expediting the flow of traffic through our community. As a result, today the public space known as Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock is primarily (80%) dedicated to vehicular traffic. The pedestrian experience is a very different reality when viewed from a driver's seat as compared to when one actually tries to walk across six lanes of traffic - even with a safe median which is not always available to pedestrians. Take Back the Boulevard hopes to enhance the "downtown / Main Street" quality of life in Eagle Rock by a more equitable sharing of this public space, with automobiles and pedestrians. We hope, in the process, to improve safety for all (drivers included) and by improving the aesthetic of our "downtown" to provide an improved business climate and overall higher quality of life in Eagle Rock. I would hope that the primary reason for living in Eagle Rock would not be the ability to traverse the community quickly. Rather I would hope that the wonderful small-town attributes of this community, the great diversity found here, community involvement and pride, wonderful collection of small businesses, and the many other factors that make Eagle Rock a great place would be the primary reasons someone chooses to live here.
Savateuse August 16, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Hi Severin, I do spend a lot of time on Colorado Blvd outside my car, running with my dog several times a week. The sidewalks are plenty wide for both of us as well as other passers by and we are able to safely cross every major intersection. The biggest danger I see is a risk of tripping on the uneven sidewalks. I'd welcome "Take Back The Boulevard" to tackle that danger. I think if there were fewer lanes of traffic, the remaining lanes would become more congested and drivers would get frustrated and behave worse, not better. The fact is that the vast majority of people in Eagle Rock still get around via car, and we shouldn't penalize that just because we _wish_ they would bike or walk more often. We don't have a functional public transportation system in this city, and distances are such that often it's impractical to walk. This isn't Manhattan or San Francisco.
Savateuse August 16, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Yes, I want to expedite the flow of me getting from my house to Trader Joes. Or Dave's or wherever. The fact that I can drive there in 5 minutes encourages me to go to those places. Frequently. Make those trips more time-consuming and I'll be forced to support our local businesses less often. Colorado Blvd serves a second purpose of getting me to the 134 on-ramp so I can get to work. On those occasions, yes, I'm sorry, I do value my ability to traverse the community quickly-- so I can just as quickly get back home to the community. The only two on-ramps available to Eagle Rock are miles apart and require driving across the major thoroughfare that takes us to them: Colorado Boulevard.
Savateuse August 16, 2012 at 09:28 PM
For the record I want to say that I am all for encouraging a sense of community and supporting our existing businesses and bringing new businesses to our neighborhood. That is what I love about Eagle Rock and also E.R. Patch which allows us to have such neighborly discussions. I just don't understand why the conversation on improving our community is fixated on the speed of cars on Colorado Boulevard. I don't believe that's the most pressing problem here.
Jeffrey Williams August 17, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Severin - As someone who does not drive, you are in a 1% (or perhaps even the 0.1%) of Los Angelinos, and your "Take Back The Boulevard" arguments are laden with the elitist, my-way mentality that your Wall Street compatriots are infamous for. I would reverse your question, why do you assume that the vast majority of NELA residents need to inconvenience themselves to make your lifestyle more pleasant? Yes, traffic might disrupt the otherwise five-star outdoor seating at Taco Spot, but do you know what would be worse? Taco Spot closing because their customers find it an enormous hassle to get there. I want to know where all these pedestrians who need these crosswalks are going to come from? Could it be that someone has to walk 350 feet to the nearest crosswalk because they had to park three blocks away from Brownstones? An all-pedestrian Colorado Boulevard is a recipe for disaster. We don't have a fraction of the parking capabilities of Old Town Pasadena, or Montrose, and we don't yet have the business density of 3rd Street or West Hollywood to make the parking hassles worthwhile for crowds. The surest way to kill off the growing Eagle Rock business community is to make it a pain in the ass to get here. If you want to make Eagle Rock a better community, where is the push to make it easier to open a business? It took Spitz over 9 months of hassle to open. Where were you when the Fat Dog Lounge plans were shot down?
Jeffrey Williams August 17, 2012 at 03:45 AM
PS - The traffic article you cite is a terrible reference point for your argument. That theory is designed for highways and other unregulated stretches of road. Increasing the amount of stop signs and traffic lights will actually exacerbate the speed differential of traffic, with the constant cycle of accelerate-decelerate-stop-then start again, creating a bigger problem. I don't think the boulevard needs to be 'taken back' from anyone. We need to make it easier for a wider range of people to support everyone from Casa Bianca down to Swork, and down to The Capri. Regulation and zoning reform, and a renewed push for better parking solutions, will go much farther toward fulfilling Eagle Rock's potential as the best neighborhood in LA.
Jeffrey Williams August 17, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Severin - The problem with your arguments is that you're not asking for better conditions for everybody, you're trying to push a personal agenda. Whether you're 1% or 20%, you're still avoiding the question: Why should the majority of NELA residents need to inconvenience themselves to make your lifestyle more pleasant? Your voting example is specious reasoning. The leap to child-killing is the pearl-clutching refuge of scoundrels who lack solid reasoning. Both are grandstanding bits of irrelevant rhetoric that dodge my questions and the issue. You don't want safer streets, you want safer streets on your terms, without regard to the rest of the community. Do you know what happens to Hill Drive when Colorado gets backed up? I love walking my dog there, but it's poorly lit, inconsistently sidewalked, and fully of blind curves, making it a true pedestrian nightmare when traffic starts to use it as an alternate route. What about the seven lanes of Colorado boulevard, west of Eagle Rock. Are you studying how that's going to be affected by choking traffic down on the east side of ERB? Have you done a business impact study? What alternatives have you considered? For that matter, where are your studies that show speeding is an outrageous problem? What are the numbers for vehicle/pedestrian accidents on that stretch of Colorado? Or are you just relying on anecdotal evidence and your preference for sidewalk dining?
John August 17, 2012 at 07:29 PM
People forget that Colorado Blvd. was the route of the freeway before the 210 was built in 1960s. The boulevard was the only way to get from Glendale to Pasadena and the businesses in Eagle Rock were thriving. There has never been enough parking downtown, and parking meters have never been popular. It used to be a real schlep to get anywhere because customers were competing with commuters. There is much less traffic now. It would be nice to have a busway, bikeway, pedestrian walkway, and parking structure downtown along Colorado, a reinvigorated neighborhood of cafes and retailers, and cultural contributions from Occidental freely accessible to citizens in the commercial district. Colorado could be a parkway and expressway all the way through Eagle Rock with enhanced local access to the business district. Now, how much money do you have?
Jeffrey Williams August 17, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Severin - That's some interesting data. A quick calculation is there's about 52 crashes a year, and 55 injuries a year, with no data if "injury" is a sprained ankle, or a trip to the hospital. About half of those crashes occur west of Eagle Rock boulevard, in the much less pedestrian trafficked area toward the Target. Personal experience tells me that most of the crashes here stem from cars attempting to make an illegal left turn out of the parking deck. Another quick count gives you about 10-12 crashes per year in the business and pedestrian heavy district from Eagle Rock Bl. to the freeway on-ramp. That's about 1 crash a month, which hardly seems to call for a massive campaign to grind traffic to a halt. What is your safety target? Do you think forcing drivers to constantly stop and start and race to get through the next light is going to lower that to 8 crashes a year? 6? CoBl is a major thoroughfare, and not the place for kids to peddle bikes around in, no matter how many stoplights you put up. The single-minded focus on stopping traffic is blinding you to other, less invasive solutions with broader results. Better lighting and clearly marked crosswalks can improve safety for the elderly without shutting down the flow of traffic. (For that matter, it was the elderly neighbors who stopped the Fat Dog Lounge from opening, which was a major blow to the growing restaurant scene, but that's another argument entirely). (edit for typo)
Elijah H August 18, 2012 at 11:25 PM
One only needs to take a look at pedestrian fatality statistics to see the problem with your "we've given you people all you need" mentality. Most pedestrian fatalities are elderly community members who - unfortunately - aren't able to outrun distracted or recklessly speeding drivers. Most find it difficult enough to get across the boulevard in time with the signaled crossings, and wouldn't even dare an unsignaled crossing. But no, their ability to frequent Dave's or Trader Joe's shouldn't be your concern, of course.
Michael Turmon August 19, 2012 at 09:03 AM
Nobody is talking about an all pedestrian colorado blvd. That would mean closing it down to car traffic, right? That's not what we're talking about at all. Let's think about the business/pedestrian connection for a minute. I think there is a clear connection. People like to do a couple of errands at once. Have lunch at Oinkster, get some wine for dinner at CoWineCo, pick up a dessert or snack to go at Coffee Table. Shop at the Farmer's Market, walk across the street to get money at the bank, come back to Swork for a snack. If you make crossing Colorado easier, then you get people in the habit of combining trips like this. Some of these purchases may not be fun or worthwhile as a single trip, but combined, they make sense. In short, our little downtown becomes a "destination". That's what happened for Old Town (that scale would not be welcome here and would never happen, but the idea is the same). I think many of the merchants along the boulevards share this view. It's not just Severin, so focusing on his personality is beside the point.
Tim Ryder August 19, 2012 at 06:02 PM
You go Severin! Keep up the good fight and sooner or later you will win the debate by just wearing us down. Thanks to the Patch you can now see that there are many intelligent differences of opinion on any issue that's brought up in the community. Many different ways to look at things than your own. The days when the 50 odd 'leaders' of this community are able to ram their personal agendas down our throats with no rational discussion are now gone. As with the medical marijuana issue, the open debate on Patch shines a light on those moral crusaders like Michael Larsen who in the past have gotten away with faulty assumptions, manipulated statistics and emotional rhetoric while no one was watching. Would you be open to an online vote through patch so we can be done with your crusade and move on to more important issues? A recent online Patch vote on medical marijuana showed Michael Larsen and his prohibition crusaders to be a miniscule 4% of the community while the vast majority of Eagle Rockers have absolutely no problem with the cannabis collectives. If I remember correctly, the Majority wins right? http://eaglerock.patch.com/articles/should-marijuana-be-legalized-take-our-420-poll#photo-9441674
hippierunner August 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Jennifer N August 19, 2012 at 07:46 PM
When did the priority to get to work take over city planning and spending of tax dollars? Used to be city planning was about quality of life and growing local businesses, now it's about quality of commute. Some cities still plan with livability in mind. For example, Boston put their highways underground with the big dig, granted it was expensive, and took a long time. But city planners wanted to free up space for a green corridor, and more discretionary businesses. Guess what? People came. The city has a bike czar, even though they've got about 56 sunny days a year. Why do Angelenos continue to accept, just good enough from their roadways and city planners? Move near your job, or work closer to home. If you don't have that luxury then don't force your community to build itself around your commute. Thank you, Take Back the Boulevard, Do Eagle Rock blvd next.
Tim Ryder August 19, 2012 at 08:28 PM
'hippierunner' nice!
Michael Turmon August 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Yes, and the correction Ajay offered still has an error. The light at Mount Royal is two blocks from Argus, not one. Whatever the name of the streets are, the gap between these crossings is quite long.
Tim Ryder August 20, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Okay, you win Severin, what do you want? 2 lanes? 1 lane? Horse and buggies? Your are going to win the propaganda war, hand down! You win! You're right, we need bike lanes, we need pedestrian friendly sidewalks, reduce the lanes from 3 to 2. Okay, you win. Now can I go get my beer? God help us from crusaders like you and Michael Larsen...


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