Parking—or its lack thereof—has long been a contentious issue in Eagle Rock. (Those of you who witnessed the “Fat Dog” ruckus a few years ago need no reminders about our neighborhood’s parking problems.) To cite just one example, a lack of adequate parking to meet the zoning requirements of the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan has been an impediment to new restaurants coming to Eagle Rock.
There are some who would relax or abolish the Specific Plan, but I believe it is the foundation that has allowed Colorado Boulevard to blossom. There are also many who would like to see a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly neighborhood, with slower traffic speeds on Colorado. This point was at the forefront of peoples’ minds after that horrific accident a few years ago in which several young people from Eagle Rock were killed when their car collided with a Magnolia tree at an excessively high speed on Colorado Boulevard.
A trip to Hermosa Beach showed me an example of how many of these issues could be addressed without spending a huge amount of money on infrastructure. Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach has similar attributes to Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock. Properties for commercial and residential use are in close proximity; parking is at a premium, especially during beach-going weather; there’s a proliferation of pedestrians and bike riders alike, making slower traffic speeds and safety an issue. (To get an idea of how Hermosa Beach has balanced those needs, take a look at the photos to your right.)
Parking is doubled over conventional right-curb-only parking because there is another parking lane against the median. Here are some key features to notice that make this work: There is a bump-out at the end of each median. This helps prevent drivers from wandering into the parking lane if there are no parked cars, and then rear-ending a parked car further up the street.
Another important provision is that although both cars and bikes share the right lane, this is done not side by side but rather in tandem. This simultaneously accomplishes two important things: Cars in the right lane are forced to go no faster than the bicyclists—and that greatly reduces the possibility of right-turning cars cutting off and colliding with cyclists. Right turn collision danger is a serious problem with the conventional arrangement of a separate right-hand-bicycle-only-lane because the cars must cross in front of the cyclists when turning right.
When cars park against the median, drivers and passengers are supposed to walk along the median to the crosswalk to cross the street instead of jaywalking. As you can see from one of the photos, the median is obstructed in places by planter boxes that deter jaywalkers. In Eagle Rock, we can do even better, given that our medians are wider, making them ideal spots for planter boxes.
The width of Hermosa Avenue, curb to median, is exactly 39 feet and two inches. This is slightly narrower than the width of Colorado Boulevard, which is 40 feet, according to a drawing provided by SALT Landscape Architects and posted on Eagle Rock resident Jane Tsong’s Bipediality blog. So the same arrangement on Hermosa Avenue should fit on Colorado Boulevard.
Most intersections on Hermosa Avenue are four-way stops, which also helps to slow the traffic. We may need to implement forced stops at a few strategic intersections on Colorado Boulevard to accomplish the same thing.
There’s little doubt that the traffic model in Hermosa Beach strikes the best balance between parking and a pedestrian/bike friendly business district. It should be a no-brainer for Eagle Rock.