Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock as a Green Street

One of my favorite people, Scott Wilson, has always encouraged my efforts to organize a street tree planting on Colorado Boulevard. However, from the beginning, Scott told me I was thinking too small. He vision is bigger: turning Colorado Boulevard into a ‘Green Street.’

What would this mean? Scott wants to see the median on Colorado turned into a swale to collect rainwater. This water would be stored underground and used to irrigate median and treewell vegetation throughout the year. In fact, water from a couple of the Eagle Rock Streams which are currently routed into stormdrains, should easily water many trees.

His vision also includes simple improvements that will make the street safer for everyone: reducing the number of traffic lanes on Colorado, adding a bike lane, curb cuts, bumpouts, rain gardens, street furniture, bike racks, synchronized signals, crosswalks with lights.

Talking to Scott, one feels that if you focus on the steps necessary for making it happen, it can absolutely happen.

I asked some people I admire to interpret Scott’s ideas through illustrations….

Plan and section by SALT Landscape Architects. Illustrations by Andy Wilcox to come– check back soon!

Use the comments link below to tell us what you think!

Click on the links below to download the images as pdfs…

salt co blvd sect existing

salt co blvd sect green

salt co plan existin

salt co plan green

This entry was posted in bike lane, cistern, green street, SALT, Scott Wilson, streams, trees, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock as a Green Street

  1. Joe Linton says:

    Are those definitely the actual measurements? or just a basic schematic. Seems like the lanes might be more than 10′ wide.

    How do we focus rainwater into the median?

    • Jane Tsong says:

      The illustrations show Colorado at Argus, and it’s possible that there is some variation at different points on the street, as you had discovered when measuring York and Figueroa. This morning I got these measurements from Colorado at Mt. Helena: concrete lane (10′), 3 traffic lanes (9′, 10′, 10′), and median (15′).

      As for collecting rainwater, one possible approach is to route water from existing storm drains coming down from Hill or Colorado.

      Scott’s also very interested in the old auto court spring, which could be tapped and run into cisterns under any of the parking lots and yards of the schools in that general area, and used to water medians downhill (downstream) from there.


    • Allen Compton says:

      These drawings are scaled from BOE drawings from a few years back, but my guerrilla survey confirmed that the scaling is very close.

  2. Joan MacNeil says:

    I like your green street. However, I would prefer the bike lane against the curb and separated from meters, parking and car lanes by planters. NYC is doing this and I would feel much safer on a bike without having to worry about car doors opening or cars cutting in front of me to park at the curb.

    • Mike Woodward says:

      I agree with Joan. Having a barrier of cars between the traffic and me would certainly make me feel safer.
      And I may be naive here, but it seems to me that such a solution would be relatively cheap. Just a matter of re-striping the roadway. It might serve as an important first step toward the civilizing of Colorado Boulevard.

      • Jane Tsong says:

        These are great ideas, Joan and Mike… Isn’t it funny– the idea of actually feeling safe while biking down the street– I’ve only experienced that on the LA River bike path, or in group rides where you are surrounded by 100 other riders… it would be amazing to feel safe while riding to the grocery store– every day.

  3. duff says:

    I have always wondered why Colorado, from its start to finish is mostly 2 lanes on either side, and then through Eagle Rock it is 3? Plus through Glendale and Pasadena/Arcadia there are also tons of signals that keep cars from going really fast, which we don’t have on the Colorado in LA. Anyway, I think there is a lot of wiggle room on that street to create something more community oriented.

  4. re: Joan’s comment about the location of bike lanes, there seem to be various models around, each with their passionate advocates and detractors (I always found the European type on the sidewalk good) . Perhaps Joe Linton can tell us if LA is open to anything except the type between parked cars and traffic lanes. As we are talking about visions, the one part of the vision that I am missing (particularly for a blog called Bipediality) is consideration of the pedestrian zone. In my view the sidewalks on Colorado are absurdly narrow. If there was more space, something could actually happen on the sidewalk besides walking from parked car to storefront, like being able to sit in the the shade of a nice tree, which I would see as one of the main aims of the whole exercise.

    • Jane Tsong says:

      They’ll be open to it, if there is a good model, i.e, were they open to bike corrals before 1 year ago? Jack, can you send in a link of the kind of bike lane you are talking about?

      Good point about the pedestrian zone– what do you suggest?

    • Joe Linton says:

      LA is very resistant to doing bike lanes between parked cars and the sidewalk (called a bunch of names – but I tend to prefer calling them “protected bike lanes”) So far in the US, only New York City and Portand have done these “non-standard” treatments (with Long Beach and San Francisco planning them, soon.) Clearly, from European examples, they can work really well. One concern in implementing them locally is the large number of driveways. Protected bike lanes tend to work best in places without a lot of driveways (because there are conflicts between bikes and cars at those points.)

      I don’t want to say that these protected facilities won’t work on Colorado… but my personal guess is that, due to lots of driveways (and cost consideratons – protected facilities can be ~$0.5-1M/mile, standard bike lanes ~$20K/mile – nearly free), it’s probably better to go with conventional bike lanes – AT FIRST – on Colorado. They could be “buffered bike lanes” where the width is sufficient. (Watch this video for a good tour of various types of lanes: )

      I think that a good plan for Colorado Blvd would involve a couple of phases:
      1- changes that can be made very soon for very cheap (no curb work)
      2 – long term vision for what can be done with funding.

      My hunch (and I need to sketch this out) (and it’s just a hunch – nobody should feel limited by it!) would be that these would include the following:
      1 – road diet [6 lanes to 4] with buffered bike lanes
      2 – green street, widened sidewalks, bulb-outs, 4 car lanes, 2 bike lanes.

  5. tom yang says:

    what wonderful conversation!!
    of value would be extension of planted medians eastward from Townsend and west from ER Blvd.

    • Jane Tsong says:

      Yes, Tom! Why are there all these empty lanes painted in the middle of the Boulevard there? That’s the real “gateway” to ER, and it could be so green and shady and welcoming.

      • I don’t see medians as being the perfect model, as they are almost impossible to use. Eric Warren showed an old picture of the Eagle Rock Library/ Center for the Arts at a recent ERVHS meeting where it looked as if the sidewalk was wider and the street narrower. In my opinion that would be the way to go on that part of Colorado.

  6. Wrathall says:

    I have long been a proponent of reducing Colorado Boulevard from 3 lanes to 2 lanes. However, as a resident of Hill Drive, a consideration would have to be made to include speed bumps on Hill Drive to prevent this street from becoming an alternate route.

    On occasions when a section of Colorado Blvd is shut down, Hill Drive becomes overloaded with speeding and hostile drivers. As it is already, people drive extremely fast on Hill Drive and blow through stop signs. There is little to no police presence or monitoring on Hill Drive.

    • Jane Tsong says:

      ah!! Thanks for this reminder that any changes to Colorado Boulevard would have to consider the whole context of the neighborhood and traffic flow patterns.

  7. I would love to see that photo of Colorado with wider sidewalks than street! And a bit late on this post but the renderings are beautiful though of course bike paths/cycle track/ separated bike lane would be my favorite.

  8. Pingback: Streetsblog Los Angeles » Eagle Rock Residents Pushing for a Slimmer Colorado Boulevard

  9. STARCHY says:

    widen the sidewalks at corners and have angled parking.
    Colorado is too steep for a bike lane

    • mikewoodward says:

      Hi Starchy,
      I don’t know what your bicycling experience is, but I don’t think of Colorado Boulevard as much of a hill. The section east of Fig is tough, but possible. The rest of it is pretty easy.
      If you plan ahead you can eat and drink your way up the hill, with a fried chicken boost at Larkin’s before you hit the steepest section. Just a suggestion
      Mike Woodward

  10. Edward Villareal Hunt, A.I.A., A.S.L.A. says:

    As a property owner south of Colorado Boulevard, I fully support reducing Colorado Boulevard from 6 moving lanes to 4 moving lanes (+left turn and free right turn pockets and landscaped bump-outs in the parking lanes where appropriate), the center median, bike lanes, parallel parking lanes and the widest possible landscaped sidewalks.

    So how do we get this started to make it happen? Where is our Council Member on this issue? Where is our City Planning department and DOT? Where is phase one?

    • Jane Tsong says:

      Thanks for this comment, Edward. Councilmember Huizar has not taken a stand on this issue, but others have told me that he has said if there is community support for such a thing he will look into it. There will not be a better time to speak out about this issue publicly than now. Should we continue this conversation on the phone?

  11. Can someone (e.g. Eric Warren) provide an historical perspective? I assume that the present configuration of Colorado is from the period post-streetcar pre-freeway, when it was a major traffic artery. A more holistic freeway planning process (if that’s possible) would have built back Colorado Boulevard to suit lower traffic volumes. It doesn’t seem to me that the present configuration reflects an actual need, unless more traffic is anticipated. And no one wants that, do they?

  12. Pingback: What exactly might a bumpout look like….? |

  13. Pingback: Can Colorado Boulevard become Civilized? |

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