Learning from Hermosa Avenue

David and Helen Gustavson are the powerhouses behind Wiota Circle, that little jewelbox of color and texture off the 134 on ramp. Helen chose the plantings. David masterminded the erecting of the Eagle Rock replica monument. This was a labor of love spanning many years, and utilizing the contributions of many volunteers.

David offered us some interesting thoughts on how Colorado Boulevard could be improved:

Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach has similar attributes to Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock.  Commercial and residential use properties are in close proximity; parking is at a premium, especially during beach going weather; there are many pedestrians and bike riders, so slower traffic speeds and safety  are an issue.  Here is a picture of how they balanced these needs:

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 the right lane is shared by both the cars and bikes, but NOT side by side, but rather IN TANDEM.  This accomplishes two important things; cars in the right lane are forced to go no faster than the bicyclists, and this 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 should walk along the median to the crosswalk to cross the street, not jay-walk.  As you can see by the photo below, the median is obstructed in places by the planter boxes.  In Eagle Rock, we can do better, since the medians are wider.

The width of Hermosa Avenue, curb to median, is 39’ 2”.  This is slightly narrower than the width on Colorado Blvd of 40’, according to the drawing provided by SALT Landscape Architects, so this arrangement should fit on Colorado Blvd.

Most intersections on Hermosa Avenue are 4 way stops, which also helps to slow the traffic.  We may need to implement forced stops at a few strategic intersections on Colorado Blvd. to accomplish the same thing.

In summary, I think this model is the best balance of parking and a pedestrian/bike friendly business district.

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3 Responses to Learning from Hermosa Avenue

  1. Hermosa Avenue seems it is far more civilized than Colorado Boulevard. My major issue with that practice is that if something similar were to be implemented on Colorado, car would still be king. It does seem physical safety is significantly increased, but it also seems like bicycles are an afterthought. Double lanes of parking might encourage or justify short local trips to be made by car. I would like for folks, upon seeing a more bike or pedestrian friendly design of Colorado Boulevard to justify a trip to be made by bike or foot. Nonetheless, this is one more tool in the tool box that shows just about ANY re-purposing of one of the car lanes will significantly calm traffic.

    • Jane Tsong says:

      Hey, walkeaglerock! That’s the monument Dave built, as your profile picture! This conversation was meant to be.

    • Dave Gustavson says:

      Hi walkeaglerock,

      Yes, it would be great to transform our car culture, but I guess I am a little cynical in thinking it’s not going to happen completely. I walk to everything in the neighborhood because I sit all day at work and sit in my car for almost an hour each way to and from work. I enjoy walking, but not everybody thinks that way.

      Anyway, parking, and how it is tied into the Colorado Blvd. Specific Plan zoning laws, has and continues to be a major source of contention in our neighborhood. Many of the storefronts on Colorado have no parking, and this makes it difficult for more restaurants to move in, since they can’t meet the zoning requirements. I thought the additional median parking was a practical solution, since it slows traffic and costs way less than building a parking structure.

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