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Friday, August 1, 2014

It takes many steps to get an Echo Park crosswalk

Photo by peterme/Flickr

The death of a 65-year-old Echo Park man after he was struck by a car  has prompted many residents to ask for additional measure to protect pedestrians. Aureliano Polanco was hit as he was crossing Echo Park Avenue at Lucretia Avenue, an unmarked intersection. What would it take to get crosswalk markings, a stop sign  or other “crosswalk enhancements” installed here? Patience and paperwork.

The city’s Department of Transportation has a process and guidelines (see the list below) to determine whether an intersection needs a painted crosswalk, a crosswalk with stop signs or traffic signals.  The department studies numerous factors – from recent accidents, traffic data, vehicle speed and the number of “pedestrian units” – before it issues a recommendation.

But it could take a while before they study is completed any any action is taken. Transportation engineer Jeannie Shen said it can take two to three months to complete a study. “If a crosswalk or stop signs are recommended, it may take another 1-3 months for installation due to severe reduction of the field crew,” said Shen via email. “Certainly if the request is urgent, the study would be expedited.”

Guidelines For Crosswalk Markings

When studying a request for an uncontrolled marked crosswalk, the District reviews the following:

1. Collision Experience – two or more documented collisions involving straight-ahead vehicles and pedestrians crossing the uncontrolled street during the most recent 12-month period, or three or more during any two of the most recent five year period.

2. Minimum requirements – the 85th percentile approach speeds do not exceed 45mph or the posted speed limit is 40mph or less; motorists would be able to see pedestrians on the curb at the proposed crosswalk from a safe stopping distance base on speed and a perception-reaction time of 1.5 seconds; adequate street lighting illumination for the crosswalk is provided; pedestrian volume is equal to or greater than 20 pedestrian units during any hour; and the proposed crosswalk location is more than 300 feet from a controlled (traffic signal or stop sign) crossing or another uncontrolled marked crosswalk.

3. Once the proposed marked crosswalk meet all the minimum requirements, it must them meet on or more of the following requirements:

  • Pedestrian Volume – 40 or more pedestrian units during the peak pedestrian hour or pedestrian volume is 30 or more during each of any two hour, during an average day
  • Pedestrian Route Definition – the proposed crosswalk will result in substantial improvements in pedestrian safety by accomplishing any of the following: define or clarify pedestrian routes across complex intersections; channelize pedestrians into a significantly shorter path; position pedestrians to be seen better by motorists; consolidate pedestrians to a single preferred crossing; or provide a needed crossing where there is no nearby legal unmarked crosswalk.
  • Special Facilities – the proposed crosswalk serves one or more the following facilities: Transit stop; designated school crossing; government office with a public counter or meeting room; senior citizen center; recreation center or playground used by senior citizens or children; public library; medical center or clinic; day care center or childcare facility; post office; or church.

Guidelines for Installing All-Way Stop signs

When studying for all-way stop sign control, there are ten guidelines that the District office reviews. One of the ten guidelines must be met in order for an all-way stop sign to be installed. The ten guidelines are the following:

1. Minimum Volume – is satisfied when the total vehicular volume entering the intersection from all approaches averages at least 500 vehicles per hour during any 8 hours of an average day, the combined vehicular and pedestrian volumes entering the intersection from the minor street averages at least 200 units per hour during the same 8 hours.

2. Collision Experience – is satisfied if the intersection has experienced three or more reported accidents in the most recent 12-month period; or has experienced two reported accidents per year during any two years of the most recent 4-year period. The accidents must be a type susceptible to correction by all-way stop control and where adequate trial will less restrictive control has proven unsuccessful.

3. Interim Installation – is satisfied on two-lane or collectors streets or low-volume arterial streets when the need for traffic signal control is urgent, and that the traffic signal control is warranted and arrangements are underway for the signal installation.

4. Restricted Visibility – is satisfied where the cross traffic visibility on the STOP sign controlled approaches at the intersection is less than 160 feet. Additional red curb zones are installed as a less restrictive solution if it does not negatively impact on-street parking demands.

5. Railroad Crossing – is satisfied only where the crossing has no automatic signals, gates or other train-activated control devices and there is an average of two or more trains per day.

6. Midblock Crosswalk – is satisfied when a marked crosswalk has been established at a mid-block location on a local or collector street without signal control or warning beacons.

7. Special Facilities – is satisfied at the intersection of local or collector streets without signal control or warning beacons less than one block from an institution primarily serving youth, elderly and disabled.

8. Excessive Speeds – is satisfied when the 85th percentile speed on a local street exceeds 30mph and the distance between controls is greater than 750 feet; or when the 85th percentile speed on a collector street exceeds 35mph and the distance between controls is greater than 1500 feet. The proposed stop sign would not significantly divert traffic to nearby local streets.

9. Excessive Through Traffic on Local Streets – is satisfied when the distance between controls is greater than 750 feet, the volume on the street to be controlled exceeds 1,000 vehicles per day and is at least 25% greater than that on similar adjacent parallel street.

10. Excessive Through Traffic on Collector Streets – is satisfied when the distance between control is greater than 1500 feet, the daily volume exceeds the volume generated by the dwelling units served by the collector street, and that the stop signs would not result in diversion of through traffic to nearby local streets.

How to Request an Echo Park Crosswalk

Requests for a marked crosswalk in the Hollywood-Wilshire District area can be emailed to use at LADOT.HollywoodDistrict@lacity.org or by US mail at 6501 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028.

Related Links:

LADOT Traffic Control Study Tips

29 comments

  1. Do we really need a “study” to determine the necessity?

    I’d say the loss of life (and the ruining of another’s life) at that spot would give you the answer to your study…

    Save the tax money from your “study” and put the crosswalk in.

    Stupid government bureaucracy bullsh**!

  2. Marked crosswalks don’t necessarily make a crossing safer.

  3. Everyone, especially pedestrians, needs to pay attention! I actually always try to make eye contact with drivers when I’m in a crosswalk unless they are stopped.

    • insanity: you are blaming the pedestrian?
      CARS need to pay attention.
      It’s like saying let’s give everyone shotguns, and the unarmed people are the ones who need to be careful. Cars are deadly and need to be driven responsibly.
      Also, this was an old man who was very slow and looked slightly infirm, physically. And we need to protect and respect our elderly and not run them down.

      • Carly, don’t get crazy. I simply stated that everyone needs to pay attention, especially pedestrians. Why? Because in car vs. pedestrian the ped always loses. It’s simple. I did not say that this poor man (victim) was at fault. Folks on bikes need to have helmets, lights and reflectors (many don’t) and pedestrians need to pay attention, even if they have the right of way. Drivers put down the cel. Safety on our streets is a team effort and everyone’s responsibility.

        • I agree with eastsidearts. I also always establish eye contact or get some kind of assurance that I’m not going to get plowed when crossing EVEN THOUGH the “liability” resides with the driver.

          This isn’t the first pedestrian killed at a crosswalk, marked or unmarked, and sadly it won’t be the last. A team effort is definitely required to make it the safest it can be, no matter who is consider legally liable.

          Carly, are you the one who was the witness? If so I am really sorry, that must have been a life shattering moment! Though as eastsidearts mentioned, “don’t get crazy”. I understand this is so incredibly sad but I think you are not giving the other side even a fraction of a thought.

      • How many times do I have to read that it is not the pedestrian’s fault ever? BOTH parties are responsible. You must think for your self. You can not just walk in front of a car thinking that they will stop for you. You have to make sure that they see you. Wether or not they are driving safely or not. Make sure that they see you and are stopping before you just walk in front of them. That is your responsibility to your self and to the drivers. It works both ways. The drivers need to be aware of the surroundings that they drive in and drive accordingly. This feeling that the driver is automatically at fault is wrong. I’m not saying the driver is not at fault. But it was the actions of two that caused the incident. EVERYONE ON THE STREET NEEDS TO PAY ATTENTION AND BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEMSELVES. PAY ATTENTION, DRIVNG AND WALKING.

  4. I’m pretty sure we have enough kids with spraycans walking all over the neighborhood at night, someone just let em know where to paint this time.

  5. It helps somewhat if you can get your councilman involved. In January 2007 when Bill Wingard was struck and killed crossing Hyperion in the crosswalk at Monon Street from the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s, I remember Tom LaBonge was quick to commit to getting a LADOT to install a traffic light — and it still took six months.

  6. The location of a charter school nearby is what made the difference for stop signs and crosswalks at several intersections around where I live. I wonder if that could be used in this case?

    It’s hard to work this process if you don’t have some kind of approval from the councilmember — it’s easy for an obstruction to be made to appear. Funds are one way, and also, there’s some leeway in the way the traffic and road numbers are gathered.

  7. How about if there’s a bus stop, then there should be a stop sign for people to safely cross the street and board that bus?

    Or if someone is killed in a crosswalk on a residential street, then add a stop sign or speed bumps to deter dangerous driving?

    All this red tape is just window dressing to obscure LADOT’s complete indifference to safety or quality of life in Los Angeles.

  8. I say that we just get some buckets of white paint and make a crosswalk. why are you always waiting for the government to do things for you?

  9. A marked crosswalk would be fine. But I don’t think a stop sign is in order. There are several stop signs along there already.

    Also, keep things in perspective. It is tragic that someone was hit, and even more so because they were killed. But this is a single, isolated incident; it doesn’t automatically mean there is a problem there, or that if there is one, that it requires some major revamping of the street.

    In fact, the reports seem to say the problem was that the driver was not paying attention, was fiddling with his cell phone — not that there was some problem in the street design. So, the issue isn’t even a matter of a stop sign. It is a matter of cell phones being used in cars. Put in all the stop signs and marked crosswalks you want — if the driver is not paying attention and playing with his or her cell phone instead, accidents will happen regardless. I suggest a serious crackdown across the city against drivers using cell phones would be more to the point.

    Further, Eastsidearts is right — no matter who is at fault, defensive walking is just as important as defensive driving. No matter who has the right of way, pay attention, look before you leap. And I note, this is NOT to criticize the man who was killed — this is simply good advice going forward. Isn’t this something you would teach your child, to look both ways before they cross, regardless of whether they have the right of way? This rule cannot fall by the wayside simply because you get older.

    • Yes. My dad even gave me the advice of look both ways even when your light turns, or is, green (while driving), that has saved me from collision on many occasion. Basically, don’t trust that others are always going to do the right thing. Again, NOT faulting the victim. Very sad for him and his family.

      • None of you witnessed this accident, and yes I did, and no, I am not crazy.
        The pedestrian was already in the street, halfway across,when the car hit him, and the car came around the blind curve south of lucretia and he would not have had any opportunity to “be defensive” or “make eye contact.” there was no way for him to prevent his own death. you want to believe you would have avoided being hit. fine. go ahead and believe that. the point is simply that this happened and was not his fault and was a terrible tragedy that resulted from a driver speeding up a street without looking at the road ahead of him. THERE WAS NO PERSON WITH WHOM TO MAKE EYE CONTACT. He was going to hit the man, and he hit him.
        good bye.

        • Carly, I’m sorry you were a witness to this tragedy. The comments regarding pedestrian safety are more about a general discussion regarding safety and not the particulars of this accident. Again, no one is blaming the victim. Be well.

        • Carly, as both Julie and I said, “this is not to criticize the man who was killed — this is simply good advice going forward.”

          But you kind of misdescribe that location. There is no BLIND curve there as you suggest. And frankly, if there were, then it should be posted to bar pedestrians from crossing at that spot as unsafe for pedestrians.

          No one has suggested the pedestrian was not out in the middle of the street. In fact, that is the point. If the car didn’t even stop for a pedestrian right in the middle of the traffic lane in front of it, then why ever would you think it would have stopped had there simply been a Stop sign on the side of the road?! If a real, live person in the middle of the lane didn’t stop him, a Stop sign isn’t going to help at all.

          Again, the problem appears to be that he wasn’t paying attention, was on the phone instead — and so if an issue needs to be addressed, that is the issue that needs to be addressed.

          • I never suggested there should be a stop sign there. You might have me confused with another commenter. I’m saying this was the fault of the driver, he was fiddling with his blue tooth. Only way to prevent it would have been for him to pay attention. As you curve around past the green apartment building, the curve is, to some degree, blind.

          • I consider it to be a blind curve. I use the intersection every day and turning left from Lucretia to go south on EP can be difficult. Drivers seem to speed up coming around the curve in both directions. Additionally, there’s a bus stop on both sides of the street and sometimes cars will shoot out from behind the Dash buses that are stopping. There are near misses all day at that intersection.

  10. 1000 dollar fine for any driver caught operating an electronic device. Repeat offenders get their license suspended. How about that?

    • Yes and any driver taking their eyes off the road to change a radio station, eat a french fry, take a sip of joe, put out a smoke, attend to there child, dog, cat, monkey, adult human passengers in the front or back is being distracted. It’s about responsible driving and it’s a much wider issue than cell phones.

      • Comic intentions aside, most of those things just take a second, people tend to deal with their phone for a lot longer than that. Just observe, if someone’s driving like a knucklehead they’ll most likely be concentrating on their little electronic device: yakking, dialing or texting.

        Drive when you drive, you can talk on the phone later (chances are it’s not that important anyhow)

  11. Useful post. How do you request a speed bump on your street?

  12. You can find out how many fatal and serious crashes happened on California roadways for the past 10 years at http://www.tims.berkeley.edu

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