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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Watch out for traffic before you run the Mohawk Bend Dash

Last Thursday, city crews installed four new metal barriers to prevent pedestrians from crossing  Sunset Boulevard where it bends to the south at Mohawk Street in Echo Park. Signs hanging from the barricades warn against walking across what many consider a dangerous stretch of road and to use the crosswalks a block away in either direction. But it was clear that the signs did little to keep pedestrians at bay. From women in high heels to parking valets in red jackets and deliverymen carting cases of wine, pedestrians of all stripes could be seen waiting for a break in traffic before taking a chance and scurrying across the four-lane street ahead of  the next wave of cars, trucks and buses.  Let’s call it the The Mohawk Bend Dash. The firefighters at the Station No. 20, which overlooks the intersection, say they have seen more people dashing across Sunset since the opening of new shops, restaurants and offices have attracted more pedestrians and created more reasons to brave traffic on the curving roadway.

“They will just wait for a break in traffic and just go,” said LAFD Capt. Armando Valencia, who has worked at the Echo Park fire station for a dozen years. “There has definitely been an increase.”

Many folks apparently would rather take a chance crossing the busy street than take the extra time to walk a block to use the designated crosswalks. Some people casually walk across the street through traffic while others are initially scared off ( as shown in the video) before taking another chance. “I didn’t think it was bad at all,” said one of four college students who took the Mohawk Bend Dash on Friday night for the first time. ” The cars had stopped on this side … they were aways away on that side. It wasn’t bad.”

Jeanne Shen, a city transportation engineer, said the new barriers replaced no crossing signs that had gone missing or had been covered by graffiti. The original signs were requested by the fire station station staff to increase pedestrian safety after watching many people cross the street illegally, she said.

The bend has a reputation for auto accidents, with motorists losing control as they take on the curve too fast. In 2009, a 21-year-old driver was killed when her car -traveling at at estimated 70 miles per hour – skidded out of control and slammed into the corner of Lucy’s Laundrymart.

Valencia does not know who made the initial request for the signs or of any recent accidents involving pedestrians.  But he and others at the station have a front-row seat to many close calls.  The fire crews have watched as patrons of the newly opened Mohawk Bend, the restaurant on the north side of the Sunset, hop across the boulevard to City Sip while they wait for a table to open up. The station has even turned on its yellow warning signals – normally used to stop traffic when the fire engines leave the station – to give safe passage to pedestrians.

During a lunchtime and early evening visit, The Eastsider observed all sorts of people doing the The Mohawk Bend Dash.  A dog walker ignored the barriers and cut across the Sunset during an afternoon walk. A man who emerged from City Sip with a bottle of wine walked past the no-crossing symbols and then began a leisurely jog across traffic lanes to Elf Cafe on the north side of the street. A Mohawk Bend customer with a box of pizza zig zagged through rush hour traffic to get to her car. A few minutes later a man dashed through the same traffic to get to the Wells Fargo ATM. Meanwhile, the valets working at Mohawk Bend were constantly darting into and out of traffic.

An employee who works at the newly opened Echo Park office of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, located on the south side of Sunset, said she did walk to the crosswalk and signal on her way to lunch at Mohawk Bend on the other side of the street. But, on the way back, she decided to run across the street, unaware of the pedestrian barriers.  “Everyone does it.”



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58 comments

  1. Maybe there should be a pedestrian walkway there instead of just telling people not to do it since it doesn’t seem to be stopping them anyway

  2. Or the city could just put in a mid-block crosswalk and a bit of traffic calming (sidewalk bump outs at intersections, etc.), to accommodate pedestrians. Supply meet demand.

    Of course LADOT would rather people be able to drive 70mph down Sunset than facilitate any kind of pedestrian safety or foot traffic along a commercial corridor.

    • Correction, there is no crosswalk for Mohawk. And it looks like the city removed/omitted one of the crosswalks at Rosemont too… classy.

    • I have lived around here for 35 years. Traffic there has NEVER gone 70 mph. It doesn’t even go 40 mph. It ALWAYS goes under the speed limit, and I have presumed that is because of the bend. You cannot go faster because all the cars in front of you go slower than the speed limit there. So really, don’t make up false accusations of speeding to justify whatever point of view you want to state. Stick to facts.

      Secondly, there is a crosswalk at Mohawk — it is an unmarked crosswalk. There are both marked and unmarked crosswalks, and the marked ones have no different standing than the unmarked ones. By law, any intersection is a legal crosswalk unless otherwise posted. But jaywalking in a business district will DEFINITELY get you a ticket in this town if the police see you.

      • It was a sarcastic reference to the article:

        “The bend has a reputation for auto accidents, with motorists losing control as they take on the curve too fast. In 2009, a 21-year-old driver was killed when her car -traveling at at estimated 70 miles per hour – skidded out of control and slammed into the corner of Lucy’s Laundrymart.”

        And the unmarked crossing at Mohawk (which you mention) is where people are crossing now, even with the city’s “no crossing” gates, signage and all that heavy traffic trying to prevent them.

        As others have mentioned, it’s a long block and most people are crossing at Mohawk (where the businesses are clustered) instead of walking 200-300 feet to Rosemont or Alvarado, and then another 200-300 feet back to Mohawk.

        The city would be wise to add a pedestrian activated signal/crosswalk to facilitate a safe and convenient crossing point for pedestrians (as they’ve done at Trader Joe’s and the Meadow in Silver Lake) before someone gets hurt.

  3. Heck no, I wouldn’t trust Sunset drivers with my health.
    One can hope drivers are not driving distracted, but still, they aren’t anticipating pedestrians there either. It’s stressful for a diligent driver to suddenly encounter a pedestrian in the middle of a busy street. I love walking and pedestrians, but we need to follow the rules. Use the crosswalks.

    • agreed ! not everything is going to be perfectly placed like a movie set .
      use the crosswalks………. seriously , its not that far of a stretch.

  4. How about the city also cleans up crosswalk access at Sunset and Rosemont? Jaywalking pedestrians are likely trying to avoid those overflowing garbage cans and the crazy stuffed animal burning lady who lives there next to her shopping cart.

  5. The obvious answer seems to put up a light for pedestrians crossing.. either the blinking lights on the crosswalk or a light like the one they just put in near the SL meadow.

    • Really? A flashing light needs to be installed to accommodate the lazy and the inconsiderate? No, that’s not the obvious answer – just take the extra 45 seconds to walk the goddamn 30 yards to the crosswalk. (unbelievable…)

      • Well it is an intersection, the city has just neglected to allow safe crossing for pedestrians there. It’s more a question of priorities: inconvenience motorists or inconvenience pedestrians.

      • If it was 30 yards and 45 seconds, that might make sense. But on Google Maps, it’s clear that the nearest crosswalk is over 200 feet away. If we want Echo Park to be a place where people live, rather than just a way for people to get between Silver Lake and Downtown, then we need to put in a crosswalk there. Why criticize pedestrians who want to avoid a 5 minute walk, possibly at night in the cold, rather than criticize the drivers that don’t want to stop for 30 seconds in the comfort of their car for a crosswalk?

        • @Kenny – you cannot be serious…

          Also, it’s not reasonable for a driver on a major thoroughfare traveling at the posted speed limit (35 mph) to expect a crosswalk within 90 feet of a traffic light they just passed.

      • FTrain got it right, in pretty much all he/she said. All we’re talking about here is people jaywalking because they don’t want to bother walking to the corner.

        Also, corner soul, that is not an intersection — we are talking about people crossing at midblock, not at the corner. Its not about convenience; its the law. Pedestrians must cross at the corner, not any old place they are in the mood to dash across the street.

        And its not 200 feet to the corner! You should find another map, and also make sure you know what a crosswalk is — it does not need to be marked.

  6. My guess is the City will wait for the “proposed” Mixed Use condo development that will Dwarf the block west of Mohawk bend, to be constructed. Once that goes in and the traffic is crippled by the ingress and egress into the commercial site, (never mind u-turns and turns onto Mohawk to get to the residential access on Elsinore), only then will some action take place.

    Such a poorly planned development with no consideration for traffic flow and access may get us a crosswalk,

    cp

    cp

    • Sad but true… it seems like the only way the city ever implements basic pedestrian infrastructure is when a big developer’s willing to pony-up some cash (or maybe after a couple of high-profile pedestrian deaths — maybe).

  7. Of course there was an accident on Sunday morning around 3 am right here. Supposedly there was a car going 100mph and completely totaled four parked cars.
    Ah, Sunset Blvd…

    • Sunset and Glendale Blvds are mini-freeways. Echo Park will never be truly nice until they do some serious traffic calming and on these roads and prioritize pedestrians. My wife and I got sick of waiting for it and moved downtown- a true pedestrian neighborhood. Even LADOT’s total disdain for pedestrians can’t ruin downtown, as the streets are mostly narrow and can’t be widened with so many buildings in the way.

  8. I’d be fine with a hipster dying for a bottle of wine, but those valets shouldn’t have to do that.

    • Those valets should not be doing that period. They are required to park the Mohawk Bend Cars at the Car wash on Alvarado and Sunset. (multiple cross walks available). Dashing across Sunset at Mohawk implies they are parking in the neighborhood. Mohawk Bends management has committed to making sure that does not happen, so, if anyone does see that, they should contact MB Management.

      cp

      • The original post didn’t say that the valets are dashing across the street – just that valets, by the very nature of their job, are constantly walking in and out of the right traffic lane as they get in and out of the cars that they are parking.

  9. Maybe some Jwalking tickets could supplement a crosswalk

  10. Social Anthropology begins at Home.
    So let us Save our Streets ~
    I Say wee secede from the City Charter
    I Say wee turn Dodger Stadium into an Athenian Pnyx
    I Say wee Draft our own Declaration of Civic Rights
    Protecting Community Aesthetic and History.
    Establishing a Socialist Utilitarian Government and Economy; Implementing Redistribution of Property, Wealth, Private Ownership, Production and Profit, for the Common Good of All.
    Extending a Priority of such to the Purpose and Nature of Science, Medicine, Education, Government, and the Arts.

  11. I’ve done it too … more than a few times. Those are kinda long blocks, so it’s a hike to Alvarado or Rosemont (and back). But I agree, dashing across Sunset — especially at night — gets pretty scary. Maybe we need a light at Mohawk or a crosswalk with blinking lights.

  12. I question that a crosswalk in that location will be safer than no crosswalk.

    Many Ped’s are mowed down in crosswalks and a crosswalk here would require a light to have any sense of ‘safety’. Though a speeding car coming around the bend may still blow through it, and any Ped’s that happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    This also presents a traffic flow issue.

    The crosswalk @ Trader Joe’s on Hyperion was a classic example. Ped’s were mowed down and killed until they put a light there.

    One thing about J-walking is the Ped’s are paying attention, something that is reduced (depending on the Ped.) in a crosswalk or intersection.

  13. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but it’s my understanding that the theoretical extension of an intersection is a legal crosswalk, regardless of whether it’s signalized or not. This would seem to apply where Mohawk meets Sunset on both the north and south sides. Safe is another matter entirely – I’d rather take a small walk and live.

    • The definition of an intersection would not apply to Sunset Blvd. & Mohawk St.:

      http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d01/vc365.htm

      Agree, however, that the best course of action is to just take the short walk and cross legally.

      • Why don’t you think it applies? VC 365 says:

        “365. An ‘intersection’ is the area embraced within the prolongations of the lateral curb lines, or, if none, then the lateral boundary lines of the roadways, of two highways which join one another at approximately right angles or the area within which vehicles traveling upon different highways joining at any other angle may come in conflict.”

        And what’s a “highway”? According to VC 360:

        “360. ‘Highway’ is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street.”

        So in other words, according to the code you cited, an intersection is the area where two streets join. I don’t see how that doesn’t apply to Mohawk and Sunset — there’s nothing that says the streets have to cross, only join.

        What’s really relevant here is the definition of a crosswalk, in VC 275:

        “275. ‘Crosswalk’ is either:

        “(a) That portion of a roadway included within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of sidewalks at intersection where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles, except the prolongation of such lines from an alley across a street.

        “(b) Any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

        “Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, there shall not be a crosswalk where local authorities have placed signs indicating no crossing. ”

        So, in other words, Mohawk and Sunset was a legal crosswalk. Then businesses like Mohawk Bend opened and pedestrian usage of that crosswalk grew. Rather than respond to that increased pedestrian traffic by putting something like a marked, lighted crosswalk across the street, the city decided to favor vehicular traffic, placing the signs that legally eliminated the crosswalk.

        • “So, in other words, Mohawk and Sunset was a legal crosswalk. Then businesses like Mohawk Bend opened and pedestrian usage of that crosswalk grew. Rather than respond to that increased pedestrian traffic by putting something like a marked, lighted crosswalk across the street, the city decided to favor vehicular traffic, placing the signs that legally eliminated the crosswalk.”

          This. Thanks.

  14. Just walk down the street and stop dashing across. You are behaving like children.

  15. It’s ridiculous to think that the city is going to put a crosswalk in every time some popular new restaurant opens. People should take responsibility for their own safety and walk a bit farther to the cross walks.

    • agreed, but we all know how people don’t like to be responsible for shit… ya know it’s always someone else’s fault

  16. Another option not yet mentioned would be thin median with a small decorative fence running down center of Sunset from Rosemont to Alvarado. Until then a traffic cop to cite jay walkers.

  17. Instead of accommodating automobiles which LA does an awful lot. Why not make the street safe for pedestrians? Fast moving cars do nothing for a neighborhood other than make it less walkable and choked with exhaust. People power first, not engines.

    • People drive cars. These are people going to work, school and childcare – often for long distances. These people are simply going to a restaurant to eat and drink. Perspective, man.

  18. Exactly. The % of Mohawk customers that walked from home is probably in the single digits. The rest drove their car there. If you sat on your butt and drove, then walking an extra 100 yards or so shouldn’t be a big deal.

    Simple planning can make it much easier:
    1. Park on the same side of the street as the Mohawk. Even if you have to park further away, you don’t have to cross/j-walk, or walk further to a light.
    2. If you have to park on the other side, park near the intersection/light. This saves you from backtracking back to the spot that you ‘scored’ directly across from the Mohawk.

    If you’re really into walking/being a pedestrian, I don’t understand why one would be so intent on driving and parking so close to the Mohawk, but across the street, then J-walking. ??

    And speaking of perspective> This is NOTHING like the westside. I had to go for a drink at Sunset/La Cienega, of which there is ZERO parking. Only choice is to pay $15 to park and still walk FURTHER than the distance from either of Mohawk’s lighted intersections. Oh, but there were plenty of places to cross with lights in that area. So what.

    • I think the pro-crosswalk comments regarding this intersection (Sunset/Mohawk) are very relevant for a number of dangerous street crossings on Sunset… the discussion is a microcosm for our neighborhood’s dangerous and unpleasant pedestrian environment.

      But I don’t really see this as an east side vs. west side thing. Over in Glendale they’ve calmed traffic on Brand, Glendale and Colorado, with lower speed limits and signal syncing to smooth the flow of cars, as well as sidewalk bump-outs, zebra crosswalks and landscaped islands at intersections to accommodate foot traffic. They even have mid-block lighted crosswalks (like you mentioned in Santa Monica) to facilitate safer pedestrian access for residents and local businesses. However, in my driving experience traffic moves much smoother and efficiently on Glendale’s streets than anywhere on Sunset. And those streets still see very heavy traffic like ours, it’s just been smoothed to a more constant flow (~25mph) instead of the jerky LADOT engineering that creates 0-40mph, “stop-and-go” driving that’s typical along Sunset (irritating for motorists and dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists who are all trying to share the same street).

      Traffic calming can fix bottlenecks and create a safer and more pleasant environment on a human scale, because rather than pushing for max speeds (and all the traffic just bunching up at every light) — it smoothes the flow to a slower and steadier speed, moving cars and people with efficiency. This could work wonders on a street like Sunset where some people are commuting, some are trying to park and spend money in our neighborhood and others are just walking or cycling to a cafe or the market.

      Besides, Silver Lake and Echo Park seem to be gentrifying like crazy without any street improvements… why shouldn’t we push for complete streets to accommodate these who do traffic congestion and the environment a solid by taking the bus or walking or riding a bike? Safer streets doesn’t have to be a class issue.

      • My bad, I think you were referring to the crosswalks in West Hollywood not Santa Monica… anyway, same points would apply.

        • Disagree about traffic flow in Glendale.

          IME it’s gotten at least 2x worse over the last 10 years in which it seemed they doubled the amount of lighted crossings. It takes me 2x longer to drive up glendale bl or brand blvd to the California crosstreet. Traffic is stop and go and a LOT of that is from the lighted crosswalks going off every other minute or so.

          I REALLY hate and avoid driving into Glendale due to this. It’s like they now have big city traffic they never had before.

          • Well agree to disagree about driving in Glendale I suppose.

            Personally, I’ve never had a problem as long as I drive the speed limit, leave a space cushion and watch for people at intersections and crosswalks… of course in LA, you often get aggressive drivers cutting you off if you aren’t tailgating the car in front of you — not my idea of safety and civility.

            Anyway you must admit, it’s much safer and desirable to walk in urban areas where crossing the street isn’t restricted to every other block, and traffic isn’t engineered to move at highway speeds, no? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit in the crosswalk because people don’t slow or look for pedestrians on our streets. Or cutoff on my bike, even though I yield to cars whenever possible and follow the rules of the road (can’t say all cyclists do around here, tho!)

            I guess the question is would you rather live in the city you can drive through as quickly as possible, or the city where it’s safe and pleasant to walk to the store or to a cafe, or a park with children? You can’t have both.

    • Walking and automobile aren’t the only options. Every time I’ve gone to Mohawk Bend I’ve either taken the bus (the 2, the 4, and the 200 all come quite close) or biked (there is a bike lane and parking spots for about 8 bikes, which are normally pretty full).

      But I suppose the larger point is right – if you take the 2 or the 4, then you have to get on or off at a real crosswalk anyway, and the 200 lets you off at Alvarado, and if you bike then you’ll probably want to park on the north side of Sunset anyway.

  19. I actually live up Mohawk and wholeheartedly agree there needs to be a crosswalk there. Personally, I’d rather not see anyone die, be it valet, dog walker, or a “hipster dying for a bottle of wine.” I have waited at the Rosemont crosswalk for an upwards of 5 minutes after pushing the button. From the west before Rosemont crosswalk, there isn’t one for hundreds of yards, so having two in close vicinity is not over the top (have you ever driven down Main Street in Santa Monica?) In my experience, there frequently seems to be traffic there due to the Alvarado light, so why not create a crosswalk with a traffic light that is synced to the one at Alvarado, or Rosemont, for that matter? Finally, if speeding and traffic collisions are a regular occurrence on the bend, wouldn’t a crosswalk be incentive to slow down? Just my thoughts…

    • “Finally, if speeding and traffic collisions are a regular occurrence on the bend, wouldn’t a crosswalk be incentive to slow down? Just my thoughts…”

      A crosswalk gives a false sense of security to Ped’s unfortunately. Just today I watched Ped’s in the crosswalk not looking for errant cars. When I’m in a crosswalk I treat it like there is NO crosswalk, constantly looking both ways ALL the way across. I know that the mass majority do NOT do this.

      A speeding car coming around the bend won’t see the crosswalk until they clear the bend, and by that point there will already be a pedestrian in it. Too late and very dangerous.

      You don’t put crosswalks near blind bends, that’s just dumb IMO.

  20. @ corner soul why don’t you buy a car?

  21. I have no more problem with traffic in this neighborhood. I simply don’t go there anymore. I’m out in the valley now where NOBODY jaywalks. Matter of fact NOBODY walks ANYWHERE.

  22. I didn’t know the block of Sunset Blvd. at the Mohawk Street Fire Station was being referred to as Mohawk Bend.

    For many years, I have referred to the stretch of Sunset Blvd. running past the front of Lucy’s Mohawk as “deadman’s curve”.

    I started using the reference after an accident there one night around 2am while I stood on the sidewalk outside Lucy’s Mohawk waiting for my laundry to dry.

    I heard the sound that comes from tires losing traction on the road as a vehicle driving towards Alvarado began to slide out.

    My reflex was to dive away from the street and towards the Lucy’s. So I was already in motion when the sliding vehicle clipped the rear end of a truck parked curbside in front of Lucy’s and shoved it onto the sidewalk and forward to take out a cluster of newsracks and a street light pole.

    My reflex came simply from the knowledge that several years ago there had been a seating area outside on Sunset where the Starbucks at Lucy’s Mohawk located. It only took one incident of a vehicle jumping the curb there to kill 2 and injure several people.

    I see the new barriers as useful. Even if pedestrians ignore the warnings not to cross – at least the barriers may offer some protection from vehicles sliding out along the curve and jumping the curb onto the sidewalk.

  23. Gilberto A. Leija. I found your Debit/Visa card in front Mohawk Bend on Sat., in front of the bushes. I called the no., and Wescom Credit Union gave me a p.o. box, but I found a branch close to my office in Orange, CA. I made the guy sign for it. It was delivered on Monday the 5th. Please relay the message to him, if you know him. Thx!

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