Monday, October 24, 2016

Will removing a crosswalk make Silver Lake safer for pedestrians?

Crossing Glendale at Deane.

Perhaps it’s the four lanes of traffic that speed past on Glendale Boulevard or the fact that the nearest crosswalk with a traffic signal is nearly 1,000 feet away.  For whatever reason, someone asked the city’s Department of Transportation to install flashing yellow lights at the marked crosswalk at Glendale Boulevard and Deane Street  in Silver Lake to improve pedestrian safety.   But after conducting a study, city engineers determined that there is no need for flashing yellow lights. In fact, there is no need for a marked crosswalk, which department staff say should be eliminated as part a “traffic safety improvement.”

“I know it seems counter intuitive,” said a city traffic engineer familiar with the crosswalk. But “at this point our intention is to remove it.”

The crosswalk is located up the street from where pedestrians are frequently seen dashing across Glendale Boulevard between several shops, restaurants and bars, including the Red Lion Tavern and Rockaway Records. Some people on the east side of Glendale use the Deane crosswalk as part of their route to get to the Silver Lake reservoirs and Silver Lake Meadow.

But when engineers conducted a traffic study at the intersection in early April, the results showed that the number of pedestrians who used the intersection was not large enough  to warrant a marked crosswalk, let alone flashing yellow lights to warn and slow down motorists.

“We did not see the minimum number of pedestrians according to our guidelines,” said the city traffic engineer, who did not want his name published.

He did not know how the marked crosswalk was installed in the first place but it no longer satisfies current standards. In addition, poor lighting also makes it difficult to see persons crossing in the evening, and the marked crosswalk – which consists of white stripes – may give many pedestrians  “false sense of security” when crossing the street.

The engineer directed The Eastsider to page 19 of the department’s “Pedestrian Safety At Uncontrolled Crosswalks: To Cross Or Not To Cross”  for more details on the department’s rationale for removing or install crosswalks. In documents say that removing some crosswalks can actually lead to a decline in accidents:

There are two reasons why the conversion of a marked crosswalk to a legal unmarked crosswalk can sometimes improve pedestrian safety. The first reason is that many motorists disregard marked crosswalks and posted warnings where pedestrian volume is light and therefore unexpected. The second reason is that marked crosswalks may give pedestrians a false sense of security. Pedestrians may believe that drivers see the painted lines as well as as they do, and thus stop. As a result, pedestrians might be misled to be overly confident when entering the street.

Even if the crosswalk markings are removed, it will still be legal for pedestrians to cross Glendale at Deane, said the engineer.

While the department is recommending for removal of the crosswalk, the public will have about 30 days to comment on the proposal, he said. Persons can submit comments via email to [email protected] or by calling (323) 957-6843.

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  1. how about paving that stretch of glendale and covering the massive pot holes? that would help safety

  2. I don’t know how any gets hit crossing the street in LA. All of you have some proper, at most times annoying, crossing habits.

  3. I’d have to agree that the painted crossings create a false sense of security for pedestrians. Pedestrian entitlement is ridiculous in this city. Yes, legally they have a right away. But, for some reason people think they can just step out onto a crosswalk while cars are speeding at them and expect everyone to slam on their brakes at the last minute. I feel like people are trying to get hit for a paycheck.

    • Technically, they can “walk into a crosswalk while cars are speeding at them.” As a driver, it is your responsibility to stop.

      • You seriously trust drivers enough in this town to step out in front of them just because there’s a marked crosswalk? All I’m saying is people need to learn to wait until traffic is somewhat clear to walk, instead of people thinking the world revolves around them and traffic will stop because you’re that important. All it takes is one person not paying attention (texting, turning the radio, sneezing) and you’re dead. Yes, it would be the driver’s fault that you are dead, but guess what…YOU’RE DEAD. It’s your responsibilty to choose an appropriate time to cross, preferably when there is not cars coming at you.

      • @BorderDude

        No, they can’t.
        Pedestrians have the responsibility to allow cars to stop before crossing the roadway.

        V C Section 21950 Right of Way at Crosswalks

        Right-of-Way at Crosswalks

        21950. (b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

        Amended Sec. 8, Ch. 833, Stats. 2000. Effective January 1, 2001.

    • pedestrian entitlement?! are you crazy?! This is LA we’re talking about. Go to Boston, New York, SF, or any other city that wasn’t reworked to accommodate cars and you’ll see a lot more of this “pedestrian entitlement” that you’re talking about. Here in LA we can barely get bike lanes, let alone bigger sidewalks.

      • I have been to those places except SF and saw the exact opposite. It’s actually cities of lower pedestrian and vehicle traffic that experience more accidents. Look at pedestrain accident reports by cities, LA isn’t even in the TOP 20 and New York is #50. So, in New York where there’s people falling off sidewalks because they are so crowded and some of the worst traffic in the US, how do they almost have the least amount of accidents? rhetorical question there.

    • Oh_Henry – you do a great job of projecting your own entitlement onto others simply trying to cross the street. Unlike you, pedestrians have a RIGHT to access the public right of way. People in cars are granted a priviledge to do so, and the laws governing the right-of-way for pedestrians crossing the street makes no mention of vehicle speed – other than to say that you should be traveling at a speed that would allow you to easily stop should the need arise.

      • ubrayj02 & Alex- You’re both missing the point. I KNOW pedestrians have the right away and I have no problem with people crossing the street. I think you missed Fred’s post above. To re-quote, “No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.” I walk everywhere in my neighborhood and I’m not out to make things harder for pedestrians. But, drivers contantly make mistakes. I just think people would be much safer if THEY took the few extra seconds to see if that multi-ton car is actually going to stop. Who’s fault it is if there is an accident is irrelevant, you’re gambling with you’re life just because you assume that the car will stop.

    • This is what is known as “windshield perspective”. Loosely translated, it goes like this: “Walking is not safe because there are too many cars so everyone should just drive. And those who do walk should never, ever get in the way of cars because it might slow them down by a few seconds.”

      • I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that Angelenos tend to regard pedestrians as a public nuisance – which does nothing to help get people out of their cars because when walking around in LA people pay no attention to you at all, or think you’re homeless or a prostitute (yes that happened to me twice – I was wearing sweats and crocks)

      • That’s not what he said at all. As a driver and as a pedestrian I’ve seen people too busy texting, and they don’t even bother to look up before stepping into the street. Weren’t we all taught to look both ways before crossing? Henry was stating that it’s in all of our best interest to assume a bit of personal responsibility for our own safety. Remember, the drivers are probably texting, too.

  4. I heard they actually thought a bike lane in place of the crosswalk would be a good idea.

  5. Cars have to learn how to drive at reasonable speeds and slow down when a pedestrian enters the crosswalk. They need to keep the crosswalk or drivers will never stop for walkers.

  6. Stupid pedestrians, don’t they know you’re supposed to drive across the street in LA.

  7. Believe me, no one crossing at this crosswalk has any sort of “false sense of security.” No sense of security is more like it. Maybe they’d have a lot more pedestrian crossings if they actually provided a safe way to do it. Crossing Glendale Blvd. in this area is an absolute nightmare–I used to live a couple of blocks away. As much as I don’t think the current crosswalk is nearly enough, removing it and having NO accommodation for pedestrians is a ridiculous step in the wrong direction.

  8. Maybe if they would slow down speeding cars pedestrians would feel safer crossing the street and therefore you would see more pedestrians in the crosswalk. Or better yet, do the right thing and put a signal there. What is this 1950 all over again?

    • Crossing signals cost $250,000+ plus maintenance. The LADOT is a pioneering agency in installing extremely expensive flashing crosswalks as a means of preventing traffic calming on most streets by making the cost of their preferred treatment too high. There are loads of ways to slow down car traffic on this stretch of road – that political decision has been handed over to car-only engineers. We can see the results. Our political class has the statutory and budgetary power to get some cation here. There only reason why pedestrian crossing is not a priority here is because the politicians in the area think that voters care about speeding on this segment of road. Even a tiny amount of political organizing will tip the scales back in favor of pedestrian interests. Those in favor of speeding cars are some of the most clueless, politically unconnected, people in the community.

      • Fallopia Simms

        Politicians don’t just think they know. Folks in this area are highly car-dependent and worse resist any change.

        “The LADOT is a pioneering agency in installing extremely expensive flashing crosswalks as a means of preventing traffic calming on most streets by making the cost of their preferred treatment too high.”

        That sentence was a jumble so I’m not sure what point you were attempting to drive home there?

        People should be able to cross the street with dignity and if it costs $250,000 to do it, then so be it. If there are less expensive methods such as bulb outs, continental crosswalks, surface change et al we can experiment with those too. But the ultimate quest should always be for people first, not cars.

        • I guess the point is that re-striping lanes and doing good crosswalks costs $10,000 to $50,000 or so (maybe more) while a flashing signal requires $250,000 – both can have the same effect. The LADOT loves expensive signals for lots of reasons, none of which have to do with safety (in my opinion). By making their preferred option super expensive only a politician with a lot to lose by ignoring pedestrian safety is going to push for a flashing signal.

  9. Only more cross walks and road diets will make LA streets safer for pedestrians.

  10. The city acknowledged their proposal is counter-intuitive. And actually, after reading and thinking about it, I think this might actually be a reasonable and even smart idea.

    The point here is that hardly anyone crosses at that location. And the implicit statement the city is making is that as such, drivers aren’t even expecting a pedestrian to be in the street there. When the city makes the point that the crosswalk gives the pedestrian a false sense of safety, what they are saying is that the pedestrians tend not to be as careful and hesitant as they always should be when they step out into the street, no matter whose right of way it is. By taking out the painted crosswalk, they make the pedestrians safer because that will make the pedestrians pay more attention and be more careful.

    And whether it is painted or not, whether there are even crossing lights or not, a pedestrian should ALWAYS look and be very careful when stepping into the street and crossing.

    • This was what I was trying to say. You said it much better.

    • The real reason it’s dangerous is obvious, the current road design encourages speeding. Motorists regularly hit 50mph here coming down the hill (even me, and I drive like a little old lady.)

      If they want to improve safety, they should put a traffic signal here. The only way removing the crosswalk will make things any “safer” is by discouraging people from walking around the neighborhood period.

    • That’s all I’m asking for, a little responsiblity and caution from pedestrians.

    • I disagree on two counts. First, pedestrians have a fundamental primacy of access to the roads; and, second, the time period within which the LADOT surveyed the street was likely not during its most heavily trafficked hours for pedestrian use.

      The burden of due caution should not fall on the pedestrian – the party with a fundamental right to access the right of way. The burden should fall on the operator of a multi-ton vehicle who enjoys a special privilege in being licensed to operate said machine.

      The pedestrian survey was conducted during what hours? During the evenings on weekends the streets is constantly being used by pedestrians. Additionally, with a safer street to cross, the number of pedestrians might jump up if some accommodation is provided.

      • Exactly. People are crossing the road there all the time in the evenings to get to the restaurants/businesses on the other side.


  11. False sense of security = expecting motorists to stop as they are legally required
    Who is at fault in the collisions that occur at this crosswalk? I’d bet the driver is usually at fault and as a consequence we should take measures so that motorists are more likely to obey the damn law and yield for pedestrians.

  12. I think that this is a major mistake. A flashing crosswalk was installed near the Echoplex and I beleive that this provides needed safety at night. Did the City Engineers take in consideration the night traffic – both foot and auto? I live near this intersection and at least once a week, I hear a screech of a car brakes that did not see the pedestrian until it was almost too late.

  13. Eliminating a crosswalk will certainly decrease injuries here, but only by decreasing mobility. A much more effective (and perhaps more “counterintuitive”) way to increase safety would be to not just remove the crosswalk, but also remove the pavement, so that cars are forced to slow down to human speeds, or go an alternate route. The fact that they’re not considering that means that safety isn’t the only concern (and that’s fair enough). They care about mobility for people in cars.

    But they really ought to care about mobility for people who don’t happen to be in a car at the moment. Sometimes someone has to park on the other side of the street. Or someone might even take the bus (and notice that if you take the bus from the stop at this corner, then on your return trip you will *have* to cross the street). And some people have friends that live on the other side of the street and would like to visit them, but aren’t going to walk half a mile in the sun to do so.

    It seems to me that a better option would be to just install a regular traffic light here. As long as it’s timed appropriately with the other lights on Glendale, it will have very little impact on car travel (especially since it won’t even be activated except when a car or pedestrian wants to cross).

    • spot on sentiment

    • Yes! Remove the asphalt and replace with landscape and cobblestone porous pavers that cars can still drive on but at reduced speeds. This ground surface treatment also has the advantage of reducin our heat island effect and recharging our groundwater/reducing storm drain loads

  14. Responding to the title of the post, here’s the obvious answer: If a pedestrian is determined to cross the street regardless, then removing a crosswalk won’t make it safer. But removing the crosswalk will mean fewer pedestrian-involved collisions, because pedestrians will either become motorists and drive for a couple blocks (causing congestion and taking up parking) or will just cancel their trip entirely (which is also a loss of human welfare).

  15. Steven M. Sweat

    Statistics show that the majority of auto v. pedestrian accidents occur within crosswalks. Studies are divided as to why this is but, the main theory is that crosswalks give the pedestrian a false sense of security that motor vehicles will see them crossing and stop and, therefore, the pedestrian is less cautious than they would be if crossing a street without a crosswalk. From a safety standpoint, crosswalks are most effective in conjunction with traffic signals such as at controlled intersections. Adding flashing lights has been shown to be not quite as effective as a traffic signal or stop sign but, has been shown to reduce pedestrian accidents at these types of non-controlled intersection crossings. If the the city is not willing to add flashers and simply wants to remove the crosswalk knowing that this area will still receive a significant volume of pedestrian use, I agree with the other comments that they have an obligation enforce the speed limit in the area and take other measures to prevent accidents.

    • As far as I know, there are almost 0 pedestrian crashes on the 405 freeway therefore I conclude that streets designed like the 405 are safest for pedestrians.

  16. Yes, but does having a marked crosswalk slow down drivers who would drive 50 mph between signals on Glendale Blvd in their mad commute through the Tri-Hipster Area?

  17. I can remember way back when (around 1974, to be more exact) when a pedestrian dipping a toe into a crosswalk was enough to bring traffic to halt, and using a turn signal to change lanes would buy a driver a gap to merge. Some things don’t change for the better.

    In my opinion, the LADOT policy of removing crosswalks is misguided and needs to change. As time goes on, there will only be more pedestrians in this city and they’re going to need more protection. How many drivers know that practically any intersection is a legal crosswalk?

  18. It takes a pedestrian to be killed or close to it before a cross walk or stop sign will be installed. I have seen this before. How about the stop sing at Lucretia and EP Ave. A stop sign was well needed at that location and not until a fatality did DOT install it. Another spot is at the intersection of EP Ave and Morton Ave. Letters were written and basically the response by DOT was that if a stop sign was installed and an accident occurred the city would be at fault. The sign was rejected and a few months later a woman and her baby where hit by a car. A month after that incident the stop signs showed up. I do get the Glendale is a bigger beast but DOT works the same regardless of the the size of the street.

  19. That whole section is a nightmare. I drive through there regularly and I’m always surprised when someone is actually using that cross walk of death. I hope it goes away.

    That said – there needs to be some better way to cross the street between the East Side and West Side of Glendale Blvd. The cross-walk in front of the B of A is too far away – so most folks do the dash to the other side of the street. I would be fine if there were flashing lights or another stop light. I hope that someone doesn’t get hurt to get the City to do something.

    • The true problem is identified in the post–the nearest crosswalk is “too far away”!?!! What a lazy bunch of whiners. No wonder America is obese. If being forced to waddle down the street to the crosswalk is so intolerable that you’re willing to risk your life please don’t put my life in jeopardy when you expect me to stop on a dime.

      • I don’t think people walking are the lazy whiners or part of America’s obesity epidemic– they’re actually getting exercise unlike drivers. Drivers never want to park more than 50 feet away from their destination, they circle endlessly until they find a close spot. The closest crosswalk is over a thousand feet away. Imagine if when driving you were restricted to making left turns only every fourth block– sometimes that’s how far pedestrians have to walk before they can cross onto the other side of the street with a marked or signalized crossing. Drivers would protest in the streets if they had to walk a thousand feet to get to their car every day.

      • I lived on the West side of Glendale Blvd., and when I would want to visit a friend on the East side of Glendale Blvd., I had three options:
        (a) cross at the cross walk: total distance about 50 feet (though 50 harrowing feet given most drivers’ disregard for pedestrians)
        (b) walk to the nearest stoplight: total distance about 1/2 mile out of my way
        (c) drive

        Which is the lazy option? Asking people to walk 1/2 mile out of their way just to cross the street is unreasonable and just leads to more and more people choosing (c).

        The existing crosswalk at least alerts drivers to the possibility of people crossing (even if many choose to ignore this possibility). Any pedestrian crossing this section palpably feels the danger and need to look out — there’s no “false sense of security” to dispel. The City can choose to marginalize walking totally by removing the meager existing safety features, but what it really needs to do is enhance them.

      • Unmarked crosswalks are legal crossing points. So they’re still crossing legally. It’s your responsibility to keep an eye out for people who want to cross. There are telltale signs: Pedestrian stepping into the gutter, looking both ways, walking out. You should slow down and let them cross. No reason to have to “stop on a dime.” Or does laziness only apply to people walking and not driving?

  20. It’s simply not safe to walk or bike between Echo Park and Silver Lake on Glendale Blvd, the most direct and least hilly route in the area. Maybe this is a way to change that:

    1. Road diet on the stretch of Glendale Blvd where this sidewalk is located.
    2. Bike lanes.
    3. Keep the crosswalk at Deane St and add another by the Red Lion.
    4. And further south, convert the 2 terminus into an underground tunnel that connects the 2 to Glendale Blvd from underneath, in the center of the Blvd. Local traffic (including bike lanes) to run outside the tunnel entrance/exit.

  21. Samarkand’s plan is great. The only thing I’d add would be traffic signals at those crosswalks because I do believe drivers will blast through any other type of crosswalk — it ends up being worse than nothing. The signals could be the type that is working well on Silver Lake Blvd. at the Meadow: activated only when a pedestrian wants to cross. We do need more crosswalks so people don’t have to go so far to find safe crossing. Many pedestrians in this neighborhood are elderly or disabled; they need to be able to get around safely.
    That said, there is way too much scary nocturnal jaywalking by people heading for nightspots or food trucks along that stretch of Glendale. As drivers, we’ve all seen it; kids appear out of the darkness, dashing across the street, oblivious to the fact that they’re almost invisible to drivers. Rhodes is correct in saying that it seems to take a death — or near-death — to get a signalized crosswalk in place (look at Trader Joe’s and Rowena for more examples). I hope that won’t be the case here.

    • Oh wait – nocturnal jaywalkers you say? But i thought that the LADOT didn’t see enough people using the street on foot? Hmm … maybe their 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. traffic survey was timed poorly to assess the needs of the community.

      This requires some more personal investigation! See you at the Red Lion tonight.

    • Actually, it’s not “jaywalking” legally unless you are crossing between two traffic signalled intersections. And by definition, with all the multiple unsignalized intersections, it’s not jaywalking.

  22. I would agree with this, if we could just also get rid of jaywalking laws in general.

  23. In Boston and New York motorists don’t yield to pedestrians and pedestrians don’t expect traffic to stop for them. Consequently, there are fewer pedestrian related accidents. Now, you’re not going to change LA culture in this area, but removing a crosswalk to improve safety makes sense to me in this instance.

  24. Hands down, the most dangerous intersection on the eastside in at Hyperion and Tracy. They have those two stop lights within yards of eachother (at Baller’s Hardware and at The Boat) and drivers run both red lights to get through without stopping. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit at both of those crosswalks (despite crossing when I’m supposed to!). Insanely dangerous.

  25. Commenting with the LADOT does nothing. You have to comment to the council member in charge of the area. Has anyone asked Mitch O’Farrell what he thinks?

  26. Anything to not slow down cars. Sad. Sometimes you think that this city is advancing then it just seems like Houston or Dallas all over again. Attend the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Transportation Committee meeting. First Monday of the month at Citibank on Glendale 7pm. Demand a signal. Demand bulb outs. Demand that cars slow the fuck down!

  27. I walked my dog along that section of Glendale Blvd (east side) the other morning and could not believe the filth (garbage) in the gutters and on the sidewalk. Please city of LA, clean the streets AND make them safer. Keep the crosswalk.

  28. Does L.A.D.O.T. believe that having no marked crosswalks in the 2000 – 2500 blocks of Glendale Blvd. will result in a safer crossing environment for pedestrians who are disabled or confined to a wheelchair?

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