Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seconds count when walking across Sunset Boulevard

Pedestrians crossing Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake


SILVER LAKE — Nina Sorkin was walking across Sunset Boulevard at Lucile Avenue when she found herself in the midst of traffic. The signal had turned red before Sorkin, who walks with a cane, could finish crossing the busy boulevard.  “Since cars continue to go through the yellow and even the red light … a pedestrian loses some of the precious time allocated to cross,” she said. But Sorkin and other Silver Lake pedestrians might soon be getting a little bit more time to cross the road.

Sorkin’s incident prompted her to ask the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council about contacting city agencies to see if the crosswalk time could be increased at Sunset and Lucile and other nearby intersections. Sorkin’s idea came at the right time.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation is conducting a city-wide review of how much time traffic signals give pedestrians to cross streets as part of new criteria implemented by the Federal Highway Administration.

Lisa Martellaro-Palmer, a spokeswoman for the LADOT, said that the new criteria would “slow down the walking pace” from 4 feet per second to 3.5 feet per second.

“This will allow pedestrians a longer period of time to cross the street,” Martellaro-Palmer said in an email. “We are also upgrading our crosswalks to the highly visible continental crosswalks” to make pedestrian crossings more visible to drivers.

But pedestrians should still not expect to take their time crossing Sunset Boulevard or any other streets. Under the the slower walking pace being considered, pedestrians would get 21.7 seconds to cross 76-foot-wide Sunset Boulevard. That’s a whopping 2.7 more seconds than under the current city standard. But any extra time would be welcome by Sorkin and other pedestrians.

“I know that individuals with mobility issues like myself or even mothers crossing with strollers or small children … have difficulty crossing”  under current conditions, Sorkin said in an email. “Extended walk time is needed.”

The following crosswalks in Silver Lake are under review by LADOT:

  • Lucile Avenue and Sunset Boulevard
  • Sanborn Avenue Santa Monica Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard
  • Hyperion Avenue Sunset Boulevard
  • Maltman Avenue Sunset Boulevard
  • Micheltorena St.and Sunset Boulevard
  • Descanso Drive and  Sunset Boulevard
  • Westerly Terrace and Sunset Boulevard
  • Parkman Avenue and Sunset Boulevard
  • Benton Way and Sunset Boulevard

This is just a partial list since LADOT is reviewing the entire City, which has more than 4,500 signalized intersections.

Cecilia Padilla Brill is a communications writer and journalist. She writes news, health, education and feature stories. Cecilia is currently working on her first novel. She has lived in Echo Park since 1999

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  1. apparently, motorists forget the rule “pedestrians have the right of way”? You see a pedestrian in the walk way you are not suppose to go!

    • Huh? Where is there any suggestion of that in the article? There is nothing to say anyone violated anyone’s right of way. You can’t jump to conclusions based n your prejudices.

      • You clearly don’t spend much time walking/crossing streets in LA. Motorists not stopping at crosswalks happen all the time. Spend 5 minutes at any of the intersections listed in the story and you’ll see for yourself!

      • On the contrary, the article is about pedestrians not having sufficient time to cross the street, therefore, as soon as motorists see the don’t walk sign flashing they think they have the right to go and not wait for pedestrians to be clear of being hit.

      • @Tim: From the first quote:

        “Since cars continue to go through the yellow and even the red light … a pedestrian loses some of the precious time allocated to cross”

        In other words, even though you get the Walk sign, you have to wait while motorists run the red light. Then it’s safe to go, but by then, you have lost a few seconds.

        Having to do this is a common occurrence.

      • Do car drivers understand that when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk box you are not to enter? Or you are not supposed to block and intersection nor a sidewalk. Don’t try to make me go around the back of your car because you are blocking the sidewalk. I’m going around the front of the car and you’ll just have to wait.

      • @Tim – i’m taking your computer away…
        And your car keys…
        AND your shoes.

  2. There are other local traffic control devices that need to be modified — whom should I contact to make proposals?

    I am thinking specifically of the intersection of Baxter and Alvarado in Echo Park which currently only has stop signs for cars on Alvarado. The Baxter vehicles, traveling up extremely steep hills on either side of the ridge-located intersection do not stop. When crossing on Alvarado, it is impossible to see oncoming cars until you are in the center of the intersection, and directly in their path. I have been in several close calls in that intersection, no matter how cautious I am. A four-way stop sign would reduce the danger. Even having mirrors so that cars that are stopped on Alvarado can see down the hill on Baxter would make things much safer.

  3. Glad to hear the DOT is finally rethinking some of these retrograde policies.

    They should go one step further and implement a leading pedestrian interval (aka “pedestrian head-start” at traffic signals: https://vimeo.com/12796930)… would really help cut down on collisions with left/right turning cars.

  4. Also, from what I can tell bulb outs are currently being constructed on many of the Silver Lake Junction crosswalks. This will shorten the time it takes to walk across the street. And it will also make people waiting to cross more visible to motorists.

  5. I’d definitely appreciate any extra seconds to cross the widest parts of Sunset Blvd. Having just had several spine surgeries, I’ve been using a crutch, and as much as I’m pretty fast for someone with a walking issue, sometimes you just can’t beat the light unless you start exactly as it turns. Man, those motorists will just try to mow you down !

  6. Bellevue and silverlake blvd really needs replacement we only have seconds before it changes and have almost got hit a few times, also consider putting a cross walk on vendome and silverlake blvd thanks 😉

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