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How can you reduce cut-through traffic in Echo Park? Some residents may not like the answers

Baxter and North Alvarado Streets, Echo Park – 6 p.m. on a Thursday

By BARRY LANK

ECHO PARK —  Traffic seems to have gotten only worse on modest residential roads such as Baxter Street, where residents have been asking for relief from increasing congestion. But what can neighbors on Baxter and similar streets do about it? Turns out that some of the potential solutions have their own drawbacks.

More and more stories have been popping up about complaints of “cut-through” traffic on side streets – an overflow of cars and trucks from crowded main roads,  such as Glendale and Sunset boulevards,  and even freeways. Many residents in Echo Park and other neighborhoods blame mobile phone apps such as Waze, which direct drivers off the congested streets during peak times, for exacerbating the problem. In fact, tonight, March 28, the Echo Park Neighborhood Council is scheduled to weigh in on a proposal to request that Waze stop recommending Baxter and Lake Shore Avenue as alternative rush-hour routes.

Noa Mikkelsen, who has lived around Lake Shore Avenue and Baxter Street since 2002, started noticing the increased traffic about year ago — and has seen it noticeably deteriorate over the last six months.

“I was trying to pull into my driveway and was gridlocked by cars on the wrong side of the road trying to drive up Baxter, even though there were roadblocks,” she said. “I asked [a] driver to move to the side so I could pull in the driveway, and he called me a bitch and said, ‘I don’t care if you live here!’ then sped off up Lake Shore at top speed.”

Traffic grows worse on Baxter when there’s a Dodger game

Despite calls for them to do something, city leaders have been slow to work with Waze for a citywide solution to the problem. Meanwhile, other potential solutions have their own drawbacks.

The city could make streets one-way or install four-way stop signs or “No Left Turn” or “No Right Turn” signs, said Russell Hasan, a transportation engineering associate with the Department of Transportation. Roundabouts and pedestrian plazas can also help divert traffic, he said. Residents can request those programs online.

But Hasan notes that any of these alterations must be agreed to by the majority of folks who live on the streets affected.

In the meantime,  a proposal to deal with Waze has been stalled at City Hall for two years. Back in April 2015, District 2 City Councilman Paul Krekorian  proposed having the transportation department consider working with Waze on reducing cut-through traffic.

“In light of the mayor’s announcement of a data-sharing partnership with Waze,” the proposal said, “the City may be able to leverage that partnership to reduce the impact of routing efficiency apps on neighborhood streets by, for example, regulating the number of added daily trips or other means.”

That motion is still pending in committee, according to Tony Arranaga, communications director for Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who represents Echo Park.

Meanwhile, back near Baxter and Lake Shore, Mikkelsen has to put up with congestion as the process to find a solution drags on.

“The constant honking from 4:30 to 7:30 is unbearable,” Mikkelsen said. “We can’t even get our child’s homework done.”

Barry Lank is the assistant editor of The Eastsider and grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. He is also the West Coast producer of National Lampoon’s “Final Edition Radio Hour.”

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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36 comments

  1. Been using Baxter as a shortcut for years (grew up right around the corner), but don’t anymore for obvious reasons. Noticed after a Wolrd Baseball Classic game that people have been putting up barriers to block traffic. While it’s completely understandable, it’s a bad idea. People are still gonna take Baxter if Waze tells them to. The barriers just cause confusion and make a bad traffic situation worse. People turn into animals when they’re trying to get home from work. Hopefully Waze gets convinced to take out Baxter as an alternative route, but don’t stop there! None of those tiny steep streets should be used as alternative routes. There are plenty more ways to get from Glendale blvd to Echo Park ave and vice versa than just Baxter. If Waze just loses Baxter it can still route folks through other equally idiotic ways. My hope is that people don’t remember that Waze took them through there before.

  2. The traffic lights on Glendale Blvd. should be synchronized for better timing to move smoothly they take a long time to turn and drivers get stuck on the road. Plus the Road Diets, such as Silverlake don’t help any but cause more congestions.

    I personally have to go to two different school pick up for my children. I have already asked my employer to leave earlier and its caused problems for me at work, jeopardizing my job and I still get stuck in this horrid traffic.

    • God car people complain so much! If only everyone else would get out of my way I have really important business to take care of.

      • Now I see why your dumb name its Monkeyman…

        • A commuter calling someone dumb, that’s funny. If you where smart and had a good job you wouldn’t be a commuter, way to fail at life.

          • wtf_is_a_hispter_anymore

            “If you where smart and had a good job you wouldn’t be a commuter, way to fail at life.”

            You don’t sound too bright.

          • You idiots and full of crap!
            I’m a single parent with a good fulltime job, work on USC, UCLA, CSULB, Children’s Hospital projects in Architecture and community involvement helping others and work and drive to pick up my children which you trolls obviously aren’t too bright for not even knowing to judge any commuter.

  3. It’s out of control at Lake Shore and Berkeley Avenues as well. Waze killz neighborhoodz.

  4. Get used to it people. If you want to see what the future holds for Los Angeles, just visit any of the global megacities like Mexico City or Bangkok where just crossing town can take 3-4 hours. Get ready for all the freeways to get double decked and the congestion and resulting smog to inch upward. It’s inevitable as the population climbs and there is not sufficient light rail to move everyone around. Public trans will always trail the population’s needs here in California especially as the public union’s pension fiasco starts to eat budgets alive and interest rates start to tick upwards.

    • I seriously doubt we’ll be double-decking freeways anytime soon… cost/benefit is a non-starter. And you’re right, criss-crossing the basin with rail will only serve a fraction of the population due to the sheer scale of the region.

      LA’s transit problem is essentially a land use problem. We just need to continue building housing/jobs/amenities in walkable proximity to one another… shorten the distance between people and places.

      People shouldn’t have to cross the entire region everyday… in most global cities that’s the exception to the rule.

  5. TheEntireCountryisGentrifying

    Class Action lawsuit against waze needs to happen. They should not be touting people through neighborhoods otherwise they need to post a sign that it is a neighborhood or clearly post MPH on their app for these children filled areas

    • I don’t think those gridlocked cars are exceeding the speed limit. Also, the app already displays speed limits and tells you when you are exceeding them.

    • I think this is a joke but not sure because I see this earnestly talked about elsewhere including a stalled city council motion, lol. A lawsuit on what grounds? What is the city council gonna tell Google, stop or or or….
      A company built a map that helps people drive better. Those roads it maps are public streets, meaning everyone owns it, meaning anyone can drive on them.
      I’ll say this, we’re all for safe streets. Stop wasting your Fkin breath about a mobile app. That’s a dead end brick wall folks. Start holding elected officials accountable for ensuring smart, safe road designs are implemented citywide.

  6. Echo Park used to be full of cool blue collar working class. Now its filled with entitled assholes who think that THEIR street is too good for traffic. I know – its a neighborhood street- but the over fucking inflated sense of entitlement you must have to think that you can hold a meeting and get a company to change how THEY do business to keep you happy so YOUR STREET has less traffic is emblematic of the Santa Monica-ization of the East Side.

  7. I’ve also used Baxter to get to the dog park for about a decade or so(since the time restrictions went up at Waterloo and Glendale). I’ve definitely noticed a serious increase in traffic. From where I live I could also go around the other way down Glendale and past CVS and take Silverlake down which is about the same distance but with 365 and all that new stuff that route is nearly impossible. And now I’m hearing that they want to put a 50 unit apartment complex right next to it which is definitely going to make traffic on all of these streets worse.

  8. Why not add speed bumps on Lakeshore Avenue

  9. Government is the problem, wasting money on parklets and road diets without seeing the big picture. Don’t blame an app for lack of Civic leadership. Bring in European traffic experts to fix Glendale boulevard once and for all. That road already has all it needs to get cars out of LA during rush hour. Just fix the lights and add a roundabout or two. Europeans do it right, let’s accept that our burocrats are clueless.

    • Kudos “ProblemSolver” for an intelligent commentary!

    • You’d need a magnifying glass to locate parklets or road diets in the city’s budget. And the lights are already synced with one of the more advanced traffic management systems in the world.

  10. Know what, residents can use Waze to report police on their streets, accidents, road closures due to hazards or construction, map errors…… Just sayin’

    You can also call your city councilman’s office and request traffic enforcement. Eventually they will come out a write some tickets.

    Seriously, we need a blitz of traffic law enforcement on our streets.

  11. I drive on Baxter around 5ish to get from Downtown, through Echo Park, into Atwater. There is almost zero traffic and no honking. I even use Baxter after Dodger games–again, no traffic.

  12. wtf_is_a_hispter_anymore

    Just a reminder to all the dipshits in Echo Park complaining — you do not OWN the streets.

  13. Remove the 2 Freeway and the traffic will disperse.

  14. Until recently we were still at the tail end of a recession that coincided with a spike in gas prices, both of which noticeably curbed driving in the city. Unless residents have more than anecdotal evidence that it is WAZE that is causing this traffic and not the ubiquity of cheap gas, exploding car sales, increased employment, or any number of other factors this is ridiculous. We live in Los Angeles which is a synonym for “traffic”.

    Furthermore, any driver who is complaining about traffic should take a long look in the mirror and realize that you are also contributing to traffic, whether it’s in Echo Park, when you get on the Freeways, or driving to pick your kids up at school. Unless you ditch your cars in favor of buses, bikes, walking, you have no right to complain.

    • Not tru, what’s happening is a discussion on how one drives. Speeding thru residential neighborhoods via an app is what’s being discussed. Diverting traffic from major arteries into areas never meant to take such volume is the subject. Please stay on topic.

    • But humans also contribute to global warming so, no, walking is also bad for the environment. Also farting. And I know bike people fart all the time. So you are all bad.
      Flog yourself with your spandex bike shorts, stud.

  15. These people remind me of my dog. He thinks he owns the street we live on and throws a barking fit whenever another dog walks by.

  16. Move out of LA. It’s freaking awesome over here! No traffic.

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