By Adylbek Abdykalikov, USC, IPPAM 2020
This is the second in our mini series of articles dedicated to East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy at Esteban E. Torres High School (ELARA) student projects presented on April 23rd, 2019 at "Greetings from East LA," an art, design, and urban planning exhibit held at USC. This article features the Eastern Avenue project.
ELARA students Alexia Bizarro, Lorena Dominguez, Dalia Moya, Gael Padilla, Mariana Raya, and Karim Villaseñor under the supervision of their teacher, Ana Tenorio, addressed safety along Eastern Avenue in East Los Angeles. Their work aimed to improve traffic safety along the Eastern Avenue corridor from Hammel Street to the 710 Freeway. Using a zine and a map they created, the team identified problems with traffic safety in their neighborhood and suggested solutions.
“When people think of East LA, they might think of an ugly “ghetto” city, but to us Angelenos it is a place where we could be ourselves,” says student team member Alexia Bizarro. “There is no one judging us for our social or economic status or where we are from. Everywhere you go there is a part of many different cultures,” she added. “It is a place where you get the feeling of relief when you know you are welcomed because of the diversity within the city.”
The students started by addressing areas along Eastern Avenue with high level of danger, such as sections where cars usually speed up and intersections with unsafe turning because of the lack of distance given to drivers for turn. The zine also noted problems with pedestrian safety. Students shared that several street sections have no crosswalk, and that citizens often jaywalk to avoid the walk to the next stop light to cross safely.
Students mapped areas around Eastern Avenue with high levels of danger
The team identified another problem - drivers making dangerous, quick left which threaten pedestrians, especially in areas with fast food restaurants. The students identified the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Eugene Street as particularly dangerous for pedestrians. At this intersection, on the southeast corner there is a warning beacon but no high visibility crosswalk beneath it. The light after that, at Eastern Avenue and 1st Street stays green unless there is a car there. There have been near misses because cars weren’t fully aware a pedestrian was crossing. As a possible solution for this, the team proposed a high visibility crosswalk so that cars would know that there is someone crossing and pedestrians will have allotted time to cross.
Students proposed another high visibility crosswalk at Torres High School, specifically at the intersection of and North Eastern Avenue & Dozier Street. Many students cross it every day but there is no crosswalk across Eastern Avenue for them to be able to cross safely.
Another intersection the team found dangerous is Eastern Avenue and East Cesar Chavez Avenue. The students identified the intersection as unsafe because cars would not slow down while making a left turn from North Eastern Avenue onto East Cesar Chavez Avenue going towards their school. Students also discovered speeding vehicles coming out of the exit of a fast food restaurant. As a result, collisions are very common. The team proposed to add a curb extension on the northwest corner of this intersection to make vehicles slow down when making a left turn, which provides more safety to pedestrians.
Almost all the ELARA students participated in this event have been living in East LA for a long time. That is why the students were able to witness traffic safety conditions in their neighborhood and think about what they can do to change the situation as those who care about the place in which they live. Alexia says that she was always aware of the streets whether she was walking, riding a bike or was in a car. “I noticed that there were dangers like streets with no crosswalks or speedy cars, so in the future I envision the streets of LA to have pedestrians feel safe at all time and drivers to be cautious about pedestrians and their speed limit,” she shared. “There would be least amount of crashes and this way the streets would look healthy and safe for most people”.
Our next article in this series will present the students’ ideas on enhancing safety along another collision concentration corridor of First St.
About the Author:
Adylbek Abdykalikov is a graduate student of International Public Policy and Management Program at USC Price. He has working experience in various positions at the Ministries of Transport and Communication and Investment and Development of Kazakhstan and was in charge of Transportation and Civil Aviation policy development and implementation, and serves as lead student event coordinator for METRANS and PSR.