By Adylbek Abdykalikov, USC, IPPAM 2020
We continue our series of articles showcasing 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 and supported by USC.
For this project, ELARA students Maritza Castro, Santino Hernandez, Danny Mendes, Gonzalo Ponce, Cintia Rios, Jaqueline Torres, and Leo Torres addressed traffic safety conditions in their neighborhood, specifically along Ford Boulevard, an East Los Angeles corridor identified by LA County’s Vision Zero Action Plan.
The students began by mapping the locations of recent traffic injuries and fatalities. The students also shared their own experience with these kinds of incidents. “I was walking with a friend in the morning and as we were waiting for our light to change, a car crashed into another one and we got very scared,” said team member Maritza Castro. Student Leo Torres shared the time when he was going home with his mom and was nearly hit by a driver who was coming around the corner at high speed.
The team then shared their recommendations and ideas as to improve safety along the corridor.
The team discovered that no crosswalks were present in the East/West directions of Ford Boulevard and New York Street intersection. As a recommendation, students suggested adding a high-visibility crosswalk on these directions to allow for safer pedestrian crossing.
The students observed cars dangerously turning onto North New York Street. They concluded the need for a left turn signal phasing on Ford Boulevard and New York Street. With the addition of the left turn signal, they predicted, cars would be more likely to wait to turn when it would be safer for them and for pedestrians.
Students mapped areas of danger along Ford Boulevard
Ford Boulevard between East 1st Street and East 3rd Street was an area noted as particularly dangerous due to high rates of speed. “Many cars speed through this area because there are no visual cues to slow down traffic,” they noted. “We recommend a road reconfiguration and a pedestrian island so that the street has narrower car lanes, making cars drive slower and giving pedestrians greater protection.”
The student team suggested adding a leading pedestrian interval at the Maravilla Metro Station on East 3rd Street and South Ford Boulevard to improve pedestrian safety. The team observed lack of time for pedestrians to cross before cars headed into the street making it dangerous for pedestrians. The students proposed adding a leading pedestrian interval at both corners, giving pedestrians more time to cross safely across the Metro tracks.
The students concluded by noting the importance of the area, and in particular the special nature of it in their lives. “East LA is my home,” remarked team member Danny Mendes. “It might be filled with issues like car crashes, but it is still my precious home. I was raised here, and I would be sad if I continue to see these issues in East LA.”
"Greetings from East LA" was a valuable opportunity students to examine their neighborhood and gave them a platform to raise their concerns and share ideas to transform their home to a better and safer place.
Our next and final article in this series will showcase the students’ ideas on enhancing traffic safety along Whittier Boulevard.
About the Author:
Adylbek Abdykalikov is a graduate student in the 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.