By Adylbek Abdykalikov, USC, IPPAM 2020
This the final article in our mini-series on the East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy at Esteban E. Torres High School (ELARA) student projects presented at "Greetings from East LA" at USC. This team addressed safety along Whittier Boulevard.
The Whittier Boulevard corridor study area is located at a distance the previous four projects, which were clustered together. The student team of Daniela Acosta, Octavio Delgadillo, Alex Huerta, Stacey Peraza, Samuel Rodriguez, and Maria Urias highlighted traffic safety conditions along Whittier Boulevard between Indiana Street and Record Avenue.
In their map, the team marked various traffic incidents. The students noted that the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and Indiana Street is one of the most dangerous in this neighborhood. “There have been many crashes here because this is a very wide intersection, with a constant flow of traffic and unclear turn lanes,” said the team, and called out many accidents – for example, a student being struck by school bus, a car driving into store after turning at a high rate of speed and losing control, and others. Unfortunately, the team documented several incidents in which individuals and even families died because of the current traffic safety conditions in this intersection.
Students mapped various traffic incidents around Whittier Boulevard
One of the team’s recommendations to make this intersection safer was adding left turn signal phasing on the north side of Whittier Boulevard and Indiana Street. Cars driving northbound on Indiana Street speed up when turning left onto Whittier Boulevard to get past the yellow light, but then collide into cars from opposing traffic. The left turn signal, they argue, will help slow cars down because they will be forced to stop and wait their turn.
Another recommendation for this dangerous area was a curb extension on the northwest corner of Whittier Boulevard and Indiana Street. The curb extension, they share, will make the turn lane narrower, forcing the cars turning right on the northwest corner to slow down. This curb extension will also allow for pedestrians to be more visible and will give them more space.
The students also paid close attention to the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and Hicks Avenue, where Ruben Salazar Park and its recreational center are located. Based on their own experience, the team shared the difficulty in crossing the road at this point because the traffic light is far away. People usually decide to jaywalk instead. As a suggestion, the team proposes a pedestrian activated warning beacon and high visibility crosswalk will help people cross without getting injured.
The next recommendation for pedestrian safety was a curb extension at the northwest and southwest corners of Whittier Boulevard and South Gage Avenue. “There is not enough space between the pedestrians crossing, and cars making left turns at the southwest corner, and cars making right turns at the northwest corner. The cars passing by accelerate during their turns. A curb extension will make them slow down,” said the team.
Another pedestrian activated warning beacon was suggested on the northwest corner of Record Avenue and Whittier Boulevard. It will help drivers know someone wants to cross and cars need to stop. The crosswalk alone does not guarantee cars will slow down. There are many commercial spaces and a lot of jumping from one side of the street to the other, the observed, and expect that a crosswalk will help to reduce jaywalking.
The final recommendation is to adding a high visibility crosswalk at the southeast corner of Record Avenue and Whittier Boulevard. The students believe that it will slow down cars driving east or westbound on Whittier Boulevard, and let pedestrians cross safely, again providing an attractive alternative of jaywalking.
The University of Southern California was happy to host a very important event “Greeting from East LA,” and we to be able to share these projects with you, our readers. We wish all the best and good luck to all ELARA students in their future endeavors, probably as future urban planners!
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.