By Adylbek Abdykalikov, USC, IPPAM 2020
Each in this series showcases an East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy at Esteban E. Torres High School (ELARA) student project presented on April 23rd, 2019 at "Greetings from East LA," an art, design, and urban planning exhibit held at USC. This article features the First Street Corridor project.
The First Street project was presented by ELARA students Dylan Cocoletzi, Lori Flores, Juan Luna, Ana Sarabia, and Jose Vargas. The team created map and a zine addressing safety along First Street between Eastman Avenue and Eastern Avenue.
The team started by identifying and mapping what they determined to be the most dangerous issues and areas in their neighborhood along the First Street corridor. They concluded that unsafe driving behavior was the most common problem, and in particular, unsafe turns which threaten pedestrians, and noted the specific locations where these unsafe turns are most common. The team gathered accident data, and offered four recommendations.
Their first recommendation was to incorporate a protected pedestrian crossing interval at the intersection of First Street and Eastman Avenue. At this intersection, the students found that drivers often rush to make unsafe left turns due to heavy traffic. These speeding cars do not allow pedestrians enough time to cross safely onto the sidewalk. The students felt that leading pedestrian intervals would help to be sure pedestrians have enough time to cross.
Second, the team recommended a new, high visibility crosswalk at First Street and Bonnie Beach Place. The noted that the narrow sidewalks on the right side of the street while heading westbound on East First Street were difficult to navigate and that these narrow walks begin at Bonnie Beach Place. They also recognized the issue of long distances between sidewalks from Sunol Drive to Herbert Avenue, increasing the probability of people jaywalking. The students felt that a new, high visibility crosswalk on First Street and Bonnie Beach Place, would allow pedestrians to cross over to the wider sidewalks, with the additional benefit of slowing down the cars as they pass.
Third, the team recommended a curb extension be added to slow down cars turning right and give space to the pedestrians on the northwest corner of First Street and Sunol Drive, where cars turn right onto First Street.
Finally, the team recommended a new traffic signal at First Street and Marianna Avenue to improve safety for students at Mariana Elementary School by providing clear time frames to safely cross the street. It will also help slow down traffic as drivers approach Zaring Street, which is the street on which the school is located.
The ELARA students agreed that East Los Angeles, in general, lacks safe streets. However, they envision a path for East LA streets to improve with time. “My vision for the streets in East LA is to see them with a lot more plantings and wider sidewalks to fit every persons’ needs,” said Ana Sarabia. “I envision the streets of East LA as safe and where there are more people walking. The future streets will look lively and be for all,” added Juan Luna.
Our next article in this series will present a student project on enhancing safety along another collision concentration corridor, Ford 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.