At this week’s Virginia Park meeting for the Michigan Ave. Neighborhood Greenway proposal, a slightly clearer picture of what we might see for the project emerged. There was particular controversy in the neighborhood over the proposal for a diverter at 11th St. & Michigan, proposed there because the blocks from Lincoln to 11th have the highest number of car trips in the study corridor. The trips are created by the school and cut throughs for the freeway ramp on Lincoln just north of Michigan.
The Pico Neighborhood Association created their own survey (supplementing feedback the city solicited at it’s meetings and events) conducted by volunteers (apparently having sought but were denied funding from the city to hire a professional polling firm) and found the strongest opposition to diversion, nearing on unanimous. This information was presented at the meeting alongside the presentation by city staff and consultants from the planning firm Meléndrez. Barbara Fillet conducted her own survey as well, information from which she presented, and found different results, and more support for diversion (disclosure: Fillet is on the advisory panel for Santa Monica Next).
I don’t doubt these surveys were conducted with earnest effort, but skepticism is warranted with this kind of polling for a variety of reasons. Question phrasing, and whether or not recipients are informed of what a feature looks like, how it works, and what the trade offs are, effects outcomes. Going door to door preferences home owners over rental apartments, as many apartment units are behind gated entry. Locked gated entry to the apartment building was the case where I lived right off of Michigan on 9th St. in the area diversion would most greatly potentially benefit.
I don’t want to get wrapped up in comparing validity of various input methods, which created a few slightly heated moments of it’s own, but I can speak for myself in saying I believe even just one diversion would greatly benefit the comfort and safety for the entire Michigan corridor, and most especially reduce the morning rush headaches for residents who live directly adjacent the high school and Lincoln Blvd. The greenway treatments I have experienced elsewhere that have been very successful, in Portland Oregon and most recently visiting Berkley, featured both low traffic speeds, and low traffic volumes, with diverters employed at infrequent but key areas to facilitate the calmed atmosphere.
Michigan Ave. is fairly low traffic during much of the day and especially later evening on it own, however that morning and afternoon rush typically involves volumes of traffic well beyond “greenway’s” (or similar corridors that go by different names) in other cities. Responding to the particularly sharp criticism, of diversion, city staff appeared to be taking it off the table, but with potential for a comprise of sign based turn restrictions from 11th limited to rush hours. Read more…