Pedestrians cross at St. Louis and Cesar Chavez, where new bulb-outs were recently installed by the Great Streets program. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
I’ve sat and observed the intersection of St. Louis and Cesar Chavez in Boyle Heights several times since the modified curb extensions started going in last month.
The painted “bulb-outs” are part of a pilot project of the Great Streets program (see recent coverage of its efforts on Central Ave. here) and are the first such curb extensions in the city.
Cesar Chavez is one of fifteen Great Streets identified in the current cycle, and is expected to see improvements stretching between St. Louis and Evergreen. But, for now, the improvements are limited to one intersection. And one of the calmer intersections along the corridor, at that, much to the puzzlement of a number of residents.
For one, people aren’t exactly sure what they are looking at.
“Why is it red?” “What is that [pointing at empty planter]?” and “Why is that in the street?” are all questions frequently overheard, often from curious kids whose parents seem unsure how to answer.
A planter sits devoid of plants at Cesar Chavez and St. Louis. A passerby asked if the bollards across the street block access to the fire hydrant. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
“Is it for the bikes?” asked a young salesman handing out flyers in front of the cell phone shop just down the street. “‘Cause, you know, they have those green sections on 1st St. for the bikes…”
No, I explained, these were curb extensions that limited the distance pedestrians would be exposed to traffic when moving across travel lanes. And they were paired with adjustments to the walk signals that now gave pedestrians a head start when crossing the street.
Great Streets’ map of the intersection and explanation of the changes. The bus stop is on the map; the decision to move it may have come after implementation. Click to enlarge.
It was part of the Great Streets program, I said, and there would be improvements along the rest of this section of Cesar Chavez at some point — but it was unclear when that would happen, or if the same improvements would appear at the other corners along the corridor.
He nodded and surveyed the intersection.
“They should have talked to us,” he mused, referring to the businesses along the street.
It was not unusual for people to come in and ask business owners about changes to the area, he explained. But without any information about the program, the owners didn’t know what to tell them. Especially about the more significant changes that were impacting the lives of the elderly residents in the community.
He gestured toward an elderly woman leaned wearily up against a telephone pole.
“They moved the bus stop over here and now elderly people have to stand instead of being able to sit down,” he shook his head.
And it is unclear how long that change will be in effect. The signs say only, “until further notice.” Read more…