Eyes on the Street: Safer Shorter Crossings in Silver Lake and Echo Park

Improved intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Occidental Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog  L.A. except as noted.
Improved intersection at Sunset and Occidental Boulevards. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A., except as noted.

Sometimes neighborhood livability and walkability do not need to wait for multi-million dollar infrastructure streetscape re-vamps. Sometimes all it takes is paint. Or, as in the case of these streets, longer-lasting thermoplastic striping that doubles as “paint.”

Thanks to tips from friends of the blog, Ryan Johnson and Jessica Meaney, I recently visited two central Los Angeles intersections that the city Department of Transportation (LADOT) has re-worked for increased safety and walkability.

In both cases, streets had and have a stop sign, as well as right turns at angles greater than 90-degrees, further smoothed by gradually curving sidewalks. In the past, LADOT’s striping allowed for relatively dangerous and high-speed right turns. These weren’t quite suburban slip-lanes, but they were nearing that. Drivers could whip around the curve, endangering themselves and others.

Conversion of slip lane into plaza - graphic via SF Better Streets
Diagram showing similar conversion of slip lane into a plaza. This isn’t the exact situation as the L.A. examples, but the problems and improvements are similar. Graphic via SF Better Streets

At both locations, LADOT added a striped curb extension to help drivers to make a full stop before making a full 90-degree right turn. This makes driving safer by improving visibility and reducing speed. It also has the benefit of shortening the crossing distance for pedestrians.

The intersection of Occidental and Sunset Boulevards is in the L.A. neighborhood of Silver Lake, a block east of Silver Lake Boulevard. The re-striping was done in 2014, according to Johnson.

Conditions after at Sunset and Occidental. The stop sign has been moved from the sidewalk parkway out into the street.
Conditions after at Sunset and Occidental. The stop sign has been moved from the sidewalk parkway out into the street.

The intersection of Echo Park and Park Avenues is at the northeast corner of Echo Park (the park) in Echo Park (the neighborhood.)

Recent curb extension added at Echo Park and Park Aveneues.
Recent curb extension added at the intersection of Echo Park Avenue and Park Avenue.

Echo Park sidewalk extensions before and after - photos by Ryan Price
Echo Park sidewalk extensions before and after – photos by Ryan Johnson
Unfortunately some drivers still cut the corner at Echo Park.
Unfortunately some drivers still cut the corner at Echo Park. The stop sign remains on the curb (off picture to the right, visible in above images) so there’s nothing physical in the street to keep drivers out of the striped area. Bollards are planned, see below.

Ryan Johnson reports:

This one is at Echo Park Ave and Park Ave right on the edge of the park, and it will eventually have reflective bollards along the edge of that hashed area to discourage motorists from encroaching. I would love to see some planters in there to extend the park. The treatment reduced the crossing distance while exposed to traffic from about 120 feet to 75 feet!

Johnson also reports that credit on these two improvements is due to LADOT’s Tim Fremaux, formerly with LADOT Bikeways and a former SBLA Streetsie Award nominee.

Readers, where are you seeing these sorts of small-scale LADOT safety changes? And, probably more importantly, where do you think these striping improvement are needed to make places safer?

  • Alex Brideau III

    Personally, I’ve found that limit lines can be helpful, but mostly if they are painted perpendicular to a car’s direction of travel. More and more often it appears LADOT is instead painting limit lines parallel to a crosswalk and it seem that cars tend to be more likely to creep across them.

    Does anyone know what the LADOT policy is on limit lines? Is it true that they are supposed to be painted perpendicular to cars’ direction of travel or is that just an Alex fantasy?

  • Phantom Commuter

    Those painted stripes are going to make little difference. The car in the last picture is driving right over them, probably not even slowing down. The transplants gentrifying Silver Lake and Echo Park make a lot of noise (many are from NYC), so the city had to do something. Meanwhile, other parts of town with far more serious problems, continue to be ignored.

  • In the city I live in, there’s a stop sign placed similarly to the one pictured at Sunset and Occidental, except that it is actually located on a roll curb, in a parking lot. It is run over about twice a month. Our public works department has taken to painting it fluorescent orange but that hasn’t seemed to help.

  • The only way to reliably get all drivers to obey road markings is to make them curbs, and not roll curbs….I’m talking, your car now needs an alignment if you hit one curbs.

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