Alhambra Locals Sound Off on Dangers for Kids Walking on Fremont Ave
3:45 PM PDT on September 19, 2022
On Friday September 16, the Sustainable SGV coalition gathered residents, a City Councilmember, and Streetsblog in Alhambra for a walk around Fremont Avenue in Alhambra to see the “dangerous walking conditions” and “pollution burden” that local elementary schoolers contend with. They also took surveys from the walkers to collect data for Alhambra’s forthcoming pedestrian and bicycle plans.
The epicenter of the walking tour was Fremont Elementary, directly across from Fremont Avenue’s westbound off-ramp (on Hellman Avenue and Elm Street, cars go left to get to Fremont). All that stands between the short off-ramp and the drop-off area by the school’s front entrance is a stop sign. Fremont PTA’s President, Jason Wong, gave an unsettling account of what goes on there.
“Me and my kids walk to school every day, [and] have been for the last like, seven years,” said Wong. “And we've seen a lot – I've seen dogs hit in the road and right in front of me just because they run the stop sign. My kids have had the cars ignore the stop sign right in front of us, and they drive right through.”
Sustainable SGV notes that 35 vehicle collisions with pedestrians and bikers have been reported within a half mile of Fremont Elementary since 2015, according to the Transportation Injury Mapping System.
A mapped survey (see below) of 300 Alhambra residents by Sustainable SGV found concerns over unsafe walking “due to fast moving cars” (red) and “interest in protected bike lanes” (green) in the immediate area around Fremont Elementary and the westbound off-ramp.
Fremont Ave is the straightest shot from the 10 Freeway to South Pasadena, and Fair Oaks Avenue (to Pasadena). But getting on and off of the 10 at Fremont involves some very abrupt ramps that don’t connect to the main body of Fremont. The westbound ramps can only be accessed from the north side of Fremont, by way of Hellman or Elm by Fremont Elementary. To get on or off the 10 East, it’s from the south side only. To get from one side of the Freeway to the other, there’s an elbow shaped turn underneath it, with some rather thin sidewalks.
After the group walked under the 10 and arrived at the school, Rodrigo, whose son is in 2nd grade at Fremont Elementary, told Streetsblog he’d like to see crossing guards stationed throughout the area. “There are crossing guards on the main intersection, but as far as these small streets, there's nobody there, but they get just as much traffic. [...] I think the more presence there for the kids, the better, you know, including the surrounding areas like underneath the freeway. I think that would be a big deal.”
Active SGV’s Executive Director David Diaz was on hand to discuss traffic calming infrastructure as the group stood at the corner of Elm and Ross Avenue (the north end of the school campus). Diaz said narrower lane width could slow down cars in the area (this would go right in hand with widening the sidewalk under the 10). On Elm, he said reshaping the curb cuts could reduce rolling stops from drivers making turns. For pedestrians, he recommends Early Walk: crossing signals that give pedestrians a head start to begin crossing the street before cars are given the green light.(These also known as an LPI - Leading Pedestrian Interval.)
John Lipo has been living in the neighborhood since 1987, and he likes that last idea a lot.
“I've almost been hit a couple of times at this corner down here,” Lipo said, pointing to Fremont and Hellman. “People are coming off the freeway, turning right on to Fremont. And I want to cross Fremont to the west. And when the light turns green, these guys want to turn right on red. They're looking for the opening. They see the opening as my light turns green for me to go -- they don't see me. They're looking over here for traffic coming the other way. It's dangerous right here.”
When SBLA asked Councilmember Adele Andrade-Stadler how much impact she thought this event could have on the city's transportation plans, the Councilmember said, “You know, I've worked with this organization [Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement, Sustainable SGV's partner organization] before, measuring the air quality around the schools when I was a school board member. And we took that to the leadership higher than I, and they started to put trees in at Mark Keppel [High School] and Almansor Park. So I believe that when the little person squeaks loudly enough, people in City Hall will listen.”
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Chris is the San Gabriel Valley Reporter for Streetsblog LA and co-host for SGV Connect. He's been a La Puente native since 1991, and a radio journalist since 2014. He hosts the podcast SGV Weekly.
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