Traffic safety improvements on Fountain Avenue have been endorsed by the West Hollywood City Council after the recent death of a pedestrian crossing Fountain and several other accidents. The city’s effort to improve crosswalks on Santa Monica Boulevard is well underway and likely to be completed by the middle of next month.
That work is part of the implementation of West Hollywood’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Mobility Plan. That complex 155-page plan is an update of the city’s 2003 plan. The plan, prepared by the city’s Community Development Department, was presented to the City Council in May. The Council endorsed it, with minor suggestions for changes, at its meeting on Monday night.
WEHOville has detailed in previous stories proposed improvements on Fountain and Santa Monica Boulevard. However there are three other areas where the city plans to improve pedestrian mobility safety and make it easier for bicyclists to get around. Future stories will call out other information about getting around WeHo presented in the mobility plan.
Almont Drive is seven-tenths of a mile long, with half of that length within the borders of West Hollywood. The West Hollywood segment runs from Santa Monica Boulevard to Beverly Boulevard. Almont is closed to traffic at its intersection with Melrose Avenue. It has traffic circles at its intersections with Rangely, Dorrington and Ashcroft avenues.
The city’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Mobility Plan would take several steps to make Almont more bicycle friendly and calm traffic on that street. They include:
— Drawing a line along Almont to indicate that it is open to bicyclists. Such a line, called a sharrow, is not an actual bicycle lane. Instead the line and a symbol of a bicycle painted within it is meant to suggest to drivers and cyclists that they must share that traffic lane.
— Improving Almont’s intersection with Beverly Boulevard. Options under consideration are: 1) Installing a raised traffic median to slow cars and prohibiting cars from turning left onto Almont from Beverly Boulevard and also installing a flashing light at the pedestrian crosswalk, 2) Installing a traffic signal, and 3) Installing the raised median and installing a bike signal. A bike signal is, in effect, a bicycle stop light. problem. When the bike lane has a green light, turning cars have a red. When turning cars have a green light, bikes have a red light.
— Installing bicycle-friendly speed bumps at the intersection of Rosewood Avenue with Almont, which would slow cars going through the intersection but not obstruct bike riders.
— Removing the stop sign at Dorrington Avenue and relying on the existing traffic circle to slow traffic.
— Upgrading the alley between Melrose Avenue and Rangely Avenue to create more space for cyclists.
— Refreshing the crosswalk stripes on Ashcroft at Melrose Avenue and possibly extending the curbs into the street, which would slow traffic.
— Installing a bicycle traffic light at the intersection of Almont and Santa Monica. For westbound cyclists on Santa Monica, there would be left-turn light onto Almont. For cyclists headed north on Almont, there would be a bicycle traffic light with a short, dedicated bike lane leading up to it. Motorists would be blocked from turning right on red onto Santa Monica Boulevard from Almont, which would reduce the risk that cyclists would be hit.
Willoughby is a 1.1 mile narrow residential street south of and parallel to Santa Monica Boulevard. Portions of it fall within West Hollywood’s eccentric southern border and portions are in the City of Los Angeles. The Pedestrian & Mobility study notes that traffic ranges from 1,700 to 7,800 cars a day.
The City of Los Angeles recently installed “sharrows,” or lines indicating the street must be shared with cyclists, on Willoughby from Vista Street east to Fairfax. The city study notes that many cyclists currently use the slower and less-densely trafficked Willoughby as an alternative to Santa Monica Boulevard.
Improvements recommended in the Pedestrian & Mobility Plan would not be implemented until after a design study is conducted. Those improvements include creating a sharrow along Willoughby from North Croft Avenue east to intersect with the City of Los Angeles sharrow beginning at Fairfax. The plan also proposes sharrows running north from Willoughby along North Croft and Kings Road that would connect Willoughby with bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The plan suggests traffic diverters such as traffic circles, signs warning against non-residential traffic and banning left turns onto Willoughby from major cross streets such as Kings or Fairfax. In a test, the city used diverters at Willoughby’s intersections with Kings Road, Fairfax Avenue and Vista Street and found 1,200 to 1,900 fewer car trips. However, traffic increased by similar numbers along Santa Monica Boulevard, Kings Road, Waring Avenue and Melrose Avenue.
Gardner Street and Vista Street
The Pedestrian & Bicycle Mobility Plan examines Gardner Street between Fountain Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard and Vista Street between Santa Monica Boulevard and Willoughby Avenue.
The plan notes that the stretch of Gardner that effectively merges into North Vista provides an unbroken north/south connection as far north as Franklin Avenue and as far south as 3rd Street in Los Angeles and is the only street between La Brea Avenue and Fairfax Avenue that does so.
The improvements proposed for Gardner Street/ Vista Street include intersection improvements at Lexington Avenue, Romaine Street, and Willoughby Avenue that might be neighborhood traffic circles, curb extensions and high-visibility crosswalks.
The plan suggests that both bike sharrows and an actual dedicated bike lane could be included. However, it notes that the angled parking between Fountain Avenue and Romaine Street would have to require back-in parking to ensure the safety of bicyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.