Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why is Laguna Beach so unfriendly to pedestrians?

Laguna Beach is fairly unique in the Los Angeles area in that you can walk pretty much everywhere in town. At least if you live in the downtown area as I do. I've also always liked to stroll around (I've never even owned a car until I moved to California a few years ago). What I don't understand is why the city doesn't do more to actually encourage people to walk. It's fairly obvious to anybody who looks that city planning only considers pedestrians as an afterthought to car traffic.

Why don't the traffic lights always turn green for people who walk as well as for the cars. You always need to press the button and you need to press it before the light would have turned green or otherwise you need to wait until the next cycle. Furthermore, why isn't it green for the entire time it is green for the cars going in that direction (Not counting explicit turn signals of course)? Currently you are only allowed to walk for a few seconds as the light turns green in one direction while the cars gets to go for a lot longer. I know people will say that this will congest traffic too much to which I have to say that if they can do it in downtown San Francisco and New York they can do it here too.

Second issue is that we don't have enough crosswalks. If you look at the picture on the right, the red markers indicates obvious crosswalks that are missing. Just in the small section of downtown shown in the picture there are over 10 missing crosswalks. If you then consider that in connection with that the lights are almost never green it can take a lot of extra time to get where you are going since you are forced to cross the street twice instead of one.

Finally you have sidewalks which are missing almost everywhere. Especially heavy trafficked streets like Cyprus Drive feel very dangerous to walk on even during the day. At night it verges on being suicidal to walk them. Not even South Coast Highway have sidewalks on both sides of the street around the area of Upland Road and there are no crosswalks to cross the street anywhere close to where the sidewalk ends. Also in intersections people turning right in cars never ever look right before turning to see if anybody is crossing the street on foot. I don't know how many times I've heard screeching car tires as people finally notice me 5 feet from their front bumpers and since there are no sidewalks I have nowhere to jump out of the way.

I have several friends around town (and I am sure they aren't the only ones) who regularly use cars to drive just a few blocks up or down PCH. Perhaps if we make it easier to walk they could be persuaded to walk instead. This would ease parking and in these days of global warming lead to less green house gasses too. Every little bit helps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there fellow scandinavian... us "europeans"(if u can call a finn a european) like to bike and walk, so I wrote up on the same thing here, and stumbled on your blog.

It's bizarre to me while otherwise somewhat "progressive" town can do so poorly with its bike and walk infra.

Anyways, let me know if you figure what the heck is holding laguna to dark ages when it comes to bike/walk infra.

Good luck with the quest venture, after reading your about section, how r u liking working on Toad? I am asking since I am almost daily toad user.