Metro Seeks Input on Design Options for Segment A of Rail-to-River Bike/Pedestrian Path

Given that the majority of those surveyed last fall said they would be likely to use the path for walking and that the area is mainly comprised of multi-generational families, ensuring that the path is safe and welcoming for elders, small children, the disabled, and anyone in between is paramount. Shade trees, ample lighting, benches, trash cans, water fountains, community-specific art pieces, and occasional placards (and equipment, where space is available) indicating exercises people can stop and do along the way would do much to make the path inviting to those families.

Care should also be taken to ensure that there is a clear demarcation between the walking and biking paths, perhaps using signage and other design elementsto remind people to go slow and look out for each other. Collisions between pedestrians and cyclists along the L.A. River bike path, as pedestrian advocate Deborah Murphy has repeatedly stated, underscore the importance of using design to ensure that both can utilize the space safely.

One way to make that delineation clear could be to use different materials for the walking path. There are few jogging trails in the area, and making the walking path a bit softer –  perhaps like a cinder track* – might both encourage exercise and discourage cyclists from weaving into pedestrian space. [*Only if this would not inhibit disabled users.]

If different materials can’t be used, paint or thermoplastic design elements might also help make those delineations clearer. Hopscotch courts and other playground-game markings would remind users to share the path with families, while making it tons more fun for kids.

At intersections, Cityworks Design suggested that the best way forward might be to have raised crosswalks that would be level with the path. Such a design would make transitioning between path and road easier for those in wheelchairs, with walkers or strollers, or on bikes.

A raised surface would also help keep cars from encroaching into the crosswalk, especially those waiting to turn right. At present, the tracks keep most drivers from edging forward toward the corner. Without some other sort of barrier to replace the tracks, the temptation to creep (or take a fast right turn) through the crosswalk might be too great.

Last month, I posted a preview of some of the potential design elements for Segment A of the Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path. The project to convert the Slauson corridor’s blighted rail right-of-way (ROW) into an amenity connecting South and Southeast Los Angeles communities to transit, schools, jobs, the L.A. River, and each other is moving along at a rather rapid pace. Deadlines attached to federal monies mean that Segment A of the project should be finished by mid-2019. [Segment B is still in the alternatives analysis phase.]

As part of this process, last Thursday, Metro and Cityworks Design held two meetings to lay out the design options for Segment A for the community and to solicit feedback.

Before we dive into some of the key aspects of the project, please note the full power-point presentation highlighting the opportunities for the community to shape the final look and feel of Segment A can be found here. The design is said to be only 15 percent complete at this point; Cityworks Design says they aim to have 30 percent of the design work completed by the end of the year. Those interested in having their say to shape the next design phase are invited to fill out a survey form, found here. [The archived livestream of last night’s meeting and other materials are not yet available on the project website, but a brief overview of the project is available here. If you need more background on the project, please see the past coverage listed at the bottom.]

First, the 30-foot wide ROW along the Slauson corridor, above.

The intention is to have separate lanes for biking and walking, and to have both separated from the heavy traffic that barrels along Slauson via landscaping.

The way in which that space between the path and the street will be filled in is up for discussion, as are safety measures to ensure that there is as little conflict as possible between those biking and walking.

Because of the limits on the landscaping that can be done under the 110 freeway, Cityworks raised the possibility of using art to beautify the space along the walls (below). Twenty-four-hour lighting was suggested, with emergency phones and cameras to monitor the space, as well.

Two new crosswalks will be striped to link users to destinations along Figueroa and Broadway more easily, and a guardrail would also likely be implemented to discourage pedestrians from cutting across Slauson under the freeway.

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