Sunday, June 8, 2014

Traffic Calming

My quest to be that annoying neighbor who always harasses local government continues. La Habra is looking for comment on some traffic calming projects, so I sent them the following letter:

In general I support the idea of traffic calming projects. High speed traffic in La Habra should be restricted to Beach, Whittier, Lambert, Harbor, and Imperial. I therefore have nothing negative to say about the changes in the proposed neighborhoods.

The choice of places to use traffic calming strike me as a little odd though. Traffic calming should be done to make roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Therefore the greatest impact will be had where there are the most pedestrians or bicyclists. The proposed areas don't seem like where the bulk of pedestrians are. Traffic calming should primarily be based around slowing traffic in two areas: around schools and on and near La Habra boulevard.

For example, it seems strange to me that area O extends from Lambert to Imperial. There isn't much there in the way of pedestrian traffic that far south on Walnut. A much better choice would be to extend it from La Habra to Whittier. There is a school there and businesses on La Habra boulevard and Walnut are within walking distance of homes so lots of pedestrians are on this part of Walnut compared to the Lambert to Imperial stretch. I have personally been involved in an accident there, so I can vouch for too high of car speeds for the neighborhood.

There is also no mention of the place in La Habra with by far the most pedestrians. La Habra Boulevard. This is the only place in La Habra where large numbers of businesses are an easy walk from large numbers of homes. There is also a school and a library so there are large numbers of children walking along the road. Because of the high speed of cars, and the large number of pedestrians this is the road which would most benefit from traffic calming projects. At the very least they should alter the timing of the lights to give pedestrians crossing the street more time to cross and widen sidewalks. I would even support more drastic proposals such as protected bike lanes or eliminating a lane of traffic and installing angled parking. Some of these proposals will undoubtedly be fought by those who want faster traffic at all costs, but Whittier, Imperial and Lambert all parallel La Habra Boulevard and could easily take all the longer distance commuting. 

As far as proposals for what type of traffic calming should be used in the neighborhoods described in this proposal. I am a strong advocate for items which make the road feel less safe to drivers, causing them to slow down. Many of these are described in the 2006 NTMP document such as making the lanes less straight, more narrow, or installing roundabouts. In general I don't much like speed bumps, but the elevated crosswalks seem like a good idea.

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