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Eyes on the Street: Rosewood’s New Diverter Crossing

9:38 AM PDT on June 12, 2019

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This article supported by Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney as part of a general sponsorship package. All opinions in the article are that of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of LABA. Click on the ad for more information.
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There is a new type of bike facility in Los Angeles: a diverter that allows for bicyclists to go straight ahead, while directing cars to turn. The facility is located at the intersection of Rosewood and La Brea Avenues in L.A.'s Mid-City West neighborhood. This is the first instance of this crossing treatment in L.A. City, allowing the Transportation Department (LADOT) to try out features that can be replicated in other locations.

Los Angeles has many low traffic volume streets that are fairly conducive to bicycling and walking. Many cities have implemented features to prioritize bicycling and walking on similar low-traffic streets. The streets remain open to driving, but at some selected points non-drivers are prioritized. These facilities go by several names: bicycle boulevards, bike-friendly streets, and neighborhood greenways. These quieter shared streets are found in various cities - from Long Beach to San Luis Obispo to Berkeley - but remain rare in L.A.

For transportation bicycling, one issue with these quieter streets is getting across big perpendicular arterial streets. Adding a regular traffic signal at these intersections can result in increased car traffic, undermining the calmness that made the street safe and pleasant. One solution is to add treatments which divert drivers from proceeding straight, but allow pedestrians and cyclists to continue straight across.

Creating a bicycle boulevard was not the only intent at Rosewood and La Brea. According to L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz via Facebook, the impetus for the Rosewood improvements was making walking safer: a "traffic signal had long been requested by community leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community and institutions in close proximity to this intersection."

On May 28, Koretz, LADOT, Orthodox Jewish community leaders, and Mid City West Community Council representatives gathered to activate and celebrate the new crossing.

The only controls at the intersection had been stop signs on Rosewood. There were no crosswalks. It was difficult and dangerous for pedestrians to cross La Brea, where heavy and fast-moving cross traffic did not stop. The new signalized crosswalks allow pedestrians to cross safely. LADOT included programming to make the signal automatically cycle green on Shabbat days, so Orthodox Jews can cross without having to press a button. Many Jewish families live just east of La Brea and attend synagogue and school on the west side of the street.

The new crossing - viewed from the west
The new Rosewood/La Brea crossing - viewed from the west
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When Streetsblog observed the new facility yesterday, many drivers were still getting used to it. Several drivers waited in the bike lane, made an illegal left turn, and/or proceeded straight across La Brea. These drivers ignored signage and signals clearly indicating right turn only.

Mid City West Community Council board chair Scott Epstein told Streetsblog that the council is working with LADOT to make upgrades to improve the facility - as well as improving other corridors. Improvements at Rosewood will likely include adding green pavement marking and bollards.

LADOT has $2.3 million from a Metro Call for Projects grant to construct several Mid City West Neighborhood Greenways.

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