Firestone parking

Dear Editor:Since this is a subject that I have expressed concern about for some time, and at some length, I am gratified that the staff at City Hall has finally recognized that through years of action/inaction, they have created numerous bottlenecks to a smooth flow of traffic on our signature East-West corridor, and that they are finally moving to correct those problems.

I realize that this will impose some discomfort to some of the merchants along the corridor; but as John Oskoui noted, if Firestone becomes an habitual traffic jam, people will avoid it altogether, and every merchant will be impacted.

I do find it interesting that the two merchants you interviewed both have off-street parking that encompasses more spaces than are available to them along-the-curb in front of their stores. That the City on one hand would encourage off-street parking along this corridor, and then threaten a store-owner with a code-violation over his sign to note the availability of such parking, illustrates what many of us have noted as a not-quite business-friendly attitude within the confines of City Hall (for decades). Drew Kelley Downey

Dear Editor: Prohibiting parking along Firestone between Old River School Road and Brookshire Avenue will not unclog the bottlenecks that form during morning and evening rush hours. Believing that it will is not seeing the forest for the trees.

The solution is in the traffic signals. A brief study of the left and right turn options will probably yield results that show we need much more liberal timing for these turns. Left turn signals should be extended by at least 30 seconds during these rush hours. Drivers are too often dizzied and sickened by their long days, taking up to 10 seconds to get started on their left turns. And when the weather is hot, forget about it. SUVs sloth through left turns. Two to three cars per left-turn-light is wholly unacceptable.

As for the right turn lanes...signs should encourage right turns on red with a simple "Right Turn OK" sign, perhaps coupled with a "Yield to Traffic" sign. Drivers need to be reacquainted with the time-saving benefits of right turns on red. Anyone who stops on red and waits to make a right on green, when there was ample opportunity to make the right on red, should be ticketed.

Downey could also learn a lesson from Pasadena's treatment of its Colorado Boulevard, where pedestrians are allowed to cross major intersections diagonally.

Parking along Firestone is a freedom that motivates the shopper to pull over and check-out our city's shops and eateries, ensuring their existence as well as the existence of greater tax and permit receipts in the long term. Dan Chantre Downey

Dear Editor: It seems quite incredible that the government which has decided to eliminate the street parking on Firestone Boulevard in order to increase the flow of traffic and stimulate business - contrary to the preference of the impacted merchants - is the same government which decided a few years ago to narrow Downey Avenue for the same reasons, and has recently decided to close a portion of that street for the farmers market for several weekend hours.

The textbook question here should be: is business stimulated by increasing traffic flow or by closing streets?

Those who can't learn from their mistakes or those of others should be voted out at the next opportunity. Sometimes it's a blessing to have term limits. Hugh T. Hoskins Downey

Dear Editor: What can our city officials be thinking?

A few years ago Downey Avenue, from Firestone to Fifth Street, was being spruced up to help attract customers to the restaurants and other small businesses located there. One major change was to increase street parking by changing it from parallel to angled parking. This also reduced the available width of the street to be used for traffic lanes and therefore slowed down traffic flow.

It was explained that this was good, since it discouraged pass-through traffic, cutting down on noise and making for a more pleasant area for customers. It seems to me this turned out to be right.

Now, what can be the reasoning be for this exact opposite approach? Increasing the amount and speed of pass-through traffic and reducing easily accessed parking can only harm Firestone Boulevard businesses.

What's needed is to divert pass-through traffic, not attract more! Other streets such as Stewart & Gray Road and Imperial Highway are much better suited to handle it. Ralph Mains Downey

Dear Editor: First, let me endorse the efforts of the city to develop an area in and around Downy Avenue that has the feel of a community center. This kind of people-friendly, neighborhood-like, central community is clearly the wave of the future.

The decision to remove parking from the nearby stretch of Firestone Blvd. works against that end. There are businesses that open onto Firestone all along that area. The north side of Firestone is intimately connected to Downey Avenue. And even many of the businesses on the south side of Firestone add to the attractiveness of the area.

The parking along Firestone also serves as a buffer between pedestrians on the sidewalk and the moving cars, and slows the speed of traffic. Both of these factors lower the intimidation that pedestrians often feel with fast- moving cars right next to a curb, allowing the "vibe" created on Downey Avenue to spill around the corners and even across the street.

Removing parking and allowing traffic to flow through all lanes has the opposite effect. Take for example the intersection of Firestone and Lakewood. Cars are king, and the poor pedestrian feels threatened standing there on a relatively narrow sidewalk inches from fast moving vehicles. This feeling will dampen the attractiveness of the south end of Downey Avenue and possibly make the South side of Porto's significantly less attractive.

None of us enjoy sitting in traffic. But the cities that create dynamic energy do so by growing attractive areas that draw people out of their cars, not by facilitating the flow of cars through the city, many of which are coming from one outside community and are headed for somewhere else. Frank Kearns Downey

********** Published: August 16, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 18