Road Diet Bumpers Slated For Removal

By: 
Kirt Ramirez

Half of Broadway’s parking bumpers will be removed in the coming days.

After the highly-unpopular road diet was unveiled in mid-April, bumpers were bolted into the road about a month-and-a-half later to better separate the new curbside bikes lanes from the parked cars – which now park several feet from the curb.

The bumpers also called “parking blocks” and “wheel stops” measure just over 4-feet long and are made of a rubbery, asphalt-like material.

Unlike white concrete bumpers often found in parking lots, Broadway’s bumpers are black with white stripes and blend in with the street’s black asphalt and white stripes.

The barriers can be tripping hazards.

“The primary reason half of the wheel stops are being removed is because it will make it easier for motorists to maneuver their vehicles and park further away from the travel lanes,” City Engineer Alvin Papa said through email.

“It will also create additional room for people moving from their vehicles to the curb line,” he said. “Other resident input, such as the potential to trip or difficulty in maneuvering trash receptacles, has been received and partly contributed to the decision to reduce the number of wheel stops.”

Papa said more than 400 wheel stops will be taken out in mid-to-late September.

“While we are reducing the number of wheel stops, there will be enough wheel stops remaining to facilitate proper vehicle parking and to continue to provide adequate vertical separation for the protected bike way,” he added.

Papa currently is serving as the city’s traffic engineer, as the position was vacated.

“Eric Widstrand was the City’s Traffic Engineer for about three years. He has resigned to explore opportunities in the private sector,” Public Works Director Craig Beck said through email May 30.

“Public Works will go through a recruitment process to fill the Traffic Engineer position,” Beck wrote June 13. “In the interim, I have asked Mr. Alvin Papa, City Engineer, to manage the Mobility Bureau until the position is filled.”

The city is hearing complaints from the public and tweaking parts of Broadway to improve it.

Felicia Padilla, a Broadway by the Sea employee for 20 years who works as a payroll supervisor, fell over a black bumper June 3 at around 2 p.m.

Parked in front of the skilled nursing home, Padilla removed a bag from her trunk and proceeded towards the front door of the building. All of a sudden she tripped over a bumper and landed on the hard pavement.

Padilla said she didn’t see the bumper because the top part is black and it coincides with the asphalt. She said the bumpers were installed the day prior.

“I hurt my arm and now have frozen shoulder syndrome, which can last up to seven years or a lifetime,” she said. “I’m going to be dealing with this for a very long time.”

Padilla said it’s hard to know how long the condition will last and that she takes medication for the discomfort.

If she stops the medication, “It gets very painful,” she said. “Lifting is really bad.”

Padilla’s granddaughter spent the summer with her grandmother and helped out. But the granddaughter returned to school.

Padilla’s official diagnosis is “adhesive capsulitis of right shoulder,” per her Kaiser Permanente medical papers.

Padilla formally complained to the city.

“They’re really dangerous,” she said of the wheel stops. “I’m sure it’s widespread. I’m sure there are people falling over.”

A reporter fell flat after stumbling on a wheel stop in July.

A woman in July commented on Nextdoor that she also tripped on one.

“I had my dog in my arms and didn’t see it,” she wrote. “I fell so hard that my dog went flying out of my arms and into the street. I’m thankful there wasn’t a car going by to hit us. My hands and knees were extremely scuffed up and sore.”

Ric Chavarrie of Chavarrie Heating & Air Conditioning went to Flaunt Salon on Broadway July 31 to do air conditioning work. His girlfriend Melinda Gibson went along to assist. With the truck parked in front of the salon, Gibson went inside the vehicle via the passenger side to retrieve a tool for Chavarrie, who was working inside the salon.

Upon exiting, she suddenly found herself on top of a “balancing beam.”

Gibson fell and hit her head on the concrete at around 10:30 a.m. and “there was a lot of blood.” Long Beach Fire responded and she was rushed by ambulance to St. Mary Medical Center, where a 1.5-inch gash in her head was treated and stitch-glued, Chavarrie said by phone in August.

“The amount of blood she lost there freaked a lot of people out,” he said of the fall, adding it was scary seeing Gibson bloody and carried away by paramedics.

“This is something that should be illegal,” Chavarrie said of the bumpers. “That is so dangerous.”

Chavarrie, a Lakewood resident, said he tripped on the bumpers three times before because they blend in with the street.

“You forget that it’s there,” he said. “What other city has a black stupid curb in the middle of the street?”

While recovering, Gibson, who lives with Chavarrie, said by phone last month that she hit her head, injured her legs, arms and back of ear. Part of her hair was cut off for the skin glue and she had a large bump on the right side of her head.

Gibson said she didn’t have a second to react.

“My head hit the concrete right away,” she said.

Exiting the truck with sneakers on, Gibson said she didn’t realize there was a black bumper below.

“You can’t see it,” Gibson said. “It blends in to the actual street. You don’t know it’s there.”

Upon hearing that half the wheel stops will be taken out, Chavarrie said September 9: “I think that’s pretty awesome.”

Daniel Easton, a baker/chef and investor for The Firehouse Kitchen on Broadway near Temple Avenue – a quaint coffee café providing gourmet foods and fresh beverages – said he saw a woman trip on a bumper one day. Easton stumbled on one too and upon landing, scraped his hand.

He wasn’t seriously hurt and said he didn’t consider it an issue but understands how others could suffer injury, especially people new to the area.

“Someone who is familiar with them might know the bumpers are there and avoid them,” he said. “However a visitor to the city most likely wouldn’t know.”

 

kirt@beachcomber.news

 

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Comments

I was pleased to see your story on the Broadway parking bumpers. When I first encountered them two weeks ago, I emailed the LB Citizen's Advisory Committee on Disabilities about the fall hazard. I was told, like you were for your article, that half of them are being removed. But I have to wonder: is that just cutting the hazard / liability by 50 percent? Innocents could be 100 percent hurt by the remaining bumpers. They should be totally eliminated throughout the city. Bike riders, drivers and pedestrians will learn over time to navigate properly -- they don't need these additional hazards in their lives.

Diana,
That should surprise no one. Along with many others, I called out the bumpers for what they are, tripping hazards for people with mobility and/or vision impairment, almost since they were installed. But here's the kicker, when Councilmember Pearce and City Engineer Papa discussed the Broadway Corridor at the Beer and Politics event a few weeks ago, Mr. Papa had the gall to refer to people with brain injuries as "mentally retarded". Ms. Pearce ignored his comment. I wrote to the Citizens Advisory Committee on Disabilities, to Mayor Garcia, and to the councilmembers, and no one responded. When the city allows a city official to disrespect people with disabilities in this manner, with impunity, it's time to replace the whole lot. All of them.

Have you asked Eric Widstrand for a comment? After all, he was the LBDOT Engineer behind the whole road diet nonsense, and ironically, no longer working for the city but rather a consultant in the Pac NW. I'm guessing he will have no comment, however.

https://tooledesign.com/people/eric-widstrand/

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