Viewpoint: Drive to the Claremont Village, not through it
by Mark von Wodtke, FASLA
One of the nicest towns for walking or riding a bicycle is Houten, in the Netherlands. Houten is designed so cars can drive to it, but not through it. Consequently it’s a very safe and pleasant place to walk, and people of all ages bike there safely while doing daily activities.
Because it’s a pleasant town (it is about the same size as Claremont) it attracts visitors who frequent the restaurants, shops and other amenities. Towns like this demonstrate how we can transition to clean transportation, which is healthier for people and the environment, while improving our quality of life.
In Claremont, Towne and Monte Vista avenues provide efficient routes for through traffic to go around our Village, with both streets having access to the 10 and 210 freeways. Indian Hill Boulevard provides access to the Village, but is not a good way to go through it. Traffic studies show it will become increasingly difficult to drive a car through the Village. We must be sure to maintain uncongested access to all locations throughout Claremont.
Using airspace over the railroad, pedestrian bridges can weave Claremont together. The High Line Park, in New York City, provides examples of very successful elevated urban pedestrian spaces. Here in Claremont, the existing parking structure could be linked by a pedestrian bridge over the tracks to a new parking structure in the transit-oriented development on the south side of the tracks.
Similarly, pedestrian bridges should be added where each station is developed. This would make the Gold Line and Metro Link Rail stations accessible from both sides of all the tracks. Including elevators large enough to take bicycles would accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists. All parts of Claremont should have easy access to the train and bus stations.
Weaving Claremont together, with urban park-like pedestrian bridges over the tracks, would cost less than building an elevated rail that would divide the Village.
Adding railroads and buses would improve our public transportation hub, making the Claremont Village even more accessible and vital. However, the Village should sustain and enhance its pleasant pedestrian environment, not become a place cut off by a raised railroad track, a bridge and overly congested by cars trying to drive through it on Indian Hill Boulevard.
Let’s ask our city council to support a more sustainable eco Village concept. In implementing the transit-oriented development plan, funded by Metrolink, Claremont can work with both Gold Line and Metrolink to increase ridership.
The eco Village concept can create a pedestrian, bicycle and public transit priority zone while decreasing through-traffic in the Village. Indian Hill doesn’t have the capacity to be a through street and it’s not necessary if we have an eco Village transit-oriented development plan and make better use of our existing street network.
To accommodate through traffic, the transit districts could provide a grade separation for all tracks at Towne Avenue, so this through-street will have access to the freeways going west without any delays from trains. Grade separations are safer—saving lives and reducing railroads’ liability risks. Monte Vista already has this separation, making it easy to safely get around the Claremont Village and onto freeways when traveling east.
Please select your driving routes carefully so that you’re not passing through the Claremont Village when leaving town. You’ll be saving yourself time and will help reduce congestion in the Claremont Village.
To learn more about Houten, visit https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houten or visit www.treehugger.com/bikes/discover-houten-netherlands-another-cyclist-paradise. To find out more about the High Line Park, visit www.thehighline.org.