Tuesday, October 03, 2017

"Road diets" in Los Angeles---and San Francisco

Manhattan Beach is considering taking legal action against the Los Angeles Department of Transportation over sudden lane reductions and parking reconfigurations on Vista Del Mar that have backed up traffic and irked commuters. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze//SCNG/06-22-17
September 19, 2017
If there were a Museum of Stupid Ideas, you would have to walk the stairs to the upper level because, in keeping with the theme of the place, the elevator would not go all the way to the top.

If there were such a museum, an entire wing would surely be devoted to the idea of “road diets.” 

The premise behind “road diets” is this: Where traffic is heavy and there are a lot of accidents, traffic lanes should be removed. That will slow everybody down and create a sense of “community.” 

Does it ever. 

In two areas of Los Angeles, “road diets” have created a volcanic sense of community — steaming hot commuters and enraged local residents erupting into grassroots protests. 

City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the 11th District on the Westside, is a proud proponent of the “road diet” idea. He cites studies showing that a pedestrian hit by a car going 20 mph has a 10 percent chance of dying, compared to 80 percent at 40 mph. 

But the goal should be to keep pedestrians from being hit at all, not to slow commuters to 20 mph so they’re hurt less badly. 

You don’t have to wait for the Museum of Stupid Ideas to open to see “road diets” on display. There’s one on Venice Blvd. in Mar Vista right now. 

Although city officials consulted extensively with community groups before turning eight-tenths of a mile of Venice Boulevard into one of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Great Streets,” the part of the plan that involved taking away a traffic lane in each direction wasn’t exactly displayed on street banners. 

Our local government can be very shrewd about hiding the whole truth. 

In 2016, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority put a measure on the November ballot to raise the sales tax. Measure M was titled, “The Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan,” and this was the ballot question put to the voters: 

To improve freeway traffic flow/safety; repair potholes/sidewalks; repave local streets; earthquake-retrofit bridges; synchronize signals; keep senior/disabled/student fares affordable; expand rail/subway/bus systems; improve job/school/airport connections; and create jobs; shall voters authorize a Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan through a ½¢ sales tax and continue the existing ½¢ traffic relief tax until voters decide to end it, with independent audits/oversight and funds controlled locally? 

We don’t know how many voters stopped reading after the first four words and screamed, “YES!” The measure passed easily. 

There’s nothing in it about taking away lanes, but Bonin wants the city to spend local funds from Measure M to further implement Vision Zero, the traffic safety plan which has given us “road diets,” more lane-sharing with bicycles, and other changes to street configurations. 

Vision Zero originated in Sweden. “Zero” refers to the goal of no traffic deaths, but coincidentally, it’s also the number of times Sweden has been mistaken for Los Angeles. 

Sweden’s largest city by population, Stockholm, is about 72 square miles in area and home to 1.5 million residents. Los Angeles is roughly 500 square miles with a population of 4 million. L.A. County is about 4,700 square miles with a population of 10 million. 

Common sense would tell you that traffic solutions should be developed locally without guidance from irrelevant foreign capitals, and that’s why common sense is not in the museum. 

During 2016, the first full year of Vision Zero’s implementation in Los Angeles, fatalities in traffic collisions were up a horrifying 43 percent over the previous year. 

The Vision Zero plan for Venice Boulevard was initially stalled because the street was owned by the California Department of Transportation, and the agency’s experts didn’t think that traffic corridor was a good candidate for protected bike lanes and wider sidewalks. 

But then Caltrans yielded control to the city, and in February, Bonin and Garcetti held a groundbreaking ceremony to begin the transformation of Venice Boulevard into a “Great Street.” 

When the project was finished in May, two lanes were gone, with three lanes in each direction cut down to two. Residents say the result has been gridlock, more accidents and a drop in sales for local businesses. 

A similar “road diet” on Vista del Mar, near Dockweiler State Beach, was reversed after two lawsuits and the intervention of L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn. But the museum-quality changes to Venice Boulevard remain. 

Now an effort to recall Bonin from office is underway. He’d be smart to restore the traffic lanes before he becomes a museum piece himself.

Update: L.A. reworks another 'road diet,' restoring car lanes in Playa del Rey. The comments to the story are particularly interesting:

Rob's comment:
San Francisco's contribution to the road diet wing of the Museum of Stupid Ideas will be the "improvements" to Masonic Avenue that were pushed through with lies about safety: Big Lie on safety to justify screwing up Masonic.

Labels: , , ,


At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Masonic, Vanness, Geary, Folsom, Howard, mission, market etc. including many more streets. Bryant street is included in that list but they're trying to figure out what to do with the jailhouse first. They would like to close it down but have yet to figure out where to put it. Hence opposition to rebuilding it.

All of the streets above will soon be missing a lane and reduced to two lanes with the possibility of become 2-way streets

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, I could never leave you, Anon.


Post a Comment

<< Home