Morning Links: The death of LA’s Vision Zero, safety improvements in Mar Vista, and more kindhearted people

Vision Zero, in any meaningful sense, is dead in Los Angeles.

We may see incremental improvements; a new crosswalk here, a bike lane there. But only if they don’t adversely affect anyone on four wheels.

Which is not what Vision Zero is about.

But any meaningful attempt to reduce traffic deaths to anywhere near zero in finished.

That’s because CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti jointly announced yesterday that they are caving in to the angry NIMBY and driver-led backlash, and ripping out the bike lanes and road diets in Playa del Rey.

Although that’s not the way they put it.

And in the process, throwing bicyclists and anyone else who fought for the changes under the bus. Perhaps literally.

They present it as a compromise, with a long list of pedestrian-focused improvements that won’t do crap to protect people on bikes, slow traffic or prevent crashes between motorists.

But let’s be honest.

This is a compromise like Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett compromised at the Alamo.

Those pedestrian improvements were already planned as the next phases of the community-driven process to improve safety in Playa del Rey — after the road diets, not in place of them.

So instead of improving safety and livability in the area, it will go back to being a virtual freeway for pass-through motorists.

Except now the city will be on the hook financially for every death and injury that occurs in the area, after removing the safety improvements designed to prevent them.

It’s a liability lawyer’s dream.

Worse, though, is the potentially fatal damage it’s done to Vision Zero in Los Angeles, as few, if any, councilmembers will be willing to subject themselves to the hate and vitriol Bonin and his staff have faced.

It’s a surprise they held out as long as they did.

Chances are, road diets are now off the table in this city. Perhaps permanently.

The same with installing the bike plan, which is no longer worth the silicon it’s printed on. Or any other substantive street changes that inconvenience motorists in any way, or makes NIMBY home and business owners sharpen their pitchforks and light the Tiki torches.

Even if they’re the ones who’ll benefit from it.

And even though Vision Zero was never about crosswalks or enforcement — or cutsie football videos — but about redesigning the roadways so that when people act like people do, their mistakes won’t be fatal. To them or anyone else.

Which is what these road diets were supposed to do.

But we’ll never know if they would have succeeded or not, because they were never given the chance.

I’ve long questioned whether LA’s leaders had the courage and conviction to make the tough choices Vision Zero would require, and withstand the inevitable criticism that would be directed their way.

They’ve answered with a resounding no.

The odd thing, though, is that Garcetti somehow got his name attached to the plan to restore traffic lanes — and got top billing, no less.

Even though he didn’t do a damn thing to implement or support the road diets. Or any of the other traffic safety improvements that have gone down to defeat under his tenure, from bike lanes on Westwood Blvd to sidewalks on the Hyperion-Glendale bridge.

He hasn’t shown up for a single public safety meeting since announcing Vision Zero to great fanfare two years ago. Or made a single public statement in support of Mike Bonin and the desperately needed safety changes in Playa or Mar Vista.

And yet, he gets full credit — if that’s the word you want to use — for restoring the Playa del Rey streets to their original dangerous condition, and thrusting a dagger through the heart of his own signature safety policy.

It’s been seven years since the late Bill Rosendahl stood before the city council and proclaimed that car culture ends today in the City of Angels.

He was wrong.

It’s clearly just getting started. And we will all pay the price.

………

In better news, The Argonaut reports on the figures released last week showing safety improvements and a reduction in speeding on Venice Blvd following the recent lane reductions.

However, traffic truthers refuse to accept the results; the leader of the Bonin recall effort tried to claim the street was actually more dangerous, because injuries went up on a per capita basis since there was a drop in traffic.

………

Today’s common theme, kindhearted people — mostly in blue.

An Ohio sheriff held back bicycles from a property auction, insisting that they be given to kids and adults who need them instead.

Tennessee cops pitch in to buy a man a new bicycle, after the one he relied on to get to work was stolen.

A Florida man bought a new bicycle for a boy who was run over by a distracted driver as he was riding to school; unfortunately, he’s too scared to ride it.

But Michigan cops got it backwards, buying a car for a woman who rode her bike or took a bus 13 miles to work for years.

………

Women’s racing takes a big step back, as the Tour de France cut’s the women’s La Course back to a single day.

Austrian cyclist Christoph Strasser set a new indoor 24-hour record at 585.25 miles, and vows to never ride on a track again; he’s a four-time winner of the Race Across America.

And SoCalCross offers a video recap of the year’s first cyclocross race at Irvine Lake.

………

Local

The city council’s Public Works and Gang Prevention Committee approved a motion to paint LA’s bike lanes a dull, non-reflective green, prioritizing the convenience of the film industry over the safety of bike riders. After all, it’s just so damn hard for film crews to cover-up a bike lane with some sort of mat, let alone fix it in post.

LADOT has installed what appears to be a very problematic bus loading platform in the bike lane on First Street in DTLA, which forces riders up a sharp ramp while creating a crowded conflict point when people board or get off; as passengers adjust to it, they will likely start to wait on the platform, blocking the bike lane.

UCLA parking meister Donald Shoup has been honored with the 2017 Distinguished Educator Award, the highest honor offered by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; Shoup’s work has changed the understanding of the hidden costs of parking around the world.

Musician Andrew Bird used the LA River as his muse, inspired by his bike rides along it.

CiclaValley M.A.S.H.s gears up the Bulldog.

 

State

A 60-year old San Diego man was seriously injured when a woman crashed into his bike in Pacific Beach.

I want to be like him when I grow up. An 81-year old San Diego County man just finished a 4,300-mile ride across Canada.

Construction of a new bike path has Santa Barbara residents on edge, as road surface grinding is keeping them up at night.

If people in San Luis Obispo look depressed, it’s because they’re no longer the happiest city in the US. It’s probably no coincidence that every city in the top five is ranked silver or higher on the Bike League’s list of Bicycle Friendly Communities.

A San Francisco bike cop is in grave condition after he was run down by a suspect, who was arrested several hours after fleeing the scene.

 

National

Bicycle Times offers advice on how to clean your dirty, dirty bike.

Rails-to-Trails recommends some haunted pathways for your pre-Halloween riding pleasure, including one with a ghost bike. No, literally.

No surprise here, as the Washington jerk bicyclist who injured a pedestrian after yelling “hot pizza,” expecting her to jump out of the way, is now facing a lawsuit; he uses the same excuse drivers do, saying 3 mph pedestrians shouldn’t mix with cyclists doing 15 mph.

What’s one way to jeopardize a football scholarship at Texas A&M? Stealing a bait bike is a good start.

Bike PGH meets up with carfree former Trojan and current Pittsburgh Steeler JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Now that’s more like it. A New York man was sentenced to five to 15 years behind bars for the hit-and-run death of a bike rider; more importantly, he received a lifetime revocation of his driver’s license. Which should be automatic for any driver in any hit-and-run.

DC has become a testing ground for dockless e-bikeshare.

 

International

A new documentary takes a look at MAMILs, following four men from the US, the UK and Australia. Which should be required viewing for anyone who makes fun of middle-aged people on bikes, spandexed or otherwise.

Road.cc explains how to stop the dreaded speed wobbles.

Bicycles are making a comeback in Cuba.

A Canadian newspaper talks with Danish bicyclist Ole Kassow, who created the Cycling Without Age program.

Ed Sheeran won’t be one of us for a while, after realizing the next day that he had fractured not one, but both arms when he was hit by driver while riding in London; he had to cancel his upcoming Asian tour.

Motorist and bicycling groups both condemn calls for British bicyclists to be required to carry numbered license plates.

A Turkish librarian operates his own personal book bike, towing books for children from village to village in a bike trailer.

An Aussie newspaper says kneejerk decisions to confine dockless bikeshare bikes to specified parking areas defeats the whole purpose.

 

Finally…

Maybe Bonin should have just used a coloring book. Evidently, we’re just sidewalk speeding cyclos.

And the left lane of the southbound 5 Freeway in Newhall Pass may not be the best place to walk your bike.

Especially before 6 am.

Thanks to kdbhiker for the photo.

31 comments

  1. Destiffler of innovation says:

    Gentrification of bikeshares is news to me. The $4 an hour use it all day long policy is rather antisocial.

    Will there be sufficient competition as a lack of regulation appears to limit impact, maximise profits, and deny the ample availability of a dollar at most for under 30 minutes but not so much under on average to compete profit wise?

    The real cost of not sharing a bike requires regulation, a tax to systems they can recoup or not. The dockless bikes deserve public space if they are not hoardable. The value of parking is so high that too many would let the meter run excessively, a law is required limiting unrentable time undocked to like 5 minutes.

    There is not enough space for bikes not sufficiently shared to be undocked.

    The power assist is cheaper then a dock, sure, the cost of the bike remains diminimus. The reason we welcome apparent to too many blight though is from the reduced waste, the fact that existing bike parking is insignificant and that to take drivers requires efficiency.

    The pricing structure requires a tax based upon productivity. The faster fleet gets taxed less. The cost to user of extra speed is in danger perhaps, but not extra dollar to board ideally. Nor does the motor enable smoking break like transit operators steal from systems routinely leaving late or finishing early for. The smart bikes need smart taxing. They need utility relocation, not branded, but universal.

    $4 an hour fully shared, that for 31 minutes, can create some miracle ibike sure. A bike that parks collapsed perhaps, takes a third of a s.f. to join dozens of others compactly ready to vend from bottom able to stack itself 20 feet high on any surface forming a large mass not movable, making own dock by numbers hugging each other offpeak especially.

    Yes innovation will occur if we garden it. $32 in revenue for 8 hours from one rider does require $200 curb access fee however. The past subisides now require monetisation or utilisation, the owner of shared bikes needs x riders a day to not pay 200 fee. The competition in a smart world is in serving public interest, shared electric tandems would get free all the time for investors, autonomous vehicles to hover circling on our roads need only customers, far more then there congestion.

    A transit bus sized passenger recharged ultralight multidozen pedaling stations is feasible. It will congest, go slower then regular bus, but disrupt via fun,merit, growth.

    We must ask not what 20k can do to extend curb height to inner road lanes, but what peoplecwill pay gladdly for that makes sense. Cars get bucks only, not from sense they make.

    BUSSES have evolved to carry too many idle asses. There are far too few, they stop far too often, no organisation is imposed. The flywheel or whatever a 20 pedaler crumple zone surrounded group covered for shade at least bike uses to not turn all the muscled energy into sweat, to not require acceleration energy be generated in real time, is for free market to engineer.

    The lanes restored are public. We just need to figure out how to evolve sane vehicles into dibbing them, slower cleaner smarter solves. By paying those who maximise cardio on a shared bike to charge battery, return bike to where it is needed, you create jobs, you eliminate need for grid charging.

    Trucks are not needed. Just smarter amd smarter, gps is beginning, the future must be unexpectesly astonishing. How many pedals per tire on average is for a future billionaire to guess.

  2. wcoastbo says:

    It’s going to be open season on cyclists soon. After car culturists wins this round against Bonin and Vision Zero, they will be emboldened to drive even more aggressively towards two wheel users of the streets. They are going to think they were in the right all along and will want to punish those on the “wrong” side. We’re already a marginalized group that will be more so. I hope I’m wrong about this.

    • David Thomas Newman says:

      What? It’s this kind of thinking that literally CREATES the divide you described. What are you talking about haha

      • bikinginla says:

        So, fearing that drivers will be emboldened to endanger bicyclists creates a divide? Are you serious?

        Drivers attacking bike riders creates a divide. Bike riders attacking drivers widens it.

        People on bikes fearing that they will be the victims of attacks does nothing of the sort. That’s like saying a fear of ghosts creates a rift between the living and the dead.

        Ridiculous.

      • wcoastbo says:

        Cars against bikes is not something I created, it wasn’t much of a conflict in the media when I started riding a road bike in 1990. It has become much more in recent years, partly due to the proliferation of social media, partly due to how groups within society have built walls between each other (and getting worse every day as national leadership finds new ways to divide). Do I want this? Of course not! It is reality. I’m on both sides… I drive my car and ride my bikes on the same streets. I do feel vulnerable when I’m riding my bike and have had to avoid cars many times. I hope I’m wrong about how the most aggressive drivers are, but human nature tells me otherwise. Most drivers are very courteous and I wave many of them thanks. I’m very good about bridging the gap with a general audience. This is a cycling blog and the place where I feel I can voice my highest of concerns. Please tell me more about how you think I’m creating the divide, I’m willing to adjust my attitude about the most aggressive drivers. I am trying to figure out how they justify their hostility.

  3. doug moore says:

    Garcetti’s cave to the cars just adds more depressing news to ever growing examples of embarrassing lack of leadership. Jerk.

    Los Angeles needs more cyclist, not less. I am beginning to feel more then just ‘out of place’ on my daily commute.

  4. Nick says:

    Could the “Keep LA Moving” people end up being a co-defendants in a lawsuit against the City for failing to implement safety improvements in PDR?

    • David Thomas Newman says:

      Yes. If you’re an idiot.

      • bikinginla says:

        It’s a legitimate question. My initial thought is that their 1st Amendment right to self-expression would protect them from liability, but a good lawyer might have a different answer. I’ve seen people/groups sued for a lot less.

        And David, the policy on here is that your can feel free to say anything you want as long as it’s on topic, and you show respect for other people and avoid personal attacks.

        This is coming very close to that threshold. Please show a little more courtesy, even when disagreeing.

        Thanks.

        • Nick says:

          Thanks, my question centered mostly on their lawsuit against the City. I’m sure the recall campaign and normal political activity (signs, calling Bonin, etc) is protected political speech. I’m just not sure where, if any, their against the lawsuit against LA fits within that.

          I’m also unsure how the 1st amendment applies to tort law.

          • Simon says:

            My sense (not as a lawyer mind you), is that the duty of care to design and maintain safe streets stays with the City. The city will certainly be more exposed now since they will remove a safer route for cyclists in exchange for the dangerous situations that preceded it. Doesn’t really matter who asked for the changes to be reversed.

        • bikinginla says:

          David, you were warned. Your latest comments have been removed for violating the discussion policy on this site. Keep it up, and you’ll be blocked.

          • David Thomas Newman says:

            Heaven forbid ill get blocked from this forum hahaha! I was on topic, so delete all you want

            • bikinginla says:

              Thank you for explaining the rules of my site to me.

              You called someone idiotic, which is neither courteous nor respectful. Think of this as my living room, and you are a guest. You’re welcome, and welcome to disagree, as long as you don’t make an ass out of yourself.

      • Nick says:

        Thanks for keeping it classy…

  5. JT russo says:

    The actual data from the past 10 years on injuries and fatalities doesn’t support your hyperbole:

    “the desperately needed safety changes in Playa or Mar Vista”

    How many cyclists were killed in Playa del Rey in the past 10 years? Zero. How many were seriously injured on roads that received a road diet? One. Would the road diet had prevented this one? No. This section of the road was not changed by the road diet.

    The story is the same in Mar Vista. If one looks at the facts it’s obvious these “road diets” do not address a single contributing cause of any of the fatalities or severe injuries that have occurred. We all want safe streets, the road diet in Playa del Rey didn’t do that. I notice you didn’t mention the 53 accidents in 4 months vs the yearly average of 11.6 prior to the road diet or the fact the more people have been sent to the hospital in the past 4 months than in a year on average…but these facts don’t fit your narrative.

    • bikinginla says:

      You’re right, they don’t fit my narrative because these appear to be “alternative facts.”

      When I see actual data from LADOT, LAPD or SWITRS that contradict the evidence that the street has gotten safer, then I will make a point of presenting that here, just like I always have, whether or not it supports my position. Anything else is anecdotal, which is great for conversation, but fails to meet the standard of verifiable data.

      As for these streets not being dangerous, too many people have died in Mar Vista and Playa del Rey, whether or not you choose to acknowledge it. And let’s not forget that both of these began as community-driven projects, because the people who lived in these areas asked for safer streets.

      Apparently, that does not fit your narrative.

      • JT Russo says:

        Ahh yes, the “alternative facts” monicker, used when we want to discredit those who dare disagree. Those “alternative facts” are straight from the SWITRS database. You don’t have to believe me, you can look them up for yourself. It’s free to register, here’s the link

        http://iswitrs.chp.ca.gov/Reports/jsp/userLogin.jsp

        When you pull the data I suggest getting it in a .csv file as it’s rather hard to deal with if you don’t put it into excel.

        You’re either not telling the truth or ignoring the facts when you imply the road diets would have prevented the three deaths that have occured in Playa Del Rey in the past 10 years…if we go back 17 years then it’s 4, and the road diet wouldn’t have prevented the 4th either. One motorcyclist and two pedestrian fatalities in the last ten years. Study the data from SWITRS as I have, drive or ride or walk the roads, as I have, and it’s clear a road diet wouldn’t have prevented any of those tragedies. A dedicated left turn light at Culver and Jefferson would have saved the motorcyclist. Street lighting east of Nicholson could have prevented the two pedestrians from being hit and killed as they were both well past midnight east of Nicholson where this absolutely no ambient lighting, street lights or otherwise.

        You are correct the 53 accidents since the start of the road diet aren’t in SWITRS yet as the database is about 8 months behind. Those accidenrd are all first hand accounts and photos of actual accidents. If I were to include accidents I’ve heard about 2nd hand then it’s more like 60, but I don’t count those. True, we probably won’t see ot all 53 in the SWITRS databse as there police reports aren’t written for the ones where both cars drive away, but the injuries will be in there for sure. I look forward to reading your update when that data is available.

        • JT Russo says:

          I forgot to mention, neither LAPD, Bonin’s office or the LADOT have presented any data stating that the streets in PdR were safer as a result of the “road diets”. They have for Mar Vista and that data is questionable…a drop of 1 accident from 6 “pre road diet” to 5 “post road diet” to me is statistically insignificant…but there has been nothing presented for PdR.

          I can send you the LAPD data they used for their Venice Blvd analysis if you would like to see it.

          • bikinginla says:

            They didn’t show the data for Playa because the road diets haven’t been in place long enough to collect the data.

            And any road change is likely to see an increase in crashes as people get used to it. The three month data is informative, but it’s the 12 month data that really matters.

        • bikinginla says:

          Thank you for explaining how to use SWITRs, which I’ve only been using for the last nine years. As you note, the data is incomplete for up to a year; reporting is also done on a voluntary basis, so it has a tendency to undercount.

          I’ve also only been studying traffic safety and road diets for the last nine years, so you apparently understand it a lot better than I do. You see, I still rely on those darn studies that show road diets improve safety up to 47%, while unprotected bike lanes improve safety 40%, protected bike lanes up to 80%.

          They also show that both bike lanes and road diets calm traffic and reduce speeding, making crashes more survivable, especially for people on foot and on bikes. And the effect extends beyond the area directly impacted by the road diets.

          (As an added benefit, bike lanes have been shown to reduce business vacancies and boost retail sales, while increasing property values in the surrounding community.)

          And to be quite honest, I’m really not concerned with how the previous deaths and injuries occurred. It’s the ones that haven’t happened yet that I’d like to stop.

          • JT Russo says:

            Yes, I’ve learned a lot in 4 months! With 9 years of SWITRS experience then surely you’ve looked at the data for PdR. Why not state the real numbers rather than the hyperbole? Didn’t you mention something about “journalistic standards”?

            Obviously you know this, but neither the LADOT nor the NHTSA recommend “road diets” on roads with more than 17,000 – 20,000 cars per day. Pershing has 23,456 and Culver over 43,000. There are some streets where “road diets” make sense and can make the road safer for all users, but it’s not the cure all you make it out to be. What were the car counts on those streets where the accidents dropped? And surely you know that bike/car collisions increase by as much as 140% when protected bike lanes are implemented. That is in the same Vision Zero Counter Measures Analysis that has the stats you mention above.
            The fact is the roads were safe for pedestrians and cyclists before the “road diet”, the SWITRS data for the past 10 years shows that.

            I encourage you to talk to the businesses in PdR and ask them how the “road diet” affected them. Across the board, from the restaurants to the coffee shops to the gas station to the two dentists, business was down. Why did the LAX Chamber of Commerce and a collection of 25 businesses both write letters to Bonin begging him to end this experiment? It’s not because business was booming.

            In order to prevent future deaths and injuries we have to study those that happened in the past, and adddress the contributing factors. Just doing what one “thinks” is a good idea doesn’t prevent anything, and as we saw in PdR can actually make things worse. It’s the same process the NTSB uses to prevent airplane crashes, we learn from the misfortunes of those who came before us. To deny this sad truth is just burying your head in the sand to make you feel better.

            • bikinginla says:

              Please don’t tell me what I know, or what I’ve done, or what I need to do. That’s talking down to me, and you do not have that privilege.

              And don’t try to explain things to me as if I haven’t learned anything. That’s insulting, and beneath both of us. I trust that you’ve learned a lot, but it’s highly unlikely that you have learned more in four months than I’ve learned in nine years.

              I have never felt the need to use SWITRs myself for any of these streets, feeling perfectly comfortable to trust what other credible sources have told me. And I have never seen the stat you cite that protected bike lanes increase bike/car collisions, which contradicts everything I’ve read on the subject, as well as the entire rationale for implementing them.

              The stats I cite don’t come from the Vision Zero Analysis, they come from searching out and reading the studies myself, as well as reading countless books from some of the leading expects on traffic planning; I’ll be happy to recommend a few if you’re interested.

              Again, you can’t judge the success of any project like this in the first few months. Of course business is down now. The question is where would it be in a year if the road diets were left in place? Research shows it will not only come back up, but exceed previous levels as the community becomes more walkable, bikeable and livable.

              Yes, we need to consider how a death occurred, and address causation factors — the number one of which you appear to be ignoring, which is excess speed. More important than the exact cause, however, is where those collisions occurred, and what can be done to calm traffic and reduce the risk of any fatal crash from any cause.

              And please don’t suggest I’m burying my head in the sand, or I may suggest where you can bury yours.

              Now, if you will excuse me, it’s clear that you are not going to change my mind, and I’m not going to change yours, which makes this an exercise in futility for both of us.

              I wish you well, and hope that all your loved ones remain safe out there.

            • Otterlysrs says:

              Actually Pershing is within the upper bound for a road diet. Back in 2011 a study run by Nikiforos Stamatiadis at Kentucky demonstrated that even with an ADT of 23k VPD, a road diet can still be effective.

              http://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1017&context=ktc_researchreports Check out page 29, it’s about half way down.

              Knapp, Giese, and Lee, whose 2003 research is still cited today (including by NHTSA), found effectiveness with an ADT of 24K in Oakland, California. The figures weren’t as compelling, “only” reducing crashes by 17% over the first year, but maybe more notably it had no impact on vehicle speed.

              What you’ve got to realise is that the 17-20k figure banded around doesn’t mean road diets don’t work above 20,000 VPD, but that the costs could become disproportionate to the benefits. Roadways with 5,000 less daily vehicles may see double or even treble the reduction in incidents, but 17% isn’t insignificant, particularly for the people travelling along High St in Oakland.

            • bikinginla says:

              Thank you for the explanation. I’ve been working under the assumption that 23,000 was the upper limit, nice to have a better understanding of it.

  6. JT Russo says:

    I see, you don’t care about the facts, you prefer the hyperbole. That’s cool, it is your blog after all.

    I’m looking forward to your fact free hyperbolic update in 8 months when the “post road diet” SWITRS data from PdR is available that verifies my “alternative facts”.

    • bikinginla says:

      The one thing I promise all my readers is honesty. If you can show me verified stats from a credible source that show injury crashes went up after the road diet, I will be more than happy to share them. However, I will also note that crashes inevitably go up following any major road change until people adjust to the changes, then often decline afterwards.

      Sorry if you don’t like my approach. But I believe in verifiable facts, stats and research, and giving enough time for that information to come in, as well as putting that information in the proper context.

      If you consider that hyperbole, I’m fine with that. No one is under any obligation to read this site, or agree with anything I write.

  7. David says:

    1. Vision ZERO was actually a complete success in Los Angeles because in Los Angeles, Vision Zero stands for ZERO improvement in pedestrian and cyclist safety.

    2. You can’t expect Mayor Garcetti to be concerned or involved in Vision Zero or road safety improvements because he is currently handling much more important matters such as getting himself elected to national office.

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