Dear LACBC fam,
At LACBC, we work to make all communities in Los Angeles County healthy, safe, and fun places to bike and walk. In fact, this week is Bike Week, and we are working tirelessly to host events that show that LA is a fun place to bike. But it’s hard for people to bike when they do not feel safe so we have been doing everything we can to push the City to fund Vision Zero.
However, there have been some mischaracterizations or misunderstandings about where we stand on Vision Zero. With our amazing partners in the Vision Zero Alliance, a coalition led primarily by leaders of color and from fields outside of active transportation, we’ve been fighting for Vision Zero since the mayor announced it.
From the beginning we’ve said we feared the City would not truly invest in saving lives, but rather use this as an opportunity to pad the police department enforcement budget. Just a few weeks ago I was at a national conference talking about Vision Zero with experts from around the world. It’s widely recognized that for Vision Zero to be successful, a city must lead with engineering, evaluation, and education--not enforcement. A city must invest in infrastructure. A city must invest in protecting its most vulnerable road users.
Today, the City of LA took a step in the right direction thanks to the leadership of our Councilmember Bonin, our Department of Transportation, and the committed hours of our community partners: ACT-LA, NRDC, AARP, Advancement Project CA, SCOPE, SAJE, LA Walks, Thai CDC, FAST, TRUST South LA, Little Tokyo Service Center, Multicultural Communities for Mobility, and Investing in Place. We were able to reverse Friday’s abysmal funding proposal of $3 and secure almost $30 million for Vision Zero in this year’s budget.
But we almost didn’t get here. Unfortunately, the very thing we feared and predicted would happen, did happen last Friday. Somehow some folks think our Vision Zero Alliance partners and LACBC are responsible. That couldn’t be further from accurate. We’ve been advocating on every channel all week long and continued to do so today at City Hall.
Our advocacy and prediction about how the City would implement Vision Zero is why we are truly disappointed at the Budget and Finance Committee’s decision last week to seriously cut Vision Zero funding and to dedicate half of Measure M local return dollars to resurfacing streets and improving pavement conditions. This motion works in direct conflict with the Transportation Committee’s proposal to invest $30 million of local return per year into Vision Zero.
LACBC has worked and continues to work for the City Council to commit meaningful funding towards Vision Zero traffic safety projects that would benefit our City’s most vulnerable road users--people who bike and walk, seniors, children, immigrants, low-income communities, and communities of color.
As we heard Councilmember Bonin say today at City Hall, traffic safety is a public health crisis in Los Angeles, with the highest rate of traffic deaths per capita of all major U.S. cities.Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 and 14 in Los Angeles County, and result in over 1,000 life-altering, serious injuries to Angelenos every year. In addition, people walking and biking have a disproportional risk of dying in traffic crashes, accounting for nearly half of all deaths, despite being involved in only 14% of crashes. To reduce these tragedies, the City must follow the leadership of Councilmembers Bonin, Harris-Dawson, Martinez, and Huizar and invest local return dollars into Vision Zero implementation.
The investments in Vision Zero should not be predominately reserved for the police department and enforcement by that agency. Last Friday’s proposal would have resulted in 50% of the $3 million dedicated to Vision Zero being allocated to the Los Angeles Police Department. This is unacceptable. As our partners at the Vision Zero Alliance and Multicultural Communities for Mobility have noted, collision data shows that a disproportionate number of serious and fatal collisions take place in communities that are exposed to over-policing and experience higher rates of violent interactions, some of which have resulted in the untimely deaths of Black and Latinx residents, by the hands of our City’s law enforcement agency. Vision Zero traffic safety policies should not justify the over policing of communities of color and the criminalization of low-income individuals, immigrants, youth, and transgender and queer individuals
Additionally, we firmly believe that transit and transportation investments must not harm the communities they aim to protect. Nearly half of the streets on the High Injury Network are in neighborhoods with a greater percentage of people of color, immigrants, and low-income families. When infrastructure investments are made in these communities, residents often fear displacement, gentrification, and that the improvements are not for them. The City should address these concerns in tandem with their transportation investments.We believe that in future years it will be critical for a portion of local return dollars to be spent on anti-displacement measures to ensure that the people currently living in communities seeing investment can afford to stay.
This is an intersectional approach to Vision Zero. I make no apologies for that. It is the same approach we bring to all of our work. In the bike community, if we want to make change, we have to start bringing people in, not excluding them for considering issues that matter.
Thanks to this approach, our diverse coalition helped the city change course today. Today the City moved towards prioritizing the safety and well being of Angelenos who use multiple modes of transportation. Today the City moved toward investing in our most vulnerable road users and in low-income communities and communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by serious traffic injuries and deaths.
We encourage you to join us as member or reach out if you ever have questions about our vision for a more equitable and safer Los Angeles for all people who bike. We need to stand united as we urge the City Council to continue committing to ending traffic deaths by investing in Vision Zero’s life-saving strategies each year of this 10 year initiative.