Street safety projects on the Westside have come under attack. If opposition to safe streets succeeds in getting these projects removed, it could stifle similar projects across the city.
Here at LACBC we know that even the best drivers can make mistakes on dangerous streets. LA is one of the deadliest cities in our country for all road users--especially the most vulnerable such as children, older adults, pedestrians, cyclists, low-income commuters, and commuters of color. Street safety improvements are critical strategies to solve this public health crisis.
LADOT, informed by community engagement, used internationally proven and evidence-based methods to design the new street safety improvements on the Westside, including the Mar Vista Great Streets Project and the Safe Streets for Playa Del Rey Initiative.
Some drivers using these corridors have grown impatient because they are unable to travel at the same unsafe high speeds as they previously could. However, LADOT continues working to improve the synchronization of signal lights to help improve traffic flow, while also keeping streets safe for all who use the corridor throughout their day, including drivers.
Despite the great public benefit, these projects unfortunately have come under attack amid a flurry of misinformation being circulated about the projects. There is some concern that they will be removed, but there are actions you can take to make sure that the streets are safer for the communities of Mar Vista and Playa Del Rey.
Mar Vista Great Streets Initiative
The Mar Vista Great Streets Initiative began in 2015 with an extensive community outreach process facilitated by Councilmember Mike Bonin and the city-wide Great Streets Initiative. The primary goal is to make Venice Blvd. safer for all road users who travel the corridor, as well as to support local businesses.
Venice Blvd. is part of LA’s Vision Zero High Injury Network (HIN), meaning the street has a higher rate of injuries and deaths compared to others in L.A. Since 2011, there have been 48 cyclists and pedestrians injured from crashes in this particular corridor.
In May the City installed four new pedestrian crossings, protected and buffered bike lanes, and improvements at existing signalized intersections--all with the goal of reducing injuries and deaths. The project runs about .8 miles from Inglewood Blvd. to Beethoven St.
Playa Del Rey Street Safety Initiative
The Playa Del Rey projects came from community interest in improving street safety and making Playa del Rey a more livable beach community for all of its residents. After two and a half years of community outreach and engagement, the community opted to install lane restriping as a pilot project, which it will continue to evaluate over the next year. According to LADOT, from 2003 - 2016, Culver Blvd. had 84 serious injury crashes and 6 deaths; Jefferson Blvd. had 96 serious injury crashes and 2 deaths; and Pershing Dr had 64 serious injury crashes.
The boundaries of each project are Culver Blvd. between Vista Del Mar and Jefferson Blvd.; Jefferson Blvd. between Culver Blvd. and Lincoln Blvd.; and Pershing Dr. between Cabora Dr. and Westchester Pkwy. Each of these streets were re-striped to calm traffic and slow vehicle speeds as cars drive through the Playa del Rey neighborhood. Each also includes added buffered bicycle lanes that will create safe routes for people on bikes to connect to destinations on Westchester Pkwy., Lincoln Blvd., and Dockweiler State Beach bike path.
Vista Del Mar
A separate but related project on Vista Del Mar was urgently developed--with an unfortunately a rushed community outreach process--in response to dangerous levels of speeding, a pattern of tragic crashes that resulted in serious injuries and death, and a $9.5 million wrongful death lawsuit that was settled in April of this year. The suit came in response to the tragic death of 16-year old Naomi Larsen, who was fatally struck by a car while trying to cross the street after attending a bonfire at Dockweiler with her friends.
From 2003 - 2016, there were 210 traffic collisions on Vista Del Mar, including 5 deaths. To address the dangerous design of this street before the summer beach crowds started flooding in, LADOT began working on May 21 to move all parking to the west side of the street only (parking had to remain on the street due to California Coastal Commission regulations), create U-turn pockets, and narrow the road to one lane in each direction. This project does not include a bike lane. The project runs from Imperial Hwy. to Culver Blvd.
Want to take action?
Help make sure these street safety projects are a success and show your support by:
ATTENDING one of the upcoming meetings. Don’t forget to share on social media if you show up!
Venice Neighborhood Council meeting
When: Tuesday, July 18, 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m
Where: Westminster Elementary School Auditorium, 1010 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, 90291
The board will consider a motion to host a town hall with Councilmember Bonin.
Playa del Rey Street Safety Projects Town Hall
When: Saturday, July 29, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m
Where: Roski Dining Hall, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, 90045
Speak directly with LADOT staff about the project!
SHARING on social media! Tweet and post photos of your ride through Venice, Jefferson, and Culver Boulevards, and Pershing Drive on the new bike lanes! Use #SaferVeniceBlvd, #SaferJeffersonBlvd, #SaferCulverBlvd, #SaferPershingDr, and #SaferWestside to share your message with fellow safe streets advocates.
EMAILING the Mar Vista Community Council and Venice Neighborhood Council TODAY to show your support for street safety improvements on Venice Blvd. See sample email below.
RE: Support for Venice Blvd Great Streets Safety Improvements
Dear Members of the Mar Vista Community Council and the Venice Neighborhood Council:
I strongly encourage the Mar Vista Community Council and the Venice Neighborhood Council to continue supporting the project on Venice Blvd. as part of the Mar Vista Great Streets Initiative. This recently installed project has come under attack, much of it being fueled by misinformation. Impatience of drivers shouldn’t stop the community from building safer streets and more vibrant neighborhoods. These safety improvements will prevent future injuries and can save lives.
As a [student, older adult, mom, cyclist, person with a disability, business owner, etc], I firmly support the street safety improvements on Venice Blvd. This project was designed through community dialogue throughout a yearlong open process and is meant to make all residents and visitors safer. Similar to how the farmers market has improved our community, we believe the “small town feel” of this Great Streets initiative will do the same for Mar Vista and will further improve community culture.
We must continue to improve our streets with rigorous and informed evaluations, and I urge you to remain committed to creating vibrant and safer streets in Mar Vista.
This article was produced in collaboration with Dayna Galbreath from Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE) and other partners.