We're looking for a new Executive Director!
After three and a half years in Los Angeles and with Los Angeles Walks, I have decided to return to the east coast to be closer to family, including my twin sister and her new baby, Inés (below).
This week LA Walks began accepting applications for our Executive Director position.
Could you live 3,000 miles away from this cuteness?
To be sure, I would be thrilled to continue to grow LA Walks. I want to increase our impact in neighborhoods across LA and help to build a movement for safe streets in a city where the need and demand for a new status quo is so great.
But it was SoCal Families for Safe Streets (FSS), a project of LA Walks, that provided me with the clarity to decide to step away from this terrific work.
FSS members remind us that life can change in an instant. I intend to take advantage of the time I have with people I love -- and they happen to live in the frigid northeast.
As the first staff person at Los Angeles Walks, I am so proud of how steadily the organization has grown. We now have three full-time and one part-time employees; a developed and more diverse advisory board; and a more focused, community-centered plan to make walking safe, accessible, and equitable throughout Los Angeles.
Part of the LA Walks team
We have exciting activities in store this year, including more community training and mobilizing efforts that develop and demonstrate support for safe streets across the city.
The organization needs a bold but grounded leader who understands the everyday concerns of people who walk and roll. We need someone who can inspire residents to reject business-as-usual and demand safer, healthier neighborhoods for our most vulnerable populations -- neighborhoods where people are secure to stay for years to come.
I'm not leaving yet, so hope to see you at a walk or event soon! (More info coming via social media.)
This is a follow-up to an earlier post regarding the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition's consideration of a dangerous, misguided motion intended to halt the installation of traffic calming measures across Los Angeles.
On December 1, 2018, the LA Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC) tabled the motion to its January 5, 2019 meeting. By January 5, LANCC had removed the anti-traffic calming motion from its agenda and replaced it with a new motion that attempted to take a more neutral stance on "road diets" (roadway reconfigurations). Still, the motion included loaded language that was not necessarily based in fact.
LA Walks and the LA County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) mobilized safe streets activists to turn out in support of evidence-based engineering that saves lives -- projects that Los Angeles needs to embrace, not shun -- at the January 5 meeting.
Our friend and colleague Jesi Harris, Director of Organizing at LACBC, provided the following recap of the meeting:
"Vocal members of our community fought hard and spoke inspiringly for an amendment that struck negative, unfounded statements from the legislative history that would be preserved in this document (through the motion). The clause 'some (road diets) are beneficial and some are not. The Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC) (XXXXXX Neighborhood Council) recognizes the beneficial effects of a road diet along certain corridors, but road diets create confusing, negative effects along other corridors' didn’t make the final cut.
That was a win I wasn’t even expecting but am proud to have witnessed.
The re-written motion was unanimously approved by the Neighborhood Council representatives at this morning’s LA Neighborhood Council Coalition meeting.
The meting discussion included a host of amendments to the motion that changed the final language to read:
“The Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC) (XXXXXX Neighborhood Council) takes the position that there shall be no blanket prohibition of road diets or other road calming measures. Communities that will be impacted with a potential road diet or other road calming measure, including neighborhood councils, shall be consulted extensively about public safety and other important issues both before the road diet is proposed and after it is implemented.”
We also saw the results of a woefully under-engaged group of Neighborhood Councils - people struggling to define the term “road diet,” conflating traffic calming with traffic-causing, and disconnected from the personal narratives and motivations that drive the kind of powerful advocacy we displayed. Terrence Gomes, President of the LANCC was right when he pointed out a lack of engagement and eduction about road safety techniques.
I want to thank everyone who came and to those who spoke. Your words were brave and important. As we move into 2019, this type of unity and action will help us to engage and educate our Neighborhood Council representatives to make decisions for the best of our livable communities."
Thank you to Jesi for this write-up!
Streetsblog LA also covered the January 5, 2019 meeting, which you can find here.
On December 1, 2018, Los Angeles Walks, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), and street safety activists from across the city attended a meeting of the LA Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC).
At the meeting, LANCC representatives viewed a presentation and considered a motion drafted by a group opposed to roadway reconfigurations; the motion calls for the removal of traffic calming measures in Los Angeles.
Activists turned out in droves and made a clear case for evidence-based street safety interventions that save lives. LANCC tabled the motion until their next meeting, on January 5, 2019, and invited LA Walks and LACBC to present at that meeting.
This week, LA Walks and LACBC submitted the following letter to LANCC:
December 20, 2018
To: Members of Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition,
As many of you will remember, at the December 1, 2018 meeting of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC), the agenda included a presentation and motion that proposed the removal of traffic calming measures in the City of Los Angeles.
On behalf of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Los Angeles Walks (LA Walks), we write to make clear our complete objection to both the content of this dangerous and misguided motion, as well as the way the LANCC has handled the matter.
LACBC and LA Walks advocate for safe streets for all road users in Los Angeles. We work tirelessly to educate residents and decision-makers on evidence-based tools proven to reduce and eliminate preventable traffic fatalities and severe injuries in LA. As such, we were shocked to see such a misinformed presentation and motion at the December 1 meeting. We were even more outraged to see these items presented with absolutely no fact-checking or consideration of community context.
We respectfully request that the anti-traffic calming motion (agenda item 2.2, December 1, 2018), be postponed indefinitely rather than be brought back before LANCC on January 5, 2019.
We are eager to correct many of the misstatements from the December 1 presentation and had agreed to present fact-based information on traffic calming measures and street safety interventions at LANCC’s January 5, 2019 meeting. However, because no LANCC representative has responded to our many requests for details (as of December 20, 2018), we are left with no choice but to decline the offer until LANCC provides more information and adequate time to prepare.
We especially want to ensure that a discussion on public safety and street design interventions includes the appropriate experts. The discussion on December 1 did not feature any representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Fire Department, Police Department, Emergency Management Department, the City Attorney, LA Sustainability, or LA Resiliency -- all agencies that address the public safety, emergency preparedness, and legal issues at the root of the anti-traffic calming motion. We would like to work with LANCC to invite these representatives to a future conversation so that professionals are available to address specific concerns.
LACBC and LA Walks also hope that LANCC will review its own parliamentary procedures prior to the January 5 meeting. We are concerned that at the December 1 meeting LANCC representatives did not approve the meeting agenda before going ahead with proceedings. Without approval, the motion should not have been considered per LANCC’s own parliamentary procedures.
Finally, we hope to work in good faith with LANCC on this issue. On December 1, LANCC representatives voted to table the anti-traffic calming motion until its January 5, 2019 meeting. However, as soon as three days later Rampart Village Neighborhood Council featured the motion on its own meeting agenda. This shows that LANCC has power to set the agenda for any and all neighborhood councils. It is imperative that more due diligence be done to make sure motions are factual. We trust that LANCC intends to explore the issue of traffic deaths and road safety in Los Angeles objectively and fairly.
For all of these reasons, we respectfully decline the offer to present on January 5, 2019 and request that the anti-traffic calming motion from the December 1 meeting be postponed indefinitely.
Emilia Crotty, Executive Director, Los Angeles Walks
Cesar Hernandez, Deputy Executive Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
In April 2018, Los Angeles Walks entered into a strategic partnership with First 5 LA to create a stronger movement for safe streets in Los Angeles.
We work with Best Start Communities (BSC) to challenge Angelenos' acceptance of street design, build capacity, train and mobilize BSC members to advocate for safe streets that meet their needs.
About First 5 LA and Best Start Communities
First 5 LA is an independent public agency with a goal to develop the health and safety of young children, so that by 2028 all children in Los Angeles County are ready to succeed in school and life. First 5 LA recognizes that to enact systems and policy change, neighborhood residents must lead the way -- a value shared by LA Walks.
That's why First 5 LA supports Best Start Communities, an organized effort to support leadership and capacity building for 14 community groups throughout the county.
Since April 2018, Los Angeles Walks has been building relationships with the various organizations that support Best Start Communities, specifically Para Los Ninos, El Nido Family Centers, Providence Little Company of Mary, and Social Action Partners. These organizations are rooted in and focused on fostering the best environment for BSC members to thrive as local leaders.
With the help of these community partners, Los Angeles Walks has piloted a advocacy and engagement model to catalyze safe streets advocacy at a local level in Los Angeles City neighborhoods.
Through collective actions, community residents reclaim their public space, build relationships with community members, and start dialogue around their experiences in their neighborhood streets. This encourages a grounded approach to safe streets advocacy, one that is rooted in each community's history of urban development and knowledge of social and physical infrastructure.
Los Angeles Walks builds capacity through training sessions focused on challenging street design, questioning accepted notions of pedestrians’ rights to street space, navigating City processes for safe streets improvements, and more.
While working with BSC members, we begin to identify the factors that make it difficult and dangerous to walk in their day-to-day life. We also learn which elements or experiences they know will make walking more accessible, enjoyable, and safe.
Ultimately, BSC members collaborate on a collective action intended to enhance street safety, access, and comfort. These diverse efforts will culminate in a forum for all BSCs to share their process and experience, where Los Angeles Walks will release a guide to safe streets advocacy efforts co-developed by BSC members.
In early December 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced that officers will distribute reflective vests and LED clip-on lights to pedestrians who are stopped for violating traffic laws.
Image courtesy of LAist.
The initiative is an effort to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities in Los Angeles, where at least 107 people died while walking so far in 2018 -- more than half of the 200 people killed in traffic collisions this year.
Through a partnership with Farmers Insurance, LAPD will distribute 1,200 reflective safety vests and 700 LED lights. Rather than issue a citation to people walking, officers will issue a warning, hand out a pamphlet on traffic safety, and offer the pedestrian a reflective vest or an LED light to clip onto their clothing.
In response to the initiative, Los Angeles Walks shares the following comments:
Los Angeles Walks appreciates LAPD’s interest in pedestrian safety - which is a real, growing, and preventable public health issue in Los Angeles. This “solution” is woefully simplistic, though, and doesn’t get at the root of the problem.
Pedestrian safety vests are absolutely not the right direction for a Vision Zero city.
LAPD’s misguided initiative has offered an opportunity to address pedestrian safety and the many ways the safety of people walking is completely within our control as a city - without the impractical and absurd use of reflective vests.
At the root of this issue is a street system in which all the odds are stacked against people walking. This is especially true in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, which are far less likely to have pedestrian infrastructure (such as protected crossings) than affluent areas.
Panorama City (Cristina Valadez)
Low-income people have the highest rates of walking and bicycling to work, but are often walking in neighborhoods from which the City has divested for generations, where street safety infrastructure is hard to come by.
Streets with marked crosswalks are almost twice as common in high-income areas (13%) than in low-income communities (7%). Traffic calming features, such as traffic islands, curb bulb outs that shorten crossing distances, and traffic circles, are found almost three times as often in high-income areas compared with low-income communities.
Los Angeles Walks believes it is unfair to hold individuals responsible for a City’s failure to provide the most basic transportation infrastructure.
We take issue with the use of the term “jaywalking” to describe someone who may simply be crossing the street where there SHOULD be a crosswalk, but is not. Los Angeles has had a long love affair with the automobile; people walking have paid the price by having to put themselves in harm’s way just to get across the street.
Manhattan's Hester Street, on the Lower East Side, in 1914. (Maurice Branger/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
Streets used to be places where life thrived - where there was commerce, play, and human interaction in shared public space.
In 1925 Los Angeles enacted some of the country’s strictest controls on people walking, pushing them to the margins and prioritizing the swift movement of vehicles over everything else. This has had devastating effects on our individual health, community health, and climate, of course.
The auto lobby developed and disseminated the term “jaywalking” to claim control over a vast majority of our public space.
Government safety posters ridicule jaywalking in the 1920s and '30s. (National Safety Council/Library of Congress)
If someone is “jaywalking” or “outside crosswalks” according to the LAPD, chances are good there should be a protected crosswalk there.
Rather than issuing reflective vests to people “jaywalking,” LAPD should alert its sister agencies and elected officials of the need for safe crossings, slower vehicle speeds, improved lighting, and increased driver awareness where people clearly need a safe place to cross.
LAPD is a lead partner agency in the City’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2025. A key principle of Vision Zero is using data to understand and address the issue of preventable traffic deaths.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD announce updated speed surveys across Los Angeles.
LAPD needs to focus its enforcement efforts on the behaviors that do the most harm: the moving violations that kill people. This includes red light running, improper turning, failure to yield to a person in a crosswalk (marked or unmarked), and not stopping at a stop sign.
Drivers have the power to do the most harm, and drivers have the greatest responsibility to protect the human life around them. The City, including LAPD, needs to remind people of this every opportunity it gets.
What is especially troubling is the Department’s emphasis on “defensive walking.”
In Los Angeles, people walking are 16 times more likely to die in a crash than someone in a vehicle. True, drivers in Los Angeles regularly operate two-ton vehicles encased in steel at speeds that kill. Those vehicles are often taller than an elementary school child who is walking to school.
If we are to rely on “defensive walking” as a solution, as LAPD suggests, how do we protect our most vulnerable populations who either have to walk or who want to walk, like children without the cognitive awareness to act defensively, older adults with limited visibility and slower reaction times, people with a wide range of physical disabilities, etc.?
What we need to do is develop a safe system -- streets where vehicle speeds are not deadly, where drivers cannot take dangerous left turns, where turning right on red is no longer a sacred right. This is what will protect everyone, not vests.
This is another core principle of Vision Zero -- taking a “safe system” approach rather than an individual behavior change approach to traffic safety.
This initiative makes clear that LAPD has a long way to go to fully embrace the core principles of Vision Zero.
Today Los Angeles Walks learned about a dangerous and irresponsible anti-road diet motion that will go before the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition at a meeting tomorrow, December 1, 2018 (agenda item 2.2). The following is a comment letter LA Walks submitted to LANCC in response.
The meeting will be held on Saturday, December 1 at 10am at LA DWP Headquarters on Hope Street. For information see here.
To send your own comment, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To appointed Neighborhood Council representatives, other Neighborhood Council members, and members of the public,
We at Los Angeles Walks are extremely disturbed with the placement and contents of item 2.2 on tomorrow’s LANCC meeting agenda, a motion that seeks to stake out a position for the LANCC on roadway reconfigurations (or “road diets”) that is radically different than adopted City policy and the policy choices of individual Neighborhood Councils.
Simply put, roadway reconfigurations that reallocate roadway space to a variety of travel modes, commonly referred to as “road diets,” are a long-proven street safety measure that help make streets safer for all, and especially for people walking. The motion listed for item 2.2 in tomorrow’s meeting agenda is misinformed at best, and maliciously mendacious at worst. Its passage would be terrible for people who walk in Los Angeles.
We urge the appointed representatives of the LANCC to reject this dangerous and irresponsible motion on its face.
Los Angeles Walks is a pedestrian advocacy organization that seeks to make walking safe, accessible, and fun for all Angelenos. One of the most dangerous factors for people walking in LA is vehicle speed. According to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cited by Los Angeles’ Vision Zero initiative, people struck by a vehicle travelling 20 mph face a 10% risk of death -- if struck by a vehicle travelling 40 mph, walkers face an 80% risk of death.
That’s why roadway reconfigurations are such effective safety improvement measures: they reduce prevailing speeds, leading to fewer, less serious crashes and less risk for serious injury and death, especially to people walking and biking. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) knows as much, stating clearly:
Why consider a Road Diet? Four-lane undivided highways experience relatively high crash frequencies — especially as traffic volumes and turning movements increase over time — resulting in conflicts between high-speed through traffic, left-turning vehicles and other road users. FHWA has deemed Road Diets a proven safety countermeasure and promotes them as a safety-focused design alternative to a traditional four-lane, undivided roadway.
According to the FHWA, roadway reconfigurations can have crash reduction factors of 19 - 47%. They have also been around a very long time, with the first installation in 1979 in Billings, Montana (the first road diets in Los Angeles being implemented in 1980). Lastly, roadway reconfigurations have resulting ancillary benefits including but not limited to:
- Space for expanded sidewalks and/or transit and bicycle lanes, creating safer and more pleasant experiences for users and also closing network gaps;
- Reducing crossing length for people walking, reducing the amount of time they are exposed to auto traffic in the roadway;
- On 4-to-3 lane conversions (reconfiguring from two lanes of auto travel in each direction to one auto lane in each direction plus a center left turn lane), the creation of a continuous center turn lane which enable protected left-hand turns (99% crash reduction factor) as well as space to install pedestrian refuge islands for midblock crossings (46% crash reduction factor);
- The creation of a center left turn lane also creates a street easier for emergency vehicles to navigate by creating a generally open lane as well as giving space for cars to pull over;
- Also, on 4-to-3 lane conversions, the elimination of passing lanes, eliminating the possibility of a passing car passing a stopped car and hitting a pedestrian crossing the street;
But how about Los Angeles’ recent history? A 2016 study of Los Angeles road diets looked at a group of five corridors where a roadway reconfiguration had occurred and compared before and after conditions on those corridors with control streets that corresponded to the road diet corridors. For these streets, a 32.4% reduction in crashes occurred as compared to an 8% reduction for the control group. Injury rates were reduced on the road diet corridors by 36.7% as compared to an 8% reduction for the control group.
Local residents of Silver Lake have calculated that the Rowena Avenue roadway configuration has also had a demonstrably positive effect on street safety, with injury collisions down 21.5% and sever injury collisions down 33% over a five year period after installation of a road diet in March of 2013. For the same timespan for the City of Los Angeles as a whole, injury collisions were up 8.5% and severe injury collisions were up 12%.
Again, simply put, roadway reconfigurations, or road diets, are a proven tool to help reduce prevailing speeds, calm and organize traffic, enable safer turning movements, and make all road users safer. They especially can help people walking by reducing crossing distances, slowing traffic and enabling safer turns.
Lastly, LADOT already has a policy of conducting local outreach before any project, including any roadway reconfiguration project. Local residents deserve to have a say to potentially support roadway reconfigurations in their communities if they so desire without the LANCC having issued a general advisory prohibition. As projects come up for design consideration, that is the appropriate time for individual communities to work with LADOT on the best street safety measures to implement.
To conclude, the motion on the agenda is a misinformed stance of the efficacy of roadway reconfigurations that seeks to put words in the mouth for each individual Neighborhood Council. Please reject the motion on its face and leave discussions about roadway changes to communities to decide for themselves.
 FHWA: Accessed on 11/30/2018: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/
 Martinez, Severin: Who Wins When Streets Lose Lanes? An Analysis of Safety on Road Diet Corridors in Los Angeles. Pg 7. Accessed 11/30/2018: http://bike.lacity.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/SeverinMartinez-WhoWinsWhenWeLoseLanes-2016.pdf
 Ibid: Pg 29
 Ibid: Pg 30
 Keep Rowena Safe. Accessed 11/30/2018: https://www.keeprowenasafe.com/safety-research
Families and friends gathered together in LA State Historic Park to honor loved ones impacted by traffic violence at Los Angeles Walks’ annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims event on November 18, 2018.
The Southern California chapter of Families for Safe Streets, a group of individuals and families who have lost a loved one in a traffic collision or survived a severe crash, welcomed close to 100 attendees to Los Angeles Walks’ annual World Day of Remembrance (WDR) event - this year in LA State Historic Park.
SoCal Families for Safe Streets, a project of Los Angeles Walks, planned the gathering to honor and celebrate their loved ones’ lives, and to demand an end to preventable traffic deaths and serious injuries.
Debbie Hsiung and Beverly “Grandma Beverly” Shelton, the co-founders of SoCal Families for Safe Streets (above), framed the day with the painful reminder that 64 people died on Los Angeles’ city streets in the first six months of 2018 - about one every three days. Like Debbie and Beverly, 64 families must deal with the anger, pain, and devastation of that reality for the rest of their lives.
Debbie and Grandma Beverly called attendees to action, inviting them into the work to advocate for safer street design and to ensure pedestrian and bicyclist rights are elevated in a city that historically prioritizes drivers and expediency.
Areli Morales (far right) and her family provided World Day of Remembrance attendees the opportunity to decorate pan de muerto in honor of loved ones lost to traffic violence. Areli and her family honored the life of her grandfather, who was struck and killed while legally crossing the street in East Los Angeles in 1994.
Event attendees from all over the city honored the lives of loved ones -- and strangers alike -- through participatory activities, like decorating luminaria bags and lighting wish paper, as well as by sharing stories and cultural traditions with one another.
World Day of Remembrance acknowledged the burden of grief that families too often bear silently, and engaged attendees to become advocates for just policies that put an end to traffic fatalities and severe injuries.
As Debbie Hsiung said in her remarks, “Every single one of these deaths is more than a headline. It’s more than a dot on a map or a data point in a chart. We are families and communities shattered by a sudden, horrific, PREVENTABLE death. And we say, ‘enough.’”
If you’d like to know more about Families for Safe Streets, please click here.
All photos by Rabi Abdnour except for the top image.
Vote NO on Prop. 6 on November 6!
Election day is only one week away and much has already been written about Proposition 6, a ballot initiative that would take away current roadway improvement projects by repealing a gas tax increase enacted through Senate Bill 1 (SB 1: The California Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017). That gas tax increase helps fund a long backlog of road and bridge repair projects in the state of California. Repealing it would be a bad and short-sighted decision, as the LA Times Editorial Board made clear in this article.
If voters pass Prop. 6, it won't just halt the maintenance and repair of our roads and bridges, it will also slow down the progress being made to improve public transit, walking, and biking. SB 1 funding dedicates $100 million to pedestrian and bike projects, and over $750 million to transit agencies to help increase access and service1.
Supporters of Prop. 6
Supporters who want to pass Prop. 6 - ending the gas tax increase created through SB1 - include the California Republican Party, Republican Speaker of the U.S. House, Paul Ryan2, Republican U.S. House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, Republican U.S. House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, and a number of other Republican representatives, senators, and taxpayer associations3.
Supporters argue that the funds from the gas tax increase will just be diverted for other uses, but SB1 funds are “protected under a constitutional amendment, which safeguards new dollars for transportation use only.”4
Who else is saying NO to Prop. 6
Those opposed to Prop. 6 come from a broader base of community and labor organizations, public safety and social justice advocates, environmental nonprofits, senior citizen coalitions, businesses, cities, and government officials including: Bike San Gabriel Valley, Move LA, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, East Los Angeles Community Corporation, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Parents for Safe Routes, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and Sierra Club California, just to name a few. You can access the long list of coalition members who are urging California voters to vote no on Prop. 6 here.
The “No on Prop 6” Coalition mentioned above has also created a fact sheet that informs us on what’s at stake here. If Prop. 6 passes, more than 6,500 local bridge/road safety and transportation improvement projects would abruptly stop with no plan B in the works5.
So if you’re in support of safer roads, and trying to relieve traffic congestion by making other modes of transportation more reliable, convenient, and safe (like walking, biking, and taking public transit), then please vote NO on Prop. 6.
Check out this interactive map that displays the local LA County projects that SB 1 is funding. Some of those projects include: Active Aging, Safe Routes for Seniors in Santa Monica, West Santa Ana Branch Bikeway Phase 2, and San Gabriel River East Bank Greenway & Neighborhood Connections in Baldwin Park/Walnut Creek
Councilmember Ryu recently submitted a motion to LA City Council requesting that the LA Department of Transportation review the CD4-commissioned "Rowena Avenue, Waverly Drive, and Angus Street: Cut-through Traffic Study."
The motion may go before the LA City Council Transportation Committee as early as Wednesday, October 24, 2018, the committee's next meeting. We need everyone to take action to #KeepRowenaSafe!
Read below for more details.
Courtesy of Keep Rowena Safe
Terence Heuston, a Silver Lake resident and founding member of Keep Rowena Safe, submitted the following comments to City Councilmembers on September 25, 2018.
As a Silver Lake resident, I can attest that prior to the "Rowena road diet," locals often referred to the dangerous arterial road running in front of Ivanhoe Elementary School as "Rowena Raceway." As far back as 2006 there are documented meeting minutes from the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Urban Design Committee calling for an Environmental Impact Review for a Rowena "road diet." Following years of community discussion, outreach, and coverage in the press documented here, Councilmember Tom LaBonge formally requested via a council motion that LADOT study installing a road diet on Rowena. Yet, it was too late for 24 year-old Ashley Sandau - while the road diet was being studied she was killed crossing the street in front of two schools. The drivers in three lanes stopped their cars for her; the driver in the fourth lane did not. That driver killed Ms. Sandau.
The road diet that the City subsequently installed ensures that the tragically foreseeable death of Ms. Sandau cannot occur again, since the road diet alignment prevents it. Any other configuration listed within Kimley-Horn's "Rowena Avenue, Waverly Drive, and Angus Street: Cut-through Traffic Study" "options" re-introduces the danger of a car in the "fast" lane swerving into the "slow" lane around a car that has stopped for a pedestrian - the exact manner in which Ms. Sandau was killed.
As most of you know, when a car crash is reported to the LAPD, the record of that crash is forwarded to a central database (SWITRS) maintained by the California Highway Patrol. FIVE independent reviews of the SAME data: LADOT, LAPD, independent data scientists, an independent transportation planner report, and the recent Kimley-Horn study all show the same result: the formerly dangerous road, where a young woman died crossing in front of two schools, is "significantly safer than before."
Based on the unanimous findings of five different sources reviewing the same data there can be no justification for adding another travel lane in front of two schools. Furthermore, you can view the Rowena Town Hall video where two out of every three Silver Lake residents who speak on the matter support the road diet (50 in favor, 25 opposed). The community does not want another lane.
I am writing to ask you to amend the motion submitted by Councilmember David Ryu (11-2130-S4) to request that LADOT prioritize safety in their evaluation of the “Rowena Avenue, Waverly Drive, and Angust Street: Cut-Through Traffic Study” conducted by Kimley-Horn for CD4. There is no need to make a street with a proven safety record more dangerous in order to address the cut-through traffic on side streets. There is an array of options that can elevate the safety of Angus Street and Waverly Drive without putting elementary school students at risk.
Sunny Southern California! Most days are a beautiful day to walk, bike, or spend some time outside waiting for the bus or train – this is part of what makes LA living so livable.
But summer – and the Santa Ana winds of the fall – can be brutal, especially in heavily paved and low-income urban areas with hardly a tree in sight. The sun’s rays and the heat radiating off the sidewalk can make an otherwise pleasant stroll feel like a punishment, and leave you thirsty for a tall drink of cold water. In the wet season, neighborhoods parched in the dry months flood from trash-blocked storm drains or lack of infrastructure, swamping intersections with pollution-laden puddles and waterlogging kids on their way to school. Cities and non-profits have dreams to plant more trees and address these issues, but seem stuck on their way to implementing solutions, citing a lack of funding to build or maintain infrastructure.
If only we could do something to address this web of worries!
We can! This November 6, voters will be asked to consider County Measure W for Safe, Clean Water.
This measure (W for Water), would fund an action plan to tackle these overlapping issues: extreme weather like drought and flooding, water contamination, and the funds to both build solutions and keep them running. Through a modest parcel tax that collectively makes a big difference, this measure would invest $300 million a year into our communities and water infrastructure, building and maintaining public projects like Echo Park Lake and the South LA Wetlands, the Avalon Green Alley network, planted medians and parkways, and retrofitting schoolyards, we can turn LA County into a sponge instead of a slick.
Milton Street bulbout, photo credit Joe Linton, StreetsblogLA
Right now, we’re wasting 100 billion gallons of water each year, sending it through our storm drains and river channel as fast as possible into the ocean. By “unpaving” the County, planting more street trees, converting blacktops into playgrounds, running raingutters to cisterns, and diverting storm drains to parks, we can use nature and science to capture and clean this water – enough for 3.5 million people. At the same time, we’ll be investing in our communities with shade and green space, bringing much needed resources especially to low-income communities, and creating thousands of good jobs building projects and keeping them humming over time. All for about $7 a month for the average homeowner (and $1-3 a month if you own a condo)!
Join environmental justice advocates, public health experts, firefighters, labor leaders, scientists, and regular humans from all walks of life in voting Yes on W for water this November 6! (Click here for a lengthy list of endorsing organizations and elected officials.)
Guest blog post by Lauren Ahkiam, Director of Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy's Water Project. LAANE is a member of the OurWaterLA Coalition, which advocates for clean, safe, affordable and reliable water for all.