The State of Walking in Los Angeles and Exciting Announcements from Founder Deborah Murphy
Like no other time in my life, we are all under pressure to fight for what matters to us, whether that’s rights and respect for indigenous people and immigrants, the dismantling of racism and dominant white culture, or equal pay for people with disabilities and for all women. Maybe it’s the environment, education, restorative justice, and simply the right to be who we are and love who we love. These are by no means new fights, but today there is an elevated sense of urgency, and there is so much to fight for. At Los Angeles Walks, we remain dedicated to the fight for safe and equitable walking, which we see as intimately linked to so many social justice concerns and basic rights, like the right to health and safe movement, access to opportunities, affordable housing, harassment-free public space, and basic dignity for all.
Where we have come from
Since starting Los Angeles Walks, my personal and professional fight has been for a safer, more accessible, more pleasant city that supports walking - the most fundamental form of mobility. In 1998, I was dodging drivers who wanted to run me over on Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles on my way to the Commuter Express Bus to work in Downtown LA. Nearly 20 years ago, I knew that all of us walking deserved better, and I decided to take my fight to city hall. I gathered up a bunch of committed makers and doers, urban designers and planners, architects, elected officials, advocates, transportation geeks, and transit nerds. We were fed up with disrespectful drivers, bad street design, and unsafe and unattractive walking conditions. Together we started the first pedestrian advocacy organization in Los Angeles.
Walking CicLAvia with many of the original Los Angeles Walks board members in 2013
At the time, people thought of us as a curious special interest group with a narrow focus and little relevance to the majority of people in car-centric Los Angeles. City officials (who once literally pat me on the head and said, “we love pedestrians too”) widened roadways, narrowed sidewalks, eliminated crosswalks, removed street trees, lit up streets but not sidewalks, removed bus stops, increased speed limits, and ticketed pedestrians for crossing the street too slowly. What little walking infrastructure that did exist, the City destroyed in order to make room for more and more vehicles, at the expense of people and neighborhoods across LA.
We have come a long way since those days. Largely thanks to the actions and advocacy of Los Angeles Walks’ founding board members, the City of Los Angeles hired its first Pedestrian Coordinator in 2011. Soon after, the City launched the People Street program and Great Streets Initiative, adopted Mobility Plan 2035, and passed a Vision Zero policy. Los Angeles hired a bold, bright new General Manager, Seleta Reynolds, to head up the Department of Transportation. In March 2017, more than 70% of Los Angeles County voters supported Measure M, the sales tax increase that will fund a massive transit expansion.
We must continue the fight
Despite, or maybe because of, this progress, this is a challenging time for walking advocacy in Los Angeles. Within the past few years, City leaders have committed to improve mobility options and transportation safety; to support disadvantaged communities, aging in place, healthy communities, and environmental justice; and to increase funding for active transportation, open streets events, and transit. With this support, though, comes a stronger backlash than I have ever seen, and stronger reinforcement of the status quo.
Walkable communities and pedestrian safety, including Vision Zero, are now discussed in mainstream media, not just among us walking advocates and within professional publications. We have more data than ever to document where people are walking, where they are being hit and injured or killed, where people want to walk, and what kinds of techniques and treatments will make walking safer. But we also have more people expressing skepticism about that data and even questioning the prioritization of safe streets over smooth traffic flow. Drivers in some communities claim that there is a “war on cars” and that making space for people to walk and bike more safely goes against Los Angeles’s car culture and auto dependency.
Like so many moments before it, this is a time of transition in LA. For too long, people and neighborhoods have paid the price for bad, out of balance design. We have made too much progress in recent years to turn back now. As an organization, Los Angeles Walks needs to be up to the current challenge, fully committed to not only fight the status quo, but build up new support for a shared vision of healthier, safer communities that support human life.
Where we are going
We are proud to announce that we are appointing our current Policy and Program Manager Emilia Crotty as full-time Executive Director, and will soon hire a new Advocacy and Engagement Manager. This new staff person will assume leadership of the LA Vision Zero Alliance, a citywide coalition convened by Los Angeles Walks. As founder, I will take on the role of Chief Strategist for the organization.
Emilia Crotty (right) is appointed as Executive Director of Los Angeles Walks
Emilia has been a relentless champion for Vision Zero in Los Angeles, establishing and sustaining the LA Vision Zero Alliance for the past two years. Since joining Los Angeles Walks, Emilia has taken on a wide range of additional projects and priorities, which she will continue to champion as ED. These include:
Initiating a Safe Routes for Seniors program in partnership with staff and residents at Union Tower, a senior residence in the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood;
Organizing families of victims of traffic collisions to develop a Families for Safe Streets group modeled after successful programs in New York and San Francisco;
Partnering on the development and leadership of The Tripping Point, a one-day advocacy training summit that offers civic literacy and capacity building sessions to help develop a skilled, organized constituency for safe streets, sidewalks, and pedestrian rights-of-way throughout the City of Los Angeles;
Managing Temple Street Slow Jams, Los Angeles Walks’ Vision Zero Outreach & Engagement Program implemented in collaboration with Public Matters, the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California, and Gabba Gallery in Historic Filipinotown and Echo Park;
Representing Los Angeles Walks on many committees and task forces across the city.
Please join me in congratulating Emilia on her promotion from Policy and Program Manager to Executive Director of Los Angeles Walks.
Please also join Los Angeles Walks in our work to create safe streets for all by providing a recurring donation or a one-time donation. It will take more effort than ever before to address the public health crisis on our city streets, where there has been a 36% increase in pedestrian deaths and serious injuries since Vision Zero launched in Los Angeles. As of early August 2017, 77 pedestrians have been killed on LA streets this year. Through your support, you will help to:
Assure that Measure M implements first and last mile and complete streets projects that improve safety and access for people walking and biking;
Address the public health disparities in our underserved communities of color, particularly in South Los Angeles;
Put LA Walks on the frontlines of community engagement for safe streets projects across the city, in particular in communities where there is support for Vision Zero and safe streets.
Or, consider joining our team! Applications for the Advocacy and Engagement Manager position are due Friday, September 15th.
Thank you for reading and for your continued support.
We are all pedestrians,
Los Angeles Walks Founder and Chief Strategist
Please call and email Senator Ricardo Lara today! (Thursday, August 31, 2017)
Already good to go? Call: (916) 651-4033
AB 390 - the bill that would make it legal to cross the street during the countdown phase of the pedestrian signal - was put on suspense on Monday, August 28th due to a misunderstanding by the State Department of Finance.
>> Please contact Senate Appropriations Chair Ricardo Lara to ask that AB 390 come off suspense.
PHONE: (916) 651-4033
EMAIL: [email protected] (find sample email text below)
Summary: AB 390 has come a long way, and Los Angeles Walks has been a strong supporter from the start. Let's not allow a referral error to be the death of this important update to our law and to enforcement procedures.
Click here to read the LA Vision Zero Alliance policy platform and guiding values, a roadmap for the City to eliminate traffic deaths through an approach that is equitable, community-centered, and transparent.
Written by Scott Frazier
Today marks two years since Mayor Eric Garcetti signed Executive Directive 10, formally launching the Vision Zero initiative in Los Angeles. In instituting its own Vision Zero program, Los Angeles joined a growing international movement based on the belief that traffic fatalities are always preventable and that saving lives is a compelling public interest that should govern how we design our road network.
As Mayor Garcetti put it on signing Executive Directive 10: “Fatalities are not a tolerable byproduct of transportation. Loss of life and severe injuries resulting from traffic crashes are unacceptable outcomes that we can address.” Vision Zero is about prioritizing the safety of Los Angeles’s community members regardless of how they move around the city. But Vision Zero is more than just a statement of intent. It is about the complete elimination of fatal crashes in the City. Mayor Garcetti’s Directive laid out a benchmark goal of reducing fatalities by 20% in 2017, and reducing them to 0 by 2025. This is an ambitious goal that requires funding and action.
Los Angeles Vision Zero has a mixed record of achievement in its first two years. City leaders, led by Councilmembers Mike Bonin, José Huizar, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Paul Krekorian, and Nury Martinez, recently renewed their commitment to Vision Zero in increasing funding to the program from $3.5 million to $27 million in the current budget year. This money will help give L.A.’s most dangerous streets the life-saving makeovers that they need. The increase is all-the-more important as previous funding levels have been decidedly insufficient for meeting the City’s stated goals. Far from meeting the preliminary goal of a 20% reduction of traffic deaths by 2017, the number of fatalities on Los Angeles’ streets has continued to grow. The number of people killed by vehicles while walking this year has increased by nearly a quarter since last year, and by more than two-thirds from 2015.
The new infusion of financial support could make a major difference, though, as it complements the work that has been undertaken by Vision Zero and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to date. In the first two years, LADOT has conducted data analysis and safety studies for Vision Zero, culminating in the development of a Vision Zero Action Plan, which prioritizes project implementation for projects citywide based on what is called the “High-Injury Network” of streets. City staff has determined that 65% of fatal collisions occur on just 6% of L.A.’s streets, which make optimum targets for Vision Zero investment due to their unsafe design and high levels of pedestrian activity.
Based on the Action Plan, LADOT has identified 40 corridors for upcoming improvements. As Phase 1 of implementation, Vision Zero has resulted in the installation of 404 new crosswalks, 109 new speed feedback signs, and 117 new intersection tightenings (below).
During the past two years, Vision Zero has also been the subject of a brand awareness marketing campaign and a community-based education and outreach campaign on specific corridors. LADOT has also developed an online tool to map the impact of traffic deaths, while showing its commitment to the program by growing its dedicated staff to more than 10 people.
Vision Zero should carry with it a sense of urgency, because the status quo is deadly. Two hundred and seventy three people have been killed or seriously injured this year alone after being struck by a car while walking. Over the course of the past two years, the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance, coordinated by Los Angeles Walks, has sought to keep that urgency squarely in focus for city officials. The Alliance has pushed the City to improve in three main areas of emphasis:
- Increasing and equitably distributing funding for Vision Zero project implementation,
- improving the community engagement process, and
- strengthening transparency and accountability mechanisms for Vision Zero projects.
This week, as the City marks the anniversary of its Vision Zero program, the Vision Zero Alliance releases its policy platform and guiding values, which will shape advocacy efforts for the 20+ member coalition going forward. The Alliance will use the platform to monitor, track, and evaluate Vision Zero initiatives by relevant City departments and among elected officials.
The Alliance presses the City to distribute Vision Zero investments equitably, prioritizing “low-income communities of color - residents who are most at risk of being hit by a car because of current street conditions and a history of disinvestment,” said Monique López, Deputy Executive Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “We also need to make sure that strong policies are in place and resources available for anti-displacement measures, so residents are not priced out of their neighborhood once street improvements are made.”
The policy platform is being released at particularly important time for Vision Zero. LADOT is quickly updating the speed surveys that will allow the Los Angeles Police Department to resume enforcing speed infractions in the city. LAPD has created a deployment plan for speed enforcement, but has thus far not made that plan public. The Vision Zero Alliance is concerned that traffic enforcement efforts under the Vision Zero banner could result in the continued over-policing of Black and Brown residents, as seen in Sacramento and Chicago Vision Zero enforcement strategies. “It is problematic for the City’s Vision Zero initiative to subject residents to increased police presence without acknowledging the legacy of racist land use policies evidenced by inadequate and unsafe street infrastructure,” said Megan McClaire, Director of Health Equity at the Advancement Project California, and Anisha Hingorani, Program and Policy Manager at Multicultural Communities for Mobility, both Vision Zero Alliance member organizations. “We urge the City to prioritize investments in design over enforcement, and require that LAPD commit to a ‘no racial profiling pledge’ to explicitly address the historic practice of over-policing and disproportionate enforcement of communities of color.”
The Vision Zero Alliance also believes that it is critical to engage community members in the development, implementation, and evaluation of roadway redesigns. The Alliance believes that the City must develop guidelines for deep, culturally and linguistically competent engagement in order to ensure that Vision Zero projects can be effectively integrated into the community where they will be located.
The stakes are high, but the Alliance believes the City can achieve Vision Zero, despite the recent pushback that has been seen on the Westside. The Vision Zero Alliance is committed to helping the City to achieve Vision Zero, and offers its policy recommendations as a means of eliminating traffic fatalities in an equitable, community-centered, and transparent way.
To learn more about joining the LA Vision Zero Alliance, contact Emilia Crotty at [email protected].
Written by Mehmet Berker and Scott Frazier. Image via Streetsblog LA.
At the end of July, Councilmember Mike Bonin of Los Angeles’ 11th district announced that his office had arranged to remove 400 parking spots from Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey (above), replacing them with spaces in the County’s adjacent Dockweiler State Beach lot. The decision, which allowed for the restoration of a traffic lane in each direction, effectively signals the end of the safety project on Vista del Mar just two months after it was first introduced.
This is a disappointing setback for people who walk in Los Angeles. Despite having made tentative progress in recent years, people walking are still too-frequently expected to take risks with their personal safety in order to maintain the privilege of drivers to speed through residential neighborhoods and commercial corridors. Though the outcome is sad, hopefully Vista del Mar can serve as a teachable moment whose lessons will help protect safe streets projects for people walking, bicycling, and driving in other parts of the city.
Unlike other projects in the area, including the separate Safe Streets for Playa del Rey Initiative that introduced road diets on Culver Boulevard, Jefferson Boulevard, and Pershing Drive, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) undertook the reconfiguration of Vista del Mar as a result of the legal liability posed by the roadway’s deadly status quo. In April, the Los Angeles City Council settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the parents of Naomi Larsen, a teenager who was killed in a 2015 collision on Vista del Mar as she left the beach. The suit contended that fatal collisions were a “foreseeable” consequence of a road design that left pedestrians to fend for themselves on a miles-long stretch of road that had no crosswalks. With a similar lawsuit pending in the case of the 2016 death of Michael Lockridge and the summer beach season approaching, the City felt pressure to take immediate action and improve the safety of Vista del Mar.
The project, which was announced in May, sought to address conditions near Dockweiler State Beach by targeting the most dangerous elements of the existing design. Parking spaces were moved to the west side of the street to reduce the number of pedestrians crossing Vista del Mar. Illegal U-turns were mitigated by providing space for cars to turn around safely. Vehicle speeds were slowed by reducing the number of traffic lanes on Vista del Mar.
This last point about speed is especially key, as a new study by the National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed Vision Zero’s contention that controlling car speeds is essential to eliminating traffic fatalities. Speeding is a contributing factor to nearly one third of vehicle collisions and, as speed increases, people walking become much less likely to survive a car’s impact. Whereas 90% of pedestrians survive vehicle impacts at 20 mph, at 40 mph that number drops to just 10%. The study by the NTSB, the authority on safe transportation practices, found that insufficient attention and resources have been directed to the development and enforcement of safe speed limits.
The reconfiguration of Vista del Mar was not part of the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan, but it was carried out simultaneously with nearby projects in the 11th District: the Great Streets makeover of Venice Boulevard in the Mar Vista neighborhood, which was a priority listed in the Vision Zero Action Plan, and the aforementioned Safe Streets for Playa del Rey project, which was implemented in response to community concerns. While these projects had each been in development for several years, the Vista del Mar project did not receive the benefit of public outreach because of the imminent legal threat. Perhaps most importantly, this meant that the City lost an important opportunity to set a clear agenda for the goals of the project that included reducing dangerous car speeds on Vista del Mar.
Since their implementation, the three safe streets projects in the 11th District have each been the recipient of a furious and frequently vicious backlash. Public meetings regarding the roadway reconfigurations have not been civil or constructive, and have at times devolved into the open mocking of concerns for the safety of people walking and riding bicycles. Some of the loudest opponents of the Playa del Rey projects, from South Bay cities like Manhattan Beach, have been impervious to the argument that they have prioritized safety near their own homes, but regard their commuting time as more important than safety in other people’s neighborhoods.
In response, Bonin’s office has attempted to meet critics halfway. The Los Angeles Times said the agreement between Bonin’s office and Supervisor Janice Hahn had been called a “win-win” that would satisfy commuters and beachgoers, but the fact remains that a safe road redesign is being abandoned to cater to the loudest and angriest voices in the room.
The “win-win” solution on Vista del Mar is reminiscent of what Los Angeles has tried for decades -- a solution in which the very presence of pedestrians is seen as a problem that needs solving. Instead of making walking safer, we try to address safety by removing the walkers. History has shown that not only is this approach disruptive to the community, it also will never be fully effective. People will still walk across Vista del Mar, whether they are going to Vista del Mar Park, or walking from their home to enjoy a day at the beach, or for whatever other possible reason. The lack of lighting, lack of crosswalks, and low-visibility conditions from fog will still make it dangerous to cross, or walk along, a de facto speedway, but reverting Vista del Mar to its previous configuration simply ignores the existence of these people so South Bay commuters can resume speeding through the neighborhood.
In his video, Councilmember Bonin acknowledged the public safety crisis that traffic collisions pose in Los Angeles, and we commend his correct assertion that controlling speed is the most effective means of eliminating fatal car crashes, as we commend his championing of the Vision Zero initiative across Los Angeles. Councilmember Bonin has been a leader among the City’s elected officials in giving discussions of street safety for all Angelenos the weight that they deserve. But it is flatly disappointing that speed was not a primary consideration in terminating the road diet, just as it’s disappointing to hear the Councilmember call this project a “mistake.” Despite the vitriol that characterized the backlash to this project, this was a smart redesign that gave due consideration to protecting the lives of human beings.
In the long term, we will be pushing the City to create a permanent pedestrian facility on the west side of Vista del Mar, and to make sure that extra roadway space will not merely be left to encourage unsafe driving speeds. We are also hopeful that the task force Councilmember Bonin has announced to examine the community-supported Safe Streets for Playa del Rey Initiative will provide an opportunity for more productive conversations to take place. We believe that it is of paramount importance that design elements intended to protect pedestrians be protected throughout this process.
TAKE ACTION: Attend the Tuesday, August 15 6:30pm Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa meeting to express your support for complete streets and pedestrian-friendly roadways. Find details here.
Safe street projects on the Westside are under attack from vocal opponents who prefer the status quo over safety.
No matter where you live, we need you to take action to protect Vision Zero projects in Mar Vista and Playa del Rey. See below for details.
Opponents want to squash evidence-based road safety interventions in favor of their own convenient commutes, potentially setting a troubling precedent for Vision Zero projects across LA. (Read more from LACBC here.)
Our decision-makers need to know that Los Angeles does NOT want to be the most dangerous city in America for traffic crashes anymore - a place where traffic collisions are currently the leading cause of death for kids.
You can help to end this public health crisis by supporting roadway redesigns that improve walking and biking - whether those Vision Zero projects are in your backyard or way across town.
Top Three Ways to Take Action
1. Attend the Wednesday, July 5 Venice Neighborhood Council meeting at 7pm to provide public comment supporting the Venice Blvd. Great Streets projects. More details
2. Attend the Tuesday, July 11 Mar Vista Community Council meeting at 7pm to share your support for streets safe for walking, biking, and driving. RSVP here
3. Email the Venice Neighborhood Council and Mar Vista Community Council before July 5 to express your support for complete, safe streets. More details (scroll down)
- Volunteer to phone bank on Wednesday, July 5 anytime 4pm-8pm with our partners at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC). RSVP
- Join the LACBC Sunday Funday Ride this Sunday, July 2 at 9:30am to tour safety improvements in Mar Vista and Playa del Rey. Details & RSVP
The LA Department of Transportation used internationally proven and evidence-based methods to design new street safety improvements in Mar Vista and Playa del Rey after collecting community input. Don't let opponents stifle these projects just as they are poised to yield results.
Take action today and in the coming week. Show up strong for safe, healthy, vibrant streets across Los Angeles.
Don't forget to RSVP for the July 11 Mar Vista Community Council meeting, where turnout is key!
The Tripping Point advocacy training summit for smooth sidewalks and safe, healhty streets is this Saturday! REGISTER NOW before we reach capacity and close sign-ups. FREE!
Ask an Angeleno basic questions about our city streets, like how to request a curb ramp, what the heck an “unmarked crosswalk” is, or how to improve a bus stop, and you’re likely to get a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Los Angeles Walks is out to change that through The Tripping Point, a FREE half-day advocacy training summit we’re co-hosting this Saturday, June 10th in Boyle Heights.
What you'll get at The Tripping Point:
- The skills, tools, strategies, and insights you need to more effectively shape your world.
- A fundamental understanding of the who, what, where, when, why of transportation, streets, and sidewalks in LA.
- A chance to meet decision-makers and practitioners who build our urban environment.
- Food! Light breakfast and lunch are included.
- Need Spanish translation or childcare? We've got that too.
Here’s why you should register today:
Because now is the time for Angelenos to understand how our built environment takes shape, who determines its form, and how to influence the process.
The City of Los Angeles is in the midst of a Mobility Moment. In the last year alone:
- LA City Council adopted the sweeping and ambitious Mobility Plan 2035.
- LA County voters passed Measure M, expressing overwhelming support for public transit expansion.
- LA Bureau of Engineering launched Safe Sidewalks LA, finally committing to repair our sidewalk network.
- LA Dept. of Transportation released a Vision Zero Action Plan outlining safety solutions for 40 priority roadway corridors in 2017.
- LA City Council increased the City’s Vision Zero budget from $3 million in 2017 to $27.2 million in 2018.
So, join us this Saturday, June 10th at Puente Learning Center in Boyle Heights from 9am to 2pm for keynotes, interactive trainings, workshops, and networking with colleagues, friends, advocacy leaders, public agency staff, and elected officials' staff.
Anyone interested in safe sidewalks and crosswalks, complete streets, bus shelters, and/or healthy trees for shade is welcome!
About the Day
We’ll hear from keynote speakers Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero and City of Los Angeles Councilmember Nury Martinez, followed by community voices. Next up will be a 45-minute introductory session called Pathways to Change 101, before we split into breakout sessions.
Los Angeles Walks will host two breakout sessions that focus on advocacy through hyper-local organizing. Join us at:
10:50am-12pm: Hands-On Walk Audit: A Practical Tool to Assess Your Walking Environment & Engage Allies
12:40pm-1:50pm: Organizing for Change: The Power of Relationships (led by Proyecto Pastoral)
Voters, lawmakers, and City staff have turned their attention to how we get around, and - importantly - how we can get around while preserving human life, saving street trees, and improving environmental health. After a lot of hard work by advocates and staffers, long-overdue decisions about mobility in Los Angeles are finally being made, and long-overdue investments are finally being dedicated to our urban infrastructure.
Now is the time to understand how we can make our voices heard during this process!
The Tripping Point is a collaboration between Investing in Place, Los Angeles Walks, AARP, the Los Angeles Aging Advocacy Coalition, Pacoima Beautiful, and Tree People.
Funding for LA Walks' breakout sessions was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Today, Friday, May 5th, contact the CA State Assembly Transportation Committee to support Assembly Bill 390, the crosswalk countdown law!
Across California, it's currently illegal to step off the curb and cross the street once a pedestrian countdown signal has begun, even if the person walking knows they have enough time to cross.
Yep, the California Vehicle Code states that it is unlawful for a person to enter a crosswalk at any time other than when the signal says “Walk," including during a countdown. Why? Because the law was written before pedestrian countdown clocks even existed!
It's time our state legislators update this law, not only to bring it in line with the times and avoid confusion, but to bring an end to counterproductive LAPD pedestrian "jaywalking" sting operations, widely covered in spring 2015 by the LA Times and Streetsblog LA.
Assembly Bill 390, recently introduced by Assemblymembers Santiago and Ting, will change the law to make it legal for people walking to enter the crosswalk during a countdown signal if there is enough time to reasonably complete the crossing safely. This will bring the law in line with how pedestrians are actually behaving - so we can all stop breaking the law unintentionally.
One more benefit of the clarified law is that pedestrians who enter the crosswalk during the countdown phase will more clearly have the right of way. Should a person walking be involved in a collision, the updated law may make it easier to argue that the pedestrian was acting lawfully. (Reminder that drivers should ALWAYS yield to pedestrians.)
Take action! Contact the CA State Assembly Transportation Committee to urge them to support AB 390.
This Monday, May 1, 2017, LA City Council's Budget and Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Mayor Garcetti's proposed 2017-18 city budget, including a close review of the proposed Transportation budget.
While the Mayor's proposal does increase funding for Vision Zero, it doesn't go far enough.
In fact, it falls about $63 million short from funding work needed to achieve Vision Zero's initial benchmark: a 20% reduction in traffic deaths by the end of 2017.
Dial-in to an info call this Friday, April 28, at 2pm, and then join us at City Hall on Monday morning, May 1, to speak up for fully funding Vision Zero in LA.
Los Angeles is the deadliest city for traffic crashes in the United States. Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14 in Los Angeles County.
Our leaders need to hear it loud and clear: a public health crisis of this magnitude demands adequate funding.
RSVP now for Friday's call (hosted by Investing in Place), and join us in person on Monday morning at City Hall.
Hope to see you there!
PS: Can't be there on Monday? Contact the Budget & Finance Committee to voice your support for a robust, fully funded Vision Zero initiative in Los Angeles.
On Wednesday, March 29th, LA City Council Transportation Committee members will consider how to spend Measure M Local Return dollars - roughly $50 million every year for the foreseeable future.
Los Angeles Walks believes a significant portion of these funds should be used to build an equitable street and sidewalk system that is safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all ages, abilities, and modes of transportation across LA.
Read our letter to the City Council Transportation Committee below.
Dear Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee Members,
What a terrific opportunity Measure M Local Return funding presents for the City of Los Angeles, which already has forward-looking plans in place to guide this critical decision – one that has the potential to significantly improve the safety, comfort, and convenience of road users of all ages, abilities, and modes of transportation long into the future.
Los Angeles Walks urges City Council members to take into account the key policy initiatives, strategies, and goals of both Mobility Plan 2035 and the Vision Zero Action Plan when considering how to spend future Local Return funding.
Ultimately, we ask that you consider committing 20% of Local Return to fund safety-enhancing projects that help the City to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries in Los Angeles and achieve Vision Zero.
Both Mobility Plan 2035 and Vision Zero prioritize safety and call for a transportation system that, above all else, preserves and protects human life. In fact, a key principle of Vision Zero Los Angeles is that government policies at all levels should be coordinated to promote safety as the highest priority. Mobility Plan 2035 calls on the City to use data to prioritize transportation decisions that strive towards equity in safety, public health, access, social benefits, and economic benefits.
As the City prepares to receive roughly $50 million in sales tax revenue every year through Local Return, this is an important moment to remember these principles and to acknowledge the true cost of our current transportation system.
In Los Angeles in 2016, 260 children, older adults, men, and women were killed in traffic collisions, making LA the deadliest city for traffic crashes in the United States. Sadly, traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14 in Los Angeles County.
The status quo is not acceptable. And in fact, conditions are worsening. Pedestrian fatalities in Los Angeles jumped by almost 50% between 2015 and 2016. Meanwhile, current Vision Zero funding - $3 million in 2017 – is woefully inadequate. Upon the release of the Vision Zero Action Plan, LA Department of Transportation General Manager Seleta Reynolds noted that millions more dollars are required in order to reach the City’s 2017 goal to reduce severe and fatal injuries for people walking and bicycling by 20%.
Knowing this, an investment strategy that puts two-thirds of Measure M Local Return into repaving “D” and “F” streets, and divides that funding by 15 City Council districts, is not just outdated, it’s irresponsible. It ignores the core principles of our most visionary plans and policies, which call for City investments that protect life, health, and community while improving transportation.
For these reasons, we urge you to commit 20% of Local Return funding to Vision Zero efforts and projects that work to create “complete streets” in Los Angeles – those that take into account the many community needs that streets fulfill.
As the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan states, “As the city with the most traffic deaths per capita, funding for solutions must match the severity of the problem.”
One final consideration that the City Council should acknowledge is that Local Return funds are often used to provide matching funds for active transportation projects where the City is pursuing grant funds from state and federal agencies like Caltrans and the FTA. These granting sources often don’t fund critical features like street trees, traffic calming devices like curb extensions, and street furniture. The City’s Local Return dollars can be used to fund these important design features of active transportation projects.
Los Angeles Walks calls on City Council members to channel the visionary, ambitious spirit of Mobility Plan 2035 and LA Vision Zero when considering how to invest Measure M Local Return.
Action Alert! Tell City Council Transportation Committee Members How to Spend $50M/year to Make LA Streets Safer
This Wednesday, March 29th, LA City Council's Transportation Committee will discuss how to spend almost $50 million per year on local transportation infrastructure, like better sidewalks, crosswalks, and lighting. These funds, generated from the recent Measure M sales tax initiative, are called "Local Return," and will start to flow on July 1, 2017 -- very soon!
Now is the time to tell LA City Council members that Local Return funding should be used to make our streets safer and more welcoming to people - especially the most vulnerable among us: children, older adults, people with disabilities, and anyone walking or bicycling.
Take Action! Send an email to Transportation Committee members today!
Scroll down to find a complete email template urging City Council members to:
- Dedicate Local Return funds to improving street safety, helping LA to achieve its ambitious Vision Zero goals.
- Prioritize low-income communities and communities of color, often last to receive critical infrastructure investments.
- Commit to data transparency and community engagement every step of the way.
Measure M Local Return presents a terrific opportunity to fund the safe, equitable walking and bicycling environment Los Angeles has needed for decades.
Tell your City Council member to seize this moment!
Contact City Council members today to ensure that Measure M Local Return funding prioritizes safety, focuses on equity, and supports our most basic, affordable, and healthiest forms of transportation for years to come.
Thank you to our Vision Zero Alliance partners at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition for guiding this effort.
Interested in doing more? Show up to City Council on Wednesday, March 29 at 12:45pm in City Hall Room 1010 to testify in person!
Copy, paste, and send the email below today!
Subj: Use Measure M Local Return to #MakeLACity streets safer for all Angelenos! CF# 16-0395
Dear Honorable Councilmembers,
As a ___________ [e.g. bike rider, pedestrian, transit user, student, parent, etc.], I strongly encourage the City to use Measure M Local Return dollars to prioritize active transportation, safety, and equity.
The City of L.A. will receive about $50 million dollars annually from Measure M local return. I support using local return funds on projects that create safer, more livable streets so that we achieve Vision Zero and ensure that the visionary Mobility Plan 2035 becomes a reality - with a focus on equity that does not leave our most vulnerable residents behind. In deciding how to use Measure M local return funds, the City should consider the following priorities:
- Dedicate More Funding to Vision Zero - The City should set aside the majority of its local return to support its Vision Zero work. People walking and biking are at a disproportionate risk of being killed from traffic violence, accounting for 49% of deaths, despite being in only 14% of crashes. Emphasizing active transportation will ensure that the most vulnerable road users are prioritized.
- Resume Commitment to Bike Lane Installation - LACBC’s 2015 Bike and Pedestrian Count found that bike lane installation decreased from 101 miles in 2013 to just 11 miles in 2015, and only 25% of high priority bike lanes identified in the Bicycle Plan had been installed since 2010. A portion of local return funds should be used to install the other 75% of high priority bike lanes. The City should also conduct annual manual bicycle and pedestrian counts and/or install automatic counters across the city to track the impact of bike lane installation.
- Prioritize Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color - There is a historical and continual lack of investment in low-income communities and communities of color by government agencies who often leave these communities as afterthoughts of their planning practices. Local return dollars and Vision Zero are opportunities to prioritize low-income communities and communities of color - neighborhoods that have been historically neglected by street safety projects; where people are more likely to walk, bike, and take transit; and where a disproportionate percentage of serious and fatal traffic collisions occur.
- Commit to Data Transparency - Data collection is essential to understanding traffic deaths, prioritizing intervention locations and resources, and holding public agencies accountable. The City must demonstrate its commitment to equity by collecting better data on race/ethnicity and income to allow for more robust health equity analysis and targeted interventions. Potential strategies include: enhancing existing data collection sources and practices, accessing relevant data from alternative sources, and conducting community needs assessments in the High Injury Network neighborhoods.
- Promote Meaningful Community Engagement - Foster community dialogues with law enforcement to ensure that resident voices, especially those most disparately targeted by law enforcement (young men of color and transgender people of color) are used to shape Vision Zero's enforcement strategies, using prevention and restorative rather than criminalization approaches.
Please ensure that active transportation, safety, and equity are prioritized in spending Measure M local return dollars.