Here’s a way to slow down motorists: enforce traffic laws!; HWR, July 28

Dept. of Dodger Stadium Express: the Dodgers have a winning percentage of .696 after sweeping the Twins earlier this week. Now one of the losingest teams in baseball — the Giants — are coming to town. Meaning the Dodgers could be entering the last third of the regular season with a rare-for-baseball .700 winning percentage.

At that rate, they should need no more than three games to win the Division Series and no more than six games to win the best-of-seven NLCS and World Series. Meaning the Dodgers are a mortal lock for a very happy ending to their season. They are so good, in fact, that it is probably impossible to even jinx them with such optimistic talk!

Going to the ballgame? Avoid traffic by taking the Dodger Stadium Express. Bold prediction: if the Dodgers advance to the WS, btw, they’ll play the Royals who will benefit from the Colt .45s (Astros to Younger Readers) misfiring in the playoffs.

L.A. reverses course on lane reductions that ‘most people outright hated’ (LAT)

A city of Los Angeles road diet to improve safety in Playa del Rey has been hugely controversial because of traffic back-ups and delays. Earlier this week, the city rescinded the lane reductions, acknowledging they were a tough sell given Westside traffic.

The LAT story looks at the broader issue, as road diets are one strategy the city can use in its effort to eliminate traffic deaths as part of its Vision Zero program. Already, L.A. Council Member Gil Cedillo has drafted a motion that won’t let any lane reductions go forward without his approval.

Here’s the thing, folks. Road diets do actually work in terms of slowing cars down. Perhaps the one in Playa del Rey didn’t work, but I think the intent — to save lives — was sound.

So here is my question for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists: if road diets are undesirable because of their traffic impacts, how about greater traffic enforcement?

After all, one way to slow down motorists is to threaten them with a big fat expensive hassle: a citation from your local police department.

But here’s the thing: no disrespect to the police, who have an enormously tough job and have other duties besides enforcing traffic laws. That said, my sense is that traffic enforcement across much of our region remains pretty lax. I don’t see a lot of people getting pulled over and getting tickets anywhere I go and especially in the city where I live (Pasadena).

I think if more motorists actually feared getting a ticket, there would be a lot more motorists across the region who would put down their cell phones while driving, actually stop outside of crosswalks and not speed through red lights (to name just a few common traffic crimes).

Comment please.

Metro Votes To Buy Pilot Electric Buses, Approves 2030 Full Electric Plan (Streetsblog LA)

Joe Linton does a nice job summing up a wide-ranging conversation about electric buses at yesterday’s Board meeting. This graph, in particular, captures some of the complexities:

There was a surprising amount of testimony against endorsing Metro’s transition to electric, mostly from CNG interests who cited their “near-zero” technology as “better than zero” and questioned the greenness of how L.A. electricity is generated. Numerous others testified in favor of electrification, including a representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists whose recent report shows that electrification has significant environmental benefits “even on today’s grid.”

I’m not a scientist and no disrespect to CNG buses, which are much better than the stinky diesel buses of Days Gone By. But I’m pretty sure that zero is less than any number more than zero.

It’s not your imagination. Summers are getting hotter. (NYT)

Check out the cool animations about the not-so-hot news. Climate change got you down? Generally speaking, taking transit instead of driving alone is a way to lower your greenhouse gas emissions.

Thinking back a long way to my Days of Yore, I don’t recall too many cray-cray hot days during my 1970s youth in lovely southwestern Ohio. Then again, we went to the pool everyday and I may have been too wet, dumb or young to notice.

California/Western U.S. Stuff Seen on Twitter That is Sort of Related to Transpo: 

18 replies

  1. Steve, Vista Del Mar is posted at 40 MPH. That’s a fatal speed for almost any vehicle-pedestrian colloision. And the speed limits are determined by the very motorist-favoring 85th Percentile Speed Trap Law in California, such that it is nearly impossible to lower a speed limit except by instituting a road diet. Even speed bumps, crosswalks, stops signs and traffic signals are difficult or expensive (or illegal in the case of stop signs) to use for traffic calming. 100 years of planning for and favoring the car has left Los Angeles a very difficult place for any alternative. Thank goodness your agency is doing the hard job building rail transit.

  2. Steve, I don’t know where you are in Pasadena, but the area around Lake, between Walnut and Del Mar, and west to Old Town is aggressively monitored by Pasadena PD motorcycle officers. Became a bit of a joke at my old office, overlooking a major intersection, that Pasadena PD was balancing the city’s budget.

    My suggestion to “road diets” would be to throw commuters a bone when announcing these plans; combine the “diet” with the announcement of something, anything to improve commute times; for example announcing the planned installation of smarter traffic signals to improve the flow of traffic on a major corridor street commuters are trying to avoid.

    I get city officials are trying to improve safety, but if you piss off a larger number of the electorate than your helping, politicians will have to back down every time. This was poorly planned, communicated, and managed and now it’s wasted money. Will make a good case study though.

    • I’m near there and don’t see officers! Maybe missing them during work hours when I’m in DTLA and I use Cordova to get to Gold Line station.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Not all the time. But on days like Cinco de Mayo, oh you better believe they are going all out trying to catch the first idiot that decides to pull out of the parking lots drunk.

  3. Burbank PD regularly posts on Facebook about the cars they’ve stopped from speeding. Whoever’s doing their Social Media has a fun sense of humor.

  4. Oh I thought this article was addressing making our streets safer for ALL. What grabbed my attention was the mention of slowing down traffic, but slowing it down to the POSTED SPEED.

    My bad, carry on with your other distractions.

  5. Re: Vista Del Mar, the simple, pedestrian friendly (& cost effective) solution was the simple elimination of parking from the east side of the street. No need to add bike lanes when a bike path exists yards away on the beach. The solution from the city should be commended.

    The problem with “road diets” in an area like the westside are the lack of alternatives. LAX is a big chunk of land that impedes north/south traffic. VdM is a thoroughfare which doubles as beach access. To a lesser extent, it’s similar to PCH in Malibu, and I doubt a road diet would ever be considered there.

    As you go further north, poor planning led to a minimal number of streets that go under the 405. This forces all east/west local traffic on to the feeder boulevards for the freeway.

    The Expo line helps, as will the Crenshaw line, but until there are viable alternatives on Lincoln and Sepulveda, the north/south traffic nightmare on the westside will continue.

    • Hi Steve;

      Excellent points — especially about the 405. That thing is like the Great Wall across the WS.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. Hello Steve. This isn’t about the article, but i just wanted to ask about the upcoming LRT projects. Will the light rail stations for the regional connector and LAX/Crenshaw lines (as well as other future LRT projects) be built so that the platforms can accommodate 4-car or longer trains? (or be easily be extended to serve 4, 5, or even 6 car trains in the future?) With all due respect, I strongly suggest building all the new light rail stations and platforms to serve at least 4 car trains (with further platform extensions in mind) even if 3 car trains will still be used in the near future, just in case. I’m getting concerned about overcrowding. This is LA, huge, dense city. Seattle and Dallas already built their LRT platforms nearly 400 ft long to accommodate 4 car trains. Thank you.

    • Hi Jack;

      The two light rail projects currently under construction (Crenshaw/LAX Line and Regional Connector) will have platforms for three-car trains as far as I know. I’ll double check that, but I’m pretty sure that’s correct.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. Steve,

    The main reason road diets are rising in lieu of traffic enforcement is the fact that enforcement requires more resources and funding of police officers which do not come cheap. Also, if past American experiences show us anything, it’s that enforcement would disproportionately affect minorities and vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists). The spree of jaywalking, crosswalk tickets on walkers in downtown LA is a clear example.

    • Hey Thomas —

      Very good points! I do think there’s a way to enforce speed limits in a non-biased way although I certainly agree it would take resources to do so.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. Many countries have figured out a way to enforce speed limits in a non-biased way without using many resources – by using speed cameras. If Australia, a car-dominated suburban country, can do it, the US can do it. I believe I read recently that San Jose and San Francisco are preparing to experiment with them, setting the enforcement trigger at 10 mph over the speed limit.

    • That’s very true, though judging by the backlash towards the red light cameras, I don’t think they’ll be successfully implemented.

  9. If Angeles Crest Highway this weekend was any indication, stepped up enforcement wil do nothing to slow down traffic. The CHP was on that road like flies on…well, you know. Still the bikes and sport cars were flying down the road, and there were plenty pulled over being ticketed.

  10. The problem on Vista Del Mar was less about the fewer lanes at Dockweiler and more about the elimination of lanes further north (and signal timing). I have driven on VDM for decades (at various times of the day). Traffic planners need to consider pedestrians likelihood of crossing streets away from crosswalks (maybe a couple of bridges [but not like that eyesore down by the sewage plant] would have worked.) The angled parking by the beach and eliminating the eastside parking is ok. But then there is a change up by the little park.

  11. I live in the SF area but regularly visit the LA area. Per mile of travel, I’ve seen more far reckless driving in the LA area than in the SF area. In 6/2015 a friend was driving in West LA, while I rode, and we were directly affected by 2 instances of reckless driving about 40 min apart.

  12. On a smaller “road diet” scale – 48th Street, from Normandie to Crenshaw, was cut from four lanes to two, and two-way left turn lane and bike lanes were added. The result, sans enforcement, was using the bike and left turn lanes as passing lanes; I watched one car use the left turn lane to pass three blocks worth of traffic.

    If they had put arrows in the left turn lane and right turn pockets, it might have helped.

    As it is, Arlington/48th continues to have major accidents regularly, and I’m expecting more pedestrian and cyclist deaths due to reckless car driving (and cyclists continuing to ride on the wrong side of the street).