Road safety, congestion pricing in Gotham: How We Roll, March 27

Art of Walking

I’m sure you heard about the helicopter-landing-in-the-preserve-incident — by incident I mean “hopeful felony conviction.” Type in #antelopevalleypoppyreserve on IG and you can see all sorts of pics of those who know how to strike a pose on a trail vs those who don’t.

Dept. of Baseball and Transit

FWIW, the ‘experts’ over at ESPN are picking the 2019 World Series will be a repeat of 2017 between the Houston Astros and the Dodgers. The NYT made the same prediction whereas Sports Illustrated likes the Astros and Nats. My three cents: I am no fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, but they don’t usually go this long without a post-season appearance or success. Beware the Cards! Also, Yasael Puig will smack 40 homers courtesy of the Reds’ Great American Ballpark.

•There were at least 240 traffic-related deaths of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists on city of L.A. streets in 2018, according to Curbed LA, which notes that is not a substantial change since city officials announced their plan in 2015 to eliminate traffic deaths. City officials say there has been a slight reduction and that more than 1,000 safety improvements have been made since ’15.

Surprisingly not discussed in the Curbed article is the issue of traffic enforcement. Question for readers: whether you live in the city of L.A. or elsewhere, do you see more cops or less enforcing traffic laws than in the past? As I’ve written before, in Pasadena (where I live) I see less.

What do I see more of? Cars using residential streets to skirt traffic on major streets (thanks, navigation apps), more red-light running, more cars blasting through crosswalks while people are still in them and more people driving while holding a DumbPhone to their ear.

•On the subject of safety, here’s an op-ed in the NYT opining that if more people drove stick shifts, more people would actually be paying attention to driving while driving. Probably correct. My first two cars in LA area were sticks but I went automatic ’cause I grew weary of clutching and shifting away in traffic.

•Congestion pricing in New York has had its ups and downs over the years and at times looked like it was DOA. But now it’s on the verge of passage by New York state lawmakers who are backing it as a way to raise badly-needed funds to repair the ailing New York City subway system, reports the NYT.

The gistiness of it: tolls will be charged by most people driving into lower Manhattan — 60th Street and below. How much will the tolls be? In a follow-up, NYT is reporting they will likely be $10 or more and that there may be exemptions for low-income people and those going to medical appointments. Tolls likely wouldn’t begin until 2021.

This would be the first congestion pricing program in America. Other regions are mulling the idea – attentive Source readers know that Metro’s Board of Directors voted in February to launch a feasibility study of congestion pricing that will take up to 24 months to complete. The study’s goal is to identify traffic-jammed parts of L.A. County where congestion pricing could be tested.

Some other interestingness from the NYT:

Within a year of the fees being charged in 2003, the number of vehicles entering an eight-square-mile area of London dropped by 18 percent, according to city officials. Traffic delays went down 30 percent. The average speed of vehicles in the zone rose to 10 miles per hour from 8.8 m.p.h.

Air quality improved, too, with a 12 percent reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from vehicles in the zone.

In all three cities, the fees have also raised millions for transportation and infrastructure, including for new buses, bikes lanes and other public transit services to accommodate drivers who leave their cars at home.

But, still, many drivers have complained, especially as the fees have gone up over time — more than doubling in London from when the fees were first instituted.

And one important reminder is that even with congestion pricing, traffic problems do not simply go away. London’s gridlock has returned in recent years, in part because of an influx of Uber and other ride-app cars.

FWIW, I lived in New York for three years in the early 1990s. Traffic was certainly no picnic back then — but it wasn’t impossible either (I mostly got around via subway or walking and opting for taxi rides based on the night’s festivities). I haven’t been back to Gotham for a while now but I hear congestion is much worse. The question, of course, is whether motorists absorb the cost or tolls or switch to other ways of getting around. Thoughts, readers?

•Wait…more congestion pricing news, this time from London, courtesy the BBC. Traffic regulators there are planning to implement “ultra-low emission zone” where motorists driving higher polluting vehicles would have to pay an additional £12.50 on top of the congestion pricing fee.

Why London? Because much like L.A. it’s a big sprawling metropolis with air quality that can be very poor.

UK, London, looking towards east of the city with view of Canary wharf in early morning sunlight

•A little hump day music for you on the subject of not forgetting the flowers. No helicopters please.




1 reply

  1. Although Bike Lanes sound like a great idea they are in fact designed to be dangerous and give the bike rider a false sense of security. I grew up in Los Angles well before bike lanes were even thought of and would ride my bike from Silverlake to Hollywood or Downtown all the time. Riding right next to parked auto’s was very dangerous then and equally dangerous now. Several times as a teen a car door was opened up in my path and I hit it. Once a bus almost hit me as I was briefly laying in the street. As a RTD/MTA Road Supervisor that investigated accidents between buses and autos one of the most common were the drivers of autos opening their doors into the side of buses. I can recall only once where the front of the bus hit the door. The most common point of impact was behind the buses rear doors. Safe bike lanes should not be adjacent to vehicle traffic lanes, they should be physically separated. A white line painted in the street is no safety barrier and riding right next to parked autos is pure stupidity. I still ride a bike and refuse to take my life in the hands of motor vehicle drivers.

    Concerning pedestrian accidents. Red lights and marked crosswalks do not insure safety. Being completely aware of every vehicle around you is the only way to cross the street safely. I don’t know how many times I have seen people step out into the crosswalk while paying attention to their cell phone and texting. It’s now illegal in Hawaii to cross the street while texting or looking at ones cell phone. Again, I actually investigated an accident where a person walked into the side of a moving bus while texting, fell under the bus and was killed.

    While vehicle drivers must be very aware of their surroundings, it’s up to bike riders and pedestrians to exercise the same caution. Lights, marked crosswalks and stupid bike lane lines will not save anyones life. You can be right, but you might just be DEAD right.