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Monday, September 22, 2014

Silver Lake road diet creating indigestion for some motorists and neighbors

Rush-hour traffic back up on Rowena Avenue at West Silver Lake Drive.

By Tony Cella

The evening rush hour traffic is backed up for blocks. Frustrated motorists spill over into narrow residential streets seeking a congestion-free route. Drivers blow through stop signs and speed down the street.

More than three months after the city eliminated a traffic lane in each direction on Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake, the “road diet” intended to calm traffic and create a safer environment for pedestrians has generated mixed reviews from nearby residents.

Traffic has increased on neighborhood side streets./Video by Jerome Courshon

On Thursday night, residents expressed frustration as well as support for the 90-day road diet during a meeting sponsored by Councilman Tom LaBonge, who said he wanted to make the road diet permanent but was open to suggestions. He said his office has received mostly positive comments since the street was restriped in March, reducing Rowena to one traffic lane in each direction from two between Hyperion Avenue and Glendale Boulevard. In addition, a middle turn lane and bike lanes in each direction were added.

A large number of attendees called for more time to evaluate the changes before deciding whether to keep the road slim or fatten it up again.

Even some supporters of the plan said motorists continued to speed down Rowena and create dangerous conditions for pedestrians. A supporter of the plan, who lives on Angus Street, claimed drivers often ignored stop signs in the area. He said gazing upon parts of Rowena was like “watching a slalom race at the Winter Olympics” or a “giant bobsled ride.”

A comment by Peter Miles, a business owner on Rowena, read at the meeting was critical of the plan. Miles’ statement, read by local activist Jerome Courshon, said cars “blow past” his shop through the bike lanes everyday.

Courshon himself had mixed feelings on the project because the project could turn the neighborhood into a quieter place.  However, he was concerned about limiting traffic on Rowena because more cars would speed down side streets to avoid congestion during rush hour. In fact, Courshon shot a video (presented at the bottom of this post) showing some of that additional  traffic on Waverly Drive.  Scaling down car usage on a “major artery” from the neighborhood’s transportation system without an adequate replacement, in the activist’s eyes, was a poor decision.

“It’s just not built for it,” he said, referring to the neighborhood.

By his count, 500 to 1,000 cars went through Waverly Drive now that the road diet was in place. He felt the risks to pedestrians on on Rowena, site of a fatal car crash last year, were transferred to the side streets. Courshon felt the project had failed to engage residents of side streets or take into account the impact on smaller road ways.

Resident David Wheatley, who reported almost being hit on Rowena recently, criticized the inclusion of the bike lanes. He hadn’t seen any cyclists on the slimmer street.

New Rowena Avenue bike lane.

Bike riders were “pushy” for infrastructure even though the two-wheeling population wasn’t sizable enough to warrant expansion of the existing bike lane system, Wheatley said. Cyclists along the corridor were also accused of running red lights, almost plowing into pedestrians and driving “18 miles per hour” on sidewalks.

Bicyclist Bryan Blumberg said the bike lane doesn’t get much use because it’s new, and no other bike paths connect to it. He described biking in Los Feliz as “scary” and crossing the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge over the 5 Freeway  as “terrifying”. Blumberg, who uses the Rowena bike lanes three to four times a week, considered the path a respite.

Other residents called for more crosswalks and stop signs, around Ivanhoe School in particular. But city officials dismissed calls for speed bumps on the street because physical speed deterrents would affect the buses and fire engines that travel down Rowena.

LaBonge urged caution about adding signage as a means of slowing cars because the signage makes pedestrians less alert to their surroundings. “I’d rather see people walk in fear than feel a false sense of security,” he said.

The councilman, who at one point pantomimed a woman talking on her phone while pushing a stroller and walking her dog, said everyone has contributed to the problems caused by irresponsible motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’re all sinners.”

LaBonge said the city’s Department of Transportation would take a look at the suggestions.

Video by Jerome Courshon below shows traffic on Waverly as drivers try to get around Rowena Road Diet.

Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.

63 comments

  1. I was at the meeting as well, and this post focused on the negative remarks and left out a lot of the positive remarks. Several residents on side streets appreciated the greater ease that the center lane gave them for making left turns onto and off of their street, and several parents expressed gratitude at the shorter distance their children have to cross to get across the street (though they also hoped for another crosswalk or two).

    When the councilman asked for a quick show of hands about support for or against the bike lanes, they were fairly even. He didn’t ask about the other aspects of the road diet, because they seemed to be more broadly supported, though there were desires expressed for further mitigation (including enforcement of laws, whether by police or traffic cameras) of cut through traffic on side streets.

    • There’s one less traffic lane, but the street width is no narrower; hos is the kids’ cross any shorter??

      • True, it’s the same distance from curb to curb that it was before. But it used to be that 2/3 of that distance was active automotive through traffic and 1/3 was parking, while now it’s 1/3 active automotive through traffic, 1/3 parking, 1/6 bike lanes, and 1/6 turning lane, where cars are generally stopped (if present at all). It’s a shorter amount of dangerous crossing, though the same amount of total crossing.

      • It’s not the distance, it’s the people too busy passing aggressively to see people crossing. All to get to the red light faster.

    • Of course traffic is flooding down every side street it can find. Of course traffic on and around Rowena is backed up for a long distance. Anyone with more than a pea brain could have predicted this — and did. But they were shouted down and undermined by an unbelievable pack of lies by this aggressive and organized, yet mindless, bike lobby that has taken root in our neighborhood. Aggressive and lying are the key words for that lobby. They will not allow an honest discussion, instead seek to lie, manipulate and out-maneuver.

      As was pointed out several times before this roadway was diminished, it is the ONLY route to the freeway from the Hyperion corridor — other than to cut through some of the residential streets.

      Even outside of rush hour, we now have only a single lane, and when you get stuck behind someone driving 10-15 miles an hour looking for a parking spot that doesn’t exist, there is nothing you can do to get around them. Even if someone is going only 5 miles under the speed limit, you are stuck, not seeking to do anything excessive, merely the speed limit.

      I have been driving down that street for three months now. While I have to presume there are some bicyclists, in all that time, I saw people on bicycles only once (I tend to go down at midday)! But the cars are out there. Even if there are a few bicyclists, there are not even remotely enough to justify this severe impact on traffic. The lack of bicyclists that is obvious to anyone with eyes shows that while this bicycle lobby can organize to show up in droves at meetings and flood LaBonge’s inbox, even they don’t do a lot of bicycling for their daily chores and life as they advocate — because anyone can see they are not out there.

      I will warn too, the politicians are for this because they will use it to justify denser development in our neighborhood. They are already saying, “there is a bicycle lane, so we can justify doubling the density because no one will be driving a car.” They already have started phasing out the requirement for parking with a development, allowing them to build even more on that space instead, if a metal pole is put in for parking a bicycle, which of course won’t be used any more than these bicycle lanes!

      • Mark, you were NOT at the meeting, everything you described is false. Everyone conducted themselves properly. The only person shouting others down was Tom LaBonge…. and he shouted down both sides, though mostly the folks in favor of additional crosswalks.

        So drivers are turning to residential streets because they are impatient and inconsiderate and you want us to reward that behavior and revert Rowena to the dangerous conditions it had before the road diet?

        Please do tell us what the “pack of lies” were… I recall most people, on both sides, sharing anecdotes. The people in favor of the road diet made arguments of safety. The people opposed were saying that we should reward impatient commuters….

        • Read again. I was referring to the entire campaign, not an isolated meeting. But you sure skew things, denouncing people stuck in bumper to bumper traffic choosing a different route instead as being “inconsiderate!” The only inconsiderate attitude here has been those seeking to knowingly create that situation, even as hardly anyone at all has chosen to bicycle.

          Rowena was not dangerous before. The fact that someone gets hit when darting out right in front of a car in the dark from behind parked cars does not mean anything is dangerous. Look at the longterm track record and you will see Rowena was very safe.

          Your comment is just more of the twisting I referred to.

          • The lack of transition in the below quoted segment, and the repeated references to Rowena throughout your comment, led me to believe you were referring to this single meeting as that’s what this article is about:

            “Of course traffic on and around Rowena is backed up for a long distance. Anyone with more than a pea brain could have predicted this — and did. But they were shouted down and undermined by an unbelievable pack of lies by this aggressive and organized, yet mindless, bike lobby that has taken root in our neighborhood.”

            Anyway, some of the commuters are inconsiderate because the residential streets are not intended for commuting – we all know this – yet they continue to use them because they feel they are going too slow on Rowena. I am not denouncing commuters as a whole, just the ones that are using the residential streets or overtaking traffic in the left turn lane because their impatience. Those two actions were cited at the meeting as reasons to revert to the old situation but I see no reason why we should reward that behavior.

            How do you know Rowena wasn’t dangerous before, have you looked at crash data? The local news doesn’t report on every collision, especially the ones resolved informally when “nobody is hurt.”

            The trade-off being made is simple, people are being asked to slow down in the name of safety. That’s that. Seriously, if the road diet prevents crashes and injuries on Rowena, as road diets have done all over the US, I’m all for it. I give a damn about the safety of people in my community and I wish the Rowena Avenue commuters would be more mindful of this – that the road diet is improving safety, something everyone benefits from.

          • You continue to try to twist things. No, the commuters who are in a hopeless situation now because of what has been done are not inconsiderate for finding the only alternative routes. The only lack of consideration is by the people who force this situation on them, and then insist people should sit there in this horror of a traffic disaster. Trying to doublespeak and redefine is not an honest discussion.

            If you know that the only routes that would provide for people to get through were not for those people, then why did you create the situation that forced their hands? Like I said, any thinking person would know this is what you would create there if you closed a traffic lane. We had a good, working and yes, safe, road. Now we have a disaster that’s spread havoc everywhere. And yes, like I said, it is hard to find very much of anyone bicycling — whether on Rowena or, for that matter, any place else that bicycle lanes have been put in.

            How do I know Rowena was safe? You’re the one making assertions about how dangerous it was — don’t you have that information?!

            Slowing down in the name of safety? The speed limit was already set at the speed scientifically determined to be safe, as it must be by law. And state law bars it from being set at anything less. Your idea of a safe speed is decidedly misguided. Again, you make assertions without foundation. The speed limit there, or on any other street, was not set capriciously — but you would have it set in that manner. You seem to want it to be set at the speed of that bumper-to-bumper traffic you want the cars to sit there in. If you can’t change the speed limit, you want to manufacture a situation that prevents anyone from actually doing it. And if they do manage to do the speed limit, you will shout your hot-button language about everyone “speeding” through there.

            You assertions and talk about safety is just more excuse to throw hot-button language out there. It has no basis or foundation. It is just false.

          • Maintaining the status quo does nothing to alleviate traffic, now or 20 years down the line. If we assume a growing population (and it is growing), then we need to find an efficient way to move the people. When we have a fixed amount of space as we do on Rowena Avenue, then continuing to move people by car will not solve anything and it certainly is not the most efficient way to move people. People need transportation choices for traffic to improve and until one can expect to find a safe and comfortable bike facility along their entire route, one is unlikely to start cycling.

            The Rowena bike lanes do not connect to anything, they end rather abruptly so while one may feel safe cycling on that brief stretch of bike lane, they are unlikely to bike because the rest of their journey lacks pleasant and safe bike facilities.

            Will people ever start cycling in LA? Over the course of 20 years Portland was able to go from having a bicycle modal share of 1% to 6%, and all for the equivalent cost of 1 mile of urban freeway ($60 million dollars). Imagine if rather than spending 1 billion dollars on widening the 405 that we had spent it on quality bicycle infrastructure– which do you imagine would do more to alleviate traffic?

            (http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/371038)

            I am of the opinion that by starting an investment in alternate modes of transportation (like cycling and public transit) today that we can have better traffic tomorrow. Yeah there’s some growing pains but I don’t think anyone will argue that only spending transportation dollars to encourage more driving is the solution.

            By reducing speeds of motorists we make streets safer and more accessible to all. Even if, for example, an average of 5 reported collisions occurred on this half mile of Rowena each year before the road diet, that number is likely to reduce. Furthermore, with the presence of bike lanes, people are more likely to feel safe cycling, something they may not have felt comfortable doing before the road diet. The subjective safety of cycling on Rowena has improved and the physical safety is likely to improve as well.

            “The speed limit was already set at the speed scientifically determined to be safe, as it must be by law” Yeah this is the same brilliance that gives us “safe” streets with 45mph. The 85 percentile rule for setting speed limits is a joke. Slower streets are safer streets with fewer injuries and deaths. Ask people why they don’t cycle– you’ll likely hear from people that “it’s not safe”. Explain to them that the speed limit is so “safe”… they’ll think your nuts. The higher speed limits make it safe? For who? Under what circumstances? The 85 percentile rule makes it “safe” as long as people are traveling fast, by car, and have no intentions of slowing down. The logic is misapplied to city streets where high speeds do not make any street safer.

            I feel this is as much a philosophical debate as it is a fact based one. Road diets are proven to improve safety for all but I still don’t don’t expect us to see eye to eye on this local matter. Let me share my views concisely:

            I believe streets should be safe enough for children to cycle independently. I believe we cannot solve our traffic problems by encouraging car use or oil consumption. I believe that investing in cycling today is a smart decision that will benefit our children and grandchildren who will inherit the city. I believe that we can change our transportation system to make it safer, more efficient, and more sustainable for all but that it requires action (and growing pains) today.

          • The speed limit is not set scientifically by pedestrian safety it’s done by the 85 percentile rule and it use to be governed by Caltrans. It’s based on a formula on how many cars can be moved through a corridor during a certain time. Safety does not come into the equation. This rule has been a detriment to pedestrian and bicycle safety since it’s inception. Recently more power was given to municipalities to lower the limits on their streets.

            The speed limit on Rowena is 35 mph where cars would easily exceed that by 15 mph. At 35 mph and above a pedestrian stands a chance of surviving a collision 20 % of the time at 25 mph and below the pedestrian survives 80% of the time.

            With the diet, speeds have slowed to a more survivable rate. I don’t care if commuters have to spend more time waiting. That’s their choice; they have other options. The safety of children and anyone using that street is paramount. Safety trumps a commuters’ seconds or minutes delay every time.

          • You’re wrong, grrlyrida, safety is the major focus of the required traffic studies to set speed limits. That requirement is even enshrined in state law. The safety consideration takes into consideration a lot more than simply number of cars. It must consider various things, including but not limited to such things as how straight or curvy a street is and yes, the amount of pedestrian traffic, and the number and type of accidents. When you see them out taking a traffic count, that does not mean that that is the only thing they will be considering. If it were, you would be right, since that alone cannot determine safety.

            Your argument is more of the twisting. Again, you twist to say the diet has slowed it to a safe speed, when what we are talking about here is that the diet has slowed it to a crawl and sometimes even a bumper to bumper traffic jam. That is not the “safe speed.” Stop with the twisting. When you willy nilly decide that 10 mph is the safe speed and anything faster is not, that doesn’t mean that 10 mph is the safe speed and anything more is not safe. That just means that you don’t care to have the facts get in your way.

            Your assertion of the safe speed just comes out of thin air, no foundation to it at all, you just make it up and assert it as fact.

          • Mark it’s you who is wrong. ca.dot.gov and ladot both state using the 85 percentile. All your “facts” are anecdotal and contain no proof what so ever. Link to a study supporting your made up facts. Here’s mine from ca.dot.gov:

            The speed limit shall be established at the nearest 5mph increment of the 85th percentile.
            If the 5 mph reduction is applied, the E&TS shall document in writing the conditions and justification for the reduced speed limit and be approved by a registered Civil or Traffic Engineer.

            From America Walks:
            Just a modest decrease in motor vehicle speed can mean a dramatic increase in survival rates in pedestrian-vehicle crashes. For pedestrians, even drivers traveling beneath the legal speed limit can present a lethal threat. If a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle that is traveling 20 mph, the pedestrian survival rate is 95 percent. This drops to 60 percent at 30 mph, and just 20 percent at 40 mph.

            All that you know about Rowena is seen through your windshield. Try getting out of your car and walking around the neighborhood. Maybe you’ll learn about the issues that affect the residents there instead of your need to say everyone is wrong who presents facts and not anecdotes. But I doubt that you will. It’s easier to complain using your arm chair facts than actually do any research.

  2. “driving “18 miles per hour” on sidewalks.” Damn side walk riders! Lets get ride of bike lanes, that’ll fix the problem…..oh wait.

  3. It’s instances such as these where the city needs to step it up and put traffic control cops on these streets to make the traffic flow more easily. I mean Mexico City has traffic cops (even where there are traffic lights) 24/7. I don’t see why we can’t have the same thing!?

    • Because you don’t want to pay for them.

    • Mexico City now that’s something to strive for.

      • Please explain what’s wrong with Mexico City.

        • It’s in Mexico.

          • Contrary to what people think about Mexico City and how poor they may be, they seem to have a great traffic control system by having traffic cops on every corner. As for the comment about paying for them… The cops also have the ability to give tickets to those who don’t obey the traffic laws in addition they look out for expired tags, etc and give tickets.
            Mexico also has one of the best bike lane system and divide the bike lanes with those k-rail type blocks so that cars don’t get in their lanes AND they have a great bicycle rental system where people can rent bikes and go cross town.

          • Clueless Chuck doesn’t want to be bothered with facts, it appears he just wants to cling to his vision of Mexico City, which is not probably based on any academic or even firsthand experience.

          • Yes yes, I know Mexico is a wonderful place. I here they have a kick-ass space program!

            Seriously though, you want to talk about facts? The fact is that labor (which is what we are talking about here) is super cheep, especially compared to the US. That’s why they can do this. The AVERAGE salary for a police office in Mexico is $350 A MONTH… that wouldn’t even get you a day for a cop here.

            I do know some Mexican day laborers that get about $10 an hour. Maybe we can just give ‘em a badge…

          • @Syzrak
            …guess you are the one not wanting to be “bothered” by the facts.

          • Racist Chuck, How is it that you are so knowledgable? You must have been to the University of Mexico, yourself huh?

          • Scholaius, your posts don’t make sense. Please go to bed. The adults are trying to have a discussion.

    • What a crackup! Eagle Rock is next with the elimination of a traffic lane in each direction on Colorado Blvd. Hmmm….more people in the city of LA and more cars but lets reduce the amount of lanes because everyone is going to a bike now. The “pro bike” folks have given up their cars, right?

      • Colorado in Eagle Rock is going from 3 lanes to 2. It’s a different situation.

      • Can’t people be pro-bike (that is, pro transportation choices) and own a car? Bike is great for local trips, but most people will concede that cars are necessary for certain trips, especially long distances ones (at least, until we get a better and more frequent bus service)

      • Yes, we know you can’t possibly ride a bike and also drive a car.

  4. Ha, how many diets actually work.

  5. I live on a side street off Rowena and love the road diet. I appreciate the left turn lane, too, since it is easier to turn onto my street. I am interested to know what the businesses and residents who live along Rowena think – such as the Broome coffee shop or Edendale, or the many apartment buildings. Do they like it? Has it helped or hurt their business? I think walking along Rowena is much more pleasant now. While the street is not narrower it feels narrower with only one lane of traffic in each direction so I do agree that when you cross it now, it doesn’t feel so wide. It is also much less noisy since the road diet. I am sure it’s more crowded during rush hour like that picture shows, but that is how rush hour is on many streets. During other parts of the day Rowena is not crowded at all. And the stretch where it is one lane is really short in the scheme of things.

    • Agree. Everytime I drive on it, it seems much smoother, instead of people zipping around each other. Just a nice steady roll. I don’t travel that direction during rush hours, but I’ve never had an issue during off-peak hours. Its also much more pleasant to walk or ride along. You don’t have people changing lanes back and forth to get around each other without looking.

  6. I wasn’t able to attend the meeting because of work, but I go past that area twice a day during rush hour (probably about half the time by bike and half the time driving), and I honestly haven’t seen a significant increase in traffic (and absolutely no increase outside of maybe 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the evening during rush hour). What I HAVE seen is families riding with their young children to Ivanhoe elementary school and even some young teens (around 13 years old) allowed to ride around the neighborhood on their own because of the increased safety. Riding the lanes myself, they provide a huge safety benefit over how intimidating and dangerous the street used to be. These lanes are a huge benefit to the community.

    Also, anyone calling Rowena a “major artery” needs their drivers license revoked. Rowena is a neighborhood street, lined with houses, schools, day care centers, and boutiques. The real “major artery” just a couple blocks over is the 5 freeway and, to a lesser extent, Riverside Drive. Good for the City in restriping the street to be consistent with the character of the neighborhood!

    • I wasn’t the first person to use the term “major artery,” but I did use it with the reporter here. It is a major artery through our neighborhood. It is one of the only 2 ways to get THROUGH Silverlake (west to east and vice versa) — which a LOT of people who DON’T live here do. People driving north on Hyperion *cannot* get to Riverside, to then get to Fletcher or beyond. The only way, therefore, is to use Rowena, or, drive into Glendale to get to San Fernando Road… which is worse in their eyes, I’m sure.

      Also, for those who need to get to Glendale Blvd heading east, there’s no other alternative. (Besides the second route, Silverlake Drive.) So yes, it is a major artery. It is considered that. Your comment that my driver’s license should be revoked is sophomoric and uninformed.

      Can Rowena become quieter? Perhaps. Is it safer during the day? Probably. But as I said to this reporter, some of that danger has now been shifted to the surrounding streets by frustrated & speeding drivers. That isn’t good, and no one around here wants to see a resident or one of their kids hit or killed.

      Calls for enforcement by the LAPD to control speeding and stop sign running is fine; one of the women at the meeting spoke about this, and we all agree. But the LAPD doesn’t have the manpower, and it just ain’t gonna happen, folks. We’ll be lucky if we get a traffic enforcement unit here for an hour or two, a couple times. They’re not going to sit in our neighborhood all day, for days and days, for drivers to “learn” the area is patrolled.

    • I regularly drive this street during rush hour and it clearly has gotten more congested since the lanes were reduced. Now maybe we can all live with it and maybe increased congestion is sort of the point of these road diets but to say that you haven’t seen an increase in traffic is disingenuous.

      • “I regularly drive this street during rush hour and it clearly has gotten more congested”

        And how is your selective impression any more valid than Aaron’s?

        • John: I live here. It is more congested. And part of that congestion has flowed over on to the residential streets around Rowena.

          Maybe the regular congestion will “force” a % of the drivers using this part of Silverlake to get to work and get home, to find another route. (Other than using the surrounding residential streets.) Let’s hope so.

  7. Road diet is the new hipster!

  8. In my experience, NC meetings are usually just dominated by the loudest voices in the room. Hopefully LaBonge realizes that. Anecdotes like “no one is using the bike lanes” or “traffic seems the same to me” are pretty much useless. The DOT should be doing before and after traffic studies to see what the traffic impact is, counting how many accidents are happening in comparison to the 4 lane road, and analyzing what the bicyclist counts are vs. the old striping. You know, science.

    And let’s be real, until they connect these to the lanes on Silver Lake Blvd., Griffith Park Blvd., LA River, etc. not a lot of people are going to find them very useful. Half-hearted LA planning at it’s finest!

  9. I’m not sure why Silver Lake blvd was not addressed as well. From the 101 to Glendale Blvd from 5-7:30 it’s a parking lot. I live off of Marathon and you cannot make a left turn between those hours due to the traffic. Cars race up and down my street trying to avoid the nightmare.

  10. Instead of restriping, we should probably build more high density housing everywhere. That’s sure to cure traffic problems.

    • LOLOL. Well, we can thank our current mayor (and new incoming mayor!) and many of our current Councilmembers (Tom LaBonge included), for their mantra of “Build, Baby, Build!”

      City government run by corporate interests. Well, at least we know that our Councilmembers will be wealthy in retirement. :)

  11. This is why they are Hiking gas price$ in LA their trying to get us all off our cars!!!
    Its not ideal for parents/families trying to get home or on the way to pick up our children from schools.
    Many get stuck in these terrible single road lanes, especially when we don’t have alternate roads!
    Give us back the lanes!

    • Average car occupancy is less than 2. If we get all the people that can bike onto bikes then there’ll be more space for those that actually need to drive. It’s too bad the streets aren’t safe enough for children to travel independently– why don’t we push for that rather than maintaining the status quo which is killing us in several ways (car collisions, environmental degradation, air quality and sedentary lifestyles)

    • I always wonder where all these desperate, yet anonymous, parents who will suffer terribly once bike lanes installed are located?. I hear about these pretend people at nearly every public meeting regarding bike lanes, yet when young parents with kids show up at meetings they almost uniformly talk about how they want safer streets for kids walking and riding to school, how they simply want the stakes lowered on the streets so they don’t have to worry about the motorized hand of looming death every time their kid walks down the block.

      This line is trotted out again and again and mainly by senior citizens or by people who are now childless or who have never raised kids in the city. I wouldn’t bring up this point, but it has been such a consistent theme at public meetings about bike lanes that I think it ought to be addressed. Please, if you oppose bike lanes because it will someone hurt families – bring your family. We all want to see them. Let us see your kids – because the people who show up with their kids are 90% of the time in favor of slower cars, safer streets, and bike lanes.

  12. Rowena Resident

    I drive down Rowena several times a day and I’m not a fan of these bike lanes. I will say, if way have to keep them, smarter stop lights with road sensors would greatly help ease the traffic congestion.

    • Great point! I am a fan of the road diet, but I think the city could do a lot more to address the flow of traffic.

      Some ideas: lower the speed limit to 30mph, sync the lights for the slower speed so people aren’t racing to red lights as much, build sidewalk bumpouts so cars can’t zip around corners as quickly and pedestrians have less distance to cross, add more speed bumps in the neighboring streets to discourage cut-through commuters, connect these bike lanes to the others nearby on Silver Lake Blvd. and Griffith Park Blvd.

      I realize Rowena is a somewhat busy street, but maximizing traffic speeds in the middle of the city doesn’t really get people from point A to point B any faster, it just creates a more hostile environment for everyone the road. The second you hit 35 (or 40-45 as many do in LA) you’re just going to have to slam on your brakes for the next traffic signal. This just creates bottlenecks and accidents. The traffic engineers should be focusing on safety and efficiency of the road for ALL users (cars/bikes/pedestrians), not just moving cars at the fastest speed possible.

      • Yes. Although, one of the issues is that many — I’d like to say “most” but I’ll be reasonable — people know that they can speed and won’t get a ticket. Many people know that traffic enforcement by the LAPD is one of the lower or lowest priorities. I don’t know what their officer count is, in the Traffic Enforcement division, maybe someone here does. But it’s low.

        By and large, you can speed anywhere within LA City limits and almost never get a speeding ticket. That’s the truth. On every two-lane street around Silverlake, from Hyperion to Riverside Drive, to Glendale Blvd., to Silverlake (south of Sunset), etc., people speed. They do not obey the typical 35mph zones. So while 35 might be reasonable for many of these roads, people are regularly going 45 – 55. So… your suggestion of lowering the speed to 30 isn’t going to solve anything. It’s the lack of enforcement that is the real issue. Usually, it will take a week, or a couple weeks of regular enforcement for people to “learn” the area may be patrolled, and to change their habits in those areas. (I’m sure the LAPD has stats on how much they need to monitor an area before it changes people’s habit.)

        • I agree with you that traffic enforcement could be better. But realistically, we live in a big city and the police often have much bigger problems to worry about.

          However lowering the speed limit AND following through with basic traffic calming (syncing lights for calmer speeds, sidewalk bumpouts to slow cars coming around corners, etc. – as I mentioned above) will slow down the vast majority of reckless drivers. Much of it is psychological.

          Sure you can’t stop every idiot who wants to go 40+ on congested streets during rush hour… but a lot of the bad driving in LA comes down to poor design. Other cities rarely enforce traffic laws but have much safer streets for walking, cycling, driving. This is accomplished by designing streets for everyone that uses them, not just those who are late to work.

  13. Boo hoo. Try living on Los Feliz Blvd and dealing with traffic issues every day. People going 80mph, car accidents non-stop. Traffic has definitely gotten worse since I moved to the area 15 years ago.

  14. I was at the community meeting and came away with the sense that most people who attended support the road diet. I was also amused that as I headed home afterward, I passed 3 cyclists within about 30 seconds, pedaling along Rowena; so much for “nobody uses the bike lanes.” The argument that Rowena doesn’t connect with other bike lanes is a non-starter; ditto “Rowena wasn’t built for this” and “L.A. was built for cars, not bikes.” Let’s be open to progress, folks. Sometimes change is a good thing. Quality of life is as important as getting to your destination as fast as possible. Making our city bike-able is not a bad goal.

  15. I know right! Its like the only answer some people will accept is build more roads, use more fuel, consume more resources. These people who are complaining, how much more actual time is spent in traffic because of this? Seriously someone tell me how much more time they are spending 5-10 minute per day MAAAAYBE?

    What about people carpooling I’m sure about 90% percent of the complainers are single commuters who wouldn’t inconvenience themselves one bit to solve the problem.

    SOOOO lets see hear

    Carpooling: NOT AN OPTION
    Bike Lanes: NOT AN OPTION
    Devoting a certain percentage of trips to public transportation: NOT AN OPTION
    People driving through your neighborhood streets ( paid for with everyones taxes): NOT AN OPTION
    Giving the cycling thing a chance to catch on: NOT AN OPTION
    Being inconvenienced in any way even if it means using less resources: NOT AN OPTION
    Actually doing anything other than complaining: NOT AN OPTION

    Building more and more and more and consuming more: OPTION

    Yhea that’s a good idea

  16. The vast majority of comments I heard at the meeting were from parents of Ivanhoe students who applauded the traffic calming these lanes brought. One woman in particular got to the heart of the issue. She said (to paraphrase) that safety for all the users of the street trumped every complaint about delays.

  17. I’m starting to think bringing back the streetcars is a good idea.

  18. Next calming the Hyperion “freeway” is a must. If you want to speed drive the freeways. Neighborhood streets and those traversing neighborhoods should not be treated as if they were highways.

  19. Next calming the Hyperion “freeway” is a must. If you want to speed drive the freeways. Neighborhood streets and those traversing neighborhoods should not be treated as if they were highways.

  20. 1. there are not a lot of bikes using this short bike lane, and they face the same problems before and after they get through it. Hyperion is much more of a highway, and has no bike lanes.

    2. The Rowena/Hyperion connection is truly a major thoroughfare for cars connecting to hollywood from points north and east.

    3. The stoplight signals for crossing streets on these major thoroughfares are too frequent. As in much of LA, on streets like Beverly Blvd., you have signals for small streets that obstruct the flow of main streets. I suggest increasing the timing of signals to favor the main arteries in order to relax flow and not hold traffic for the one or two cars that need to cross on demand.
    this may mean that the students waiting to cross to Ivanhoe may have to wait up to 5 minutes to cross, but it would be both an improvement in safety and a salve to drivers who would know that the signal timing, especially on the left from Rowena to Hyperion would have a calculated flow- not just stop every 3 minutes when someone presses the walk button.

    4. With apps like Waze drivers will always find ways around congested main streets, as thousands do to avoid the Trader Joe’s madness on Hyperion. Why this store is has not been sanctioned by the city council is completely beyond me, since it is obviously the number 1 reason why traffic is always backed up on Hyperion, and every day I see dipshitz fully blocking the right lane of Hyperion wondering if they can squeeze in to the TJ’s parking lot.

    5. In my humble opinion the solution to the flow and safety of traffic of all kinds on Rowena would be served best by modifications to the street parking regulations- i.e. limiting them as they are in many other parts of the city, and letting bikes use those spaces as lanes rather than restrict cars to a bottleneck. When people have no choice they will resort to residential avenues that will get them where they want to go.

    After years of commuting these are my thoughts.

    • This is the kind of thinking that has dominated Los Angeles transportation planning for decades: move commuter traffic at all costs. Unfortunately, that way of doing things comes at the expense of neighborhoods and local users. I’m of the opinion that a shift in that paradigm is long overdue.

      While it’s true that Rowena may be a commuter corridor, it’s also a street that has schools, residences and a variety of businesses that aren’t served by having that street engineered as a high speed, pass-through corridor.

      I don’t see any magic solutions to the traffic on Rowena that will make everyone happy all the time. Getting people to re-assess their transportation choices and the effect it has on their local environment takes time. With the increase in population (and resulting traffic), we’re all going to have to learn to share our public space a little more. There may be growing pains, but I believe it will benefit us all in the long run.

  21. So to protect the side residential streets put up bollards or other traffic deterrents that I’ve seen in other parts of the city to disuade cut throughs. If you want to avoid congestion and drive fast, we’ve spent billions of dollars on our urban freeway system. Find one and use it.

    • Well, they can’t speed on the freeways because they’re congested too, so they use streets with elementary schools fronting them expecting to get up to 55 mph. The bottom line is that cars are not a solution for dense urban areas. Adding a bike lane is an affirmation to the fact and will give people an alternative to driving a car in the city. As more roads go on a diet and more bike lanes become connected, you will begin to see a true network come into view that will benefit both bicyclists and those trapped behind the windshield. Multi-modal was the past and is now the future for Los Angeles. There is really no other way out.

  22. Lane diet, more like a clogged artery!

    I live on Rowena and after the installation of the middle turn lane and the bike lanes I have seen some very interesting results. 1st, the bike lanes are empty, it is a surprise to ever really see a bike using the lane. there is a old feller that uses the bike lane often but he is riding in his motorized wheel chair. 2ed, the cars when not bogged down in traffic drive faster, next to my house is a speed sign and it posts speeds 10 to 15 mph faster then posted. on the flip side when there is traffic oh boy is there traffic. I like many others take the side streets so it doesn’t take 30 minutes to go 1/2 a mile(give or take). on top of traffic and speeders I have never and I mean never seen so many so many accidents on Rowena, we have gone from 3 or 4 a year to almost one a month. and that doesn’t include close calls. I have been making a right hand turn into my paring lot just to slam on the brakes as a BMW uses the bike lane to pass everyone in site, or people using the middle no car lane as a passing lane, twice I have seen a car almost hit people crossing the street waiting in the middle lane. and not to mention the silver lake drag strip that starts by subway and finishes when the two lanes on Glendale merge into one.

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