After the city eliminated a traffic lane in each direction on Rowena Avenue earlier this year, some Silver Lake residents blamed the so called “road diet” for increasing congestion, speeding and reckless driving on nearby Waverly Drive and other side streets. On Tuesday, city officials met with some of those residents to discuss the problems but offered little in the way of immediate relief. In fact, one traffic officer contested claims of an increase in reckless driving.
Staff from councilmember Tom LaBonge’s office and an engineer from the city’s department of transportation met with Silver Lake residents outdoors near the intersection of Waverly and Rokeby Street to discuss complaints about increases in traffic and reckless driving, which some claim is caused by motorists seeking to get around the long-lines of rush-hour traffic on Rowena.
During the meeting, multiple vehicles ran stop signs or committed other traffic infractions, including a motorcyclist who neighborhood activist Jerome Courshon said lived in the neighborhood. But traffic officer Lawrence Henderson said there was no noticeable difference in traffic crimes before or after the road diet, which was implemented last March to boost pedestrian safety in the neighborhood. Although residents claim most of the speeders don’t live in the area, Henderson disputed the fact and pointing to recent citations given to residents near Waverly Drive.
Traffic Engineer Bhuvan Bajaj said there was no city money for speed bumps or humps for Waverly Drive but painting a double yellow line down the middle of the road could act as a visual hindrance to dangerous roadsters. Drivers tend to go faster when buffer zones exist between their vehicle and parked cars. He didn’t know if the street was wide enough for the measure, however.
The engineer also urged the small group in attendance to organize a neighborhood campaign for drivers to slow down. A similar resident movement in the South Bay, called Slow Down San Pedro, had had positive effects on speeding in the area. He recommended residents go to Watchtheroad.org to download signs and post them on lawns.
Courshon, who shot the video of Waverly Drive traffic, proposed the neighborhood raise money for speed humps on Waverly Drive, which the department of transportation’s website lists as a possibility.
LaBonge’s Chief of Staff Carolyn Ramsay said she would tell the councilmember that residents on Waverly “were looking for relief” from traffic. Staff also planned to host a follow-up meeting at the Silverlake Community Church, which would include the Department of Transportation. LaBonge had no proposed solutions to the traffic problems on the side streets, but was open to any proposals.
“He’s not a traffic engineer,” she said.
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.