Silver Lake’s Rowena Road Diet succeeds at improving safety by slowing traffic

Traffic after the Rowena Avenue Road Diet 6-27-2013 5-23-06 AM

SILVER LAKE — Removing a lane from a busy road in Los Angeles may seem baffling. Infuriating. Even noxious. But an analysis of traffic and collision statistics say that a “road diet” in Silver Lake  worked when it came to reducing speeds and improving safety, according to data scientists.

More than three years after the Los Angeles Department of Transportation put Rowena Avenue on a “road diet” — reducing the street from four lanes to three — LADOT data indicates average speeds have dropped from 39 mph to 35 mph, and safety has increased significantly, said Dave Goodsmith and Ben Van Dyke in an op-ed piece in the L.A. Times.

While the street had six crashes involving unsafe speed in 2008 and 2010, that number shrank to zero in 2013 and 2015. Collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists also sank, according to data the Times studied from the California Highway Patrol.

Increased safety was the whole point of the “road diet.” The Times notes the reduction of lanes was partly inspired by the death of Ashley Sandeau, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while trying to cross the street to see her father.

The Times added that, despite the reduction in lanes, the overall volume of traffic on Rowena has not changed.

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  1. I would say the same about the traffic on Colorado Blvd. in ER. It’s much less crazy now, with fewer drivers weaving in and out of lanes, or squeezing in as 3 lanes go to 2. The improvements in left turn lanes have also helped a lot.

  2. However, the safety of all the surrounding side streets has gone down. Additionally, thanks to the idling, gridlocked cars, the air quality has also gone down.

    • I love all of your supporting facts!

      • “Additionally, Waze and other real-time navigation apps — that proactively reroute motorists onto side streets to avoid congestion — rose in popularity over roughly the same period as the road diet conversion, preventing us from determining the exact cause of any additional cut-through traffic.”
        This quote has been overlooked by this article.
        Does anyone travel at 35 mph down Rowena at rush hour? This is obviously 24 hour averaging.
        Cherry picked data to prove that this monstrosity has succeed.

        • And how many crashes were there in 2009, 2011 and 2012? Why do they only mention 2008 and 2010?
          2014 is left out as well…… why? Some numbers that don’t support the article’s conclusions?

          • perhaps the city wasn’t tracking the street then? i really doubt a researcher is gonna turn down more data.

        • “The department obtained its speed data on a single Monday between 11:30 a.m. and noon. Future reviews will also be conducted during the same time period to ensure the agency has apples-to-apples comparisons, Gillman said.”

        • “proactively reroute motorists onto side streets to avoid congestion” Not sure how you derived increased pollution or decreased safety from this quote you highlighted…
          … unless you associate the presence of automobiles with “danger” in that case, welcome to the mind of bikers and pedestrians!

    • Wealthy Angelenos need to stop flushing their money into filthy gas guzzling BMWs Mercedes etc and get electric cars already!

      • No, they should get fuel cell cars, which are non-polluting. The electric cars don’t spew the pollution out the tailpipe but they do at the plant that must produce that electricity. Electric cars are not so much the clean technology most people think they are. Production of the hydrogen for the fuel cell cars is not so polluting.

        But you raised a good point. There are many people who support these road diets for the pollution reasons you cite. But that is obsolete thinking, as we already are changing over to non-polluting cars. The environmental issue is now an anachronism.

    • Would you mind sharing the evidence supporting your claims with the rest of us?

  3. I’m grateful for the added safety along Rowena as pedestrian and biker who uses this thoroughfare daily 🙂

    Glendale blvd ought to be next, that corridor is downright deadly.

  4. Traffic accidents went down all over the country in that time frame — that had nothing to do with road diets! This is a problem of people using statistics and drawing conclusions they want – the more often than not fails to put those statistics in context.

    Further, it is not possible for them to have statistics on all traffic accidents there — because LAPD will not go to or take a report on any accident that does not involve an injury. And the CHP only knows what LAPD tells it. So, these statistics could actually mean they had twice as many accidents, but they just coincidentally happened to cause no injuries.

    And the newer and newer cars have been having much more serious protections, with much better bumpers, front and side air bags, better brakes. and every year, more and more of the less safe cars are off the road, replaced by the newer, safer cars. Being as accidents went down all over the country, I think the better safety engineering of the cars is more likely the reason. None of this is considered in the conclusion drawn here.

    Or, fewer cars driving on Rowena could be the reason too, with many now cutting through the side streets and some finding another route, although a lot of that traffic has to go through there since it is the only route to the freeway. This conclusion of the wonders of the road diet was drawn without consideration of the number of cars on the street, which might be significantly lower now, and not because people have gone to bicycles, since it remains as rare as ever to see someone bicycling on the street.

    • In numerous studies across the country, going back decades, road diets have been proven to improve safety with minimal impact on throughput (yes, cars drive at slower top speeds, but end to end travel time hasn’t been drastically altered.) This is just further evidence atop an already large pile of national data that they work, as intended.

      If there’s fewer injuries, isn’t that the point?

  5. There has been a considerable amount of construction on Rowena during this time frame. Surely this also contributes to the reduction in vehicle speeds.

  6. Safe streets for Silverlake

    The important thing in the overall debate is that this data shifts the burden of proof in the argument. All indicators suggest that Rowena is safer now than it was previously. Anyone who wants to argue in favor of more lanes and increased traffic speeds needs to prove that these designs would lead to increased safety.

    Any politician who considers reversing the road diet now knows that any measurable increases — in crashes, in injuries, in fatalities — will be blamed squarely on them at election time. LADOT knows this is the safer option, so they only way the configuration changes is at the city councilmember level. Can you imagine the community meetings that a councilmember would have to sit through if he authorized a reconfiguration and then the number of crashes went up or a kid got hit on the way to school? The rest of their term would be misery and every piece of election mail would hang them for reducing safety.

    It’s time to move on. Let’s address sidestreets. Let’s address waze. Let’s make Glendale and Hyperion safer than they are. Let’s get a damn dash bus.

    It’s time to move on.

    • Safe streets…. Your explanation is very accurate and telling. The bike lobby and originations like yours are anti-auto. You will do anything to make our driving commute more impossible. thus “traffic calming, and road diets” none of these measures are conducive to a faster commute. The people who created this road diet mess know that it’s never going back to the way it was. The city and the over paid six figure income so called experts will never admit their mistake when it so clearly was one unless it was deliberate. The truth is this project was a goodbye gift to retiring council member Tom LaBonge. They put in in as a surprise after a good two years of water main construction where they tore up the street and made morning commuting a nightmare, once the street project was finished and we believed there would be some relief then came the lines. One traffic lane and a bike lane. and the subsequent traffic mess that we have had for the last three years starts northbound on Hyperion ave, the backup is a good mile to Rowena ave. Eastbound from there to Glendale Blvd. and northbound Fletcher Dr. Where you cant make a left turn without watching the light change 3 times. Try it on a normal weekday at 5 P.M. Do any of these so called experts drive this street? Now we have a celebration with statistics that fewer pedestrians have died and with lower speeds and fewer car crashes. Of course there are fewer accidents how do you have a serious accident with fatality when you cant go faster than 5 mph in bumper to bumper traffic?. And if you want to talk about pedestrian safety, Pedestrians have one job…Not to get hit by a car! Solution If you are on foot and car is moving in your direction…Don’t get in front of it!

  7. Traffic on Rowena is God awful during rush hour. Dunno how a decrease of 4 MPH around noon really helps the situation all that much. Perhaps the repaving of the ancient road helped, too. There are many factors to explain the decrease in accidents.

    When will it be enough for the city and the bicycle lobby? Hoover at rush hour is a parking lot now with the rarely used bike lane. This is the definition of a solution in search of a problem. Please, enough already with the road diets. Let’s get some repaving and sidewalk repairs going.

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