More Road Diets? Reduce bus fares? How the City Council candidates would improve traffic and safety

Traffic after the Rowena Avenue Road Diet.


Traffic and safety are the focus this week as part of The Eastsider’s coverage of the city council races in Districts 1 and 13.  We asked the candidates running in the March 7 primary to respond to the following:

“On any list of cities with the worst traffic in America, L.A. always seems to land at or near the top. Beyond that, news sources have also been reporting notably high numbers of hit-and-runs for years now in Los Angeles, and some of our readers have left comments asking how the candidates might make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. What’s your plan for reducing traffic congestion and improving safety? As an example, do you favor ‘road diets’ such as the one placed on Rowena Avenue is Silver Lake?”

Here are the answers we received:

Council District 1 includes all or portions of Angeleno Heights, Cypress Park, Echo Park, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and Mount Washington

Joe Bray-Ali

Some of the deadliest intersections in Los Angeles are right here in the 1st District.

Our current council leader has misspent scarce street safety dollars on marquee projects that do not deliver the kind of comprehensive transportation planning reform Los Angeles needs. In the 1st District, Vision Zero LA is a broken promise to stack with all the rest.

In contrast, I have spent the past decade organizing, researching, and (in some cases) protesting for safe streets.

Transit system user experience requires special attention. Sidewalks and curb ramps around bus stops and schools need repairs first. Bus stops need benches, trashcans, and shelter. Our train stations must have clean and accessible public bathrooms.

The 1st District should have bicycle superhighways that connect the San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley with Downtown L.A., and Pico Union and MacArthur Park with Mid-City and Downtown. Cynical political games have prevented these connections from being made.

I support road diets because the Federal Highway Administration has proven that properly implemented road diets can make a street safer for all road users without compromising the travel times of car drivers.

Going door-to-door for months now, I can verify that people in this district are hungry for new leadership and for safer streets. You can expect both if I am elected.

Council District 13 includes all or portions of Atwater Village, Echo Park, Elysian Heights, Elysian Valley and Silver Lake

Mitch O’Farrell (Incumbent)

During my first term in office, we completed four streetscape projects in the 13th District, and a fifth one will break ground this spring. These enhancements make it safer for families walking to school, create opportunities for more bike lanes, and beautify our neighborhoods.

Measure M provides a wonderful opportunity to ease congestion on our streets. This voter-approved half-cent county sales tax increase will generate millions of dollars each year, and can create more DASH routes connecting residents with the six Metro rail stops in CD13. These monies can also provide additional pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.

Jessica Salans

Mobility 2035 sets forth an excellent initial framework for us to transform our transportation system in Los Angeles. While Los Angeles will always have automobiles (and hopefully we can incentivize electric cars), we need to design our streets around – and focused on – people. We must bring Mobility 2035 to the constituents in each neighborhood of CD13 so that the community has direct input in how we implement the plan. This will include new kinds of electric, public transportation, protected bike lanes and safe pedestrian lanes. With this focus will also come more public spaces, parklets and greenery, bringing more vibrancy to our already awesomely rich and diverse district.

(I am interested in exploring skinny/narrow streets, such as Portland implemented. I’d love to bring in planners and consultants like this guy. We must think big, not small.)

Sylvie Shain

Los Angeles can become a more walkable, public transit-friendly city by incentivizing the use of alternatives modes of transportation, not by punishing those who rely on vehicles. Lack of parking only causes more traffic congestion and CO2 emissions. The approach should be the carrot of higher efficiency and lowered cost, not the stick of congestion and high prices.

This means a major focus of transportation planning should be investment in the built environment: side-walk scaping and improved lighting. It should also include safe bicycle lanes.

While cars pose a significant public safety hazard to pedestrians and bicyclists, and the long-term goal is to reduce car dependency, the current solution is in safety initiatives such as Vision Zero.

Finally, to make transit more attractive, headways and fares should be reduced.

David De La Torre

As City Councilmember, I will champion the expansion of all transportation systems (i.e., bus, rail, carpool, bicycle and pedestrian). The first thing is to reduce L.A. city traffic and improve related road safety. I will make use of available funds (i.e., Measure M) to conduct area impact studies that look at each area uniquely to measure the practicality of any proposed improvement changes. These studies will look at the pros and cons with emphasis on public safety, sustainability, and measurable favorable outcomes, and must include necessary road/street maintenance and improvements to bicycle and pedestrian connections. I will not support any mobility improvement plan that does not submit itself to the above pre-planning conditions. This process will ensure that only successful projects get implemented and no bad “road diets” are placed in communities. Any proposed change under my leadership will be done over time, in gradual steps to ensure the public’s support and overcome people’s natural resistance to change. Lastly, I will work to ensure that our transportation systems are reliable and above all people friendly.

Bill Zide

Under the incumbent the conditions of the streets have continued to decline while traffic and parking problems have increased as a result of large developments that he has approved. Take the stretch of Hollywood Blvd. from Normandy to where it merges into Sunset through to Sunset Junction. Three purposed mega projects are planned along that stretch and supported by the incumbent — and are proposed to come on line at almost the same time.

Public transportation is key and would need to start with expanding bus lines through the number of buses and their frequency. We also need to build multi-level green orientated parking structures similar to Culver City, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The parking should also be made accessible for a cost to residential buildings.

I support protected bike lanes, but the proposed lane for Sunset Blvd. would end up removing a badly needed traffic lane. A better solution is to take another street and make it into a bike thoroughfare and promenade – or to make certain large streets one way without parking.

Lastly, the ‘road diet’ at Rowena really doesn’t succeed at doing more than slowing traffic and discouraging people from taking that route. As with all diets, it seems to suggest there will be binging elsewhere and possibly another time.

Election Info

  • The City of Los Angeles will hold a primary election on Tuesday, March 7
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  1. Bill, you spelled Normandie wrong. Go away, plz.

  2. Joe Bray-Ali is wrong about road diets. They make the streets less safe because they push traffic onto smaller residential roads. Just a few posts down on the Eastsider is a link to an article about cut through traffic in Silver Lake. What do you think is causing that cut through traffic? The failed Rowena road diet.

    The York Boulevard road diet, which is in Joe Bray-Ali’s district, has been a disaster. There is constant gridlock on York, inconveniencing thousands, all for the sake of a couple of bike riders. Because of York gridlock, formerly quiet residential streets such as Aldama, Meridian, and Baltimore have become dangerous commuter corridors.

    The Figueroa road diet that Bray-Ali champions will cripple North East LA.

    • Road diets save lives and make streets much better, that’s why York blvd is thriving, Virgil Ave is thriving, road diets save lives. Virgil ave / Monroe had at least one death every year…since they did the Road Diet Virgil hasn’t had any deaths and 29% less crashes. More road diets please!

      • Thanks to the Rowena road diet, Riverside, Glendale Boulevard, West Silver Lake Drive, and Silver Lake Drive have been made less safe with more crashes. The streets surrounding York Boulevard have seen more accidents as well.

        Additionally, road diets cause more pollution due to cars idling in gridlocked traffic.

        • Sounds like the problem is cars.

        • Bill, you make several statements for which I would be willing to bet there is little to no evidence that back them up. Would you like to share that information with the rest of us?

          There is ample research demonstrating the safety benefit of road diets (available here: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/road_diets/). So when you have some evidence that helps dispute the numerous case studies in the literature, we can have a conversation about safety benefits. Until then, your anecdotes and statements are pretty much worthless.

          • Funny how your statics really mean nothing to anyone sitting in an hour long traffic jam due to your wonderful road diets. Slowing traffic down to a crawl just to reduce accidents is a stupid idea. I challenge anyone who like me has to travel down Rowena ave. in the evening commute to share your misguided opinion about the benefits. Seems like I’m with the majority here.

          • dexter, how many people actually use the bike lanes on York, Rowena, Colorado etc. instead of traveling by auto? How many people use their bike to go to Trader Jo’s instead of the car? To work? Pick up the kids from school? Seems like you should be the one coming up with evidence, as far as I can tell very few.

          • R Patton, why don’t you consider carpooling, riding a bike, or using public transportation, if your commute is really so disastrous? If the traffic really is at a crawl, you could even walk. And you might unload some anger and frustration that way, too. Car traffic has ruined many corridors in LA because drivers treat the urban streets as freeways and go 45 or 50 miles an hour in zones that should be 35 at most. I personally am sick of people driving this way. The road diet on Rowena probably slows your commute by a few minutes. Take those minutes to think about what features of the city actually offer quality of life to the children and adults who live here. Dream of a city where people walk, take the train, ride bikes, smile, feel happy, and are not breathing exhaust, or being run down, by busy and angry people.

          • Brilliant idea Felicia. Walk or ride a bike from Pasadena to silver lake. the bus or train would take two hours plus. Car pool?, no one lives by me. A co worker drives 2 miles to the train from Azusa, gets on the train stands the whole way them walks to work from the sunset station. how much time does he save? ….He says it’s the same amount of time. except the brain surgeons who run the gold line cant put enough cars so commuters can sit in comfort. many stand each way because the train is too crowded during peak times. People need their cars in L.A. When I drive the same route every day I can see when they change the timing of a light and it seldom helps. They change a lane it makes it more congested. More stop signs, no left turn signs just to create more havoc for drivers in their cars who are already angry. Politicians who create road diets cause road rage. They have a uncanny ability of screwing up a perfectly good street making it worse, just like they did to Rowena Ave. A few more minutes you say?…. are you kidding me? Do you drive this street at all or just sit on your porch grumbling about all those speeding drivers? The flowery notion in your utopia of me calmly walking to work with image of children playing in a smog free safe environment is just laughable.

    • Nearly every street in LA is a dangerous commuter corridor because of people who think like you do.

      Why should all the residents and small businesses along York or Figueroa have to suffer a high speed arterial highway? Are homeowners on “quiet residential streets” more deserving of safety and civility than renters on “main street”? And are you really that ignorant to the primary goal of a city street: local commerce and neighborhood circulation?

      The problem is not the road diet along a mile or two of York, it’s the all-you-can-eat road buffet on every other neighborhood street in Los Angeles. Adding more space for cars in LA would be akin to giving a fat man a larger belt.

    • It is often forgotten or willfully misrepresented that the purpose of a road diet is exclusively for the “benefit” of bike riders. As a bike rider that has used the bike lanes on York and Colorado, I am happy that there has been the foresight to look at supporting alternative means of transportation as the long term solution to the car-first problem. However, road diets do more than just add bike lanes, they improve safety for pedestrians and to people in cars as well. They improve the lives of the people that live in the neighborhoods that drivers sometimes neglect to notice as they zoom through. As others have noted, the data and studies show this to be true whereas anecdotal accounts of “I have only ever seen one person ride their bike on York” only support the argument to continually improve on the availability of bike lanes, more walkable streets, and sensible traffic safety adherence.

      • No, now they just zoom thru the truly residential side streets. No LAPD traffic enforcement in NELA evidently……. if they stated writing traffic tickets you would see driver’s behavior change dramatically.

      • Road diet is a benefit for bike riders. For most car drivers road diet is a total disaster.

  3. BIll- you’re wrong about road diets. York Boulevard road diet isn’t even District 1. It’s Huizar’s district. And the DOT has repeatedly said road diets DON’T cause pollution due to idling cars. You have no facts to back up your claims.

  4. Bill Zide’s statements on this issue confirm my decision to vote for him for CD 13 Council Member.

    Elect Bill Zide on Tuesday, March 7!

    • Rowena road diet is in CD 4….but, maybe Bill is buds with D-Ryu? and he’s going to fix that? Sigh…



  5. I’m very comforted by the fact that most of the candidates are supportive of bike, bus, rail and foot transportation. All of these methods are safer, more efficient, more productive, more environmentally-conscious and more affordable the car transit.

    Sadly, Bill still sees our city as a suburban megapolis, I’m surprised he has the courage to stand in the middle of the street for his portrait… Goodbye Bill!

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