Atwater Village weighs in on Fletcher Drive safety improvements


City transportation officials presented plans earlier this week to improve safety along a one-mile long stretch of Fletcher Drive, which was described as one of the most dangerous streets in Los Angeles. But some elements of the  plans, which included reducing traffic lanes while adding bike lanes, were criticized by many residents, who said they would only worsen traffic congestion.

“Rush hour traffic is bad enough with two lanes,” said Silvio Miranda, an Atwater Village resident who attended a Tuesday night open house hosted by the L.A. Department of Transportation. “We’re going to be opening up an entire lane just for it to be used by random biker that comes along every once in a while.”

The proposed changes are being made under the city’s Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2025. Vision Zero singled out Fletcher — which runs through Atwater Village, Elysian Valley and Glassell Park — for safety improvements as a result of a rise in collisions and deaths since 2002.

Fletcher is among the top 40 most dangerous streets in all of Los Angeles, said Lilly O’Brien, a representative of Vision Zero.

The meeting outlined the goals and possible steps that are to be taken in order to make changes to Fletcher between the 5 Freeway on the south and San Fernando Road on the north. The project will be funded by taxes taken from measure R and M.

Officials at the community open house presented the changes included in two alternatives:

Alternative 1

Fletcher Drive road diet in Atwater Village

LADOT Rendering

  • Remove a traffic lane in each direction
  • Add center turn lanes and crosswalks on streets along the route
  • Add bike lanes
  • Install speed feedback signs, flashing pedestrian crossing lights and protected left-turn hand signals
  • Extending the sidewalk or the curb into the intersections along the street.

Alternative 2

Proposed Fletcher Drive road diet in Atwater Village

  • Slight lane reduction to add center turn lane
  • Add speed feedback signs
  • Add flashing pedestrian crossing lights

Officials will announce a decision about the alternatives at a public meeting on July 19.

“Based on comments and suggestions we have received here at the meeting, we will decide what alternative to choose from and we’ll go on from there,” said Bryan Ochoa with Vision Zero.

The city wants to implement the first phase of the project by the end of the year, Ochoa said. Based on the reaction to the initial improvement, officials would then proceed with phase two. The changes would be funded by taxes generated by ballot measures R and M, which support county transportation projects.

Upon reviewing the alternatives and range of improvements, the inclusion of a road diet and bike lanes seemed the most controversial. But officials with Vision Zero say they are still determined to improve safety along Fletcher.

“We’re focused on saving lives,” says O’Brien.

Notes and comments cover meeting display boards | Roberto Fonseca

Roberto Fonseca is a senior journalism major at Chico State University. Fonseca grew up in Atwater Village and attended Atwater Elementary, Irving Middle, Marshall and Sotomayor High schools before graduating in 2014.

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  1. Full road diet please! It’s the first step to making Fletcher a hospital place for humans and bikers as a opposed to a makeshift highway for motorists.

    Yes traffic is bad during rush hour, welcome to Los Angeles the second largest city in America, one planned almost entirely for cars, yet the most crippled by traffic. WE NEED A NEW NORMAL

    • With a population the size of Los Angeles 260 regrettable deaths in 2016 does not seem very high. IMO distracted drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are a major issue. Texting drivers, cyclists with earbuds in, no lights/reflectors and pedestrians texting while crossing the street for example all contribute to the number of fatalities. Screwing up major streets is not the answer……..

      • You should go tell those 260 families that their loved ones’ lives are just a price that must be paid for roads to be exactly the way you want them to be.

        How many people need to die for you to be made uncomfortable? What number is high enough?

      • One person dying more than every other day doesn’t seem excessive to you? If someone in your City died every other day as the result of eating contaminated food or because of gang shootings you and your neighbors would be up in arms about what the city is going to do about it.

        Collisions were the leading cause of death for several age groups long before cell phones and the growth in cycling, so the real issue is the design of our streets and the impunity with which people get away with murder around here.

        The vast majority of streets in this city are designed to the exclusive benefit of cars. If you don’t believe additional safety and people-oriented design is important that’s fine, but I’d argue that a few more minutes of travel time in exchange for safer, more livable streets, that serve local communities rather than people who want to drive through as fast as they can (you aren’t stuck in traffic you are traffic) is the exact opposite of screwing up streets.

        • I’m not being insensitive. It’s just a fact that people die all the time doing all sorts of things. As a percentage of the total population it’s just not that many casualties.

  2. Wait, what… don’t you know that if bike lanes are implemented the world will end?

  3. From this article, you’d never know how many people were at the meeting supporting the ideas.

  4. I have used Fletcher for a number of years (more than 20) and I’ve observe things:
    The traffic coming of the SR-2 is not your usual street traffic; those drivers will not be
    amenable to road quieting.
    Fletcher is used by a lot of business trucks and vans; it’s drivers who have schedules and
    responsibilities. Some of the vehicles are large and can present problems as far as
    There are more small businesses (restaurants) opening along the road (I’ve patronized several of
    them myself); cutting back on street parking is going to present a problem for them
    Fletcher is the feeder street for the businesses (larger trucks, as mentioned before) from the I-5 to SFR and its businesses. Limiting Fletcher is going to make it a bottleneck at SFR…

    I am not anti-bike lanes but I would echo the concerns of the person who questions the bike riders who won’t use lights to make themselves visible (so many street lights don’t illuminate the streets well) as well
    as those who decide whether or not they’ll observe stop signs or street lights.

    And in reply to bogbog: Perhaps the person who wrote the article or provided information only counted those who identified themselves as residents of the area. The bike community has in the past packed meetings in shows of strength but after a ‘victory’ was won, go onto another street while the street that was supposedly made safe for bike riders returns to its low rider count.

    I’ve vacationed in France for 7+ years and observed that cyclists are respected and the right-of-way observed. When I was visiting in The Netherlands I was very surprised by the conduct of some cyclists and the friend I was visiting said: They’re from the US, they don’t know how to ride properly. The Dutch are normally sociable to other riders but if someone screws up, they completely ignore them, or tell them off.

    The ‘how many people die’ is a big red herring. Anyone can lie with statistics and without a complete survey of where, when, how and what else contributed to the accident, any numbers culled from bare statistics may inflame tempers but they don’t really demonstrate the actual situations and what would mitigate such

    • “Perhaps the person who wrote the article or provided information only counted those who identified themselves as residents of the area.”

      That wasn’t the case. I’m a resident of the area, and I support some form of treatment on the road. And I know of others in attendance who also support it and are residents.

      Multiple studies were conducted in the past year proving that road diets and other bikeway infrastructure changes in Los Angeles have improved safety on those routes. It is unlikely that these infrastructure changes have resulted in changes to bicyclist behavior as you’re hoping to see (more lights, more observance of stop lights/signs). But rather, they result in less speeding by drivers, and better delineation between vehicles and bicyclists. And that’s what is improving safety. I certainly agree that bicyclists should use lights at night (and thanks to Operation Firefly, many more are) and stop at stop lights, but those concerns are far far far less immediate than drivers observing speed limits, driving without distractions, and following the laws. The bad choices made by thousands of 3k pound steel-clad drivers vastly outweigh the bad choices made by a couple hundred 200lb soft and vulnerable bicyclists, especially when those bad choices made by bicyclists only impact themselves while those made by drivers are quite likely to impact others. There is no need to be fair and balanced about this.

      Finally, the city has measured average daily travel along Fletcher. The number is much much higher at Riverside than at San Fernando, indicating that most eastbound drivers are entering the 2 North and not continuing on Fletcher to San Fernando (observation shows this is totally the case), and westbound drivers are entering Fletcher from the 2 South exit. From the 2 entrance to San Fernando, the average daily travel can quite easily accommodate a reduction in general travel lanes with hardly any increase delay in travel time (if any, overall). The city does not consider road diets on roads with an ADT above a certain threshold. It is inevitable that there will be traffic during rush hour. During the many other hours of the day, both safe driving behavior and travel time will likely improve due to the addition of a dedicated left turn lane.

  5. You know what else is a big red herring? That bike lanes are for the occasional cyclist.

    There are 4 schools, (3 of them elementary) a community college campus and a bus interchange. There are always pedestrians, and cyclists accessing the river path on fletcher.

    A street should be planned out to move more people, not more cars.

    • Wait… do you mean Fletcher Elementary, Irving Magnet Middle, the Magnet school on San Fernando Rd, and Van DeKamps (campus)? All these schools are in Glassel Park that already has a road diet, and Van DeKamps is on the upper potion of the underpass. And do you regard as a bus interchange, bus stops? This article is about Atwater Village from LaClede (the underpass has already been reconfigured) to Riverside Dr.

      According to LADOT Fletcher Dr has had 17 injuries and fatalities since 2012 but they don’t break it down by time of day or night, or other factors; nor do they indicate whether these instances happened on Fletcher from Riverside to LaClede or to Eagle Rock Blvd.

      I spoke with a member of LADOT and he stated that two lanes would remain on the north bound section from Riverside to the 2 on/off ramp in order to accommodate those entering the freeway. In essence the road diet would be from Larga to LaClede. Does anyone think that such a short strip will have a positive impact?

      Before we make any decision, before we have a knee jerk reaction, let’s get some honest, complete, and accurate facts.

  6. How much easier is it for a,cyclist to see a car than vice versa? How many times do we all see cyclists that ride two or three across in bike lanes? Many cyclists in the Silver Lake, Atwater Village area disregard the rules,of the road and create the very situations they complain about? They seem to want it all ways: they will follow auto rules and when more convenient to them, follow pedestrian rules. I have never seen a cyclist being cited for reckless cycling but I’ve seen plenty of reckless cyclists.

    • Consider the safety impacts of reckless cycling to that of reckless driving. And record how many more drivers you see driving recklessly than cyclists riding recklessly. Why are you choosing to prioritize the behavior of a minority population whose behavior is likely to only hurt themselves over a majority population whose behavior is likely to injure/kill others?

    • Also, “How many times do we all see cyclists that ride two or three across in bike lanes?” that is the point of riding 2 or 3 across – to be seen! You are complaining that you can’t see them, and then complaining when you can see them.

      • Drivers pay taxes for the roads they use, cyclists: not so much.

        • Oh jeez. Groundhog Day.

          1) You seem to be assuming that many cyclists don’t also drive. I wouldn’t make that assumption. It’s not either/or.
          2) Roads are largely paid for by property and income taxes, not the paltry gas and registration taxes.
          3) Cars destroy roads.

  7. Satan Loves You

    So comical. The drivers who oppose anything that will slow them down a microsecond are in such a hurry to get onto a gridlocked freeway(s). LOL. Keep up the good fight!

  8. One of the most dangerous streets in all of Los Angeles — a blatant lie and extreme hyperbole! But not the least bit surprising, as that is all we have been getting out of City Hall since the new crop of politicians took over at the turn of the century — and Garcetti is the worst of them, there is hardly anything honest that has ever come out of his mouth. Only Councilman O’Farrell can match him at that.

    Still, if it is that dangerous, why ever would you try to put bicyclists on it!? Think! Can you see the complete conflict in that proposal based on that assertion? At least drivers are protected by the hard body of a car around them, but bicyclists are not.

    If you find a street that is the most dangerous in Los Angeles, you not only should not encourage bicyclists to ride it, you should outlaw bicycling on it! Their logic here is that if you use bicyclists as throw-away pawns, you can slow down the cars, and who cares if the bicyclists are killed on the most dangerous street in Los Angeles.

    Does that logic sound the least bit honest? Are you going to be persuaded by and rally behind that logic?!

    • It’s dangerous simply because it’s a free for all with no protected turns lanes and no bike lanes. Your mental gymnastics are hilarious though.

  9. Fletcher Driver

    This will cause More Gridlock! You hardly see any cyclist on these roads including on other road diets on Rowena and York and many of have to pick up our children from schools in the area – Irving and LA River/Sotomayor. Fletcher is already very congested and it will cause more back up.

    Do a road share instead of a Road Diet!

    How can we protest this?

  10. Hopefully, gasoline will get to $6/gallon and the streets will be a lot calmer.

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