The detour signs, construction workers and traffic barriers were gone from Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake today after the fourth phase of a months-long  LADWP water pipeline construction project was completed. But there was something else missing: two traffic lanes.  Without much fanfare, Rowena Avenue was put on what’s called a “Road Diet,”  with the former four-lane street reduced down to one traffic lane in each direction and a middle turning lane between Hyperion Avenue and Glendale Boulevard.  While motorists lost a lane in each direction, cyclists gained bike lanes.

The idea behind a slimmer, trimmer Rowena is to reduce speeding traffic and create a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists, according to proponents of the road diet, who raised the idea before the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council.  In December 2011, Councilman Tom LaBonge requested a road diet study be conducted by the Department of Transportation.

LaBonge spokesman Scott Levin said the road diet will be tested for 90 days and then adjustments will be made if needed. A “road diet” celebration is in the works, he said.

“It doesn’t take much paint to make a big difference,”  LaBonge said said in a statement. “Rowena Avenue is now a better street.”
 It’s not clear how motorists will react to the loss of traffic lanes. But Michael Pizzutillo, studio manager of the Pilates Body Shop, is one of the Rowena store owners and employees who are just happy to see the street return to normal. Construction and lane closures backed up traffic and prevented customers from turning left into and out of their parking lot.  The back up left instructors late for class and customers griping about traffic.

“No one has actually complained today,” he said this afternoon.  “Hopefully it’s smooth sailing from here on out.”

A four-lane Rowena in 2011 before road diet/Google Maps

* Update: LaBonge will host a celebration of the new Rowena bike lanes and road diet at the at the Fire Station No. 56, 2759 Rowena Ave., on Friday, March 15 at 8 a.m.

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