SILVER LAKE - The controversial road diet that reduced traffic lanes for motor vehicles and added room for bikes along an approximately mile-long stretch of Rowena Avenue should stay, Councilman David Ryu told the City Council’s Transportation Committee.
The councilmember from District 4 has sided with the city’s Department of Transportation, which recommends leaving Rowena more or less the way it is - one lane each way, with bike lanes and a center left-turn lane taking up remaining road space. Ryu also backed the idea of protected bike lanes and adding more pedestrian safety measures to the corridor between Hyperion Avenue and Glendale Boulevard.
“I support the road diet on Rowena and the recommendations for pedestrian safety on the surrounding streets, but I want to take these safety improvements even further," said Ryu in a letter to the City Council Transportation Committee. "Protected bike lanes on Rowena that extend to Hyperion will make Rowena safer for cyclists and motorists, and encourage more multi-modal transportation in Silver Lake. I look forward to working with my colleagues on City Council and the Department of Transportation to see these improvements through.”
The road diet has generated heated debate since it was adopted in 2013 as a way to slow traffic and increase safety. Critics blamed the road diet for causing traffic congestion and steering motorists on to narrow side streets. But supporters and traffic studies say thee measure has helped reduce traffic-related injuries.
An analysis conducted by the LADOT “showed a reduction in collision frequency and severity, and a reduction in speed, but also an increase in bypass traffic on the adjacent local streets,” the DOT’s April memorandum said.
“Given the results of these studies by [engineering consultants] Kimley-Horn and the Department of Transportation, there is no doubt that the road diet on Rowena Avenue has reduced the number of accidents and made this street safer,” Ryu said.
Now, in addition to keeping the lane reduction, Ryu has also embraced other safety recommendations from the DOT, which include improving the lighting and expanding or even separating the striped bike lane.
The Kimley-Horn study from May 2018, which Ryu cited, had also presented three other possible courses of action for the road diet, besides leaving it the way it is: Removing the striping on the bicycles lane and adding back an eastbound travel lane; removing the on-street parking and bicycle lane just in the eastbound side and turning it into an eastbound travel lane; or restricting on-street parking along Rowena during peak commute hours, when the outside lanes would be used for travel.
The next step is for the transportation committee to vote on the LADOT report and Ryu's recommended amendments (including adding protective bike lanes), said Council District 4 spokesman Mark Pampanin. The matter then heads to the full City Council for another vote.