LADOT: Good at Increasing Speed Limits, Bad at Installing Crosswalks

An article in yesterday’s City Watch perfectly illustrates exactly what is wrong with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.  It seems the Department is nigh powerless to install pedestrian safety amenities, even when the funding is available, but can move with swiftness and dedication when it comes to raising speed limits.

The City Watch article compares two proposals for the corner of Zelzah Avenue and Kingsbury Street directly in front of Granada High School  Following a tragic pedestrian crash, where a student was struck by a speeding car; parents and officials rallied for a "Smart Crosswalk" to be placed on the intersection.   The crash occurred over six years ago.  The construction of the "smart" crosswalk remains incomplete with the new signals inoperable.

If there is one thing the LADOT is good at, it’s working tirelessly to move more cars as quickly as possible.  A strategy which has led to encouragement of a car culture that clogs our surface streets and pollutes our air.  Yet, the LADOT moves tirelessly forward.  An LADOT proposal to raise the speed limit on Zelzah Avenue was recently tabled by the City Council after a showing of community outrage at a committee hearing.  City Watch explains the dilemma facing the city:

The LADOT pleads helpless in the speed limit raising proposal, pointing out that they merely conduct the engineering and traffic surveys that are required as a condition of certifying the speed limits, all in accordance with state law as a condition of using radar
to enforce speed limits.

Which means, the LAPD can’t use radar on speeding motorists until the
speed limit survey certifies the speed limit, but the large number of
speeding motorists “vote with the gas pedal” and the new speed limit is
set at the 85% mark so the speed limit is raised. Now the LAPD can use
radar on the motorists who are now not speeding because the speed limit
just got raised.

Meanwhile the intersection where a student nearly lost her life to a driver moving at an unsafe speed remains unimproved.

Photo: arkitecht/flickr

  • There really need to be statutes on the books that state precisely why, and how, Level of Service, Average Daily Trips, “Mobility”, and Vehicle Miles Travelled should be reduced or degraded.

    Right now, the only reasons I’ve seen that those measures are disregarded by the LADOT is tremendous political pressure being put on politicians – who then demand that traffic engineers degrade the LOS, ADT, and other measures on a road.

    This is the worst possible situation, and it makes everyone involved hate each other.

    The engineers cling to their AASHTO, MUTCD, and ITE guide books – pretending that they are laws of nature that must not be violated.

    The public just wants results: less cars, nice streets, quiet neighborhoods, and transportation options.

    We need politicians to step up and put some reasonable laws on the books that allow transportation engineers to disregard their trade practices, and focus on safety, livability, social cohesion, local business interests.

    That was a great CityWatch article – the LADOT deserves a to be kicked in the pants a bit. That department gets away with the most insulting road planning decisions on a routine basis.

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