Battle of the Bike Safety P.S.A.’s: LADOT vs NYCDOT

Even without the taglines at the top of the video, I’m guessing that you could figure out which city’s P.S.A.’s were a strident warning to drivers to pay attention or they’re going to kill someone and which city’s compared cyclists to insects.

Over at NYC Streetsblog, Brad Aaron notes that these new advertisements "don’t flinch" and remind drivers of the deadly consequences of even a moments negligence.  These ads, available here, will run through June, and are accompanied
by direct mail pieces for city homeowners and drivers license holders.  Powerful stuff, but part of me wonders if the ad will also discourage people from taking up cycling.  I mean, that dude in the stretcher looks pretty messed up.  He’s not bug-splatter or anything, but still…

And for anyone that thinks that it’s unfair to pull an LADOT advertisement from a couple of years ago to compare to the hard-hitting stuff being put out in NYC, components of the "Laws of Physics" advertisement campaign are still being circulated today.  At Bike to Work Day, I received a yellow bracelet bearing the slogan "Ride right and stop at the light;" a slogan which still confuses me.  Are they telling me to ride correctly, or urging me to ride in the gutter?  Is the bracelet an example of bad grammar or bad advice?

In the interest of fairness, the LADOT has released advertisements encouraging safe driving, but even those rely on a somewhat cartoonish level of violence than the hard-hitting stuff being put out by our friends across the country.

15 thoughts on Battle of the Bike Safety P.S.A.’s: LADOT vs NYCDOT

  1. Housed in the LADOT is some sort of policy, or culture, that simply hates whatever is not suburban, 20th century, living. Bicycles are childrens toys. Safe streets mean streets with cars only and hyper-fast car travel. The department has a twisted soul – and it sort of makes sense given this city’s pathological road building habit established in the late 1920’s.

    I’ve had LADOT staff lie, to my face, about facts, law, and policy all in service of removing a crosswalk to maintain car speeds and volumes on an urban streets in a commercial area.

    Their ad exposes their id.

  2. Also note that the NYC PSA runs during the morning local news traffic report, so it is even directed at the right audience. I have never seen the LADOT PSA.

  3. In all fairness the New York City PSA was done by the New York Bicycle Coalition while the LA PSA was done by Operaton Traffix, whatever that is. I’m quite sure that if one of the local bicycle coalitions or groups did a PSA it would look quite different. Sorry, this is an apples to pineapples comparison.
    Both discourage bicycle usage. Either would have been more effective if they showed the emotional trauma that an ordinary driver would go through if they hit a cyclist. So both fail to make cycling seem like a safe and viable alternative. Maybe Chicago’s is better?

  4. Both of these ads do a fantastic job of scaring people away from cycling by using emotional and violent imagery.

    That was the point,, right?

  5. C. Phylis,

    I don’t really care what organization filmed the advertisement, I care about the result of the advertisement. I’m pretty sure the LADOT takes full credit for the ad, as the NYC DOT takes credit for their series. A quick search of the Internet finds then bike coordinator Ken Hustings accepting an Emmy for the advertisement and the words Operation Trafixx are nowhere to be found.

  6. Dan Wentzel wrote:

    I wish it’s mantra was, “How do we expand the DASH and Commuter Express Systems”.

    This all falls back to Brayj’s lament that LADOT has a monomaniacal fixation on vehicle throughput.

    The mentality of LADOT is to use DASH and Commuter Express as transit expressly to reduce car trips so the whole network moves faster.

    DASH was originally the Downtown Area Short Hop. It’s a very good concept. DASH was designed with one purpose in mind: Traffic engineers did not want all those downtown workers driving their cars around at lunchtime and then hunting for parking spaces. If it ran a bus, say every 5 minutes, people would make trips that were faster than walking and less burdensome than having to drive.

    Commuter Express came into being as the then-RTD was eliminating rush hour express buses due to low ridership. LADOT was able to salvage several routes that would have otherwise been canceled.

    The problems?

    In the case of DASH, you had 15 council members crying “Me too!” They didn’t know or care that DASH was a purpose-built system. They just wanted those in their own district, but had no clue over where they should run. The LADOT planners fudged: They would pack buses by … duplicating local RTD/Metro routes to justify their existence and/or plan the routes around shopping errands done during the day.

    In the case of Commuter Express, have you ever noticed that buses only go one way during rush hour and not the other? There’s one notable exception, and it was because Metro paid LADOT to run a line as part of the BRU consent decree pilot project lines. There are only three other Commuter Express lines that provide bidirectional service.

    At least Santa Clarita has the right idea. Its commuter express buses run both ways, but the reverse commute routes aligned to major ridership-generating areas.

  7. But Wad, generally reverse direction service on these commuter oriented routes haven’t done well.

    Certainly the politics of DASH is suspect in some instances. DASH includes some excellent neighborhood circulators along with routes tha are a waste of money that should have long since been eliminated. Plus of course even now despite no money for expansion several council members are touting dubious new routes as “priorities”. BTW, note that the DASH routes always list whose council district they run through. Not many other transit timetables do that..

  8. I know multiple people who live in Silver Lake who were interested in the possibility of a Silver Lake DASH.

    I also heard one woman state outside a Westside/Central Sector Governance Council meeting that perhaps a Marina Del Rey DASH is an option to connect the Marina to Fox Hills Mall more effectively than the hourly, unreliable 108 bus.

  9. If this Broadway Streetcar/Tram works out,

    I’ve also wondered about streetcars on Ventura Blvd. connecting Universal City and Warner Center

    – A Sunset Blvd. Streetcar connecting downtown, Silver Lake, Hollywood, and the Strip,

    – a Santa Monica Blvd. streetcar utilizing the unused ROW in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood on the way to points east and north,

    – A streetcar connecting the upcoming rail terminals in Santa Monica or West L.A. and Venice Beach might be popular.

    There are probably lots of places they might work for short distances that will never see grade separated HRT or LRT.

  10. They should re-write Wisconsin’s work zone PSA to show a pedestrian or cyclist face down and motionless instead of a laborer. Grab the drivers by the guts, and their hearts and minds will follow!

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