CD 2 Questionnaire: Frank Sheftel Responds

8_17_09_sheftel_villaraigosa.jpgThat’s Sheftel on the left. Photo: Mayor Sam

Last week I emailed to all of the candidates running to replace Wendy Greuel as the Council Member representing the Second Councilmanic District a copy of the questionnaire first posted on Streetsblog last month.

Sheftel is the first candidate to respond to the survey, although David "Zuma Dogg" Saltzburg did respond to the draft questionnaire originally posted. In the interest of fairness, I didn’t change the questionaire from the original post even though there were some good suggestions.

Sheftel is a long-time small business owner in the second district. Interestingly, the first issue listed on the "issues" page of his website is sidewalk repair. He also has an entire portion of his website, a site that doesn’t even include a biography, devoted to his community outreach plan. Oh, and check it out! A Stephen Box reference in question 6!

1) When you commute to work, how do you do it? What percentage of the trips that you take don’t involve an automobile?

50% of commutes to work are by vehicle. Weather permitting the balance are on my ZIP 750 Electric Scooter.

2) Over the past year, a number of surface streets in the valley have had their speed limits raised. Are these increases a result of the natural order, or an interest that needs to be addressed? What, if anything can be done to reverse these changes?

The speed limit increases are a direct result of a flawed system of determination of traffic flow. Each street is subject to a traffic survey in which the results are in effect for seven years. Once the time period has expired, there can be no enforcement of the speed limit laws with the use of radar. LAPD has adopted the position that no speed enforcement will be done unless it is with the use of Radar. Without speed enforcement, the speed of traffic increases. Over time the average speed increases as well. When the next traffic survey is conducted, the average speed is higher and the limit is set higher.

The law is under review at the State level but even with the current state restrictions, there must be a change in policy which will force LAPD to enforce speed limit violations even without the ability to use Radar.

3) The city is currently studying leasing the rights to its parking meters and certain parking garages for a large cash payment up front. Do you support this kind of financing ideas, and if so what kind of conditions should be part of any agreement with a private firm?

No. Over the past several months we have witnessed the results of poor planning and poor communication with regards to parking meters.

As a consequence, meter rates were increased, hours extended and new meters installed at locations which go against common sense and create additional challenges to small business and theatres.

There must be communication between city departments and local community groups like Neighborhood Councils prior to making such changes. Privatizing the parking meters and parking garages will create an environment which will be even more detrimental.

4) What can the City Council do to reduce and prevent fatal crashes involving pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable users?

Pedestrian Safety has been the topic of discussion at many Neighborhood Council meetings which I have been attending and for good reason. The number of injuries and deaths are also related to question number 2. With the lack of enforcement and increase of speed, there has surfaced another challenge. Motorists have for the most part become immune to recognizing and respecting crosswalks. What has now occurred as common practice is that pedestrians crossing the street in traditional crosswalks have a false sense of security, believing the motorist will stop for them. More often than not, the motorist does not stop and the pedestrian is struck. The City has taken a drastic and I believe unwise position in dealing with this challenge. They have opted to remove the component which gives the "false sense of security" the crosswalk!

Given the primary duty of our electeds to provide for public safety, these crosswalks must be up graded with additional safety items, not less.

Cyclists injures have also been on a dramatic increase. Addressing the issue of street speed and safer road conditions will add to Bicycle Safety.

5) The former Council Woman for CD2, Wendy Greuel, chaired the Transportation Committee. Do you want to be part of the Transportation Committee?

Yes, as a commuter on an Electric Scooter and my interaction with various Bicycle Advocates, this issue and challenge are important to me.

6) One of the ways that a City Council Member can effect change for non-motorized users is by appointing informed activists to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Are you familar with community activists who could best serve an appointed position on these committees?

Yes. Stephen Box has proven to be a strong and knowledgeable advocate for the cyclists’ community. Groups like the BikeWriters Collective will play an important role in my efforts to address these safety concerns. Their Cyclist’ Bill of Rights has provided a sound foundation from which to begin.

7) If you could change one thing about transportation in Los Angeles with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

To have the ability to redesign the system of roadways, bike ways, light rail and rapid transportation with the knowledge of how our city would be today. Even without the "magic Wand" we must step up and begin to plan and resolve these issues as the population will be increasing whether we act or not.

4 thoughts on CD 2 Questionnaire: Frank Sheftel Responds

  1. Joe – I would assume with more people riding now the incidence of injury are necessarily higher. Cyclists who have not ridden in a long time may have an increased chance of injury, as are those who are brand new to the lifestyle. Add to this the popularity of fixed gear bikes skyrocketing, I can see where an increase of injury could be a reality.

    I do wonder what he bases his comment on though….

  2. @72HW – Any actual evidence of more people riding now in L.A.? I think that I see it in my own travel… but it all seems really anecdotal.

    Also, with more people riding, there isn’t necessarily an increase in injuries – in fact injuries can decrease. There’s a documented “safety in numbers” effect. See for example:
    http://la.streetsblog.org/2009/06/05/in-new-york-more-proof-of-safety-in-numbers-for-cyclists/

    I personally – entirely anecdotally – Joe’s uneducated guess – think that in LA, cycling in increasing, and that injuries aren’t increasing. I think that is especially likely to be true if compare what a similar injury rate would have been had these new cyclists been driving. There’s a European study that says that, especially for younger males (under age 50,) the risk of injury is less on a bike than it is in a car. See http://www.networks.nhs.uk/uploads/07/11/cycling_and_health.pdf

  3. Joe – I agree with you on all points indeed. If Sheftel has a study (they don’t count cyclists, why would the count cyclist injuries?!) I would like to read it…

    And yes, if there are more cyclists streets can be made safer, and often times are, due to increased public demand. My point was simply the “nOOb” biker dumping it at a light, novice fixie rider going ass over tea kettle and other similar accidents that result in hospital or doctor visits may contribute to a perceived increase of cycling injuries.

    I like that European study BTW – nice to know young males drive like shit in places other than LA!

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