DIY Goes Legit: Hills Community Wants to Pay for Its Traffic Calming

3_17_10_elektra.jpgNot exactly the same situation as Northeast L.A.

Fed up with speeding traffic zooming through their local street, residents of the well-to-do Mt. Olympus Homeowner’s Association have approached the city with a plan to pay for the speed humps and speed feedback signs that would make a difference in protecting their street from speeding drivers of all stripes.  A motion to allow them to do just that was heard at last week’s City Council Transportation Committee Hearing, with a resolution expected at next weeks.

Because of the wide nature of Electra and Mt. Olympus roads compared to other roads through the Hills, commuters are using the route as an alternative to the arterial street, Laurel Canyon Road, to the west.  Jerry Lynette, a homeowner near that curve at the bottom-right of the google image, complained specifically that teenagers "playing in their father’s cars" take the turn at excessive speeds.  Just counting his experiences and that of his family, he counted six crashes that occurred getting into and out of his driveway because of excessive speeds.  Meanwhile, Homeowner’s Association President Mel Rumba complains that residents can’t let their children out in the streets.

After years of complaining, the Homeowners approached their Council Member, Tom LaBonge, about paying for speed humps and speed feedback signs on their roads themselves.  They expressed willingness to go through whatever procedural hoops the LADOT required, but just wanted some action done before, in one resident’s words, "this ends in blood."

But not so fast.  LADOT Assistant General Manager John Fisher warned that speed humps wouldn’t be appropriate, because of the grade of the hill, at the places the residents wanted.  Instead he proposed the LADOT complete a study on the best place to place the speed bumps, causing LaBonge and Council Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl to give them a two week deadline to report to the Transportation Committee with their findings.  That deadline expires one week from today.

Streetsblog has written a lot about the challenges communities in Los Angeles have in reducing cut-through traffic in their local streets; but if this effort goes nowhere, it would be a truly sad statement.  The community has the support of their Councilman, the Committee Chair for Transportation is thrilled about using this as a precedence throughout the city, and their own pot of money to complete the project.  If this project gets stymied, what hope is there for the rest of us?

To read more about this issue, LaBonge’s motion authorizing the community to pay for their own street care can be read here.

  • Dealing with the LADOT is like trying to have an honest conversation with Richard Nixon.

    One thing I would suggest to this neighborhood group is to drop the specific request for speed bumps, but insist on a street design that all but forces drivers to move at or below the posted speed limit. There are a lot of smart engineers in the department, and they know exactly how to reduce speeds in terrain such as this.

    If you try to push for a specific engineering “fix”, the LADOT will zero in on that and focus their efforts at debunking you fix. It costs them little to have their brass blab at you for hours and hours.

    If you’ve gone and built a political coalition, and have the $ to do the work, then really it is all about convincing one of these high level managers at the LADOT to set a team up for this project (and to thus drop something else they are working on).

    Make it very clear to the Mayor’s office (your councilman is often the least effective in these situations) that you are all pissed at him for not doing his job and fixing this error in ROAD DESIGN.

    You need a new road design. Speed bumps are not necessarily the right thing. Don’t get hung up on that.

  • nobody

    Honestly, I agree with LADOT that speed humps wouldn’t be appropriate in this case, because of the hills and noise (a car going over a speed hump downhill can go airborne).

    Instead, they should consider installing chicanes and chokers…traffic would have to slow down to make the curves and it would be quieter than the result with speed humps. It is a little more costly to implement (permanently), but would be more effective for reducing speeds and volumes.

  • All good comments and solutions. I would caution that you can’t design to overcome stupidity. If someone is going to go drifting at 40 mph around a corner designed for 15 mph. Whether chicanes or speed bumps, there’s are idiots out there willing to test the design theory with their (or their parents) car.

  • DIY has been legit all along!

  • Erik G.

    The thing I want to build some day is a radar-controlled device that would toss an inexpensive children’s ball (like the ones they have in the giant bin at the supermarket) into te street automatically whenever anyone drove by at 2 mph above the posted speed limit.

  • Bobby

    @Erik: Better stock that device with a lot of balls!

  • ha. the LADOT does not pass up any opportunity to naysay ANYTHING that might possibly make life better for those who oppose cut through traffic. The whole department needs to sink into an LA sized pothole.

  • la rider

    Do we really need a f..in study for everything. This is getting ridiculous. I hate Los Angeles in this respect, everything needs a study here. In 5 years Beiing, China built out over 8 subway lines in a city bigger than Los Angeles and now they are even restriping bike lanes.

    What the hell have we done. We can’t even get a sharrow without a study. Fuck studies, just do the shit. If it doesn’t work, go do it somewhere else, it will cost much less than these studies we keep on doing.

    Even in first world countries like South Korea, they built out a completely new subway line in a short amount of time.

    Put a f…in speed bump, if some idiot takes it at 40, hopefully they pay the price and other idiots won’t follow their example.

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