Speed Humps Installed Surrounding Nine Valley Schools

4_23_10_alarcon.jpgMiranda Chavez, Student Body Vice President for Langdon Elementary, speaks as some other politicians and students look on. Photo: Office of Richard Alarcon

City Councilman Richard Alarcon has always been a vocal supporter for traffic calming and safe streets around schools and other places that children congregate. In 2007, he introduced legislation calling for the LADOT to report on how it prioritizes traffic calming devices around schools, parks and recreation centers. Last year, he introduced the resolution which created the "set-aside" for bicycle and pedestrian projects in the city’s Measure R Local Return funds.

We all know that the battle to slow traffic is a hard one, so yesterday must have been a good one for the Councilman. Surrounded by students from Langdon Elementary, Alarcon celebrated the installation of speed humps and curb cuts around eight schools in the 7th Councilmanic District, paid for with Safe Routes to Schools funds. At Langdon Elementary School, where the press conference was held, there have been 28 collisions on that block between 2003-2008, including 2 pedestrian related and 4 bicycle related accidents, as reported by LADOT.

"It is always fantastic to hear of leaders and communities addressing and prioritizing the needs of children and their families to safely and enjoyably access their schools," says Jessica Meaney, California Policy Manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

Streetsblog had been highly critical of the city’s grant writing efforts when it comes to "Safe Routes to Schools," the projects and proposals coming out of Alarcon’s district have always been superior to the fare offered by LADOT for the rest of the city. That the LADOT complains about the city not receiving its "fare share" of SRTS funding while eight schools in one district have traffic calming installed with SRTS funds over the course of one week tells the story. If anyone is interested in seeing these kinds of projects for their local schools, there is a Safe Routes to School’s training session at the Caltrans building Downtown at 9:00 A.M. If you’re interested, email Caltrans’ local SRTS Direcyor at dale_benson@dot.ca.gov. The meeting occurs in advance of a July 15 deadline to apply for $24 million in California SRTS grants.

In addition to Langdon Elementary, traffic calming was installed in recent weeks a seven other schools. Here are the schools with the speed humps and curb cuts:

  • Pacoima Elementary School
  • Rosa Parks Learning Center School
  • Sepulveda Middle School
  • Chase Elementary School
  • Maclay Middle School
  • St. Didacus Religious Education School
  • Sylmar High School.
  • The fight with the LADOT on these speed humps was something that dragged out their installation considerably.

    The LADOT wants its “fair share” of SRTS money, but is unwilling, or aggressively opposed, to actual traffic calming around schools.

    Every LAUSD school I went to had terrible amenities for crossing the streets. Everything was slanted towards being dropped off by a parent driving a car – which is a logistics disaster no matter how you slice it.

    Alarcon should run for office closer to metropolitan LA once he terms out. The guy is far out in front of so many other city councilmembers with his ability to get things done in his district. The issues his office tackles apply profoundly in lots of other parts of LA where leadership, or the ability to execute a plan, has been severely lacking.

    In other words, where is the traffic calming in my district, CD 1 and CD 14?! Come Huizar and Reyes! You’ve got volunteers putting your office to shame with sharrows, public safety posters, pedestrian rights protests, etc.

    This is bread and butter local politics. Let the pass-through car commuters try and vote you out when you can show that you’ve saved lives, saved money, increased the value of homes, made businesses more profitable. So a car driver has to go a little slower by a school yard (as they should), big deal. Kudos to those lawmakers unafraid of the LADOT’s barricades to traffic calming and livable street design.

  • Yuri

    Only in LA would a DOT be opposed to traffic calming around schools. That’s bizarre.

  • Well done Councilmember Alarcón!

    Hey, children also go to other places, like stores, homes, parks, so we should do traffic calming in those places too. Even if there were no children involved it would make sense. Adult pedestrians and cyclists (not to mention motorists and their passengers) are worth protecting as well.

    This comes down to vehicle speed versus human life, and when you frame it that way, it’s hard to say no to traffic calming.

  • la rider

    @chewie

    LOL. Children do go everywhere.

    And, they ride bikes on streets. Especially on non existent bike paths in Los Angeles ;)

    Let’s start including the children’s welfare in arguments for better bike infrastructure. That’s what everybody else does in California politics. Any important issue always has kids involved for some reason.

    Children are near the Expo line.
    Children don’t like gay marriage.
    Children need healthcare.
    No cuts in education cause children need an education
    Keep people in jail longer because children don’t like child predators.

    I could go on and on. It seems that we have a pattern. If you really want people to be sympathetic with your issue always throw a ‘child under the bus’ per se :) Nothing appeals to peopel in California more.

  • Spokker

    I hate children so including children in an issue is a sure fire way to lose my vote ;)

  • I believe Spokker was referring to this:

  • joe

    On my commute I have to head by 3 schools, a elementary school, middle school and a high school. I have to say that the most danger comes from parents themself. They drive at highspeeds to get in and out of the area. They stop in the middle of the street (sometimes 2 lanes from the curb) and are also often talking on their cellphones when attempting to expose of the kiddo.

    These speed humps are awesome, but the real danger around schools are truly parents. Most childless drives know to avoid this traffic choking points by all cost.

    I would love to see a study that shows the number of accidents around schools and what percentage of them are parents dropping off kids.

  • joe,

    Wouldn’t we all like to see such a study!

    Unfortunately, thought LA has a General Fund budget of over $8 billion, it never publishes the data it’s various agencies generate related to traffic fatalities and injuries. The data gets sent to the state, but councilmembers never receive a report on their districts, neighborhood councils never find out what the 10 most unsafe intersections are in their area, parents never get to see a map of unsafe streets around the schools their kids use.

    The weight of such a study would be immense as it would quantify the dangers we all know exist. It would show us the costs associated with the LADOT’s policies of auto-only road design in nearly every context.

  • la rider

    @spokker

    I agree with you ;) But people are easily manipulated in California. Just throw in the word child and everybody kowtows.

    @Umberto Brayj

    On overparenting. I have family and I ask them what they remember most about their childhood. They always reply with having freedom and riding their bike anywhere and everywhere. I then ask them why they keep their kids locked up. Their reply is that the world has changed and they’re are more dangerous people then when they were children.

  • la rider,

    That is so funny, since you can show that clearly the world is much safer than the one they inhabited in their youth. What has changed is the culture of parenting. That, and the built environment most kids live in these days. There are few places for kids to get the unstructured play time in. When I do see kids at the park, parents are hovering and constantly saying “No!”. It drives me nuts, but I just ignore them and play with my kid (running around, screaming, picking up sticks and digging in the dirt).

  • Cory

    I have to back Josef on that one! Why do parents over-parent? When I take my kids to the park, I let them play, I push them on the swings if they want me to, but mostly I sit back at let them discover the world for themselves. Children are resilient!

    I was just at the SR2S meeting at CalTrans and Ryan Synder (who hosted the meeting) brought up the concept of free-range kids. Owning a bicycle was freedom for me, it taught me how to be flexible and responsible (most of the time). I just bought my oldest son his first BMX last weekend, putting his training wheels on and helping him adjust his helmet for the first time was one of the best days as a father I have had, because I am passing the bicycle-torch to him.

  • David

    You people need to get a clue. Speed humps ARE dangerous and can cause more problems than they solve if they aren’t installed properly, and with a specific intent. To say that by simply installing speed humps safety will be enhanced is a short-sighted and ignorant point of view. Are communities prepared to pay for the lawsuits filed by those injured by speed humps? What about the ADA, don’t handicapped people have the right to use those streets as well? Don’t motorcyclists pay taxes as well? How about bicyclists? If you live at the end of a long street with several speed humps, how much longer will it take to get an ambulance/fire engine/emergency crew to your house if your loved-one has a heart attack? People should do a little more research before they get all warm and fuzzy about speed humps because the data is fairly conclusive that they can easily create many more health problems than they solve for the basic reason that any time you put something that impedes traffic in the middle of the road, accidents INCREASE.

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