Bonin, LADOT Retooling Playa Del Rey Safety Improvements

Under pressure from critics, Vista Del Mar will return to its earlier four travel lane configuration, with parking relocated to the beach lot below

Vista Del Mar will soon return to four travel lanes, with free parking at the nearby Dockweiler Beach lot. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Vista Del Mar will soon return to four travel lanes, with free parking at the nearby Dockweiler Beach lot. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
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For the second time, the L.A. City Department of Transportation (LADOT) and City Councilmember Mike Bonin are rolling back some aspects of recent Playa Del Rey street safety improvements. The city action is measured, and though it will restore travel lanes drivers are clamoring for, the overall project focus on pedestrian safety remains intact.

According to the LADOT PDR website, crews are out today making modifications to turn signals in Playa Del Rey. In August, LADOT will modify lane striping on Vista Del Mar. As a result of these changes LADOT and Bonin have canceled a planned PDR open house that had been scheduled to take place tomorrow.

The latest changes were announced via a Bonin YouTube video posted late Wednesday.

In June, responding to multiple traffic deaths, LADOT implemented a series of safety improvements on Vista Del Mar, Pershing Drive, Culver Boulevard, and Jefferson Boulevard.  The roadway reconfigurations for Pershing, Culver, and Jefferson were the result of a couple years of working with the community. The Vista Del Mar reconfiguration was added as a Vision Zero emergency response to two costly pedestrian death lawsuits. The lane reductions, as intended, have slowed down PDR traffic, causing car commuters, many of whom live in neighboring South Bay cities, to experience longer commute times. Though many residents support them, the improvements triggered a loud backlash on social media, with a great deal of outrage targeted toward Mike Bonin.

In early July, LADOT added back a travel lane on the northern portion of Culver Boulevard.

LADOT is modifying turn signals in central Playa Del Rey today. Image via LADOT
LADOT is modifying turn signals in central Playa Del Rey today. Image via LADOT

Today, LADOT is reconfiguring turning behavior in central Playa Del Rey, to allow for better car throughput and to help folks more easily drive to the neighborhood around the Del Rey Lagoon.

In August, LADOT will be removing all parking on Vista Del Mar, and restoring it to its former configuration with two car lanes in each direction. There will no parking on Vista Del Mar; former parking there will be replaced by free and discounted parking at L.A. County’s Dockweiler Beach parking lot below. Bonin worked with L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn to arrange for the Dockweiler parking. The shifting of free parking from Vista Del Mar to the beach itself should solve the earlier dire problem of multiple pedestrians killed trying to cross the street to access the beach. (Editor’s opinion: with parking eliminated, it looks to me like there would probably be enough space for four travel lanes and new protected bike lanes – or would that further fan controversy?)

Recent road reconfigurations will remain in place for Pershing, Jefferson, and Culver.

Bonin also announced the formation of a Playa Del Rey road safety task force that will receive public input, review data, and consider future changes. Bonin pledged that the most critical metric for future changes will be road safety.

For additional coverage of the PDR rollback, see the L.A. Times, KPCC, Biking in L.A., and The Argonaut. For the latest from LADOT, see their Safe Streets PDR website.

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    I have mixed feelings about this- I’m concerned about how anti-safety groups are taking these changes as proof that road diets are ruining everyone’s lives (everyone being anyone who drives). It could imperil efforts in other parts of LA. I’m glad they’re keeping the changes on Pershing, Jefferson, and Culver.

  • Are we sure that it is “free and discounted” parking? I read “free or affordable” parking in the Daily Breeze coverage of this story:

    http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20170727/la-councilman-truly-sorry-for-vista-del-mar-traffic-mess-4-lanes-to-return-in-august

    This is a key point, because the parking in the County Lot is *not* free now, and “affordability” as we know from the housing crisis, is often based on statistical manipulation, such that what gets considered “affordable” in Los Angeles County (or Hahn’s district) is not cheap at all.

    Also, the spaces on Vista Del Mar were available 24/7. These new spaces will only be on offer until 6:30pm in Winter time, 8:30pm in the Summer.

    And finally has anyone spoken to the Coastal Commission to see if they agree with this? They have the final say, IIRC.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    As a cyclist, I am very happy to get the additional general lanes back. Two-lane roads without shoulders only leads to cyclist harassment by motorists.

    As for bike lanes. Well, without cross/turning traffic and parked cars, this is the perfect stretch to have bike lanes. Personally, I would prefer not to have the “Protected” verity with the flex posts. This will run afoul with weekend group rides. Remember, there is the bike path for the kids and tourists as well as more direct Marine Avenue. Let us weekend road warriors have two miles of space.

  • Joe Linton

    Yah – Also “free” parking isn’t usually the best solution. Seems like it creates a hole in the county budget for beach maintenance…

  • Jason

    Looking at the picture at the top of the article: why not shove the parking a bit to the left, slightly narrow the travel lanes if necessary, and create a parking-protected two-way bike lane to the right of the parking?

    And if that grey gutter on the left is the bike lane, then well there you go, you don’t even need any more space, you just need a different allotment of space.

  • Joe Linton

    There are no bike lanes in the picture. Diagonal parking needs a lot of space for drivers to enter/exit safely, so I anticipate it’s not feasible to do what you’re suggesting.

  • D Man

    This blog is like the alt-bike where we get the alternative facts on “safety” in Los Angeles. The VDM improvements were not about safety, they were about making it difficult for hard working people to commute to their jobs. Safety improvement would have been adding crosswalks and street lights.

  • D Man

    It is not necessary to have a bike lane on VDM. As someone who rides this route on a frequent basis, there is a bike path and an access road just down the hill that ALL of us bikers ride on. You can either use the bike bath for a leisurely ride or cruise down the access road if you want to get to South Bay the quickest.

  • D Man

    We are not “anti-safety”. We are anti-propaganda and just aren’t buying into the conclusory arguments that this is necessary for safety. All of the fatalities on VDM occurred when it was dark and the liability arose out of a failure to provide crosswalks with signals and street lighting. The width of the street did not make a difference because the drivers did not see the pedestrians. All of the “safety” advocates cite to vague and conclusory data to support their positions. Some of us are smart enough to see that.

  • Joe Linton

    Cyclists use VDM too

  • trena carpenter

    I disagree with you to a point. I commute by bike 3 days per week from South Bay to Santa Monica on the beach bike path, I personally do not like riding with cars whenever possible. However, in late Fall through early Spring when there is rain and/or strong winds that pile up the sand on that stretch of the beach bike path. It is often so bad you can’t bike through it (even on the access road), and sometimes the county is quick to clean it up, but other times it is several days or longer (especially if they expect more rain in the forecast). So there is no option but to take VDM in that case to bypass all that sand. I agree it would be nice to have bike lanes integrated, or perhaps even better have bike “Sharrows” in the right lanes if they are returning it to 2 lanes each direction.
    On a side note, I for one am glad they are getting rid of the parking. When I bike on the access road down below it is frightening to watch those folks practically tumbling down those hills in the makeshift paths at 45 degree angles. Often with small children (sometimes even babies!) in tow. And the destruction to what used to be fences from being pushed through. There is also a lot of work that goes into beach maintenance that I never knew existed until I started commuting on that path at 6 am, lots of activity going on at that time to clean, screed sand, pick up the trash the seagulls spread around, etc…which I am sure parking revenue contributes to. You don’t get free parking hardly anywhere else at L.A. Beaches, so not sure why folks think they are entitled to it here.

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    I’d be less concerned when I see folks like you out there in other neighborhoods supporting efforts to protect all vulernable road users. We need more re-engineering efforts to make roads that work for everyone.

  • Matt

    The fatalities occurred because people pulled U turns from the general lanes of traffic as there were no U-turn lanes as well as pedestrians crossing the street since the parking was on the East side of the street. It wasn’t just pedestrian deaths, there were some violent car accidents from the U-turns. There would have to have been 10-12 crosswalks with signals and that would have slowed traffic down as well, but with no U-turn lanes it would have still been dangerous.

  • The VDM changes were about removing parking from the east side of the street, moving it all to the west (ocean) side, and in doing so angled parking had to be created. This resulted in only room for two traffic lanes.

    Crosswalks and Streetlights cannot just be added due to federal law, state law and ITE / MUTCD practices, all of which heavily favor the unimpeded travel of the automobile.

  • VDM will now likely have bike lanes added in the place of where the parking had been in the original configuration. Let me emphasize that VDM was not a bicycle project, and isn’t now, except that’s the only way one can prevent parking on the asphalt that will now be left over: Make it a bike lane.

  • But the parking on the City of Los Angeles ROW (VdM) was free before. I am still not clear that the Coast Commision will approve this loss of free parking. Parking is the most important thing in California as any true Shoupista can testify.

  • Jake Bloo

    “they were about making it difficult for hard working people to commute to their jobs”

    I doubt anyone starts or supports a street project with this sentiment.

  • Jake Bloo

    The optics of this are upsetting. Rolling back road diets gives the perception that road diets are just another loony experiment by people who hate cars.

    I worry now that other city councilmembers who already didn’t care much about street safety are going to be very uninterested in street safety. We’ve already seen this in Cedillio, though he has historically been this way.

  • Ray

    This all comes down to more people will complain about removing 2 traffic lanes then complain about the removal of free parking. The city still needs to address the speed problem. They should put a 35mph max speed and create narrower lanes and possibly traffic circles. A great place for a traffic circle would be the intersection of Vista Del Mar and Imperial Highway.

  • Joe Linton

    Due to crappy state law, the city has to set the speed limit based on the prevailing speeds. It can’t just arbitrarily put up a 35mph max speed limit. http://la.streetsblog.org/2016/06/15/legal-obstacles-to-safe-streets-california-speed-limit-laws/