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LADOT’s New Broadway Pre-Project Report Heralds Data-Driven Evaluation

Cover

Cover of new Broadway Dress Rehearsal report [PDF]

Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT) released a new report entitled Broadway Dress Rehearsal: Pre-Installation Existing Conditions Report 2014 [PDF]. The handsome 82-page report is full of facts, figures and graphs all detailing the “safety, public life, and economic” conditions on Broadway from 2nd Street to 11th Street in downtown Los Angeles. This stretch of street is where the Broadway Dress Rehearsal project was recently completed. The streetscape project removed a traffic lane to make space for plazas which feature outdoor seating and planters.

LADOT’s announcement states that the Broadway report is the first one to use the department’s new “robust methodology for pre- and post-installation evaluation and data collection.” This evaluation process is outlined in a second report entitled Project Evaluation Manual V1.1 [PDF]. LADOT further states, “By using established metrics that illuminate how new public spaces and street design impact the life of the street, we can track trends over time, evaluate project performance, and inform future program direction.” 

LADOT plans to do a corresponding post-installation study in Fall 2015 to compare the conditions before and after the Broadway Dress Rehearsal.

The reports are from LADOT’s innovative People St shop, the folks who are oversee the city’s new plaza, parklet, and bike corral programs.

What does the report say about Broadway? Here are some highlights from LADOT’s announcement:

Pedestrians generally outnumber vehicles on Broadway. There were more people walking along Broadway over the course of just 6 hours than motor vehicles traveling along the corridor over a 24-hour period on the same weekend day.

From 2007 to 2012, 120 intersection and 94 mid-block injury collisions were reported along Broadway (involving people driving, walking, and bicycling).

Pedestrian and bicycle injury collisions have been increasing.

Most mid-block collisions were caused by unsafe lane changes and unsafe speed by drivers.

Vehicular speeds and volumes differ for northbound vs. southbound traffic. Traffic speeds were higher and volumes lower going southbound; traffic speeds were lower and volumes higher northbound.

Excessive driver speeding behavior was observed. Almost one-quarter of drivers were speeding while heading south on Broadway on the weekday studied.

The report is chock-full of great visuals, breaking down all sorts of data, even differentiating the east and west sides of Broadway. There is information on motorists yielding, motorist encroachment on crosswalks, bike and pedestrian counts, speeding, collisions, spending, tax revenue, and even pedestrian group size and posture (standing vs. sitting).

Below are some sample data visualizations:

Counts of people walking and bicycling on Broadway. From Broadway Dress Rehearsal report [PDF]

Counts of people walking and bicycling on Broadway. From Broadway Dress Rehearsal report [PDF]

Read more…

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Where Should ‘Barnes Dance’ Diagonal Scramble Crosswalks Go?

LA Gets Diagonal Crosswalks (again) from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Last week, the L.A. Times ran this article announcing that the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) is planning to add new diagonal “scramble” or “Barnes Dance” crosswalks at three pedestrian-heavy Metro-rail adjacent intersections:

  • 7th Street and Flower Street, Downtown Los Angeles
  • Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, Hollywood
  • Aliso Street and Alameda Street, at Union Station, Downtown Los Angeles

Though scramble intersections are working just fine thank you in Pasadena, at USC, and at UCLA, the Times trotted out an unnamed L.A. transportation engineer who, in 1995, said they wouldn’t work here.

This got SBLA thinking: This is a great idea, but LADOT just isn’t going far enough! What other pedestrian-heavy intersections would be great for scramble treatments? Why not MacArthur Park? Wilshire and Vermont? in front of L.A. Trade Tech? And why not go further? Can we close some streets around our rail stations, maybe even around our schools, too – make them only for walking and bicycling? At certain hours? or all the time – like plazas or mini-CicLAvias?

Comment away, dear readers! Where would you put pedestrian scrambles? In L.A. or elsewhere? Where could we go further?

 

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Trick or Treat: LADOT Gets It Right on Halloween

This year the LADOT released its annual safety guide for Halloween, a tradition that dates back to 2008.

Uhm, ok. Image:##http://followpics.co/walking-down-the-street-on-halloween-i-happen-upon-the-greatest-group-costume-ever-imgur-okay-who-will-do-this-with-me-next-year-we-could-dress-up-our-kids-as-banana-peels-super-stars-and-tu/##Follow Pics##

Uhm, ok. Image:Follow Pics

And honestly, it makes me kind of proud.

You see, Streetsblog has a history with LADOT on Halloween. Back at the Streetsblog L.A. predecessor site, Street Heat, we needled LADOT for not providing safety tips as is common with agencies around the country. With some families exploring their neighborhoods at night for the first time, the world’s unofficial pedestrian holiday provides a good time to get some free press around safety issues.

The next year, LADOT did publish…but the guidelines were kind of weak. They focused on how to keep your kids from getting run over (good!) but didn’t mention anything to the people that might be doing the running over (bad).

A couple of years later, the agency finally added tips for drivers, much to our delight. Even more exciting, the tips started to be picked up by local TV stations.

So now, as parents are picking up their kids and getting ready for a big night out, we are happy to republish the LADOT safety tips.

Be safe out there kids, parents, and drivers. Have a good night.

Read more…

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New Chamber of Commerce Excited About Great Streets on Venice Blvd.

Bonin bus stop

Mike Bonin hops on the Venice Rapid for his morning commute. This uncharacteristically damp morning isn’t the best background, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before Venice can truly be considered a Great Street. Photo: Damien Newton

Mike Bonin is not someone who is known for thinking small.

“There’s a universe of opportunities,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin, of the proposed “Great Street” on Venice Boulevard. “But it’s important that this not be ‘Mike’s project,’ or the ‘Mayor’s project,’ or the ‘DOT’s Project,’ but the people’s project.”

Bonin was speaking excitedly about the “Great Streets” designation granted to Venice Boulevard between Inglewood Boulevard on the east and Beethoven Street on the west. Great Streets is an initiative to take a section of street in each of the fifteen City Council Districts and turn them into great places to walk, bike, sit outside, or just be…just exist.

While Bonin prefers the phrase “universe of opportunities” to describe everything that can be done, Mayor Eric Garcetti uses the term “urban-acupuncture” to illustrate the idea that these streets will be slimmed down to car traffic and opened up for other uses. Think of streets with trees for shade, modern crosswalks, clean and wide sidewalks, even just appropriately placed park benches and trash cans.

“A small burst of energy can transform a community,” Garcetti is fond of saying.

“One small change, especially if the community is behind it, can get things rolling,” Bonin echoes.

So what will Venice Boulevard look like after it has been changed to a Great Street? And when will Venice, or any of the other 14 Great Streets, actually start to see improvements?

There is not a good answer to the second question. Nobody seems to know when street improvements are going to come.

As for the first one…

“I have some ideas, but it’s really up to the community,” Bonin promises.

During the 2013 election, Bonin offered a vision of a Venice Boulevard teeming with small businesses and a walkable community during our candidates’ forum. But when pressed in our Great Streets interview, he kept going back to the idea that this was the community’s decision.

Not his.

Not Garcetti’s.

The community’s. Read more…

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Leimert Park People St. Plaza Set for Soft Opening at December CicLAvia

Detail of People St. Plaza plan and the Sankhofa symbol -- one of many designs that stakeholders hope to use to fill the polka dots that will grace the plaza. Plaza design: Kendall Planning + Design

The People St. Plaza plan for 43rd Pl in Leimert Park and the Sankofa symbol — one of many designs that stakeholders hope to use to fill the polka dots that will grace the plaza. The Metro station for the Crenshaw Line will be just a few hundred feet away. Plaza design: Kendall Planning + Design (click to enlarge)

On my way to a meeting of the Leimert Park Village stakeholders at the Vision Theater a few weeks ago, I poked my head into the art space known as the KAOS Network looking for founder and artist Ben Caldwell.

I found him huddled around a table with Sherri Franklin, the founder of Urban Design Center, and Alison Kendall, Principal Architect at Kendall Planning + Design (both of whom worked on the project pro-bono), finalizing the designs for Leimert Park’s People St. plaza project to be implemented at 43rd Pl. between Leimert Park Bl. and Degnan.

As Kendall and Franklin discussed the color scheme and the type and placement of street furniture and foliage around the perimeter, Caldwell scrolled through images of symbols that they hoped to use to fill in the polka dots that would grace the plaza. It was coming down to the wire, Kendall said, as she flipped through the pages of the plan. They needed to get their design specifications in to LADOT for approval so that the plaza would be ready in time for a soft opening at CicLAvia on December 7.

Watching them go back and forth over which elements would fit within LADOT’s standard kit offerings provided a hint of the effort it had taken to pull the proposal together.

Stakeholders had first needed to find a “community partner” (in this case, the Institute for Maximum Human Potential) who could provide insurance for the plaza, aid with the design, and take responsibility for the financing, maintenance, and programming around the project. Then they needed to gather signatures and letters of support, pull together a budget and list of potential plaza-centric activities, and design the space in a way that felt organic to the community but fit within the standard options that LADOT was offering (see more about the development of the project and the Thought Leadership Team here).

While they had embraced the idea of putting together a People St. project, they had been adamant that they wanted it to reflect the character and culture of the community. It also had to fit into their “20/20 Vision” — the longer-term strategy for the future named, in part, for the year the Leimert Park station of the Crenshaw Line is expected to open. Read more…

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Councilmember Cedillo Adds Stop Sign In Response To Fatal Hit-and-Run

New stop sign at Avenue 50 and San Marcos Place in Highland Park. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New stop sign at Avenue 50 and San Marcos Place in Highland Park. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

On September 14, a hit-and-run driver killed 57-year-old Gloria Ortiz. Ms. Ortiz was walking in a crosswalk in the Northeast Los Angeles community of Highland Park. The hit-and-run crime took place at the intersection of Avenue 50 and San Marcos Place, adjacent to Aldama Street Elementary School. According to KTLA5, witnesses stated that the driver “just ran her over, didn’t even turn back.”

Local residents joke darkly that speeding drivers think Avenue 50 is the name of the speed limit, not the street.

Councilmember Cedillo speaking yesterday in front of Aldama Elementary School. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Councilmember Cedillo speaking yesterday in front of Aldama Elementary School. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Less than a month later, yesterday, community leaders joined Los Angeles Councilmember Gil Cedillo and Transportation Department (LADOT) head Seleta Reynolds to highlight city efforts to make Avenue 50 safer. New stop signs were added to the intersection where Ortiz was killed. The existing somewhat-worn continental crosswalk was freshly re-painted, actually freshly re-thermoplastic-ed. @HLP90042 posted before and after photos at Twitter.

Councilmember Cedillo, who has dragged his heels on safety improvements approved for nearby North Figueroa, spoke on his commitment to “street safety, particularly around schools and where people gather.”

General Manager Reynolds emphasized that “the biggest predictor of fatalities on a street is speed, and the biggest factor in speed on your street is design” and reiterated her department’s commitment to making “safety our number one priority.”

Local resident Monica Alcaraz, president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, praised the city’s quick response in adding the stop sign. She described walking to Aldama School as being safe when she was younger. Today, walking her daughter to the school, she fears for their safety. Alcaraz stated that Avenue 50 is dangerous when parents are making illegal U-turns and double-parking at school drop-off and pick-up times, and, then, when the students aren’t around, Avenue 50 is dangerous because so many drivers speed. Alcaraz urged LAPD to spend more time on traffic enforcement there to prevent future tragedies.

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LADOT’s Bold New Strategic Vision: Eliminate L.A. Traffic Deaths By 2025

Cover of LADOT's bold new strategic plan. View full document here.

Cover of LADOT’s bold new strategic plan. View full document here.

Today, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) released its new strategic plan, entitled Great Streets for Los Angeles.

First, we’ll editorialize enthusiastically: this plan is excellent.

And very much needed in Los Angeles.

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds characterizes it as a “plan [that] requires us to do our jobs in a fundamentally different way.”

There have long been holistic thinkers at LADOT, but they’ve been in the minority, squeezing in opportunistic improvements in the midst of a departmental culture that prioritized car convenience. In the past half-dozen years, under the leadership of previous General Manager Jaime de la Vega and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LADOT has warmed up to a broader mission that balances the needs of all road users.

But today’s plan is a quantum leap forward.

Front and center in the new plan is Vision Zero.

For the uninitiated, Vision Zero is a transportation planning, law enforcement, and planning project started in Sweden in 1997. The goal is simple: eradicate traffic fatalities. Any traffic fatality is one too many. Every decision involving transportation, from how wide a road should be to how to target traffic enforcement efforts, must meet the goal of making the streets safer for all road users.

From LADOT's plan: eliminate traffic fatalities by 2025

From LADOT’s plan: eliminate traffic fatalities by 2025

LADOT is thinking big — the departmental plan is to “eliminate traffic fatalities in Los Angeles by 2025.”

Under Vision Zero, L.A. joins San Francisco, New York City, and many other great cities around the world in the push to eliminate traffic fatalities. By embracing Vision Zero as its first and most prominent goal, LADOT is finally saying “enough is enough.” Safety will now be the first priority in transportation decisions going forward.

“There’s a reason it’s the first thing you see when you get into the meat of the plan,” says Reynolds of Vision Zero. “Changing the way we talk about [safety in transportation], and changing the way we think about it, and changing the way that we approach our everyday work to refocus around this — that’s the thing that really is most inspiring and exciting to me.”

“To see LADOT commit to ending traffic deaths in our lifetime is a dream come true,” writes Deborah Murphy, the founder and president of Los Angeles Walks. “L.A. Walks is determined that the Vision Zero campaign will engage more city departments, including LAPD, public works, city planning and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, to ensure the successful implementation of the campaign and assure the improved safety of our streets.”

While it is great to see LADOT take a lead on Vision Zero, it is doubly encouraging to see the department heeding Murphy’s advice — the plan identifies city agencies as partners. Reynolds further states that “external partners are also implicit in our success.” That means you, Streetsblog readers.

There’s plenty more in the plan that Streetsblog readers will love. Read more…

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Thanks For a Great Reception for LADOT GM Seleta Reynolds Last Night!

Happy Birthday Seleta Reynolds (left)! Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Candles on Big Man Bakes cupcakes to wish a warm happy birthday to Seleta Reynolds (right.) Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last night’s capacity crowd reception honored the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department’s new General Manager Seleta Reynolds. Not only is Reynolds a champion for safety and for great places, but she even committed to scheduling this reception though it coincided with her birthday.

A big thanks to all the folks responsible for making last night’s reception a big success:

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Meet Seleta Reynolds, the Safe Streets Advocate Running LADOT

Seleta Reynolds speaks at the ribbon cutting for the "Dressed Rehearsal" on Broadway. Photo: LADOT

Seleta Reynolds speaks at the ribbon cutting for the “Dress Rehearsal” on Broadway. Photo: LADOT

(If you want to skip the article and the editing and just listen to our half-hour conversation, click here. – DN)

If you spend some time with the newly minted General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, you would think she was an LADOT lifer not a recent transplant from the San Francisco MTA.

She can speak eloquently of the “great heart” that Los Angeles’ people have, belying the image projected by Hollywood.

Dressed in a suit and bike helmet, she points out road hazards on her bike commute to work, weaves around every pothole, manhole, and cracked street with the knowledge of a regular.

She can even recite DOT history going back years, thanks in part to her avid interest in reading Streetsblog.

It’s not until you visit her office that you remember Seleta Reynolds has been on the job at LADOT for roughly a month. The walls are nearly barren. A map of her first project at Fehr and Peers, the Morro Street Bicycle Boulevard in San Luis Obispo, had arrived the day before our interview.

But you don’t need blank walls to tell you that Reynolds is a true breath of fresh air to a department that, in the past, has primarily prioritized a perceived need to drive quickly. Reynolds talked about community and community building in response to questions about the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, equity in transportation funding, relationships with the City Council, and building a bicycle share system that will work in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Region.

And it’s these new ideas, and a new commitment to an LADOT that is people-focused, that has advocates, and our political leadership, so excited. When announcing her nomination to head LADOT, Mayor Eric Garcetti referred to her as the “ideal field marshal in our war against traffic.” City Council Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin was just as illustrative in an email response for this story, “Seleta is a rock star – a game-changer – who will lead the charge to get Los Angeles moving again.”

I could write a full story on each of the eight topics we covered last Tuesday, but instead I’ve broken up the audio into more manageable three- or four-minute segments with a short summary. This can all be found after the jump. Read more…

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Five Things I Learned at This Week’s L.A. Transportation Committee

Here are the top five things I learned listening in to this week’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee meeting. The public meeting took place Wednesday, August 27, at Los Angeles City Hall. If you’re nimble and/or having trouble sleeping, catch the full audio here.

1. Seleta Reynolds Hearts Car Share

In discussion of the city’s anemic car share program, new Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds described herself as a “long-time fan of car share and a frequent user of it.” Reynolds bemoaned the lack of a viable car share option in her new Silver Lake neighborhood.

Hertz car share didn't work out so well for Los Angeles. Image via Flickr user tom-margie

Hertz car share didn’t work out so well for Los Angeles. Image via Flickr user tom-margie

The GM announced an “immediate expansion” of the city’s provisions to enable basic car sharing planned for this September, with a more robust expansion, likely including point-to-point options, coming at some unspecified later date. Reynolds stated that she favors a system that would include multiple providers. This should prevent issues like those associated with the failures like the city’s selected vendor Hertz becoming unresponsive.

To be continued. I too dig car share, and am happy Reynolds is on it.

2. Protected Bike Lanes This Year – Or Probably Not

In public testimony (audio at 01:05 here) about Los Angeles some day maybe perhaps one day you know possibly getting around to implementing those newfangled protected bike lanes that are all the rage in other cities, LADOT Bikeways’ Michelle Mowery stated:

MyFig is certainly one of these [protected bike lanes]. We’re also looking at Los Angeles Street right now. We believe we will have that on the ground within this next fiscal year.

When SBLA tweeted the good news, LADOT Bike Program took to the Twittersphere to let folks know that no protected bike lanes are coming this year, but that My Figueroa construction will happen soon. SBLA will dig more into this story. Did Mowery mean “a Los Angeles street” or “Los Angeles Street?” Could it be part of longer-term plans for Union Station? In any case, I am looking forward to protected bike lanes arriving on these shores. Ones not inside tunnels, that is.

3. Streetsblog Hearts Great New Traffic Metrics

Spoiler alert: wonky acronyms ahead. I knew that changes in California’s traffic modeling was big news, with the state ditching its car-centric car-only car-always Level of Service (LOS) measures for evaluating California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental impacts, and instead using Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)

It was great to hear it from LADOT Assistant General Manager Jay Kim.

Read more…