Against All Odds, the Wilbur Road Diet Is Staying (for Now)

For eight months now, the LADOT has been taking shots in the Valley over the a two mile road diet on Wilbur Avenue.  Between Nordhoff and Chatsworth, Wilbur went from two lanes in both directions to one lane in each direction, a left turn lane, and bike lanes on both sides.  Last night, representatives of the Northridge and Porter Ranch Neighborhood Councils, in an official and deciding vote, voted to leave the current road configuration as it was instead of repainting the road to a compromise plan created by the LADOT and a Wilbur Working Group.  There’s a lot of potential headlines from this meeting, so I’ll do my best to give each of them their due.

A packed house. Many of the estimated 450 people in attendence were of the "give us back our road" or "we pay taxes, bicyclists don't" variety. Photo:##http://www.flickr.com/photos/29300710@N08/##LA Streetsblog/Flickr##

Roughly 450 people packed in to the auditorium at Noble Middle School.  A guess as to the allegiance of the audience would be a 65/35 split in favor of ending the entire diet at the peak of the meeting.  When the audience shrunk by the end to about a third of the original audience, it was probably a 65/35 split the other way.  While emotions ran high throughout the evening, a hand tally on my computer showed that speakers in favor of the Diet were four times as likely to be interrupted by booing, catcalls, and shouting than those opposed.  Let’s be clear, the majority of the audience was well behaved, whether they agreed or disagreed with the diet.  However, the hottest of the hotheads seemed to be on one side of the debate.

There was also a clear geographical divide in the audience.  Most of those in attendance lived in the Porter Ranch Neighborhood, located North of the diet, with a minority from the area effected by the diet.  At one point a commented asked for a show of hands for who lived South of Chatsworth, where the Road Diet started.  I would estimate 15-20% of the audience, and two or three Neighborhood Council Members raised their hands.  To their credit, the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council worked hard to pump up attendance with multiple-emails on the meeting going out daily and robo-calls reaching those without email addresses on file.

You can read about the LADOT’s compromise plan here or see a rendering of it here.  Basically, the compromise plan would have restored the four lane configuration north of Devonshire and have the diet return 650 feet south of the Devoshire/Wilbur intersection.

Headline #1 Strange Public Process Leads to Strange Result

While it’s certainly true that the joint Council meeting voted to preserve the diet instead of the LADOT’s plan, it’s equally true that given a chance to vote straight up or down on preserving the diet or to go back to its original unsafe and speedy four lane configuration, they would have chosen speed over safety in a heartbeat.  As Tom Johnson, president of the Northridge Neighborhood Council stated before the public comment period, “We have a major consensus that the road should go back to four lanes.”

The unhappy joint meeting of the Neighborhood Councils.

We’ve previously discussed the strange process leading to the vote, but the meeting itself was an even odder affair.  Newly minted Councilman-Elect Mitch Englander and a representative from the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment both stated that for the LADOT’s plan to pass the Neighborhood Councils it would need a majority of “yes” votes from those Neighborhood Council Members present. Basically, an “abstention” was as good as a no vote.  The final vote on the LADOT’s plan was nine in favor, three opposed, and seven abstentions.

I’ve never heard of an abstention counting as a “no” vote but rather as a vote that didn’t count either way.  Abstentions are usually used when an elected official has a conflict or insufficient information to make an intelligent vote.  That being said, it would be even more strange to change the meaning of the abstention vote now, after the Council were told that they were, in effect, voting no.  Assuming Englander, and the LADOT were both telling the truth, this marks the end of the road for the debate on the Wilbur Road Diet and it’s going to stay as it is.

But if you honestly believe this is the end, well, you’re probably in for a rude awakening.

Headline #2 LADOT Leads with Bike Lanes, Takes It on the Chin

I wasn't privy to the conversation, but I'm guessing Englander was warning Sedadi he was going to joke about throwing Sedadi's friend and mentor underneath a bus.

Despite months of insisting that the Bike Lanes that were installed on Wilbur Avenue were a side product of the Road Diet, and not the reason for the change, LADOT Interim General Manager spent much of his presentation explaining that the city has a unanimously passed bike plan, signed by the Mayor, and that they can’t remove the lanes so any new configuration will keep the bike lanes.  Sedadi was repeatedly heckled and shouted down by the angriest in the audience.

This new bike lane reality makes it impossible to completely roll back the road diet, because South of Devonshire the road is not wide enough for four traffic lanes and two bike lanes. We should note that just because the diet can’t end because the Department can’t take out bike lanes that are now in the plan, the plan was passed two weeks ago.  The LADOT has stated many times in the last eight months that the diet was because of the unsafe nature of Wilbur Avenue.

Towards the end of the question and answer with the Neighborhood Council, Sedadi finally brought up the safety reasons for the current street configuration.  “ We have to stress that there are safety issues.  Left hand turn lanes are important.”

Yet even the mention that the road was unsafe wasn’t enough for some.  Sedadi’s calls for a safer road received a scattering of boos.  Safety issues, they booed safety issues.  Still, it seems arguing safety, as would be done more forcefully later, would have been a much stronger argument than arguing that the city has embraced bike lanes and they can’t be taken out because powerful people want bike lanes.

LADOT was so unpopular in the room that Englander got two of the loudest applause lines of the night when he joked that “He didn’t want to throw (former LADOT General Manager) Robinson completely under a bus, unless that bus is on Wilbur Avenue.”  Later he stated that, “His (outgoing Councilman Greig Smith) position is firm, his position is to put it back the way it was identical to the way it was…My position is to disband the DOT, but that’s another issue.”

To be fair, nobody defended the decision to re-paint the road back in August without doing community outreach, a stated reason why drivers are so upset in the area.  Englander blasted it, Sedadi, even though he didn’t make the decision, apologized for it.  It was a bad call, and hopefully LADOT learned a lesson from this public relations disaster.

Headline #3 LADOT Stands Firm

Are we witnessing a new LADOT?

In January and February, livability advocates witnessed LADOT Senior Transportation Engineer Kang Hu stand up to Zev Yaroslavsky and Bill Rosendahl when they were pressuring him to back the segmenting of the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes proposal.  Last night, they got to witness Sedadi and Assistant General Manager John Fisher stand up for road diets and bicycle lanes.

Trying to box-in the LADOT, one Neighborhood Council Member from Porter Ranch asked Sedadi the designation of Wilbur Avenue.  When he answered that it was a secondary highway, they asked for the definition of a secondary highway.  Sedadi handed over the microphone to Fisher.

“Secondary Highways are intended to carry some through traffic as well as local traffic.  Also to accommodate the bicycle backbone network within the city,“ Fisher responded to cheers. “Major highways, such as Tampa Avenue, are to accommodate through traffic,” he continued to boos.  Now the crowd was booing engineering standards.

LADOT didn’t take the bait when offered a chance to give ammunition to the car culture warriors or backoff their assertion that the compromise plan was one that would balance the safety of users with the speed “needs” of through traffic.

Headline #4 Safety an Important Issue, But It Won’ Turn a Mob

Ironically, the speaker preceding Alex Thompson decided to mock his statistical analysis on the number of crashes and fatalities on Wilbur Ave. Said speaker, who's name I missed because of the applause, was speechless when Thompson pressed how many deaths were acceptable.

The most galling aspect of the evening was the reaction of a handful of  car driving commuters who continually tried to intimidate LADOT staff, those testifying and the Neighborhood Councils by booing, cat calling, and trying to shout down anyone who disagreed with them.  LADOT staff was booed for calling the four lane configuration unsafe.  Don Ward was booed and screamed at to “move somewhere else” when he talked about the dangerous conditions outside the house his family lived in for two decades.  A statistical review of the crashes and deaths caused by the original configuration were dismissed as scare tactics.

Occasional bouts of shame would hit the angriest of the drivers for a second, such as when the calm and smiling Ward inquired as to whether people would like it if he sped in front of their house or when Alex Thompson, who along with Jason Leung and Mihai Peteu completed a statistical analysis of crash trends in the affected area, inquired as to how many deaths were acceptable to maintain people’s commutes.  However, even the average death or one person every two years along this brief stretch of road wasn’t enough to stop someone from yelling at Thompson that “We could end all transportation and reduce the accidents to zero.”

But some facts didn’t change the callousness of the handful of drivers at all.  After LAPD Sargent David Krumer responded to a question by Thompson as to the safety of the road (are there less crashes now than before the diet) by stating that the number of “incidents” was down, the very next speaker asserted that “everyone wants the road to go back to the way it was.”

For the record, the safety figures for Wilbur before the diet in this two mile area are ugly.  234 reported collisions and five deaths on two miles of road are extremely high numbers for that small a stretch of road.  Drivers kept asserting that the road was less safe now than before the crash.  If we assume their anecdotal evidence is correct and not the statistical evidence provided by Thompson, Leung, Peteu and Krumer it’s impossible not to note that the reasons for the reduced safety is lawless and reckless driver behavior.

Undaunted by the hostile audience, Don Ward makes the case for a safe Wilbur Ave.

So does the diet address the crashes?  Yes.  One angry driver shouted at Ward that he should “Get real.  13% of the accidents are caused by speed.”  While that is true, 40% were caused by cars turning left getting rear ended or rushing the turn and getting hit from the side.  I have to imagine that the left hand turn lane available at every intersection in both directions created by the diet has done wonders in reducing that number.

While parts of the audience acted like unruly children throughout the night, there was some movement by those people that weren’t experiencing road rage sitting in their auditorium seats.  Thompson brought hundreds of copies of his analysis (which we’ll post when we get an electronic copy) and audience members could be seen reading them throughout the presentation.

Several drivers talked about the “need” to illegally drive in a bike lane so that they could “get around” the congestion created “by the diet.”  Put another way, many of the drivers rationalized that it was o.k. to break the law and imperil cyclists’ (and incidentally their own) lives to shave a couple of minutes off their commute.  I wonder how many of these same people would scream holy murder when a cyclist runs a red light or stop sign after admitting their own dangerous and illegal driving behavior.

Oddly, the sentiment that the Road Diet and bike lanes were creating a safety hazard was not shared by the cyclists using the bike lane.  Nine cyclists testified about their experience riding on the bike lanes and all of them claimed it was more safe.  Several other drivers who claim to bike often said they avoid the lanes for safety reasons, but everyone who actually used the lanes claimed they were more safe now then before.

Of course, that was before they heard their neighbors rationalize driving in those lanes.

The best argument for reducing the diet is that cut through traffic is increasing on parallel streets, creating what is basically a new secondary highway on what was a local, residential, street.  As I wondered when a similar situation popped up in Westwood, if that’s really the main concern, more traffic on another local street, why not advocate for traffic calming on that street to push the traffic back to the secondary highway or even larger streets close by.  The appropriate response to a negative secondary impact of a project designed to make a road safer is not to demand that the other road becomes dangerous again.

Headline #5 Mitch Englander Is Our Chuck Schumer

In addition to blaming Rita Robinson for all of the controversy created by the Road Diet, and repeatedly mocking and baiting the LADOT; Councilman-Elect Englander went out of his way to also mock bicycling and turned a deaf ear to any safety arguments that were made about the existing configuration, referring to it as “A horrific thing that has happened to the community.”  That’s right, a plan to reduce traffic collisions and deaths in an area is a “horrific thing.”

Later, Englander admitted that he has to drive on Wilbur “three to four times a day” because his house is located at the north end of the project and Smith’s office is near the south end.  (Note: Streetsblog doesn’t reveal the address of public officials, even if its given on the record.)  When someone from the audience asked why he doesn’t try riding a bike, the soon-to-be Councilman responded with a roll of the eyes and that “I’ll see you out there on my bicycle.”

It seemed that the questioner might as well have asked why Englander didn’t fly on his hoverboard down to the office.  Bike two and a half miles on a relatively flat and wide street “three to four times a day?”  Heavens forbid.

Headline #6 LADOT May Have Stood Firm, But the Compromise Plan Sucked

As stated, the compromise plan would have basically just moved the created traffic jam from Chatsworth down to Devonshire without doing anything else to slow down traffic.  As angry and callous as the bulk of the audience seemed at times, many expressed willingness to compromise on traffic calming if the road were restored to four lanes in both directions, a proposal pushed by Ward.  In other words, the bike lanes would be removed, the original striping would go back, but a series of bump outs, crosswalks and stop signs would calm traffic and not destroy the connections between communities that the diet created.

The tradeoff, as Ward proposed it, would be slower speed for returned capacity.  While not thrilled about the concept, people did at least listen to Ward’s plan.

None of these ideas were taken seriously in the LADOT compromise plan.  Instead, the Councils were told to take it or leave it.  In a major upset, they decided to leave it.

  • I’m not very knowledgeable on street liability issues, but seeing as this lane configuration is now in the bike master plan and meets some sort of engineering standard, wouldn’t reverting back to the previous configuration open up the city to some sort of liability if a cyclist is injured?

    I reiterate that I’m not very knowledgeable on street liability issues.

  • Fart Box 3000

    Well, thank God the LADOT was able to maintain its death grip on a perverted public input process. They’ve been acting this way for years regarding car-only road design, and now they’ve just flipped the script and acted horribly to support bike lanes.

    The fact that the road is measurably safer is a big deal, but not before a ginned up audience of angry people.

  • Marcotico

    Wow, watching this saga unfold has been fascinating. Kudos to Don Ward, Alex Thompson and all the other people who attended this meeting, acted civil, and generally represented the ideas behind complete streets. The tide is turning, but as events in Brooklyn demonstrate entrenched interests take time and strategic actions to overcome.

  • Kudos to Don Ward for being a leader in pulling off this victory for safety and for bicycling. Thanks to everyone who attended and defended the new, safer configuration.

    I think one of the problems that we’re seeing is that city departments, including most prominently DOT and DWP, have for too long been opaque and too often plunged forward implement projects and polices that impact people’s lives – without the city listening to folks impacted. (At the recent Complete Streets conference, Rick Cole said it well: [L.A. City public works are implemented with] “utter contempt for merchants and neighbors.”) These decisions that impact safety and quality of life are patronizingly treated as mere technical matters, that mere residents don’t need to know and don’t need to give input on.

    Even when the LADOT does more-or-less the right thing (road diet on Wilbur) for more-or-less the right reasons (safety, accomodating cycling) when it does this in an opaque, dictatorial way (plop the lanes in as a complete surprise to neighbors, cyclists, LADOT bikeways, and even the councilmember) then it courts this sort of backlash.

    (It’s also a penny-wise pound-foolish kind of waste of time. LADOT is saying “we’re short of staff so we don’t have time to give advance notice of this” and “we can’t send staff to evening meetings” then ends up spending way more time on the back end, defending, explaining, re-designing, sending the GM to community meetings.)

    LADOT needs to work to build the trust of the public. One way to do this is to commit to transparency – put plans, designs, etc. on-line once they’re planned, drawn… and people will find them and get the word out… and it will save time in the long run.

  • In LADOT’s defense, they seem to be learning the lesson. Compare the outreach on the Venice road Diet on Main Street to Wilbur. The approaches are night and day.

  • Good job, everyone. This is a big victory for pedestrian safety, for the residents of the street, and for prioritizing neighborhoods over long-distance traffic.

    It doesn’t really effect bike directly (the bike lanes would have stayed either way), but it’s good to have a precedent in favor of road diets, since in may places they would make room for bike lanes which couldn’t otherwise fit.

  • Car peeps and horse peeps are the same. All for nothing……

    A lane, a lane, my kingdom for a lane
    -Richard III

  • I was smiling on the outside, but extremely sad on the inside… Though there was a strong showing of support for the road diet, the opposition were more in attendence they were angry and shouting insults. Very tough crowd.

    It’s worth noting that Northridge West sent out only 1 notice 4 day s before the meeting, while Porter Ranch NC announced the meeting 15 days in advance at their NC meeting, sent out 4 email reminders and even had a robocall service contact constituents.

    My guess is that a large chunk of the audience were porter ranch folks.

    I was heartened to know that many of the hecklers were open to other compromises, chiefly stop signs and mayall prairie and superior combined with a more school zone friendly 25-30mph speed limit.

  • joe

    JDrivers are regularly driving in rhe bike lanes on wilber. Oddly it seems the larger the car the more reclessly they speed through these non lanes so close to pedestrians. It is only a matter of time before a pedestrian is run down because of one of thesedrivers. Lapd needs to do their job and enforce the law.

  • I was also heartened that one of the public commentors who seemed especially about to blow his top, pulled me aside and very cordially discussed other options such as speed bumps…

  • I’m taking my pedicab down Wilbur to celebrate.

  • Barry Korman

    I live and work in NYC and for the last 30 plus years I have ridden my bike to work and to get around the city. A couple of years ago I found out about High Visibility Colors and Retro Reflectivity and put the stickers on my helmet, bike and spokes. I feel much more secure when I ride early in the am or late evening and at night knowing that I can be seen by the car drivers. I can’t afford not to be seen as it’s my life and safety at risk.

  • I would like to address the statistical analysis that shows 13% of crashes on that stretch are caused by speeding. In my opinion this stat is a bit misleading. The facts state that 40% of crashes were caused by left turns into oncoming traffic. I submit that a large amount of these left turn crashes were due in large part to oncoming traffic speeding and causing the left turner to misjudge their timing. Quite literally you can be driving 60mph on this street and not realize it. I used to do it all the time.

    Anyway…. stay safe everyone.

  • Great post. Long after the negative effects of auto transport became evident, and a full decade+ after the ‘sprawl’ debate was fully raging in the media, our city/region still clings to the car instead of thinking outside that (steel) box. Cyclists, on the other hand, know what a liberating change it could be to literally step out of it. Though the popularity of the bicycle waned, the long history of urban cycling through the 20th century still recommends it.
    But Angelenos are generally a conservative lot who are reluctant to embrace change. (Contrary to our reputed future-friendly posture exaggerated in the media.) The disturbing thing is the hostility to change in any context – whether safety, equality, or equity – suggested by the meeting decorum. There’s a scrum to protect and safeguard what we have, and in any discussion in Los Angeles, whether affordable housing, alt transportation, or you name it, the claws come out. It’s a zero-sum mentality fostered by the likes of Smith and Englander that does our polity no good service. Particularly cyclists.

  • Having experienced this first hand myself, I have a lot of sympathy for the LADOT staff that were attempting to do the right thing by implementing a project that makes sense at a time that makes sense. In my situation we hosted a meeting, inviting residents that lived on the corridor and while that meeting was well attended, we did see quite a bit of opposition. I cannot say whether the meeting was successful in reducing the fears of the residents, but I did feel like it was the right thing to do.

    I am a little saddened for both the resident attendees of the Wilbur meeting and the LADOT staff that a certain level of decorum was not enforced. Regardless of where you stand on an issue I do not believe anybody deserves to be heckled or boo’ed from the audience. While I understand that these are very emotional issues for some, as with any change that impacts folks, respect should be given and enforced.

  • Great job to Don and the advocates pushing for this! LACBC salutes you for taking the Valley on!

  • LAguy

    It should be noted that the primary reason for the increase of traffic on Wilbur (and all surrounding streets) are the thousands of new homes built to the north in Porter Ranch. That and the fact that, if the meeting attendees were any indication, the average age must have been 75. Not that you can’t walk and bicycle at that age, but these people seem to be insanely jealous of those who do.

  • Fred

    This writer says the audience was about 65/35 with 65 % in favor of eliiminating the Road Diet. 90/10 is more accurate. Once I read the phoney estimate, the rest of the story was tainted too. And if you are going to cite accident statistics put LAPD’s website containing those stats. Anyone can falsify statistics. The Traffic Division is required to keep such stats. I have lived within a block of Wilbur since 1957, I would know about fatalities on Wilbur. Most accidents happen in intersections, so is somebody calling such deaths a Wilbur death when it is really a Plummer St death? Speaking of Plummer, six youths transported to area hospitals after a horrible accident a week ago in the Road Diet section. People have to sit in the stinking clogged up single lane of traffic looking at unused asphalt all around them. While getting 350 petition signatures in 2 days for Restore Wilbur to 4 Lanes, every person said the same thing, “I never see a bicyclist on Wilbur.” In deed, I drive Wilbur every day; I see about one bicyclist every 3 days, all that unused asphalt. You make a big deal about Porter Ranch advertising the meeting. Three of us stood on Wilbur’s Road Diet section for hours and hours holding signs inviting people to the meeting, and we put up signs advertising the meeting in the stinking Road Diet section too. I went door to door in the Road Diet section putting flyers all over. I recieved a flyer at my doorstep about the meeting and I live in the stinking Road Diet Section. Yes, it was widely advertised in the Road Diet section not just by Porter Ranch. People living above Chatsworth that use Wilbur to get to work should not have a say in this??? And yes, LA eliminated bike registration so motorists pay for the roads. They don’t tax bicyclists who can use car lanes but cars can’t use bike lanes. How is that fair? Huge amounts of pavement not being used now. Your blogs are condescending, using term ‘car culture warrior’ and putting quotes on speed “need.” Nobody said they need to speed; people just want to get to work and school without wasting time that could be spent with family or producing something at work. Now, they are forced to waste time, yes, it takes longer…multiply those wasted minutes times 13,640 drivers per day. Who wants to sit in a clogged up a single lane of traffic looking out at 50% of that street being unused. What a stupid waste of a road!!! No, this is not over. Not by a mile, not by two miles of stinking road diet.

  • Fred,

    The LAPD’s accident statistics included every crash in the effected area, regardless of whether or not Wilbur was the primary road. The report put together by Dr. Thompson weeded those out. If we went by the LAPD’s numbers, there would be 372 crashes in the impacted area.

    I congratulate you on taking your personal time to try and get more people out to the meeting.

  • S.S. Sam Taylor

    Fred: Simply put, you are against safety. You are for death, destruction, maiming, injury and property damage. It is great that you are against safety standards and are really unwilling to accept that Wilbur is a non-through
    arterial that actually defaults as a neighborhood street. Based upon your viewpoint, you want the same standards on this secondary street as the key roads such as Tampa and Reseda, which are both 1/2 mile away to the east and west and they are the streets with the capacity.

    Wilbur has been repurposed to let the folks living in the protected islands exiting only to Wilbur have access back to their local community.

    As for the 65/35 ratio, that is correct. I did several field counts during the meeting and it wasn’t that hard to figure out who the members and advocates of mob rule were. This is shameful behavior in a land of rules and laws. It is sad that your real goal is to cause harm, death and destruction to innocent children animals, woman and infants, so you can proudly drive in violation of the law and endanger others. Too bad the honest people have to put up with your bordering on criminal attitudes. Shame on you.

    –Sam.

  • Here is my case against the LADOT proposed plan.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTSwbJq3oyE

    I’ll post more as I upload…

  • The dude abides

    @Fred

    There are many streets to speed on. In fact there are freeways that let you go even faster, better yet you can speed all you want down Wilbur at 3:00 am with the greatest of ease. Your problem should be with all those other cars that are on the road at the same time you want to speed to work. You can tear out half of Wilbur homes, level and pave it to add six lanes, but eventually all that capacity will fill up with cars and you will have to tear out the other half of the street to add more lanes. All of this of course is ridiculously expensive but for you need for speed I am sure Englander will do anything to help his pedal to the metal constituents. “safety last” should be the council districts motto.

  • Bikers Pay Taxes Too

    Hi Fred,

    Just FYI, gas taxes don’t pay for local roads: they only pay for state and federal highways.

    Local roads come from local municipal taxes. In the City of Los Angeles, they’re paid from the General Fund, which includes property taxes, sales taxes, DWP transfers, and many other sources.

    Motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are all paying into local roads. Indeed, if you measure the cost of wear and tear by mode, bicyclists and pedestrians cause a very small portion of the cost, while trucks play a disproportionately large role.

    Perhaps a solution would be to increase the taxes on trucks, so that those who cause the potholes bear the brunt of paying for them. Guess what? Motorists end up bearing the burden of truck-damaged roads through paying for flat tires, replacing shocks, and fixing alignments. Bikes don’t cause those problems.

  • Fart Box 3000

    Vote for Fred!

    Let the freedom to drive wring … us of our life, liberty, and civility.

    All that wasted asphalt! THE HORROR!

  • Scott Mercer

    Fred:

    The most direct solution for you to spend less time in your car and more time at work or at home with your family is for you to move closer to your job, or, if possible, try telecommuting.

    That doesn’t require any construction, sign hanging, public meetings, ganshing of teeth, distribution of flyers, or government intervention.

    And a two mile stretch of road is only going to slow your commute by about two minutes. If you go 60 mph on the two mile stretch, it takes two minutes. If you go 30 mph on the same road, it takes four minutes.

  • David D.

    Fred says: “They don’t tax bicyclists who can use car lanes but cars can’t use bike lanes. How is that fair?”

    Response: The taxation issue was addressed in comment #23. With regard to the issue of bicycles using traffic lanes and cars being prohibited from bicycle lanes, this is state law. If you are upset about the legal use of the lanes, you should contact your state legislator.

    Fred says: “Nobody said they need to speed; people just want to get to work and school without wasting time that could be spent with family or producing something at work. Now, they are forced to waste time, yes, it takes longer…”

    Response: Even if the speed limit had been adjusted from 60 mph to 30 mph, which is not the case, at most drivers are spending 2 more minutes en route. Assuming one round-trip per day, that is at most 4 minutes. I am quite impressed if you have your day scheduled to the nearest 4-minute increment.

  • B.Krebs

    During the end of the meeting our group of neighbors who sat together, decided to walk out because we were disgusted!. There was a feeling that the decision had already been made by the politicians without regard for the citizens.
    By choosing Wilbur for bicycle lanes was definitely a bad decision because the road narrows
    not to mention the few bikes, It is the removal of one traffic lane that creates the congestion!
    So no CUDO”S for the LADOT!

  • David D.

    B.Krebs says: “There was a feeling that the decision had already been made by the politicians without regard for the citizens.”

    Response: How is the consideration of safety without regard to the citizens? Would you rather Wilbur Avenue be kept unsafe? When LADOT identifies other unsafe streets, would you prefer that it not do anything about them? Also, if you read the article, you would notice that your local politician is not in support of the road diet.

  • Fart Box 3000

    I know how to solve this dilemma!

    We’ll let the anti-bike lane people pick a random bunch of neighbors and kill them every year, smash their cars up, and beat a bunch more up. That way, their bloodlust and desire to see carnage and destruction on the streets will be quenched. In exchange for the body count and damage toll, we’ll get bike lanes.

    A win-win.

  • Fred

    Motorists pay car registration tax.
    Bicyclists do NOT pay bike registration tax.
    How is that fair? (especially when the nonexistent bicyclists got 50% of Wilbur????)
    How do you know Wilbur’s accident statistics are higher than other SIMILAR SECONDARY HIGHWAY statistics?
    Secondary Highway is for “through” traffic and residential traffic. Through traffic includes people who live in Porter Ranch, Chatsworth, etc.
    If this bike lane was such a great idea, where are all the bikes? While getting signatures on the petitions, every single person said “I never see any bicycles on Wilbur.”
    If you had your way every road in the valley would have one lane because they would be safer…even the 405 freeway would be safer if it was just one lane, should we make the 405 freeway one lane? I drive on Wilbur every day and practically never see any bicyclists, and meanwhile 13,640 motorists use Wilbur every day…How can you possibly think it is fair that motorists lost 50% of their roadway when bicyclists are not even using those new bike lanes? When you bloggers say the average age of the audience was 75, you lose all credibility. If you can’t use facts, you resort to lies. And speaking of elderly people, how is it fair to make 50% of the road unusable for those who are too frail to ride a bike? That is discrimination against the elderly and the handicapped to take away half the roadway and cause them to sit in congested traffic trying to get to the doctor appointments. In order to compare apples to apples with accident stats after the stinking Road Diet, you must look at the stats on roads that now receive the overflow traffic that previously used Wilbur, i.e., like Vanalden and Tampa. People testified those streets are more congested now. And why wouldn’t they be, it is not like the cars just disappeared, they went somewhere. Oh yea, the hilly Vanalden blind crest is now an accident waiting to happen with all the extra traffic there now. You just moved the traffic from one wide flat street to a hilly narrow “residential” street. Wilbur does not have a monopoly on speeders, other simmilar streets have speeders. I hear them laying rubber on Lassen all the time….houses face Lassen just like they do on Wilbur. Wilbur is not classified as a residential street, you heard the DOT guy tell us it is classified as a Secondary Highway made for through traffic. I could see Don cringe at that. Much as you hated to hear that, it is true. Keep dreaming about people ditching their cars, it’s not happening. I bet most of you bloggers do not bike your children to school, especially if they go to multiple schools…where are those tandem bikes with children on the back, I haven’t seen any. You would be out of your mind to allow a child to bike their way to school on Wilbur even with these stinking bike lanes…right next to 40 mph traffic??? Who would do that? I know the answer: nobody, that is why the bike lanes are empty. While we were 21, my good friend had a bicycle accident and she is a quadraplegic. Bikes are no competition when it comes to accidents with cars. There’s a reason people went from bikes to cars like safety, comfort, etc. If bikes are so great, why doesn’t Villaraigosa turn in his tax payer funded car and just ride a bike? He should set the example. Nope, he likes safety and comfort too much, isn’t that just awful!!! You should complain to him that he is not setting the example. Why did all those Pro-Road Diet people walk to the meeting? Oh that’s right, it would be dark after the meeting and therefore too dangerous to ride a bike. How many bikers at the meeeting? A tiny number, and they probably did not have safety features but if you dare drive a car with a tail light out, you get fined, bicyclists get away with lots of missing required safety equipment items. The one thing that makes Santa Clarita less appealing than the SF Valley is S Clarita streets were made to narrow for all the development, and hence the streets are clogged. That affects property values because it is widely complained about. Meanwhile SF Valley roads were made very wide and it has always been easy to get around here, so when lanes are needlessly taken away, our property values will go down if complaints are loud and constant like they are in Santa Clarita. Oh, and I love the blogger that said Angelenos are conservative; are you out of your freakin mind???? angelenos conservative??? And why do you paint all motorists as speeders. I do not break the law, and I resent you implying that I do. Meanwhile on the extremely rare occasion I see a bicyclist on Wilbur, I see them weaving in and out and they jut out across the street anywhere they wish without looking, but I don’t paint all bikers that way so why insist on painting all motorists as speed demons?

  • David D.

    Fred, I appreciate the time you spent writing such a lengthy reply, but you didn’t address either of my points. I find it amusing that you complain about the broad brush the blog author used to describe some of the members who were in attendance at the meeting, and that you took offense at the supposed framing of all car drivers as speeders, and then use the same broad pronouncements to describe bicyclists.

    Fact: The space on Wilbur Avenue reserved for cars did not fall by 50%. The amount of space reserved for moving traffic fell by 25% (4 lanes to 3).

    Fact: Bicyclists are required by law to follow the rules of the road, and bicyclists ridden at night must have certain safety features (reflectors, front light, etc.). If you have an issue with bicyclists, you should contact LAPD and request proper enforcement of the law.

    Fact: Wilbur Avenue was not restriped in order to accommodate bike lanes. It was restriped to fit in a center turn lane to make the roadway safer for left turns.

    Because it was not possible to stripe a center turn lane and maintain 2 traffic lanes in each direction, which would mean going from 4 to 5 lanes, the total number of lanes was reduced from 4 to 3. The width of one traffic lane is equal to the width of 2 bike lanes. So guess what LADOT did? It decided to put in the 2 bike lanes, which actually INCREASES the total volume of traffic that can be accommodated on Wilbur Avenue. Total volume = cars + bikes + pedestrians. Remember, cars aren’t the only travel mode in existence.

  • It would be tough to enforce a bike registration fee. There was a bike license reguirement in the city until recently but it was little used as most people were not aware of it and so it was discontinued.

    Wilbur Ave went from four lanes to two with a center lane to keep motorists who were turning from slowing and stopping in the travel lanes. Is that considered a less safe design to include turn lanes on other streets? Do you seriously believe that the department of transportation went out of their way to include a turn lane when there was no significant amount of accidents on this street? Before the road diet was installed did the DOT decide to remove a crosswalk simply to make the road look nicer and not due to cars hitting people?

    You honestly believe that having cars routinely go 40+ miles an hour down a residential street would have the same safety for pedestrians compared to a slower speed?

    The two biking lanes take up no more than one motor vehicle lane so that would be just one of the previous four travel lanes and not 50% of the lanes.

    The reason that the posted speed limit on Wilbur Ave went from 30 miles an hour to 40 miles an hour is due to 85% of the cars moving at 40 miles an hour. Which means that if you do not speed as you say, then you were going no more than 30 miles an hour when the speed limit was posted as 30, while those other 85% were going 40+ miles an hour while whizzing past you.

    You stated: “You would be out of your mind to allow a child to bike their way to school on Wilbur… right next to 40 mph traffic. You then go on to say “that is why the bike lanes are empty” You in essence are stating unequivocally that it is dangerous for a person to be on this street without being in the protection of a car due to the 40 mph traffic and you are not alone in feeling that way as the speed of cars has discouraged people from riding a bike on this street. You are in a indirect way agreeing that LADOT measures to try and slow down traffic will improve safety for people who try to cross the street or bicycle.

    Well it is heartwarming how you are putting the safety of others ahead of some small inconvenience it might cause you.

  • Damien Newton

    Motorists pay car registration tax.
    Bicyclists do NOT pay bike registration tax.
    How is that fair? (especially when the nonexistent bicyclists got 50% of Wilbur????)

    ————–

    Improvements, maintenance, and pretty much everything else that has to do with Wilbur Avenue is paid for with property taxes. Everyone pays property taxes. The 50% comment has already been addressed

    How do you know Wilbur’s accident statistics are higher than other SIMILAR SECONDARY HIGHWAY statistics?
    Secondary Highway is for “through” traffic and residential traffic. Through traffic includes people who live in Porter Ranch, Chatsworth, etc.
    If this bike lane was such a great idea, where are all the bikes? While getting signatures on the petitions, every single person said “I never see any bicycles on Wilbur.”

    ——-

    To be fair, the only way I know that is because the LADOT and LAPD told me they did. I haven’t done a full comparison, but I have to warn you I know that a crash per mile per month is extremely high for a secondary highway. But we can get those stats for you if you really want.

    Actually, Mr. Fisher defined a Secondary Highway as, ““Secondary Highways are intended to carry some through traffic as well as local traffic. Also to accommodate the bicycle backbone network within the city,“ Fisher responded to cheers. “Major highways, such as Tampa Avenue, are to accommodate through traffic,” he continued to boos. Now the crowd was booing engineering standards.”

    So yeah, he did say “through traffic and local traffic” but he also said “accommodate the bicycle backbone network.”

    As for “every single person says they never see bicycles,” I’ll concede there are less bicyclists than cars on Wilbur, but in the hour I spent on the road last week, and the time I spent on the road in Sept/Oct I saw a handful of cyclists. Also, a dozen cyclists testified at the hearing that they like to bike on Wilbur.

    If you had your way every road in the valley would have one lane because they would be safer…even the 405 freeway would be safer if it was just one lane, should we make the 405 freeway one lane? I drive on Wilbur every day and practically never see any bicyclists, and meanwhile 13,640 motorists use Wilbur every day…How can you possibly think it is fair that motorists lost 50% of their roadway when bicyclists are not even using those new bike lanes?
    ————

    Everything in this paragraph was already addressed

    When you bloggers say the average age of the audience was 75, you lose all credibility. If you can’t use facts, you resort to lies. And speaking of elderly people, how is it fair to make 50% of the road unusable for those who are too frail to ride a bike? That is discrimination against the elderly and the handicapped to take away half the roadway and cause them to sit in congested traffic trying to get to the doctor appointments.
    ——–

    There are many options other than driving on Wilbur Avenue to get to where people want to go. However, drivers could just schedule their appointments for the 23 hours a day that Wilbur is not congested. For example, I drove up and down Wilbur at 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday and did the entire length of the diet, without speeding, in about 12 minutes.

    In order to compare apples to apples with accident stats after the stinking Road Diet, you must look at the stats on roads that now receive the overflow traffic that previously used Wilbur, i.e., like Vanalden and Tampa. People testified those streets are more congested now. And why wouldn’t they be, it is not like the cars just disappeared, they went somewhere. Oh yea, the hilly Vanalden blind crest is now an accident waiting to happen with all the extra traffic there now. You just moved the traffic from one wide flat street to a hilly narrow “residential” street.
    ——–

    I fully support traffic calming for Vanalden to move traffic on to major arterial streets such as Tampa where they belong. While I would prefer that there not be more congestion on these streets, I am much happier with a safe street.

    By the way, you do realize that congestion is caused by people driving, right?

    Wilbur does not have a monopoly on speeders, other simmilar streets have speeders. I hear them laying rubber on Lassen all the time….houses face Lassen just like they do on Wilbur. Wilbur is not classified as a residential street, you heard the DOT guy tell us it is classified as a Secondary Highway made for through traffic. I could see Don cringe at that. Much as you hated to hear that, it is true.
    ——–

    I would favor traffic calming for Lassen.

    We already addressed Mr. Fisher’s comments

    Keep dreaming about people ditching their cars, it’s not happening. I bet most of you bloggers do not bike your children to school, especially if they go to multiple schools…where are those tandem bikes with children on the back, I haven’t seen any.
    ——

    I do bike my child around. He’s not old enough for school yet, but he rides in the bike with me for every trip he does every week accept one. Besides, there are lots of options besides driving to get kids to school. Walking, being one obvious one.

    You would be out of your mind to allow a child to bike their way to school on Wilbur even with these stinking bike lanes…right next to 40 mph traffic??? Who would do that? I know the answer: nobody, that is why the bike lanes are empty.
    ——-

    I have to be honest. After hearing all the rationalization about driving in the bike lanes, there’s a very low chance I would bike on Wilbur. The entitlement of the driving public in the area makes the road dangerous for other users.

    While we were 21, my good friend had a bicycle accident and she is a quadraplegic. Bikes are no competition when it comes to accidents with cars.
    ——–

    Did you know more people die as a result of car crashes in America than terrorism, war and cancer combined? Just saying. I’m sorry for your friend. That’s sad. But the statistics don’t bear out what you’re saying.

    There’s a reason people went from bikes to cars like safety, comfort, etc. If bikes are so great, why doesn’t Villaraigosa turn in his tax payer funded car and just ride a bike? He should set the example. Nope, he likes safety and comfort too much, isn’t that just awful!!!
    ——–

    While he doesn’t make a big deal of it, the ligament and tissue damage to the Mayor’s elbow caused by a negligent and inattentive driver makes it painful for him to ride a bike.

    You should complain to him that he is not setting the example. Why did all those Pro-Road Diet people walk to the meeting? Oh that’s right, it would be dark after the meeting and therefore too dangerous to ride a bike. How many bikers at the meeeting? A tiny number, and they probably did not have safety features but if you dare drive a car with a tail light out, you get fined, bicyclists get away with lots of missing required safety equipment items.
    ——–

    There are laws about safety equipment and bicycles. I saw about eight people ride to the meeting, and all of them were following safety laws. I do like how you complain about bloggers making things up, but you make things up all the time.

    The one thing that makes Santa Clarita less appealing than the SF Valley is S Clarita streets were made to narrow for all the development, and hence the streets are clogged. That affects property values because it is widely complained about. Meanwhile SF Valley roads were made very wide and it has always been easy to get around here, so when lanes are needlessly taken away, our property values will go down if complaints are loud and constant like they are in Santa Clarita.
    ————

    That’s all conjecture, but ok. I can tell you that nationally streets with bike and pedestrian safety have higher retail values than those that don’t.

    Oh, and I love the blogger that said Angelenos are conservative; are you out of your freakin mind???? angelenos conservative??? And why do you paint all motorists as speeders.
    ————

    I get it, everyone that comments here is a blogger. Got it. I was wondering….

    I refer to the people at the meeting as “speeding traffic advocates” because they were advocating for a road design to speed up traffic on the street.

    The speed limit on Wilbur has gone up ten miles an hour over the past decade. People advocating for a design that maintains that status quo are advocating for traffic that is sped up.

    I do not break the law, and I resent you implying that I do. Meanwhile on the extremely rare occasion I see a bicyclist on Wilbur, I see them weaving in and out and they jut out across the street anywhere they wish without looking, but I don’t paint all bikers that way so why insist on painting all motorists as speed demons?
    ———–

    I don’t know you personally, but six people at the meeting testified that they break the law by driving in the bike lane. Another half dozen or so (I didn’t keep count) advocated leniency for those that do. There was definitely a pro-outlaw contingency at the meeting.

  • You can’t have a street with high speed traffic AND all those left turn and right turn demands such as driveways and side streets. Though all streets can stand to be safer, the reason Lassen is different from Wilbur is that the residents have alley access to their driveways and garages, homes from Lassen to Devonshire do NOT have this access. Driveways and garage access are characteristics of a residential street.

    The center turn lane takes care of this exact problem. However high speed 4 lane traffic north of Lassen even with the center turn lane was a problem for people looking to make a right turn into their driveways. I myself was victim to a speeding driver who rear ended a car I was a passenger in as we were making a right into our driveway. The car launched onto our front lawn and thankfully only took out the mail box.

    The road diet now fixes this issue as well and others have testified similarly.

    We do know this, Wilbur will never be 4 lanes contiguously because it never was. Any new design has to take into account that, in the south end of this 2 mile strip, people now have the center turn lane and still others now have their parking in front of their houses. This did not exist under the old configuration because the street is not wide enough even without the bike lanes to support parking, 4 travel lanes and a center turn lane. Residents WILL NOT give up this center turn lane. The folks that just got their parking spots returned to them I suspect will also not be willing to give those up very easily….

    One thing that most if not all of the people who oppose the road diet will concede is that Wilbur has far too many incidents of speeding above the posted limit. So? If not a road diet what would you to to ACTUALLY slow speeders down? Do we need to pay for a cop? 24 hours a day? I’d rather not waste the tax dollars on it but that is one option…

    What about simple stop signs? That would slow speeders down. Similarly, other secondary highways with residential characteristics in the valley use them. Oxnard west of Winnetka is an example. I believe Zelzah is another. San Fernando Mission east of Reseda is another…

    If not stop signs how about stop lights?

    What will slow the speeders down?

    Lastly, lets lay to rest this tax funding issue and arguing over who pays the road taxes. If nothing else the lions share of the tax burden should squarely rest on the ones who cause the lion’s share of the destruction to the infrastructure.

    Disregarding the taxes I pay from the 2 SUV’s that I currently own, I and every bicycle rider pays his or her road tax with hard work, extra time, and sweat AND BY NOT using a 4000 pound asphalt destroying machine that causes 99.999% of the damage to the infrastructure.

    Lets for hypothetical sake imagine that there were no cars at all. Look at traffic grids that existed before cars were invented there were none. We wouldnt even need to spend money on signal lights and freeways and their maintenance were it not for the automobile. We should be desperate to offer options to people other than car usage. Less car usage equals less tax payer money into fixing the roads that those very cars destroy.

    The bottom line is if you break it, you should pay for it. And if you put in hard work to avoid breaking it, you should be rewarded with safe passage at the very least.

  • Toiletbowl Conqistador

    We need longer comments on this thread. People, you aren’t typing enough! Why stop at 10,000 words? Can I get a copy-paste Old Testament Bible in this mutha?

    AMEN!

  • Jayne

    That’s Mitch – classy with a K!

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