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Vision Zero Workshopping Improvements To Make NELA’s Fletcher Drive Safer

Tuesday’s community input meeting for planned improvements on NELA’s Fletcher Drive. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT) and City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell hosted a community meeting last Tuesday to gather input on making Fletcher Drive safer. The portion of Fletcher under consideration extends about one mile from Riverside Drive to San Fernando Road, in the L.A. neighborhoods of Atwater Village and Elysian Valley.

Fletcher Drive is a key bicycling connection between central Los Angeles and Northeast Los Angeles - specifically connecting Silver Lake to Glassell Park and Highland Park. Though drivers can use the 2, 5, or 11o freeways to cross the linear obstacles of the L.A. River and parallel railroad tracks and 5 Freeway, cyclists have few through-streets in the area. Fletcher crosses all these barriers, and is relatively flat.

Unfortunately, Fletcher is also plagued with speeding car traffic, including traffic headed onto several freeway on-ramps. This traffic can be deadly. This was the case for 19-year-old Ryan Coreas who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in a crash on December 28, 2016. The crime took place at the corner of Fletcher and La Clede Avenue. According to LADOT, this was not an isolated incident; since 2009 eleven people have been seriously injured on Fletcher Drive.

Fletcher from Glendale Boulevard to Estara Avenue is on the L.A.'s Vision Zero High Injury Network - the six percent of L.A. streets where 65 percent of all traffic deaths and severe injuries take place. Fletcher from the 5 freeway to San Fernando Road is one of the 40 priority corridors identified in the city's Vision Zero Action Plan.

The city recently improved the 0.8 miles of Fletcher northeast of San Fernando Road, removing one car lane, adding bike lanes and landscaped medians. Now attention is shifting south of San Fernando Road, to the area where Coreas was killed.

The city of L.A. is currently seeking input on two proposed alternatives:

Fletcher Drive alternative 1 - including road diet bike lanes. LADOT image via Walk Eagle Rock
Under consideration for Fletcher Drive is this alternative 1 which includes road diet bike lanes. LADOT image via Walk Eagle Rock

Alternative 1 - This would implement a road diet, reducing Fletcher to one car lane in each direction, plus a center turn lane and bike lanes. The proposal also includes new high-visibility "zebra" crosswalks, and painted curb extensions.

Fletcher Drive
Fletcher Drive alternative 2 - includes added center turn lane, removed peak-hour parking. LADOT image via Walk Eagle Rock
Fletcher Drive

Alternative 2 - This would keep the existing two car lanes in each direction, add a center turn lane, and remove peak hour parking restrictions. It does not include curb extensions or bike lanes. As characterized by Walk Eagle Rock, "from a safety perspective, this alternative seems to be the inferior option."

Tuesday's open house meeting was well-attended, with large numbers of cyclists pushing for Alternative 1. Also in attendance were drivers, including several urging "no road diet."

The decision now rests with LADOT, its consultants and the local councilmember Mitch O'Farrell. If the public wishes to give input on the future of Fletcher, please contact Councilmember O'Farrell. Contact information and a pro-bike sample letter is posted in the comments at Walk Eagle Rock.

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