Oh #%&@! Bonin Caves to Backlash, Announces Playa Del Rey Safety Un-Do
Earlier today, via a post on his website, L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin announced that the city will undo the remaining road diet safety improvements in Playa Del Rey, restoring car travel lanes on Culver Boulevard, Jefferson Boulevard and Pershing Drive.
The ambitious Playa Del Rey safety improvements, implemented in June, sparked an unruly backlash from drivers, who filed a lawsuit to undo the safety measures, and began a recall campaign against the councilmember. The full roll-back follows smaller partial rollbacks.
From Bonin’s announcement:
The [road diet removal] move came at the request of Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember Bonin, who asked the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) to immediately begin restoring lanes that had been removed on Culver Boulevard, Jefferson Boulevard and Pershing Drive — and to install new, strong traffic safety measures to be completed over the next several months.
“This pilot program has shown us that lane reductions are not the right approach in Playa del Rey, but we can and will find a way to ease congestion and improve traffic safety in this neighborhood,” said Mayor Garcetti. “We have the will and know-how to find smart, balanced, effective, and flexible solutions — and I’m confident that the new safety measures we are putting in place will help us accomplish those goals.”
The new safety measures include new crosswalks with flashing beacons to better protect pedestrians; “speed tables” that prompt vehicles to reduce speed at intersections; speed feedback signs that notify drivers when they have exceeded posted limits; “pedestrian head start” signals that allow people on foot to enter crosswalks at intersections before vehicles are allowed to make turns; and traffic signals that will be adjusted to require drivers to slow down as they approach downtown Playa del Rey from Culver Boulevard.
Bonin tried to put the retreat in a good light by announcing the following safety features to be implemented in Playa Del Rey:
- Speed Feedback Signs – LADOT will place speed feedback signs on Culver Boulevard and Pershing Drive, notifying drivers when they have exceeded the speed limit.
- Flashing Beacon Crosswalks – LADOT will add flashing beacons to the crosswalk at Culver Boulevard and Pershing Drive to better protect pedestrians as they cross the street.
- New Crosswalks – LADOT will install new flashing beacon crosswalks at Culver Boulevard and Earldom Avenue and at Pershing Drive and Rees.
- Speed Tables – LADOT will install speed tables at crosswalks to slow speeding traffic and protect pedestrians.
- “Rest in Red” Signals – The traffic signal at Culver and Nicholson and Culver and Vista Del Mar will be adjusted to require drivers to slow their speed as they approach downtown Playa del Rey from Culver Boulevard. “Rest in red” settings will also be applied to signals at Pershing and Manitoba, Pershing and Westchester Parkway, Culver and Vista Del Mar and Culver and Nicholson.
- Leading Pedestrian Intervals – Commonly referred to as “pedestrian head start” signals, crossing signals will be adjusted to allow pedestrians to enter crosswalks at intersections before vehicles are allowed to make their turns. This will occur at Pershing and Manchester, Pershing and Manitoba, and Pershing and Westchester Parkway.
- The Mayor and Councilmember will work together to identify funding to expedite installation of new pedestrian-activated signals at intersections that include Culver and Earldom, Culver and Pershing, and Pershing and Rees. Mayor Garcetti said he would direct the LAPD to step up speed enforcement in the area, and City officials will work with state officials to explore ways to lower automobile speed through the Ballona Wetlands.
In addition Bonin pledges to enhance downtown Playa Del Rey with “additional parking, wider sidewalks, art work, lighting and more.”
Bonin does not announce it explicitly, but the bike lanes currently on these streets will be eliminated by undoing the road diets.
For many years, Bonin has been among the strongest L.A. City Council voices for livability, traffic safety, and multi-modal mobility. SBLA acknowledged Bonin’s exemplary leadership with a recent Streetsie award. Bonin has displayed extraordinary courage in supporting far-reaching countywide, citywide, and local mobility efforts. From Vision Zero to Mobility Plan 2035 to Mar Vista to Playa Del Rey, Bonin has championed important far-sighted projects, programs, policies, and plans.
While cyclists and safety advocates are expressing their disappointment with Bonin’s capitulation today, it will be difficult to find a more progressive and visionary politician than Mike Bonin.