Ryu Hosts Meeting on Plans for Sixth Street Safety Improvements

Option A, presented at Saturday's 6th Street meeting, would remove parking to add left turn pockets. Image via meeting handout.
Option A, presented at Saturday's 6th Street meeting, would remove parking to add left turn pockets. Image via meeting handout.

Last Saturday, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu hosted a neighborhood meeting on possible safety improvements for Sixth Street from Fairfax Avenue to La Brea Avenue in the Mid-City West area. The one-mile stretch of roadway runs along along the north side of the L.A. County Art Museum and along the south side of Park La Brea. This part of Sixth Street is a block north of two under-construction Metro Purple Line Subway stations on Wilshire at Fairfax and at La Brea.

For about a half-mile, especially between Hauser Boulevard and Fairfax, Sixth Street widens significantly. Along with the wider lanes comes increased speeding and increased crashes, injuries, and deaths.

Traffic deaths and injuries on 6th Street. Map by Mehmet Berker based on SWITRS data
Traffic deaths and injuries on Sixth Street. Map by Mehmet Berker based on SWITRS data

According to the city, this stretch of Sixth Street saw two traffic deaths in 2016. At Sixth and Hauser, a cyclist was killed on September 1. At Sixth and Ogden Drive, a pedestrian was killed on August 10. On July 11, 2012, a particularly gruesome incident saw a morning driver jump the curb and kill a pedestrian by crushing her against a building. Herbie Huff, a city planner and resident of this area, says that “it’s glaringly obvious to anyone who lives here that this street is awful and needs to change. We hear cars crashing all the time, and find the leftover pieces of glass and metal the next day after the wreckage is cleaned up.”

SWITRS data, mapped above, show numerous serious collisions all along the corridor.

The MCWCC Sixth Street plan would remove a travel lane in each direction, add bike lanes, and preserve nearly all parking. Image via MCWCC
The MCWCC Sixth Street plan would remove a travel lane in each direction, add bike lanes, and preserve nearly all parking. Image via MCWCC

For several years, the Mid-City West Community Council (MCWCC) has been pushing the city of Los Angeles to make this stretch of Sixth safer. MCWCC worked with LADOT to propose safety improvements, including a road diet. The 2016 MCWCC-approved plan was also supported by the Park La Brea Residents Association, La Brea Hancock HOA, Greater Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, and L.A. Walks.

To date, the MCWCC plan has barely been acknowledged by Councilmember Ryu. Ryu expressed skepticism about road diets, asserting (minute 3:00) that road diets are “creating traffic” so “be careful what you ask for” but stated that (minute 32:00) despite “unintended consequences” he would study and “consider” the neighborhood council’s Sixth Street road diet plan.

Ryu's Neighborhood meeting on 6th Street improvements last Saturday. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Ryu’s Neighborhood meeting on 6th Street improvements last Saturday. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At Councilmember Ryu’s neighborhood meeting Saturday, two options were presented for this portion of Sixth Street:

  • Option A – New Left Turn Pockets. This option would remove some on-street parking to add left-turn pockets at La Brea and Hauser, and to add capacity to the existing westbound left-turn pocket at Fairfax.
  • Option B – Road Diet. This option is very similar to the MCWCC plan. The road diet would eliminate a travel lane in each direction, adding a continuous left-turn lane allowing for easier left turns at La Brea, Detroit Street, Cloverdale Avenue, Cochran Avenue, Dunsmuir Avenue, Burside Avenue, Ridgeley Drive, and Hauser. The consultant’s (Kimley-Horn) maps showed the road diet taking away a half-dozen blocks of on-street parking (this was disputed by locals, see below).

A questionnaire was distributed for attendees to express their preferences, though the survey did not match the options presented. The survey did not include option A or B, nor did it include bike lanes, the road diet, nor the road diet’s left-turn pockets. The survey asked attendees to respond yes/no to numerous continental “zebra” crosswalks that are standard for the city of L.A. – something which is a bit like asking whether folks support having all three colors in a traffic signal.

Mid-City West Community Council leaders and livability advocates expressed a great deal of skepticism about the forum, the survey, minimal attendance, errors in the presentation boards and the plans presented.

Advocates displayed a sign urging “best practices over best politics.”

According to MCWCC board chair Scott Epstein, the road diet would remove only four to six parking spaces between Dunsmuir and Cochran; these are to connect to Cochran so that cyclists can transition to 4th Street. According to Epstein, the road diet would yield “a net gain in parking” by removing peak-hour and daytime parking restrictions. Per Epstein, the MCWCC plan would remove current 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. restrictions for three blocks from Cochran to La Brea, and remove current peak-hour parking restrictions for two blocks from Ridgeley to Dunsmuir.

Epstein criticizes Option A, stating it “sacrifices a ton of parking in a neighborhood that is demanding more, not less parking.”

MCWCC board member Mehmet Berker further comments that the consultant’s maps did not make clear the implications of adding a left-turn pocket from eastbound Sixth onto northbound La Brea. According to Berker, LADOT staff told him that “[LADOT] wouldn’t want to do the La Brea left-turn pocket unless they extended the road diet configuration east past La Brea… so their Option A configuration showed new turn pockets at two intersections where there’d be one.” With La Brea in question, Option A would add left turn pockets at only one intersection: Hauser.

Ryu has said that he makes it a priority to listen to communities in making his decisions. The next steps toward Sixth Street safety are in his court.

  • D Man

    Opening question, what is the average daily traffic on 6th street. If it is greater than 20,000 then a road diet should not be considered per USDOT and LADOT recommendations. If it is less than 20,000 they should do a study to see what the effect of a road diet would be per USDOT and LADOT recommendations. As a resident of Mar Vista I too would strongly encourage the residents of this community to be very skeptical of a road diet and if there is greater than 20,000 ADT to oppose a road diet at all costs.

  • Terence Heuston

    As a resident of Silver Lake, we have a road diet on Rowena that costs us at most 90 seconds of travel time 10 hours a week in one direction (the other direction has less of a delay). The other 158 hours a week we have a calm street with sane speeds running in front an elementary school and a preschool. It has 22,500 ADT, so your data is not reflected in our experience.

    6th street is already only two lanes west of Fairfax. It would still expand to three lanes between Fairfax and La Brea. Unlike Playa, car commuters have a wealth of east/west arterials to the north and south of 6th with no cut-through streets. 6th street abuts the densest housing west of the Mississippi (Park La Brea) on the north side and Museum Row to the south. It would facilitate walking to the local subway stop being installed at Fairfax/Wilshire. It would also close a gaping hole in the east/west bike network.

    Not every place is appropriate for a lane reconfiguration, but not every place is inappropriate either.

    Will a road diet here increase the overall mobility of Angelenos?

    Yes.

  • Jason

    As noted in the article, 6th and Fairfax is a block from where the Wilshire/Fairfax Purple Line stop will be. And the Wilshire/La Brea Purple Line stop will be right near the other end of 6th. If you think this isn’t a spot that’s suitable for a road diet, you may as well just come out and admit you don’t think road diets are appropriate anywhere in Los Angeles.

  • The fact that 6th street is only one lane in each direction west of Fairfax suggests that configuration can be continued eastward without having that great of an impact on congestion. This shouldn’t create any additional traffic jams, just shifts its position.

  • michael macdonald

    D Man-
    You appear to be misquoting studies from the 1990s that relate to possible impact on travel times for 4-to-3 lane road diets, and thus have no applicability to Venice Blvd in Mar Vista (2 travel lanes each direction with center left turn pockets and cycletracks). Those studies note that depending on circumstances, 20,000-25,000 ADT may be a areas where travel times could be impacted, but don’t list any hard threshold as you suggest.

    LADOT’s own studies place no strict limit road diets related to measured ADT. L.A. does have a policy in place to end traffic deaths by 2025.

    As the article states, 2 deaths have occurred on this small stretch in the last year due to the speeding the current road configuration generates. L.A. policy compels the city to act to prevent future deaths, and the added benefit of a road diet for those of us who drive on 6th is that center turn pockets will stop us from getting stuck for minutes behind drivers making left turns.

  • Joe Commuter

    Ryu speaks of “unintended consequences”. Has he paused for a moment to think about the unintended consequences of keeping things as they are or the unintended consequences of his proposal?

  • Whyarewefighting?

    who from Kimely-Horn is doing the study?

  • D Man

    Nope. Study from 2004 and basically it said that anywhere with more than 20,000 ADT will result in people trying to find alternative routes WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT OCCURRED ON VENICE BLVD. This is acknowledged by LADOTs own data showing a greater than 50% increase in traffic on side streets.

    And there were 2 deaths in 2016 and the last death reported on the Vision Zero website was 2012. There are only 3 deaths appearing on Vision Zero’s website. So clearly 2016 was an anomaly. But hey, manipulating data and making conclusory arguments is the methodology of the road diet activists.

  • D Man

    The purple line is scheduled to be completed in 2026. So yes, in 2026 this spot may be suitable for a road diet. Next…

  • D Man

    Haha. Yeah, just like the “data” that showed travel times reduced less than 60 seconds on Venice Blvd during rush hour. Lies. And I love how they compared 2008 and 2010 to 2013 and 2015 to support their false conclusion that it actually worked in reducing accidents. We call that cherry picking. And you failed to acknowledge the significant cut-through traffic that was created…you can go on YouTube to watch the videos if you like.

  • Jeff Jacobberger

    LACMA is there now. The Page Museum and Tar Pits are there now. Park La Brea is there now. The 15,000+ jobs in the Miracle Mile are there now.

  • Terence Heuston

    3 Different independent research groups have come to the same conclusion. You are the one cherry picking.

    The cut-through traffic on Angus is not going anywhere. The source is the Griffith Park Blvd/Hyperion Bottleneck. You can see for yourself:

  • Terence Heuston

    You also neglect to mention that north Silver Lake’s traffic is due to commuters from the west and south attempting to reach the freeway. They have to choose either Rowena or Glendale Blvd to reach Fletcher where the freeway onramps are located. The cut-through traffic is worse on the opposite side of Fletcher where there are FIVE traffic lanes running down Glendale Blvd…Rowena having four lanes isn’t going to stop cut-through traffic.

    You also neglect to mention that there have been 0 injury accidents with speed as a factor since the installation of the road diet in March 2013 and a 33% drop in severe injuries. An overall 22.5% reduction in injuries while citywide injuries have gone up 8% meaning it’s a net 30% reduction in injuries. All running in front of two schools.

    Are you also aware the crosswalk where kids gather to cross Rowena to get to Ivanhoe Elementary school was the site of FOUR car crashes where the building they congregate next to was hit by speeding cars? Here’s a photo of the interior of the building:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dd87fe8bcc37da8de64a9d099057727198e5f82f4376b18e8d4ce05c75f2b8c4.jpg

    Again, not all places are appropriate for a road diet. An important measuring stick is whether it’s a safe route for school…

  • michael macdonald

    What is your source for the 2004 study that you mention that does not differentiate in its conclusions between road configurations with 2 lanes in each direction vs. 1 lane in each direction?

  • Matt

    Purple Line is opening to La Cienega in 2023 and is already well under construction.

  • Joe Commuter

    The D stands for delusional

  • D Man

    USDOT

  • D Man

    And the purple line is NOT there now. People have to get to the museum and tar pits and park la brea and their jobs. And the only way to do that in Los Angeles is by car.

  • D Man

    From 2006 to 2011 there was only 1 accident with a severe injury/fatality (oddly the “independent research” you rely on doesn’t distinguish between fatality and severe injury. So saying that there have been zero since 2013 isn’t saying much since there was a period of time with similar stats in another 5 year period. This is why they had to compare 2008 and 2010 to 2013 and 2015, just looking at the pure data didn’t support the false narrative.

  • michael macdonald

    Which study is that, exactly? Who is the author?

  • Terence Heuston

    I notice how you keep ignoring the data points that don’t fit your worldview. The sample size is quite large on Rowena with the overall injury rate which shows a net reduction of 30%. Of course, when you add that to the injury reductions on York, Colorado, Virgil, and other road diets across the city you see an average injury reduction of 36% which is amazingly right around the median injury rate found over a wealth of studies examined by the Federal Highway Administration.

    LADOT was not advancing a false narrative with 2008 and 2010 – they were removing pipeline construction years which undermined the integrity of the data. Of course, since you ignore data scientists, engineers, and public health advocates I don’t expect you to understand. Perhaps, you can understand this: You are the anti-vaxxer of street safety. Your amateurish struggles with data and science would be comical if you weren’t spending your free time making kids less safe. Go back to listening to John and Ken.

    What type of human being spends their free time trying to make safe routes to school more dangerous? You might want to take a look in the mirror and figure out that you are better than this. Then maybe you won’t feel so ashamed that you have to hide your identity…

  • Autolycus

    It can be done. I used to live on Cloverdale at 6th. It gets a bit of traffic at times but nothing insane. This city needs a proper east-west bike route, for God’s sake!

  • Terence Heuston

    Unsurprisingly, it is you doing the cherry picking.

    According to SWITRS there were 7 severe/fatal injury crashes between 3/2005 and 3/2013 – the installation of the road diet: While you are correct that the severe injury/death rate is a small sample size, the overall injury rate is not a small sample size.

    Overall injuries on Rowena have been reduced 21.5% while citywide they have gone up 8.5% over the same time period leading to a 30% net decrease in injuries since the implementation of the road diet. Then when you add Coloroado Blvd, York, Virgil etc and their road diet numbers you see a major public health benefit averaging a 36% decrease in injuries where road diets are implemented across Los Angeles. Isn’t it amazing that 36% is the median between 22% and 50% – the reduction in injury crashes that the Federal Highway Administration studies showed across the country? What a coincidence…

    Also, LADOT was not cherry picking 2008 & 2010, they were excluding pipeline construction years on Rowena which compromised the integrity of the data. Of course, I don’t expect you to understand that because you are ignoring the consensus views of the professional transportation engineers, data scientists, and public health advocates. In other words, you are the anti-vaxxer of street safety. An incompetent gadfly.

    Congrats on using your time on this earth so wisely: Advocating to make a safe route to school for children less safe. I think deep down you know that what your are doing is morally indefensible so I you hide behind an anonymous internet avatar. You are better than this.

  • michael macdonald

    Still waiting for an answer. Is it fair to say that you are referencing this 2004 summary report from FHWA?

    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/humanfac/04082/

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