Councilmember Ryu Kills 6th Street Road Diet

Councilmember Ryu today sided against 6th Street road diet safety improvements that would curb traffic deaths and serious injuries. Map by Mehmet Berker based on SWITRS data
Councilmember Ryu today sided against 6th Street road diet safety improvements that would curb traffic deaths and serious injuries. Map by Mehmet Berker based on SWITRS data

Today, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu announced that he will not be implementing road diet safety improvements proposed for Sixth Street in Mid-City West.

The proposed 6th Street road diet has been championed by the Mid-City West Community Council (MCWCC), and supported by the Park La Brea Residents Association, La Brea Hancock HOA, and L.A. Walks. It would have extended from Fairfax Avenue to nearly La Brea Avenue, a block north of two under-construction Metro Purple Line Subway stations.

In a statement, Ryu expresses concern for safety and for eliminating collisions, but goes on to downplay the role of drivers speeding as an important factor in causing deaths and serious injuries. Ryu’s statement focuses on addressing the “34 percent [of 6th Street collisions], including two of the three fatal collisions that occurred, [that] were caused by unsafe left turns.” Instead of a road diet, which would address these unsafe left turns along the entire corridor, Ryu proposes adding new left turns only at Hauser Boulevard, which Ryu mistakenly repeatedly calls “Hauser Avenue.” (Ryu’s statement also misidentifies Spaulding Avenue as “Spaulding Way.”)

Ryu states that the city is moving forward with a suite of improvements that are largely standard practices – including crosswalks and repaving. In addition, Ryu states that the city will further study a mid-block crossing at Spaulding and a new left turn signal at Hauser.

Ryu hosted a meeting in October which featured inaccurate presentation boards. Meeting attendees were requested to fill out a survey that did not include the two options presented, nor the road diet plan as designed by LADOT and disseminated by MCWCC. Though the survey did not mention the road diet, according to Ryu, the survey results showed that only “Roughly 37 percent expressed support for a proposed road diet.”

Detail of top of Ryu survey from October 6th Street meeting
Detail of top of Ryu survey from October 6th Street meeting

Misleadingly, Ryu’s statement, and his website’s summary of survey results, relate that the survey found “Nearly 85 percent of respondents stated that a car is their primary mode of transportation,” though that question was not asked. Ryu’s survey asked respondents to “check all that apply” on a list of transportation modes that they use on 6th Street, so it is not mathematically possible to derive a valid percentage for car usage, much less whether a car is a respondent’s primary mode of transportation.

In a statement, printed in its entirety at the Larchmont Buzz, MCWCC president Scott Epstein reiterated MCWCC’s commitment to “the only comprehensive solution for safety on 6th Street: a redesign of the street to remove one vehicle lane in each direction and add a continuous center turn lane” and urged councilmember Ryu to reconsider his position.

Today’s news is full of climate change-driven catastrophic fires that are devastating communities. This year has seen rising numbers of deaths on Los Angeles streets. Notwithstanding, L.A. City Councilmember David Ryu is siding with backwards-looking car-centric Fix the City reactionaries who emphasize driver speed over human safety. Despite Ryu cloaking his tepid plans in safety justifications, his improvements would leave 6th Street’s deadly status quo largely unchanged, imperiling the safety and health of future generations.

 

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