LADOT Installs New Flashing Signage At Deadly Venice Crosswalk

New flashing pedestrian signage installed on Pacific Avenue in Venice. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New flashing pedestrian signage installed on Pacific Avenue in Venice. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

In mid-February, the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) installed new flashing signage at a dangerous Venice crosswalk. The crosswalk is located at the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Sunset Avenue.

In October 2017, Damon Shear was killed at the site. He was walking legally in the crosswalk, when a speeding driver swerved around to pass to the right of a stopped car, then crashed into Shear sending his body flying 30 feet.

LADOT had already planned safety improvements at the site. According to LADOT spokesperson Oliver Hou, the department received a federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) grant to install “a few dozen” Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (RRFBs). Then the inventor of the RRFB patented the design, leading the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to rescind its prior interim approval of RRFB use. FHWA pushes to standardize U.S. streets, so they do not support specific patented traffic control devices.

This has led LADOT to test out alternative pedestrian safety treatments that are supported by FHWA. The Venice crosswalk’s flashing LED pedestrian crossing sign is one of two alternatives the department is currently looking to use to substitute for the planned RRFBs.

Streetsblog visited the Venice crosswalk site last week.

The crosswalk’s flashing LEDs are activated by pressing the button.

Pedestrians push the button to activate the flashing signage
Pedestrians push the button to activate the flashing signage
The flashing sign is powered by a solar panel at the top
View of pedestrian crossing Pacific Avenue at Sunset Avenue

LADOT will also be evaluating another similar FHWA-approved flashing pedestrian signage design.

Via a council motion heard at Transportation Committee on February 14, L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin has pushed for the city to resolve the design issues and to move forward with pedestrian safety device installation. Hou reports that LADOT will be modifying specifications to shift their planned RRFBs to an alternative design in order to use the grant funding to install these safety improvements “sometime in 2018.”


  • Jason

    These things are deathtraps. The yellow is usually difficult to see during daylight, assuming that people even know what they are–I know what they are and I still have trouble processing them quickly. And inevitably, someone stops for the pedestrian, driver(s) can’t see the pedestrian because of the visual obstruction of the stopped car, tries to swerve around at speed thinking the driver is just some dumbass stopped for no reason, and nearly kills the pedestrian in the process.

    Only thing I’ll say is, there used to not be a marked crosswalk here at all, right? Not that drivers respect crosswalks but I guess it’s an improvement over literally nothing.

  • Why “signage” instead of plain old “signs”?

  • Exactly, this is a deathtrap. The first motorist will stop and a second will pull around and hit the pedestrian in the crosswalk, which is exactly what happened to Damon Shear. LADOT should know this needs a HAWK signal at a minimum.

  • Brad the Tortoise

    I think one of the problems with the HAWK setup is that the “alternating-flashing red” phase permits motorists to drive through once stopping and making sure the crosswalk is clear. This runs counter to the other (main) use of alternating-flashing red signals: at railroad crossings. There, alternating-flashing red lights require motorists to stop and not proceed at all. I think a simpler, more consistent solution would be to have the red lights flash in unison, not alternating.

  • Fine, get the MUTCD to fix it, and in the mean time install a full $250K traffic signal.

  • Brad the Tortoise

    In my experience, in LA pedestrian crossing traffic signals are installed and programmed in a fashion that makes pedestrians wait between 2 to 5 minutes before crossing. (I actually counted beyond five minutes in one DTLA midblock crossing location last week) This leads to crossing against the signal which to me is more dangerous than the so-so solution LADOT installed at the location cited in the article.

  • Jason

    These are the best ones I’ve seen so far. On Ocean Park in Santa Monica. The signal is where drivers actually expect to see signals, and keeps the flashing lights (alternating yellow lights) with the sign it’s meant to call your attention to. And the lights are actually visible during daylight. As opposed to having barely-visible yellow lights implanted in the crosswalk and a pedestrian-crossing sign somewhere over to the side. It overall does a good job of calling your attention to it and making it very quick and easy to process what it’s trying to tell you even if you’ve never seen this kind of setup before.

    Now, at this location there’s an issue where if you’re at driver height and not Google Streetview camera height you can’t actually see the crosswalk until you’re nearly in it because of the hill you’re cresting, but that’s a separate question.

  • Jason

    Signage is the design of signs.

  • mrcool1122

    Those of us who lived in the area knew about the danger of this crosswalk for some time and asked the city to do something about it. I know I did going back to 2012. I witnessed a car swoop around another car stopped for a pedestrian, and run over the pedestrian’s dog.
    In the last year or so before these recent improvements, some enterprising neighbor had undertaken to add red reflective tape to the existing crosswalk signs in order to make them more visible.
    Part of the problem is that Pacific Ave is narrow but is treated like a highway by through traffic. It should probably be calmed like the parallel Main Street was back in 2014.


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