Safe street projects on the Westside are under attack from vocal opponents who prefer the status quo over safety.
In Santa Monica we know that even the best drivers can make mistakes on dangerous streets. Los Angeles is one of the deadliest cities in our country for all road users — especially the most vulnerable such as children, older adults, pedestrians, cyclists, low-income commuters, and commuters of color. Street safety improvements are critical strategies to solve this public health crisis.
No matter where you live, we need you to take action to protect Vision Zero projects in Mar Vista and Playa del Rey.
The LA Department of Transportation used internationally proven and evidence-based methods to design new street safety improvements in Mar Vista and Playa del Rey that was informed by community input.
We can’t let misinformation and impatience stop us from building safer streets and more vibrant communities. Some drivers using these corridors have grown impatient because they are unable to travel at the same unsafe high speeds as they previously could. LA Department of Transportation continues working to improve the synchronization of signal lights to help improve traffic flow, while also keeping streets safe for all who use the corridor throughout their day — including motor vehicle drivers.
Despite the great public benefit, these projects have unfortunately come under attack amid a flurry of misinformation being circulated about the projects. There is some concern that they will be removed, thus potentially setting a troubling precedent for Vision Zero projects all across LA County.
However, there are actions you can take to make sure that the streets are safer for the communities of Mar Vista, Playa Del Rey, and everywhere by supporting roadway redesigns that improve walking and biking. You can help to end this public health crisis by supporting these Great Streets, Complete Streets and Vision Zero projects whether they are in your backyard or way across town.
Mar Vista Great Streets Initiative
The Mar Vista Great Streets Initiative began in 2015 with an extensive community outreach process facilitated by Councilmember Mike Bonin and the city-wide Great Streets Initiative. The primary goal is to make Venice Blvd. safer for all road users who travel the corridor, as well as to support local businesses.
Venice Blvd. is part of LA’s Vision Zero High Injury Network (HIN), meaning the street has a higher rate of injuries and deaths compared to others in L.A. Since 2011, there have been 48 cyclists and pedestrians injured from crashes in this particular corridor.
In May the City installed four new pedestrian crossings, protected and buffered bike lanes, and improvements at existing signalized intersections–all with the goal of reducing injuries and deaths. The project runs about .8 miles from Inglewood Blvd. to Beethoven St.
Playa Del Rey Street Safety Initiative
The Playa Del Rey projects came from community interest in improving street safety and making Playa del Rey a more livable beach community for all of its residents. After two and a half years of community outreach and engagement, the community opted to install lane restriping as a pilot project, which it will continue to evaluate over the next year. According to LADOT, from 2003 – 2016, Culver Blvd. had 84 serious injury crashes and 6 deaths; Jefferson Blvd. had 96 serious injury crashes and 2 deaths; and Pershing Dr had 64 serious injury crashes.
The boundaries of each project are Culver Blvd. between Vista Del Mar and Jefferson Blvd.; Jefferson Blvd. between Culver Blvd. and Lincoln Blvd.; and Pershing Dr. between Cabora Dr. and Westchester Pkwy. Each of these streets were re-striped to calm traffic and slow vehicle speeds as cars drive through the Playa del Rey neighborhood. Each also includes added buffered bicycle lanes that will create safe routes for people on bikes to connect to destinations on Westchester Pkwy., Lincoln Blvd., and Dockweiler State Beach bike path.
Vista Del Mar
A separate but related Vision Zero project on Vista Del Mar was developed urgently with an unfortunately rushed community outreach process because these are some of the most dangerous intersections and streets in the City of Los Angeles. Playa Del Rey Safe Streets Initiative was in response to dangerous levels of speeding, a pattern of tragic crashes that resulted in serious injuries and death, and a $9.5 million wrongful death lawsuit that was settled in April of this year. The suit came in response to the tragic death of 16-year old Naomi Larsen, who was fatally struck by a car while trying to cross the street after attending a bonfire at Dockweiler with her friends.
From 2003 – 2016, there were 210 traffic collisions on Vista Del Mar, including 5 deaths. To address the dangerous design of this street before the summer beach crowds started flooding in, LADOT began working on May 21 to move all parking to the west side of the street only (parking had to remain on the street due to California Coastal Commission regulations), create U-turn pockets, and narrow the road to one lane in each direction. This project does not include a bike lane. The project runs from Imperial Hwy. to Culver Blvd.
What can you do to lend your support and help make sure these street projects are a success?
>>>>>>> JOIN US IN TAKING ACTION >>>>>>>
July 2nd Sunday Funday Ride on the Westside.
The ride will tour the safety improvements in Playa del Rey and Mar Vista and will visit the Mar Vista Farmers Market for a buy-in to show local support for businesses and share fact sheets.Ride will be approximately 13 miles at an easy-moderate pace.
Two ways to join:
— Feeder ride from Santa Monica to Sunday Funday. Meet at Clover Park (NW corner at 25th) 9am, roll at 9:15 sharp to meet up with the group that rolls at 10am from Culver Slauson Park.
— Meet at Culver Slauson Park, 5072 S Slauson Ave at 9:30am – ride rolls at 10am
See full info for LACBC’s Sunday Funday event here.
SHARE on social media! Tweet and post photos of your ride through Venice, Jefferson, and Culver Boulevards, and Pershing Drive in the new bike lanes! Use #SaferVeniceBlvd, #SaferJeffersonBlvd, #SaferCulverBlvd, and #SaferPershingDr or #SaferVistaDelMar, to build momentum and share your message with fellow safe streets advocates.
July 5th, Wednesday: Volunteer to phone bank,
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) will host phone banking (anytime) between 4pm-8pm at thier Headquaters DTLA. We will be calling members and allies to take action in support of Vision Zero and the new safety improvements! Local phone banking at Santa Monica Spoke HQ is being planned if we have volunteers interested. RSVP
July 5th, Wednesday: ATTEND
the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC)meeting at the Canal Club at 7:00pm! The VNC Parking & Transportation Committee and Board of Directors Meeting will be discussing Venice Blvd, and there will be an opportunity to provide public comment and vote. Don’t forget to share on social media if you show up!
July 11th, Tuesday: ATTEND
the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) meeting at the Mar Vista Recreation Center at 7:00pm! The MVCC will be taking action on the bike lanes and it’s critical for us to show up and let them know these lanes are essential for safe Westside streets. If you plan to attend, please let us know by signing in here so we can keep you up to date and help prepare you for public comment. Don’t forget to share on social media if you show up!
EMAIL the Mar Vista Community Council and Venice Neighborhood Council TODAY to show your support for street safety improvements on Venice Blvd. See sample email.
SAMPLE EMAIL: Please personalize.
To: MVCC@EmpowerLA.org, VeniceNC@EmpowerLA.org
BCC: email@example.com, Cynthia.Rose@SMSpoke.org
RE: Support for Venice Blvd Great Streets Safety Improvements
Dear Members of the Mar Vista Community Council and the Venice Neighborhood Council:
I strongly encourage the Mar Vista Community Council and the Venice Neighborhood Council to continue supporting the project on Venice Blvd. as part of the Mar Vista Great Streets Initiative. This recently installed project has come under attack, much of it being fueled by misinformation. Impatience of drivers shouldn’t stop the community from building safer streets and more vibrant neighborhoods. These safety improvements will prevent future injuries and can save lives.
As a [student, older adult, mom, cyclist, person with a disability, business owner, etc], I firmly support the street safety improvements on Venice Blvd. This project was designed through community dialogue throughout a yearlong open process and is meant to make all residents and visitors safer. Similar to how the farmers market has improved our community, we believe the “small town feel” of this Great Streets initiative will do the same for Mar Vista and will further improve community culture.
We must continue to improve our streets with rigorous and informed evaluations, and I urge you to remain committed to creating vibrant and safer streets in Mar Vista.
This article was produced in collaboration with Dayna Galbreath from Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE) and other engaged community groups and partners.