Tuesday, June 02, 2009

LA's Mean Streets - Unsafe for cyclists, pedestrians and mass transit passengers!

(Hans Gutknecht/Daily News) Album ID: 767869 Photo ID: 23918480

Monday was a bad day for pedestrians and cyclists and mass transit passengers in the City of Los Angeles.

First a woman cyclist was killed at 12:10 pm as she rode on Louise Avenue in Reseda. The Daily News reports that she was hit by a LADWP truck operated by a contractor and pictures of the scene indicate that it was a large truck hauling a trailer loaded with light poles. The LAPD reports that she was southbound on the sidewalk of Louise and was crossing the street when she was hit by the right-turning truck as it turned from Valerio onto Louise. The cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.

The afternoon was not yet over when news came out that the Fire Department was attempting to extricate a male adult from under a bus on South Pacific Avenue in Venice. According to the LAPD, the 30-year-old man was crossing the street in the crosswalk when he was hit and dragged by a right-turning bus. The bus operator did not know the pedestrian was under the bus and continued for a couple of blocks before he was flagged down and informed of the body stuck under his bus. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene.

At about the same time, a motorist on West Vanowen Street plowed into a bus stop, hitting four people and dragging one woman until the vehicle was stopped by a tree and a pole. Residents from nearby lifted the vehicle to free the trapped woman who was then transported to a local hospital and is reported in critical condition. The other women suffered minor injuries.

In all three cases the fire department, the police department and the press report that the vehicle operators required medical attention and at least two were transported to area hospitals.

Our streets are filled with vehicle operators who can't handle their vehicles or the environment in which they operate or the consequences of their failure to control their vehicles.

If the City of Los Angeles were a movie set, it would be illegal to allow children on the streets and the 1st Assistant Director and the Transportation Captain would be up on charges for allowing the set to disintegrate into a scene where people die on a regular basis.

But it's not a film set, it's reality and it's bad. It's no longer headline news when somebody dies as the result of a traffic collision, just scrolling trivia, with names withheld and incidents forgotten as the next victim takes their place on the list of the nameless who dared to walk, ride a bike or take the bus.

Our streets are filled with high performance vehicles driven by low performance operators. Our cars are engineered for speed and come with air bags, seat belts and crash cages, all which enable the occupants to survive a traffic collision but this does nothing for those who walk, ride or simply stand on a sidewalk. These are the most vulnerable and we do nothing to make the streets safer for them.

The City of Los Angeles may not be in a position to address the driving skills of all those who operate vehicles on the streets of LA, but it surely is in a position to require those who operate City owned vehicles or City contracted vehicles to take a simple driving course that stresses the rights of pedestrians and cyclists on the streets of Los Angeles.

If we are to set a safety standard for our streets, it is imperative that we start with those over whom we have the most control, those who are on the payroll of the City of Los Angeles.

I'm calling on the City of Los Angeles to implement a training program to ensure that any city employee or contractor operating City owned or contracted vehicles be required to successfully complete a course for motor vehicle operator's on safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The League of American Bicyclists already has the course material in place for a program such as this, all that's missing is the political will to make it a reality.

Now is the time and we are the political will.

"See you on the Streets!"


Andrew Defries (Cutler Lab) said...


Anonymous said...

Elimininating Right Turn on Red within the City Limits would be a very good start. Right Turn on Red causes motorists to look left for cross traffic and therefore not look to their right (where a pedestrian might be crossing in front of their vehicle) or to the center (where their signal may have turned green and thus giving a pedestrian the right to cross the intersecting street). Is it really so necessary to increase intersection throughput in urban areas by endangering pedestrians?

Enci said...

I'm 100% with you on this Anonymous!

zane said...

Another thing we can do is create an enduring and *usable* record of these tragedies:


Anonymous said...

There is an error in the blog.
The city of LA is in the position to address the performance of its drivers.
Remember when we had Driver's Ed in High School?
Well, they cut that program too.

SoapBoxLA said...

The City of LA already has standards for "its" drivers. As a contractor with the City of LA, I had to have motor vehicle insurance, even though I rode a bike.

The City of LA requires "its" cyclists to undergo training, simply to ride a bike.

Cyclists who ride bikes as part of their job work for the Bureau of Street Services, the Department of Transportation Parking Enforcement, the Rec & Parks Rangers, the LAPD Bike Detail and the LAFD Paramedics. Contractors include the BID Security Guards.

So, based on their behavior, it appears that the City of LA has the authority to require those on bikes to undergo special training as part of their job.

Why not require those who operate motor vehicles while on the payroll or contract to also undergo training with regards to pedestrian/cyclist safety.