CityWatch, Apr 22, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 32
What happens in Los Angeles doesn't stay in Los Angeles … it resonates! In fact, common wisdom holds that "As goes LA, so goes the nation." This was especially evident at this week's Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) conference in San Diego where almost 1000 traffic, public health, land use, law enforcement and advocacy professionals came together to leverage federal funding and implement safety initiatives that reduce fatalities on our streets.
Against the backdrop of LA's budget crisis and the proposed reduction of city services in an effort to close the $463 million deficit, the OTS funding, programming and partnership opportunities are all the more important.
Dr. Jeffrey Michael of the US Department of Transportation opened the conference with a big picture challenge saying "When it comes to traffic safety, we look to you for leadership in addressing distracted and impaired motorists."
Christopher Murphy, OTS Director, made it personal and challenged the conference participants to start by changing their own behavior. "It's up to the professionals to set the standard so stop multi-tasking and concentrate when you're driving."
Conference participants were presented with an array of opportunities to work together on engineering, education, encouragement, evaluation, and enforcement strategies for making our streets safer for all users.
LA was well represented at the conference and Ron Durgin, President of Sustainable Streets, said "Implementation of California's Complete Street Act is so much more likely when engineers and law enforcement and advocates all work together to make our streets safer for all modes, from peds to cyclists, from transit passengers to motorists."
For the people of Los Angeles, safe streets are much more likely if they are pursued by the local community in partnership with local advocates and City Hall.
The immediate opportunities on the horizon are the current Safe Routes to School funding, federal and state money that can be spent to improve local sidewalks and streets to encourage children on their school commutes.
For more information, visit OTS.ca.gov or SustainableStreetsLA.org or email info@SustainableStreetsLA.org
(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net.)