Portlandi-LA: Placemaking Lessons from the City Repair Project

#LeapLA tries to keep you looped into all things that make Los Angeles streets and neighborhoods more livable. Last month, Active Transportation Division had the opportunity to partner with the Department of City Planning, the Mayor’s Great Streets Initiative, and the Los Angeles Eco Village to bring Portland’s Mark Lakeman to speak to City departments. Lakeman, the founder of City Repair Project, gave a compelling presentation on how communities in Portland create natural building, permaculture, and public art projects. Lakeman’s presentation provided Los Angeles with some food for thought, illustrating how City Repair Project has served as an effective means for achieving transportation implementation goals.

The mission of the City Repair Project is to “foster thriving, inclusive, and sustainable communities through the creative reclamation of public space.” The project has facilitated simple, yet holistic approaches to improving Portland’s neighborhoods. Lakeman’s strategy emphasizes that streets are the center of cultural convergence: a community meeting place where ideas are communicated and people are compelled to interact. In this, Lakeman argues, a street should reflect the full spectrum of human expressions and serve more as a cultural continuum than a conduit to move traffic.

People enjoying a completed City Repair Project

People enjoying a completed City Repair Project

Culturally and physically, Los Angeles neighborhoods seeking to reclaim culture back into the streets can continue to expand their toolkit and learn from the City Repair model. Many Los Angeles communities have been touched by locally-driven placemaking efforts. From the more recent Great Streets Challenge, to well-established organizations such as Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI), placemaking in Los Angeles has generated greater connectivity and revitalized neighborhoods. Community-driven strategies like these that utilize and engage active communities can facilitate critical improvements that enhance community cohesiveness.

City Repair Projects inspire creativity and community engagement

City Repair Projects inspire creativity and community engagement

Lakeman’s talk explained that City Repair Projects are a unique partnership between the non-profit, the community, and the City of Portland. The projects are driven from the bottom up, largely developed by volunteers and citizen activists, but the process is sustained and facilitated by the city. The city has made the process to opt into a City Repair Project fairly simple:

  1. after identifying gaps and corridors, community members can pool resources and collaborate to design a project that is context sensitive and cost effective
  2. community members then apply with the Portland Bureau of Transportation for an encroachment permit and a block party permit, that allow them to shut down two streets (4 blocks) during a City Repair Project intersection painting

By keeping the regulatory process flexible and simple, Portland enables communities to create artistic and ecologically-oriented transportation improvements. Projects such as benches, community kiosks, gardens, street paintings, tile mosaics, and intersection treatments, though granular, integrally stitch neighborhoods together and inspire creativity and diversity.

The semi-permanent nature of some projects foster opportunities for continual innovation

Some projects are semi-permanent, fostering opportunities for continual innovation

The City Repair Project is about the intersection of transportation, art, public spaces, and community engagement. Fostering collaboration among community members, these projects create permanent and semi-permanent street improvements that benefit neighborhoods and the city at-large.  Following the lead of People St and Great Streets, City Repair Project is another model that Los Angeles can adapt as a means to encourage creative and environmentally sustainable placemaking.

Bicycle Corrals 2016: 42 New Bike Parking Spaces Spring up Across Los Angeles

Secure, safe bicycle parking is an essential element of a comprehensive bicycle network. Demand for bike parking in Los Angeles continues to grow as ridership increases and the City’s bicycle network expands. A lack of adequate parking not only discourages ridership, but also encourages people to lock their bikes to parking meters, trees, or sidewalk furniture. Where there is bicycle traffic and limited sidewalk space, on-street bicycle parking offers a worthwhile alternative…. That’s where bicycle corrals come in!

LADOT’s strategic plan, Great Streets for Los Angeles, calls for the installation of over 25 bicycle corrals. We’re excited to announce that this past month, LADOT installed three new corrals: Main Street in Venice, sponsored by The Copper Room,  Fuller Street at Runyon Canyon Park, sponsored by Friends of Runyon Canyon, and Huntington Drive, sponsored by Barrio Action. The recent installs account for a total of 14 Cycle Stall corrals, bringing our citywide corral total (including the two pilot corral projects) to a total of 16!

Main Street Corral in Venice

This corral can park up to 18 bicycles!

This corral can park up to 18 bicycles!

The corral on Main Street complements a highly used bike path, making life easier for people on bikes who commute to work or want to explore local shops, restaurants, and the beach. The corral presents a resting point between Santa Monica and the City of Los Angeles, cultivating a bicycle prioritized business corridor.

Runyon Canyon Corral

We were happy to see that the very first corral-user parked their bike in a secure way by locking the front wheel to the bike frame, rear wheel, and the corral.

We were happy to see that the very first corral-user parked their bike in a secure way by locking the front wheel to the bike frame, rear wheel, and the corral.

Runyon Canyon’s corral serves an important function at LA’s hippest Hollywood park. Runyon Canyon Park does not provide car parking and on-street parking is few and far between. The Runyon Canyon corral increases accessibility to the park, making it easier for people to enjoy the trails, views, and community spaces that the park offers. Today, people can leave their car at home and have a zero emissions workout with a seamless ride to Runyon Canyon.

Bicycling to Runyon Canyon Park is now a viable, secure option.

Thanks to our General Services crew, bicycling to Runyon Canyon is now a viable and secure option!

Huntington Corral

The Huntington Drive Corral is located directly in front of our People St and Active Transportation champion, Councilmember José Huizar’s El Sereno Field Office. The corral compliments a bicycle repair station to create a bicycle resource center for the community.

Senior Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery at our newest corral and bicycle repair station in El Sereno

Sponsorship: Applying for a Bicycle Corral

More questions about LA’s Bicycle Corrals? Maybe you are interested in sponsoring a corral yourself? Our People St Corral application cycle is currently on a rolling basis! Learn more on our People St Bicycle Corral page for FAQs and the application.

Eligible sponsors include business or property owners, non-profits, and community organizations. Sponsors must sign a maintenance agreement with the City in which the sponsor agrees to keep the corral clean and debris-free. Please note that corral placement restricts street sweeping. We suggest reaching out to our staff at peoplest@lacity.org to advise on any proposed location prior to submitting a full application.

Find a Corral

We hope you’ll come visit our newest corrals! Find a list of all existing bicycle corrals on our corral page, and you can check out our awesome new City of LA Active Transportation Map to find a corral near you.

The Engineer’s Corner: Bridget Smith, P.E., T.E., P.T.O.E, Chief of Staff

In previous segments of “The Engineer’s Corner,” we have introduced you to some of the talented engineers part of our Bikeways group. This time around, we take a coffee break away from the bikeway design plans to chat with LADOT’s new Chief of Staff Bridget Smith.

While Bridget is a newcomer to our Department, she is a skilled engineer with a civil engineering education from UC Berkeley, over 25 years of professional experience, and not one but three professional certifications: Professional Engineer (P.E.), Transportation Engineer (T.E.), and Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (P.T.O.E.). In this interview for “The Engineer’s Corner,” we ask Bridget about her move to our City, her experience in the field of engineering, and her idea of a livable street.

Taking a Break with Bridget

LADOT’s new Chief of Staff Bridget Smith takes a break to chat with us.

LADOT Bike Blog: Can you tell us about yourself?

Read more

Our Bike Paths are Made for Sharing

Walk and bike lanes with father and daughter riding their bikes

The Metro Orange Line Bike Path is sufficiently wide to provide separate demarcated spaces for people walking and bicycling.

As the City works to design and build road improvements to support active transportation and revitalize the Los Angeles River, Angelenos are increasingly re-discovering the beauty of the City, changing how they travel throughout it, and visiting outdoor places to exercise. The bike path along the Los Angeles River is one of the few places in this City that can host people taking in nature, commuting to their destination, or just enjoying a pleasant bike ride or walk.

The continuous 7-mile segment of bike path that runs parallel to a mostly  soft-bottom portion of the river between Glendale and Elysian Valley known as the “Glendale Narrows” has proven to be especially popular for a number of activities, including: dog-walking, bicycling, recreational walking, bird watching, and more. Like many places in Los Angeles that become popular, the limited space, often less than 15 feet wide, available at this section of the LA River bike path can become crowded. At times, the bike path is occupied by dozens of people walking, rolling, and bicycling.

If You Build It, They Will All Come

Prior to the bike path being built from Fletcher Drive to approximately Riverside Drive in 2010, there was only 4.6 miles of continuous bike path from Fletcher Dr. to Zoo Dr. Few people rode their bikes along the Los Angeles River service road on the not-yet-constructed portion of the LA River through Elysian Valley, although the passage was used informally by locals. After the LA River path was extended to its current southern endpoint at Riverside Dr. in Elysian Valley, the facility’s smooth surface and accessible entrances attracted people walking, rolling, pushing strollers, and bicycling. What was formerly a 4.6-mile bike path became a continuous 7-mile shared use bike path, giving people more room to enjoy spaces along the LA River. Over the years, communities along the Glendale Narrows have also seen change and are drawing more attention to the LA River. Today, many people happily use what will eventually become a long linear park as it is intended for a variety of uses and activities. Despite the limited space, most users are able to get along most of the time – whether they walk, bike, or roll.

P1010106

Then CD 13 Councilmember Eric Garcetti and then CD 4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge at the grand opening of the Elysian Valley section of the LA River bike path.

Sharing the Bike Path

Unfortunately, this post is not about the usual harmonious rhythm shared by LA River bike path users, it is about the small portion of time when path users struggle to get along. Every now and then, people walking or rolling on the path encounter people riding their bicycles at high speeds, making them uncomfortable and concerned. On the other hand, people on bicycles complain about people who walk in groups of three or more abreast or against the flow of bicycle travel. We hear reports of people colliding or nearly colliding with one another on the path, which can startle path users and discourage them revisiting this beautiful resource. In a perfect world, the path would be wide enough that none of these conflicts would exist but the reality is that the current width of the bike path is what is feasible given physical constraints and available resources.

The City has few places that provide a better, uninterrupted bicycling experience than the Los Angeles River bike path, and as the River’s amenities continue to be built out all of us must do our part to keep the path a friendly and accommodating place for everyone.

photo.JPG

When everybody shares and uses the bike path responsibly, we can all get in on the LA River fun!

Keep in mind that both people walking and bicycling are legal users of the path. Below are useful tips to keep in mind when sharing bike path:

When Bicycling:

  • Yield to people walking or rolling.
  • Slow down for pedestrians entering the path.
  • Slow down when passing anyone.
  • Pass only when it is safe to do so.
  • Travel at safe speed with due regard for others.
  • Be especially cautious around children and elderly people.
  • When traveling side-by-side, stay on the right side of the path when pedestrians are present.
  • Ride in single file when there is not enough room to adequately share the path.
  • Slow down when approaching pedestrians
  • Giving audible warning (i.e., saying “passing left”, ringing bell), pass only when safe to do so, and when in doubt, stop.

When Walking:

  • Look both ways before entering the path.
  • Keep to the right side of the path.
  • Do not walk/stop in the middle of the path.
  • Make sure children know where to walk and when in doubt hold their hand.
  • Walk your dog(s) on a short leash (and please pick up after him or her).
  • Look behind you and ahead- especially when moving across the path.

Remember, the LA River bike path is a shared resource and we must all be courteous to its other users.

Key Laws Regarding Bike Paths

The following is the text and summary of laws relative to Bicycle Path use in the State of California and City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles River.

California Vehicle Code

No motorized bicycles are allowed on bike paths unless allowed by Code

  • CVC21207.5 Notwithstanding Sections 21207 and 213127 of this code, or any other provision of law, no motorized bicycle may be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over such path or trail permits, by ordinance, such operation.

It is illegal to loiter on or block a bike path except maintenance or utility vehicles

  • CVC21211 (a) No person may stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public or private bicycle path or trail, if the stopping, standing, sitting or loitering impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist. (b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law. (C) This section does not apply to drivers or owners of utility or public utility vehicles as provided in Section 22512.

Due to inadequate available width, no separate pedestrian path is available (like the Orange Line Bike Path), thus pedestrians are legal and welcome users of the Los Angeles River Bike Path

  • CVC 21966 No pedestrian shall proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility.

No cars, motorcycles, mopeds or other motorized vehicles are allowed on the path except maintenance or emergency vehicles.

  • CVC213127. No person shall operate an unauthorized motor vehicle on any state, county, city, private, or district hiking or horseback riding trail or bicycle path that is clearly marked by an authorized agent or owner with signs at all entrances and exists and at intervals of not more than one mile indicating no unauthorized motor vehicles are permitted on the hiking or horseback riding trail or bicycle path, except bicycle paths which are contiguous or adjacent to a roadway dedicated solely to motor vehicle use.

California Streets and Highways Code

Bicycle Paths are designed for the use of people on bicycles AND on foot.

  • S&H Code 890.4 As used in this article, “bikeway” means all facilities that provide primarily for, and promote, bicycle travel. For purposes of this article, bikeways shall be categorized as follows: (a) Bike paths or shared use paths, also referred to as “Class I bikeways,” which provide a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with crossflows by motorists minimized.

Bicycle Path design is overseen by Caltrans (State Dept. of Transportation) and various strategies may be utilized to make all users aware of each other on bike paths.

  • S&H Code 890.9. The department shall establish uniform specifications and symbols for signs, markers, and traffic control devices to designate bikeways, regulate traffic, improve safety and convenience for bicyclists, and alert pedestrians and motorists of the presence of bicyclists on bikeways and on roadways where bicycle travel is permitted.

Los Angeles Municipal Code

Users of bicycle paths, or bikeways, are not allowed to use bicycles, skates, etc in a way that endangers other users of the path.

  • LAMC 56.16-1. No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, cart, wagon, wheelchair, roller skates, or any other device moved exclusively by human power, on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

 

Planning Day 2015: A Planner’s Guide to DTLA Complete Streets

Take a look at your calendar, and you probably will not find Planning Day as a listed holiday. Planning Day, held on October 15th this year, is an annual event observed exclusively by the Department of City Planning (DCP) where DCP staff lead and participate in multiple tours designed to explore different planning-related themes throughout Los Angeles . For this year’s Planning Day, a group of DCP staff biked the streets of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), Little Tokyo, and the Arts District to see first-hand how LADOT is helping transform Los Angeles into a vision of Complete Streets.

LADOT People St guru Elizabeth Gallardo rallies DCP staff for our tour.

To kickoff the tour, LADOT People St Project Manager, Elizabeth Gallardo lead DCP staff along a greatest hits of active transportation projects designed by LADOT to serve a broad cross section of road users, who find DTLA as a vibrant place to live and spend their leisure time. First stop was the Spring Street parklets where Nicholas Ziff Griffin, Director of Economic Development at the Downtown Center Business Improvement District described the importance of these amenities in creating a vital place where people want to linger and explore new businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Peddler’s Creamery offers sweet rewards for customers that churn ice cream using pedal power.

Read more

Mobility Hubs in Los Angeles: Emerging Nodes of Transportation

So, we know mobility is an important part of our lives that allows us to participate in different activities and we know a hub refers to a center for an activity but is a “mobility hub” a thing? The idea of a mobility hub comes from a vision for a sustainable transportation system that offers seamless connectivity and integration between various modes of transport, all through a single platform. There are two components that differentiate a mobility hub from other transportation services: (1) they serve the “first/last mile trip” from transit and (2) demand-based services are offered through an information technology platform.

Mobility through Connectivity

Mobility hubs, typically located at major transit stations, are designed to provide “on-demand” transportation through first/last mile transportation solutions. They are strategic locations where people using one mode or service can use another service to reach their final destination to both easily and conveniently. Mobility hubs are not only an extension of local transit service and infrastructure networks for walking and bicycling, but also a venue to access carshare services!

Perhaps as exciting as the availability of these mobility options, is that mobility hubs also offer a host of other amenities that solve the first/last mile challenge. These can include electric vehicle charging stations, bicycle repair stations, secure bicycle storage facilities, like El Monte’s new “Bike Hub, transit hubs, ridesharing services, personal lockers, electronic signage of real-time arrival times, and departure transit information.

It can be easy bein’ green! We’re excited for mobility hub amenities, like Metro’s really green El Monte Bike Hub, a secure bike parking room, to come to LA. Next up: Hollywood/Vine Bike Hub!

In addition to the first/last mile services, mobility hubs integrate recent technology innovations to allow you to use all these mobility hub amenities and services through a single application. Just like tweeting or submitting a 311 request, you should be able to reserve and/or pay for the services from your phone. A mobility hub can allow you to, for example, reserve a carshare vehicle through a mobile app on your phone or on your computer via an online portal while riding the bus, hop off the bus at a transit station, and immediately hop into your reserved vehicle. Just like many of the other apps and digital products available today, mobility hubs take advantage of quick and easy payment schemes to provide seamless connectivity. Who can’t get behind that?

Integrated Mobility Hubs Project in Los Angeles

By this time next year, Los Angeles will join the ranks of more than 600 cities around the world with a bikeshare system! On June 25th, the Metro Board offered their stamp of approval  for both the LA County Bikeshare Plan and a bikeshare vendor (Bicycle Transit Systems, Inc.) Shortly thereafter, the Los Angeles City Council voted on August 28th to partner with Metro in launching a pilot bikeshare program in Los Angeles, which will take place in mid-2016 with up to 1,000 bikes and 80 stations in Downtown L.A.

This decision is momentous! Bikeshare is a critical component of a larger initiative taking place in the Los Angeles Metropolitan region, the Integrated Mobility Hubs Project.

Read more

Why You Should Ride to CicLAvia on October 18 with BikeSafeUSC

Cancel all your plans! CicLAvia is coming back to town on October 18 in the Heart of LA (HOLA). Five years and 14 events after the first historic CicLAvia ride on 10/10/10, the ride returns to its roots in Downtown LA. If you don’t know how or where to get more info or join the epic event-filled day, or if you are interested in meeting new and interesting people, or if you just want to be part of a movement reshaping LA, there is a group for you! BikeSafeUSC is a coalition of University of Southern California (USC) campus groups uniting students, staff and community to plan a feeder ride to the CicLAvia.

Archival shot from CicLAvia Heart of LA in 2011. Looking forward to recreating this magic 4 years later and greater! Source: CicLAvia

Read more

New California Laws Set to Improve Your Safety

In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed two new momentous bills creating safer streets for the people of California.  The first, A.B. 902, permits local municipalities to enact programs for bicyclists ticketed for certain infractions. The second, A.B. 8, allows law enforcement agencies to issue a public alert if a person has been killed or severely injured in a hit-and-run collision. Both bills will take effect on January 1, 2016.  So let’s take a closer look at how each can improve mobility for Californians…

A.B. 902

A.B. 902, the traffic ticket diversion program, helps turn a ticket into a learning opportunity by providing an opportunity for people on bicycles to attend a bicycling class to reduce their fine. This change in the way we normally conduct traffic enforcement can result in reduced fines for committing moving violations, a more educated  public, and over all safer streets, a real a win-win-win! It is important to note that the passage of A.B. 902 does not automatically institute programs statewide, but removes barriers that previously prevented cities and counties from initiating such an option for people ticketed while on a bicycle. It is still necessary for members of the public to work with their local officials to ensure such a bicycle ticket diversion program is implemented.

P1010072

Cities and counties are now allowed to implement bicycle ticket diversion programs as a means to promote better bicycle safety while reducing ticket fines.

A.B. 8

A.B. 8, also known as the “Yellow Alert” system was proposed to combat the heavy toll of statewide hit-and-runs. Similar to the Amber Alert system, which alerts drivers of a missing child through freeway message board signs and text messages, Yellow Alerts are intended to garner the public’s help to find fleeing drivers of  hit-and-runs crimes. Alerts will be issued only when local law enforcement has a sufficient description of the identity of the suspects and their vehicles. The alerts will be activated in specific geographic areas, presumably near the scene of a collision. In addition to freeway signs, alerts may be heard on television or on the radio.

Yellow Alerts are not new to California. In 2012, the City of Denver instituted a similar system, as a result of which they experiences a 76% arrest rate in cases where the alert was utilized. The success of the program ensued in a statewide program throughout Colorado. Similar to Denver, the City of Los Angeles has been one step ahead of the state. In February 2015, City officials announced a hit-and-run alert system that would publish information on social media about cars and drivers linked to fatal and other sever hit-and-runs.

Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) spoke on the important of reducing hit-and-run crimes at a 2014 press conference at LA City Hall. Source: Streetsblog LA

This is a big win for Southern California! Aside from the obvious safety and social benefits, we are prideful that both bills were introduced by LA County representatives including Assemblymember Richard Bloom, representing Santa Monica (traffic diversion program) and Assemblymember Mike Gatto, representing Glendale (hit-and-run bill). You can hear more from Assemblymember Gatto himself about A.B. 8 in his interview with Streetsblog.

Why the 2015 “Call for Projects” is Cause for Celebration

Early Chandler Cycletrack rendering

Early rendering of proposed cycle track on Chandler Blvd, one of 8 active transportation projects from the City of Los Angeles recommended for Metro 2015 Call for Projects funding.

On June 29th, Metro released its preliminary recommendations awarding grant funding to projects countywide under the 2015 Call for Projects program, a competitive application process that distributes capital transportation funds to regionally significant projects. By all accounts, this was a successful ‘Call’ year for the City of Los Angeles, in particular for people that walk and ride their bicycle. Eight projects that will improve active transportation were recommended for funding!

City projects set to receive funding, by ‘Call for Projects’ category, include:

1) Regional Surface Transportation Improvements

  • Complete Streets Project for Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock: Improve traffic flow and implement “Complete Streets” elements on Colorado Boulevard by installing signal improvements, turn lanes, median islands, bump-outs, and pedestrian lighting. (More information available here)
  • Harbor Boulevard /Sampson Way/7th Street Reconfiguration: Harbor Boulevard and Sampson Way realignment/intersection consolidation;widened sidewalks; Class II bike lanes.

2) Transportation Demand Management

  • Building Connectivity with Bicycle Friendly Business Districts: Create Bicycle Friendly Business Districts that coordinate with business districts to offer TDM incentives, develop an app, and provide amenities that encourage short trips by bicycle.

3) Bicycle Improvements

  • Chandler Cycle Track Gap Closure Project: Project will construct a 3.1 mile cycle track along Chandler Boulevard, connecting the Chandler and Orange Line Bike Paths, and bridging a gap in the low-stress bicycle network.
  • Mid-City Low Stress Bicycle Enhancement Corridors: The Project is a compilation of bicycle way-finding and traffic calming treatments along two neighborhood corridors in Mid-City area to support regional low-stress bicycle network. (More information available here, and here)

4) Pedestrian Improvements

  • Melrose Avenue-Fairfax Avenue to Highland Avenue Pedestrian Improvements: Strengthen first/last mile connectivity on Melrose Avenue through pedestrian/bike-friendly improvements to restore the avenue’s reputation as a retail and entertainment destination.
  • LANI – Santa Monica Boulevard Improvement Project: The project will implement a series of streetscape improvements on Santa Monica Boulevard designed to increase pedestrian safety, support multiple modes and promote transit use.
  • Beverly Boulevard, Vermont Avenue to Commonwealth Avenue Pedestrian Improvements: Design and construction of pedestrian improvements/streetscape enhancements. To provide linkages to major transit along Beverly Boulevard, Temple Street, Virgil Avenue and Silver Lake Boulevard.

Due to the Call funding cycles,  some of these projects are programmed for a few years down the line and will not be funded until as late as 2020. However, having all these active transportation projects recommended for funding are a cause for celebration and we can’t wait to implement these projects! Additional information about the details of these projects can be found in this list of applications the City recommended to submit for the 2015 Call for Projects process.

#VisionZeroLA Part 1: How Initiative Will Reduce Costs of Traffic Collisions

On a sunny August afternoon in Boyle Heights, Mayor Garcetti signed his tenth executive directive since taking office and launched the City’s new Vision Zero initiative, or #VisionZeroLA! The Mayor was joined by local traffic safety proponents, including our very own General Manager Seleta Reynolds, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Mitchell Englander, other members of the City family, and a newly formed coalition of organizations in support of safer streets for everyone called Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance (LA0).

#VisionZeroLA represents a commitment on behalf of the City of Los Angeles to eliminate traffic-related fatalities by 2025. According to the Mayor’s Office, the City’s Vision Zero policy “is based on the fundamental principle that traffic deaths can be avoided through strategic, data-driven approaches to engineering, enforcement, education evaluation, and community engagement.”

Mayor Garcetti adjusts the mic before announcing #VisionZeroLA.

In a typical year, roughly 200 people are severely injured or killed in traffic collisions in Los Angeles. Approximately 44% of these collisions involved a person walking or riding a bicycle. Vision Zero LA aims to focus multiple City departments to collaborate and develop measures that will reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries from 200 to zero. To this end, our GM Seleta Reynolds will lead the Department to ensure our transportation system offers people safe and comfortable mobility. “We must transform our city so that our youth and older adults aren’t risking their lives just to get around town,” said Seleta.

Tackling traffic safety in a city with over 4,500 miles of streets is an ambitious task.  According to the Vision Zero LA team, however, of the 30,000 collisions a year in Los Angeles, about 65% of those that result in a pedestrian death or severe injury take place on only 6% of the City’s streets.  This proportion of street segments is known as the High-Injury Network and will be the focus of the City’s initial efforts and safety improvements.

Increase Safety, Decrease Costs

Any death or injury resulting from a traffic collision on our streets is one too many. Traffic collisions have a detrimental impact on the city and its residents: physical and emotional pain of the victims and their families, significant economic costs and financial burdens, adverse effects on health and safety, inefficiencies in the transportation system, and lower quality of life for all. Not only will #VisionZeroLA create invaluable benefits for our communities like reducing the physical and emotional harm these type of tragedies cause and ensuring all residents feel safe using our streets, this initiative will also save Los Angeles residents from the financial burden on society generated by traffic collisions that we do not immediately recognize.

recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that all traffic collisions cost the U.S. economy about $836 billion in 2010—$594 billion in value of social harm and $242 billion in economic costs. This staggering figure accounts for 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles. NHTSA researchers estimate the economic cost of crashes based on factors such as property damage, lost earnings, lost household production, medical expenses, emergency services, travel delay, workplace costs, and legal fees, while the societal impacts of collisions are quantified based on physical and emotional pain and loss of quality of life.

The economic cost of each traffic-related fatality to society is approximated at nearly $1.4 million; more than 95% of this amount accounts for lost time in the workplace and household, absent contributions to the market, and legal expenses. A cost breakdown from the NHTSA report based on severity of traffic collision is included below:

In 2010, Californians paid 8.3%, or $19 billion, of the total economic cost of traffic collisions nationwide, the greatest proportion out of any other State.

Based on the 200 traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries in Los Angeles in 2013 and cost estimates from the NHTSA, the LADOT Bike Blog estimates these fatalities cost our City nearly $280 million. The varying costs of collisions are summarized in the table below, differentiated by the extent of injuries and types of transportation modes involved. Over half of the reported 200 fatalities were people walking or riding their bicycle. Cost details for collisions without reported injuries (i.e. vehicle damage alone) were not included.

The 28,896 traffic-related injuries and fatalities that occurred citywide in 2013 cost all of us approximately $3.681 billion, or $367.36 per resident. In other words, it makes fiscal sense for the city to provide safer infrastructure in order to reduce fatalities and injuries, and avoid a portion of these costs in addition to the other damages caused by traffic collisions.

There is no replacing the loss of a life and to get an idea of the financial toll serious traffic collisions have on our city, here are a few things $3.681 billion could pay for:

For more information on #VisionZeroLA visit visionzero.lacity.org and follow @VisionZeroLA.