Welcome to the Engineer’s Corner. This post is a special one, because we are spotlighting one of our program’s first interns: Oliver Hou. Lucky for us, his graduate school internship in the LADOT Bike Program inspired him to stick with transportation, and we’re grateful to say he’s become an integral part of the Bikeways Division.
LeapLA Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Oliver Hou: My undergraduate background is in civil engineering. After college, I started at a pre-cast concrete contractor doing architectural pre-cast design and building for construction. During this time I was able to learn how to use AutoCAD as well as manage projects. After a few years, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree and serendipitously came across the field of urban planning, which helped to answer a question that I always had while constructing buildings – what are the drivers behind development projects? During my time studying urban planning at USC, I was fortunate enough to intern with LADOT Bikeways, which helped to fuel my personal interests in all things transportation.
For fun, I enjoy exploring cities around the world, including Los Angeles, for their cultural diversity. If I’m not out trying new places to eat, I’m at home with my wife cooking healthy dishes.
Can you describe your commute? What is it like getting to work?
I live in Koreatown and my daily commute typically consists of catching a Metro Local bus to the Red Line Vermont/Wilshire station. After a few stops, I exit the Civic Center station and either walk or take an LADOT Dash bus to the office. On occasion I will ride my bike to commute the 3 miles between Ktown and downtown.
My commute time is consistent and takes about 30 minutes each way. That is the part I like the most. In addition, I enjoy using apps such as GoLA, Smartride, and LADOTbus to navigate and track my transit options. The only downside to my commute are the multiple transfers, so on days I don’t feel like dealing with it I will drive or hail a rideshare.
So how did you become interested in becoming an engineer?
I have always enjoyed building things, starting with Legos and Simcity as a kid. And although I’ve never particularly enjoyed taking math/science classes, I excelled in them and like the idea that there tends to be only one “right” answer. My undergraduate program offered a broad-based math/science curriculum and I ended up choosing civil engineering because of the possibility of fieldwork and the opportunity to create projects that you can see and have a lasting impact. At LADOT, I have an opportunity to work in an area where the fields of engineering and planning intersect.
How long have you worked at LADOT and in which divisions?
I have worked at LADOT for about 5 years and in addition to being in the Active Transportation division as an engineer, I have been in the Bicycle Outreach and Planning group as an intern, and the Specialized Transit and Grants division as a planner.
What do your day-to-day duties consist of?
Each day is unique because we always have bike lane projects that are in varying phases. These projects could be facilities that are part of the Mobility plan, facilities intended to close gaps in our existing network, or facilities that need maintenance and modification. Some days, I am out in the field checking installations or investigating conditions on the ground. Other days, I will be in the office working with our team to develop plans.
Before coming up with a plan, I often seek the opinions of other engineers throughout our department and at our district offices so I can try to consider all the impacts. The size and breadth of our City is truly amazing, with DOT having a hand in anything transportation related – it seems that I am always learning about new functions and personnel!
Do you have a favorite part of your work or a favorite project?
My favorite part of my work is seeing projects come to fruition, and seeing these facilities be used. What begins as a concept or vision has much to go through before becoming reality, particularly when it comes to some of our more innovate facilities such as the protected bicycle lane on Los Angeles Street with bicycle signals.
What are the most important things to keep in mind when planning for Los Angeles’ transportation future?
(1) Safety is our primary concern. While this may not have been the case in the past, the driving force of our department is to get people where they need to go safely and comfortably. In fact, with the City’s adoption of a Vision Zero Policy, it really has become a citywide effort. Safety for pedestrians and bicyclists should be what guides our decision-making when it comes to street design.
(2) From a mobility standpoint, our City already has amazing infrastructure in place that has endless potential for evolution. That is, we have lots of roads and lots of lanes. Therefore, we are able to reconfigure this space to meet our transportation objectives, often with some simple paint on the ground, as our GM and many. This makes me very excited for what our future holds – whether it is a network of bus-only lanes that can maximize our throughput, or groups of super-efficient autonomous vehicles that put an end to traffic as we know it.
When you’re not hard at work making the streets of LA more bike friendly, what do you like to do in your free time?
My free time is mostly taken up by following all types of sports. I enjoy playing basketball (although not as often as I use to) and golf (not as often as I like).
Thanks, Oliver! We’ll see you on the streets!
On Friday, December 16, a press conference took place to welcome the Van Nuys Blvd Great Street project in Pacoima. In attendance were the multiple partners that made this project possible, including: Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative; Council District 7; LADOT, Bureau of Street Services; business owners; and community members.
The Van Nuys Great Street is a safety-driven project that addresses a history of high collision rates along the corridor. Van Nuys Blvd is designated as a Vision Zero High Injury Network (HIN) street and is the site of 57 collisions involving injuries to people walking and bicycling since 2011. Studies conducted by LADOT found that 19% of motorists on Van Nuys Blvd speed while driving. The street has been reorganized to improve safety, access and mobility for all road users, especially children and older adults.
The Van Nuys Great Street project stretches from San Fernando Rd to the north, close to the Bradley Ave People St Plaza and connecting to the San Fernando Rd Bike Path, to Laurel Canyon Blvd to the south. This stretch of Van Nuys Blvd includes many important community-serving destinations, including Pacoima City Hall (housing a field office for Council District 7 and community partners like Pacoima Beautiful) and the Pacoima Branch Library, and is part of Pacoima’s “Mural Mile,” a unique concentration of hand-painted murals that grace the sides of buildings and business storefronts. Improvements made to the street include parking-protected and buffered bicycle lanes, 16 high-visibility crosswalk legs, signal modifications, marked parking stalls, and 4.82 lanes miles of street resurfacing.
For more information on this Great Streets project in Pacoima, visit http://lagreatstreets.org/van-nuys-n/.
For information on the City’s Great Streets Initiative and projects in development around the City, visit: lagreatstreets.org
Halloween is the scariest time of the year, and we are not talking about monsters or zombies! On this day, millions of children are out on a trick-or-treat mission, where they are susceptible to the dangers of the road. In Los Angeles County, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 and 14. On Halloween, it’s even grimmer. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Halloween ranks as the third-deadliest day overall for pedestrians.
But it’s not all gloom and doom! By practicing a few simple steps, you can help ensure a safe Halloween for all Angelenos. Last Friday, we attended a Halloween Safety event at Apperson Elementary School in Sunland to demonstrate safe Halloween behavior. The event was led by Pat Hines (Safe Moves) and attended by the Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles School Police, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
Check out these key safety tips that were discussed at the event:
1. Opt for Face Paint Instead of a Mask
Masks are awesome, but they can reduce the range of visibility of the person wearing one. Instead, use face paint to get your scary look and maintain maximum visibility. If your costume wouldn’t be complete without a mask, just make sure to remove it when crossing the street, so you can see traffic in either direction.
2. Keep Weapons at Home
Having a sword or other type of weapon may complete the perfect costume, but they are best left at home.
3. Inspect Candy
Guardians, this one is for you. Make sure to toss any open candy or ones with broken seals. Inspect for safety before consumption.
The dark coloring of many costumes and the height of children reduces the visibility of pedestrians. In order to counteract this, make sure to bring flashlights, glow sticks, and/or reflectors on your trip.
So, now you know some best practices for people walking on Halloween. We also want to stress the importance of safe driver behavior. During the Halloween festivities, motorists should obey all traffic laws, be extra aware of our littlest (and scariest!) Angelenos, and use a designated driver. You can see LADOT’s full list of safety tips on Facebook or Twitter.
Through the collective effort of everyone, we hope this Halloween will be full of fun and the right kind of fright, the kind that gets everyone home safe at the end of the night. Happy Halloween!
If you have been paying attention to urban planning or transportation in Los Angeles, you’ve probably heard about Vision Zero. So, we here at the LEAP LA Blog are going to dive into what this all means. In this first segment of a new ongoing series, we will discuss the Vision Zero program and highlight key projects that are already at work in the city.
What is Vision Zero?
Vision Zero is Los Angeles’ commitment to end all traffic deaths by the year 2025. It’s common knowledge that traffic collisions are a big deal in LA, but did you know that they are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 2 and 14 and the second greatest cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 25? In total, more than 200 people die annually from traffic collisions here in the City. One of the main objectives of Vision Zero is to protect the most vulnerable road users such as children, the elderly, and people who walk and bike.
The original concept behind Vision Zero comes from Sweden, where it was adopted as a national strategy back in 1997. Since then, Sweden has seen the number of transportation deaths drop by 30% despite a rise in traffic. Other cities that have adopted with Vision Zero include New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, and San Jose.
How Will We Do It?
We, the City of Los Angeles, formalized our commitment to zero traffic deaths in August 2015. Since then, we’ve identified the places where our efforts will produce the most significant decrease in deaths and injuries. This network, known as the High Injury Network (HIN), makes up only 6% of our streets but is responsible for nearly 2/3 of all pedestrian fatalities in the City. While we will not prevent all collisions, we can implement strategic safety programs and improve infrastructure so that mistakes on the road do not lead to loss of life. For instance, the installation of a pedestrian “scramble” at the intersection of Hollywood & Highland (see below) has significantly reduced the number of injuries that have occurred.
The next phases of Vision Zero will include what we like to call the “E’s”. It all starts with Engineering. This involves rethinking how Los Angeles’ streets and sidewalks are designed. Engineers are working on ways to anticipate human error and minimize the consequences of mistakes on the road. One way is by designing traffic calming systems that reduce the chances of a death when a collision occurs.
In addition to engineering, we area also focusing on Education. A large focus of Vision Zero is on raising awareness about street safety for all users of our roads, which we are accomplishing through safety campaigns that reinforce safe driving, biking and walking habits. The City is also partnering with the community, especially at the neighborhood level, for both input and outreach.
We also need Enforcement. Laws against dangerous driving behavior need to be enforced in the areas that have high collision rates to make sure the most vulnerable road users are protected. We are partnering with the Los Angeles Police Department on this effort, who will be targeting high crash locations, DUI’s, distracted driving, not yielding to persons in a crosswalk and other dangerous driving behaviors.
Our last step is Evaluation, which is when we take a look at what has been done, what has worked, what hasn’t, and assess how to improve upon our results. We are continuously evaluating our efforts to make sure that we are reaching our targets. It is through this evaluation that Vision Zero will continue to grow, change, and innovate in the years to come.
And, throughout all of this, the City also strives to ensure that Equity is a key part of each and every one of our discussions and strategies. Currently 49% of the High Impact Network falls within the most vulnerable communities in LA. So, Vision Zero has prioritized those interventions that will improve health conditions and outcomes in these areas of greatest need.
Vision Zero at Work Right Now!
While the year 2025 is a long way off, Vision Zero is already changing the face of Los Angeles right now. Here are some of the ways it has:
Leading Pedestrian Intervals:
Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI’s) give people who walk a head start against turning cars when they are crossing a street. These signals have been shown to reduce pedestrian – car crashes by 60%! Los Angeles has already installed 22 of these new signals in the downtown area, with more to follow. So, next time you are walking around downtown keep an eye out for traffic signals like this one where the pedestrians are allowed to cross, while the cars are still held by a red light.
A Pedestrian Scramble at Hollywood and Highland:
As anyone who has ever ventured to this intersection of Los Angeles can tell you, Hollywood and Highland is extremely busy with both vehicle and foot traffic (not to mention the street performers). This was the perfect place to install a pedestrian scramble. A pedestrian scramble stops traffic in all four ways when pedestrians are walking in the intersection. It also allows people to cross the street diagonally, which saves time! And, the new scramble at Hollywood and Highland is already working. In the first 11 months of 2015 before the scramble was installed, the intersection had 19 collisions, 13 of which resulted in injuries. In the first 6 months after the scramble was installed, there has only been one non-injury collision.
Curb Extensions on Cesar Chavez Ave:
In the initial research phase of Vision Zero, Cesar Chavez Ave was identified as part of the High Injury Network. Wanting to make safety improvements right away, Los Angeles installed curb extensions. These reduce the distance for pedestrians crossing the streets and also make the crossing with its pedestrians much more visible to motorists. The curb extensions also tighten the intersection, which has been shown to reduce the speed of passing vehicles.
So, now that you know the basics of Vision Zero, stay tuned for upcoming posts in this series! We will talk about why LAPD is conducting speed surveys, update you on new projects, and even introduce you to LADOT’s first Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence.
Until next time!
We have great news for everyone who cycles in Downtown Los Angeles– the construction of a protected bike lane on Los Angeles Street (from 1st Street to Alameda Street) has been completed. Woo-hoo!
On June 16, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Los Angeles Street Improvement Project was hosted by CD 14 Councilmember Jose Huizar, LA Public Works Commissioner Kevin James, Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero, and LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds. During the ceremony, a group of people rode Metro Bike Share bicycles on the newly enhanced Los Angeles Street.
The protected bike lane, featuring the city’s first side boarding islands and bicycle signals, will make bicycling safer and more comfortable from the city’s civic core to Union Station. The following image slider show the “Before and After” scenarios of the project area.
Special Design Features of the new Los Angeles Street
As the first street in Los Angeles to implement design elements from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Los Angeles Street brings several unique roadway design features that are new to the city:
Bus platforms that “float” in the middle of roadway are named side boarding islands. Those who bike in urban environments know how frustrating it is to navigate the bike lane while buses weave in and out to reach their bus stops. According to NACTO , side boarding islands eliminate “conflicts between transit vehicles and bikes at stops.” Like the sound of that? Well, these bus platforms will also be implemented on Figueroa Street after the construction of MyFigueroa Project .
Two bicycle signal heads are now installed, with one at the Temple Street intersection and another at the Aliso Street intersection. These signals dedicate a separate signal phase to bicycles, which will reduce conflicts between right-turning vehicles and bicycles that travel through the intersection.
At the intersection of Los Angeles Street & 1st Street, and the intersection of Los Angeles Street & Temple Street, there are Two-Stage Turn Queue Boxes . This street treatment allows people on bikes to make safer left turns. As the name suggests, when trying to make left turns, bicycles should proceed to the bike box area first and then wait for another green signal to bike to the left leg of the intersection.
Image Source: NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide
Upcoming active transportation projects will continue to make DTLA more bicycle-friendly
The Los Angeles Street Improvements Project is only one part of the larger scheme to improve the connectivity of Union Station and Civic Center. Metro finalized the Connect US Action Plan in 2015, which provides guidance to implement better pedestrian and bicycle facilities connecting Civic Center, Union Station, and neighborhoods such as Little Tokyo and Chinatown.
And, there are a lot of active transportation projects to be implemented this summer. The Metro Regional Bike Share Project has begun to install its stations and will formally launch on July 7. The long-expected MyFigueroa Project, which features similar roadway improvements to Los Angeles Street (bus platforms, bike signal heads, etc), is beginning construction this summer as well.
As more and more active transportation enhancements get implemented, DTLA will become a better place for people to enjoy walking and cycling!
The complete streets movement continues to gain momentum around the world and here at home in Los Angeles. Alongside People St, Great Streets Initiative, and Vision Zero, the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project, aka MyFigueroa, aims to create vibrant, safe streets across our city.
After 6 years of careful planning and overcoming obstacles, MyFigueroa will transform the car-centric Figueroa Corridor into a complete street that serves people who walk, ride bicycles, take public transit, and drive. MyFigueroa will improve safety and encourage access to multimodal transportation options through a number of streetscape elements:
- On-street protected bike lanes
- Bike parking
- Improved signage and signalization
- High-visibility crosswalks
- Enhanced street lighting
- Transit platforms
- Trees and landscaping
- Public art
The project area covers four miles of streets from downtown to LA Memorial Coliseum. Improvements will be different along the corridor, depending on the transportation needs of the area.
Figueroa Street from 7th Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
- On-street protected bike lanes
- Separate bike signal heads
- Bike boxes at intersections
- Demarcated on-street protected bicycle lanes in conflict zones
- Bicycle Wrong Way signs to discourage travel in the non-intended direction
- Bus platforms to accommodate transit service, including Metro and LADOT DASH F Line
- Curb ramps from the sidewalk to ADA accessible bus platforms
- Protected, painted on-street buffered bicycle lanes
- Relocated parking between the bicycle lane and first lane of traffic
- Diamond lane for on-peak Silver Line
- Center turn lane and right turn pockets as needed
11th Street from Figueroa Street to Broadway
- On-street parking that is protected with curb extensions at intersections
- One-way westbound bicycle facility, separated from moving traffic by a painted buffer
- Expanded sidewalks
- Seating and planting on sidewalks
- Pedestrian and bicycle connections to downtown, neighborhoods, and local businesses
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Figueroa Street to Vermont Avenue
- Repaired sidewalk paving
- Street lighting
- Improved transit waiting areas
- Highly visible crosswalk striping
The $20 million Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project is managed by LADOT and funded by a Proposition 1C grant. Proposition 1c funding aims to make streets, sidewalks, and transit more accessible for affordable housing residents.
During construction, which is set to begin in Summer 2016, there are many alternative ways for people to get around. Check out this great map showing where construction will take place and alternate ways to get around in the meantime.
MyFigueroa’s Let’s Fig it Out! campaign educates Figueroa users how to figure out (get it?) how to get around during construction. You can become familiar with the alternate routes and public transit lines now so that the transition is easier when the construction begins.
To communicate the upcoming construction and improvements to the public, MyFigueroa has worked with LADOT, Figueroa Corridor BID, USC Athletics, USC Transportation, and Metro. Promotional stored-value Metro TAP cards that display Let’s Fig it Out! and MyFigueroa logos will be given out for free and for sale at special events in the corridor area. Street pole banners along Figueroa advertise the upcoming construction and improvements in order to provide visibility of the project to people who travel the corridor.
A number of innovative partners have collaborated on the Figueroa Corridor Streetscape Project, and from the start, community members, organizations, and business improvement districts have shaped the planning and design process.
As a project designed to encourage access to multimodal transportation, MyFigueroa will continue to refine how we conceptualize streets in Los Angeles. The completion date of March 2017 can’t come soon enough!
#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.
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.
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:
- after identifying gaps and corridors, community members can pool resources and collaborate to design a project that is context sensitive and cost effective
- 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 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.
In March 2015, LADOT’s General Manager Seleta Reynolds directed the Department form a new collaborative group: The Complete Streets Design Committee. The Design Committee establishes a forum where project managers can request feedback and design guidance for their projects from diverse expertise within LADOT.
The Design Committee operates under four primary objectives:
To provide guidance on design concepts.
To resolve design issues.
To document design decisions, particularly on new or innovative designs.
To lead the department on innovative design-related policy directives.
Members of the Design Committee include representatives from the Department’s Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (ATSAC), Active Transportation, Design, District Research and Support, Complete Streets, Operations, Parking, and Planning Divisions. The Design Committee combines experience and knowledge from specific fields, so that project managers can develop design guidelines used to generate Department policies and procedures. The Design Committee can also provide technical recommendations to improve specific projects in the design phase. As an evaluative board, the Design Committee provides feedback on existing designs and discusses the outcomes of recent design interventions. By harnessing the collective experience of the Department, not only will the Design Committee result in the best possible designs, but also give staff ownership and investment in those decisions, and in projects overall.
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.”
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.
A 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:
- Construction of 4.5 out of 9 miles of Metro’s Purple Line expansion.
- Rebuilding the LAPL Silver Lake Branch 334 times.
- Development of about 65 public parks similar to Grand Park or Wilmington Waterfront Park.
- Repairs to more than 18,000 miles of the city’s sidewalks.
- Installation of approximately 3,681 miles of protected bicycle lanes throughout the city (based on the Department’s cost estimate of $1 million a mile)
- Buildout of the entire Los Angeles River Bike Path within City limits (based on cost estimates in the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan)