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The Complicated Realm of Collision Data: A Case Study of York Blvd

York Bl east of Figueroa, as seen prior to installation of bike lanes in 2014

In the Bicycle Program, part of our job is to make streets safer and more pleasant for bicycling. We realize that as more and more Angelenos are riding their bikes to get around, there may be more opportunities for conflicts between modes on our streets. Some, if not most, conflicts can be partially addressed by engineering and planning, but part of equation remains in individual motorist or bicyclist behavior.

Regardless of what causes the conflicts on our roadways, it is helpful to analyze available collision data to inform us where there is room for improvement, whether it is behavioral or infrastructural. Two years ago, we took a look at collision data on York Boulevard and found that overall crashes decreased 23% between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 55 after a road diet was implemented on that segment of the street. In this post we will take a follow-up look at the updated data, and get into the details of who has been identified in the data as “at fault” and the causation of bicycle-car collisions.  The data we are looking at analyzes the 3.9 mile long segment of York Boulevard between Aguilar Street and Arroyo Verde Road over a 12 year period.

If one wants to look at crash data anywhere in California, the primary repository is the SWITRS database: the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System. All reported collision data is gathered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and made available for query.  CHP collects data from local jurisdictions (in our case, LAPD) and adds it to the statewide database, and all data is made available through the California Public Records Act, which requires all records processed by State government to be publicly accessible. Normally, the data lags about 2 years, but SWITRS remains the most comprehensive data tool available to perform collision analysis over time.

Collision data in California are pared down to manageable categories, which makes it great to track overarching trends, but leaves much to be desired in terms of understanding conditions of collisions and nuances of behavior (two of the most important aspects of planning for safer road configuration and design). In the data, there is always a party determined to be “at fault” and a short list of causes, known as the “collision factor.” A cursory glance at the raw data would make anyone’s head spin: ROW Ped, Party 1 at fault. What does that MEAN? While it may seem confusing initially, SWITRS has a codebook that elaborates on what such terms mean. ROW is an abbreviation for “right-of-way,” and Ped is short for “pedestrian.” What ROW Ped refers to is when someone fails to yield right-of-way to pedestrians or other legal sidewalk users, such as people bicycling. Even terms like “Party 1 at fault” can be intuitive with a little context. Every traffic collision typically involves at least two “parties” and differentiating the people involved entails calling the various parties involved Party 1, Party 2, etc.

In this analysis, we attempt to decode this data.  Though, notoriously, car-bicycle collisions that do not result in a “Killed” or “Severely Injured” person are not reported (which always presents a significant data challenge), we will try to interpret a better understanding of what is really at work in the history of car-bicycle conflicts, with York Boulevard as our case-study.

The Overall Picture

Between 2001 and 2012, there were 39 collisions on York Boulevard involving both people driving and bicycling (SWITRS). Those driving were deemed “at fault” approximately 56.4% of the time, accounting for 22 of the collisions that occurred. Meanwhile, people bicycling were “at fault” in 41% of the collisions, deemed responsible for 16 of the collisions that occurred. In one case, the stated collision cause was “other improper driver,” placing neither party involved – the person bicycling nor the one driving – “at fault” (which accounts for the remaining 2.6%) Read more

LA’s first Bicycle Friendly Business District is coming to Northeast Los Angeles

Small businesses and bikes blend on N. Figueroa St., Photo courtesy Flying Pigeon LA

We are happy to announce that the City of Los Angeles is working on establishing its first Bicycle Friendly Business District in Northeast Los Angeles.  For the past year, the Bike Program has been developing a Bicycle Friendly Business District (BFBD) program to foster a broad and engaging range of bicycle friendly features in business districts or corridors.

The program aims to provide districts with adequate bicycle facilities including bicycle parking and repair stations, bikeways, creating maps of the bikeway network, installing signage, and facilitating bicycle wayfinding.  By cultivating bicycle friendly business practices in local businesses and developing local business districts to welcome patrons on bicycles, these districts seek to build community, increase physical activity, and make streets less congested while supporting Los Angeles neighborhood businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Districts – What are they?

A BFBD is a partnership between the City, neighborhood and business organizations, and local businesses that improves a business district’s Bicycle Friendliness through bicycle infrastructure and local business promotions to people travelling by bicycle.  The district encourages and promotes short, local trips, especially for shopping, dining and recreation.

The BFBD program complements complete streets and traffic calming objectives in order to capture local dollars and further neighborhood development in Los Angeles.  Districts cooperate with the LADOT, the Council Office, and local community partners to implement services already offered free of charge through the LADOT Bike Program.

These services, infrastructure, and other program elements combine with  local investment in bicycle amenities and programs privately funded by neighborhood and business partners.

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7th Street status update

Credit: LADOT Bike Blog

This woman looked very happy to be riding on the newly extended 7th Street bicycle lanes (Credit: LADOT Bike Blog).

Last Friday, LADOT crews began the work of extending the bicycle lanes and road diet on West 7th Street into Downtown LA’s Financial District and Historic Core. Since this is such an exciting project that will form a major connection in the Downtown bikeway network, we wanted to provide an update on the work that’s been performed so far (as of Friday, November 1) and what still needs to be done. Read more

The Year of The Road Diet

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July’s Bike Plan Implementation Team meeting was packed!

At our most recent Bicycle Plan Implementation Team meeting, Bikeways Engineer Tim Fremaux briefly noted that the LADOT implemented a number of road diets in the past fiscal year. Although it was only mentioned in passing, after looking at the exact mileage, it turns out this is actually a big accomplishment. Of the 100 miles of bike lanes installed over the last fiscal year, 20.1 miles came in the form of road diets. This comes as particularly promising news from a traffic safety perspective in light of the great safety improvements recently observed on a section of York Boulevard that received a road diet in 2006. So let’s take a page from the SFMTA, and be proud of our road diets, and see exactly where these road diets are:

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York Boulevard Road Diet Traffic Safety Analysis

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Did implementing a road diet on York Boulevard make the street safer? Yes, it did! Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock

When the LADOT proposes a road diet (also known as a roadway reconfiguration) on a street, it primarily does so with the intent of improving traffic safety. As it happens, road diets are frequently opportunities to specifically enhance conditions for people walking and bicycling – the most vulnerable users of our streets – while improving overall safety for all. After decades of study on the national level, road diets are officially acknowledged by the FHWA as a proven means to improve safety and the logistics of why road diets succeed in doing this  have previously been laid out on this blog. Read more

City Center North: Figueroa, Spring, and Main St. Conceptual Designs

During the June BPIT meeting, DOT engineers presented conceptual designs for three projects in Downtown Los Angeles: Figueroa Street, Spring Street, and Main Street. At the recommendation of BPIT attendees, the project on Figueroa Street had an additional option created that would also bring a bike lane to Flower Street.  The amended presentation was then given to the Planning & Land Use committee for the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council just last week, receiving warm support.

Together, these projects represent 5+ miles of new, dedicated bicycle infrastructure within the city’s urban core. Below the fold, we will explore the different design options that City engineers are working on – as well as details about various constraints such as roadway width, street parking, bus lanes, etc that impact the infrastructure options for these streets. As always, please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for how you would like to see Figueroa, Spring, Main, and (maybe) Flower re-imagined with bicycle infrastructure.

Main, Spring & Figueroa Streets

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Downtown LA Bike Projects at the DLANC

This past Tuesday, LADOT Bike Blog and Bikeways Engineering staff spent their evening attending a meeting for the Planning & Land Use Committee for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC).  Several members of the LACBC and the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee also showed up to lend LADOT their support.

LADOT presenting at the DLANC

Among other items, which included Master Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) for a few downtown developments and a measure to support “adult cabaret” uses at a nightclub out in the Industrial District, the LADOT Bike Program presented conceptual designs for bike lane projects on Figueroa Street, Flower Street, Spring Street, and Main Street.  Ably covered by the excellent Blogdowtown, you can read the specifics of our presentation there.   We plan to give these projects fuller coverage in the days to come, and we will make the powerpoint presentation given to the DLANC Planning & Land Use Committee available online along with it. Read more

BPIT’s “Top 10”: How Would You Build Bike Lanes Around NBC/Universal?

The BPIT (Bike Plan Implementation Team) has been quite the focal point of bike community controversy lately. Despite any disagreements over CEQA reivew, however, work still must be done; projects are moving forward even as we speak. In past months, projects like 7th Street and Venice Boulevard have come before the BPIT, had preliminary conceptual design work done, and were featured on the LADOT Bike Blog to get opinions of the public.

3 BPIT "Top 10" projects, spanning the Cahuenga Pass

Three more of the BPIT’s “Top 10” projects have conceptual designs, and we’d like to present them to you for your comments and opinions. How would you build bike lanes on Cahuenga Boulevard, Barham Boulevard, and Lankershim Boulevard? These three streets surround the NBC/Universal project area and can serve as a vital link of bicycle infrastructure between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood. In fact, these projects were moved up to the BPIT’s “Top 10” to make sure the NBC/Universal project, once completed, wouldn’t preclude implementation of bike infrastructure.

Below the fold we’ll cover the particulars for each street and some preliminary design concepts for new bike lanes. As always, all of your comments here go straight to City Planning and our Bikeways Engineers.

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BPIT Notes 4/5/11: 7th Street, Venice Blvd, Sunset Blvd, and More

This last Tuesday, folks from LADOT, City Planning, the Mayor’s Office, Council Offices, LACBC, Bikeside, and other concerned bicyclists all piled into City Hall Room 721 for the monthly meeting of the Bike Plan Implementation Team.  If you missed it, you can get the meeting notice and agenda here.

It’s becoming more apparent with each meeting that City Hall Room 721 may not fulfill the needs of the ever-growing BPIT: the 37 people who showed up this month were practically flowing out into the hallway.  It’s encouraging to see that so many members of the public and so many representatives from various parts of the City are committed to making the LA Bike Plan a reality.  Rick Risemberg weighed in with a very uplifting recap of the BPIT at the Flying Pigeon blog.  Dan Rodman, an excellent new writer for Bikeside, gave his own recap of the meeting.

Up on the docket for the BPIT were updates on current LADOT Bikeways projects, progress on 7th Street, the Wilshire Grand project, Sunset Boulevard, getting started on Venice Boulevard, and future program priorities for the City.

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Project Updates: Bike Lanes Moving Forward

The LADOT Bike Blog hasn’t done a full review of all the bike lane projects in the queue in quite a while. Sure, we covered the Woodman Avenue bike lanes and the latest on the Metro Orange Line extension bike path, but that hardly represents a comprehensive update.  At the April BPIT meeting, Planning and Bikeways engineering promised to provide a full update on all ongoing bike lane projects.

Well the wait is now over: LADOT Bike Blog is presenting a full update on all of our projects’ progress since our last update in January. As always, you can check out the full list of current projects on our Bike Lane Projects page, our Bike Path Projects page, our Projects map, and our BPIT map.  There’s also the matter of the remaining, and mysteriously named, “Year Zero” projects.  We’ll provide an explanation of what “Year Zero” is, and what projects are left, below the fold.  But first, the current projects update.

Woodman Bike Lane

New Bike Lanes on Woodman Avenue

Project Updates

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