As if there hasn’t been any good news on the safety front, things are looking to get even worse.
Last Wednesday, City Council Transportation committee voted on speed increases recommended by LADOT across 94 miles of road.
They were approved, although the final total was lowered to about 90, as one councilmember requested to have his district to be removed.
These recommendations will now move to full City Council vote where most likely all these increases will be approved.
The Valley must be blessed because 75 of those miles land in the 818.
If there are any silver linings, 52 city miles will be decreased, but of course in the Valley, that number lies in the single digits.
The reason for these changes is that the law won’t let speeding tickets to be issued on streets without an updated survey within seven years.
Without dropping science on you, the system that derives these speed limits is based on the antiquated 85th percentile rule which was born sixty years ago to evaluate rural roads.
In other words, if most people drive above or below the speed limit, then it’ll get adjusted from this data.
The fundamental question here is what makes us safer: the ability for more enforcement or keeping speed limits down?
To help with the policing side, $1.5 million of Vision Zero funds will be allocated for enforcement, but I’m guessing that’ll buy an officer probably two to three days of work each week per council district.
Map of Council Districts in the San Fernando Valley
Maybe that added with the ability of current officers to issue speeding tickets will have a great effect, but I beg to differ.
Even without these surveys, police can issue other tickets, like cell phone infractions, but everyone knows enforcement has done little to affect distracted driving even after tougher laws have been passed.
It’s not a knock on the officers because there’s a lot on their plate already.
I don’t see how these limits will reduce serious injuries and Los Angeles only seems to move backward, not forward on doing something about it.
Maybe the City’s strategy is that things have to get far worse in order for safety to ever improve.
I wish they were able to offer a better solution.
For visualization purposes, I’ve mapped out all the speed increases / decreases in the Valley and ranked each district by net miles increased (some changes are shared by multiple districts, so I added them to each CD).
Without further ado:
Broken down by council district (expand map to see key).
Paul Koretz (CD 5) – 0 Miles:
He comes out the big winner here with zero.
The main reason is that his district has a small footprint in the Valley and mainly lies on the other side of Mulholland.
At the same time, he had the speed increases proposed for Olympic and Overland removed from his district which can be categorized as a surprise.
Back to the 818, I will say his district has a lot of fast streets here already.
The part that scares me most are the streets people use to cut through to the Sepulveda Pass.
Anyone who lives in Encino Hills has got to pay extra homeowners insurance because drivers barrel down streets that are steep enough for a Feel My Legs Valley edition.
You couldn’t pay me to move there.
Bob Blumenfield (CD 3) – 5.5 Miles:
Here’s a district that’s fully in the Valley, but it’s not a surprise why there aren’t many increases here.
The streets are already set at high speeds and there’s not a lot of space to go upward.
This district shows the many flaws with this 85th percentile rule as the wide streets and far distances between signals sets up a bunch of “race to the next cluster of traffic” scenarios.
It would be interesting if the Orange Line BRT ever converted to rail or was finally given signal priority how it would redistribute some of the the bunchups and give an opportunity to make some of the streets more livable.
If CD5 wants a shot at landing Amazon, I’m sure reigning in speeds would help.
David Ryu (CD 4) – 6 Miles:
While there may not be a lot of milage here, Ryu may win for highest density of increases in the Valley.
Speeding up Sepulveda and Burbank is just going to compound problems for those wanting to be 405 / 101 fabulous.
Seeing how Ryu is trying to push 6th street’s reconfiguration to encourage higher speeds against the neighborhood’s will, he may receive an invitation from my flat earth society ball.
Mitch Englander (CD 12) – 7 Miles:
I could almost cut and paste Blumenfield’s writeup here, but geez does the NW Valley feel so much faster.
Even with a fair number of bike lanes, you never feel comfortable riding on them.
It’s pretty obvious that Englanders has the lowest density in the Valley which has led to these high speed limits set in place a long time ago.
While seven miles ain’t a lot, there’s not a lot of goodness going on here.
CD12 has three of the most dangerous intersections…in the state!
7 out of the first nine most dangerous intersections in the state are in the Valley!
Look at the rest of this list and you’ll find more of the latest hits in the 818 (we have 64% of the top 25!).
I wish the trend was reversing.
Monica Rodriguez (CD 7) – 11.5 Miles:
Eleven net miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but part of that is mitigated by the decreases.
The lowering of the limit on Foothill is surprising as drivers don’t have to back off their freeway speeds transitioning onto the 5.
I’m not a fan of the increases on Osborne especially between Glenoaks and Foothill as a sidewalk on the northside is absent.
There was a string last year where three ghost bikes were put up within a month and even those traveling inside the friendly confines of a vehicle were not spared either.
A lot of people in this end of the Valley don’t have great transit options, so people walking and biking are pretty vulnerable.
Nury Martinez (CD 6) – 17.5 Miles:
To be honest, I don’t really know how to read these numbers.
Seventeen and a half are a lot of miles, but I like how Martinez has stepped up the last year understanding the need for safer, equitable transportation options in her district.
If anyone is going to be a leader for better mobility options in the Valley, my guess is it would be her.
At this point, call this assessment incomplete, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out.
Paul Krekorian (CD 2) – 27 Miles:
LA has fifteen councilmembers, but one has 30% of the speed improvements.
As the longer tenured CM in the Valley, Krekorian doesn’t receive the same benefit of doubt.
I gave him that at last year’s Valley Traffic Summit and he was adamant only about one thing: speed surveys.
Congrats because you are the champ!
We’re supposed to believe that more speed doesn’t kill.
You’re welcome to prove me wrong Paul, but I’ve given up hope any real change is coming in the name of safety.
I could open up on the empty promises made about street improvements, the exorbitant costs of Metro projects in his district or a litany of other shortcomings, but that is for another column.
Instead, look at these numbers:
1. Krekorian – 14
2. Martinez – 7
3. Rodriguez – 4
4. Englander – 3
5. Blumenfield – 2
6. Ryu – 1
That’s the number of public schools that are a block away from these speed increases.
Does a little more enforcement versus more lethal speed make you feel any better sending your children to any of these schools?
There’s a lot of other ways to illustrate how theses changes make our streets more dangerous, but bottom line this trend needs to reverse itself.
Here in the San Fernando Valley, the focus has been moving drivers through communities instead of taking care of the neighborhoods themselves.
Our problems have been exacerbated with the housing crises and Waze placing more of a burden on conventional traffic patterns.
The Valley needs to stop being subservient to attaining the highest possible speeds and recognize we are making our streets exponentially deadlier.