Earlier this month, improvements were made to La Tuna Canyon, one of the most speedy and dangerous streets in the Valley.
While the locals have known about these problems for quite some time, Keith Jackson’s near fatal collision caused by a hit and run driver brought this issue to the forefront.
The case in point is the middle portion of the road where it used to widen to two lanes for the majority leaving very little room to ride a bike.
You could legally take the lane, but that never was a safe option because of the freeway speeds pitted against a steep pitch.
Part of what precipitated these changes was the violent hit and run last December that almost took Keith Jackson’s life.
Eager to see the changes, I went to have a look last week riding it west to east, the same direction Keith and his family were riding that tragic day:
La Tuna Canyon is a 5 mile road that originates as Tuxford west of Sunland Blvd. and terminates at Tujunga Canyon / Honolulu.
The speed limit at the start is 35mph, but ramps up to 50mph near the top. Plus…there’s horses!
Vinedale Elementary is right on La Tuna. Do you think this could use a little more safety?
The bottom portion is the older part of La Tuna Canyon which eventually extended eastward. You’ll find some century old homes if you look.
At the two mile mark, the road pitches up to 4% and while you can keep it in the big ring, you definitely feel the speed differential more.
On both sides of the road, you can still visualize how close the recent fires came to homes.
As you get over the hump, the bike lane disappears and is replaced by this shoulder as the speed limit increases to 45 mph. You can tell by this photo that the shoulder was narrowed as well.
…and ever narrower.
As the homes reappear on your right, the shoulder transforms into the new bike lane.
The bike lane could have been a little wider here considering this is where residents leave their trash.
As the residential area ends, you pass the tightest bend on the road.
Past the bend as the road pitches up to 6%, you see the effects of the lane reduction taking place.
It’s around this area where Keith Jackson was rear ended in his hit and run. Having the space here felt so much better than having 50 mph+ drivers bare down on you.
Unfortunately, the lane ends about halfway up, but you’re left with a generous shoulder.
When you get closer, you realize why the bike lane disappears because of a landslide probably caused by the recent fires.
As you pass the slide, the shoulder remains, but you can tell by the previous markings that you have much more space to work with.
As you approach the freeway, the shoulder narrows again, but most of the drivers veered toward the center of the road into the curve.
You still need to cross speeding traffic entering the freeway, but there’s a good amount of space that you can make eye contact with drivers to negotiate where their headed.
Coming from under the freeway, you still need to cut across from drivers entering westbound on the 210. I’ve had little problems in the past, but it still could be laid out a little better.
To sum up, the one encouraging thing about this project is that it isn’t perfect.
That’s normally a negative, but many times improvement like these in the City of LA don’t get made unless you have a lot of talk which eventually muddles the whole process.
Bike lanes would have been nice instead of an extended shoulder, but these changes made a big difference keeping drivers away and me not rubbernecking all the time.
For the first time, I felt an overwhelming calm while climbing even though traffic was still whizzing, albeit further away than previous.
And in case there’s any naysayers out there, the road diet didn’t create any bottlenecks whatsoever.
Kudos to LA City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez for her work, and Damian Kevitt and Keith Jackson’s family for helping this through.