Traffic Safety Summit Recap

I didn’t plan on doing a post on last night’s Traffic Safety Summit, but the heavy hitters decided to show up here in little Valley Village, so yeah, I feel compelled now.

I’ve been to a number of meetings here at this mid-sized Colfax Auditorium, but out of all of them, this was one of the most well attended.

Hosted by the Valley Village Neighborhood Council, LA Walks, officers from the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division and a number of local residents were on hand. I felt like a large demographic was left out because the event was scheduled during Spring Break and the Purim holiday, but still I’m glad the room was solidly filled.



It took me 30 minutes to realize that Krekorian had shaved off his goatee.

The meeting kicked off quickly with Councilmember Paul Krekorian talking about the broader picture. He seems well versed in talking about active transportation, but there appeared to be a few moments where he caught himself using the word “accident”. He pushed for the benefits of the upcoming Measure R2 ballot initiative and the $30 million dollar a year commitment to sidewalk repair.

What I didn’t expect was to have LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds come. The bulk of her presentation spoke to the goals of our city’s ambitious Vision Zero program. To me, I’m already familiar with the presentation, but it’s interesting to see how people absorbing this information for the first time react.

The stat that 65% of collisions happen on 6% of the streets was an attention grabber as well as the effect that high speeds have on collisions. Examples of street improvements to enhance safety, such as scramble crosswalks, speed calming bollards and protected bike lanes seemed to be a fresh discovery to this crowd.

Next Officer Troy Williams showed off some mad powerpoint skills getting everyone’s attention not only showing video from the recent high speed crash from March 8th on Sepulveda & Vanowen, but also some fancy multimedia graphics similar to when Jon Gruden breaks down game tape.

He shared the quote, “Collisions don’t just happen, they are caused.” I’m glad we’re getting the word accidents out of our vocabulary.

The major component he shared was the lack of tools LAPD are given to issue speeding tickets. Unless a given street has been given a recent speed study, then police are not allowed to use laser or radar for enforcement. There used to be six pages full of street names in the valley they could issue tickets, but now in 2016, they only have one.

One figure that was an eye raiser about the speed studies was the graph showing how an increased speed limit didn’t have a transitive effect

CiclaValley has Groupies!
CiclaValley has Groupies!

on raising average speeds. I wasn’t able to take down the chart, but as an example, if people were driving 43 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone, if the speed limit was increase to 40mph, then the average speed might go up to 45mph. More on this later.

Brian Gallager, who also works for LADOT, but covers the valley, discussed some of the up and coming improvements. A number of crosswalks will be added and some previous ones will be adding flashing signals. The department now has the funding to add speed bumps again, a program that has been dormant since 2008.

Officer Steve Rausch who covers North Hollywood down to Studio City on motorcycle gave a quick . He got the biggest applause of the night mentioning the tickets he was handing out at Laurel Canyon & Mulholland. He also mentioned he’d be at Berry & Laurie this morning, in case you’re on the lookout.

People submitted a number of questions, but VVNC President Tony Braswell grouped them into a few general ones. There wasn’t anything hard hitting as people asked about things like cut through traffic and street racing.




Officer Williams’ breakdown of this collision might qualify him to be the Rams new Offensive Coordinator

The one thing that raised an eyebrow was Krekorian’s insistence on getting these traffic studies done, even if they mean raising the speed limit. Even if I were to take his words at face value that the ability to enforce speeding will reduce collisions even with higher speed limits is a tough pill to swallow.

First of all, Officer Rausch and even Krekorian said so much that police efforts are spread thin enough as it is. Even if you could double the traffic enforcement, that still wouldn’t be enough.

The streets are already engineered for people to drive too fast. It didn’t seem like the goals of Krekorian were inline with Vision Zero. Unless something is done to address this, then there’s little chance that we’ll significantly make our streets safer.