FROM Karla Mendelson
Road diets and road rage A fight over a road diet in Playa del Rey has turned a community on itself and raised questions about the roll-out of efforts to calm streets regionwide. Workers reinstate lane stripes on a stretch of Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey. Photo by Frances Anderton The story began back in June, when transportation planners removed car lanes from Culver, Jefferson and Pershing Boulevards and installed bike lanes in place of those car lanes. They also removed a lane from each side of Vista del Mar, the road running parallel to Dockweiler Beach, and they moved parking from the east side of the street to the Westside. This was to reduce dangerous crossings between beach and parked cars following several deadly collisions. Karla Mendelson, Lance Williams, Kimberly Hunnell and Ray Karapetyan meet at the street corner of Culver Boulevard and Nicholson Street in Playa del Rey to discuss the controversial "road diet." Photo by Frances Anderton But after all these changes traffic became too slow. Enraged drivers created a petition to recall City Councilman Mike Bonin, and they filed a lawsuit. Bonin took to the Internet to offer a mea culpa. Now the Department of Transportation has rolled back some of the changes and a task force has been formed to rethink how to calm traffic in the beach community. We talk to residents and commuters on both sides of the issue, and hear from a transportation planner about how best to ease the transition from a car-based region (as one resident points out, "people going to Costco, if they could park their car inside of the store, they would do that not to walk") to one in which "no one traveling around the city of Los Angeles is dying getting from one place to another."
Do ‘road diets’ boost safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers? “ Road diets ” is the term for removing car traffic lanes in favor of bike lanes, parking, or larger sidewalks. The city transformed two lanes on Vista Del Mar earlier this year. Other streets in the neighborhood of Playa Del Rey were put on a diet too, including Jefferson, Culver Boulevard and Pershing Drive. People were upset, and some sued the city. The car lanes on Vista Del Mar are coming back. But the debate continues.
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