Why LA is struggling to cut traffic deaths

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A freeway running through downtown LA. Photo by Amy Ta.

At least 240 people died last year in car collisions in the city of LA. More than 60% of them were pedestrians or cyclists. That’s the same number as the year before. Across the country, hundreds more were killed, and car collisions are the leading cause of death for kids ages 5-14.

A few years back, Mayor Garcetti announced the city’s Vision Zero Initiative to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2025. But the numbers have actually grown since the announcement.

Why has LA struggled so much? Alissa Walker of Curbed LA points to two factors: the slow implementation of strategies that have been recommended by LA’s Department of Transportation; and resistance from public officials. LA City Councilmember Gil Cedillo has said he won't have any road diets in his district. Councilmember John Lee is trying to take out a bike lane in his district in the Valley.

In contrast, one city that’s succeeded in eliminating traffic deaths is Oslo, Norway, which has a population of about 673,000. In comparison, LA has a population of about 4 million. Oslo’s strategies have included congestion pricing, boosting public transit ridership, making some streets car-free, replacing 700 parking spaces with bike lanes and sidewalks, and closing streets around schools to cars during school hours. 

Credits

Guest:
Alissa Walker - urbanism editor, Curbed - @awalkerinLA

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel