Blow­back over ‘road di­ets’

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION - Dale Maguire Palm Springs

I’m a busy per­son. I’ve got places to be, and traf­fic can re­ally gum up my sched­ule. So I want Los An­ge­les streets to be as fast as pos­si­ble. The fewer traf­fic lights and cross­walks the bet­ter. If a cou­ple of pedes­tri­ans get mowed down every now and then, or a bike rider gets squashed, well, that’s life in the big city, right? They shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place. This is Los An­ge­les, get a car like ev­ery­body else.

Peo­ple might not put it so bluntly, but that’s what it comes down to. The cal­lous­ness of some of the com­muters com­plain­ing about Los An­ge­les’ at­tempts to make the streets safer has bor­dered on satire. But this is no joke — there is a real pos­si­bil­ity that traf­fic con­cerns and knee-jerk op­po­si­tion to change will over­ride good pub­lic pol­icy and slow, or even re­v­erse, L.A.’s am­bi­tious plan to dra­mat­i­cally re­duce deadly crashes on lo­cal streets.

Un­veiled by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2015, the city’s Vi­sion Zero pro­gram aims to elim­i­nate traf­fic fa­tal­i­ties and se­ri­ous in­juries by 2025. The City Coun­cil later en­dorsed and funded the Vi­sion Zero Ac­tion Plan, which seeks to redesign the road­ways and in­ter­sec­tions of the city’s 40 most dan­ger­ous streets to make them safer. Of­ten that means slow­ing traf­fic. A pedes­trian hit by a car trav­el­ing 20 miles per hour has an 80% chance of sur­vival. A per­son hit by a car trav­el­ing 40 miles per hour has just a 10% chance.

To­gether with the mayor’s Great Streets ini­tia­tive to re­vi­tal­ize se­lect com­mer­cial cor­ri­dors and the city’s Mo­bil­ity Plan to make it eas­ier for peo­ple to bike, walk and take pub­lic tran­sit, Vi­sion Zero is part of a larger ef­fort to shed L.A.’s au­to­mo­bile-cen­tric ap­proach and evolve into a multi-modal city.

But this is no easy tran­si­tion, as the back­lash to re­cent projects demon­strates. For ex­am­ple, con­sider the “road diet” on Vista del Mar near Dock­weiler State Beach that re­moved two traf­fic lanes to make space for an­gled park­ing spots on the side fac­ing the beach. The change was made in re­sponse to a $9.5 mil­lion set­tle­ment the city paid to the fam­ily of a teenage girl killed while cross­ing the busy street to get to her parked car. Last week, City Coun­cil­man Mike Bonin — one the coun­cil's most ar­dent sup­ports of safer streets — an­nounced that the city would add back the lanes in the face of com­muters’ com­plaints and pro­vide park­ing in­stead in a nearby county-owned lot.

Vista del Mar wasn’t an of­fi­cial Vi­sion Zero project — it didn’t go through the stan­dard com­mu­nity out­reach and in­put process that is an es­sen­tial part of any road re­con­fig­u­ra­tion. Still, it quickly be­came the ral­ly­ing cry for op­po­nents of road di­ets and other projects that might slow traf­fic. It’s worth not­ing that some of the loud­est crit­ics of the Vista del Mar re­con­fig­u­ra­tion and an­other nearby Vi­sion Zero project in Playa del Rey don’t live in the com­mu­nity; they com­mute through it to avoid 405 traf­fic.

Last week Coun­cil­man Gil Cedillo in­tro­duced a mo­tion that would block any road diet or lane re­con­fig­u­ra­tion in his dis­trict, which stretches from West­lake to High­land Park, un­less he gave the OK. Cedillo is no fan of bike lanes and, if ap­proved, his mo­tion could halt a Vi­sion Zero project on Tem­ple Street near down­town that pro­posed to re­move two lanes of traf­fic, add bike lanes and im­prove cross­walks. Ear­lier this year, Coun­cil­man Paul Kreko­rian sent a Great Streets project in North Hol­ly­wood back to the draw­ing board be­cause he was con­cerned about re­mov­ing traf­fic lanes to make room for pro­tected bike routes.

Typ­i­cal City Hall. It’s easy for Garcetti and coun­cil mem­bers to tout their pro­gres­sive cre­den­tials and sign off on am­bi­tious poli­cies to trans­form L.A. It’s much harder to im­ple­ment those plans. Too of­ten city lead­ers fold in the face of op­po­si­tion. We’ve seen this with the city’s Bi­cy­cle Plan and with home­less hous­ing. And that’s why so many am­bi­tious plans re­main un­ful­filled.

City lead­ers, and Garcetti in par­tic­u­lar, have to con­tin­u­ally make the case that Vi­sion Zero is about mak­ing the streets safer for walk­ers, bike rid­ers, mo­tor­cy­clists and, yes, even driv­ers. The mayor has been far too quiet in de­fend­ing his pro­gram and coun­cil mem­bers who face blow­back when they sup­port road safety ef­forts. Projects down­town and in Sil­ver Lake have demon­strated that road di­ets can help re­duce in­juries with­out sig­nif­i­cant traf­fic de­lays. There is a learn­ing curve, and over time as more Vi­sion Zero projects are com­pleted, res­i­dents will likely see that the ben­e­fits of safer streets out­weigh the lane losses and any ef­fect on traf­fic flow.

As an Ea­gle Scout (1976), I was sick­ened by the events that oc­curred at the Na­tional Jam­boree.

A pres­i­dent should be a role model for young men. The BSA has been dragged into the gut­ter by the un­fit man who oc­cu­pies the high­est of­fice in the land.

The be­hav­ior of the crowd was shame­ful, and this event needs to be used as a teach­ing point to com­bat mob hys­te­ria that is fright­en­ingly rem­i­nis­cent of Ger­many in the 1930s. ::

So our Ego­tist-in-Chief, apoplec­tic over his abysmal pub­lic opin­ion rat­ings, cov­ers him­self with kisses and takes pot­shots at his many foes in an un­abashed bid to prop him­self up be­fore an au­di­ence of Boy Scouts and their fam­i­lies.

I shud­der to think how low this dys­func­tional man will go.

I can only pray our coun­try comes out of his term of of­fice bruised but hope­fully bet­ter equipped to eval­u­ate can­di­dates and pro­tect our demo­cratic sys­tem against ig­no­rance, bul­ly­ing and cy­ber-as­sault by forces ea­ger to de­stroy it. Bar­bara Pronin Pla­cen­tia ::

As an ex-Boy Scout, I was stunned.

Was this a speech be­fore the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica or be­fore an alt-right rally?

Trump’s at­tack on a con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected Amer­i­can in­sti­tu­tion, the press, as “dis­hon­est peo­ple”; his call­ing our na­tion’s cap­i­tal “a cesspool” and “a sewer”; and, most of all, his at­tacks on a for­mer pres­i­dent of the United States — all were griev­ously out of line for an oc­ca­sion in­tended to in­spire Scouts to the high­est val­ues of Scout­ing and Amer­ica.

But even more shock­ing to me were re­sponses from Scouts in the crowd, their en­thu­si­asm and ap­plause for Trump’s right-wing rants and their dis­re­spect­ful, hearty boos di­rected at Pres­i­dent Obama.

What is hap­pen­ing to the soul of the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica? Jerry Small Venice :: Scout Law re­fer to pos­i­tive per­son­al­ity at­tributes ap­par­ently for­eign to Pres­i­dent Trump.

No sur­prise that he stopped at Loy­alty, as the sub­se­quent words in­clude Help­ful, Cour­te­ous, Kind, Brave, Clean and Rev­er­ent. Jerry Sin­clair Santa Mon­ica

Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, the Rev. Faith Green Tim­mons of the Bethel United Methodist Church had the courage and lead­er­ship to in­ter­rupt then-can­di­date Trump when he be­gan his wholly in­ap­pro­pri­ate at­tacks on his then-ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton in her church when the sub­ject at hand was the Flint wa­ter cri­sis.

When now-Pres­i­dent Trump be­gan his wholly in­ap­pro­pri­ate at­tacks on his now-for­mer ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton in his speech at the Boy Scout Na­tional Jam­boree, not one adult mem­ber of the Scouts ex­hib­ited any courage or lead­er­ship to do the same.

The val­ues that our youths should strive for are bet­ter found in a fe­male pas­tor of a small church in Michi­gan than in a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion that claims a motto of be­ing pre­pared to do your duty. Don­ald Bentley La Puente

I was an­gered and ashamed as Don­ald Trump, in his ad­dress to thou­sands of young Boy Scouts at the Na­tional Jam­boree, made a mock­ery of the of­fice of the pres­i­dent and a mock­ery of ev­ery­thing that is good about Scout­ing.

Ei­ther Don­ald Trump was never a Scout or if he was, never learned the val­ues.

Don­ald, I have been an Ea­gle Scout for the past 50 years, and as one adult to an­other, it is never okay to pass off bad be­hav­ior as “boys will be boys.”

Re­peat with me, “A Scout is trust­wor­thy, loyal, help­ful, friendly, cour­te­ous, kind, obe­di­ent, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and rev­er­ent.”

It’s time you learned a few les­sons from the Scouts and apol­o­gize to those young men for your bad be­hav­ior.

Start act­ing pres­i­den­tial in­stead of be­ing less ma­ture than the au­di­ence to which you are speak­ing. Dave Hoen Santa Ana

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