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Pacoima’s Van Nuys Blvd To Receive Upgrade, Protected Bike Lane

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Before and after cross-sections for Van Nuys Boulevard. Source: Great Streets concept proposal [PDF]
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A stretch of Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima will receive an extensive safety upgrade this summer. Under the leadership of Los Angeles City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes, Mayor Eric Garcetti's Great Streets Initiative, and the L.A. Department of Transportation (LADOT), the 0.8-miles of Van Nuys Blvd. between Laurel Canyon Boulevard and San Fernando Road will receive a road diet. Traffic will be reduced by one lane; bike lanes will be added, including a southbound parking-protected bike lane.

Councilmember Fuentes expects that the project "not only help address safety concerns for all users of the corridor but will hopefully bring new energy to the boulevard where people can come together to enjoy the food, art and culture that Van Nuys Blvd has to offer."

The Van Nuys Blvd Safety Improvement Project concept proposal [PDF] was presented at a mid-April community forum. The proposal makes the case for safety improvements on Van Nuys Blvd, which is on the city's Vision Zero High Injury Network: 6 percent of L.A. streets where 65 percent of all deaths and severe injuries take place.

According to statistics cited in the proposal, a city speed survey found 19 percent of drivers speeding. This contributes to higher rates of vehicle crashes resulting in death and severe injury to drivers and others. Since 2011, this stretch of Van Nuys Blvd. has experienced 57 crashes that injured pedestrians and/or cyclists, which is four times the citywide average.

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Van Nuys Boulevard experiences unsafe levels of car collisions leading to deaths and injuries to drivers. Source: Great Streets concept proposal [PDF]
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Max Podemski, Planning Director for Pacoima Beautiful, expects that the project "will go a long way in humanizing Van Nuys Boulevard." Podemski echoes the safety issues highlighted by the city, stating "Many residents have been hit by cars trying to cross the street or know people who have. Most residents walk and wait for the bus along it. The changes proposed by the city will make the street more responsive to the ways people are currently using it."
The new street layout will include improved visibility "zebra" crosswalks at all signalized intersections, with some additional painted curb extensions to shorten crossing distances. These painted bulb-outs will be similar to ones on Cesar Chavez Avenue.

In addition, the design will create "parklet opportunities." According to the proposal, high vehicle speeds prevent installation of parklets. The new design would slow traffic allowing for future installation of parklets for public seating to serve business patrons and others.

The new street design includes a northbound buffered bike lane and a southbound parking-protected bike lane.

Van Nuys Blvd. will be the city of Los Angeles's fourth protected bike lane, assuming that the under-construction protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street opens later this month as projected. Additional protected bike lanes are planned for Venice Boulevard, Spring and Main Streets, and for Figueroa Street as part of the MyFigueroa project, currently receiving bids for construction.

At their north end, the bike lanes will connect with the San Fernando Road rail-with-trail bike path.

To make room for the new features, the project will remove one northbound travel lane and 20-25 parking spaces. It also removes the 4-block landscaped median between Haddon Avenue and Telfair Avenue. about 20 parking spaces

In addition to these relatively quick changes, there are two big projects expected to further transform this stretch of Van Nuys Blvd in the longer term. The city of L.A. Bureau of Sanitation secured about $3 million for the Van Nuys Green Street Project, which will add landscaping and rainwater capture features. Metro will implement its East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project, which could mean light rail or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) running down Van Nuys Blvd.

Look for Van Nuys improvements this summer, including demolition of median, resurfacing, and installation of the new street design.

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