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New Data Shows Venice Blvd Great Street Success, Council Re-Vote Tonight

Great news released this week by LADOT and Councilmember Mike Bonin: improvements to Venice Boulevard are delivering on their intended purpose – making the street safer. Image via Mike Bonin Facebook

Yesterday, L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin publicized new city Transportation Department (LADOT) three-month data on recent Venice Boulevard Great Streets safety improvements. In May, for a 0.8-mile stretch in Mar Vista, LADOT reduced a travel lane in each direction, and added mid-block crossings and protected bike lanes. The data shows "Venice Boulevard is safer, with fewer speeding cars, and minimal disruption to travel times for commuters."

LADOT's Venice Boulevard data is available on the city's project website, which includes a page on project evaluation.

Venice Boulevard average travel time has increased somewhat, mostly during the evening rush hour. Chart via LADOT

According to LADOT data, travel times have increased somewhat, especially during the evening rush hour. This result, while not welcome to many drivers, was an expected consequence of a project designed to increase safety by slowing down car traffic. As Bonin characterizes the data, "the average commute time has increased less than one minute... the pilot program is working as intended."

Speed surveys show less speeding in the Mar Vista stretch of Venice Boulevard since the Great Streets project was implemented. Chart via LADOT

Speed is one of the biggest factors in how deadly and injurious car crashes are. The posted speed limit on this stretch of Venice Boulevard is 40 miles per hour. Pre-project LADOT speed studies found 85th percentile drivers (how the state mandates speed surveys be performed - during periods of free flowing traffic) breaking the law by speeding 41 mph. After the project was implemented, those speeds dropped to be within the legal limit: 35 to 38 mph. Nearby speeds (west of Louella Avenue and west of Barry Avenue) continue to be surveyed showing drivers above the legal speed limit.

Venice Boulevard project area collisions have dropped. Chart via LADOT

The project has also reduced collisions. LADOT data show a reduction in collisions and injury collisions (measured on an average per-month basis for the year proceeding the project, and the three months since it has been in place.

In Bonin's article, he mentions that, even with the "encouraging" data, the city is responding to concerns and suggestions to make the project even better. Bonin reports three additional improvements in the works:

    • The city is re-tooling the way that some right turns work; these will be installed by the end of October.
    • The city will install "clearer, less confusing, striping" green paint for the bike lanes.
    • In order to address concerns with emergency response vehicles being slowed, the city has been "installing transponders in fire trucks to allow for quick access through signals on Venice Boulevard."

Though the project has already been a big success, opponents continue their unruly stream of criticism. Comments on social media have called the LADOT figures "fake stats," "alternative facts," and "fake news." The Recall Bonin campaign took out ads on Instagram claiming the safety improvement announcement is "dishonest."

Instagram screen shot
Instagram screen shot

Bonin recall proponents show their lack of basic math understanding, questioning how three months can be compared to 12 months. The LADOT figures are, of course, clearly noted to be comparable monthly averages.

All this comes as the Mar Vista Community Council has the project on its agenda again - the third time since the project was implemented in May. The MVCC board voted in support of the project in July, then re-affirmed this by tabling an anti-project motion in September.

Tonight's agenda includes the postponed September motion calling to "immediately reverse the lane reduction component on Venice Boulevard." The MVCC board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Mar Vista Recreation Center Auditorium at 11430 Woodbine Street.

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