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Traffic Safety Deniers Cynically Attack Venice Blvd Safety Improvements for Crash on Centinela

9:44 AM PST on January 3, 2019

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This article supported by Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney as part of a general sponsorship package. All opinions in the article are that of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of LABA. Click on the ad for more information.
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Among this year's holiday traffic violence was a deadly crash that took place in Mar Vista. Two drivers struck and killed Felipe Nunez-Garcia, a 50-year-old man walking across Centinela Avenue. The crash took place on Centinela at Barbara Avenue, four blocks (a fifth of a mile) south of Venice Boulevard.

In an email to Streetsblog L.A., LAPD Communications Officer Drake Madison clarified that the Centinela crash was "not a hit-and-run," despite initial reports. Per LAPD:

On Thursday, December 27th, 2018, around 8:55 p.m., a pedestrian was crossing eastbound Centinela [Avenue] at the intersection of Barbara Avenue. The pedestrian was struck by a vehicle traveling northbound Centinela [Avenue] in the No. 1 lane. A second vehicle, also traveling northbound Centinela [Avenue] in the No. 1 lane, collided with the pedestrian causing massive blunt force trauma.

Both drivers stopped, identified themselves and rendered aid at the scene of a traffic collision as required by law. Alcohol/Drugs were not a factor in this collision.

When a person is needlessly killed like this, it should be a sobering call to make streets safer. The six-block stretch of Centinela Avenue between Washington Place and Venice Boulevard where Nunez-Garcia lost his life has no marked crosswalks, despite cutting through a residential area that is home to two schools. According to L.A.'s Vision Zero website, on July 20, 2007, a pedestrian was killed in a car crash just two blocks south on Centinela, at Mitchell Avenue.

But the vocal politicization of safety by Westside traffic safety deniers has meant that city officials have backed away from implementing all but the most minimal safety improvements across the city, putting Angelenos of all walks at risk. For these street safety foes, Nunez-Garcia's death was yet another opportunity to push this harmful agenda.

They eagerly pounced on inaccurate and incomplete early reports from KCAL9 and City News Service that labeled the crash a hit-and-run and sited it near Centinela and Venice. As the hit-and-run claim was repeated by local sources and the location shortened by Venice311 to "Centinela & Venice," Restore Venice Boulevard (RVB) - the group pushing to undo the road diet safety improvements on nearby Venice Boulevard - moved to use Mar Vista's latest dead pedestrian to flog their case for sinking the road diet.

Restore Venice Blvd traffic safety deniers criticized Venice Boulevard safety due to a crash that took place four blocks away from the project. Image via RVB Facebook.
Restore Venice Blvd traffic safety deniers used this image to criticize Venice Boulevard safety, despite the deadly crash having taken place four blocks from Venice Blvd. Image via RVB Twitter and Facebook.
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Via Twitter and Facebook, Restore Venice Boulevard (RVB) shared a graphic juxtaposing Streetsblog coverage of the Venice Boulevard Great Streets project with the Venice311 tweet of the fatal crash nearby. RVB is pushing to undo the road diet safety improvements on Venice Boulevard, despite data showing that safety has improved.

RVB further re-tweeted the discredited troll Westside Walkers tweet stating "Another life lost caused by the Road diet. It’s time Bonin and the others who are criminally profiting off the lane shaming take responsibility."

It takes a pretty topsy-turvy gas-lighting worldview to assert that a pedestrian death would somehow justify removing proven safety improvements, including road diets. These deaths actually make the case that Los Angeles needs to do more and better. More road diets and more traffic calming are needed to prevent people from dying on L.A. streets.

SBLA expresses condolence to the family and friends of Felipe Nunez-Garcia.

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