Portion of Avocado Gets Speed Humps, Finally
LOS FELIZ—Two new speed humps were installed on Avocado Street in late October, after a six-year wait for what residents thought was a relatively simple request.
The speed humps, installed between Commonwealth and Rowena avenues, are a response to more than half a decade’s worth of requests from residents, the area’s neighborhood council and two Los Angeles City councilmembers, David Ryu and his predecessor Tom LaBonge.
Finally, after working with the Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation to restore the city’s defunct speed hump program, Ryu was recently able to get them installed on the small residential street.
“Due to the high volume of cut-through traffic, Avocado Street … was selected for the installation of speed humps,” said Ryu through a spokesperson. “This traffic improvement will help moderate the speed of drivers through this residential neighborhood, keeping our children and families safe.”
Although the push for speed regulation on the narrow residential street began in 2011, it intensified in January of 2013 when an elderly woman was severely injured by a speeding car while crossing Avocado Street at Hillhurst Avenue. Later that year, a bicyclist was struck and injured by another speeding vehicle at Avocado Street and Commonwealth Avenue.
These injuries, along with complaints from some of the street’s residents and business owners led to requests in 2013 by both the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council (LFNC) and LaBonge for a traffic study on the small side street.
But due to citywide budget cuts and a halt of the city’s speed hump program in 2015, both the traffic study and any resulting safety measures languished.
Complicating the issue was the disorganized transition between LaBonge and his successor Ryu, following LaBonge’s widely reported destruction of at least 113 boxes of city records prior to leaving office in 2015.
The LFNC’s first request—they made a second one in February 2017—along with an unknown number of resident requests were lost in the shuffle, meaning Ryu’s office didn’t even become aware of the issue until 2016, a Ryu spokesperson said at the time.
According to LFNC Transportation and Mobility Committee Chair Danny Cohen, Ryu’s office was responsive to the neighborhood council’s second request, and the LFNC hopes this will be one of many new local safety measures.
“The speed humps signal further that these roads are not a passthrough speedway, but neighborhood streets for the community,” said Cohen. “We hope that this is the first in a long line of street safety improvements that come from a focus on better street design.”
According to Paul Nadjmabadi, who has lived on Avocado Street since 2005, while circulating a petition asking for speed humps on the street, he met residents who said they had been asking for them for 25 years, though he said he’d noticed a marked increase in speeds and traffic recently.
“It’s gotten pretty [unsafe] in the last five years or so,” said Nadjmabadi, who said he often witnessed road rage incidents on the tiny residential street. “I became hyper aware of it when I had children.”
Nadjmabadi said he believes part of the problem is the Waze navigating app, which directs drivers down Avocado Street as an alternative to Los Feliz Boulevard when the latter is backed up.
Drivers, frustrated by slow traffic on Los Feliz Boulevard, “would just gun it down [Avocado Street],” he said.
But now, just one month after their installation, Nadjmabadi said the humps have made a huge difference in speeds and safety on the street.
“Some [drivers] will still speed between the bumps, but it’s better. It’s nice to have them take that pause,” he said.
Nadjmabadi also said he observed an unexpected side benefit—a reduction in not only the speed, but also the quantity of cars on the street.
“Because of the speed humps, we now have a posted sign with a lower speed limit, so I think that’s changing the route times on Waze” and directing fewer cars down Avocado Street, he theorized.
John Tierney, who also lives on the street, said he too has noticed fewer cars. He shares Nadjmabadi’s Waze theory.
“What I notice the most is there appears to be slightly less traffic, and there are gaps in the traffic now that allow you to turn [onto Avocado Street] off Ben Lomond and Cedarhurst [drives],” said Tierney.
But Ginni Pinckert, who lives on Avocado Street between Hillhurst and Commonwealth avenues—one block west of where the street humps were installed—said the bumps have made speeding on her section of the street worse.
“I think people want to rush through our block before they have to drive slow,” she said, though she said she is happy at least one section of Avocado now has speed humps.
Now, she said, she wishes they would install some on her section of the street.
“I do think they make sense on the block they’re already on because it’s got blind curves … but I think people are more likely to speed on the straight-through [portion of the street] and they would help a lot,” said Pinckert.