“Road Diet” Opponents Awaiting Study
SILVER LAKE—Amid talks of recalling Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin over nine miles of lane reductions in his district—including a hugely unpopular and recently reversed so-called “road diet” on Playa del Rey’s beachside thoroughfare Vista del Mar—and a July motion by Councilmember Gil Cedillo to halt all road diets in his Northeast council district, the Rowena road diet remains intact.
Implemented in 2012 by then Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge after a fatal pedestrian accident, the road diet removed two car lanes from a half-mile stretch of Rowena Avenue and replaced them with bike lanes.
Since then, it has become one of the neighborhood’s most contentious issues, with road diet supporters claiming it has reduced speeds and increased safety on Rowena and detractors saying worsened traffic has pushed speeding cars onto residential side streets, only to create new safety issues there.
Like Rowena’s lane reduction, the Vista del Mar road diet was a response to a pedestrian fatality, after a teenage girl was struck by a taxi near Dockweiler State Beach in 2015.
But unlike Rowena, Vista del Mar’s road diet, implemented this June and reversed in July, lasted only one month.
Waverly Drive resident Jerome Courshon has been a vocal opponent of the Rowena road diet since it was implemented five years ago.
According to Courshon, his once peaceful street, which has no sidewalks, has now been made dangerous by cut-through traffic from Rowena Avenue.
“The Waze [wayfinding] app takes you down all these quiet—well, formerly quiet—neighborhood streets,” said Courshon. “People with strollers won’t walk [on Waverly] anymore during rush hour” because of speeding cars.
City Councilmember David Ryu, who represents the area affected by the road diet, contributed $88,850 from his discretionary funds in May to pay for an independent contractor to evaluate such cut-through traffic, according to public records.
Although Courshon said he planned to wait for the results of that study before taking any action, he said the restoration of lanes on Vista del Mar proves that constituents still have a voice.
“I think it certainly shows that with community pressure, reversals can be achieved through the city,” said Courshon.
Anne-Marie Johnson is part of a working group formed by Ryu to evaluate potential solutions to the traffic problems on Rowena, which voted to hire the contractor.
“We’re doing what should have been done prior to the installation of the road diet,” said Johnson of the study. “We are the poster child and the litmus test for [road diets citywide], but it’s got to be done correctly and it wasn’t.”
Although according to Johnson, the group does not yet know when the independent contractor’s evaluation will be completed, she said even a slow study is better than no study.
“I’m disappointed that it’s moving at a snail’s pace, but at least there’s a snail,” she said.
Johnson also co-chairs the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, which she said has taken a neutral “wait and see” position on the lane reductions, pending the results of the study.
The Rowena road diet’s once vocal opponents seem to have taken a similar approach, even in light of Vista del Mar’s lane restoration.
According to Ryu spokesperson Estevan Montemayor, there has been “no uptick” in Silver Lake complaints since Playa del Rey residents’ successful push to reverse their road diet.