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Los Angeles’ deadly streets are targets for bicycle improvements

The 80 deadliest streets and intersections is not a new clip show or reality series. They are the target of the LA City Council in 2019. The Council is trying to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety after pedestrian deaths jumped by 82 percent between 2015-2017.

The Imperial Corridor, a three-quarter mile stretch from Athens Way to Vermont Ave., is the top priority corridor, according to a report submitted to the City Council by the Department of Transportation late last year. More than 21 people died in the Imperial Corridor between 2013 and 2017.

The La Brea Corridor, a one-mile area between Adams Boulevard and Coliseum Street, ranks number two, followed by a half-mile section between Lomita Boulevard and the Pacific Coast Highway, known as the Normandie Corridor.

The City’s deadliest intersection is where the Pacific Coast Highway meets Temescal Canyon Road. Caltrans is partially responsible for this area because it maintains state highways. The next 12 intersections on the list are all the responsibility and targets of the city of Los Angeles. Five intersections are tied for second priority on the city’s list. Those include Gaffey Street and Westmont Drive, Roscoe Boulevard and Winnetka Avenue, Vernon Avenue and Central Avenue, Vista Del Mar and Imperial Highway and the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue.

It’s all part of Vision Zero, the LA City Council’s goal to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025. Vision Zero wants to make the streets safe for all travelers and that starts by eliminating the 200 deaths per year of people making way their way through a neighborhood. The corridors and intersections were identified by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation based on data including deaths or serious injuries involving a bicycle or pedestrian. The department used an algorithm to review data from 2013 to 2017 to identify areas with a minimum distance of a half-mile and a minimum average of 15 people killed per mile.

The report claims that while these corridors and intersections make up just six percent of city’s roads, they account for 66% of the pedestrian and bicycle deaths.

The improvements will come in three phases and are already underway. Phase 1 includes re-striping, improved or new signage, and painting of bike lanes. Phase 2 changes will enhance improvements from the first phase with new or upgraded traffic signals. Phase 3 changes are more expensive as they involve permanent changes to the character of the street with changes including concrete treatments. Vision Zero also has a “safety toolkit,” which identifies and explains safety measures and how they will be implemented. These include traffic signals that allow pedestrians to enter and clear an intersection before vehicles enter.

The toolkit does not address so-called road diets in which traffic patterns have been altered to eliminate car lanes in favor of bike lanes and turn lanes. Proponents say the measures makes roads safer by having cars travel at more consistent speeds and giving pedestrians fewer lanes to cross. Opponents have criticized the shifts for causing more congestion.