As expected, last Tuesday, City Council enthusiastically supported the Michigan Avenue Greenway (MANgo) and Samohi Safe Routes to School proposals. Council ignored the traffic congestion and dangerous conditions that will inevitably result.
This all really started about 30 years ago. City Hall’s social engineering machine was gearing up and motorists became targets for a cornucopia of goofy theories and experimental programs to force us out of our cars and onto buses and bicycles or to walk.
Back then, I attended one of my first community scoping meetings on “traffic calming” — a solution to traffic problems promoted by a Montana Avenue bartender.
City planners introduced their consultant whose job it was to sell their cockeyed traffic jamming concepts to us rubes and help with its implementation. He unveiled a whole kit n’ caboodle of devices to slow traffic and force motorists to drive somewhere else if we wouldn’t abandon our cars.
At the time, “traffic calming” was the biggest thing to come along since cheese fondue. Political leaders declared a vehicle-free Downtown Santa Monica but later backed off of it. That was only the beginning.
Over the years, the speed humps went in. Stop signs (also to curtail speeding) blossomed like spring flowers. Traffic lights were coordinated to make motorists stop at every opportunity. Corner curb extensions widened sidewalks into intersections resulting in squeezed (and fewer) traffic lanes, difficult turns and bottlenecks.
Planted center medians limited oncoming and cross traffic visibility. Medians and street restriping either narrowed travel lanes or eliminated them all together along with street parking. More recently, newly painted bicycle lanes have replaced left turn pockets citywide — adding to congestion and increasing opportunities for rear-end accidents.
Outright removal of travel lanes on major thoroughfares has resulted in two and three mile-long lines of cars crawling along during peak hours. The confusing roundabout on Washington Avenue and 26th Street is dangerous because drivers on 26th Street don’t yield.
For years, City Hall bureaucrats installed crosswalks and promoted pedestrian rights but it also encourages risky behavior as people wander across streets without looking.
When in-street flashing crosswalks were installed, like the one at Pico Boulevard and 22nd Street at Virginia Park, they quickly failed and have been out of service for years. How smart (and safe) is that?
Since Pico was “traffic calmed,” it’s a 20-block-long slalom course with narrow undulating traffic lanes coupled with landscaped medians, It provides a harrowing experience for all users including bicyclists. The streetscaping is some of the ugliest I’ve ever seen. It’s a total horror story.
The latest fad involves even more street impairment to make room for bicycle lanes. Traffic increases from one to three percent, annually. Although only between one and two percent of street users are riding on two wheels, traffic planners are giving bicyclists more scarce street space while eliminating it for all other users.
Claims that bicycle-friendly streets will mean more riders and less cars are unfounded. But it doesn’t matter. When you have an agenda, why let reality get in the way?
City Hall’s “30 year war” on cars has resulted in some of the worst traffic congestion in Southern California! The whole deal is a total failure.
With less street space to carry traffic and millions of square feet of new development open, under construction or planned, gridlock will only get worse. Yet, politicians and planners still praise deeply flawed, unsafe, traffic jamming nonsense like MANgo and Safe Routes to School.
Last week, I wrote that Berkeley Street was on a long list of streets targeted for traffic calming. Alterations include realignment of Berkeley’s intersection with Stanford Street; two median islands between Stanford and Lipton Avenue (which will likely eliminate left turns out of resident’s driveways and street parking), a traffic calming circle at Lipton along with two curb extensions; and channelizers at the Wilshire intersection. “It’s a recipe for more gridlock,” I wrote.
Berkeley resident Peter Rolf e-mailed me, “These alterations were requested by the residents on Berkeley Street because of constant speeding on our block.”
Rolf also mentioned that left turns into a mini-mall at Berkeley and Wilshire Boulevard blocked traffic. A physical barrier that blocked the turns was removed when the street was repaved 10 years ago and wasn’t replaced. “Gridlock at this intersection has been an issue since then.”
Last Tuesday, Sam Morrisey, City Hall’s traffic engineer, asked City Council for another $30,000 to pay a design consultant to help fix the problems.
Apparently worried that last week’s column might somehow persuade council (fat chance of that happening) to turn down his request, Morrisey e-mailed Berkeley residents, “In addition to providing your input to City Council, you may also want to write to the author of today’s opinion piece and express your support for the project, as it will address the real problem of speeding vehicles on Berkeley Street.” LOL.
Rolf and his neighbors are being flim-flammed. None of the alterations Morrisey wants are going to stop speeders on Berkeley Street.
Installing speed bumps to slow speeding, appropriate signage and replacing a barrier to prevent left turns into the mini-mall seems pretty simple to me. So, why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and hire expensive consultants to help a bloated city staff reinvent the wheel?
Because, the goal is to create impediments to make driving harder and more dangerous. City Hall’s “sustainable” agenda is more important than people and congestion isn’t their problem.
Shame nobody wants to stop this ridiculousness.
Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.