February 23, 2024 3:32 pm

Los Angeles City Council’s Plan for Safer Streets

The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously called for a comprehensive review of policies and practices related to signal phasing, timing, and other strategies to enhance pedestrian safety. The motion, introduced by council members Nithya Raman, Eunisses Hernandez, and Bob Blumenfield in October 2023, aims to address the alarming increase in pedestrian fatalities and severe injuries in the city.

In a 14-0 vote, with Councilman Curren Price absent, the council has directed the Department of Transportation to present a report within three months. The focus is on developing a policy and implementation plan to adjust street signal timing citywide. The goal is to reduce cycle lengths, prioritizing pedestrian safety, and considering public transportation routes.

The proposed changes include updated guidelines for Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs), scramble crosswalks, and “No Right Turn On Red” restrictions at intersections. LPIs grant pedestrians a head start before parallel vehicle traffic, enhancing visibility for turning drivers. The motion emphasizes that these measures aim to mitigate crashes at signalized intersections, where a significant portion of fatal and severe injury incidents occurs.

In 2023, Los Angeles witnessed a concerning rise in pedestrian fatalities, with 134 individuals killed and 427 severely injured by vehicles. This marked a 13% increase in pedestrian deaths compared to 2022 and an 18% increase in severe injuries. The motion points to the Vision Zero Safety Study, indicating that 70% of fatal and severe injury crashes happen at intersections with traffic signals.

The motion notes challenges faced by pedestrians, including the need to contend with turning motorists and prolonged wait times. It highlights the successful implementation of a “nighttime” signal plan during the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing wait times and improving pedestrian crossings. The subsequent return to regular signal plans resulted in extended cycle lengths during peak and mid-day periods, impacting pedestrian safety.

As part of the review, staff reports will identify intersections suitable for LPIs, scramble crosswalks, and “No Right Turn on Red” measures. The motion also aligns with national trends, with other U.S. cities, including Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., exploring restrictions on right-on-red turns to enhance pedestrian safety.