For the last few years, the question of what to do about safety on the portion of W. Sixth Street between La Brea and Fairfax has been under heated debate in the Miracle Mile neighborhood. A process to help improve the situation started with a community meeting in May of 2016 to discuss a possible “road diet” (narrowing the street and adding turn lanes and protected bike lanes to slow traffic flow). But while the Mid-City West Community Council strongly supported the plan, other groups – such as the Miracle Mile Residential Association – opposed it, fearing it would just shift large volumes of traffic to other area streets. Also, other issues – such as the implementation of a new Transit Neighborhood Plan in the area, along with current Purple Line Subway Construction – could affect timing of major street improvements. So after another community meeting on October 21, 2017, at which residents spoke up strongly both in favor of and against the road diet, City Council Member David Ryu distributed a community survey to seek more input on the situation, and on neighbors’ concerns and favored solutions.
Today, Ryu’s office issued a letter containing the results of the survey, and announcing the list of traffic mitigation solutions he will support:
Dear Neighbors –
Safety along 6th Street for residents, commuters, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike continues to be a priority for me and my office. In early 2016, my office, along with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and multiple community stakeholders embarked on a comprehensive review of the road’s configuration, crash data, recently completed speed surveys, and available mitigations to address the collisions we’ve been seeing.
Based on that work, the City’s Department of Transportation (LADOT) developed a series of potential improvements for 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea Avenues which were presented at a community open house on Saturday October 21st, and then in an open survey released by my office to gather input from community stakeholders. The full survey and final results can be viewed here.
Of the 712 responses received, approximately 60 percent of respondents stated their support for a variety of intersection-specific road improvements, including continental crosswalks, left-hand turn pockets at 6th Street and Hauser Avenue, improved visibility and peak-hour turn restrictions. Roughly 37 percent expressed support for a proposed “road diet” (the above listed improvements as well as reduction of eastbound and westbound vehicle lanes; installation of eastbound and westbound bicycle lanes). Nearly 85 percent of respondents stated that a car is their primary mode of transportation, and more than 50 percent noted that congestion on 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea Avenues is their primary concern.
Any collision, or potential for a collision, is something we want to eliminate. According to crash data obtained from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Department of Transportation, there have been nearly 250 reported collisions on 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea Avenues over the last 10 years, three of which were fatal. The challenge is to ensure any road improvements that are made address the conditions that led to the collisions in the first place. The proposed improvements listed below do precisely that.
Based on an evaluation of the collisions that have taken place over the last 10 years, 34 percent, including two of the three fatalities that occurred, were caused by unsafe left turns. Unsafe vehicle speeds were determined to be a factor in less than 10 percent of accidents, compared to roughly 25 percent for the city as a whole. Based on this data, intersection and incident-specific improvements – including the installation of left turn pockets at 6th Street and Hauser Avenue, continental crosswalks, and leading pedestrian interval phasing – will have the greatest impact on pedestrian, cyclist and motorist safety.
My office will be moving forward with the following list of road improvements:
1. 6th Street, between Fairfax Ave and La Brea Ave – street resurfacing.
2. 6th St and Fairfax Ave – installation of continental crosswalks on all three segments.
3. 6th St from Fairfax Ave to Curson Ave – extension of single eastbound vehicle lane; installation of approximately 18 new parking spaces.
4. 6th St and Ogden Dr – extension of westbound left turn pocket.
5. 6th St and Curson Ave – installation of continental crosswalks on all four segments.
6. 6th St and Hauser Ave – installation of eastbound and westbound left turn pockets; continental crosswalks on all four segments; removal of peak-hour left turn restriction.
7. 6th St and Burnside Ave – installation of continental crosswalks on all four segments; installation of peak-hour left turn restrictions.
8. 6th St and Cochran Ave – installation of continental crosswalks on all four segments.
9. 6th St and Detroit Ave – installation of continental crosswalks on all four segments.
10. 6th St and La Brea Ave – installation of continental crosswalks on all four segments.
The following changes will require further study once the initial road improvements have been made, but I’ll be working to put them in place as soon as possible:
11. Leading Pedestrian Interval Phasing at all crosswalks on 6th Street between Fairfax Ave and La Brea Ave.
12. 6th St and Spaulding Way – new mid-block signalized pedestrian crosswalk.
13. 6th St and Hauser Ave – installation of protected / permissive left turn signals.
Over the next few weeks, my office will be working with LADOT, LAPD and the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) to finalize the list of recommended roadway improvements and begin installation. I would like to thank you for your input and patience throughout this process. It is incredibly important that transparency, accountability and the needs and views of all Council District Four residents be included in the decision-making process.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office with any further questions or concerns.
David E. Ryu
Councilmember, District Four
Reaction to the statement was quick from two of the biggest local stakeholder groups that have been involved in the safety discussion.
Scott Epstein, Chair of the Mid-City West Community Council, which has advocated for the road diet, issued a statement saying:
“Mid City West remains committed to the only comprehensive solution for safety on 6th Street: a redesign of the street to remove one vehicle lane in each direction and add a continuous center turn lane. The comprehensive redesign recommended by Mid City West would allow for safe turns at all intersections and driveways. In contrast, Councilmember Ryu’s plan will add only one turn pocket at the intersection of Hauser and 6th Street. Councilmember Ryu’s plan would also do nothing to calm dangerous vehicle speeds, the factor which make inevitable collisions deadly. It remains unclear why Councilmember Ryu would support a more limited plan, when LADOT’s own analysis predicts at most a 40 second delay at rush hour as a result of a redesign. Safety for all people who use 6th Street is more important than rush hour commute times. I hope Councilmember Ryu will reconsider his position in the future.”
But James O’Sullivan, president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, praised Ryu’s announcement, saying “all these things he’s advocating make sense and are not crazy.” O’Sullivan said he not only feared that a road diet would shift large amounts of traffic into residential areas and, particularly, to 8th and 3rd Streets, doesn’t believe the road diet is a necessary tool here because its primary purpose is to slow traffic, while studies show that most of the traffic-related injuries and deaths the area have been caused by left turns, not speed. O’Sullivan said Ryu’s plan should help improve turn safety, especially with continental crosswalks and pedestrian-controlled signals at key intersections. (O’Sullivan noted, however, that Ryu’s plan does not address the possible removal of some street parking in the area, which has been another hot topic of disucssion.)
“I give David (Ryu) credit for the process he went through,” O’Sullivan told the Buzz this morning. “The plan he came up with will keep people safe. Time will tell.”