LA's "Progressive Great Streets Initiative" Re-striping Policy Caused a Traffic Collision that Nearly Killed Me
As Venice Blvd in Mar Vista Strives Towards Greater Equity and Diversity, Traffic Accidents Increase.
June 12, 2023
Venice Blvd was designed to be a working street. It looks like a freeway, or used to. People drive 70 miles an hour on it's 4 lanes of grandeur and utility, that also angle from Southwest to Northeast. It was a quick route between downtown LA and Venice. Venice High School and the former Helms Bakery are some of the sites on its 12 mile length, down to sunny Venice Beach.
So what was the problem? The problem is working class Venice Blvd travels mostly through minority neighborhoods. Which means of course that Venice Blvd is racist (compare say, San Vicente in Brentwood, which goes through white neighborhoods and therefore isn't racist. You get it, I'm sure).
In 2017, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and former Westside council member Mike Bonin promoted a progressive idea: Cut 4 traffic lanes to just two for traffic, one for buses, one for parking and a protected bike lane between the sidewalks and parking islands. By 2022, the new street striping and bollards were in place.
On May 28, 2023 at 5:20 pm I was on my way to the Camaguey Latin Market at 10925 Venice Blvd. I tried to complete a U-Turn into the parking lane. I in fact did complete the U-Turn. Suddenly my black 2005 Prius got smashed on its right rear quarter panel by a 22 year old kid driving a white Kia. He was traveling at over 60 MPH, which one can deduce from the physical damage.
The kid was attempting to use Venice Blvd for what it used to be: A way to complete deliveries quickly and efficiently by driving freeway speeds and passing people on the right and the left. Even before the re-striping, that wasn't the proper way to use the road, as a freeway. But most of the time it didn't lead to collisions with parked cars.
Men like Bonin and Garcetti have never held real jobs or worked a day in their lives. But they have left us a legacy of a Venice Blvd which does not work. There is a political movement to "restore Venice Blvd," which points out that traffic no longer moves through Mar Vista. Here's a link: https://www.restoreveniceblvd.com/p/round-2.html
As for me, I feel lucky to be alive. A few of the many kind people who live in Mar Vista rushed up to me after the collision, asking whether I was ok or whether they could do anything for me. The Culver City Police Department was on scene in minutes, offering ambulances and medical care. Which offer I refused, only to find out later that I had two broken ribs and a fractured T-6 Vertebrae.
"A city as diverse as Los Angeles requires a transportation system that accommodates all users," says the City's website. "Reflecting its commitment to equity and environmental justice, Los Angeles City Planning has established street standards that provide safe and efficient transportation options for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists. City Planning’s prioritized set of land use and transportation considerations strive toward equity in safety, public health, and access."
So the idea is to have bike lanes and parking lanes and bus lanes and just two lanes of traffic, so as to give the street a "road diet." Sounds good in principal; who doesn't want to strive towards equity and diversity?
The problem is that you end up a with a confusing mess of parking lanes and green-painted bicycle lanes and bus lanes and no one knows how to ue them properly. There is even a fund raiser to "Restore Venice Blvd." https://www.gofundme.com/f/restore-venice
See also https://www.restoreveniceblvd.com/p/welcome.html, which calls the "lane theft" on Venice Blvd an unpopular and unnecessary plan that is supported by perhaps 1/4th of the residents.
You could reasonably argue that my accident was caused by a young man who hurled his Kia at freeway speeds down a surface street, and you would not be wrong. But as it becomes harder to get anywhere in LA, tempers rise and the roads are more dangerous for several reasons. We have all experienced it. God save us all from the progressive dystopia of driving in a Los Angeles with fewer space for cars.