Is Los Angeles’ plan to make streets safer actually working?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2019 | Bicycle Accidents, Catastrophic Injuries |

When Los Angeles rolled out its Vision Zero plan in 2015, officials laid out an admirable goal: to eliminate all traffic deaths in the city by 2025. The campaign’s mission acknowledges people will make mistakes on the road, but are operating under the belief that, with smart street planning, those mistakes should not result in death or serious injury.

Now a few years into the campaign, what kind of progress toward the Vision Zero goal have L.A. cyclists and pedestrians seen? Unfortunately, not enough.

Traffic deaths have barely budged

The reality of Vision Zero’s current situation is disconcerting. According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, since 2016 – the first full year of the program – traffic deaths overall have fallen slightly, from 261 down to 242 in 2018.

Pedestrian deaths rose during that time however, from 116 to 127, while cyclist deaths remained flat at 21 in both years.

What’s more worrying, however, is those figures are worse than they were prior to Vision Zero’s implementation. Since 2014, L.A. traffic fatalities have jumped 26.7%, and 2018’s annual figures are equal to or higher than any year in the past decade.

What is the solution?

The newspaper’s story discusses a few efforts by the city to try to further curb traffic deaths. Key areas of focus are getting drivers to slow down and adding new street features meant to protect pedestrians and cyclists. That includes:

  • Removing traffic lanes to slow down cars
  • Stricter enforcement of speed limits
  • New paint markings along dangerous streets
  • The creation of dedicated, protected bike lanes
  • Adding plastic posts at dangerous corners to slow down drivers

One thing the statistics make clear, however, is that up to this point, whatever has been done is not enough. Pedestrians and cyclists continue to be killed or severely injured simply while trying to get around Los Angeles. These accidents can result in long-term or permanent damage that may affect your day-to-day life.

Some of this falls on drivers, who may be inattentive, speeding down roads and not looking for cyclists. The city needs to step up as well and do everything possible to make streets safe as soon as possible.