The Westside Los Angeles Neighbors Network has filed a CEQA lawsuit challenging the city’s assertion that making the road diet permanent on Venice Blvd is exempt from traffic analysis, environmental review and public outreach. Click the button to learn more and support their lawsuit.
Mike Bonin, the LADOT and the advocates who push for road diets across LA have said a lot in the past two years to promote and support this ‘Road Diet’ on Venice Blvd, turns out most of it isn’t true. In order to give the appearance that the road diet has been anything other than what it is, a complete and total failure, they have skewed statistics and flat out lied to the community.
Mike Bonin claims there have been less accidents…there have been more.
Mike Bonin claims that business is booming…the road diet has decimated local businesses.
LADOT claims that the same number of cars are traveling Venice Blvd in the same amount of time with one less lane….actually thousands of cars have fled the boulevard for the residential streets and it takes nearly twice as long to travel this 0.8 mile stretch as it did before the road diet.
Below we examine these claims in detail and using LADOT’s and second party data where available prove they are not ture. Mike Bonin and the LADOT are not being honest with the community.
Leading up to the installation of the road diet in May of 2017 and in the months that immidately followed Mike Bonin and Damien Newton (former editor of StreetsblogLA and board member of the Mar Vista Community Counicl) claimed that this road diet was necessary to save lives. They said “Five people died along the one-mile stretch of road, now a focal point of the city’s Great Streets program, in the past decade.”
In order to push their narrative that this stretch of Venice Blvd is extraordinarily dangerous and that something needed to be done right now to save lives they fudged the numbers, in fact they more than doubled the numbers. According to the CHP SWITRS database 2 people have lost their lives on Venice Blvd between Beethoven and Inglewood in the past 10 years, not 5. In fact there haven’t even been 5 fatalities in the past 15 years (there have been 4.)
Of the 4 fatalities in the past 15+ years only one has been someone not in a car. The claim that Venice Blvd isn’t safe for people walking or biking isn’t supported by the facts and data.
The lone cyclist fatality occurred on March 2nd 2008 at 7:55pm. The cyclist was intoxicated and riding west in the east bound lanes of Venice Blvd. Perhaps the protected bike lanes could have prevented this….or perhaps if this cyclist was riding on the correct side of the road this could have been prevented.
The second fatality occurred on January 27th 2016 at 4:10pm. A car turned left in front of oncoming traffic, there was not sufficient time to make the turn. As we’ve seen in the post road diet data this type of accident has been very common. So rather than make Venice Blvd “safer” the road diet has actually created a situation where more drivers are making the same mistake that led to the only fatal accident involving someone in a car in the past 10 years.
On the LADOT’s website they claim the road diet on Venice Blvd has been an unqualified success. One of their claims is Venice is “A Safe Street”. They say “there has been a 14% reduction in overall collisions across the corridor.” But you have to read the fine print…that claim is based on not counting all the accidents that have actually happened on Venice Blvd. The entire quote reads:
“Venice Blvd and Wade Street has seen an increase in left-turn collisions, an anomaly that doesn’t align with trends we are seeing elsewhere on Venice Blvd. Excluding these correctable crashes at Wade Street, there has been a 14% reduction in overall collisions across the corridor.”
In other words, if you don’t count all the accidents that have occurred since we installed the road diet there have been less accidents since we installed the road diet.
The fact is there have been more accidents and more injuries in the 12 months following the road diet than the year before. Again we look to the CHP’s SWITRS data to verify LADOT's claim.
In the 12 months following the road diet there more accidetns and more injuries than in any year in the previous 5 with the exception of 2016 (an unusually wet year which led to a spike in accidents citywide).
The total number of accidents increased 19%
Injury accidents were up by 25% in the same time period.
Looking back 5 years accidents were 24% higher than the historical average. Injury accidents were up by 33% over the 5 year average.
Looking back 15 years accidents were 12% higher than the historical average. Injury accidents were up by 20% over the 15 year average.
All of this while there has been a 13% drop in traffic volume.
Less cars yet more accidents and more injuries.
Speaking of traffic volume LADOT claims that by 12 months after the road diet traffic volume on Venice Blvd is “trending” back to pre road diet levels.
The graph they show on their website does indeed show that traffic volume is trending back towards the same numbers as before the road diet. However if you examine the raw data which LADOT provides in a 140 page data appendix it is noted that the last data point, from September 2018, is actually an average of two days, September 25th and September 26th 2018.
What is odd about this is this last data point is the only one that is an average of two days, all other data points show the count that was measured on a single day.
When each individual data point is graphed it is clear why LADOT chose to average those last two days, September 25th was a completely anomalous data point. For reasons unexplained there were more cars traveling Venice Blvd on September 25th than any other day measured, and 11,004 more cars than on the very next day. What happened on September 25th 2018? Was there really a jump of 30% in traffic volume that day? Or was there something wrong with LADOT’s equipment? Either way we don’t know because LADOT has refused to answer this question.
Traffic volume hasn’t returned to pre road diet levels, LADOT’s data shows there has been a drop in traffic of between 22% and 13% and all these cars are now on the residential streets that parallel Venice Blvd. Rather than “accommodating vehicle demand” as claimed LADOT’s road diet has forced thousands of commuters to flee to the residential streets to seek relief from the gridlock created by removing 33% of the streets capacity.
At the end of 2018 Mike Bonin claimed that the road diet had led to a boom in local businesses, with sales up by $3 million dollars following the installation of the road diet.
An examination of the actual data in the 140 page data appendix shows that this claim is completely false.
LADOT compared 2016 sales to 2017 sales, well before mounting losses began to force business to close. At the close of 2018, when Mike was claiming success, 21 businesses had closed along the 0.8 mile stretch of Venice Blvd.
So assuming that all businesses report their fiscal year on the calendar year (the probably don’t) at best there was 6 months of “post road diet” sales data analyzed. And since LADOT didn’t even compare the same number, let alone the same businesses from year to year the data statistically meaningless.
This is just another example of Mike Bonin and the LADOT using bad data to hide the truth, the Venice Blvd road diet has been a disaster by every measure.