Since Biking in LA’s ever-diligent Ted Rogers has reported very nicely on rogue Council Member Gil Cedillo’s tantrum at yesterday’s meeting, this post can move on to broader issues.
In summary, Cedillo stamped his feet and claimed that hundreds of his constituents are “bullies” because they oppose his blocking the implementation of a road diet for North Figueroa Street. This road diet was approved in multiple community meetings and has been engineered and funded. Unfortunately, all that happened under the aegis of Cedillo’s predecessor, Ed Reyes, and apparently that offends Cedillo’s primitive ego: for he has also blockaded the opening of Ed Reyes park, a charming would-be community space that waits forlornly behind closed gates in a desperately park-poor neighborhood off 19th Street. Cedillo claims he opposes theo road diet for “safety reasons.”
But this statement makes no sense whatsoever, and let me enumerate a few reasons why.
2) The benefits of road diets go beyond safety. Road diets have been proven to improve business activity by slowing down traffic and attracting more potential customers on bikes and on foot, thereby giving retailers and service providers more visibilityMdash;and reducing demand for expensive parking. (Ironically, Cedillo’s plan substitutes four blocks of angled parking for the road diet—in a portion of Figueroa that is liberally supplied with vast off-street lots. Angle parking has been found to increase crash rates, in part because it induces more on-street parking, which requires negotiating with free-flowing traffic.)
3) Road diets do not increase travel times. They reduce peak speeds, which increases safety, but, because they smooth traffic flow, point-to-point travel times remain the same in most cases, and occasionally are slightly shorter. The LADOT’s estimate that drivers would have to spend an extra 41 seconds (that’s right, 41 whole seconds!) to traverse five miles of Figueroa were the road diet implemented was based on outmoded algorithms. Real-world experience has shown that this is not the case, even in congested New York City.
Cedillo knows most of this, or should. His office is in possession of most of the studies mentioned. Why does he continue to oppose the road diet? Is is just his ego, as some claim? Is he beholden to outside money, as his campaign finance records imply? Or does he really believe that speeding cut-through traffic is the holy grail of our city’s nascent Great Streets program?
In any case, Cedillo is an embarrassment to the council, to the city it purports to serve, and to the very notions of democracy and human reason. Northeast Los Angeles deserves better than this. Much, much better.