Enough Said. Enough Dead.

William Matelyan, pedestrian, 84: North Figueroa Street and Avenue 26, 22 July 2014.

José Luna, cyclist, 33: North Figueroa Street and Pasadena Avenue, 26 June 2015.

Irma Yolanda Espinoza-Lugo, pedestrian, 51: North Figueroa Street and Avenue 55, 22 September 2015.

Andres Perez, pedestrian, 17: North Figueroa Street and Avenue 60, 15 December 2015.

Four names, four lives, four deaths. Four more human beings mown down by motor vehicles. Two of them—Mr. Luna and Ms. Espinosa-Lugo—killed in hit-and-run crashes. All of them killed by a defective street design.

North Figueroa Street is overdesigned, built according to principles that made speed the only priority, so that even neighborhood roads are built as if they were highways. It has long been known that such streets kill their users at a high rate; that they induce rather than relieve congestion; that they batter down businesses that live along them. It has long been known, and it is finally beginning to be acknowledged by our turgid civic bureaucracies, that there is a better way. And that one of the best methods available to remake a street so that it serve all users, so that it increase community and business activity, so that it prevent the slaughter of the innocents, is the road diet.

Even the Federal Highway Administration, not known for planning radicalism, acknowledges that road diets, are a “proven safety countermeasure.” The experiences of cities worldwide show that road diets have little if any serious effect on drivetime (and in fact often improve it noticeably), that they reduce crashes, that they boost community. That, especially if they include bike lanes, they improve the business climate.

Even LA’s backwards-looking DOT figured it out, as did the previous iteration of the City Council: so a road diet was approved (unanimously, after extensive community outreach), was designed, was funded. The street was known to be a killer. To quote the LA Times article that recounted Mr. Perez’s death:

A Los Angeles Times analysis identified Avenue 60 and Figueroa Street as a particularly problematic intersection for pedestrians, showing that 13 people were hit, two fatally, from 2002 through 2013. According to the analysis, the intersection ranked among the top 200 of more than 800 intersections identified in L.A. County as problematic.

The analysis also identified four other nearby streets that intersect with Figueroa—York Boulevard, Avenue 59, Avenue 55 and Avenue 41—covering roughly a mile in Highland Park. A total of 73 people were hit and four were killed at the five intersections from 2002 through 2013.

The street, it was agreed, had to be tamed.

Then…well, if you read this blog, you know what happened. Gil Cedillo squeaked into office in District 1 and cancelled it. And he refuses to say why.

Since then, Mr. Matelyan, Mr. Luna, Ms. Espinosa-Lugo, and Mr. Perez have been killed by this deficient street. The death rate has actually increased. And it did not have to be so. One man’s stubbornness has kept North Figueroa a deathtrap.

Mr. Cedillo, to repeat the question asked of the infamous Senator McCarthy in 1954: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

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One Comment

  1. Jort
    Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    False! Mr. Cedillo has absolutely said why he refuses to implement the design changes to N. Figueroa. He said he won’t approve it because he will not let the 1% (cyclists) determine the fate of the 99% (people who need to drive fast despite people dying). More specifically, he has repeatedly said that he will not approve the design changes because he “WILL NOT BE BULLIED!”

    Let me help you re-phrase the beginning of your article from Gil’s perspective:

    William Matelyan, pedestrian, 84: BULLY!
    José Luna, cyclist, 33: BULLY!
    Irma Yolanda Espinoza-Lugo, pedestrian, 51: BULLY!
    Andres Perez, pedestrian, 17: BULLY!

    Maybe, Richard, you should focus your efforts on a N. Figueroa anti-bullying campaign, since clearly the true fault in all of this is the fact that people are upset that they might die on the street. If a few people have to die in order to make sure that the bullies don’t win, then that’s just how it is. Tough luck, BULLIES.

    Yes, it IS too much to ask to survive on N. Figueroa. If you think otherwise. BULLY! BULLY! BULLY! BULLY!

One Trackback

  1. By Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog Los Angeles on December 18, 2015 at 9:56 am

    […] Carnage: One Dead Three Injured In Lakewood Car Crash (LAT) …Man Dies Crashing Into Tow Truck On 5/110 Interchange (Pasadena Star News) …Nun Critically Wounded In Hit-and-Run “Accident” In Boyle Heights (LAT, PSN) …Enough Said, Enough Dead On North Figueroa Street (Flying Pigeon) […]