LA’s Very Own Death Panel

As I approached the cluster of flashing fire trucks, a vivid red LAFD ambulance pulled away, sirens howling. That was a bad sign, as was the presence of a police car, as were the people hugging each other by the battered cars. There was a Mercedes sports sedan, with the passenger door crushed open and dangling by a single twisted hinge, and a crumpled minivan up on the sidewalk, right where you would wait for the light to change if you were walking. The firefighters directing traffic couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me anything. I pedaled on home.

Another bad one on Sixth Street in the Miracle Mile, a road I use every single day, on foot, by bike, very occasionally in a car. It has a bad record—plenty of crashes, being a fairly straight passage with four wide lanes feeding into four narrow one, curbside parking, and many, many intersections. Drivers speed madly on it, swerve, jump lights, and all too often crash into each other, or into pedestrians. Plenty of cyclists use the road as well. People have died, have been maimed, have suffered. Over and over again. The road parallels Wilshire Boulevard, which is a block to the south, but, because of its configuration, Sixth draws the more self-centered and impatient of motorists.

It is a perfect candidate for a road diet, this particular stretch of Sixth Street between Fairfax and La Brea. A road diet would temper the madness while increasing the street’s capacity, not just by adding bike lanes, but by moving the numerous left-turning motorists out of the flow of traffic. And in fact this very stretch of road was slated for a road diet.

What happened? The city council’s obstructionist-in-chief, Tom LaBonge, quashed it—insisted he wants to keep Sixth as an overflow for Wilshire till some vague time in the future when the (underground) construction for the subway extension is finished.

Insists again and again that fast car traffic is the supreme good on Sixth Street.

Just as he insists for Lankershim Boulevard. Just as council member Koretz insists for Westwood Boulevard. Just as council member Cedillo insists for North Figueroa Street.

Just as eleven members of the council voted in lockstep yesterday, at the urging of LaBonge and his partner in crime, CD13’s O’Farrell, to insist for the Glendale/Hyperion bridge complex. With four members, including the more human Huizar, absenting themselves that day…perhaps not willing to buck the tide of council conformity.

The death panel has voted. The bridge shall not have safe sidewalks, nor adequate bike lanes; speeding will be the primary value preserved in the span’s refurbishment. Those who die will be mourned, briefly, and forgotten…forever.

Welcome to LA. Be sure to sign up for your health and life insurance. You’ll probably need it.

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One Comment

  1. Steven White
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    One of the lessons I remember from calculus, of all places, is that it matters how you refer to things because terminology can aid understanding. I like your term “death panel.” Refusing to calm traffic really is making a decision that some people will die.

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  1. […] Risemberg calls the council the city’s own death panel for acting to preserve deadly streets and our auto-centric past. The LACBC says the city failed to […]

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