Los Angeles has long been an automobile-focused city, but trends may be shifting. As the LA Times reports, city leaders have endorsed a sweeping policy designed to rework some of the main boulevards to make them more accessible for buses, bicycles and pedestrians. This, in turn, will leave less room for motor vehicles.
The new mobility plan is creating controversy. Transit advocates and the growing bicyclist and pedestrian community are excited about the changes, but opponents are preparing legal challenges arguing the new focus on the needs of non-car drivers will result in more traffic congestion and even cause delays for emergency vehicles.
A Plan to Eliminate Car and Pedestrian Accident Fatalities
Mobility Plan 2035 is being described as a “major departure in transportation policy so closely identified with cars.” The aim of the plan is to cut the fatality rate in motor vehicle accidents to zero over 20 years, in large part by forcing cars to stay within the speed limit and by reducing the dangers to pedestrians and bicyclists. Just slowing the speed limit is going to make a big difference. Five percent of pedestrians die if hit by a car going 20 MPH or over, while 80 percent of pedestrians hit by a car going 40 MPH or more lose their lives.
The plan goes far beyond forcing cars to slow down though. Hundreds of miles of roads will be redesigned and new bicycle lanes added, with no section of the city left untouched. Van Nuys Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, and South Los Angeles are among the major roadways that will be changed to better accommodate buses and bicycles. Some of the plans include reshaping streets, adding new sidewalks, and putting in dedicated lanes for bicycles and buses on more roads.
These changes are sorely needed to prioritize bicyclists and pedestrians, whose safety has long been an afterthought. Pedestrians constituted one out of every 10 people in Los Angeles who were involved in car accidents between 2002 and 2013, but 35 percent of all victims of fatal collisions were pedestrians. Seniors and young people are especially at risk, but every person who walks or rides a bike faces inhospitable roads and a significant threat of harm. Drivers are responsible for checking for bicyclists and pedestrians and yielding the right-of-way. When a driver is negligent about the safety of pedestrians or bicyclists, he can be sued when that carelessness results in injuries or death.
The major concern about the proposed plan is that shifting focus too much to bicyclists and pedestrians is going to make traffic congestion even worse. City council members who approved the plan are hoping their changes will prompt at least some drivers to make small changes to their behavior, including driving less and walking more. In addition, cars moving at slower, steady speeds could allow more cars to move with less congestion than under the current system.
It remains to be seen what impact the changes will have, if the new plans survive legal challenges and go into effect. Hopefully, shifting LA’s road designs really will have a positive impact on reducing pedestrian and bicycle accidents.
Getting Help from a Long Beach Car and Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
The Law Office of Michael D. Waks provides representation to bicyclists, pedestrians or motorists after an accident. I have helped many clients successfully determine what the cause of their crash was and to hold the person who was to blame accountable for all resulting damages. I will fight for your right to full compensation after an injury occurs.
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