The LA Times reports on resident dissatisfaction with the road diet on
Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake. It’s a great article on an important change, balanced and with lots of perspectives. But one irony jumped out at me.
After 24-year-old Ashley Sandau was killed crossing Rowena, momentum for changes to the street accelerated. It’s now been 2 years since the changes were completed, which involved reducing traffic lanes from 4 to 2 and adding bike lanes in each direction. An LA DOT study found a 50% reduction in crashes after the changes were made, although the numbers of injuries were not tracked.
Predictably, some residents are upset. In particular, they’re concerned about an increase in cut-through traffic since the changes were made in 2013. Could the rise of Waze have anything to do with an increase in cut-through traffic in the last 2 years?
But let’s say that at least part of the increase in traffic on side streets can be attributed to the Rowena road diet. Is that such a bad thing? A few more cars on residential streets to save a life? Sounds worth it to me.
Of course there are also complaints about slowing down traffic, as if that isn’t the point. But look at is this way: Ashley Sandau lost her life as her father looked on in horror from a parked car across the street. If she had been lucky enough to make it across the street, in a minute or two she would have been another person in a car using Rowena for car transportation and possibly even complaining about how slow it is. When we make streets safer for pedestrians we’re also making it better for car drivers—who inevitably are pedestrians before and after they’re drivers. Unless, of course, you want to live in a city in which the gun shops, prayer centers, funeral parlors and everything is drive-thru.