Opinion

We want safe streets, not 'road diets' — and we are not 'selfish'

To the editor: The Times fails its readers with its sophomoric characterization and reductive understanding of the issue and the people affected. (“Blowback over road diets,” Editorial, July 30)

We are not "selfish," we are concerned residents who want safety and honest representation.

We want emergency personnel to move quickly, not be stuck in traffic.

We want to turn right without hitting cyclists.

We want local businesses to flourish, not lose money. We want [L.A. City Councilman Mike] Bonin to understand that surveys from 1% of Mar Vista's residents do not equal "extensive outreach" or "clamoring" for this change.

We want safe streets, not dangerously designed, clogged ones.

Catherine Melody, Mar Vista

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To the editor: Your editorial was excellent, but missed a very important aspect of the problem.

Yes, our neighborhoods are drive-throughs for commuters. My street in Venice has become a narrow and dangerous freeway that is used by South Bay and Playa Vista drivers to get to jobs in Santa Monica. Most cars speed down the street and almost none stop at the stop signs. There is a park at the end of my street, and there are kids everywhere.

I have tried unsuccessfully to get traffic law enforcement or even just speed bumps. LAPD and Bonin say that they don't have any officers to ticket the speeders. Less enforcement results in more violations of the law.

It isn’t the job of the L.A. city government to ease the drive of these people to and from work. It is their job to make our city streets safe. When will they start to do so?

Jack Schwartz, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Regarding “road diets,” you point out that the loudest critics of the Vista del Mar reconfiguration don’t live there.

Who lives there? Commuters were the only ones impacted.

You mention that taking half of the traffic lanes might slow traffic. “Might?” Really? Try “standstill.”

And why add bike lanes when just a few yards away there’s a bike path on the beach?

Sure, cutting car speeds from 40 to 20 mph reduces the chance of pedestrian fatality. Why stop there? If we all travel at 10 miles per hour there will be no fatalities.

We don’t do that because it makes no practical sense. Neither do road diets.

Paul Konwiser, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: The juvenile characterization of the hundreds of thousands of folks who live too far from their jobs to bicycle or use our meager transit system as homicidal narcissists is unworthy of an essay on the serious and complex issue of how to make this city work better.

At best, the so-called road diet is little more than a high visibility feel-good vote getter that may or may not actually save lives.

Allen Coulter, Burbank

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To the editor: Your editorial depicting motorists as insensitive louts was ridiculous and an insult to every resident in this city who drives to work.

The fact of the matter is that because of the great distances in L.A., most people simply have no choice but to use their cars to reach their places of employment.

That’s how Los Angeles was designed from the beginning. Until the city can come up with a mass transit system that truly eliminates traffic, people will continue to commute by car.

The “road diets” were a bad idea, and worse than that, they were implemented without the public’s input.

The resulting furor that it caused is a prime example of bad planning and ineffective city management.

Charles Reilly, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: Your editorial needed to spell out that some of the loudest critics of the traffic lane changes in Playa del Rey live in the affluent cities of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach.

These rich commuters feel that they have a right to drive through L.A. city residential neighborhoods at high speeds to avoid 405 traffic. (The driving speeds in their “safe” beach cities are much lower.)

Meena Rao, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I disagree strongly with your endorsement of the city's Vision Zero program. The reasons for eliminating traffic lanes may be very altruistic, but they are not realistic.

A large number of people cannot ride bikes or reach their destinations via public transportation.

The resulting horrific traffic jams lead to increasingly frustrated drivers, leading to more road rage.

Return our lanes, and continue to encourage people who can use alternative transportation to do so.

Myra Kraus, West Los Angeles

To the editor: The tone of the editorial that people from the South Bay are selfish and anti-safety is not true. Bonin's apology was condescending.

It's not about parents coming home late and missing reading time with their toddlers. Doctors, nurses, emergency workers and thousands of other people are impacted by the unpredictable extra road time every day.

The problem is with Bonin and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and their pet project to get cars off the road. It's certain to take a long time to get this vanity pilot project properly corrected, and at what cost to the citizens?

Joyce Handschmacher, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: It's true that residents of South Bay beach cities — Manhattan, Hermosa, and to some extent Redondo — use Vista del Mar as a way to commute to Culver City and the Westside.

They have done so for decades, thereby taking traffic away from the 405, which should merit applause, not criticism.

Julie Bisceglia, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: Venice Boulevard is the best way for those of us who live west of Lincoln to travel east weekday afternoons, since Washington is not direct and I-10 is nearly impassable.

The only thing wrong with the Venice road configuration is the section where Venice Boulevard loses a car lane on each side for about a mile, causing a bottleneck that slows traffic to a crawl, making it harder for emergency vehicles and buses to get through.

I write this as a man who cycles more than he drives, often down Venice Boulevard.

Bring back the old street configuration, with 3 lanes of traffic on each side, a lane for parking and a bike lane.

Paul Suchecki, Venice

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To the editor: Is it possible that the government just might be totally wrong and the people absolutely right when it comes to the misguided notion that bicycles should have equal access to our city streets ?

Taking away needed traffic lanes in the name of increased bicycle use is a myth. All that has been created is an animosity that people trying to get to work in a reasonable amount of time are somehow the “bad guys.”

As an avid bicyclist, the changes that have been made make my plight more dangerous because drivers cannot see me at stop signs and intersections.

I’m a member of the Parking and Transportation Committee for the Venice Neighborhood Council, and we had nearly 100 people at our recent meeting. An overwhelming number opposed these ridiculous changes.

The only ones in support were not-for-profit bicycling advocates, city bureaucrats and non-Venice residents pretending to speak for those phantom supporters of this ill-conceived and poorly planned proposal.

Nick Antonicello, Venice

The writer is a member of the Parking and Transportation Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council

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To the editor: I have lived three blocks from Venice and Centinela in Mar Vista for 40-plus years. I was ignorant of the fact that this intersection was included in the most dangerous in Los Angeles and worthy of a road diet.

I have utilized this intersection almost twice a day for most of those years going to work and back and have never witnessed an accident. I guess I'm not there at the appropriate time.

The new configuration of only two lanes in each direction on Venice is clearly a mess. It's one lane when someone tries to parallel park.

I did not receive any documentation for any kind of input, ideas and or suggestions pertaining to this Vision Zero concept. Just wait till school starts and the traffic increases.

The increased population density is the real problem.

Glenn Zweifel, Mar Vista

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To the editor: The city needs to focus on creating win-win solutions, rather than pitting cyclists vs. motorists and making both sides more resentful of each other.

Los Angeles needs to crack down on hit-and-run drivers. Letting drivers who've injured people avoid accountability while punishing all motorists via lane removal is not useful.

Then the city needs to expand the network of cycling options on secondary streets, so cyclists can take advantage of lighter traffic and motorists can use major thoroughfares.

Finally, the city needs to look at repurposing/augmenting existing infrastructure for cyclists/pedestrians. There are lots of lesser-known aqueducts, access roads, and even larger storm drains (during the dry seasons) that could offer nonroad cycling and walking routes.

John Brown, Los Angeles

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