A recent report in the LA Weekly focused a floodlight on the city’s under-reported hit-and-run epidemic. Much of that report detailed the catastrophe of vehicle-related pedestrian accidents. Some relief may be on the way for this particular safety hazard. The timing of the latest attempts at keeping LA pedestrians safe is incredibly coincidental in light of that groundbreaking article; new crosswalks will soon be emerging throughout LA.
LADOT announced that more than 50 of these new crosswalks will eventually take their place across the city before summer 2013. The first of these “continental crosswalks” has already been installed downtown at 5th and Spring streets. Mayor Villaraigosa held an unveiling ceremony at that crosswalk and re-affirmed his commitment to a “transportation renaissance” in LA in his remarks to the press. Designed to increase visibility of pedestrians, the crosswalks may symbolize the mayor’s recognition of a very serious problem.
He has made transportation safety and efficiency a focus of his public remarks recently. At the unveiling of the crosswalk he said “We are doubling the size of our rail network, making improvements to traffic flow and adding new bikeways” and “we need to ensure that no one gets left behind. This focus on pedestrian safety is part of our efforts to create a 21st century transportation network that works for everyone.”
Rather than traditional crosswalks that are simply bordered by bright white lines, these new crosswalks are lined with strips of bright white or yellow paint. Pedestrians will be walking on these horizontal lines as they cross rather than, as in the past, on asphalt that is colored in the same as the surrounding street.
Crosswalks to be upgraded were selected based upon risk factors and data collected over the years which indicated a high number of collisions. Only data will show whether or not the mayor and the city’s efforts will be worth the effort and cost. Though the painting of crosswalks is a fairly modest step, perhaps it signals a change in direction for the new year. The new direction may indicate that safety on LA streets is a priority.