Below is 2020 City Council District 4 candidate David Ryu’s full questionnaire response to Bike The Vote L.A.:
1. Los Angeles Metro is constructing and planning multiple transit lines through CD4, including the Purple Line extension, the East Valley Transit Corridor, the Sepulveda corridor line, and the northern extension of the Crenshaw Line. How do you plan to solve the first mile/last mile problem and connect riders to these lines?
Los Angeles is one of only a handful of global cities without a network of point-to-point public transportation options, and I am proud to have endorsed and advocated for the Measure M ballot measure and expenditure plan. For CD 4 residents, particularly those in the San Fernando Valley who have endured daily gridlock on the 405 Freeway or canyon roads, these projects will open up employment and recreational opportunities previously beyond reach, and afford parents with more time to spend with their children before they leave for school in the morning and before they go to sleep at night.
Equally important, however, are the first-last mile options that tie this network together and ensure Angelenos are able to travel safely from their point of origin to the nearest mass transit station and then to their destination. According to MTA data, a sizeable majority of Metro users arrive at their station or stop by walking, biking, or rolling. Still, the City’s first-last mile options and infrastructure are incomplete. Shared use services, inter-modal connectivity, way-finding signage and the infrastructure including bike lanes, bike parking, sidewalks and crosswalks, to support multi-modal connectivity require vision, investment and our support.
To this end, I paved the way for the first privately held bike-share company to roll out in the City of Los Angeles, in Griffith Park in early 2017. Then, in October 2017, I introduced legislation instructing the Department of Transportation to develop rules, regulations and a permit system to allow dockless bicycles and scooters to operate in the City of Los Angeles. Multi-modal options to bridge the first-last mile gap are now in no short supply due, in part, to my efforts to kick-off the City’s permitting and regulation of dockless vehicles. One of the reasons that bike lane advocacy has had a bumpy road is due to the limited number of people who proportionally use bikes/scooters versus cars or walking. By providing thousands more Angelenos access to bikes and scooters, we’ve increased awareness of the every-day experiences faced by bike users, hopefully evening the playing field in future debates over road safety and reduce the contentiousness over discussions about road reconfigurations.
Still, the infrastructure required to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe on our roads is not adequate. If re-elected to serve the residents of Council District 4, I will continue to lead the City’s efforts to build out a robust multi-modal portfolio, advocate for the installation of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and work to ensure all road users are safe to use the lanes and paths that we build.
2. News outlets are reporting that 242 Angelenos were killed in car crashes in 2018, showing that L.A. has failed to make significant progress towards Vision Zero since adopting the policy in 2015. Why do LA’s streets remain so deadly by design? What would you do to make them safer?
Vision Zero is a highly ambitious program aimed at eliminating traffic related fatalities by 2025. And while we haven’t seen the results we had hoped for in its first few years, I disagree with the characterization that the program has been a failure. The Los Angeles City Council has invested tens-of-millions of dollars in Vision Zero programming and improvements over the last two years and the narrative around safe, pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets has fundamentally changed.
The City of Los Angeles is responsible for maintaining and improving roughly 28,000 lane miles of streets. The 40 priority corridors selected at the outset of Vision Zero and the approximately 450 miles of roadway on the High Injury Network represent just over 6 percent of the City’s streets, and as much as I would like to have achieved our projected reductions in traffic related injuries and fatalities in year one, improvements of this nature require time to design, fund and construct.
The City’s Vision Zero priorities are on the right track and if re-elected I’ll continue to work toward a City in which all road users are able to travel safely. This means pursuing a data driven approach to our work and making sure the improvements we implement are a direct response to the types of collisions we’re seeing. This means exploring a whole host of mitigations, including safe sidewalks, crosswalks, signal and lighting improvements, bump outs, and protected bicycle lanes, among others. And this means making sure our roads remain in a state of good repair so the safety improvements we make aren’t compromised by their underlying poor quality. The Mayor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019-20 Vision Zero budget is over $51 million, a more than 40 percent increase over the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget. I intend to vote in support of the proposal and look forward to working with LADOT to make our City safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.
Finally, we need increased enforcement of distracted driving and prosecutions of distracted motorists who hit pedestrians and cyclists. Far too often, drivers feel comfortable using their mobile phones while driving and even drivers who hit, maim, or kill pedestrians and cyclists are not charged. This needs to end. LAPD should be encouraged, as a matter of policy, to enforce hands-free distraction-free driving rules and the District Attorney should charge drivers, especially the recent rash of hit-and-run incidents to send a message to all drivers that distracted driving is lethal.
3. Los Angeles’ traffic woes are compounded by the reality that many parents and students don’t feel safe allowing their children to walk or bike to school. Why do you think this is? What would you do as councilmember to improve active transportation options around schools?
I’ve heard from residents throughout the City about their children’s safety walking to and from school. Those concerns are multi-faceted and related to security, the high volume of cut-through traffic along school routes, and a lack of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
Part of the challenge we’ve encountered is that routes to schools in CD 4 are relatively safe in comparison to schools in other areas of the City, and as such, at a disadvantage for competitive funding and improvements. Secondly, Safe Routes to Schools funding has traditionally been restricted to schools and routes in need of corridor-wide improvements. The school routes in need of improvement that we’ve identified in CD 4 require individual crosswalks, curb cuts, sidewalks and signage. Unfortunately, these schools, routes and improvements don’t qualify for Safe Routes to Schools funding under the current program methodology.
If re-elected, I will continue to work to identify funding and creative solutions for the improvements that my office has identified. I’ll also look to alter the funding methodology used to select the schools and corridors slated for improvement. Additionally, the City and LAUSD should collaborate to identify and establish routes to schools that are equipped with the appropriate safety infrastructure and the least amount of vehicular traffic.
4. Neighborhood councils in CD4, including Silver Lake, Mid City West, and Los Feliz, have all shown strong support for a more bikeable CD4. Despite this, the few bike lanes in CD4 are discontinuous and dump riders out into dangerous thoroughfares. What do you see as the impediments to building out the adopted Mobility Plan 2035’s network of bike infrastructure? Which of the connections in CD4 do you see as a priority and will you push for as councilmember?
The development of the Mobility Plan 2035 was a groundbreaking effort to identify hundreds of miles of new bicycle lanes, bus-only lanes and other road redesigns to make our streets safer. I was proud to have worked with the Departments of City Planning and Transportation to help craft and approve the Plan during my first year in office and will continue to push for its implementation. This means investing in technology and infrastructure, providing a variety of multi-modal options through public-private partnerships, ensuring our streets are in a state of good repair, equipped with pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure, and safe for all road users.
I’m very appreciative of the input and insight provided by the neighborhood councils in CD 4 and will continue to advocate for the implementation of each of the bike lanes included on the Mobility Plan’s Bicycle Enhanced Network in CD 4. It’s my job, however, to represent the interests of each and every one of CD 4’s 300,000 residents. This means thinking holistically about the benefits as well as the impacts of bicycle lanes – the affects they’ll have on connectivity in areas of the district that have spotty public transportation options and the safety of installing unprotected bicycle lanes in heavily trafficked areas of the City.
Prioritizing bike lanes and connectivity options on local and collector streets such as Riverside Drive in the San Fernando Valley and 4th Street in Mid-City may be more viable options in the short term and provide proof of concept for the installation of bicycle lanes in neighborhoods that have expressed concerns with their installation. Making sure we’re doing the necessary outreach, engaging in a robust public education/information campaign and gathering input from the community at large is very important to me.
5. Please respond to the following questions regarding specific CD4 corridors with known safety issues:
5A. Bike lanes on Rowena Ave. and Silver Lake Blvd. both terminate at Glendale Blvd., leaving a dangerous gap between these lanes and the L.A. River Path. Despite L.A.’s future plans for revitalization of the Los Angeles River, there are no bike lanes that access the entire segment of the L.A. River Path between Elysian Valley and Glendale. What will you do as councilmember to actively push for bike lanes on Glendale Blvd. and Fletcher Dr. to provide families with safe access by bike to the L.A. River Path?
The revitalization of the Los Angeles River provides us with a tremendous opportunity to connect communities, cultures and build a healthier, more sustainable Los Angeles. Which is why I allocated $500K in October 2015 for the construction of the De Anza Bike Path along the LA River and seeks to create a contiguous bike path along the banks of the LA River. Further, as Chair of the City’s Health, Education, Neighborhoods, Parks, Arts and River Committee, it’s my goal to lead that discussion and usher in investments that connect Angelenos to the River in a variety of ways. Connectivity from Rowena Ave. and Silverlake Blvd. to the Los Angeles River continues to be a concern for me and Glendale Blvd. and Fletcher Dr. provide us with good options to close those gaps. I’m committed to doing the necessary community outreach, engaging in a robust public education/information campaign gathering input from the community at large and closing the gaps that exist in the network between Rowena Ave. and Silver Lake Blvd. and the LA River.
5B. Despite unanimous support from the Mid City West Community Council for a road diet on 6th Street to provide an important connection to LACMA and to West Hollywood, and in response to 3 fatalities on the street over 5 years, the office of Council District 4 opted instead for a modest plan that added left turn pockets at one intersection. Will you implement the LADOT-recommended road diet?
First, even one fatality or potential for a fatal accident, is something we want to eliminate, and my thoughts are with all the families and friends of those who have been injured or killed in traffic related collisions on our streets.
It’s tremendously important, however, that we’re all working with the same information when having these discussions. The “road diet” proposal for 6th Street between Fairfax and La Brea didn’t come from the Department of Transportation. The proposal originated with members of the Mid City West Community Council’s Transportation Committee who asked a DOT traffic engineer about its viability. It was indicated that it was an option the Department could evaluate and the Community Council reached out to my office and requested that DOT implement the lane reconfiguration.
My office contacted senior traffic engineers at the Department to explore the proposal. We obtained collision data for the corridor, received descriptions of the circumstances surrounding the three fatalities, reviewed the most recent speed surveys and engaged the wider community in the discussion. My staff and I walked this section of 6th Street with senior DOT traffic engineers on three separate occasions to evaluate the existing road conditions, configuration, and the circumstances surrounding each of the aforementioned fatalities.
Data showed a disproportionate number of vehicle collisions occurring at 6th Street and Hauser, 6th Street and Cochran, and 6th Street and La Brea. Two of the fatalities occurred at 6th and Hauser, one being the result of an unsafe left turn onto northbound Hauser and the other when a cyclist was struck by a driver making a left turn onto southbound Hauser. The third fatality at 6th and Spaulding occurred when a pedestrian was attempting to access the Tar Pits Park and was struck by a vehicle travelling east on 6th. The most recent speed survey indicated that the 85th percentile speed along this stretch of 6th is consistent with the existing posted speed limit.
My office released a survey and hosted an open house along with DOT to get feedback on a series of potential changes, including the proposed road diet. We received more than 700 responses from community members, 63% of whom opposed the installation of a road diet. The Department of Transportation with support from my office subsequently implemented a series of improvements that were a direct response to the types of accidents we had been seeing. Additionally, my office has identified funding and is working with the Department of Transportation, and Bureaus of Street Services and Street Lighting to install a signalized crosswalk at 6th and Spaulding which should be coming online very soon.
I will always remain open to good ideas that improve the safety of CD 4 residents, including the proposed road diet for 6th Street, but like the improvements that have already been made, these solutions need to be rooted in and supported by available data and evidence. The “road diet” is just one tool in the Department’s tool box to make our streets safer, and they should be considered when speed is determined to be a factor in traffic collisions. Once again, it’s my job to represent all stakeholders in CD 4 and any traffic improvements or road reconfigurations deserve to be evaluated by the wider community and should be the most effective solution to the types of collisions we’re seeing.
5C. Hyperion Ave. was recently the site of a horrific crash that took the life of local grandmother, Cristina Garcia. Citing the unsafe conditions of Hyperion, the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council has repeatedly called for safety improvements to this street, which LADOT has determined is part of the High Injury Network. Speed is the predominant factor in determining whether a crash is deadly. Would you support a road diet reconfiguration of Hyperion Ave. to reduce speeding and improve the safety of pedestrians, people on bikes, and turning drivers?
The tragic collision and fatality that occurred on January 16, 2019 on Hyperion Ave. was truly unfortunate. After hearing of the accident, my office reached out to LAPD and LADOT to inquire about the circumstances of the collision and any mitigations that could be put in place to prevent accidents like this in the future. Both LAPD and LADOT determined that a driver travelling at unsafe speeds in wet conditions was the primary cause of the collision, and on March 29, 2019 I sent a letter to LADOT reiterating the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council’s concerns and formally requesting recommendations for safety improvements on Hyperion Blvd.
LADOT and LAPD recommended a series of short-term improvements, including pedestrian only phasing at the intersection of Fountain Ave. and Effie St., continental crosswalks at Fountain Ave. and Hyperion Ave, all-way stops at multiple intersections, and my office provided funding for speed feedback signs on Hyperion Ave., among other improvements. But these are merely short-term mitigations. My office will be working with LADOT and the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council to form a Hyperion Ave. Traffic Safety working group to identify and implement solutions to the most critical safety issues. If it is determined that road diet is the most effective solution to keep residents and road users safe, then I’ll work to earn the support of the wider community and implement the reconfiguration.
6. Over the past year, we have seen increased use of privately owned and shared mobility electric scooters throughout Los Angeles. What role do you see for this emerging transportation technology, and how can the City of Los Angeles act to ensure safe mobility for all road users during a time when many Angelenos are making shifts in their mobility choices?
I’ve been working to identify opportunities for the City to prepare for and roll out new multi-modal technologies since taking office. In September 2016, I introduced a motion instructing the Department of Transportation to report back to the City Council on benefits of implementing an ‘autonomous transit’ city through the use of self-driving cars, buses, and shuttles, and the steps that should be taken to prepare for the arrival of autonomous vehicles. And in October 2017, I introduced a motion instructing LADOT to develop a regulatory framework and permit process for a dockless vehicle program in Los Angeles and in collaboration with LADOT developed the shared mobility pilot in operation on our streets today.
I try to be realistic in my assessments of LA’s transportation future and I understand that point-to-point public transportation is a very distant possibility. Privately owned and shared mobility options are going to be essential pieces of our City’s transportation infrastructure. As Angelenos become more comfortable with shared mobility options and more frequent users of dockless vehicles the City will need to develop rules and regulations and invest in the infrastructure required to keep riders safe. This should include building out the bicycle enhanced network envisioned in the Mobility Plan 2035, addressing connectivity issues in the system and where possible enhancing existing bike lanes with additional protections – curb running lanes, buffered lanes and bollard protected lanes, among others.
I’m looking forward to continuing to lead this conversation in the years to come and building out a multi-modal network that is safe for all road users and enhances the quality of life for the residents of CD 4.