Council President Martinez Aims to Make Streets Safer for Angelenos

Over the past year, deaths from traffic violence have risen by 20% in Los Angeles, despite city efforts and the global pandemic

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez introduced a motion today with support from local mobility and equity advocates to improve street safety and streamline implementation of the city’s Mobility Plan.

“Time and time again we find that working class communities bear the brunt of the problems our city is facing,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “Residents in these communities deserve justice, and right now, justice is finding solutions to traffic violence that work. Traffic deaths are rising and Angelenos simply cannot wait for safe streets – their lives depend on it.”

In 2015, the City of Los Angeles approved its Mobility Plan 2035, designating an immense network of bus lanes, pedestrian-priority areas, and protected bikeways. It also reinforced the City’s commitment to ending traffic deaths by ratifying Vision Zero.

Today’s motion would direct the City Attorney to prepare a safe streets ordinance based on the Healthy Streets LA Ballot Measure. This would require the city to do improvements listed on the Mobility Plan when streets are resurfaced.

However, Martinez’s motion differentiates from the Healthy Streets Ballot Measure by prioritizing low-income neighborhoods, ensuring proper engagement takes place and integrating broader improvement, such as street lighting, sidewalk repair, and crosswalks. The motion also establishes an equitable local hire program to bring community improvement jobs to these disadvantaged areas.

“People for Mobility Justice commends Council President Martinez for authoring such a forward-thinking motion. The intersectional nature of mobility justice in BIPOC communities requires intersectional solutions”, shared Andres Ramirez, Executive Director for People for Mobility Justice. “The Mobility Plan must be implemented and start at the communities directly impacted by the High Injury Network study.”

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has developed a High Injury Network showing the 6% of Los Angeles’ streets that are the most deadly – causing 70% of deaths and severe injuries. These streets are overwhelmingly located in working-class neighborhoods in South LA, Central LA, and the Northeast San Fernando Valley.

Most transit riders as well as many people killed or hurt by traffic violence while walking or biking are from historically redlined and underinvested neighborhoods,” said Laura Raymond, Director, Alliance for Community Transit - Los Angeles. “Our street, sidewalk and bus infrastructure improvement efforts must advance equity and racial justice and this motion is an exciting step in the right direction.”

Currently, traffic violence is one of the most serious issues affecting Los Angeles. In 2021, 294 people were killed in traffic related accidents, including 132 pedestrians.

“This ordinance is an important step in making sure we deliver safe streets and better infrastructure to all Angelenos,” said John Yi, Executive Director of LA Walks. “It’s time we start treating our sidewalks, pedestrian, and bike infrastructure as the critical assets they are.”

A major barrier to implementing the Mobility Plan has been a lack of coordination amongst the myriad departments that oversee street infrastructure. A key piece of Martinez’s motion is establishing a new Unified Project Coordination Office to streamline the street improvement process and encourage coordination between departments.

Currently the City is facing a backlog where, for example, a department is able to resurface a street, but another department is delayed in implementing an aspect of the Mobility Plan at that time. The Unified Project Coordination Office would be tasked with working with the different departments ensuring a timely completion of projects in the Mobility Plan.

The new Unified Project Coordination Office would also serve as a public-facing liaison, working with community-based organizations to obtain neighborhood input while addressing local concerns, specifically surrounding issues of gentrification and displacement. It would also prioritize transparency, creating an interactive dashboard and mapping tool on a publicly accessible website.

Martinez’s motion was co-presented by Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren Price and Kevin de León.

“We cannot continue to rely on enforcement efforts alone and we must prioritize investments to protect pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians and motorists alike, on the streets they share,” said Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. “Prioritizing these safety improvements when conducting scheduled street improvement projects is just common sense, particularly for communities that far too often find themselves exposed to unsafe streets that result in severe injury and death due to a history of underinvestment in this critical transportation infrastructure.”

“Every day we fail to implement measures for pedestrian, cyclists, and motorists' safety, we put the lives of Angelenos at risk,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “I'd like to thank Council President Martinez for creating urgency, transparency, and priority of these life-saving measures.”

“Today we are taking a leap towards greater equity, accountability and coordination against traffic violence that will lead us to more healthy, livable streets and most importantly save lives,” said Councilmember Curren Price. “While I have focused great attention to adding traffic safety improvements throughout the District 9 community, we must maximize our intentions as a City to protect our most vulnerable by prioritizing our most-impacted, disadvantaged neighborhoods. Our children, families and seniors have suffered enough, far too many of them have had to pay the ultimate price. It’s time we move beyond car dependency and into a more vibrant and inclusive City that puts the safety of pedestrians front and center.”

“Reenvisioning our streets to improve safety is critical, especially in light of fatalities and injuries that continue to skyrocket and are disproportionately greater in poor communities of color,” said Councilmember Kevin de León. “This motion will make certain that moving forward, all street improvements will be implemented under the Mobility Plan 2035 to make our streets safer for everyone who uses them.”

Click here to read the motion.