Monday, November 9, 2009

Dangerous by Design: LA-LB-Santa Ana's Unsafe Streets


Deborah Murphy, Founder

Los Angeles Walks


Alternate contact:

Damien Newton


Los Angeles –Long Beach-Santa Ana Metro Area Is The Third Most Dangerous Place to Cross the Street of any Metro Area in the County. Yet It Lags Behind on Funding Safe Streets Ranking 48th of 52 Ranked Regions in Spending to Protect Pedestrians. Ranks 27th in Nation for Preventable Pedestrian Deaths

Los Angeles Walks urges Senator Boxer, Chair of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and our Congressional Delegation to Support Increased Focus on Pedestrian Safety in Upcoming Federal Legislation

LOS ANGELES, CA. Los Angeles –Long Beach-Santa Ana Metro Area is among the most dangerous communities in the nation for pedestrians, ranking third in the percentage of crashes involving pedestrians and 27th out of the 52 largest metro areas in total pedestrian safety, a new report shows. Unfortunately, the report also shows that our Metro area shows the least political will to correct the problem, ranking in the bottom 10% when it comes to spending funds to protect the most vulnerable road users.

The report, Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods), ranks America’s major metropolitan areas and states according to a Pedestrian Danger Index that assesses how safe they are for walking. An update of the 2004 Mean Streets report, Dangerous by Design was released by Transportation for America ( and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership.

The report authors note that most pedestrian deaths are preventable, because they occur on streets that are designed to encourage speeding traffic and lack safe sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian signals and other protections. Fixing these problems is a matter of will on the part of state departments of transportation and local communities, and of shifting spending priorities, the report concludes.

The report also examined how states and localities are spending federal money that could be used to make the most dangerous streets safer, and found that Los Angeles –Long Beach-Santa Ana Metro Area ranks 48th, spending (only) $0.45 per person. Yet, 26.99% of traffic deaths in the metro area are pedestrians, making the metro area the 3rd highest rating location in the nation. This percentage is particularly high since only 2.7% of the population walks to work


“Los Angeles is where we are in the rankings because we are not investing to protect our citizens from speeding traffic as well as designing and building livable streets in our neighborhoods,” said Deborah Murphy, Founder of Los Angeles Walks, “Be it the horrific crash that claimed the lives of two USC students after one was drug for almost 200 yards, or the case of a commuter being slammed by a city-bus in a crosswalk downtown; there are too many crashes every year that point to a dangerous system in need of real investment.”

Unfortunately, these types of crashes are all-too frequent. Just last night, a pedestrian was killed by a car while legally crossing the street in a crosswalk in Long Beach.

While walking conditions remain perilous across the country, many communities are working to make their streets safe and welcoming for people on foot or bicycle, the report shows. Communities across the country are beginning to reverse the dangerous legacy of 50 years of anti-pedestrian policies by retrofitting or building new roads as “complete streets” that are safer for walking and bicycling as well as motorists.

The City of Los Angeles has made important progress with new policies and strategies, like the new Downtown Street Standards, however they have yet to implement these policies and standards to make our streets safer for pedestrians, as well as creating more livable streets for our communities. Other cities in Los Angeles County, such as the City of Santa Monica, have aggressive programs and projects that address pedestrian safety issues as well as promoting more walking to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and improve the health and welfare of the residents, employees and visitors in Santa Monica. Other cities could learn a lot from Santa Monica and make the streets of our metro area safer and more livable.

One small step the City of Los Angeles could make immediately is setting aside a portion of its Measure R Local Return funds for bicycle and pedestrian safety. The City Council Transportation Committee is set to vote on how to spend it’s portion of the county-wide transit tax on November 18.


“Here in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana Metro area, we could be saving lives and encouraging more residents to engage in healthy levels of activity by investing in sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic calming and other safety measures,” said Ms. Murphy. “However, in many cases we are hampered by local, state and federal policies that continue to promote dangerous conditions.”

“As Congress prepares to rewrite the nation’s transportation law, this report is yet another wake-up call showing why it is so urgent to update our policies and spending priorities,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America.

Los Angeles Walks encourages our Senator Boxer to make certain that any transportation funding bill sets aside a significant portion of funds to make our streets safer.

Under the current federal transportation bill, less than 1.5 percent of available funds nationally are directed toward pedestrian safety, although pedestrians account for nearly 12 percent of all traffic deaths and 9 percent of total trips. Between 2007 and 2008, more than 700 children under the age of 15 were killed walking.

Seven organizations served on the steering committee for this report, working closely with T4 America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. These organizations include the American Public Health Association, AARP, Smart Growth America, America Bikes, America Walks, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the National Complete Streets Coalition.



Los Angeles Walks is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to promoting an awareness of the metropolitan area as a network of interesting, walkable neighborhoods, and to foster the development of safe and vibrant environments for all pedestrians.


Transportation for America is a broad coalition of housing, environmental, equal opportunity, public health, urban planning, transportation and other organizations focused on creating a 21st century national transportation program. The coalition’s goal is to build a modernized infrastructure and healthy communities where people can live, work and play by aligning national, state and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 10th Testimony to LA City Council

The following testimony was delivered by Damien Newton to the City Council concerning the potential closure of one of the Ballona Creek Trail Entrances.

Good afternoon, my name is Damien Newton, and I am testifying on behalf of LA Walks, a 10 year old pedestrian advocacy group for the Greater Los Angeles area.

We believe that closing this entrance for Ballona Creek is a mistake. In our research, we've found no instances where restricting access to a trail has resulted in lower crime in an area. We also believe that closing an entrance/exit will make the trail dangerous for those who use the trail as a walking trail. While one can argue a cyclist would have an advantage to speed away from danger towards the nearest exit, the walker will have no speed advantage that the cyclist might have.

Eyes on the street is our best way of providing safety in a neighborhood or along a path like Ballona Creek. Without the eyes of pedestrians and cyclists along the path, criminal activity can occur unnoticed.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Testimony to Metro Board on LRTP and Proposed Sales Tax Increase; 6/26/08

Good morning. My name is Damien Newton, and while many of you know me from Streetsblog, today I am here to speak on behalf of LA Walks. LA Walks is a 10 year old pedestrian advocacy group that promotes walkability in metro LA.

While there are many people here supporting a variety of different worthwhile projects, no matter what gets built or not built everyone in this room will still all be pedestrians at some point during the day. However despite some nice sounding language in the Long Range Transportation Plan about the value of walking there is too little actual funding dedicated towards pedestrian projects...less than 1% of the total plan. That number should be increased because after all, every Metro customer who takes the bus or train is also a pedestrian at the start and end of their trip.

Also, too many of the funds appropriated for pedestrian projects are difficult to access federal funds which have many restrictions. Metro should program more funds from Propositions A and B for improving sidewalks, crosswalks, transit facilities, and other amenities for walkers.

Lastly, there are no monies from the sales tax dedicated to pedestrian projects which is odd because walking is the one mode of transportation that everyone utilizes on a daily basis. We believe the funds generated by such a tax, if it passes, should benefit all members of LA County. The best way to do that is to embrace the mode of transportation that we all use.

As time goes on, Angelenos are becoming less and less dependent on the automobile for transit. No matter how much technology improves, we’ll all still be reliant on our feet.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008