Blame It On Westside Traffic

Here’s a crazy idea to add six more lanes to the flow of West to East traffic in rush hour:

Make Pico and Olympic one-way streets during peak hours.

In reading my Transit Coalition newsletter, I ran across a blurb on the subject, which linked to this Steve Lopez column in the Times. LA County supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, tired of being caught in the traffic himself, has asked traffic engineers to look into the possibility of making those two streets one-way only, east to west in the morning and west to east in the evening. It’s been done before in L.A. – but I believe the last major street to be tested was Wilshire Blvd in the 50s (correct me if I’m wrong, please.)

Lopez also ends the piece with a comment about how Westside traffic is now so horrendous that it’s a catch-all excuse for everything. I find myself using the east-to-west traffic flow as an excuse myself, too, as I’ve found that my new 7.7mi commute from SiFi to Beverly Hills is 15 minutes longer than my 8.4mi commute from Venice Beach was.

Provided citizens are able to figure out the one-way streets, and no one pulls a Nicole Richie on them, what’s your opinion on these two major arteries being used as one way, six lane streets in rush hour?

16 Replies to “Blame It On Westside Traffic”

  1. At this point if you suggested traffic would improve if we all wore bags of boiled peanuts stapled to our nipples I would go for it.

    I think that the E/W Olympic/Pico idea is a great one, but I don’t think it will ever get off the ground. (It took *years* just to get a left turn arrow installed on the corner of Sepulveda and Santa Monica and that was a no-brainer.)

  2. It’s a very bad idea. Such massive one-way streets will work for a while and then will quickly fill to capacity. In the few years that these streets will move quickly they will essentially be high speed freeways cutting through residential neighborhoods causing blight, pedestrian fatalities, childhood asthma and all the other things that go with living next to a freeway. They will also be bad for businesses on these streets–would you want your small shop on the side of the 10 freeway?

    This city needs vision–the only solution to our transportation problems is to get people out of their cars and on to public transit. Instead of widening or making streets one way, we need to take away lanes, install dedicated busways (like the Orange Line) or light rail. We need to make our streets more amenable to walking and cycling as well.

    It will take immense political courage to take away lanes from cars. But it’s the only way in the long run. There are simply too many people here now for the personal automobile to be the only means of transportation. No amount of one way streets, signal timing or street widening can fix the problem.

  3. This makes so much sense that I would vote for YOU over some smiling politician any day of the year! I work in Beverly Hills but live in Glassell Park. I too have lots CAPSLOCK ON OPINIONS about the cross town traffic.

    I think the rush hour parking limits could extend an extra hour. A lot of times, for example, heading south on Crescent Heights, cars park along the street starting as early as 8:45 and yet, people are still commuting. I think a lot of those parking areas (especially in a residential neighborhoods where parking demand may not be super necessary during the day) could be from 7-10 AM and not 7 to 9.

  4. I agree with Henry. There should be some kind of significant cost for driving. This is because we’ve seen that the incentives for commuting via public transportation don’t really change much.

    But it’s such a messy problem that I would hesitate to implement that kind of system immediately. What I’ve seen with ever-increasing gas prices is that people complain a lot, but they deal with it. Most East-West commuters could buy a $400 bike and cut their commute time in half. But they don’t. They complain about the traffic but cope with it.

    And I think that funneling people into public transportation only works as well as our public transportation does. It would be beneficial to invest in improving the public transportation system in L.A. (which I believe the local government is trying to do), but it’s pointless if people don’t use the new systems.

  5. I believe Cleveland, OH has a system like this where certain streets are one way at peak hours and two way at off hours.

    Personally, I think just making them one way all the time would be the best solution.

    I don’t think that the pollution issues Mr. Bliss pointed out may be negated by the fact that the cars will actually be moving instead of idling. As for the pedestrian fatalities, yes, increased speeds would also be an issue to contend with but I see more pedestrians doing stupid things in the stop & go traffic (jaywalking between slow & go traffic).

    I don’t think making the streets one way will be to the detriment of the existing businesses, so long as they have available parking.

    My impression was that the one way was a short-term solution while some other light rail/subway system was under construction.

  6. People will switch to public transit when they are sitting hopelessly stuck in traffic and see a train or busway vehicle speed past them. Right now if you take the bus you are stuck in traffic with everybody else.

    Incidentally, I make the east-west commute by bicycle, mostly along 4th street. During rush hour it’s faster than driving.

  7. Take the far right and left lanes and make those bus only lanes while the rest is one way, make it one way during the morning/evening rush and prohibit parking at those times, it might work.

    I did note this morning that much of the WB Olympic morning mess is a result of the Beverly/Beverwill/Olympic intersection.

  8. And if I lived in the neighborhoods between Olympic and Pico, I’d be raising six kinds of hell about this idea. Overland is already a dangerous gridlocked disaster between the two. Unless there are specified cross streeets between Olympic and Pico — say only Beverly Glen, Westwood, Sepulveda, Sawtelle, Barrington, etc. — and none whatsoever on the residential streets, this plan would be in court for years, as it should be.

  9. Why not make one of them one way East all the time and the other one way West all the time instead of switching things around a couple times a day. I mean we are talking about people that can’t figure out how to use a tun signal, you think they’ll be able to figure out what street goes which direction at what time??

  10. I actually agree that putting the time/effort into attacking the problem at its source is a better use than this, and that devoting a lane to buses (or building an Orange Line style track) would be a better answer. No matter how many freeways or one-ways or express streets there are, there will always be traffic & gridlock.

    However, the one-way street system was active in Dallas when I lived there in ’99 – ’00, and it seemed to work. And if they can make it work without major accidents every day, then I think L.A. drivers can. There are some stupid and crazy drivers here, but NOTHING compared with Dallas.

  11. What about the west to east traffic! 6 miles takes me over an hour every night! And as to one of the comments above about use of residential streets, just last night I watched MTA buses going through the back streets of Beverly Hills because everyone was at their usual complete standstill on Sunset. It’s out of control. Start a congestion charge You want or need to drive in and out of the Westside then you pay every day $5. It works in London why not here apart from the obvious lack of any useful public transportation system. I bet a lot more people would carpool or take the bus or redlines if they made you pay.

  12. Looks like I am going to have to cut-and-paste this statement.

    The Westside doesn’t have RAIL transit; it has a very well used and very frequent BUS system.

    Buses are public transportation, whether anyone likes that fact or not.

  13. I believe “useful” transportation system was specified…few of the route out there are easy to coordinate and use because many are supposed to be supplemented by Santa Monica or Culver City systems. it doesn’t always line up right.

  14. I believe “useful” transportation system was specified…

    Objectively, the bus lines the Westside has are well used. Metro’s downtown-to-ocean routes (2/302, 4/304, 18/20/21/720, 33/333) all carry over 30,000 boardings, and would be qualified for rail service. Santa Monica’s leg of Pico Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard each carry over 12,000 boardings apiece, and Culver City’s Line 6 may have crossed the 10,000 threshold as well.

    few of the route out there are easy to coordinate

    Buses follow the street grid.

    and use because many are supposed to be supplemented by Santa Monica or Culver City systems.

    It’s the other way around. Santa Monica and Culver City have the right to operate service in the Westside, within their own cities and on the routes outside of their city limits. The cities can kick out Metro service if they wish.

  15. This is a great idea — provided that the lights are timed properly and the timing is switched when the roads become one-way. And if you did that, you wouldn’t need two streets. One would probably be enough.

    Without the light timing changes, it won’t work.

    The same thing should be done with one or two streets running parallel to the 101 in the Van Nuys, Studio City area in the Valley.

    One way streets that move, with properly timed lights that turn green just as you get to them, is something Angelenos can’t imagine. But it works in other cities and it could easily work here.

    And it would be awfully cheap to implement, compared to the fortunes that are currently being spent on far less effective strategies.

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