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Attention Peninsula: See Vehicle Lane Erasing Road Diet About To Be Implemented On Ocean Blvd. From 54th-72nd Place; City Traffic Engineers Field Residents' Questions, Councilwoman Price Explains Why She Supports It (Hear AUDIO)

Councilwoman Price asks residents to give it chance for 6-8 months, says if she gets "overwhelming" response that it's a disaster and residents absolutely don't like it, it can be changed back is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(March 24, 2017. 12:25 p.m.) -- Roughly fifty people attended a March 23 meeting organized by Councilwoman Suzie Price at which city traffic engineers displayed, explained City Hall's reasoning and fielded questions on the upcoming implementation of new configuration for Ocean Blvd. The "road diet" -- intended to slow traffic for safety reasons -- will eliminate one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction and replace the erased vehicle lanes with bikeways along the entire length of the Peninsula to 72nd Place.

Power Point slides displayed at the meeting (held at Fire Station 14) indicated the result would look like this:

[Scroll down for further]

City staff slide displayed at Mar. 23 meeting

City staff slide displayed at Mar. 23 meeting

The changes will be implemented in the coming days by restriping/repainting the roadway, effectively extending the "road diet" (actual traffic management term) implemented in late 2016 and early 2017 along Ocean Blvd. from Livingston Dr. to 54th Place. Diagonal parking was added on the south side of Ocean Blvd. between Livingston-54th Place (producing about 150 new parking spaces) but parallel parking will remain on the Peninsula.



City traffic engineers recommended the changes to Ocean Blvd., citing a need to slow traffic for safety reasons, and the changes are supported by Councilwoman Price. Near the end of the meeting, a resident asked bluntly if the matter would be put to a public vote...and Councilwoman Price responded at some length. Speaking extemporaneously, Councilwoman Price acknowledged the issue won't have a public vote, and explained how and why she reached her conclusion to support the recommended road change, ending with this:

Councilwoman Price: My commitment to all of you, and this is only as good as my word, but my commitment to all of you is that this is a job that's going to take place with paint, OK, and if after six to eight months you feel that it's a disaster, you feel you absolutely don't like it, I will be listening to you...If we get an overwhelming request to repaint the road and make it the way it currently is, we will do that. We have set that money aside. The only thing I would ask is that you give it six to eight months...Please give it a chance; we don't make traffic decisions in this city by vote...[Says she spoke in detail to city traffic engineers who apply traffic science, she says they told her they feel strongly this will be good for the Peninsula]...If it's a disaster, I promise you...I will repaint the road [restore the previous condition], just give me six months. Give me six months and let's talk about it. Put a note in your calendar in six months saying 'Call Suzie' and tell me what you think about the road diet, six months after it's implemented, OK? And we will take it from there as a community but change is hard and I get it, and it just is, but let's just give it a try. OK? That's all I ask of you guys." [applause]

City staff slide displayed at Mar. 23 meeting

For on-demand audio of Councilwoman Price's full statement (roughly four and a half minutes), click here.

City traffic engineers said results on the Ocean Blvd. section between Livingston and 54t5h Place have reduced speeds (a show-of-hands by audience members agreed) while only increasing average travel time by about 15 seconds (an audience member disagreed, saying she's seen traffic backing up, see below), reduced free flow speed by about 10% and improved traffic "pace."


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The biggest issue raised by residents at the meeting wasn't the road diet; it was bicycles, with multiple residents saying bicyclists (adults, not children) are riding recklessly, endangering themselves and pedestrians, risking collisions with vehicles and violating various traffic laws. (There appeared to be room consensus on this, with no audible disagreement by meeting attendees.)

A city staffer separately noted that the Ocean Blvd. road diet wasn't an excuse for extending bike lanes; it was implemented on its merits...and added that it's hoped bicycle riders will use the bike lane to avoid encounters with pedestrians. Councilwoman Price said the City is implementing bicycle infrastructure citywide, calling it part of a "movement" nationally.

LBPD's East Division Commander said it has a bicycle educational campaign for young people and adults and always does "a campaign at the beginning of the summer on 2nd St. where we do more enforcement and education on bicycles," but noted that LBPD has limited resources and deploys them as needed, adding "there's a lot of other places in the city that are asking for the same resources that you're asking for."

Opinions on the vehicle lane-erasure were split, with some residents supportive (one explicitly commended Councilwoman Price for "a well thought out solution to improving safety for both pedestrians and vehicles and exiting side streets onto Ocean Blvd.") while others voiced skepticism and cited various reasons for their doubts and opposition. City staff responded to each issue..but some responses left some audience members unpersuaded (quietly shaking their heads "no.")



What about rapid fire and police access in emergencies? An LBFD rep said the Department had thoroughly examined the design and noted that the space itself has not been reduced and the single lane of traffic has the ability to move over towards the bicycle lane. With the buffer toward the middle "we didn't see any concerns and maybe we even see this as a better solution because you do have one lane of traffic as opposed to two trying to get over into the same space at times and we know the congestion that can we see no concerns regards to our response times getting to you." LBPDs East Division Commander said, "Ditto; our cars are smaller than theirs, and if theirs can fit, ours can fit."


What about resident-attested traffic backing up in some places for one-to-two blocks? A city traffic engineer said he doesn't think that happens on a regular basis, acknowledging it could happen during holidays and special events but not regularly; the resident disputed this; the staffer replied they'll take a look at this.

What about summertime, special events and the crowds they bring? A city traffic staffer acknowledged summertime and event issues but said Ocean Blvd. has to be designed for the entire year. Councilwoman Price expressed empathy for residents, acknowledged that July 3rd and 4th are "horrendous" and "my advice would be try not to drive on those days if you live on the Peninsula," noting that "it's a very popular place and it's public beach and we can't keep the public from going there; whether it's two lanes or one lane it's just a horrific time...I have friends who live on the Peninsula who are on the bikes those two days completely because it's such a pain to travel in the cars."

A city events staffer said her office has worked to move out many of the events that had overgrown the area and "90% of those have been moved to downtown." The events staffer said she expects this year's Tiki Festival to be the biggest area event this year and her office has worked with public works and fire to see if we need to eliminate parking that day to have two traffic lanes in order to get the traffic moving, adding her office will do everything in its power to be good to residents.

The Peninsula Ocean Blvd. changes are expected to be implemented in the coming days and weeks.

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