It was a fittingly clear and sunny day in Palms Monday as delegates, advocates and workers alike gathered to celebrate another step in improving transportation options on the Westside.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation and L.A. Metro came together with community members to celebrate the completion and opening of the Venice Boulevard Mobility and Safety Project in Palms on Monday, which is headlined by the introduction of protected and buffered bike lanes and bus-only lanes on key stretches of Venice Boulevard.
Among the highlights of the project is the implementation of a 2.5-mile bus-only lane stretching from National Boulevard to Inglewood Boulevard, with a small stretch between Sepulveda Boulevard and Sawtelle Boulevard being omitted due to its connection with the 405 Freeway.
Plastic bollards and additional parking protection added to the bike lane on Venice Boulevard between National Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard are also part of the project, and other small improvements have been made along the 4.25-mile corridor, including a new left-hand turn signal at Hughes Avenue where Monday’s ceremony was being held.
Los Angeles’s 5th District Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky — who is also on the Metro Board of Directors — noted the high volume of traffic incidents in this particular stretch of Venice Boulevard made the change a necessity.
“This stretch of Venice Boulevard, in particular, has been really dangerous for a really long time,” Yaroslavsky said during her remarks at the ceremony. “Over the past 10 years alone, there have been 1,203 collisions, and 25 percent of those involve people walking or riding a bike.”
Additionally, there has been a nationwide trend of increasing traffic incidents involving pedestrian traffic. The Intelligencer Journal recently released an article exploring this topic as data from the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that “at least” 7,508 people on foot were killed by U.S. drivers in 2022, a 77 percent increase since 2010.
In a practice fitting for the occasion, Yaroslavsky and other speakers at the ceremony — including Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, Interim General Manager of LADOT Connie Llanos, and Palms Neighborhood Council Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Vice-Chair Katrina Kaiser — arrived at the ceremony Monday morning on Metro Line 33, which uses Venice Boulevard for a majority of its route.
The routes which will serve people using this protected bus lane are expected to serve nearly 20,000 bus riders each day. According to survey data, 90 percent of those riders are people of color, and 80 percent do not own or have access to a car.
“Innovation is when need and opportunity connect, and there was definitely a need here,” Wiggins said in her remarks. “[This is] going to change lives.”
In her remarks, Kaiser noted that the Palms Neighborhood Council has been working on the project with LADOT and Metro since 2020, and lauded the success the groups have had in working together.
“This fruitful relationship with the city had honestly been an envy for other neighborhood councils,” Kaiser said.
Even with the immense amount of work put in by LADOT, Metro, and other community advocates, Wiggins admitted that having the political force behind the project was a key factor in the actualization of the project.
“It’s very exciting to have the political will and champion to make sure this project extends through all parts of the city,” Wiggins said.
Yaroslavsky was more than happy to serve that role, expressing her excitement that these lanes have finally come to fruition.
“When I took office in December, this is one of the things I was most looking forward to,” Yaroslavsky said. “This project is the result of years of hard work from a bunch of people — LADOT staff, Metro staff, the Palms Neighborhood Council, Move LA, Streets for All, other community organizations, and riders and users who have advocated hard for it.”
“I am so grateful to each and every one of you who had a hand in bringing us up to this moment.”
Photo by the author.