Mar Vista council votes to support Venice Boulevard lane reduction—for now

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At a packed meeting Tuesday, the Mar Vista Community Council voted against asking the city to restore a small stretch of Venice Boulevard to six lanes of traffic amid protests from residents opposed to recent pedestrian-oriented changes along the thoroughfare.

Instead, the council voted in favor of continuing the Venice Boulevard Pilot Project for another six months while analyzing data in order to fully understand its effects.

The project launched in May and has replaced a lane of traffic on each side of the street between Beethoven Avenue and Inglewood Boulevard with protected and buffered bike lanes. Four new pedestrian crossings have also been added, along with more visible crosswalks and signals that give walkers a head-start over drivers when the light changes.

As Streetsblog LA reports, bike and pedestrian advocates in attendance at the meeting argued that the changes have made the street safer and will cut down on traffic deaths and injuries.

Others argued the project has worsened commute times and caused confusion for drivers. An online petition started by opponents of the project goes so far as to say the changes could make the community less safe by encouraging drivers to take shortcuts through residential neighborhoods and slowing down emergency vehicles.

In a release, Councilmember Mike Bonin, who has been a strong advocate for lane reconfigurations here and elsewhere, notes that he has heard both from community members who support the project and those who oppose it, but that the response has mainly been positive.

“[E]verywhere I go,” Bonin says, “people approach me offering support and encouragement for the project, urging us to continue.”

The councilmember will host an open house with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation on July 22 at Windward School between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. to review data and discuss the project further.

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