La Brea Hancock resident Jennifer Rojas is afraid to let her children play in their front yard. She lives at the corner of 6th Street and Mansfield Avenue, where car accidents are practically a daily occurrence. A few years after they moved in, the Rojases decided they needed a barrier to keep cars from entering their front yard, so they constructed a low wall around their house. We met Jen and Jason a year ago, right after two serious accidents occurred on one weekend.
Since then, we have been reporting on Rojas’ efforts and those of her neighbors in La Brea Hancock to slow down traffic on 6th Street, through the four block stretch from La Brea to Highland Avenue that runs through their neighborhood.
And recently, they’ve made some progress. Earlier month the group met on Zoom to listen to some options for improvements City of LA Department of Transportation officials offered to make 6th Street safer for those who live in the neighborhood.
Explaining that drivers typically drive faster on open streets, LADOT officials proposed a reconfiguration of the street, reducing the traffic to one lane, which would require cars to slow down. The former second lane could be repurposed for bike paths, including a curb for landscaping that would beautify the street and make walking on the sidewalks feel safer.
Rojas explained that 6th Street is an ideal candidate for road reconfiguration because it runs primarily through residential neighborhoods and it is located near other roads like 3rd Street, Beverly Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard which are designed to move more traffic. Rojas added that making 6th Street more walkable would also help support local businesses on La Brea by making it easier to walk there. And right now, most residents admitted they are afraid to walk on 6th Street. One neighbor, Philip Messina, said he’s lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years and never walks on 6th Street.
Rojas shared some data provided by LADOT about Rowena Avenue in Los Feliz, an example of a successful road reconfiguration that reduced speed and crashes, and increased bike usage as well as pedestrian activity to local businesses.
Other residents on the Zoom call were also excited about the possibility of making 6th Street safer and more attractive with the addition of new street trees and bike lanes, as well as the installation of speed tables, another idea proposed by LADOT. Last fall, LADOT officials had nixed the idea of speed tables saying there was too much traffic on the street. In fact, a year ago there was very little DOT was willing to do…but circumstances have clearly changed.
Rojas isn’t exactly sure what accounts for the change in attitude. It could be the pandemic, which completely changed traffic patterns and invited more creative thinking about making city streets more for people and less for cars or strong support from Councilmember Raman’s office. Whatever the reason, Rojas said she is excited to have some options now that could really make life in her neighborhood a lot safer.
Rojas and her neighbors also said they want to reach out to even more La Brea Hancock residents and start educating them about the options and build support for the road reconfiguration. They also want to reach out to Hancock Park residents as well, since LADOT would eventually like to reconfigure more than just La Brea Hancock’s four-block stretch of 6th Street. Ideally, they said, they’d like to reduce traffic lanes on 6th Street starting from Fairfax Avenue on the west and moving all the way to Rossmore Avenue on the east.
Past efforts to reduce traffic lanes on 6th Street west of La Brea have been very controversial, however, with some residents in favor and others vehemently opposed. The Buzz has been writing about efforts to make 6th Street safer since our founding 10 years ago. But maybe, the time has come, in this sort of late-pandemic period, where more people work from home and everyone has enjoyed less traffic for a time.
So Rojas and her neighbors are going to find out. They are working on a survey to find out what their neighbors would be willing to support. When it’s ready, we will share it with Buzz readers so more neighbors get a chance to give their opinion.
The change in attitude is due to the new councilperson Nithya Raman. Thank you Nithya! David Ryu was very anti-bike lane and anything that would upset a portion of his constituents.