Focusing In on Vision Zero

Cyclist and Pedestrian Injury Rates from 2013 through 2018


By David Galt

May 2, 2019

Recently, I was reading Peter Flax’s amazing article in Bicycling Magazine updating us on what has happened in the year since Frederick “Woon” Frazier was killed in a hit-and-run riding from his home in South Central. I never knew Woon although I had ridden with his club, Chief Lunes on occasion. It got me thinking that I should use my experience as a GIS analyst to at least shine some light on how the City of Los Angeles is not improving when it comes to the safety of its citizens on its public streets.

Ten years ago, I was creating crash maps and injury reports to assist New York City DOT's Bike and Pedestrian unit in what became a period of renaissance for biking in the city. Other U.S. cities including Portland, Minneapolis, Chicago, and San Francisco have made the improvements and been rewarded with large declines in injury rates. Los Angeles has not. We deserve better. Woon and all the victims of our political leader's complacency deserved better. We are now more than four years into the Vision Zero goal of reducing the number of fatalities and serious injuries to 0 by 2025, so now seems like a good time to analyze our progress toward that goal.

Below I have created scatterplot graphs for each City Council district that show the number of injuries to cyclists and pedestrians each month over the last 6 years, in each Council District and then finally for the city as a whole. Each graph includes a trendline showing (in most cases) the decline or stagnation resulting from the city’s half-hearted improvements. While the media often focuses on fatalities, injuries paint a truer picture of the health of our streets simply because they are far greater in number--and thus more statistically significant. In the final graph that shows the numbers for the whole city, you’ll note that there are more than 400 reported cyclist and pedestrian injuries each month in the city. Think about that, 400! More than 10 reported per day. More than 5,000 a year. This is the cost of not following the clear example of other cities who are no better or more deserving than us.

Each dot below represents 1 of 72 months over the span of the 6 year period. The numbers on the left indicate the number of injuries that occurred to cyclists and pedestrians during that month.

1

 
Injuries
  up

Northeast Los Angeles and Northwest Downtown are Gil Cedillo’s domain. Cedillo is famous for stepping in and stopping safety improvements to his district. His efforts have resulted in ever-increasing injury rates.

Median household income: $38,674

Pop:236,932

2

 ↓
Injuries
down

Eastern and southeastern portions of the San Fernando Valley and parts of the Crescenta Valley have improved. The change is modest, but as you’ll see below even slight improvements are rare.

Median household income: $55,024

Pop:252,256

3


  No significant

 change

District 3 in southwestern San Fernando Valley is not the worst district for cyclists, but like the rest of LA, it is not getting better.

Median household income: $65,860

Pop:264,356

4

 
Injuries
  up

Ditto for Ryu’s district covering neighborhoods in central Los Angeles, the southern San Fernando Valley, and eastern Santa Monica Mountains.


Median household income: $58,888

Pop:248,331

5

 
Injuries
  up

Westside, central-eastern Santa Monica Mountains, and central-southern San Fernando Valley have seen a steady increase in injury accidents.

Median household income: $64,545

Pop: 264,851

6

 
Injuries
down

Central and eastern San Fernando Valley seem to be heading in the right direction, albeit very slowly.

Median household income: $47,494

Pop: 258,000

7

 
Injuries
  up

Northeastern San Fernando Valley has low injury numbers relative to the rest of LA, but much like the rest of LA, they are trending up and not in a good way.


Median household income: $53,662

Pop: 260,030

8

 
Injuries
  up

District 8 is where Woon was struck and killed. Western South Los Angeles, like 9, its neighboring district east of the 110 has a high and increasing rate of injuries.

Median household income: $30,990

Pop: 250,222

9

 
Injuries
  up

Price’s district located (mostly) under the 10 in South Los Angeles is the most dangerous district in the city to cross the street and is getting worse.


Median household income: $28,883

Pop: 265,957

10

 

    No significant

 change

Wesson’s district that includes Koreatown, Central LA to West Adams, is almost as hazardous for humans not in cars as its South LA neighbors to the east.

Median household income: $36,234

Pop: 244,937

11

 
Injuries
   up

Bonin’s Westside district has had a significant increase during his time in office.

Median household income: $82,596

Pop: 289,385

12

 
Injuries
down

The district in western San Fernando Valley is relatively safe by L.A. standards. Mitch Englander, who represented 12 until last Ocober, once passed a motion to remove bike lanes as a way of having fewer lawsuits against the city, so hopefully the new rep will be better.

Median household income: $66,792

Pop: 284,395

13

 

     No significant

  change

Eric Garcetti’s old district in Central Los Angeles has some of the highest injury rates in the city and has not changed much in the last 6 years.


Median household income: $39,268

Pop: 252,322

14

   

    Injuries
      up

Huizar’s district includes Boyle Heights, Northeast Los Angeles, and Downtown LA. Although injuries are up here over the last 6 years, I am inclined to give him a pass as pedestrian traffic in DTLA has dramatically increased over that period.

Median household income: $38,032

Pop: 236,878

15

 
 Injuries
   up

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Los Angeles Harbor and Shoestring districts show no signs of improvement.

Median household income: $44,302

Pop: 275,487

  LA
       

     Injuries
       up

Eric Garcetti’s time in Los Angeles has seen more than 400 cyclists and pedestrians injured each month on the streets and it’s getting worse.

As you can see from the data, we are not on our way to Vision Zero’s goal of no deaths and major injuries on our streets. In fact, for the vast majority of the city, we are heading in the opposite direction. With few exceptions, the areas with the lowest median household incomes have the highest injury rates, but this is not just a rich/poor issue as injury rates are increasing across the board.

During the course of bike month, I would like to further explore the wealth of data in this file. That could involve creating maps to show problem corridors, revealing the 10 most dangerous intersections in the city of LA, finding where highest incidents of dooring are or exploring whether the increased use of e-bikes has led to increased cases of bike-on-bike collisions. All this may seem like I’m hating on LA, but I really do love Los Angeles, I love biking in it, and I know that it can be better.

All of the information that was used in this report was downloaded from the City of Los Angeles Open Data website.

If you have anything you would like me to show, or explore in this data or any questions or comments feel free to contact me here.

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#mapping #biking #losangeles #safestreets #bikemonth #gis #visionzero