Criticism that a so-called “road diet” on Broadway has led to more dangerous driving conditions is unfounded, public safety personnel said Monday at a press conference, citing traffic collision data over the past few months.
From mid-April to the end of June, police said there have been 19 collisions in the area of Broadway between Alamitos and Redondo avenues. Of those, nine took place on Broadway, the other 10 occurred on the north-south avenues off Broadway, said Long Beach Police Cmdr. Rudy Komisza.
The five-year average for collisions in that two-and-a-half-month period on the east-west portion of Broadway is 11, he said.
Of the recent collisions reported to police, one involved a pedestrian, one involved a bicycle, five involved parked cars being hit and four were suspected drunk drivers, officials said.
The commander said the changes to the street, including reducing lanes from two to one in each direction and adding bike lanes and new markings, have indeed slowed traffic—which was one of the aims of the project, city leaders said.
Deputy Fire Chief James Rexwinkel said the only impact to fire has been a request for police to help with traffic control, as trucks now take up a full lane of traffic when responding to emergencies. Response times to calls for service have not been impacted, he said.
The gathering at City Hall Monday was spearheaded by Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, who is up for reelection in March and has taken heat for the controversial project that was completed this spring. Her chief opponent in the District 2 council race, activist Robert Fox, staged a protest on Broadway at Cherry Avenue a week ago attended by roughly 100 people.
Fox, who has made the Broadway Corridor project one of the hallmarks of his campaign, could not immediately be reached Monday.
Police said they do not always receive reports when collisions occur; officials encouraged the public to report all incidents to police.
City Manager Pat West said Monday the city this week is embarking on a month-long “listening tour” to hear from the public and tweak some aspects of the work. In addition to changes to street sweeping announced earlier, the city plans to widen the vehicle lanes by moving back the black curbs that define the bike lanes, consolidating and shortening bus stops where possible to add more parking, educating the public on the colors and markings that have been added and adding more wayfinding signage.
The city will also be adding more greenery, shrubs and trees in the second phase of work, West said.
“Change is always difficult,” he said of the criticism.
Pearce said she organized Monday’s press event “because I want to make sure everyone has the facts.
“We have consistently engaged with the public, and will continue that,” she said.