Transportation Proposal #3

This transportation proposal is dedicated to left turns. Now, left turns are a good thing — in fact in a recent survey it was voted the second favorite turn among drivers, just trailing the venerable right turn. However, a city has to be built for left turns for them to be effective and not get in the way of traffic flow. And at many, many intersections, Los Angeles fails that minimal standard.

The intersection of Crescent Heights and Wilshire Blvds is missing two of the essential elements for left turns at a busy intersection — a left turn lane and a left turn light.

All big intersections should have a left turn lane. Most in Los Angeles do, but some do not. This is because some streets are too narrow to fit in another lane. What this means is that traffic gets bottled-up in the left lane as drivers sit there waiting to turn, while those behind them who are not turning have to angrily switch lanes. This also happens on large stretches of road such as 3rd St. between Fairfax and La Cienega, and Beverly between Vermont and Western, which are too narrow for left turn lanes.

 There’s not too much that can be done in these situations. I wonder, though, if perhaps a left turn lane can be carved out by taking out a couple of parking spaces or eating into the sidewalk near the corner (no one walks in LA anyway!). That would require lane to shift, which is never a desireable thing.

As far as the having no left turn lights, I can’t understand why every big intersection does not have one. Have you ever tried to make a left turn off of Pico Blvd onto Fairfax?

There is no dedicated left turn light there. You can sit there forever as two cars get to make turns between red lights. Add in the Angelenos’ s baffling unwillingness to roll into the intersection to wait to turn, and sometimes just one car gets through at a time.

Then there is the problem of making left turns coming out of parking lots. This is so dangerous because cars have to wait until both sides of the street are clear. Many parking lot exits are right turn only like the one below at Pan Pacific Park. They all should be.

It’s a similar situation making left turns (or going straight) off of side streets onto major streets that have no traffic lights. Aside from the fact that all of these intersections should have lights (which I will deal with in a later proposal), these should also be right turn only.  Check out the photo below:

The driver turning onto Pico off Orange Grove Ave has to wait until four lanes are clear, sitting in the middle of the intersection holding up traffic on one side, waiting for the other side to clear. The driver is very vulnerable. I think this is the most unsafe maneuver a driver can attempt on a Los Angeles street. If it were right turn only, the driver might have to go around the block, which is admittedly a little annoying, but it is much, much safer.

There are simple fixes to these problems — fixes that will make traffic flow faster and most importantly, make our streets safer.