Venice Kids Lives in Danger

0
1022
This mother of two Broadway Elementary School students says that a crossing guard is a much needed addition to the intersection of Lincoln and Broadway. Photo by Sam Catanzaro.

Lacking a crossing guard, Parents at Broadway Elementary say the crosswalk at the busy intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and California Avenue puts their children’s lives at risk.

By Sam Catanzaro

Parents at Broadway Elementary want a crossing guard assigned to the busy intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and California Avenue during drop-off and pick-up hours. Lack of coordination between various City and State agencies, however, has made progress slow while drivers on Highway 1 continue to drive fast.

“It’s so dangerous,” said Fang Huang, whose son is a student at Broadway Elementary. “We live across the street from the school, I can see it from my balcony, and I won’t even let my son go out and cross the street by himself.”

Lincoln Boulevard creates a hazardous intersection at California Avenue. Parents at Broadway Elementary want a crossing guard. Photo by Sam Catanzaro.

The school attracts has higher-than-normal influx of daily commuters, partly due to its Mandarin Immersion Program, and with no parking lot on the premises, parents and students are reliant on crosswalks to get to school. Many have first-hand experience with cars turning through the crosswalks, with drivers traveling at high speeds. Last year one parent’s parked car was totaled in a hit and run accident while she was dropping off her two children in the morning. And in February, a student from the neighboring Amino High School was hit by a car traveling southbound on Lincoln Boulevard.

“I heard a loud bang upon impact and the boy was hit hard enough to have bounced several feet into the middle of the intersection,” said Susan Wang, Principal of Broadway Elementary. “His one shoe fell a few feet south of him. Luckily and surprisingly, he was able to get up and walked to the sidewalk.”

Despite these incidents, parents and school administrators have been unable to get a crossing guard assigned to this intersection.   

“A year ago we contacted CalTrans and LAUSD  [Los Angeles Unified School District] to express our concern to no effect,” said Mikette Miller, parent of a second-grader and Broadway Elementary School Safety Committee Member. “We have collected over 600 signatures in a petition to have our crossing safety improved.”

A father and his daughter cross Lincoln Boulevard after dismissal at Broadway Elementary School. Cars turning off Lincoln Boulevard make this a hazardous street to cross, and parents are requesting a crossing guard be assigned here. Photo by Sam Catanzaro.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) conducted two surveys of the intersection in 2017. They ruled that the intersection does not meet the criteria for the assignment of a crossing guard because it does not qualify as a pedestrian route. California code says that if there are 40 or more pedestrians and 300 or more cars turning during any two hours of a day, a crossing guard can be assigned. Data from the Department of Engineering shows that the traffic flow at Lincoln and California does, in fact, meet the criteria for a crossing guard to be assigned.

Yo! Venice reached out to both LADOT and CalTrans. Jessica Jovel, a Public Affairs Officer at CalTrans said that Caltrans does not provide crossing guards.

“In this case, the City of Los Angeles or school district would likely be charged with assigning crossing guards at intersections that meet approved guidelines for adult supervision of students going to and from school,” Jovel said.

A spokeswoman for LADOT said that the department is “not at liberty to disclose that information” relating to why the intersection does not meet the criteria for a crossing guard to be assigned.

Principal Wang recognizes the danger of this intersection and has herself requested a crossing guard, but has no authority over the decision. Wang, however, thinks that more than just a crossing guard is needed.

“A crossing guard would help to some degree, but the Lincoln and California intersection really needs turn-specific traffic signals in all four directions because the cars go by very fast and drivers don’t observe or stop for pedestrians who are already in the crosswalks,” Wang said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have any authority over what happens on Lincoln and California.”

There is, however, some progress being made. On March 6, Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Parking and Transportation Committee introduced a motion addressing the danger of this intersection. If approved by the Council at large, the VNC will send two letters: one to Caltrans and the other to LADOT, requesting a crossing guard be added at Lincoln and California. Mikette Miller of the School’s Safety Committee is in communication with various City agencies, and says that “it seems like it is building momentum.”

One of the underlying issues, however, is the different jurisdictions these agencies have. Lincoln Boulevard is part of Highway 1 and is therefore under the control of CalTrans, yet LADOT is the agency responsible for assigning crossing guards.  

“It is very fractured. I don’t have a background in public policy or activism, so I am navigating this and trying to reach out to all of these different agencies,” Miller said.

In the meantime, parents and kids must deal with the reality of crossing a dangerous intersection without a crossing guard during drop-off and pick up. A parent-run valet service on Broadway Ave allows parents to leave their car and drop their kids off while avoiding the Lincoln and California intersection. Some parents have even volunteered themselves to be crossing guards. But at the end of the day, the consensus is that the City needs to step in and improve the safety of the intersection.

“This doesn’t solve the underlying issues which are traffic flow and visibility. I think the best solution is an all-way stop at Lincoln and California for 30 minutes before and after school on school days,” Miller said.

Despite efforts by parents and school administrator, getting a crossing guard assigned to Broadway Elementary has been a slow and bumpy process. Photo by Sam Catanzaro.