LOS ANGELES, CA – Today the Los Angeles City Council, led by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, voted unanimously to create permanent roadside memorial signs at the locations of fatal bicycle crashes. Currently, in the immediate aftermath of a traffic fatality, family members and loved ones frequently establish temporary roadside memorials, including "ghost bikes" placed at the site of fatal bicycle crashes. However, the City did not have a policy or program for establishing permanent roadside memorials until now.
“I’ve been to too many ghost bike memorials only to see them gone in a few days, as if nothing tragic happened,” said Blumenfield. “Cyclists are dying on the streets of Los Angeles and creating a permanent memorial, which will also serve as a reminder to share the road, is needed.”
In 2018, 240 people died from traffic collisions in the City of Los Angeles, including 21 bicyclists. After the tragic death of 15-year-old Sebastian Montero while bicycling in Woodland Hills on April 1, 2018, LAPD Topanga Division Senior Lead Officer Duc Dao suggested that Blumenfield should pursue such a program. Blumenfield worked closely with the LA Department of Transportation (LADOT) to create a program similar to how Caltrans places memorial signs at locations of certain alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
This permanent roadside memorial program will advance the goals of Los Angeles' Vision Zero Program, which seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities in the City, including by educating motorists and other road users about the need to be mindful of vulnerable road users, particularly those who walk and bike. For bicyclist fatalities, the memorial sign will include a safety message, a bike symbol and the name of the traffic victim. Signs may be placed at the request of, or with the consent of, an immediate family member. Though his program is initially limited to bicyclist fatalities, it could be expanded to memorialize pedestrian and other related deaths.
Blumenfield is also championing several efforts to dramatically improve bike infrastructure in the West Valley. These initiatives include:
- Creating a continuous bike path along the LA River through his district.
- The Reseda Blvd. Improvement Project which will create a protected bike lane to close a gap in the bike lanes that extend from Mulholland to the 118 freeway.
Blumenfield concluded, “It is important to remember the people who have been killed in crashes, but it is also vital to pursue smart infrastructure improvements that will help ensure those crashes don’t happen in the first place. We must all strive to make our streets safe for all, lives depend on it.”