‘Bike-friendly’ 6th Street Bridge designed as a drag strip
Those of us who cycled or walked had an idea of what would happen once the 6th Street Viaduct opened to car traffic. Few of us, however, could foresee just how much.
In the days since the end of the festivities for the photogenic span between the downtown arts district and Boyle Heights, the inevitable has happened to any long, unbroken stretch of concrete taken over by cars: it has been transformed into an acceleration track. And those plastic bollards “protecting” bike lanes – who knew they wouldn’t deflect several thousand pounds of metal and glass? (Tip: Ask as a cyclist.)
So far, readers have responded to photos of car wrecks and graffiti on the most famous infrastructure to open here in years with the outrage one would expect. Most suggested increased enforcement or deterrents as solutions. As someone whose preferred methods of using public roads do not involve cars, I humbly offer my perspective: how we design roads matters. You can have lower speed limits and all the safety warnings you want, but a four-lane road with no traffic lights and essentially unprotected bike lanes is about as bike-friendly as a track.
For the editor: What happened to “prevention is better than cure”? The planners and engineers who created the new 6th Street Bridge certainly could have foreseen and prevented at least some of the problems described in your report.
It’s not too late to avoid further problems. Deter dangerous behavior by adding a wavy texture to the surface of the huge arches that attract skaters. Create a central divider – movable, if necessary, for temporary adjustments to traffic needs – and the “doughnut” drivers will have nowhere to swirl.
I have no expertise in urban planning or transportation engineering. But as a longtime resident who cares about humans and this city, I can see reasonable solutions to these problems. Surely the experts could have discovered them earlier.
Robin Winston, Culver City
For the editor: The records of the burnt out cars on the new 6th Street Bridge are disgusting.
I think eliminating this juvenile and possibly deadly antics requires passing legislation to identify these cars, arrest the owners, confiscate the vehicles and auction them off.
No exceptions. This must stop.
Marc Pittman, Indian
For the editor: The title and subtitle of the print edition imply that the authors of the article are compliant and honored that street runners, taggers and the like are leaving their mark (of vandalism) on the new bridge.
The “finishing touch” of LA is not about the people who give meaning to public spaces, nor the ecosystem that creates its imprint. It is the desecration of public property by disbelievers who have no respect for the law and believe that public spaces belong to them.
The $588 million bridge took six years to build and it opened this month. You then described it as “an iconic space to gather and celebrate the city”.
Now the bridge has been vandalized and dishonored. It’s shameful and depressing.
Giuseppe Mirelli, Los Angeles
For the editor: I have a simple solution to the problem of street “takeovers” by performance riders and racers. Just put a law in place that says first time is the only time for that particular vehicle if caught doing this type of activity because the vehicle (including motorcycles) will be crushed.
No more giving it back to the offender after paying fines, or seizing it and auctioning it off to another anti-social idiot. Destroy each of these vehicles. This will soon end the problem.
Mike Kilgore, Mars Vista
For the editor: That’s why we can’t have nice things.
Lia Eng, Aliso Viejo
For the editor: The slowdown in street runners will involve several factors. One of them might be for automakers, especially Dodge, to volunteer to stop running ads with their rubber-burning, high-powered vehicles. Just a thought.
Larry McGloin, Gardena
For the editor: Once again, our urban planners and leaders show remarkable ignorance or indifference to the obvious.
Street racing, graffiti and skateboard abuse in city facilities are old issues, but in another stunning example of shortsightedness, it seems no one has planned anything on this bridge. . These are all normal design considerations for a project that isn’t led by a dreamy architect and an out-of-touch city council.
I’m sure they’re all “shocked” to see this new icon being abused, just as they’re all “shocked” that animal shelters are overflowing and thousands of homeless people are left homeless. We deserve better from them.
Mike Post, Winnetka