The NextDoor online communities in Venice and Mar Vista have been on fire with tales of carmageddon in Mar Vista after the Great Streets trial project was installed in June. Posters complained of horrendous traffic delays of 10, 15, even 30 minutes and the impeding doom that it brings to everyone. I ride there almost every day and while there were some increased delays, my personal experience was very different. So I decided to document the situation and separate fact from fiction. And the fact is that traffic backups are the exception, not the rule, over the course of the day.
To be clear, I’m absolutely not denying that there are times of the day where travel takes longer on the stretch of Venice between Beethoven and Inglewood after these changes. And in some cases at peak traffic volume, I’m sure it’s possible that it could add several minutes to the travel time.
But what is infuriating to me is the unfounded hyperbole of residents complaining about spending additional hours a week commuting on the stretch — and complaining of those 10 minute and greater delays. So I set out to record the stretch at various times of the day and days of the week to document the real situation on the ground. While my experience is also anecdotal, it is at least factually documented instead of spewing overwhelmingly inaccurate statements. In fact, my experience parallels that of the initial statistics from LADOT regarding travel times (see below).
The video below shows a variety of times and days documenting what the traffic is actually like. This is a representative cross section of the over 30 trips I recorded over the last month traveling the stretch of Venice Boulevard. This is my experience — I’m sure that others could pick different times and have slightly different results. As part of the edit and deciding what to include, I erred on including more of the backups and not trying to hide them from this edit.
The first video is the extended cut (Director’s Cut). I felt it was important to leave in longer sections so that some of the backups and traffic flow could be seen — but also how the backup generally does clear and move relatively quickly after a green light. If you want the quick view — check out the second clip (Short Version).
The main takeaway from my experience is that for a vast majority of the day, traffic flows absolutely fine on the stretch. The worst section for backup seems to occur between Centinela and Grandview or Inglewood and sometimes seems to be caused by poor synchronization of traffic and pedestrian lights.
On July 22nd, LADOT hosted an open house in Mar Vista to share traffic data and other information with the community. You can download a pdf their presentation brochure here. Their research seems to support what I’ve experienced much more than the anecdotal, exaggerated hyperbole of many of the NextDoor posters. They found that during peak traffic volume, travel times increased closed to :40.
For those who like to post about the tens of thousands of drivers experiencing horrific delays — well, you’re wrong.
In addition, these delays seem like a small tradeoff for making a more livable and enjoyable “Main Street” for Mar Vista, something the Mar Vista Chamber of Commerce, Mar Vista Community Council, and many residents have been working on for years.
A more welcoming street, with important changes that make the street safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and, yes, even drivers.
I hope the changes become permanent.