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LA Pedestrian Deaths Spike Despite Garcetti's Safety Initiative

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – As Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announces new speed limits on dozens of local streets Wednesday, a new report shows a spike in pedestrian fatalities since he launched an initiative to curb traffic deaths three years ago.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a news conference announcing new speed limits for 72 streets. Feb. 28, 2018. (CBS2)

Pedestrian deaths in L.A. surged more than 80 percent in the first two years of Garcetti's Vision Zero, according to new data.

In 2015, 74 people on foot were killed by drivers in Los Angeles, according to new data released by the L.A. Department of Transportation and obtained by the L.A. Times. That figure rose to 134 in 2017, the highest number in more than 15 years.

Overall, however, the number of bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and drivers killed in collisions on city streets fell last year by six percent to 244, according to the data.

In August 2015, Garcetti signed an executive order creating the Vision Zero initiative, which set the goal of eliminating traffic deaths on city streets by 2025. It called for reductions of 20 percent by 2017 and 50 percent by 2020. The six percent decline in 2017 falls well short of that goal, and the city's slow progress suggests reducing fatalities by half in the next three years will be difficult, according to The Times.

Following the report, Garcetti Wednesday announced that new speed limits would take effect on 71 L.A. streets part of Vision Zero. Forty-five of those will have their speed limits decreased, while 26 will have them increased.

Last month, a report from Time Magazine found that Devonshire Street and Reseda Boulevard in Northridge was the most dangerous intersection in California. From 2006 to 2016, researchers from Cal State Northridge found 108 traffic accidents at this intersection alone.

Last June, L.A. City Councilman Bonin instituted a "road diet" plan in Mar Vista, Venice, Culver City and Playa del Rey in which traffic lanes were eliminated to add bike lanes on several major thoroughfares. The resulting gridlock led to outrage from residents. Some lanes were subsequently restored following the uproar.

Critics argue the road diet plan has actually increased traffic accidents. John Russo of Keep LA Moving told CBS2 last week that he compared California Highway Patrol data from May through December of 2017 to the same period in 2012. He claims the data shows that accidents in the road diet area have increased by 20 percent, and injuries are up 43 percent, all while traffic has gone down.

The statistics were included in a report scheduled to be discussed Wednesday at a City Council transportation committee hearing. The L.A. data is on par with national trends, which show that more pedestrians are dying, and drivers are more distracted, Transportation Department spokesman Oliver Hou said in an email to The Times.

Figures on traffic deaths across the country are not yet available for 2017, but in 2016, pedestrian deaths rose 9 percent nationally and 42 percent in Los Angeles.

(©2018 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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