The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday approved a $7.5 million payout for a bicyclist who was severely injured in a crash blamed on a substandard street, less than a month after agreeing to a similar multimillion- dollar settlement.
On Sept. 6, the council paid $6.5 million to another bicyclist who said he suffered injuries in an accident caused by a substandard street. The city shelled out a total of $15 million in 2016 settlements related to bike accidents. At the same meeting where the latest settlement was announced for William Yao, two council members introduced motions that seek ways for the city to improve the safety standards on its streets and bike lanes.
Yao was riding in a bike lane on Reseda Boulevard in September 2014 when his tire hit pavement that had been lifted four inches by a tree root, according to the lawsuit he filed against the city. He was thrown from his bike and suffered “catastrophic injuries,” according to his court papers.
Yao’s attorney, David Roark, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a confidential report prepared for council members by city lawyers and obtained by the newspaper said the Bureau of Street Services had inspected the road and noted that it needed to be repaired, but deemed it a “non-emergency.”
The report also noted that when the bike lane was put into place, the road surface did not comply with government standards for installing bike lanes, and that “no inspector reported the substandard bike lane” when it was inspected just before the crash, according to The Times.
The city paid more than $15 million in settlements in 2016 alone to bicyclists who had sued to city over road conditions, according to a motion submitted in September by City Councilman Paul Krekorian. The motion calls for the city to inspect every lane of Class I and Class II bike paths and bike lanes in the city and to produce a cost estimate for bringing any deficient pavement up to appropriate standards.
Councilman Mitchell Englander, whose district includes the Porter Ranch area where Yao was injured, submitted a motion before the latest settlement was announced that would direct the city not to add any bike lanes to streets with a Pavement Condition Index under 86, which is the number needed to be considered an “A” level street.
The motion also would direct city workers to inspect all current bike lanes and certify that they exist on streets with a PCI higher than 86, and if not close the bike lane until it can be brought to an 86.
Krekorian’s newly introduced motion would direct the city’s Vision Zero program, which is a large-scale street safety initiative, to “prioritize projects that are demonstrably likely to produce the greatest reductions of injuries and fatalities.”
The motion states that the Vision Zero program “has focused largely on the design of streets and their markings, sometimes without adequate consideration to the condition of streets as a matter of safety for their users.”
The city has invested $27 million this fiscal year in Vision Zero, a traffic safety program that identifies a series of streets, called the High Injury Network, which have a higher incidence of severe and fatal collisions and prioritizes those streets for safety improvements.
–City News Service