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Love is not a one way street

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Q: What do you call a road with five to seven lanes of traffic in one direction, if the only way to exit this road is by going to the right?

Pose that question to most Angelenos and the answer would be "a freeway, stupid!" But they'd be wrong. The answer is the increasingly popular proposal by LA County Supervisor Zev Yarolslavsky to convert Olympic and Pico boulevards into one-way streets in order to ease Westside traffic. The proposal has been hailed as an easy quick fix in recent articles and on the news after a report by former LADOT planner Allyn Rifkin declared a reconfigured Olympic and Pico would cut traffic by 20 percent, as long as the one-way streets prohibited all left turns for their entire 14-mile span. With left-hand turns allowed, the traffic decrease could be a significantly lower 6 percent. Whoop-dee-damn-doo.

Another major problem with the plan is that Olympic and Pico, though sort of parallel streets, differ dramatically in distance from one another as they snake their way through the center of the city. Sometimes, the streets are almost a mile apart, meaning a missed turn would prompt a shooting gallery of cars through neighborhood cross-streets.

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Despite these very obvious shortcomings, the plan has seen little public dissent, with a notable exception being Koreatown. Maybe it’s because, in light of recent gains, that neighborhood has so much to lose. Even attempts to ease business owners' concerns by emphasizing the plan's "contra-flow lanes" (one or two lanes for reverse traffic for buses and cars during off-peak hours) has fallen largely on deaf ears in K-Town. A one-way Olympic Boulevard would slice through the heart of that community, as opposed to skirting the southern borders of Beverly Hills and other affluent Westside neighborhoods.

Photo by SeraphimC via Flickr.