Los Angeles has been faced with several lawsuits over bicycle crashes due to damaged streets. The city paid out over $19 million last year to cyclists and their families for injuries and deaths on local streets. According to a Los Angeles Times analysis of city records, the amount is nearly four times higher than any other year during the last decade. Apparently, fixing the most damaged streets is so costly that the city has instead focused on preventing salvageable roads from sliding into disrepair. Joshua Cohen, an attorney who represents injured bicyclists and sits on the board of the California Bicycle Coalition, stated,
It’s kind of a case of not-my-job-ism. All they know is that the work order is telling them to do something — and that’s all they’re going to do.
The Bureau of Street Services says it reached “a historical high of 4,821 lane miles” paved in the past two budget years, which brought the average grade of city streets up to a C+. However, a Los Angeles Times analysis found that 19 percent (about 179 miles) of the city’s bike lanes and routes are on streets graded D or F. In many of the costliest legal cases, the city did not fully repair damaged streets despite sending crews to do other work in the area or receiving complaints from residents. The crash that led to the largest payout of the past year, a $7.5-million settlement with the 62-year-old cyclist who became a quadriplegic, happened in a bike lane that was installed on a broken roadway that was left in poor shape despite repeated complaints. According to a consultant who studied the city’s street infrastructure programs for the city, Los Angeles suffers from a “lack of coordination” and “undoing and redoing of work” as a result.
Luckily, the city could finally start repairing some of its worst roads this year with funding from state and county tax increases. To grade the city’s streets, workers drive around the city in a van equipped with cameras and lasers. The city scores each street segment on a 100-point scale and converts those scores to letter grades, with 40 and below considered an F. Hopefully, the city is able to fix street issues and less people are hurt riding their bicycle.