Twenty-one businesses have closed in less than two years since the city of Los Angeles reconfigured a 0.8 stretch of Venice Boulevard in the west side’s Mar Vista neighborhood. The city replaced one of three traffic lanes in each direction with protected bike lanes, removed some street parking, and installed physical barriers. The project is called a “road diet” and it’s part of the city’s “Vision Zero” and “Complete Streets” programs. Officials promise the programs will reduce accidents and improve safety for all modes of transportation while boosting local businesses and reducing emissions.
It’s not working out too well, to say the least. Increasing commuters’ drive times creates economic disincentives. From the cozy patio of the Venice Grind coffee shop on Venice Boulevard, owner Demetrios Mavromichalis points in the directions of neighborhood schools. “Parents dropping their kids were a huge part of our morning rush, and they’re gone. Customers who’ve been coming in for years say they can’t afford 10 extra minutes for coffee.” He shakes his head. “I get it, obviously.” After 13 successful years Mr. Mavromichalis shuttered the shop last October.