LANCASTER — The Lancaster City Council unanimously adopted the state-funded Lancaster Safer Streets Action Plan, which is designed to make the city’s streets safer.
“This is one that our traffic engineering team is really excited about,” Trolis Niebla, senior manager/city engineer, said during a presentation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “We believe that this plan and the implementation of it going forward is really going to make our City streets a safer place to drive.”
The plan focuses on engineering improvements on City streets. It creates a process that identifies safety projects with the highest benefit to cost ratio. The plan identifies priority locations with the corresponding crash types, followed by recommended countermeasures intended to mitigate each crash type.
“Lastly, it creates a process to identify the highest-priority locations based on benefit cost ratio to ensure that we’re able to get the most funding to fund those projects, and ensure that every dollar we spend reduces the number of collisions out there and maximizes the reduction,” he said.
Niebla shared a 10-year snapshot of crash statistics from 2008 to 2017. There were an estimated 700 injury crashes. The number dropped below 600 in 2011, climbed above 1,000 in 2016, and dropped below 1,000 in 2017.
“What changed? We started being proactive,” he said. “We started implementing some of the safety countermeasures that we talk about.”
For example, the bike lane on Valley Central Way led to a 60% reduction in total collisions. The changes to Lancaster Boulevard led to a 24% reduction in total collisions.
“Not only that, but the collisions we are having, are happening at slower speeds, thus reducing the severity of those collisions,” Niebla said.
The road diets also led to two-mile per hour average reduction in the measured 85% percentile speed.
Vice Mayor Marvin Crist said when the City put bike lanes in, they were mandated to get federal funds.
“To do that, we had to slow traffic down, either by the sheriff’s or by the bike lanes,” he said.
The conversion of four intersections with two-way stop signs to all-way, or four-way, stop signs led to an 87% reduction in total crashes, along with a 93% reduction in severe injury crashes and a 100% reduction in fatalities.
The intersections studied were 60th Street West and Avenue H, 70th Street West and Avenue I, Fern Avenue and Milling Street and Gadsden Avenue and Avenue K-4.
The success of those intersections led the installation of four-way stops at 60th Street West and avenues F and G, and Avenue I and 40th Street East.
The City also installed “protected” left turns at Avenue J and 20th Street West in 2011. Prior to the installation of red, yellow, green arrow turn light there were eight to 11 broadside collisions a year. The number of collisions dropped to zero in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Niebla said the city installed two more last year at Avenue J-8 and 25th Street West and Avenue K and 30th Street East. The city will install 10 “protected” left turns this year.
The installation of the roundabout at Avenue L and Challenger Way led to a 100% reduction in fatality-related crashes, a 90% reduction in persons injured, and a 92% reduction in total crash victims.