Bicyclists head west toward the Pier. The green box is present to warn of a potential conflict with vehicles entering the Sears parking lot.

The Santa Monica Police Department will be on the lookout for traffic violations that contribute to crashes involving bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers this Friday, Jan. 6 and Monday, Jan. 8.

“The Police Department periodically identifies locations where bike and pedestrian collisions are prevalent, along with the violations that led to those collisions. In an effort to lower deaths and injuries, officers will be on duty patrolling areas where bike and pedestrian traffic collisions occur,” SMPD officials said in press release Wednesday.

“Special enforcement efforts will be directed towards drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in cross walks and similar dangerous violations,” according to the release.

“Additionally, enforcement will occur for observed violations when pedestrians cross the street illegally or fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Bicyclists will be issued citations when they fail to follow similar traffic laws that also apply to motorists,” the release said.

The Santa Monica Police Department has carried out these operations for a couple years now. Ahead of one the first of these enforcement operations in November 2014, SMPD sent out a press release that noted the police had investigated 874 serious collisions, which resulted in death or injury and involved pedestrians and bicyclists in a three-year period.

That year, the SMPD had targeted specific poor driving behaviors, focusing on a different behavior each month. In July 2014, the SMPD focused on bicyclists, since, under the California Vehicle Code, people on bikes have to follow the same rules as people in cars, even though, “a majority of the collisions involving bicyclists have been determined that the other party was at fault,” according to the SMPD.

The new enforcement operations take a more holistic approach, targeting dangerous behaviors by all road users.

Since 2014, Santa Monica has adopted a Pedestrian Action Plan that includes a “Vision Zero” commitment, meaning that the numerous strategies within the plan are aimed at bringing the number of severe injuries and fatalities caused by traffic crashes in Santa Monica down to zero.

According to the Pedestrian Action Plan, both enforcement and education are integral to achieving Vision Zero.

“To fully embrace being a Vision Zero community, the City’s actions must reinforce regulations, support meaningful enforcement of traffic laws, and change the physical environment,” the plan reads.

And the plan specifically calls for “Operations and enforcement actions that prioritize pedestrian safety.”

According to the press release, these operations are paid for by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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