Community Voices: It’s Time to Make Santa Monica’s Streets Safer


People crossing Ocean Avenue into Downtown Santa Monica from Palisades Park. Photo via the Pedestrian Action Plan.

In the past few weeks, Santa Monica has experienced five more violent pedestrian crashes and almost as many deaths, reminding us all that we are unsafe in our city, whether crossing the street for coffee or going to a local park.

Parents walk the city afraid their children will become the latest victims of drivers too distracted by a Waze rerouting and the latest Snaps to notice kids crossing in a marked crosswalk. Seniors are fearful that they won’t be able to cross the street safely at an intersection designed to prioritize the movement of cars over those deemed too slow by the pedestrian signal.

Santa Monica had been making great strides with implementation of the Bike Action Plan and pedestrian improvements in making the city safer for people who walk and bike, but this effort has slowed in recent years. At the same time, the City of Los Angeles has re-organized their transportation department around a Vision Zero goal and is working to implement new pedestrian and bicycle safety projects each week. The gap will grow and Santa Monica will be left behind if we don’t commit staff and resources to Vision Zero now.

According to the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD), you’re more likely to die by being hit by a car while walking and biking around Santa Monica than you are to be murdered in Santa Monica. Between 2000 and 2014, SMPD reported 42 murders and willful manslaughters to the FBI. During the same period, SMPD reported 42 pedestrian fatalities and 4 cyclist fatalities to the California Highway Patrol.

Santa Monica adopted the goal to eliminate traffic fatalities and major injuries in the Pedestrian Action Plan. That Plan outlines a vision out to 2030 – which is only 13 years. What are we doing now to make the vision of eliminating tragic events on our roadways become a reality? At current rates, we can expect another 40 people to die while we are waiting for the City to allocate funding to and increase enforcement for our Pedestrian Action Plan efforts. That’s not soon enough for the residents, workers, and visitors at risk in the coming years because of the City’s inaction on traffic safety.

The time is now to make our streets safer with an awareness campaign tied to GoSaMo, which actively invites and encourages us to walk, bike, and use public transit.

The time is now for the City to hire a pedestrian safety coordinator with the full-time responsibility of working across departments to eliminate oversights and institutional barriers that lead to pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

The time is now for the City to fund increased police traffic enforcement to prevent dangerous driving behaviors.

The time is now for the City to stop the long-outdated assumption that pedestrians are a traffic anomaly who must walk multiple blocks to cross a street or beg a button to signal their presence. We need leading pedestrian intervals at all major pedestrian crossings.

The time is now for the City to place “No Right Turn on Red” signs at all downtown scramble intersections.

The time is now for the Police Department to give school zones the same level of concern they give Pier Concerts.

The time is now for the City to fully fund accelerated implementation of the Pedestrian Action Plan.

The time is now for the City to put well-marked crosswalks at all crossings on our major boulevards and increase crosswalk visibility within two blocks of all schools.

The time is now for the City to integrate meaningful pedestrian and bicycle access to the new Airport Park from the earliest planning stages.

The time is now for everyone in Santa Monica to unite behind a goal we can all agree on – that our streets should be safer places for those who live, work, and play here.

When it comes to pedestrian safety, it doesn’t matter who you are, your age and physical health, the color of your skin, where you live or how much money you make. It doesn’t even matter if you had just parked your car and were standing at a ticket vending machine to make a payment. All of us at some point are pedestrians. Until something drastic changes about how we drive and whether we hold people accountable for dangerous driving, more people will die due to something that is entirely within our control.

Click here to sign our petition calling for urgent action now to make our streets safer.

Judy Abdo, Abby Arnold, Zachary Gaidzik, Craig Hamilton, Leslie Lambert, Shawn Landres, Juan Matute, Grace Phillips, Cynthia Rose, and Natalya Zernitskaya for Santa Monica Forward, Santa Monica Spoke, and SantaMonicaWalks!


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