Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica Police Focus on Bike, Pedestrian Safety|
By Hector Gonzalez
June 9, 2015 -- In the past three years, 874 people have been killed or injured in Santa Monica in collisions involving bikes and pedestrians, police said Monday, as officials launched the first of three enforcement operations aimed at reducing those statistics.
On Monday and again on Wednesday and Friday this week, police will be focusing on the types of traffic violations that usually end up causing pedestrian- and bike-related crashes, said Santa Monica Police Department Lt. Richard Lewis
Officers will be looking for speeding drivers, motorists making illegal turns, drivers failing to stop for signs and signal and failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and similar violations, said Lewis.
“Bike riders will be stopped and citations issued when they fail to follow the same traffic laws that apply to motorists,” Lewis said. “All riders are reminded to always wear a helmet; those under 18 years of age must wear helmets by law.”
Police have mapped out locations where pedestrian and bike collisions are prevalent, but the incidents are “very evenly spread” across the City, said Lewis.
“Our officers will be working city-wide on this effort,” he said.
The enforcement effort comes as City officials gear up for the start of Santa Monica’s “Smart Bike” program, which will make renting bikes in the City easier. (“Santa Monica Bike Share Program Prepares to Get Rolling,” March 9, 2015)
Once the program gets going next year, 500 bicycles will be available to rent at 65 to 75 stations scattered around the City as officials work to make Santa Monica a bike-friendly city.
Efforts to expand bike use also are happening at the county level, where Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) officials are working to create a first-ever county-wide bike sharing system. Santa Monica is hoping to become a model for the regional system, officials have said.
At the same time, however, bicycle fatalities continue to increase across the state. From 2011 to 2012, the latest year for which state figures are available, bike fatalities increased from 104 to 124.
Pedestrian fatalities went up from 600 in 2011 to 612 in 2012, according to California Office of Traffic Safety statistics.
“California leads the nation in bicycle and pedestrian deaths,” Lewis said.
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