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Police to Hold Bike Safety Enforcement Operation as City Boosts Efforts to Protect Cyclists


Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Lookout Staff

January 3, 2024 -- With the City Council focused on boosting bicycle safety, Santa Monica police will crack down Thursday on behaviors responsible for collisions involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The "extra enforcement efforts" will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at "locations where pedestrian and bike collisions are prevalent," police officials said in a statement Wednesday.

During the Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation, traffic officers "will be looking for violations committed by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians alike that can lead to life changing injuries."

The violations include speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.

Since September 1, the Police Department has held seven Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Operations. Vehicles were stopped 107 times and the motorists were given 97 citations, according to data provided by SMPD.

Bicyclists were stopped 46 times and given 35 citations, according to the data.

Thursday's operation takes place one and a half months after the Council directed staff to strengthen its efforts "to eliminate all fatal and severe-injury crashes" after a bicyclist was killed in October ("Council Takes Steps to Curb Collisions Involving Cyclists, Pedestrians," November 17, 2023).

By the end of November, the City had installed four-way stop signs at the dangerous intersection where the year's only bicycle fatality had taken place ("Intersection Where Bicyclist Killed to Get 4-Way Stop Signs," November 20, 2023).

Last month, the Council followed up its efforts by taking initial steps to place a general tax on the November ballot that would increase the City's parking facility tax, which is currently 10 percent ("Council Takes Up Tax to Boost Traffic Safety," December 18, 2023).

The renewed safety efforts come amid a dramatic drop in the number of "injury-causing crashes" involving cyclists -- from some 150 in 2012 to 72 last year, the data show.

Police officials remind bicyclists that they must follow similar traffic laws as motorists, must travel in the same direction of traffic and have the same requirements as any slow moving vehicle.

They should also avoid riding too close to parked cars and use available bike lanes unless making a left turn, passing or approaching a place where a right turn is allowed.

Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

All cyclists should always wear a helmet, while those under 18 years of age must wear them by law.

“We all have places to be and not everyone gets there by car," police officials said. "Bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to the road but face even more risk without the protections vehicles have.

"We should all be looking out for one another.”

Funding for the traffic safety program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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