Until this summer—when and three pedestrians were killed in a rash of car crashes that rattled the community—Santa Monica had seen a 3 percent drop in auto collisions.
"These tragic events, involving five drivers, five pedestrians and a bicyclist, occurred over a period of just 59 days," city officials wrote on the cover of the latest edition of Seascape, Santa Monica's quarterly newsletter.
The blurb, titled "Watch the Road, Santa Monica!" gives an overview of the steps the city is taking in response.
One approach—the creation of a Pedestrian Action Plan to improve the network of walking paths citywide—got underway before the string of fatalities. In June, the Santa Monica City Council approved a $350,000 contract with Alta Planning + Design to initiate the plan with a review of data and trends about Santa Monica car crashes involving pedestrians.
City transportation planner Beth Rolandson told Patch this summer that the plan will focus primarily on areas near and in neighborhood commercial districts, including Wilshire Boulevard, where there are numerous unlit crosswalks obstructed by medians.
"This is the most comprehensive effort we’ve had," she said. "I think people were pleased with the outcome of the ."
At a recent community festival, city staffers surveyed approximately 500 people about walking in Santa Monica.
The biggest takeaway? "Whether it's traffic or lighting, people are concerned about safety," Rolandson said.
Additionally, $1 million has been allocated in the 2012-14 fiscal years for re-marking and refurbishing crosswalks citywide. And "Watch the Road" signs on city buses and garbage trucks are promoting a new website, smgov.net/WatchTheRoad, where drivers, pedestrians and cyclists can find more information on the campaign and tips for making Santa Monica a safer place to walk, bike and drive.
Meanwhile, the Santa Monica Police Department is cracking down on drunken driving and speeding, and on motorists who fail to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. They're also ramping up enforcement of cyclists who ride illegaly on the sidewalk and against traffic.
"Despite the sad, new statistics, city officials remain optimistic that the coordinated campaign can help Santa Monica motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists focus their attention on common-sense behaviors that will keep them from becoming statistics themselves," Seascape reads.