Editor:

As a parent who drives her child to school (yes, we carpool), I feel I need to respond to Bill Bauer’s comments about the “Safe Routes to School” program (“Teens take planning priority,” My Write, Jan. 20). His comments are knee-jerk responses to the language of the plan, apparently without his actually walking the site.

Everyone agrees the traffic situation is dangerous for students. The Safe Routes plan is funded by a federal grant that was secured a few years ago by concerned Samohi parents. City traffic planners have spent over a year reviewing the very limited options and holding community meetings. This isn’t social engineering, it’s keeping kids out of ambulances.

Making Seventh Street one-way southbound may add some inconvenience to people driving to Samohi from neighborhoods south of Pico Boulevard, but that will be greatly offset by the traffic light at Seventh and Pico allowing them to now turn east or west. Kids will now be able to safely cross Pico, and will be protected after disembarking from buses.

Lincoln and Michigan is already a dangerous intersection. Extended left turns for northbound Lincoln, and time restrictions for right turns on red for southbound Lincoln will help. And frankly, if adding two minutes to my daily commute saves a life, that’s OK. Take a breath, for goodness’ sake.

Drivers are also encouraged to drop off students on Olympic at the guarded entrance, instead of Michigan and Seventh. As for Mr. Bauer’s comment about “students don’t like crossing Fourth Street at Pico and walking up the hill to classes,” that kind of throw-away anecdote is useless in a debate about safety. The entrance to campus on Fourth Street near the Doubletree, by the way, is hardly steep, and adjacent to a traffic-light protected crosswalk.

The issue about student parking is indeed a mess, and should be addressed by a conversation between City Hall and the SMMUSD. Although it would be nice to be able to look at Samohi’s traffic situation in its entirety, it has nothing to do with the Safe Routes grant.

No one thinks this is perfect. Anyone who has paid attention realizes there are very few options for protecting students from distracted, rushing drivers. This is the closest we’re going to get. And if someone has a better plan, let’s hear it now before another kid gets hit.

 

Paula Goldman

Santa Monica

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