Editor:

Santa Monica Spoke is excited to support the conceptual designs presented for the Samohi Safe Routes to School (SRTS) project. These improvements will improve all modes of circulation around Samohi and create a safer environment, encourage and prioritize healthy active transportation and help build on the leadership and momentum of the Solar Alliance Students and Bike it! Walk it! We were please to participate in the process with city planners and consultants who worked closely with stakeholders to envision this plan. We urge to approve the staff recommendations and proceed to complete construction drawings and release bids for construction for  the Michigan Avenue/Seventh Street portion of the project.

In order to create safer conditions for kids to get to and from school we first identified the many conflicts and obstacles of the current conditions at Samohi in traffic circulation and personal safety of students. The plan proposes many improvements in multi-modal circulation and infrastructure to encourage and prioritize walking, biking and public transit while improving vehicle circulation. Currently, the majority of students at Samohi are dropped off and picked up from school by their parents. Statistics suggest these trips are generating 3,000-6,000 vehicles per day (VPD) around Samohi and creating huge health, safety and traffic burdens as well as contributing to the larger city-wide issues of gridlock. The residents on Michigan Avenue and Seventh Street endure heavy traffic burdens that spill over west of Lincoln onto Michigan Avenue that sees nearly 4,300 VPD through to 11th. This creates chaos and safety concerns for residents and kids with added safety issues for the kids actively transporting themselves walking and biking. Without the students who carpool, bus, walk or bike, the situation here would certainly be even more untenable. With this SRTS project we can improve vehicle circulation and help prioritize these active kids with improved safety and infrastructure. With this project we will help encourage more students to choose active, healthier, more sustainable transportation modes and help mitigate the health, safety and traffic problems.

Currently, the closest thing to “bike friendly” access to Samohi is along Michigan Avenue east of Lincoln. But Michigan Avenue carries many of the hundreds and thousands of parents driving kids to school as well as cut-through traffic accessing the freeway. The Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo) supports SRTS at Samohi and can help improve the safety of students walking and biking through improved safety along Michigan Avenue west of Lincoln. By calming traffic on MANGo with ambitious traffic reduction goals we will help provide a safe link from Samohi to bike lanes on 11th, 14th and 17th streets and safer conditions for kids walking. The SRTS plan also identifies needs for improvements on Fourth Street, Olympic Boulevard and Seventh Court that can be supported by the MANGo project. Outlined in MANGo on this corridor are wider sidewalks and a cycle track that will improve both pedestrian and bike safety and connections to Expo Light Rail, the Civic Center, Downtown and the beach. We urge your support in prioritizing these sections of the MANGo project for early implementation. These and other aspects of the SRTS project also build on the synergy of the city’s Bike Action Plan by connecting the bike network from south of Samohi and Pico via Sixth Street and Michigan Avenue and Seventh Street to MANGo. As we provide for SRTS to Samohi from the south we connect the bike network from Pico to the proposed MANGo and fill in a challenging hole in the current bike network with safe, easy access.

The concepts in this plan on Michigan Avenue, Seventh Street and Pico Boulevard will not only provide improved safety and encouragement for current and future generations of students walking, biking or taking the bus to school but help mitigate the traffic congestion, improve vehicle circulation, health and safety issues. These proposed improvements are better for kids, parents, Samohi teachers and staff, nearby residents and the community. We urge you to approve the staff recommendation and support the exemplary student leadership of the Solar Alliance and the Bike it! Walk it! momentum they have built by providing our kids with the needed improvements to support healthy, active transportation and the ability to envision a more sustainable future.

 

Cynthia Rose

Director, Santa Monica Spoke