SAMOHI — A segment of Michigan Avenue leading to Santa Monica High School could become a one-way street to make biking safer for students.
City officials last week showed updated high school-area bike route plans, the creation of which will be paid for by an $880,000 state Safe Routes To School grant and a $100,000 City Hall match.
Residents living adjacent to the school were concerned about potential traffic caused by the proposed one-way from Lincoln Boulevard to Seventh Street on Michigan. The removal of the second car lane would create space for dedicated bike lanes in both directions. As the tentative implementation date of summer of 2014 draws closer, the one-way on Michigan is emerging as a leading option. In the next couple weeks, city officials will begin to analyze potential traffic created by the plan.
Carry Upton, director of facility permits at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, rides his bike to work from his home in Culver City twice a week and is one of the district’s representatives during the planning process. He said that the one-way could create challenges for southside parents who will continue to drop kids off at the school.
The one-way, he said, could force parents to loop the block causing more problems at already-challenging intersections like Fourth Street and Olympic Boulevard.
“It’s a very complex puzzle,” he said. “We’re trying to guide parents where to go.”
Previous meetings had been heavily attended by concerned residents, but Samohi students spoke at last week’s meeting.
Alison Kendall, who successfully procured the grant, said she’s been disappointed that students have not played a larger role in the planning process.
“Frankly, I thought that parents didn’t hear one student when she said she had been doored four times,” Kendall said. “That means that on multiple occasions she’s been injured by the kids getting out of the cars and not bothering to notice that there is a student cyclist riding right beside them. That’s a dangerous situation and definitely has to be remedied.”
Gary Kavanagh, a Santa Monica bike advocate, was also happy to hear from students.
He was interested in the proposal to add a two-way bike lane in the center of Pico Boulevard between Sixth and Seventh streets. Kavanagh recently rode on a similar bike lane in Washington, D.C. that he was not enthusiastic about.
“I think that if it’s designed with significant barriers, which it was shown to have in what was presented, whereas the one I saw in D.C. only had rubber bollards, very tightly spaced, this one could be a little higher quality,” he said. “This particular spot, it kind of makes sense because of the way that the gap currently exists between Seventh and Sixth.”
Michelle Glickert, city transportation planner, said that listening to residents has guided City Hall’s plans. Last year, concerns raised about reduced street parking on a portion of Seventh Street brought locals out to Samohi bike workshops in large numbers. That idea was scrapped for last week’s meeting, she said.
The plans for the bikeway will likely go before City Council early next year. Because of the grant money, the Samohi area will likely be the first portion built within the larger Michigan Avenue Greenway, a bike and pedestrian corridor designed to connect key areas of the city, Glickert said.