SAMOHI – Everyday is Bike It Day for many students at Santa Monica High School this year.
More students than ever before are opting to use bikes as their primary means for getting to and from school, city officials say.
Despite the rising interest, major City Council-approved bike-friendly improvements around the school are not yet complete.
The Samohi connector is funded through an $880,000 Safe Routes to School Grant and a $100,000 City Hall match. Small sections of both Michigan Avenue and Seventh Street will become one-way traffic zones. A traffic signal and crosswalk will be added at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Seventh Street near the campus’ main entrance.
When council approved the connector back in February, city planners were hoping to have it complete for the start of this school year.
“The preparation of the construction drawings is still not final,” said Michelle Glickert, a city transportation planner, in an e-mail. “I had hoped to get this expedited and ready to go for some summer construction however going from concept to detailed construction drawings has proven to be more challenging and extensive than first thought. I continue to work on ensuring the integrity of the concept is carried through the design and final construction documents.”
Now City Hall is shooting for completion by late fall or early winter.
“This time line should also help us coordinate better with some of the existing campus construction,” Glickert said.
In response to the large number of bikers, Glickert is in the midst of ordering new bike and skateboard racks. She hopes to have those, and a few fix-it stations for bike repair, delivered within the next month.
“Staff has been at registration over the last 5 to 6 years,” she said, “and I have never had so many freshman tell me they are riding to school.”
The Samohi connector is also the first piece in a larger bike route planned to extend from the east side of the city to the ocean. The Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGO) was approved by council along with the connector but the rest of the path is without certain funding and be built in chunks in the coming years. The connector is meant to be the first segment of the path to be implemented.
Alison Kendall, who helped City Hall procure the grant and was previously a coordinator of Bike It, Walk It Day, said that even though the connector is not yet complete, Samohi leaders are already working toward educating parents, students, and drivers.
“We have been talking with Susan Giesberg of Samohi PTSA and Claire Goldberg of Samohi Solar Alliance about ways to help train the student cyclists and pedestrians and parent drivers to use the new markings when the improvements are put in place,” she said.