PCH — A report solicited by the city of Malibu suggests officials explore installing paid parking slots along Pacific Coast Highway to discourage drivers from parking along Malibu’s main traffic artery.
The move could encourage drivers to park in off-street beach lots, according to the report as part of Malibu’s ongoing PCH Safety Study.
The 65-page report, prepared by the Irvine-based consultant firm LSA Associates, highlights 80 “potential safety issues” and prioritizes the most urgent improvements needed to better safeguard the 21-mile stretch of Caltrans-controlled PCH within the city of Malibu. It also recommends creating a bike line through the entirety of PCH in Malibu and making bus stops wheelchair accessible.
With drivers naturally attracted to free parking along the busy highway, researchers found a majority of motorists “slowing while searching for a space, making sudden turns, making unexpected stops, backing into parallel parking spaces and eventually re-entering traffic from the shoulder.”
Those erratic maneuvers, all in the name of free parking, create a major hazard for pedestrians and bikers competing to use the shoulder, according to the study. The best means for Malibu to mitigate this threat to safety is by coordinating with state agencies to explore a more equal distribution of parking costs between on-street spots and off-street beach lots.
“Public access does not necessarily mean free access,” the report states, alluding to potential concerns that could be brought by the California Coastal Commission, the state’s largest advocate of free public access to Malibu’s pristine beaches.
“Addressing the disparity in parking pricing could take the form of adjusting the cost down in off-street parking lots at times when they are underutilized. It could also take the form of adjusting the cost up for on-street parking in areas where public off-street parking is available,” according to the study.
Parking in a Zuma Beach lot during the summer typically costs motorists around $10.
While the city of Malibu has a bike lane project in the works for west Malibu, the PCH analysis recommends citywide eastbound and westbound bike lanes be created to mitigate the number of bikers fighting to share lanes with cars in 45-to-55 mph zones.
The study cites a surge in the number of annual bike collisions in recent years. In the first six months of 2012, nine collisions occurred. Between 1996 and 1998, an average of four bike collisions per year occurred. Four bikers have died in collisions in the last 10 years, according to the report.
Widening PCH to create room for a bike lane is possible throughout much of Malibu. However, in areas not wide enough to accommodate four traffic lanes, along with a bike lane and a median or center striping, it suggested that Caltrans and the city of Malibu consider painting arrows signifying shared bike and vehicle lanes.
Many bus stops in Malibu are impossible for wheelchair users to access, the study found, while others are difficult even for “able-bodied” people to get to.
Several are located away from major intersections or on islands without nearby crosswalks where bus riders often have no choice but to cross vehicle traffic on PCH.
As an example, at Bonsall Drive, the bus stop is located on a traffic island where no safe pedestrian path is provided, the study says.
LSA suggests the city review each bus stop between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Trancas Canyon Road if it wishes to improve accessibility, especially for those protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To view the report in its entirety and submit public comment, visit malibucity.org/DocumentCenter/View/4922.