SM BEACH — Anyone who’s taken a bike ride along Santa Monica’s coast during the height of summer will attest: it can get pretty risky out there.
With the crush of fellow bicyclists, skateboarders, and, occasionally, pedestrians who have wandered onto the wrong path, a peaceful cruise on the strand that spans Santa Monica’s shore can quickly become about as hectic as the 405 Freeway at rush hour.
Statistics about bicycle accidents on the beach bike path are hard to come by, since Santa Monica’s police department doesn’t keep tabs on the state-owned and county-patrolled path.
But according to Parks and Recreation Commissioner Phil Brock, anecdotal evidence suggests it’s some of the most dangerous bicycle terrain around.
While the strand may technically be out of City Hall’s purview, Brock has been urging City Hall to take responsibility by installing better, more noticeable and multi-lingual signs aimed at keeping pedestrians off the bike route.
So far, the effort has been a study in bureaucratic red tape, with a plan drawn up by a City Hall consultant a year ago still gathering dust because the proposal wasn’t in line with state rules for highway signs, Brock said.
It’s been a long wait, but since City Manager Rod Gould appointed a staff member to supervise City Hall’s bike planning efforts, Brock said he’s optimistic city officials will get some new, state-approved signs in place by summer.
“This was so long in coming,” he said. “I think what’s happened is there’s a critical mass of support for bike paths, for bike signs and for increased safety for both pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Of course, installing more signs is no guarantee of increased safety.
But Brock said it’s the least the city can do to work toward a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians at Santa Monica’s most important attraction.
“What you can do is at least provide visible, clean signage that reflects Santa Monica,” he said. “That’s at least a good start, then we can go to enforcement.”