DOWNTOWN — The widow of a 66-year-old man who was struck by a car and killed while he was walking in a Santa Monica crosswalk last month is calling on City Hall to do more to promote pedestrian safety.
In a letter to City Manager Rod Gould this month, Ana Herceg said she hopes the collision at Wilshire Boulevard and 10th Street that killed her husband will spark efforts by urban planners and the police department to calm traffic and make the city safer for those on foot.
“The loss of a life on our streets is a wake-up call that we need to do things in a new and different way,” she wrote. “By improving driver education and by making changes to the street design we can reduce the likelihood of it being repeated.”
She also said the police department should conduct regular “failure to yield to pedestrian” sting operations.
According to police, Vlado Herceg was killed Dec. 23 about 9 p.m. when he was struck by a vehicle being driven by a 19-year-old man. The accident is still under investigation.
Herceg’s appeal to City Hall is one that’s also being taken up by bicycle advocates, who share many of her concerns about traffic.
Barbara Filet, a member of the steering committee for the cycling group Santa Monica Spoke, said the collision that killed Herceg is a symptom of a streetscape that favors drivers’ speed over public safety.
“We feel that it is preventable to a certain degree, and the city and our community as a whole is not doing enough to reduce speeding through better design and better education of drivers,” she said.
Among her prescriptions for safer streets are design features like angled crosswalks, which she said make it easier for pedestrians and drivers to make eye contact, and crosswalks that have a “pedestrian refuge” at a street’s mid point.
Reached on Friday, Gould said City Hall recognizes that pedestrian safety on Santa Monica’s streets must be improved.
“This will be identified in the upcoming budget process as an emerging issue, and we will employ all the tools at our disposal including street design, traffic control devices, new technology and signage, as well as education and enforcement to better protect pedestrians while providing reasonable traffic flow on our streets,” he wrote in an e-mail.
Meanwhile, meetings are underway to come up with a bicycle master plan, a document expected to be released this spring that will likely recommend some of the traffic calming features favored by cyclists.
Adding to the bicycle community’s concern about street safety is a batch of new statistics from the Santa Monica Police Department that appears to show a higher number of collisions involving bicycles than in prior years.
In 2010, there were 134 traffic accidents involving bicycles in Santa Monica, according to the SMPD. The department did not provide statistics for 2009, but figures compiled by the state Office of Traffic Safety for that year showed 116 people were injured in Santa Monica bicycle collisions — a statistic that was already the worst among 104 cities of similar size in California.
A meeting of a special committee of the Parks and Recreation Commission to discuss the figures is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 9.