(photo by Brandon Wise)

DOWNTOWN — Santa Monica bicyclists and pedestrians reported nearly 1,000 collisions in the last five years according to data released at the Santa Monica Bike Committee meeting on Wednesday evening.

According to Santa Monica Police Department records requested by Santa Monica Spoke member Mihai Peteu, bicyclists and pedestrians reported 962 incidents between February 2006 and February 2011.

Of those, there were 38 misdemeanor-level hit-and-run accidents and 129 felony hit-and-run accidents.

The level of the charge is differentiated by how badly the victim was injured.

In that time frame, eight fatal accidents occurred, killing 7 pedestrians and one bicyclist.

Peteu plotted the information on a Google Map based on location, type and date that the incident occurred.

The majority of accidents were clustered at intersections, and many streets in Santa Monica were invisible beneath swatches of overlapping points representing collisions.

“It doesn’t look like any street is very safe,” said Parks and Recs Commissioner Richard McKinnon.

Lincoln, Pico and Ocean boulevards showed the highest concentration of accidents. The points spread out further away from the city center, particularly near Santa Monica College and San Vicente Boulevard.

The SMPD does not track “at-fault” parties in the reports used, so it’s unclear whether or not the bicyclist, pedestrian or motorist was at fault in any of the accidents.

A common sentiment, however, was that city streets could better accommodate the mix of bikes and cars, and that police could do a better job of keeping pedestrians from violating bikeways and causing accidents.

The 30-member audience grilled Transportation Planning manager Lucy Dyke, who attended the meeting, for information concerning the draft Bike Action Plan and how it would improve the safety of streets for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The draft plan, which is expected to be open for comment in April, will direct the city for the next five years as it begins to implement bike-friendly improvements in line with its Land Use Circulation Element promise to create “no new net trips” by 2030, Dyke said.

High on the list of demands at the meeting were increased signage beginning the first of June through the summer months and clear separation of pedestrian versus bike ways.

Many present expressed concern that bicyclists and pedestrians cannot coexist on shared streets.

Of particular concern was the county-controlled bike path by the beach, which gets flooded by pedestrians and skaters in the summer.

State law dictates that pedestrians can use the bike way if there is no adjacent pedestrian facility for them to use, Dyke said.

Police spokesman Sgt. Jay Trisler confirmed that pedestrians are supposed to avoid the bike path if they have another place to walk, and said that enforcement stops are made on violators.

Commissioner Phil Brock opined that a program similar to the Bayside District Corporation’s ambassadors could shepherd pedestrians onto their designated walkways both for their benefit and for that of the bikers.

“If we make it safer, more people will ride,” Brock said. “We want to see people riding to make this a healthier city.”

The committee also discussed the fate of the Palisades Garden Walk park, and the possibility of creating a bike path through the center of the facility.


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