MAKE SURE IT'S SAFE: Mariel Lougee, of Venice, secures her bicycle at a bike corral located on Main Street on Wednesday. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

MAIN LIBRARY — A group of “professional pedestrians” met with professional planners and volunteer commissioners Sept. 23 at the main library to discuss the City’s upcoming Pedestrian Action Plan.
The evening event allowed residents to browse elements of the plan, talk one-on-one with city staff and participate in an informal hearing with the Planning Commission.
The goal is for the plan to be adopted alongside the City’s other zoning documents to provide a guide for any future development. The hope is that any modifications to city streets, whether by commercial developers, regular maintenance or the city’s organized upgrades, will include measures to make walking safer, more convenient and more prevalent. The plan has a few action items associated with its adoption but is predominantly an advisory document.
Planning Commission Chair Jason Parry said the goal of the open house was to provide residents with a chance to influence the document prior to a formal discussion in November.
“No one knows the challenges to walking safely in Santa Monica more intimately than those who regularly walk their neighborhood,” he said. “The Commission tweaked the meeting format to hear more from them, and I’m glad we did. Their comments will help our discussion of the draft plan on November 5.”
Residents described problems with specific intersections, highlighted a lack of awareness/education and expressed a frustration with the way pedestrians are treated on the roads.
Megan Cavanaugh said the city’s mindset needs to change to think of pedestrians first, including easier reporting of problems, improved infrastructure and an assumption that people will be walking rather than a hope they might start walking.
“If we want pedestrians everywhere, we should assume they are everywhere and adjust our cycles accordingly,” she said.
Marjorie Campbell said drivers either don’t see or don’t care about pedestrians in crosswalks and bicycles on the sidewalk also pose a problem.
“I’m constantly frustrated with cars turning on me,” she said. “It scares me because I’m not as fleet of foot as I used to be.”
Grace Phillips called for more crosswalks at major intersections and slowing traffic as a means of moving towards a “Vision Zero” plan.
“Anything that slows traffic at pedestrian areas should be embraced,” she said.
Vision Zero is a philosophical approach to pedestrian/bike/car relationship that aims for zero dangerous interactions. The concept began in Europe and has been adopted in several American cities.
Planning Commissioner Richard McKinnon called for an immediate implementation of Vision Zero in Santa Monica citing the need to go beyond the Pedestrian Plan to make significant changes.
“Vision Zero means a complete rethinking of streets,” he said. “We’ve got a very old style city with red lights and stop lights on corners that basically means we have the same kind of movement around the streets that we had 10 or 20 years ago.
He said the City has long known it has a problem with cars/bikes/pedestrians citing a steady stream of reported accidents in the City that averages about 100 people injured per year.
“That’s not counting the people that get hurt but don’t call it in … There’s a mindset of acceptance inside the City for level of pedestrian, bike and car related problems. We need to try to create streets where cars and pedestrian interactions don’t occur.”
For more information on Pedestrian Action Plan, visit www.smgov.net/Departments/PCD/Plans/Pedestrian-Action-Plan.
matt@www.smdp.com

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