Wouldn’t it be Nice

Drivers of automobiles and trucks must take and pass a test before they can receive a license or permit to legally drive a vehicle. Also motorcyclists must take and pass a test before they can receive a license or permit to legally operate their vehicle. Wouldn’t it be nice, and wise, if ones who ride bicycles were to take and pass a test in order to receive a license or permit to ride a bicycle in Santa Monica and any place elsewhere that they desire. Then, just maybe, the majority of bicyclists would know and pay attention to some of the basic rules of the road which are (1) to stop at red lights and wait for the green light to appear before continuing on their way, (2) to stop at all stop signs and wait until it is safe for them to proceed, and (3) not to ride a bike on the sidewalks. If this were to occur, then more than likely, there would be fewer accidents and fatalities involving autos, bikes, and pedestrians. Oh well. I can dream, can’t I?

Ben Stegall
Santa Monica

Walking in Santa Monica

As a recent transplant to southern California I was fully prepared to drive as little as possible anywhere in LA county. What I did not count on as an avid walker was having to protect myself as a pedestrian. I love living in Santa Monica yet literally my life is at risk on the sidewalks of this city. Every day as I walk to and from work or around Santa Monica, I must deal with skate boarders and bicyclists on the sidewalk and cars not adhering to pedestrians in the crosswalk. I see a clearly marked bike lane for the cyclists yet they choose on a regular basis to move four feet to the right or left to cruise on the sidewalk. I consistently have cars turn and pass me when I am in the middle of the crosswalk, waving “thank you” like I have a choice. Let’s see me stopping a hurtling ton of metal. I don’t think so. Lately I am noticing I should probably walk in the nicely marked bike lane; I sure would feel safer. And hardly any cyclist is using them.

The sidewalks need police monitoring desperately.

On average I have four skateboarders and five or six bikes pass me on the sidewalks daily – how about we all simply walk on the sidewalk.

Do you have any idea how badly injured if not killed a pedestrian would be if hit by a bicycle or a skateboarder? I shudder every time one flies past me, knowing first hand the injuries incurred by just such accidents that are preventable. What if a child is hit? How about the elderly?

Please Santa Monica City Council, do something before a serious injury (and lawsuit) occurs.

Please all of you driving: be aware of all pedestrians just trying to get across the street (legally.) Driving is a privilege not a right so I beg of you pay attention to what is going on outside of your car, slow down, chill; a life is much more important than you getting where you are going three seconds faster.

You do know the pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk, not you? I can honestly say even with as proactively cautious as I am when walking; it is not if but only a matter of time until when a very serious injury or death occurs with a pedestrian paying the price. I am diligently trying to make sure daily it isn’t me.

Ann Deskins
Santa Monica

Your Column Here: Pedestrians Strike Back

Oh, the joys of the pedestrian in Santa Monica – at least apart from 3rd Street Promenade, where – so far – no cars have yet mowed down our fellow featherless bipeds.

But on any other location east of the Pacific Ocean, and at just about any time of day or night, it’s quite another story, as the sorry annals of this increasingly clogged dragway for distracted, drugged, or technology-drunken motorists attests.

Dare to cross any of Santa Monica’s main streets by day or night, whether it’s at a traffic light (and you have the walk light), or at the zebra stripes, and you’d better be armed with an 8-foot flaming spear and an air horn to announce your – safety be damned – courageous intent to cross the street.

Even if you’re not a pedestrian, and fancy you’re safe confining yourself to the sands, forget it. Now you’ve got to watch out for lifeguards or other motorists barreling down the beaches in their vehicles. (Tourists from out of town, I wish this would reach you, too.)

For – don’t you know ? – everyone is texting. And not only texting, but checking their GPS for the nearest donut shop. And fiddling with their tablets. And talking on the phone (hands-free or not – the studies suggest both are equally bad). And changing the CD. And watching Netflix on their smartphone.

Sometimes they may be doing all of the above – and looking right at you.

So, dear vulnerable ones – that is, you there who dare to cross Santa Monica streets knowing that you put your life and limb on the line – take a few words of advice from this resident, who has acquired some reasonably inexpensive armaments as preemptive strikes/defensive missiles:

a rolled up New Yorker magazine to hold high in your hand with the look of a deranged asylum escapee on your face;

used tennis balls to throw at approaching cars – aim for the windshield, driver’s side – remember, it’s your life that’s at stake;

a large liquor bottle, preferably empty, also to hold high in your hand and wave maniacally as you enter the intersection;

a baseball bat – you sports fans, especially – it’s amazingly effective when wielded wildly in circles as you prepare to step off the curb.

And now we come to what to do when the defensive maneuvers don’t work – the punitive measures:

Use the aforesaid rolled-up New Yorker as retaliation – aim for the passenger side of the car. Just be prepared to run and hide if the driver slams on the brakes and comes after you.

Take a very thick leather jacket – strike the side of the passing motorist’s car – it sounds very much like a dead body. “Did you just hit my car?” “Of course not.” And run. These guys are homicidal.

Ladies especially will appreciate the joys of this one: a bottle of neon-bright pink nail polish to smash at the offending vehicle – so they’re easy to tag assuming any police are around to pursue (though be prepared to be arrested for some silly offense, like protecting your life)

As the car backs up onto your feet, or rolls out of an alleyway without looking and you’re blithely passing on the sidewalk, hammer your fists like mad on the hood or the trunk and scream four-letter epithets at the top of your lungs.

These measures serve didactic purposes (maybe the buggers will think twice next time) and also slake your urge for revenge.

Did I say I speak from personal experience?

Now that might get me into trouble with the authorities, so I’ll just leave you guessing.

In the meantime, maybe someone will raise the issue of pedestrian safety at a city council meeting – though for sure she’ll be drowned out by the money-starved developers, or worse, the effete city leaders sitting high and mighty on the dais will just turn an indifferent ear.

Judith Koffler
Santa Monica

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