Congratulations to Metro Breeze, Santa Monica Spoke and all involved in the successful delivery of a bike rental system. When this effort first started I enthusiastically supported the effort to transform Santa Monica into a bike AND pedestrian friendly city. However, once again, the pedestrians have been completely abandoned. When I visited a few of the Metro Breeze bike stations around my area I noticed neither the bikes, stalls, kiosks nor adjacent sidewalks include any information that it’s illegal for cyclists to ride on Santa Monica sidewalks. Sure enough, within a few hours of the Breeze ribbon cutting ceremony I watched a cyclist on a Metro Breeze bike race past me on a Broadway sidewalk. This morning I watched a young woman talking on her cell phone peddling her Metro Breeze bike straight toward me on an 11th St. sidewalk.
According to the few police officers to whom I’ve spoken, they’re reluctant to issue citations for sidewalk cycling because 1) It’s legal in Los Angeles and 2) There’s no posted information about sidewalk cycling being illegal in Santa Monica. The Metro Breeze bike project was the perfect opportunity to inform new and existing cyclists about the law by posting the information. A simple red “no bikes on sidewalks” symbol (like those at Arizona and 2nd St.) on the bike kiosks, bikes or sidewalks adjacent to the Metro Breeze stations would have been something to make those of us who travel by foot, feel acknowledged. However, none of that was done. Santa Monica REALLY missed a chance to show pedestrians they do matter by including the information. Once again pedestrians get a lot of lip service but no action from those tunnel-visioned for cyclists.
I suggest every pedestrian smile politely and request, “Please use the bike lanes” when a sidewalk cyclist passes because the city and police aren’t going to do anything.
What could be done is: 1) Add simple “no bikes” signage on the sidewalks at intersections 2) Fix the sidewalks to make them safer for pedestrians 3) Make sidewalks wider and paved with something that doesn’t result in broken easy-to-trip-over surfaces (decomposed granite perhaps?) 4) Unify the walk signals at every traffic light so crossing the street doesn’t require a correctly timed button push 5) Create diagonal pedestrian crosswalks, like those in Beverly Hills, to expedite pedestrian traffic 6) Require all construction sites provide safe pedestrian access rather than blocking foot traffic for months 7) Direct the police to enforce the no-sidewalk-cyclists law during daylight hours in all areas including east of Lincoln Boulevard.
Otherwise, just rescind the sidewalk cyclist law, widen the sidewalks to the curbs and stripe/divide them (like the beach path south of the pier) so pedestrians and cyclists know where they are allowed to walk/ride safely in this city. If not that, turn the expensive bike lanes into pedestrian lanes and let the cyclists have the sidewalks.
Lots of cities with fewer resources than Santa Monica have created pedestrian walkways for their citizens in an integrated plan that encourages pedestrian travel. Santa Monica is not leading the way when it comes to getting around on foot and other than the Third Street Promenade, it is not a pedestrian friendly city. In this city anything with a wheel has priority. Anyone on foot – good luck.
-Dee Cappelli, Santa Monica