Pedestrians run across the crosswalk on Colorado Avenue and Second Street on Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Paul Alvarez Jr.)

Trains, planes and automobiles are the transportation cliché but City Hall wants human-powered transport to become the new normal.

The council formally adopted the Pedestrian Action Plan at their Feb. 23 meeting, codifying and centralizing existing pedestrian friendly programs under a consistent organizational structure while also creating a roadmap for future programs that will facilitate walking citywide.

“It’s really part of a commitment,” said Beth Rolandson, Principal Transportation Planner. “A commitment the City has already been making, a commitment for City resources directly into Expo light rail, the City’s commitment that the council made to be a vision zero and 8-80 community and part of the commitment of having a mobility strategic goal and call to action on how we prioritize and fund projects and how do we create the leadership and capacity to implement practice and program change.”

Rolandson said the plan is important because Santa Monica continues to experience pedestrian accidents despite verbal promises to a variety of pedestrian friendly philosophies like Vision Zero (that calls for zero fatalities on municipal streets) and 8-80 (a concept that streets should be safe for everyone, regardless of age).

“Every year someone comes to Santa Monica and doesn’t go home,” she said. “Every week someone crosses the street and goes to the emergency room before they go home and that’s something everyone has a shared interest in changing.”

The Pedestrian action Plan is part of an effort to rethink transportation and mobility citywide. It is part planning document and part action plan, providing a philosophical framework for evaluating the ease of walking citywide while also making specific recommendations for pedestrian improvement projects.

The plan outlines where accidents happen (all over the city but focused on major roadways), who is injured (mostly children and seniors), when crashes occur (predominantly twilight/evening hours) and causes (70 percent of serious accidents are caused by cars).

It discusses changes to internal practices that will put pedestrians at the forefront of planning decisions, recommends programs to shape behavior and provides a list of physical projects to aid pedestrians.

The plan divides potential infrastructure improvements into near, medium and long-term brackets. Some projects are already underway, such as replacing the bridge at the Santa Monica Pier, and those have existing funding. Projects yet to begin are not expressly funded in the plan but by providing the list of needs, staff said council will be able to easily implement new projects when funding becomes available.

Council’s acceptance of the plan this week does not guarantee funding for any new work and council members said any new actions will require additional public hearings for funding approval.

Councilwoman Sue Himmelrich said a focus on lighting would be helpful for the senior community.

“I think its important to keep in mind that for seniors, lighting on the street is a safety issue in the sense that they don’t want to fall down and break a hip but also a safety in the sense that they don’t want to feel they are potential victims in a dark area,” she said.

Councilman Kevin McKeown said the City has earned a reputation for promoting walking that has helped contribute to Santa Monica’s quality of life.

“It has a lot to do with a sense of community, to be able to get out of your car and walk around the neighborhood and see people,” he said.

Councilwoman Gleam Davis said she wanted the plan to remain flexible enough to accommodate new ideas and retain a connection to the city’s larger planning efforts.

“As we embark on this, we have to look at this holistically,” she said. “This is a plan that is about the infrastructure that will make it safer and easier for people to walk in our streets but we also have to give them reasons to walk in our streets. So they need places to walk so consistent with this is the place making that goes with it,” she said. “Yes, we want them to walk to transit, but we also want them to walk to restaurants.”

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...