Residents of the Wilmont neighborhood are demanding changes to local roads following two crashes at the same intersection in just two weeks.
Tania Mooser died at 19th and Idaho in October and Paul Postel survived a crash at the same place last week albeit with four broken and two bruised ribs.
Postel didn’t know Mooser had been killed at the intersection two weeks earlier but as a resident of the neighborhood, he’s familiar with the two-way cross intersections. He said he approached the intersection knowing he had the right of way but cautious of the cross traffic as many people don’t give the right of way when they should. He said he saw the driver stop, move forward a couple of feet and then stop a second time as he approached the intersection. Seeing the car come to a complete stop, he proceeded to ride through the intersection when the car suddenly accelerated, striking him and sending him sprawling to the ground.
“I’m an avid cyclist,” he said. “I live here in Santa Monica and actually, my wife and I only have one car and she takes it to work so if I’m going anywhere in Santa Monica I’m riding my bike.”
He said he learned of Mooser’s death while lying on the ground after his crash.
“When I was laying on the ground and some bystanders had come and I think some woman said she was an EMT and, you know, she was holding my neck and telling me not to move and someone, an older woman came up saying, someone was killed here two weeks ago and, you know, I was laying on the pavement at the time, I mean, I didn’t know what to think of it.”
City Council is expected to discuss several ideas for improving road safety Tuesday night [after deadline for this story] and Postel said he supports any effort to prevent similar accidents in the future.
Other nearby residents are planning to attend the meeting to voice their support for additional safety efforts.
Ken Dapper lives nearby and was one of the first to respond when Mooser was killed. The experience left him shaken and motivated him to get involved with the problem. He hosted a memorial for Mooser at his home and will speak at the council meeting.
“I’m advocating that especially within the vicinity where we live, there are three schools, not high schools, grade school through middle school, more measures should be taken at these stops to be 4-way stops or speed bumps or make the markings more legible or premarkings before stop signs, whatever the city is doing with this measure to make sure they follow through.”
Dapper said he wants to give his first person experience to the council and work to prevent anyone else from having the same experiences in the future. He also said he wanted more input from local police officers on safety measures.
“I have spoken to the police multiple times and investigators and they all say that they wish they [council] consulted with them more about what to do,” he said.
Resident Leah Polk said she also wanted to see more action in the area after seeing both recent crashes and many others.
“I live right at that intersection and walked outside just after both recent incidents, plus I’ve witnessed several other near misses over the years,” she said. “A few months ago two cars came within about an inch of a pretty nasty crash right in front of me as I walked to pick up my kids at school and then just yesterday I saw a car have to slam on its brakes headed north on 21st Street at Idaho because a teenager on an electric bike shot right through that intersection without stopping [it’s also a two-way stop like 19th and Idaho].”
Many intersections in the Wilmont neighborhood are two-way, not four-way and one of the ideas before council will be moving more to four-way in addition to adding warning signs.
Once his ribs heal, Postel plans to get back on his bike as both he and his wife are avid cyclists but he’s already feeling less safe, even as a pedestrian, following his crash.
“I don’t want to ride in fear, but I do riding around town. I think I am certainly going to be more cautious. I mean, I thought I was careful with cars before. But sure, I’m sure it’s going to have an effect on me honestly. I’ve been out walking around the neighborhood a few times, just crossing the street and it kind of freaked out. I mean, I’m sure that’ll lessen over time but it’s pretty, pretty scary.”