SANTA MONICA- Santa Monica City Council approved roadway safety improvements for Wilshire Boulevard on Tuesday, February 11. Safety improvements being made come as part of Santa Monica’s Vision Zero that seeks to eliminate fatal and severe injury collisions.
Four of the ten intersections that are targeted for improvements are located on Wilshire Boulevard at 16th, 18th, 21st, and 25th Streets. After conducting a one-year study funded by Caltrans’ Sustainable Communities Transportation Planning Grant Program, collision data and input from 600 residents reported:
- 89 percent of severe injuries to people walking and biking occur at the unsignalized intersections, even though they represent fewer than half of the corridor intersections
- It is difficult for drivers to make left turns, which leads to safety issues and delays for all roadway users. These movements represent fewer than one percent of the intersection volume, but represent 20 percent of intersection crashes
- There is a high frequency of failure to yield pedestrian crashes. This is complicated by a combination of the multi-lane nature of the roadway, uncontrolled movements, and reduced visibility due to red zone violations
- Signalized intersections have a higher crash rate when compared to unsignalized intersections. A majority of crashes at signalized intersections are vehicle to vehicle and represent only 11 percent of the fatal and severe injuries involving pedestrians and bicyclists
The Study recommends a phased approach so that enhancements can be deployed quickly, with available funding, tested and evaluated, and modified as required before more permanent are designed and constructed. The measures will begin implementation this year using existing funding that include:
- Right-turn only from stop-controlled side streets at 13 intersections along the corridor to reduce angle crashes, improve pedestrian safety, and reduce motorist confusion
- Pedestrian activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at five locations (10th, 18th, 22nd 25th, and Franklin Streets) to further alert drivers and to enhance pedestrian visibility
- Corridor-wide signage and pavement marking enhancements at all unsignalized crossings including, but not limited to: enhanced pedestrian warning signage, advanced yield line markings (i.e., “Shark’s Teeth”), and white edge lines to delineate the parking lane to provide more cues to drivers to yield and drive safely
- Enhanced North-South Bicycle Connections at each of the existing north-south bicycle routes crossing Wilshire at Sixth, Seventh, 11th, 14th, and Yale Streets. These enhanced markings would help inform bicyclists of parallel routes available, and improve driver awareness of people on bicycles. Markings at 17th Street and Ocean Avenue would be addressed concurrently as part of separate capital projects
- Restrict U-turns along the Wilshire Boulevard eastbound and westbound approaches where appropriate
- Test improvements to hot spot intersections with temporary materials to observe safety conditions for effectiveness before seeking funding to install in a more permanent fashion
“After a full year of grant-funded community conversation about making Wilshire a better street while protecting its importance as a major travel corridor, we’re coming back with significant improvements that will make the Boulevard safer for everyone, whether you’re walking, biking, busing, scooting, or driving,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown.
The estimated cost for Phase One is $1 – 1.5 million. City Council is actively seeking funding grants and other funding sources to assist in implementation of future phases.