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Fatalities Spur Bicycle Enforcement Program in Santa Monica

From 2015 through 2018, there were 228 pedestrian-bicycle injury accidents in Santa Monica, according to police records and tragically, six of those resulted in fatalities. To combat this, the city received a grant of $385,000 to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

The grant came from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to help the Santa Monica combat the rising collisions between pedestrians and cyclists. The funds are being used to help educate cyclists and pedestrians of the rules of the road and to enforce those laws to increase safety and hopefully decrease injuries and fatalities.

The OTS grant program allots funds every year to address areas of concern, and pedestrian and bicycle safety is one of the areas of program priority as listed on the department’s website.

Santa Monica Safety Program

The Santa Monica Police Department began using the funds in May, 2019, and stepped up code enforcement against both cyclist and pedestrians. A police spokesperson said, that cyclists and pedestrians alike need to pay attention to their surrounds when traveling in high traffic, pedestrian and bicycle areas, and he’s hoping that this program will help them do just that.

Enforcement Efforts

Police want to remind cyclists that when they are riding in and near the city streets, they are bound to the same laws and codes that motor vehicles must follow. The program’s primary focus will be on enforcement of the traffic codes for cyclist violators and pedestrians who primarily cross the street illegally.

Additional officers are assigned to high pedestrian and bicycle traffic zones and will focus on the following areas:

  • Cyclists obeying the rules of the road including using hand signals to turn and yielding to the right-of-way of pedestrians and vehicles.
  • Helmets for those under 18.
  • Pedestrians crossing in front of cars and bikes.
  • Pedestrian crossing road other than crosswalks and intersections.
  • Drivers speeding, and other traffic violations in the zone.
  • Drivers failing to give the right-of-way to both cyclists and pedestrians
  • Any behavior that violates the law and puts others at risk.

The program began in May 2019, and it’s too early to tell if it is having any positive results. Each year, grants like these are given to cities across the state to address bicycle and pedestrian safety, and hopefully as these programs go into effect, it will deliver the desired results and someday eliminated the injuries and fatalities suffered by cyclists and pedestrians.