WeHo Transportation Commission Addresses Growing Concern Over Crosswalk Safety

Capt Honings of the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station, flanked on left by Lt. Sergio Aloma and Public Safety Commissioner Desiree Sol and on right by Lt. Dave Smith, and Public Safety Commissioner Alexander Bazley, distributed crosswalk safety flyers on Santa Monica Boulevard Wednesday
Capt Honings of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, flanked on left by Lt. Sergio Aloma and Public Safety Commissioner Desiree Sol and on right by Lt. Dave Smith, and Public Safety Commissioner Alexander Bazley, distributed crosswalk safety flyers on Santa Monica Boulevard Wednesday

West Hollywood residents took their campaign for improving crosswalk safety to the city’s Transportation Commission Wednesday.

Speakers at a committee meeting, including several who had appeared before the city’s Public Safety Commission on Tuesday, reiterated a variety of recommendations. Lauren Meister, a City Council candidate, suggested that the city install pedestrian-activated crossing lights that would be synchronized with stop lights. Other suggestions included distributing pedestrian crosswalk safety brochures on the sidewalks and ticketing pedestrians who enter crosswalks while focused on their mobile phones as well as drivers who do not stop for flashing crosswalk lights.

The citizen crosswalk safety campaign has gained traction since it began after a man was hit by a car while he was in a crosswalk on Santa Monica Boulevard near Westmount on June 28. That crosswalk is one of the city’s busiest, frequently used by people walking from the 24 Hour Fitness gym on the south side of Santa Monica to the Starbucks coffee shop on the north. It has a pedestrian-activated flashing light to warn drivers to stop.

Since then a group of residents have formed Cross Safe WeHo, which chronicles its efforts to promote crosswalk safety on its Facebook page. Also, Capt. Gary Honings, who heads the West Hollywood Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, hit the streets Wednesday with members of his team and the Public Safety Commission to distribute pedestrian safety brochures. And Ruth Williams, the outgoing chair of the Public Safety Commission, urged action by the City Council and the Transportation Commission at a meeting on Tuesday. Williams expressed frustration with what she and other Public Safety Commission members saw as the Transportation Commission’s failure to address the issue.

The Transportation Commission responded to that criticism Wednesday, with David Eichman, its newly elected chair, saying it would step up its focus on pedestrian safety. Steven Brian Greene, a commission member, asked that the city’s “mobility” staff, which works on transportation issues, provide year-by-year data on pedestrian accidents and a list of city initiatives to address the issue. Committee member Steve Wayland asked that data about bicycle and pedestrian accidents be provided to the commission by city staffers at its monthly meetings. Greene also suggested the city reach out to residents of new apartment buildings opening on its Eastside to promote pedestrian safety to them.  Stephanie Harker, who spoke on the issue before the commission, said that as many as 1,500 new apartments would be opening in the area in the next few years.

Some commission members expressed disappointment that they had been criticized for inaction by members of the Public Safety Commission, which isn’t authorized to make recommendations to the City Council on pedestrian and bicycle safety issues.

Eichman said he has served in the past as the commission’s liaison with Public Safety and recommended the Transportation Commission appoint a member to attend Public Safety meetings going forward to improve their cooperation.

Outgoing chair Lindsey Horvath said that pedestrian safety has been a major concern of the Transportation Commission. “The commission has been working on this issue for quite some time,” she said. Horvath said the issue had been raised in 78 percent of the commission’s meetings and that commission members have made two field trips to look at crosswalk safety issues. Her remarks sparked a retort from a member of the audience who said “Then why haven’t you done anything about it?”

Some speakers were critical of what they saw as the city’s slow response to the issue. Larry Block, a City Council candidate and one of the organizers of Cross Safe WeHo, asked why the city has not yet put out a request for bid from crosswalk light vendors for more warning lights, which had been approved by the Council in February.

Melissa Antol, the city’s manager of long range and mobility planning, said the request for bids had been delayed while the city studied whether flashing crosswalk lights were the best possible solution.

Ben Coleman, a West Hollywood resident and member of Keep WeHo Safe, a citizens group that promotes public safety, noted the large number of possible solutions to the crosswalk issue that were under discussion. Coleman recommended the City Council create a task force with representatives from the Public Safety and Transportation commissions and Disability and Senior advisory boards, city staff members and other residents to assess the options and develop short-term and long-term plans to address the issue.

To date, West Hollywood City Council members have been silent on the crosswalk safety issue, but the Council is expected to take it up at its meeting on Monday.

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Randy Matthews
8 years ago

Completely agree with Mattymatt, except I’d also add that it would be a great feature for tourism to have a “rainbow bridge” at that crosswalk. It would be way more prominent than the rainbow crosswalks, and would serve as a “welcome sign” to those driving west on SMB, right into the heart of the gayest party of West Hollywood. Sort of like the pink neon sign in Hillcrest. And yes, the city can afford it, and would probably see a return on investment with an increase in tourism. I just don’t know if it could be built tall enough to… Read more »

Don
Don
8 years ago

As a WeHo resident, walker and driver, I find it ridiculous that some of your proposed solutions are to get rid of the crosswalk. One of the best features of this city is its walkability. The problem is not with the crosswalks. The problem is with distracted, inconsiderate drivers. I can’t tell you how many times I have been nearly hit trying to cross ANY West Hollywood crosswalk. And don’t even get me started with the stop signs on Palm and Cynthia or Larrabee and Cynthia. Is the proposed solution to get rid of the stop signs!? Sunset used to… Read more »

mattymatt
8 years ago

Removing mid-block crossings would be a big mistake. Removing them would add around five minutes to a walking trip, which is a pretty big problem if you have limited mobility or are carrying heavy groceries. But cars only have to wait 10-20 seconds for someone to cross the street. The mid-block crossings save a ton of time for pedestrians and have a tiny impact on drivers. When I’m driving my car, I’m sitting in a comfy seat with air conditioning, barely having to move a muscle to get where I’m going. I don’t mind waiting few seconds to let someone… Read more »

Riley
Riley
8 years ago

“Outgoing chair Lindsey Horvath said that pedestrian safety has been a major concern of the Transportation Commission. “The commission has been working on this issue for quite some time,” she said. Horvath said the issue had been raised in 78 percent of the commission’s meetings and that commission members have made two field trips to look at crosswalk safety issues. Her remarks sparked a retort from a member of the audience who said “Then why haven’t you done anything about it?” I am with the audience member… if this topic has been discussed at 78% of the meetings…then why the… Read more »

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
8 years ago

City politics. It’s just ridiculous. They form a committee and decide the best option is to hand flyers to grown adults. Seriously?!?! I agree with Snarkgal above. Just take the crosswalk out, put in barriers in the median or heavy landscaping and make the people walk to the light. This is a no brainer people. Stop wasting money and time with these ridiculous committee’s. Unless you build a walkbridge over SMB or a tunnel underneath it, you will always have this problem no matter how many flashing lights there are. So just take it out. Problem solved. Next issue.

Snarkygal
Snarkygal
8 years ago

My solution? Take out the crosswalk, and ticket all jaywalkers. There is a corner with a light and crosswalk right there. To walk a half a block is too much to ask all these people coming out of a gym? There wasn’t a crosswalk there for a very long time (until Starbucks came in I believe). Walking is good for you. You all whined for a crosswalk, now you are all whining about how it is a hazard. Take it out!

skywatcher888
skywatcher888
8 years ago

And when I spoke with David Eichmann as co-chair of the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board about safety concerns at the 24hr crosswalk, my concern was returned with brushed off with disdain, and that was BEFORE the installation of the current signal.

That crosswalk is not only a hazard to pedestrians, but one of the PRIME REASONS traffic is backed up to Doheny. We need to revisit that entire intersection and come up with better solutions!

Manny
Manny
8 years ago

Wait a minute!….”The public SAFETY commission “ISN’T authorized to make recommendations to the City Council on pedestrian and bicycle SAFETY issues”…..That’s ridiculous.

It’s too bad that the residents who took the time to voice their concerns about crosswalk safety at the Public SAFETY Commission on Monday were sent on a wild goose chase to repeat themselves at the TRANSPORTATION Commission on Thursday.

(btw, what are they a “committee” or a “commission”?

Former Staff
8 years ago
Reply to  Manny

It’s “commission.” Thanks for catching the error, which has been corrected.

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