The West Hollywood City Council agreed tonight to implement a series of short-term measures to improve crosswalk safety on Santa Monica Boulevard and ask city staff members to conduct a further study of more major moves, such as installing stoplights at the intersections of Santa Monica with Westmount Drive and Hancock Avenue.
The short-term measures include:
- Installing signs such as those currently used for special events and temporary lane closures to warn drivers to be aware of pedestrian crosswalks. The city currently is using several such signs on Santa Monica Boulevard. The staff proposes purchasing three additional ones.
- Adjusting traffic lights at Robertson and San Vicente boulevards to allow additional time for pedestrians to cross on Friday and Saturday nights when the restaurants and nightclubs are most active.
- Installing pedestrian crosswalk signs in the road at crosswalks along Santa Monica Boulevard at Palm Avenue, Hancock Avenue, Westmount Drive, West Knoll Drive, Orange Grove Avenue and Ogden Drive.
- Installing raised pavement markers at crosswalks along Santa Monica at Palm Avenue, Hancock Avenue, Westmount Drive, West Knoll Drive, Orange Grove Avenue and Ogden Drive, none of which currently have stoplights. The reflective raised markers would make the crosswalks more visible to drivers.
The short-term measures are part of a $1.4 million plan presented to the Council that would eventually include stop lights at crosswalks on Santa Monica Boulevard’s intersections with Westmount Drive and Hancock Avenue and pedestrian-activated crosswalk warning lights at Santa Monica’s intersections with West Knoll Drive and Palm Avenue. The plan recommends installing a lighted crosswalk mid-block between Orange Grove Avenue and Ogden Drive and replacing crosswalks now in existence at each of those intersections with Santa Monica Boulevard.
City Council members agreed to delay implementation of the permanent measures, asking for further study to assess their impact on local businesses and nearby neighborhoods and to get more input from residents on the city’s Eastside. Councilmember John Duran, for example, said he was concerned that installing more stoplights would further slow traffic on Santa Monica and lead drivers to take shortcuts through residential areas. Councilmember Jeffrey Prang said he was especially concerned that a proposal to install a stoplight at Santa Monica and Hancock would lead to drivers turning left off Santa Monica onto Hancock to take a shortcut.
Overall, the plan proposed by the city staff would add four new traffic signals to Santa Monica Boulevard between La Cienega and San Vicente, each more than 400 feet apart. A report by the city staff members notes that such spacing is not unusual for central business districts and is similar to that on Santa Monica Boulevard between Sweetzer and La Cienega.
The city staff report predicts the addition of stop lights between La Cienega and San Vicente will reduce the number of U-turns that now occur at the San Vicente and Westbourne intersections and have slowed traffic.
The pedestrian crosswalk safety proposal is a reaction to a series of recent crosswalk accidents that spurred demands for action from local residents including a demonstration in the crosswalk at Santa Monica Boulevard and Hancock Avenue.
To date, 17 pedestrians have been hit by cars while in crosswalks this year. In August, Clinton Bounds, a well-known figure in West Hollywood’s gay nightlife circles, was killed when he was hit by a car while crossing Santa Monica Boulevard on foot. Bounds apparently was not in the Hancock Avenue crosswalk. Nevertheless, his death sparked outrage among local residents who felt the city wasn’t doing enough to improve crosswalk safety. Residents launched a petition drive on Change.org to press the Council to act. An earlier accident in which a man was hit by a car while in a crosswalk on Westmount Drive led to the formation of Cross Safe WeHo, also a campaign to get the city to act on the issue.
The city also is developing a crosswalk safety education campaign that will include a video by famed YouTube performer Todrick Hall. It already has posted crosswalk safety signs on bus stop shelters on Santa Monica Boulevard titled “Wink Then Walk,” reminding pedestrians to catch the eye of drivers to ensure they’re seen before they cross the street.