Ocean Avenue Project

Ocean Avenue is one of the most iconic and highly used streets in Santa Monica. The onset of the pandemic created a greater need for the community to be able to spend more time outdoors, and the City quickly mobilized to make improvements to the streetscape. An Ocean Avenue Artists-in-Residence program explores how the street can be more people centered, and roadway enhancements feature a protected bike lane, and expansion of the eastern sidewalk for additional outdoor dining. 

Protected Bicycle Intersection

The first protected bicycle intersection in Santa Monica was installed at the intersection of Ocean and California Avenue. Protected intersections use simple design concepts to make everyone safer by moderating vehicle turn speeds, increasing separation between different modes of travel, and enhancing visibility of people walking, biking and scooting.

The purpose of the protected intersection at Ocean and California Avenue is to create safe connections between three main routes - the Ocean Avenue bikeway, California Avenue bike lanes, and the California Incline bike and pedestrian path. The design allows someone biking to connect to all these routes without ever having to merge with vehicle traffic. By adding corner safety islands, the protected intersection moderates right turn vehicle speeds improving safety for people crossing on foot and by bike. It also improves visibility for all users by changing the angle of the right turn approach to the crosswalk.  Find out more on how to use protected intersections here.

Update: The protected intersection was first installed in Winter 2020. As a result of onsite observations and in response to community feedback, the City will be implementing modifications at the intersection to increase navigability, including green bike markings to guide bicyclists through the intersection, restoration of the southbound right turn lane onto the California Incline, and installation of additional flexible posts to highlight areas of the intersection. Construction of the Ocean & California Intersection improvements are scheduled to begin March 21, 2022 and be completed by April 30, 2022. See the construction notice for more information. 



Above: Aerial view of the Ocean & California intersection before (left photo) and after modifications (right photo). 

Roadway Enhancements

The Ocean Avenue Project has two main components:

  • On the west-side of Ocean Avenue, between California and Colorado avenues, the project creates a protected two-way bikeway. This connects the Colorado Esplanade and California Incline bikeways, creating a continuous protected route from the Downtown Santa Monica Metro light rail station to the beach.
  • On the east-side of the Ocean Avenue, select on-street parking spaces were repurposed to expand the sidewalk to allow additional outdoor dining space while also maintaining safe passage for people walking.

Pedestrian, vehicle, transit, and bicycle access is maintained for the entire corridor. On the west-side of the street the project increases the amount of accessible (ADA) parking spaces, but reduces the amount of standard on-street metered parking spaces. On the east-side of the street, where requested by businesses and in consultation with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc, the project reallocates some parking spaces to expand the sidewalk and increase space for outdoor dining.

Come out and take a ride or walk on Ocean Avenue to take in views of Palisades Park or head down the California Incline, and spend a day at the beach.  


Above: A person rides their bicycle in the new Ocean Avenue bikeway 


Artists in Residence

Through the Ocean Avenue Artists in Residence program, Here LA, an interdisciplinary design group, engaged residents and businesses in identifying and exploring additional ways of making the street people centered. Conversations with local stakeholders and over 500 survey responses revealed that what people love most about the street is resounding: the unique natural setting, views of the Ocean, and the location of the street and park atop the bluff. Competing with this natural beauty is the nearby traffic corridor, which is a key gateway to the Pier, Third Street Promenade, the Downtown Santa Monica Expo Station, Tongva Park, and the rest of downtown. Due to this, much of the street’s physical space is dedicated to vehicles, which separates people from the park and views. 

To bridge the divide, Here LA used artistic activations that both celebrated and explored ways of improving the street. A temporary art installation was mounted in Palisades Park to draw attention to the west side of the street and to create a unique visual that further complemented the views. To enliven the space and engage passersby, a one-day pop-up event on Saturday, December 12 included large scale play furniture and a way to provide visual feedback. The art installation will be up from Thursday, December 2nd through early 2022 and can be viewed from the west or east side of the street between Broadway and Colorado Avenue. 

Read the final report on the Ocean Avenue Artists in Residence here

Above: Families enjoying the pop-up art installation in Palisades Park

Project Materials/Downloads

Project Presentation

Protected Bicycle Intersection Information Sheet

Protected Bicycle Intersection Video

Ocean Ave & California Ave Intersection Improvements Construction Notice #1

Ocean Ave & California Ave Intersection Improvements Construction Notice #2

Ocean Avenue Artists in Residence Final Report

Relevant Links

Ocean AiR Press Release

Santa Monica Blog - How to Use the New Protected Bicycle Intersection at Ocean and California

Santa Monica Economic Recovery

Temporary Use of Sidewalks, Parking Spaces, and Private Outdoor Spaces for Extra Outdoor Area

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