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City Council Green Lights Safety Improvements for Wilshire Boulevard

February 12, 2020 7:58 AM

City Council Green Lights Safety Improvements for Wilshire Boulevard

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – At its meeting last night, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved roadway safety improvements for Wilshire Boulevard as part of the City’s commitment to Vision Zero, the elimination of fatal and severe injury collisions by 2026. To reach this goal, ten intersections are targeted for safety improvements. Four are on Wilshire Boulevard--at 16th, 18th, 21st, and 25th Streets.

“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 one-year study, funded through Caltrans’ Sustainable Communities Transportation Planning Grant Program, used comprehensive collision data and input from 600 residents to come up with the following key findings:

  • 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 very 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 the unsignalized 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.  However, 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.
  • Many of the signalized intersections do not currently have fully protected left-turn phasing, which may contribute to the occurrence of left-turn crashes and conflicts with crossing 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 and capital-intensive measures are designed and constructed. Short-term measures are primarily those that can be accomplished with signal timing, paint, signage, flexposts and other temporary materials that do not require substantial design or reconstruction. These measures will begin implementation this year using existing funding. They 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.

The City currently has funding for the design and implementation of the Phase One improvements (and associated evaluations) and a small portion of the Phase Two improvements. The estimated cost for Phase One is $1 - 1.5 million. Staff will be looking for grant and other funding sources and strategies to assist in implementation of future phases. The staff report summarizes key findings, outreach, and study recommendations.

As staff advances the Wilshire Safety Study recommendations, staff will continue to provide project updates through the Take the Friendly Road Campaign and refine treatments based on evaluation and community feedback. Learn moreabout Vision Zero and Take the Friendly Road.




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