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Ocean Park, Opinion, Transportation, Santa Monica

Ocean Park Bike Lanes Increase Danger For Motorists: Letter To The Editor

Posted Sep. 18, 2012, 2:16 am

Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

Earlier this month self described ‘happy bicyclist’ Mike Kilgore wrote a letter of public thanks to the city of Santa Monica for the new bike lanes on Ocean Park and 14th. As a ‘happy resident’ or 14th street I would also like to thank the city of Santa Monica for the bike lanes. However my reasons are very different than Mr. Kilgore’s.

As a resident of the east side of 14th, we lost approximately 12-18 inches from our already narrow road. With three schools and numerous stop signs that are often run by careless motorists it was not always easy to safely enter my vehicle before the bike lanes were added. Now with even less room on our tiny yet busy street, motorists are swerving into oncoming traffic instead of slowing to allow residents a few seconds to safely enter their automobiles. In the few weeks since the bikes lanes have gone in, I have taken great joy in seeing the terror on the faces of individuals who drive south on 14th as they fear a head on collision. Thank you for this wonderful gift each and every time I attempt to enter and exit my car.

So a big thanks to the city of Santa Monica who has decided to put both property owners and automobile drivers in danger for bike lanes often ignored by the individuals whom they were created for. I look forward to the day when I get to witness two cars collide before my own two eyes as a result of poor city planning.

Justin Watt

Santa Monica

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Sep. 18, 2012, 3:35:17 am

Gary Kavanagh said...

14th was a road with overly wide lanes for it's land use, where car speeding and high impact crashes between cars were common. I know because I live on 14th. Also as a ground floor apartment resident, we get less auto fumes in our window because the bike lanes pushed the car travel path further from the curb. Narrower car lanes of 10 or 11 ft. correlate with slightly reduced top speeds and have in traffic safety studies shown to be no more dangerous than 12-14ft lanes in mixed use surface street contexts. We'll see in the data in the coming years how much a difference it makes on 14th, but the bike lanes that went in on Ocean Park were associated with a 50% reduction in vehicle collisions of all types following the change. I also find it rather disturbing that someone that very well could be a neighbor of mine, apparently takes great "joy" in seeing "terror" on peoples faces and looks forward to vehicle crashes. And even if that is all just a bunch of joking sarcasm, traffic collisions are no laughing matter, and the street as it was before was in my opinion far more dangerous, and I expect given time to collect data, we'll see that confirmed by evidence. It is often the case that road designs that "feel" dangerous to drivers are the safest ones. People report roundabouts as "feeling" dangerous, but they have fewer serious crashes. People report narrow streets as feeling more dangerous, but the deaths rack up on the wider ones. When drivers feel safe, they often overcompensate by taking more risk and speeding with confidence, and overconfidence is what causes many of the worst crashes.

Sep. 18, 2012, 5:17:56 am

Cyclist in SM said...

Justin, the roads belong to everyone, not just auto drivers. Those 12-18 inches you lost in exchange for a bike lane are the ONLY thing protecting me from drivers like you who clearly have little regard for other humans (yeah, cyclists are human too). That fear you feel when a car passes too close as you get in your car is the fear we cyclist experience every single time a driver tries to pass.

Sep. 18, 2012, 6:31:30 am

Mike Baehr said...

I was linked to this by a friend. Unfortunately, we've had the same kind of complaints here in San Francisco. And they're equally baseless and selfish. The 5-10 seconds you spend getting in and out of your vehicle is the only time you need to exercise extra caution in traffic. Does it hurt so much to look both ways and wait for an opening? A bike lane can protect a bicyclist from numerous hazards along the entire length of his journey (or at least a substantial portion). Is it more important that you not have to look where you're going when you enter and exit your car (which both occur once per trip) than that I have to be extra afraid of someone running me over for the entire time I'm on your street? I don't spend the rest of my ride in a steel and glass cage. You do. Justin clearly has his priorities straight. And in the number one spot: Justin!

Sep. 18, 2012, 2:14:02 pm

Elmer Slinsky said...

The decisions made in regards to Ocean Park Blvd, is nothing short of a train wreck. I am seeking the person(s) that made these ludicrous decisions. Bike lanes (For bikers that ignore traffic laws), shrinking lanes for cars, and ridiculous arrows and endless lights have turned this once well running street into a dangerous parking lot. Somebody....Stop this fiasco, and bring this important street back to what it was before this insanity.

Sep. 19, 2012, 2:50:58 am

Ron Di Costanzo said...

Another angry nimby driver. Will this nonsense never end? Cycles and cars have equal rights ON the road. If drivers were less apoplectic and frantically rushing, and if cyclists followed the laws and were (at times) less obnoxious, perhaps we could live in some sense of peace. Perhaps.

Sep. 19, 2012, 3:14:03 am

tg said...

i live on 11th street and feel as though they should have put bike lanes on the less busy streets. my husband is a bike rider and i do enjoy watching all the biking events pass my home, but i feel there is too much danger for less experienced bikers who may want to use the lanes. around the chuch and school areas things can be quite scary with the jaywalkers! and now with these lanes, can we please keep the bikes off the sidewalk????? see you at bike ms!

Sep. 19, 2012, 3:33:19 am

Cindy said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you. Ocean Park Blvd. is another example of poor traffic planning. The morning traffic is at a crawl on that street and makes it difficult to get to work in a timely fashion. Now they are about to do the same thing to the portion of this street west of Lincoln. I can see that going to one lane in each direction. Just wait until the City gets its hands on Lincoln Blvd. with dedicated bus lanes and bike lanes, with traffic down to one lane. Here we go!

Sep. 19, 2012, 3:50:33 am

Gary Kavanagh said...

Ocean Park in it's prior configuration had 50% more traffic collisions than after what is sometimes referred to as a "road diet", and only marginal difference to travel times. Given these facts from data collected, anyone wanting the street to go back to it's prior configuration wants more injury, property damage, and death in exchange for a little more motoring convenience. I certainly don't agree with those ethics. Human life and equitable access to transportation options should comes before motoring convenience.

Sep. 19, 2012, 4:34:26 am

Kathleen Bawn said...

I have live in Sunset Park for 15 years. I use the streets under discussion (14th, 11th, Ocean Park) daily, both in my car and on my bike. I think the new lane configurations and bike lanes are a tremendous improvement. Yes, car traffic can be slow on Ocean Park at commute times, but it is no worse than before the change. Now (as the previous commenter noted) there are fewer accidents, and traffic is calmer. Driving feels safer because impatient speeders can't weave in and out of lanes. Because of the new bike lanes, I am now taking my bicycle on many trips when I used to use a car. That's good for traffic, good for the environment and good for me. When I bike, I arrive at my destination happy, refreshed and alert. I'm grateful to the city for making these improvements.

Sep. 20, 2012, 12:42:40 am

Mark said...

Justin, you don't get it do you?

Sep. 21, 2012, 4:32:32 pm

Mr. Fred said...

I live just off of 18th and Ocean Park and I am glad to see the bicyclists now riding in their own lane. If feel much safer driving in my car now that I don't have to navigate around bikes that used to be in the middle of the road. I have my space and now they have their own space. The bike lanes are a big improvement to safety and I hope the city will install more of them.

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