Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

SRTS: A Student Biker's Opinion

Series: SRTS | Story 1

A major overhaul of Ocean Park Blvd last year reduced it to one lane in each direction, but added bike lanes in each direction. Will the proposal for Michigan and Lincoln similarly restrict cars, in order to favor bikes?

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program has unveiled a plan to help improve the Samohi campus's transportation issues, proposing new bike routes, the rerouting of streets near the school and other improvements in the neighboring areas. Included in the plan is the Michigan Avenue Greenway, which would create a green bike path along Michigan Avenue from the Bergamot Station area to Samohi.

These plans have gained support from students and administrators, among others, but some parents and residents living near the school have their fair shares of complaints.

"We should just close the Michigan gate completely," one outraged neighbor said at the SRTS meeting on Oct. 23, referring to the main school entrance at 7th street and Michigan Avenue, where traffic is often clogged. The meeting was held at the Civic Center to gather input on the plan. About 40 people attended.

For students who bike to school every day, new bike lanes and other safety improvements would be a plus. The drop-off at 7th and Michigan in the mornings is like fighting through a jungle of vehicles, and pickup in the afternoon can be even worse.

The comprehensive SRTS plan was put together for the entire school district and is being funded by a state grant totaling nearly $1 million. According to the SRTS website, the tenets of the program are "engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation," or the "five E's." As idealistic (and alliterative) as it sounds, it has practical goals.

Some parts of the plan seem unrealistic or of dubious value, for instance, a one-block, two-way bike lane in the middle of Pico Boulevard from 6th to 7th street. Or the plan to make Michigan Avenue and 7th Street both one-way. The one-way street plan, in particular, drew angry responses at the meeting. More popular plans included adding a left turn lane from 7th street onto Pico Boulevard, which could reduce bicycle accidents.

"What I know is that there is not one single project that is going to make everyone happy," Glickert said. "I hope parents realize a little inconvenience on their part can go a long way for students."

I am a Samohi student who rides a bike to and from school every day. I have been hit by cars several times. If Michigan and 7th were one-way streets and if there were bike lanes going down both, there would be fewer collisions when someone opens a car door too quickly or makes a turn out of the alley off Michigan without looking both ways.

Luckily, I have never been severely injured, but I know students who have broken limbs or gotten thrown off their bikes because some careless or tired driver didn't pay attention to the road.

The SRTS program, through bike lanes and dedicated routes to school, will not only increase safety, but also decrease the number of cars. With safer routes to school, students will want to bike and will be safer doing it.


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