Santa Monica Lookout
Officials Focus on Safety as Santa Monica Sees Rise in Bicyclists
By Jason Islas
June 20, 2013 -- Santa Monica is seeing a rise in the number of people pedaling through its streets, and with the rise of bicyclists comes a concerted effort to ensure the rules of the road are obeyed, City officials said.
Both encouraging cycling and educating cyclists are major components of the 2010 Bike Action Plan, which calls for new bike lanes, the new Bike Center in Downtown and other improvements to Santa Monica's bike network.
The plan seems to be working. Transportation officials say they have seen a 30 percent increase in Santa Monica employees commuting by bike, and an informal count indicated that during Bike to Work Day on May 16 some 100 people per hour passed one spot on Broadway.
“We have seen a really great increase in bicycle ridership,” said Francie Stefan, the City's Strategic and Transportation Manager. “We definitely heard loud and clear from the community that education is a high priority for the cycling community as well as everyone else.”
To that end, the City is working with its community partners to make sure bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians are learning about their rights and responsibilities in the street.
The Bike Center sponsors Sustainable Streets' “Confident City Cycling” and “Adult Learn To Ride” classes on a monthly basis in Santa Monica, said Bike Center General Manager Ron Durgin.
“Confident City Cycling emphasizes the premise that safe bicycling begins with following the rules of the road,” Durgin said. “In the CCC class students are taught to ride a bicycle in a lawful manner that is supported by the California Vehicle Code.”
Participants learn, for example, that it is illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk anywhere in Santa Monica and that, like motorists, bicyclists are required to stop at all stop signs and red signal lights.
“There is a great misconception that a bicyclist must ride as close as possible to the right edge or curb,” Durgin said. On most streets, bicyclists are allowed to use the full lane.
The City provides the classrooms for the Confident City Cycling classes and allows use of the beach bike campus off of Ocean Park Boulevard for practice.
“People are really interested,” said Stefan. “They're showing up and learning.”
The City also periodically sponsors Safe Routes to School events that encourage kids to get to school by walking, biking or taking the bus, transportation officials said.
The Safe Routes to School program also has an educational component that teaches kids about bike safety and competent riding, Stefan said.
“We've had good participation,” she said. “The students were really excited about the Safe Routes to School programs.”
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