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SMPD to Hold Expanded Traffic Safety Operation Starting Monday


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By Lookout Staff

June 14, 2024 -- The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) will engage in "extra enforcement efforts" with a Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation that will take place all of next week.

The operation marks an expansion of SMPD's efforts to crack down on on behaviors responsible for collisions involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, which typically involve operations that last a day.

During the week-long operation, traffic officers "will be looking for violations committed by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians alike that can lead to life changing injuries."

The violations include speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.

Police officials remind bicyclists that they must follow similar traffic laws as motorists, must travel in the same direction of traffic and have the same requirements as any slow moving vehicle.

They should also avoid riding too close to parked cars and use available bike lanes unless making a left turn, passing or approaching a place where a right turn is allowed.

Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

All cyclists should always wear a helmet, while those under 18 years of age must wear them by law.

Police advise pedestrians to "be predictable," "use crosswalks, when available and "be extra careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night."

AB 2147, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2022, allows pedestrians to cross a street against a traffic light or outside a crosswalk without receiving a ticket.

Under the "Freedom to Walk Act," officers can cite pedestrians only if there is an immediate hazard.

Crashes involving pedestrians that resulted in injuries have spiked in the city after a steep drop in 2020 due to the COVID shutdown, according to data from the Transportation Department.

There were 54 injury crashes in 2020, followed by 81 in 2021 and 95 in 2022. Data for last year have not been released.

Meanwhile, the number of "injury-causing crashes" involving cyclists has dropped -- from some 150 in 2012 to 72 this year, the data show ("Bicyclists Share Fault in Serious Crashes, Data Show," December 14, 2023).

The rise in collisions involving pedestrians -- as well as high profile crashes involving bicyclists -- have prompted the Council to act and police to boost traffic safety operations ("Bicycle Safety Focus of Council Item, Police Operation," November 13, 2023).

“We all have places to be and not everyone gets there by car," police officials said. "Bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to the road but face even more risk without the protections vehicles have.

"We should all be looking out for one another.”

Funding for the traffic safety program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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