WeHo’s First Traffic Light-Synchronized Pedestrian Crosswalk is Open

Pedestrian crosswalk on Santa Monica Boulevard between Odgen Drive and Orange Grove Avenue.
Pedestrian crosswalk on Santa Monica Boulevard between Odgen Drive and Orange Grove Avenue.

The City of West Hollywood has installed the first of a series of pedestrian crosswalks with stoplights on Santa Monica Boulevard.

The crosswalk, between North Orange Grove Avenue and North Ogden Drive, was activated on Wednesday last week. It replaces two unlighted crosswalks, one near Orange Grove and the other near Ogden.

The stoplight at the crosswalk can be activated by a pedestrian, who must push a button on a pole on the sidewalk. The light is coordinated with the traffic light at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue to the west. City Engineer Sharon Perlstein said that coordination is necessary to keep traffic moving efficiently.

Perlstein said there are four more crosswalks with traffic signals in the works, all along Santa Monica Boulevard, the major traffic thoroughfare in West Hollywood. One will be at the intersection with West Knoll Drive, another at Hancock Avenue, one at Palm Avenue and finally one at the intersection with Westmount.

Perlstein said the Westmount project will include creating a cut in the Santa Monica Boulevard traffic median so that cars headed south on Westmount can make a left turn and drive east on Santa Monica Boulevard. Currently drivers in that area, must line up at the stop light at Westbourne Drive and make a U turn to head east on Santa Monica.

Residents demanded the city increase efforts to prevent pedestrians from being hit by cars after the death in August 2014 of Clinton Bounds. Bounds, who was inebriated, was hit by a car while walking across Santa Monica Boulevard at night. Initially it was believed he had been in the Hancock crosswalk, although photos later showed he was jaywalking.

Nevertheless local residents organized a demonstration, led by Larry Block, the clothing store owner and civic activist, to demand the city take steps to improve crosswalk safety.

A plan was developed by city staffers and presented to the City Council in October 2014. The Council approved various temporary safety measures but asked for a more in depth study of impacts on local businesses of some proposals. The city’s Community Development, Public Works and Public Safety departments presented a detailed report about measures underway or planned for pedestrian safety to the City Council in June of this year. It included plans for installing stop lights at the crosswalks on Santa Monica and also installing rapid-flashing lights at other areas where pedestrians cross busy streets.

Some residents, including Block, have complained about how long it has taken the city to implement pedestrian safety measures at the crosswalks and intersections. Perlstein acknowledged that the process is lengthy because of its complexity.

She said the the city had  to engage a traffic engineering consultant to analyze traffic flow. It also has had to engage a consultant to prepare very detailed drawings for each individual project. After that work, the staff can request bids from contractors, which must be approved by the City Council for work to begin.

Perlstein said the analysis showed the need for some changes, such as replacing the two crosswalks at Orange Grove and Ogden with one with a stoplight and allowing the left turn from Westmount.  Also, the city has decided to relocate an existing crosswalk on Santa Monica from one side of the intersection with Palm Avenue to the other.

Perlstein noted that construction of the crosswalk near Orange Grove and Ogden required investigating the location of utility lines, modification of curb lines and relocation of some parking spaces. A foundation for the traffic signals had to be installed and the traffic signal poles had to be constructed.

“A lot of equipment has to be custom ordered, and even the construction work takes some time because we have so much traffic there,” she said of the Santa Monica Boulevard projects.

  1. SMB/Hancock needs a light too, that’s a pretty rough one. No flashing lights or anything, unlike the starbucks one up the street. At least SMB/Palm has a lineup of cars waiting at San Vicente so it’s slow anyhow.

  2. Andreas who exactly is the we that wants more pedestrians on SMB and commercial entities? How many more nail salons can the blvd take before saturation? While we are at it why can’t we get rid of those blockades north of the blvd that creates a big mess for the at the luxury of the few around Trader joes and 24hr Fitness. These are real
    Questions those of us that live in this area ask.

  3. I live near here, and this is great news. There was no good reason to have a crosswalk at Orange Grove and also at Genesee, just two blocks east of the other one. There are a lot of seniors east of Fairfax, and I’m glad to see the city continue to support pedestrians, and safe zones for them to cross.

    My only complaint is how long this has taken to implement. Why is it taking so long on those crosswalks between La Cienega and San Vicente? It has been years since we’ve had fatalities there, it has been heavily discussed for well over two years, and this is an example of how bureaucracy can slow everything down to a creeping halt.

  4. The entire Santa Monica Blvd traffic light system needs to be synced together and not let pedestrians change the timing with the push of a button. Traffic is slow enough as it is without one light going red while the next three are green because someone can’t wait another 30 seconds to cross the street. By the time that one person has crossed, and the light turns green again, those other three lights are now red. These new lit crosswalks are great, but they should be timed WITH the traffic lights, not interrupt them. In other news, nothing is going to save a drunk jaywalker from himself.

    1. As the story notes, the lights at the crosswalks are synced with those at vehicle traffic intersections

  5. I’m looking forward to the synchronized crosswalks near 24 Hour Fitness/Capital Drugs/Starbucks. As it is now, pedestrians cross in the crosswalk to frequently that it backs up traffic at an unacceptable level both East & West bound. I’m just a say’n….

  6. Mike, the space around 24 Hour Fitness is roughly a quarter mile in between the two existing lights. That doesn’t work in a heavily pedestrianized commercial zone — the expansions of which we want to encourage.

  7. Keep it moving like it moves now and with all the traffic diverted south of the blvd into 4 ways stops everywhere adjacent to the LA hoods?

  8. We are also trying to get some safe crosswalks on Pico Blvd. between Cochran and Fairfax. People that walk know this is money well spent. If you see what people do in real life, you will notice how many people wait for a gap in traffic rather than go to the nearest traffic light. In places like Pico you have to walk several blocks between traffic lights. What could be more important than saving people from becoming another statistic?

  9. Thank you to everyone who worked together so this crosswalk improvement could be realized. I feel fortunate to live in a city where we can express our concerns and suggestions to make our city more livable for all of us. I don’t always agree with the solutions but the ability to engage with my neighbors always makes me proud to live here.

  10. I live on Ogden Drive, within a block of this new crosswalk, and I’m thrilled with the City Council for being so responsive to this important issue. Great job!

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