City to Begin Installation Monday of Four Traffic-Signal Crosswalks on Santa Monica Boulevard

pedestrian crosswalk
The installation of synchronized traffic signals on city pedestrian crosswalks will begin on Monday at four locations on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Sully-Miller, a contractor hired by the City of West Hollywood, will begin work on crosswalks at or near the intersections of Santa Monica Boulevard /Palm Avenue, Santa Monica Boulevard/Hancock Avenue, Santa Monica Boulevard /Westmount Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard /West Knoll Drive.

The three-month project will include the reconfiguration of median islands to accommodate new roadway crossings and turn lanes. The work will require the installation of new curbs, gutters, sidewalks, handicap-accessible curb ramps, asphalt concrete pavement, traffic signs, traffic striping and pavement markings.

Because of the median construction work, one travel lane may be closed on Santa Monica Boulevard in both directions between Palm Ave and West Knoll Drive Alternate routes are recommended and some delays should be expected. Metered street parking may be periodically unavailable during the course of construction.

Three signs with project information will give motorists an advance notice of the upcoming work and letters have been distributed to residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity of the project.

The city installed its first traffic light synchronized crosswalk in December on Santa Monica Boulevard between North Orange Grove Avenue and North Ogden Drive. It replaced 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.

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.

  1. It isn’t cut and dry. But I agree that drivers need to drive defensively. At any moment, a person could run into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

    “(a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.
    (b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”

  2. “A Person Who Cares,” you are incorrect.

    Drivers have a legal responsibility to exercise “due care,” but sometimes a pedestrian runs out in front of a vehicle and an accident is completely unavoidable by the driver of the vehicle.

    “(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.”

  3. When I was a kid, they had “Driver’s Education” in high school. From what I hear, they no longer have that. When I was a young lad, I learned that it was illegal to hit a pedestrian, a car, or ANYTHING when you are in control of a motor vehicle. Apparently that has been lost on the youth of today. So I really resent the people that say “Oh they were jaywalking, drunk” or whatever. As the operator of a motor vehicle, it is “your responsibility to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and drive defensively”. That’s another thing they taught us. You CANNOT LEGALLY HIT A PERSON WITH A MOTOR VEHICLE, EVER. There can be mitigating circumstances in the eye of the law, but you will be charged with manslaughter.

  4. blueeyedboy, my sympathy isn’t on the side of pedestrians *or* drivers. It is both, living in a cohesive environment. Pedestrian-friendly, as well as car-friendly.

    You just said “I plan my walking so that I can cross at intersections controlled by lights, and cars are stopped whether I cross or not.” … then you should be very pleased with this decision, because that is what they are installing. Maybe not intersections, but crosswalks, controlled by lights.

    As other people have pointed out (including myself), controlled pedestrian intersections actually will increase the flow of traffic. People won’t be able to stop traffic, at will, as they are currently able to, at Starbucks/24 Hour Fitness. And these can be timed with traffic lights.

    Controlled crosswalks are safer for two reasons (maybe more):

    – Pedestrians have to stop and wait for a light to change to cross. They actually have to look up and see the light change before crossing.

    – Drivers will be faced with a red light. Most drivers know what that means. It is a basic signal taught to all drivers.

    I live near Fairfax and Melrose, and have seen this type of crossing work successfully down by Canter’s, for years, and also recently at Genesee and SMB (recently installed). The latter of which has the advantage of being timed with the Fairfax/SMB traffic light.

    I’m dismissive about the “extra time,” because I actually think it will take *less* time than the current system, where pedestrians can, at will, stop traffic to cross. At Starbucks/24 Hour Fitness, at least. No longer the case at Orange Grove (my street) and SMB. They condensed two pedestrian “flashing light” crosswalks to one controlled crosswalk, and it seems to have worked great.

    My sympathy doesn’t lie towards pedestrians or motorists. It goes to both. Having a cohesive solution that allows for the following:

    – Less wait time for motorists (pedestrians can’t “make” them stop at will)

    – More attention paid by pedestrians and motorists (they have to wait for a cross walk sign, or a red light)

    – A safer mechanism than flashing yellow lights, giving some people a false sense of security.

    I have no agenda here, except a compromise between motorists and pedestrians. And to continue to make West Hollywood an even better “walking village” that it already is.

    On a sidenote, I do have a car, but I also live here, work from home, and don’t leave this “bubble” very much. I average 120 miles a month on my vehicle (mostly for getting groceries and leaving WeHo). I walk everywhere too.

  5. As I see it, Randy, nothing is being done to make it “safer” to cross streets. It’s just providing more “places” to cross. I don’t see why we need all these crosswalks other than to accommodate pedestrians who feel entitled to have them. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t have a car and who walks all over WeHo. I’ve used those crosswalks only when I could walk with other people who were crossing at the same time. They were stopping traffic anyway, so I joined them. I plan my walking so that I can cross at intersections controlled by lights, and cars are stopped whether I cross or not.

    I don’t see how, as you said, this makes anything safer for drivers. How is that? And you seem very dismissive when you reference those few extra minutes it takes to get to work when many drivers already have a commute that is slowly making them crazy. When those drivers are having to stop and wait several times for somebody in shorts and flip-flops headed for Starbucks or the gym I think is just too much to be dismissive of their plight. My sympathy lies with them as they faithfully attend to their responsibilities. Your sympathy seems directed towards the convenience of pedestrians who are probably less likely to have a deadline for their arrival to wherever it is they are going.

    1. blueeyedboy- you are way off base. These lights will make the commute shorter, due to ending the “at will” crossers. These lights co-ordinate with the current traffic lights, so everyone is stopped at the same time. This will be a god-send, and, they are much safer, because to a car, they look like a traffic light. Please go witness the one just east of Fairfax, and you will understand.

  6. blueeyedboy, I can imagine their pain. I’m intimately familiar similar situation. Trust me.

    But to say “… we are further punishing people in cars because a man who was drunk and on his cell phone stepped into traffic nowhere near a crosswalk and was killed” is still incredibly insensitive, even if those are the facts.

    The fact is, we live in a distracted society. It doesn’t matter whose “fault” you see it as, in these accidents. What matters is that we can (and should) make our city a safer place for pedestrians and drivers. Reduce distractions. Put up signage. Brightly lit crosswalks. And now (FINALLY) controlled “crosswalks” for pedestrians. I’m sorry if you think that is “punishment” to drivers. If it saves lives, so be it.

    And just because the Bounds incident might have been a situation that he could have avoided, doesn’t mean there haven’t been other incidents, or incidents in our future, where careless, distracted drivers would hit pedestrians.

    So why would you oppose any means that could prevent either of these two types of situations? Because it might take a few more minutes to get to work?

  7. What I don’t see being discussed here because it is imbedded with the cross walk issue is that they are removing the left turn and u turn lane that is in front of the Ramada and putting in a left turn and u-turn lane onto West Knoll Dr. I do not understand the logic of this, so what this does is combine the double left turn lane onto north bound LaCienega Blvd with the left turn lane onto West Knoll. I can just see the cars whipping around the corner onto SMB from south bound LaCienega and cars from the double left hand turn lane from northbound LaCienega smashing into cars turning left onto West Knoll. This intersection is enough of a cluster F already. I can’t wait to see how they plan to pull this off.

    1. EXCELLENT observation, Deane. I presume the move is being done to eliminate the time needed to run a full cycle of the soon-to-be-installed pedestrian-activated signal in order tenable its synchronization with the other lights. (That’s just a guess on my part.). But you do raise a VERY worrying potential safety hazard that may this result. I suggest raising it immediately with the Transportation Commission, which meets on the 19th.

  8. cars should be required to be equipped with a blocking device so the driver cannot text and pedestrians who text while crossing the street should be fined. who are all these people texting and what is so important that it cant wait?

  9. OMG people, one of these lights already exists on Santa Monica Blvd just past Fairfax, going east. Go check that one out, it is great, and really helps with the flow of traffic. You have to wait for the light to change to cross the street, it is not at will, like they are now. It is a million times safer, and a million times better for the flow of traffic. This is a very good thing they are doing.

  10. PS to DAVID: Lights embedded in the pavement are a help–when they work. Unfortunately, in higher-speed, heavily-trafficked areas, they don’t hold up well. That’s why they’re okay between the towers of Cedars Sinai; but not on Sunset Boulevard, where they were tried several years back: And when they fail–which in that case was frequently–the city is potentially on the hook for partial liability if an accident occurs during their (foreseeable) non-functioning. Pedestrian-activated full traffic lights synchronized with adjacent signalized intersections makes the most sense. BTW, I AGREE with you re the flashing yellow light bars–and thankfully, so does the city now.

  11. This is long overdue–both for flow-of-tragic reasons AND for pedestrian & driver safety, as anyone who drives the area knows, (especially during “rush” hour, when there is a seemingly-endless parade of pedestrians constantly and frequently SUDDENLY stopping traffic–sometimes contributing to rear-end fender-benders or side-swipes.. Likewise, any pedestrian–ESPECIALLY mobility, sight, or hearing-impaired person–who regularly uses these crosswalks knows that despite improved signing a few years back (and even flashing yellow lights which are not synchronized with area traffic lights and are sometimes are out-of order), those heavily-used crossings are STILL often hazardous due to speeding or inattentive drivers.

    The West Hollywood Disabilities Advisory Board has voiced complaints and recommendations for upgraded signaling since 2007. And as someone who was almost mowed down on more than one occasion by fast-traveling vehicles who IGNORED me in the crosswalk during some 2-1/2 years I was on crutches and unable to move out of their way, I VERY much sympathize with persons slowed by age or infirmity while trying to negotiate these crossings. And I am VERY glad that it’s FINALLY happening. That said, there will always be drunks and jay-walkers (like my former neighbor Clint Bounds) that cannot be saved from poor judgement. But at least for those who abide by the rules and common sense, this hopefully will go a long way in making those crosswalks more visible, and safer in this “Most Walkable City,” while ALSO hopefully making a noticeable dent in rush-hour traffic back-ups on the boulevard.

  12. I agree with Johnjx. Where is more information on these improvements? Maybe they are minor physical changes, but a graphic would help.

  13. I agree with Johnjx. Where is more information on these improvements? Is there a change in turn lanes? Where exactly? I could be wrong, but I don’t ever recall seeing any news of this before now when they are about to do work. Maybe it’s minor, but I can’t really tell without a graphic.

  14. Randy, what I said was not insensitive to Clinton Bounds’ memory. I read the coverage of his accident which told more about what happened than I would have known if I had been there when it happened. He was inebriated, he was texting, and he crossed no where near a designated crosswalk. If I had been at the scene of the accident I also would not have known he was a heck of a nice guy who had a lot of people who loved him. I learned that too by reading the coverage of the accident.

    There were at least two other victims that night: the driver who hit him who was not at any fault but must live with that memory, …. and the person who Clinton was texting. Imagine their pain.

  15. This seems really perverted. Three lighted crosswalks at three sequential blocks? Is it really too much for the people who want to cross at West Knoll and Westmount to use the lighted crosswalk at Westbourne???

  16. blueeyedboy, how incredibly insensitive. Clinton Bounds was not the only accident that we’ve seen at our crosswalks. You weren’t there to see it, so you shouldn’t pass judgment. Even if he walked out without looking, that doesn’t mean the city shouldn’t do whatever they can to reduce distracted drivers, as well as pedestrians.

    And as far as traffic flow is concerned, this should increase traffic flow. Controlled pedestrian crossings can be timed with existing traffic lights. Crosswalks like the one at Starbucks won’t any longer be there to force traffic to stop immediately every time someone wants to cross the street.

  17. Finally is right. Why does it take so long to get started and why 3 months to do the work? Of course, those of us who remember the big SM Blvd redo in the 90s know that took a very long time.

    I’m glad, though, that this is finally being done. My question is why have push buttons located away from the actual crosswalks. If they were closer they might get used more. Look at the existing ones at the library and BGS. We’re lucky if they get used half the time. A better system would be to have a sensor that knows when a person is in the crosswalk ready to cross. Of course, none of this will stop the self-absorbed who think that just because “pedestrians have the right of way” they can just walk out into traffic and expect cars to automatically stop for them. I stop at the side street crosswalks to allow cars to turn. No, I don’t have to do this, but as a pedestrian and a driver I see it as simply a courtesy. I’m not in such a hurry that I can’t wait a few seconds to allow a car to turn.

  18. Does anyone know where we can get more details on this? For example, will there be a left turn signal from SMB eastbound so people can turn up Hancock? Or will these only be on-demand lights for pedestrians only?

  19. Clinton BOUNDS was our neighbor; he lived in our building. He was not homeless, but he still died – getting to his home.

  20. If WeHo was truly concerned about pedestrian safety, they would also remove all of the billboards along SMB that are specifically positioned to get the attention (i.e., distract) drivers.

  21. Pat Dixon, my point is that there is a trend in which we are accommodating entitlement and craziness rather than doing what is logical and in the best interest of the majority.

  22. @David, I believe that the State turned over SMB to the cities that it runs through quite some time ago. This is why the West Hollywood SMB portion was re-done back in the late 1990’s. @Steven, I believe one reason for high insurance is the fact that there are so many more cars and so many more expensive cars at that. Of course I could be mistake on that.

  23. Finally indeed. It is ridiculous to have to stop for every gym bunny or PR girl wannabe crossing the street never bothering to look up from their iPhones. It boggles the mind. Traffic backs up for over a mile down Santa M on a busy traffic day for coffee lovers. Finally finally finally.

  24. Hopefully the city will remove those signs posted in-between lanes on Santa Monica Bl. that are a hazard to both motorists and pedestrians. When one has to focus on avoiding the signs they are not focused on someone crossing the street. The other hazard I have observed adjacent to cross walks are the multitude of poles and signs blocking ones view in the middle of the street. This especially damgerous at night.

    I wonder how much those signs are costing the city to maintain. Every morning at around 6:00AM there are two trucks going from one end of Sanata Monica Bl. to the other repair/replacing the signs. While no money can buy ones life it’s apparent these signs are a hazard and should be replaced with a less hazardous method of warning the driver of vehicles to be aware of the crosswalks.

  25. Santa Monica Boulevard is also a state highway. Is it possible (legal) to install IN-ROAD flashing pedestrian crosswalk lighting at ALL these heavily trafficked WeHo West crossings?

    The existing LED flashing lights at Westmount are far too small for the number of people crossing here and speed of cars. Motorists often don’t see them during the day, especially in the afternoon westbound when the sun is in their eyes, or eastbound where they can’t make out the flashing through the glare. At the very least, they need to be bigger.

    In-road pedestrian crossing lights are generally very noticeable, no matter where the sun is and how fast you are approaching the crossing.

  26. thank you, city of west hollywood. This is a good thing and I am glad we are taking action now. To the previous 3 posters, how about a little gratitude instead of a lot of griping. Your comments make no sense (enabling homeless?), (weho drivers driving up insurance rates?). ??

  27. When drivers on Santa Monica Blvd. have to stop every few feet for pedestrians who can’t be bothered to cross at an existing intersection, traffic will divert to other streets which will make them overcrowded. So, we are enabling the homeless because we want more of them, and now we are further punishing people in cars because a man who was drunk and on his cell phone stepped into traffic nowhere near a crosswalk and was killed.

  28. How about speed bumps on Huntley Dr between Santa Monica & Melrose. This street is like an expressway during rush hour,

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