Breaking News: Worst of SM Blvd. Gets a Touch-up

Santa Monica Boulevard pavement irregularitiesThough Beverly Hills Dept. of Public Works has been adamant over the past year about NOT fixing Santa Monica Boulevard until fully reconstructed (sometime in 2015), the corridor got some much-needed care when a crew came out today to lay down some new blacktop. Regular riders remember how the hazards compromise travel for them while offering motorists a nice ride (at right). Finally cyclists may enjoy this segment too. And it’s gratifying to see something finally happen here after hearing no, no, no to our pleas for help. Perhaps it comes just in time to prevent a car-bike collision, but not too soon for the pileup just last week on this spot after a westbound driver braked hard upon approaching a  cyclist.

Just In Time or a Week Too Late?

Now, maybe it’s just coincidence, but it seems like the resulting collision may have spurred todays impromptu semi-reconstruction. In that event, the hard-braking driver not only sought to frighted the cyclist but also, for good measure evidently, also leaned on the horn. That put the cyclist in a very dangerous situation. Yet while the cyclist did escape harm, the two motorists behind weren’t so lucky: after the crash at least one was left waiting for a tow. Of course the hard-braking driver had already taken off.

Chalk it up to that hostile leading driver or inattentive motorists behind, this insufferable roadway had claimed another score: two more vehicles seriously damaged because Public Works had chosen not to maintain it properly.

We’ve highlighted the dangers of this corridor in part because our city has taken little interest in cyclist safety. The Traffic & Parking Commission has not been particularly concerned; commissioners declined to recommend safety measures for our busiest streets in town. The reasoning? As one said, any improvement would “offer cyclists a false sense of security” and even open the city to liability. Moreover, their deliberations took scant note of existing collision data that illustrates the safety problem.

We like to remind city officials that they have a responsibility to ensure safe transit for cyclists in all cases – even where such safety measures are not taken. Indeed this collision could have been avoided if only Public Works had earlier addressed the horrendous irregularities and potholes that long forced westbound cyclists deep into the travel lane. (For the record, the law says ride to the right only when ‘practicable.’ Only an inexperienced or intimidated cyclist would ride to the right given these pavement irregularities. Hazards like this one are license for cyclists to ride well into the travel lane and control it.)

Next up: the eastbound stretch approaching the ‘pork chop’ triangle at Doheney. That too is a stretch of crappy pavement that drives cyclists deep into the lane. We won’t hold our breath for that stretch to be repaired.