Around 9 p.m. on Dec. 23, 2010, Herceg Vlado, a 66-year old Santa Monica resident, was fatally struck by a motorist while walking southbound across Wilshire Boulevard in a crosswalk near 10th Street. This was the city’s only fatal pedestrian traffic accident in 2010. However, Santa Monica’s pedestrian safety record compares poorly among other California cities of its size, according to a report by the California Office of Traffic Safety.
On the one-month anniversary of this lethal accident, The Mirror visited the accident site and asked pedestrians, all Santa Monica residents, for their thoughts on pedestrian safety in Santa Monica. Here is a sample of their comments:
Erica Walls, 24 year-old,
College Grad, soon to work
For the most part, I feel safe. Yesterday I was trying to cross here and I didn’t want to just walk out in front of traffic. There were a lot of cars coming by and I really didn’t know what to do because I’m not from here; I just moved to Santa Monica. I finally crossed, but I didn’t feel safe crossing the pedestrian walkways. Only where there’s a light is where I feel safe. I feel like you’re supposed to walk out there by yourself, the cars don’t stop, and I don’t feel safe. Cars are blowing their horn. I think cars need to slow down. They go way too fast around here.
Moe Yahoun, 35 year-old,
It’s safe to cross; it’s not that bad. But sometimes it’s hard, you have to be careful. There’s no light at the cross streets. They should have crossing lights like on Santa Monica Boulevard – you press the button, the lights flash, and then you can cross. You need some lights in the middle of the street, too. I drive, and sometimes I don’t see people crossing because it’s too dark in the middle of the street. The islands make it worse because a lot of drivers don’t see them. When you have a chance to cross, walk quickly.
John Fanali, 45 year-old,
Chef and Cafe Manager
Yes, for the most part I feel safe. You have to be careful, of course. You definitely have to walk across the street on the defensive. So you have to be aware of both sides of the streets. Watch what people are doing, look for people talking on the cell phone and not seeing you, especially when they’re making a left or right turn and you’re crossing the street.
Sylvia Fanali, 30 year-old, Stay-at-Home Mother
I generally feel safe, but you always have to assume that whoever is driving doesn’t see you, even in broad daylight. I walk all the time. People driving through alleys don’t think about speed. I do walk with caution all the time because I am pushing a stroller.
I pay attention to where I’m walking. For example, in this area, everyone’s doing their own thing; they won’t know to stop unless someone in front of them stops. So I won’t cross here. I’ll go to [an intersection with a stoplight]. Sometimes I get on my husband, and I say, “No, we’re going to a street with a light.”
Bijan Amit, 66 year-old,
I walk about one hour a day in Santa Monica, at nighttime. I haven’t had any problem so far but I don’t know how a car can be so ignorant, hitting someone who’s crossing the street. That’s really very bad. A couple of times as I was crossing the street, I saw cars trying to drive right past me – I just jumped.
How can it be safer? I think the most important thing is education. If you educate people that you can harm a person and their family so much, so they understand that’s what happens if you do something wrong. That’s one way.
Brooke Sprowl , 27 year-old,
I think for the most part I feel safe. People don’t stop, but then I always make sure people see me and they stop before I cross. I wait for them to see me and I back up if they don’t stop. I think it’s partly the responsibility of drivers and partly the responsibility of people to be conscientious of their surroundings.
How can the city be safer for pedestrians? I feel like they do a good job. I don’t really want more stop lights, more stop signs. I guess the flashing lights could be good at particularly dangerous intersections. But for me, I don’t want to stop at every single block when I’m driving. I think there’s a balance.