SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The sun shines everyday. The temperature hardly ever rises above 79⁰ Fahrenheit. Why wouldn’t the people who live in Santa Monica, California take daily walks or ride bicycles to and from work?
Santa Monica is the ideal place for a 15-minute city. Grocery stores, schools, restaurants, hospitals and the beach. It’s all here within a quick 15-minute bike ride or 30 minute walk.
Lurking below the surface of this idyllic life is a danger that is sweeping across the nation and is on full display on the streets of Santa Monica. Whether it a result of the Pandemic, self-driving cars or the movement of Police Departments across the country to be more lenient, is unclear.
I’m talking about the problem on the roads and people running yellow and red traffic lights. We all seen this happen many times. You’re standing on a street corner and traffic is passing in front of you. You have pressed the button for the crosswalk sign and are waiting. The light turns yellow, warning the traffic to slow down and stop. Then you hear the sound of someone stomping their foot on the gas while they are still 100 yards from the intersection. As their light turns red and yours turns green, you receive the signal to pass safely.
But you can’t. The person driving their modern day hotrod is roaring through the intersection without even bothering to stop for your safety.
Or how about this? You’re waiting to make a left hand turn at a traffic light. The light turns yellow and five cars continue to drive through the stoplight despite it turning from yellow to red – I mean deep red.
The problem has escalated over the past three years. It could be due to the Pandemic when Police were letting certain things slide. But the Pandemic is over. Maybe the problem is with the almost self-driving cars. The driver is not paying attention, doesn’t have their hands on the steering wheel and is talking on the cellphone. Little by little, our driving habits are being changed by the AI or the machine that is driving the car.
In 2017, Santa Monica pledged allegiance to the lofty idea of Vision Zero. Vision Zero is the idea to eliminate all traffic fatalities. So far this year, there have been at least two people killed in traffic accidents in Santa Monica. While the number is still low, it is not yet at zero.
What are you doing to help your city meet Vision Zero and save lives?