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Pedestrian and traffic related deaths up in Santa Monica, What is City Council doing to protect you?

SANTA MONICA – The Santa Monica Police Department responded to a traffic collision call on Wednesday, October 15th.  The traffic accident occurred near the 200 block of Pacific Coast Highway.  According to the Santa Monica Mirror, Police on the scene discovered that a car driving north on PCH, struck a cyclist from behind.

When SMPD first arrived, the cyclist was laying on the ground suffering from severe trauma reports the Santa Monica Daily Press. Unfortunately, the cyclist later died on the scene from injuries he sustained from the crash, said Lieutenant Saul Rodriguez of SMPD.

The driver, who initially fled the scene, eventually came back and is cooperating with the authorities. There is no indication of driving while under the influence of either alcohol or marijuana.  The driver was not injured in the accident.

This year in Santa Monica the number of deadly crashes is abnormally high.  Eight people have died in accidents involving cars, bikes, and pedestrians.  Over the last two years alone, there was only one pedestrian fatality. We asked a few people in the community what the thought could be causing such a dramatic spike in pedestrian fatalities?

“The problem is a multifaceted one,” said one business owner. “What seems to be the most likely culprit is distracted people. I’m not only referring to drivers illegally using their cells while driving, but also pedestrians who are looking at their phones while walking. There is just a lack of respect for the law and your fellow man.  They just aren’t paying attention.” he said.

Some citizens believe that the issue is connected to the increase in the transient or so-called homeless population.

“Every morning around 6:30 am, Santa Monica employees clear the homeless people from the beach and the area in front of Tongva Park,” said a woman who walks along the beach for exercise.  “You see them in their tents on the beach and in their sleeping bags on the benches.  It is sad.  This is a social problem not only in Santa Monica but across the globe.  These people need help,” She said.  “They have all of their personal items in a shopping cart, baby stroller, or on a bike.  When they walk along PCH, they are more worried about food and shelter rather than public safety.  Unfortunately, something bad is bound to happen.”

The City Council is looking  into solving these concerns along with improving safety on the streets of Santa Monica.  Recently, the Council allocated half a million dollars toward eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries as part of this plan.   Some question if this is money well spent considering the City’s recent approval to open Medical Marijuana Shops in the Mid-City area.   In fact, Salvador Valles, the Assistant Director Planning and Development in Santa Monica, recently said at the October 10th City Council meeting that Santa Monica, like surrounding cities that have cannabis businesses, will see an “increase on the demands of law enforcement.”  While Valles stopped short of saying “crime” in the same breath as medical and recreational marijuana, the Santa Monica community will perhaps see more pedestrian and cyclists deaths related to distracted driving, lack of social programs, and driving under the influence of legalized substances.