Here in Corona del Mar we’ll be electing someone new to the City Council in November. Nancy Gardner is terming out; she started the bike movement in the City, perhaps the next Council will continue advancing alternatives to automobiles.
California has the nation’s second-highest pedestrian fatality rate for older pedestrians
CdM has an aging population and dangerous streets, too. What could we do to offset this trend of seniors getting whacked?
A lot, it turns out, but why seniors?
Older adults face more risks as pedestrians because they may be less able to react quickly to an oncoming vehicle. Once struck, their increased frailty makes them less likely to recover from a serious collision. Further, older adults may have greater exposure to pedestrian crashes as they increasingly give up their car keys and seek alternative ways to get around.
Can you read yourself into this scenario? I can, so I’m inclined to offer a few talking points – a 2014 Pedestrian Platform – for our District 6 candidates for City Council:
- Traffic congestion and parking demand aren’t going to get better on their own. We’ve got to encourage alternatives to driving an automobile as we run errands and entertain ourselves. Since most trips are 3 miles or less, walking and biking could play a bigger role in moving people around, if people felt safe doing so.
- We have a highway running through CdM. This is great if you live in south county and work in Seal Beach – you can sail through town and hardly touch the brake. If you live here though, Coast Hwy sucks. Literally, it saps vitality out of the community. It’s why we have 10 banks along this 1-mile stretch. Reducing the speed limit from 35mph to 20 would go a long way to resuscitating CdM. And if someone does get hit by a car remember, survivability at 20mph is 95%.
- There aren’t enough crosswalks. The goal used to be to move as many cars as possible, as quickly as possible, as if people were thinking, “Pedestrians just slow traffic, you know, so let’s have as few crosswalks as possible.” Today communities up and down the state are starting to think differently. We should, too.
- There aren’t enough bike racks. Yes, I know the Council just approved 50 bike racks, but that won’t be enough. CdM could absorb another 100. People will try riding their bikes into town, but if they can’t lock up while they shop they might not return.
- The intersection at Coast Hwy and MacArthur — it’s a pedestrian’s nightmare! Try walking that crosswalk through the free right turn; it’s dangerous and it doesn’t need to be.
- Make the Flower Streets one-way? Nancy mentioned this to me on more than one occasion; she enjoyed seeing me flinch. No! One-way streets would only increase vehicle speeds and further imperil pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Cities around the world are embracing a new strategy called Vision Zero. They’re out to reduce roadway deaths to zero. Think about that for a second… No, it’s not impossible, but we’re a long way from even starting on this journey. Some future leader will be daring enough to try.
- The Farmers Market every Saturday morning is a great meeting place. Lots of people walk, but not everyone. It gets busy on Bayside Drive as people swarm around, crossing the street. It’s just another space defined by cars. Let’s add crosswalks at Jasmine and Larkspur – stripe them like Los Angeles does with the high-visibility Zebra patterns. Going to get a bag of fresh vegetables shouldn’t be so dangerous.
- Pedestrians love the Goldenrod footbridge; it’s a great way to walk to the beach, until they get to Seaview. Sight-lines are compromised and traffic is moving — it’s the local motorists’ shortcut out of the neighborhood. We need a crosswalk here.
- What are we famous for? At this time of year, it’s the beach at Big Corona. Thousands will descend over the holiday weekend. But have we made it safe for our visitors? The crosswalk at Jasmine and Ocean Blvd is a minimalist’s dream. We could do much better.
Go ahead, take the pledge — make Corona del Mar safer for pedestrians!
P.S. Other cities have found these types of improvements make it safer for everyone.