We have had eight pedestrian/cyclist accidents in the last month. Tragically, two of these were fatal. In both incidents, according to witnesses, the pedestrian and cyclist moved into the path of oncoming traffic.
After analyzing the data from recent accidents, another disturbing trend is evident: Nearly 50 percent of collisions reported the pedestrian to be at fault. By not utilizing the facilities and crosswalks available, pedestrians are putting themselves and others at risk. Your time is valuable, but so is your life.
I urge you to let these tragic accidents remind you to be safe, alert and responsible whenever walking, riding or driving on our city streets. Remember to take the time to cross in the crosswalk and if there is a paseo bridge nearby — use it! These are simple actions that could make a life-saving difference.
The city continues to work closely with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station to push out the “Heads Up” safety campaign — highlighting these safety tips:
Heads-up: See and be seen — make eye contact with the drivers in the intersection. Make sure they see you, and know when you are going to cross the street. Cyclists should wear bright, reflective clothing and at night you are required to have a white light visible on the front of your bike and a flashing red light on the back.
Heads-up: Disconnect from distractions —wearing headphones or using an electronic device while walking can impede your alertness at an intersection. Be aware as you begin to cross the road – know where all the cars are, and what they are doing.
Heads-up: Use the crosswalk — don’t always assume you have the right of way. A driver could be distracted, impeded or disregarding road laws. No matter the intersection, low-traffic or high, always look up, and be aware of what cars are doing.
Besides our many paseo bridges to help you cross safely, the City has also recently added safety enhancements at several major thoroughfares to protect pedestrians and cyclists. The City Council recently cut the ribbon for the highly anticipated Newhall Ranch Road Bridge Widening Project. The road now offers one extra travel lane in each direction, in addition to protected pedestrian walkways and safe trail undercrossings at both ends of the bridge. The Sierra Highway Pedestrian Bridge is nearing completion, featuring a much safer way for students at Golden Valley High School to get to and from class.
Safety on our city streets is a responsibility that falls on each and every one of us. I encourage you to make responsible decisions, avoid distractions and look out for others. Together, we can make Santa Clarita roads safe for all who travel them. Please visit santa-clarita.com/HeadsUp for a complete list of traffic safety tips for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
Ken Striplin is Santa Clarita city manager, and he can be reached at [email protected]. THe views expressed in his column are those of the city, and don’t necessarily reflect those of The Signal.