Pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety will always be among the city’s top concerns. Thousands of residents drive on city streets, walk through beautiful paseos or explore Santa Clarita’s trail system on foot or by bicycle every single day. It is up to everyone to ensure that, no matter where you go in Santa Clarita, your health and safety are protected.
Earlier this year, when “Safer at Home” orders were first put into place by the state and county, markedly fewer vehicles could be seen on Santa Clarita streets each day. Although residents were remaining home to help slow the spread of coronavirus, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station reported that some folks took advantage of the wide-open roads and were caught driving at excessive speeds, putting themselves and others in harm’s way.
Tips for drivers
In the summer months, residents have been spending more time outdoors with their families, going for walks to the park, bike rides and day trips by car to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air. With more residents out and about, it is important to reinforce Heads Up safety tips so that traffic collisions and injuries — particularly involving pedestrians and cyclists — continue the downward trend the city has seen over the past five years.
Drivers are reminded to obey speed limits at all times, use turn signals and check blind spots and mirrors before changing lanes. Disconnect from distractions when driving and remember that using a cellphone while you are behind the wheel is still against the law.
Be sure to be extra cautious at stoplights and crosswalks, and anticipate that there will be pedestrians crossing the street so you can slow in time and yield the right of way. It is especially important to stop and look prior to making a turn and know that a pedestrian may not see your vehicle approaching before they enter the crosswalk.
While residents are spending more time outdoors — either for exercise or leisure — it is also necessary to keep in mind the role pedestrians play in traffic safety. Many people enjoy listening to music while out for a walk or run to help pass the time, but being aware of your surroundings is critical.
Keep the volume in your headphones at a level that allows you to still hear drivers and emergency vehicle sirens, and remember to remove your headphones when approaching an intersection so you are completely certain it is safe to cross the street before doing so. It is also a smart idea to take advantage of the city’s paseo system, pedestrian bridges and off-street paved trails whenever possible to avoid vehicular traffic altogether.
The same safety tips extend to cyclists, who have helped the Santa Clarita Valley become known throughout the state as a bike-friendly community. Cyclists can make the most of the city’s pilot program — GiveMeGreen! — which allows them to be automatically detected by select intersections along Soledad Canyon Road, adjacent to the Chuck Pontius Commuter-Rail Trail. This reduces the need to dismount and press a crosswalk button at a red light and helps improve traffic flow for cyclists and vehicles.
Cyclists should also wear high-visibility clothing, especially at night, so they can be better seen by drivers. Please also obey all traffic laws and posted signage, and be sure to cross the street safely and make lawful turns at intersections.
Learn more traffic safety tips for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers, and see what you can do to be Heads Up all year long, by visiting the city of Santa Clarita’s traffic safety website at santa-clarita.com/HeadsUp.
Bill Miranda is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].