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Santa Monica’s City Chief Communications Officer Constance Farrell announced that the city’s new Ocean Avenue protected bikeway is indeed already safe to ride. And while it’s already in use, construction is expected to be completed very soon.
The new 0.6-mile, two-way parking-protected bikeway extends along the west side of Ocean Avenue from the Santa Monica Pier to California Avenue. This closes a gap between the Colorado Esplanade and the California Incline, creating a continuous low-stress bikeway from the Beach Path to the Metro E Line (Expo) terminus station.
The bikeway already had green-painted conventional bike lanes. The northbound green lane remains intact on the east side of the street. On the west (bluff park) side, a new northbound option is safer and more comfortable, especially for less confident cyclists. Also, there is a small left-turn lane and turn pocket for riders turning inland at each intersection.
The two-way section is partially parking-protected – mainly with bluffside parking spaces for drivers with disabilities. The project also features a new bus island just north of the pier, which helps minimize bus-bike conflict. What is not yet complete is a protected bicycle intersection at California and Ocean Avenues. The project also extended the bike lanes south of the pier, though these are conventional one-way lanes on both sides of the street, with protection extending to Moomat Ahiko. Green-painted bike lanes extend to Bicknell Avenue.
Another feature that will be started and completed this upcoming December is a quick-build expanded sidewalk platform on the east side of the street designed to allow more space for people walking and for outside business activity.
In a statement to Streetsblog, Santa Monica Spoke Director Cynthia Rose said that the Ocean project began as a direct response to COVID-19: “The pandemic has so adversely impacted our community and presented us with so many incredible challenges in adjusting to a new normal. If we can find a silver lining — Ocean Avenue delivers. It improves safe mobility and equitable access to fresh air that are key to our health and community well-being, as well as outdoor space desperately needed to support our local businesses working to rebound.”
Some comments on the original Streetsblog express concerns about the bikeway, however. “I have ridden it when empty. This is dangerous. The southbound side, where cars park is uneven and curved. The lanes should have some spacing between them as well. Sorry, this was not thought out, IMHO,” wrote one user. Another commenter wrote: “Witnessed two cars make a right on to Ocean Ave. from the California Incline into the bike lane. The plastic barriers and painted lines at each corner are confusing for drivers. Barriers should extend to the curb making impossible for drivers to turn inside of them.”