What number of extra folks will die on Malibu’s Pacific Coast Freeway earlier than California transportation officers begin getting critical about making the 21-mile stretch of street safer?
PCH often is the state’s iconic scenic coastal street, however in Malibu it is a principal road. The route has grow to be more and more harmful for residents, guests and commuters, with dashing drivers killing and maiming increasingly folks and traumatizing the neighborhood.
There may be renewed consideration and momentum for giant options for PCH after 4 Pepperdine college students have been killed final month when a dashing driver crashed his BMW into them as they stood close to parked vehicles on the aspect of the street. However this horrific accident is simply the newest in a decades-long historical past of lethal and devastating freeway collisions.
Whereas state and native officers can and may take speedy motion to make the street safer, akin to putting in extra site visitors indicators and acquiring permission to put in automated velocity cameras, it’s also time to rethink the configuration of PCH by Malibu. It’s a state freeway that runs proper by the neighborhood. The street is now appropriate for commuters and thru site visitors. It might be redesigned to perform as a neighborhood street with extra sidewalks, site visitors lights, bike lanes and crosswalks that drive motorists to decelerate and drive as in the event that they have been in a metropolis – as a result of they’re.
Redesigning the street won’t be simple. Elements of PCH by Malibu are sandwiched between mountains and the ocean, leaving little room to construct sidewalks or protected bike lanes with out eradicating a lane or parking zone or buying costly properties for widening. And it definitely would not be with out controversy, given the quantity of people that depend on PCH for varied wants. It’s a commuter route, a residential space, a enterprise district and a vacation spot for beachgoers.
But it needs to be clear that incremental enhancements – a site visitors mild right here and a flashing zebra crossing there – don’t do sufficient to alter the habits of harmful drivers.
In accordance with a Instances evaluation, critical crashes have gotten more and more widespread regardless of security investments over the previous decade by Malibu and Caltrans, which is answerable for sustaining PCH. Information reveals that between 2011 and 2023, 170 deaths and critical accidents occurred amongst drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
The numbers rose every year from 2018 by 2022, when 25 folks have been killed or significantly injured. Malibu has considerably extra deaths and critical accidents than different seashore cities by which PCH additionally passes, Instances reporters Terry Castleman and Karen Garcia reported.
Malibu officers and residents are pushing for short-term options that might deter harmful drivers, together with decrease velocity limits, velocity cameras and site visitors enforcement by the California Freeway Patrol, which at the moment doesn’t patrol PCH in Malibu. Final month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Meeting Invoice 645 into legislation, permitting Los Angeles and 5 different cities to check out automated velocity cameras to catch and ticket drivers who significantly exceed the velocity restrict. Malibu was not coated, and lawmakers ought to act rapidly to increase the legislation to PCH.
These are affordable first steps, however they need to be the beginning of a broader dialog about making PCH safer.
“Are we going to upset some folks? Definitely. Are we going to decelerate the commute? Definitely,” Malibu Mayor Steve Uhring mentioned. “If taking a few of these steps could make it safer in the long term so that folks do not die on PCH, we might be remiss to not do them.”
It will not be fast or simple, however a rethink of PCH might make Malibu a a lot safer neighborhood.