Santa Monica, DTLA Introduce Revolutionary Crosswalks

With pedestrians filling the streets again, the cities work to curb accidents

More pedestrians are walking the streets of Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles than they have in decades. The cities are trying to adapt infrastructure to accommodate the walkers, especially as new transit lines promise to pump even more people into the areas.

Santa Monica officials announced they’re installing 11 pedestrian “scrambles” throughout the beach city’s downtown by June. The scrambles stop car traffic at all four intersections, allowing pedestrians to cross and not be impeded by vehicular traffic; it also allows folks to cross an intersection diagonally. Not only do the scrambles pay deference to pedestrians, they reduce accidents.

Santa Monica follows the lead of UCLA, USC, and Beverly Hills (!), which have installed successful scrambles. Santa Monica—working hard to prepare for the crush of pedestrian traffic arriving when the Expo Line opens May 20—will add the scrambles along 4th and 2nd streets, as well as near the downtown train station and Ocean Avenue, near the pier.

Meanwhile, DTLA is trying a different crosswalk solution—”HeadStart Signals.” This innovation gives pedestrians a short lead on crossing, so they’re visible in the crosswalk when cars get a greenlight. This will help stop accidents that occur when drivers turn right without looking right or neglect to account for people entering the crosswalks. Forward-thinking councilman Jose Huizar pushed for the HeadStarts, otherwise known as Leading Pedestrian Intervals, following a pilot program that added two of them to Broadway in 2014. The new initiative will add an extra 14 throughout DTLA, with many located near future Regional Connector subway stations, which are currently construction zones with lots of distraction for drivers and walkers.

The mayor has an ambitious goal, called Vision Zero, of ending all traffic deaths by 2025.