Letter to the Editor: 21 Miles-Petition for Safety Improvements and Educational Initiatives on the Pacific Coast Highway

Letter to the Editor: The Malibu Times

Dear Editor, 

This is being submitted to keep at the forefront of the community. If you haven’t already signed the petition, please consider doing so. On April 3, 2010, Emily Rose Shane was tragically killed along PCH, and now, 14 years later, we are still seeking justice and awareness.

To the City Council of Malibu, County of Los Angeles, State of California:

As concerned citizens, we write this petition to express our deep concern over the safety issues surrounding the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Year after year, we have witnessed an increasing number of crashes and incidents that pose a risk to human lives and the tranquility of our community. We strongly believe it is time to put human life and safety first.

On Tuesday, the 17th of October, four young women, Niamh Rolston, 20, Peyton Stewart, 21, Asha Weir, 21, and Deslyn Williams, 21, all in the prime of their lives, were brutally killed by a speeding driver while standing outside their sorority house on a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway that is within the City of Malibu, known to the locals as “Dead Man’s Curve.”

This is not the first preventable tragedy along this stretch of PCH. On April 3, 2010, my 13-year-old daughter, Emily Rose Shane, was intentionally struck and killed while walking home after a sleepover along PCH. She was doing everything right as a pedestrian. Emily was the light of my life, and her loss has haunted me every day of my life since then. 

Shortly after I lost my daughter, I met with a Caltrans Traffic Engineer who acknowledged that the stretch of PCH where she was hit was unsafe for pedestrians, and I detailed suggested changes. Nothing was ever done.  

In September 2015, the PCH Pedestrian Safety Project released a report commissioned by the State of California detailing many improvements needed along PCH to address safety concerns. This report was 100 pages long. Most of these changes were never implemented. 

The truth is PCH is designed to be dangerous, with cars allowed to park next to wide, high-speed roads, pedestrians walking without sidewalks, and cyclists riding alongside these fast-moving vehicles without protection. To access the beaches, pedestrians run across PCH with no other safe way to cross. 

As a result, people continue to be seriously injured or killed. Per UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System, in the last 10 years (2013-2022), on the 21 miles of PCH that are within Malibu City limits, there have been 44 fatalities and 2009 people injured. The single most significant factor in these fatalities is speeding. 100 percent of these fatalities were preventable. You can see more about the dangers of PCH and the lives lost by visiting the website 21milesinmalibu.com

The lack of action to remedy the dangers of the Pacific Coast Highway is no longer acceptable. We demand that: 

1. On an immediate basis, CalTrans needs to reduce the speed limit along the 21 miles of PCH within Malibu city limits to speeds appropriate for roads with businesses, residential homes, pedestrians, and cyclists. In addition, they need to install quick-build traffic calming measures to protect pedestrians and cyclists on this road. 

2. For the long-term solution, CalTrans needs to provide a comprehensive proposal on how to make all sections of PCH safer for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists with an exact timeline for implementation and a start date for construction that is no longer than 1 year from the date of this petition. 

3. The City of Malibu must immediately increase traffic enforcement along PCH to slow down unsafe drivers until CalTrans can implement the changes to PCH. 

4. In addition, Malibu needs to launch a flanking education and awareness campaign to encourage those driving through PCH and those living in and around Malibu to drive responsibly and at safe speeds. 

We call for decisive action to make the Pacific Coast Highway safer for everyone. These measures will go a long way in protecting human lives and enhancing the safety of our community.

We trust in the City Council’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its residents and look forward to seeing positive changes on the Pacific Coast Highway. To lead us in bringing the county and the state to create the changes.

Michel Shane, Malibu