Letter to The Editor: Defining the Safety Issues of PCH 

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Letter to the Editor: The Malibu Times

Dear Editor, 

The following is a letter directed to Malibu City Council:  

Mayor and Councilmembers, I am glad safety is being addressed by City Council and members of the public.  

Malibu traffic problems are complex. Quick decisions may not prove to be effective measures and could increase the risk of accidents. You may already have implemented or are planning the following, but if not, please consider these recommendations on process and my thoughts on solutions. The first requirement is to define the problem as specifically as possible, i.e. the data on the accidents, where and when they occurred and what/who was involved in the accident, e.g. pedestrian on the side or crossing the road, car making U turn, at a stoplight, on a curve, speed of car, residents or non-residents, and identification of possible interactions of several of these factors. I’m sure government agencies have this data, but most residents do not.  

This data is critical to allow identification, discussion and solutions based on the most accurate information available. Following is a process which should result in an informed decision. It is essentially Plan Do Study Act detailed for identifying and reducing the risk for traffic accidents in Malibu. This process will not only inform residents and City Council, but will help secure residents’ support for the most effective measures.

Gathering the information/data

  •   Identify the exact nature of the problem – where, when, how many accidents by type and location. Also assess access, flow and safety during a disaster.
  • Identify proven solutions for these specific problems and those measures which have failed to produce a positive change.
  • Seek information regarding the success and failure of various measures from other cities/counties which have similar problems.  

Information Forum

Disseminate the above information to the public and provide hybrid or zoom forums for questions and answers regarding the information. Include a few known experts/scientists, perhaps with different opinions. Identification and discussion of scientists’ recommendations for the various high risk conditions in Malibu, including costs, should follow presentation of the above information.

Resident Solution Forum

Residents’ present their recommendations after assessment of information in first forum. Provide cost efficacy of and funding sources for solutions.

Final Analysis Forum

  • Discussion of expert and resident solutions, including costs, to include the City, experts and residents.
  • Select the strongest solutions.

Implement and Assess

  • Implement one or several measures.
  • Reassess the efficacy of these measures and make appropriate adjustments. 
  • Report to public.

Solutions I might support depending on information and analysis above:

  • Cameras at frequent accident sites with ticketing for risky offences may help.
  • Increase passage for pedestrians and bicycles by: widening the shoulder which might include restricting parking; constructing elevated passageways for pedestrians and bicycles, which would help if used.
  • Impounding the vehicles of egregious offenders might help.
  • Synchronization of traffic lights may help.
  • Increase CHP presence. There may already be some data on the effectiveness of this measure.
  • Analyze the cause of and provide the solutions to mitigate accidents at stoplights.

Measures I do not support:

  • Temporarily eliminating a traffic lane. This may irritate resident drivers who use the roadway frequently and possibly make risky driving more likely, including following the area of lane closure when drivers may speed, weaving in and out of traffic, to make up for lost time. It may increase traffic on even more dangerous and narrow canyon roads.
  • Significantly increased signage without proof that it will make a significant difference. Many residents moved here to enjoy views and the presence of ocean or wildland habitats. Signage interferes with that and some signage may increase underlying stress by referencing terrible accidents on a daily basis. 
  • Increasing warnings. Warnings that are viewed daily or frequently are likely to be ultimately ignored. This is known as alarm fatigue.
  • Automated cars driving slowly. I think this has many risks and is unproven.

I hope you will consider these recommendations for both the process and my thoughts on solutions.

Georgia Goldfarb, Malibu