Santa Monica's first protected bike lane runs down the center of Pico near Santa Monica High School. All photos courtesy of Cynthia Rose/Santa Monica Spoke.
Santa Monica’s first protected bike lane runs down the center of Pico near Santa Monica High School. All photos courtesy of Cynthia Rose/Santa Monica Spoke.

Santa Monica is really making strides in the active transportation department these days. It’s about to launch the first public bike-share system in L.A. County and now, the city has its first protected bike lane.

Here's a shot of the protected bike lane looking east toward Lincoln Boulevard.
Here’s a shot of the protected bike lane, looking east toward Lincoln Boulevard.

It’s a short, one-block stretch down the middle of Pico Boulevard accessed at signalized intersection at 7th and 6th streets. It’s designed to create a safe connection from Michigan Avenue/7th Street — an entrance to Santa Monica High School — to Main Street, the beach, and the surrounding neighborhood.

The protected bike lane connects to newly-painted green bike lanes on 7th street. The intersection has a new traffic signal installed.
The protected bike lane connects to newly-painted green bike lanes on 7th street. The intersection has a new traffic signal installed.

The protected bike lane is one of several grant-funded major safety improvements in the area as part of the Santa Monica High School Safe Routes to School initiative. The new safety improvements will hopefully encourage more of the roughly 3,300 students who attend the high school to arrive to campus by means other than a car.

“Council approved recommendations to improve Samohi’s major access point at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and 7th Street for all modes, and to improve walking and biking safety at this key destination in February,” according to the city’s website.

The protected bike lane directs riders down 6th Street.
The protected bike lane connects riders to 6th Street. This view looks south down 6th Street.

The other safety improvements being added to the area include:

  • Making Michigan Avenue (west of Lincoln) one-way westbound and making 7th Street one-way southbound to Pico.
  • Installation of a traffic light at Pico and 7th Street to allow for safer street crossing for students walking and biking in the area.
  • The inclusion of bike lanes running in both directions in the redesign of 7th and Michigan. (This may seem odd but it is safer to allow bikes to flow in both directions.)
  • The addition of safety features like curb extensions, enhanced crosswalks, and protected turns for cars in the Lincoln and Michigan intersection and the 7th and Pico intersection.
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The newly-improved safety infrastructure also allows for a more seamless connection from Santa Monica High School, Main Street, and the beach to the Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo).

This is the intersection of 7th Street and Michigan Avenue, looking north to Pico. This is one of the major access points to the Santa Monica High School campus.
This is the intersection of 7th Street and Michigan Avenue, looking south to Pico. It is one of the major access points to the Santa Monica High School campus.

MANGo is a multi-modal east-west route through the Pico neighborhood designed for human-speed traffic flow. Eventually, it will connect to the future Expo bike path at Bergamot Station. Currently, it connects to several north-south bike routes in the city, like 17th Street.

Michigan Avenue
The new green bike lanes on Michigan Avenue, as seen looking east from 7th Street. This intersection is one of the major access points to Santa Monica High School’s campus.

While the Pico protected bike lane is the city’s first, it won’t be the last. Already, the protected cycle track planned for the Colorado Esplanade is taking shape. Once completed, the Esplanade cycle track will connect the Downtown Santa Monica Expo station at 5th and Colorado with Ocean Avenue, the Pier, and the green bike lanes on Broadway.

We’ll revisit the Esplanade, scheduled to open before the Expo light rail begins passenger service next spring, as construction progresses.