Improvements have been made to Ocean Avenue in Downtown Santa Monica to make it more pedestrian and bicyclist-friendly.
Ocean Avenue runs along the bluffs of the Santa Monica coastline, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Lined with popular shops and cafes, Ocean Avenue is always bustling with drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The City of Santa Monica has made some changes to this picturesque street creating an even more welcoming place for people using any mode of transportation. Take a look at the new and improved Ocean Avenue on your way to visit Pacific Park. Bring your own bicycles or rent some from Blazing Saddles or The Bike Center. Cruise by the resort-style hotels and stop into the shops and cafes to make a fun day of biking around Santa Monica.
Santa Monica’s Commitment to Public Spaces
In 2015, the Santa Monica City Council identified “creating a new model of mobility” as a strategic goal. Residents surveyed indicated that lack of parking and traffic congestion where amongst their top concerns for Downtown Santa Monica. The City aims to reduce over-reliance on cars by encouraging other modes of transportation, including bicycling and public transit. Adding bike lanes to Ocean Avenue is a part of this larger strategic goal. Funding sources for the project include Santa Monica’s Economic Recovery Fund and regional transportation funds.
The project was put into motion after the 2020 pandemic when outdoor space was at a premium. It helps local Santa Monica businesses in the hospitality industry recover more quickly from pandemic losses by encouraging visitors to get out of their cars. Increasing foot traffic and use of sidewalks, esplanades, and bike lanes will benefit the community far into the future.
Santa Monica’s Bike Action Plan prioritizes several improvements to the Ocean Avenue corridor.
Protected Bike Lane
This project added a protected bike lane for more than half a mile long on Ocean Avenue. The lane opened to bicyclists in early December of 2020. The city of Santa Monica has committed to constructing 19 miles of protected bike lanes in the next five years. So for anyone who has been wondering if Santa Monica is accessible by bike, the answer is increasing “yes”.
One of the most exciting aspects of this bike lane is that it connects Ocean Avenue to the California Incline, which has a bridge over to the beach and Marvin Braude Bike Trail providing another 22 miles of paved bike path along the coastline.
Expanded Sidewalks For Outdoor Dining
A limited number of parking spots have been removed to expand sidewalks and provide space for parklets and outdoor dining areas. Additional “boardwalk” sidewalks were added from Santa Monica Boulevard to Colorado Boulevard that expands space for pedestrians in this busy stretch of Ocean Avenue.
Comprehensive Bikeway Design
The bike lanes running from the Downtown Santa Monica Metro station to the Santa Monica Pier are designed with the safety of bicyclists in mind.
A small turn lane allows bicyclists turning left to be more visible to drivers, which will help prevent accidents.
Two-Way Bike Lanes
From the Metro Expo Line station to the Santa Monica Pier, the west side of Colorado Boulevard is a two-way bike lane. Two-way bike lanes have been found to be safer for bicyclists because cyclists closest to car traffic are able to ride in the opposite direction cars are. This allows bicyclists to see cars better and avoid collisions by opening car doors. Cyclists going the same direction as cars are given a bit of extra buffer room.
Parts of the bikeway are protected by parking spaces. With parked cars between bicyclists and moving vehicles, car accidents are much less likely to occur. Importantly, this feature also makes hesitant bicyclists more likely to use the lanes, reducing car traffic.
Extended Ocean Avenue Bike Lanes
South of the Santa Monica Pier, the bike lanes will continue to expand. While these bike lanes will be more conventional, with one-way traffic on either side of the street, they will nevertheless add important protection for bicyclists.
Ocean Avenue serves as the gateway to Pacific Park and the Santa Monica Pier. As the Westernmost street in Santa Monica, its scenic ocean views have long attracted visitors and residents alike.