L.A. City Council seeks further Venice Boardwalk safeguards

Just days after a driver plowed through a crowd of pedestrians in Venice, California, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to instruct city officials to come up with safety measures for the iconic beachfront promenade. Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the area, called for barriers at Ocean Front Walk’s most hazardous intersections to help protect pedestrians until a permanent solution is developed.

The driver of the car, a 38-year-old man from Colorado, injured 16 people and killed a 32-year-old Italian bride who was on her honeymoon. He is facing three dozen felony counts, including murder, and could serve life in prison if convicted. Although there are four poles on Dudley Avenue that are designed to keep cars off the boardwalk, according to witnesses, the suspect avoided them by driving onto the sidewalk and then plunging into the crowd.

The L.A. City Council has tasked city officials with producing a safety assessment within two weeks, including suggested additional safety measures. There are a number of possibilities. Of the thirty streets and alleys that feed into Ocean Front Walk, only a few have traffic barriers. However, adding barriers has its complications. They cannot block wheelchair access. Further, at some of the intersections, cars must cross Ocean Front Walk to reach parking lots. In addition to more barriers such as bollards or large concrete planters, a public address system, new signs, and additional surveillance cameras have been discussed.

Bonin believes that the Venice Boardwalk needs to be recognized as the worldwide tourist destination that it is rather than as just another park. He says that even before the recent tragedy, the current barriers were not enough to prevent vehicles from driving onto Ocean Front Walk and causing a car accident.

Venice residents and vendors have mixed opinions about the efficacy of more barriers on the iconic boardwalk. Some say that if someone is determined to cause injury, they will find a way, while others welcome anything that keeps the area safer. Regardless of what solution is found, pedestrians should always be on the lookout for vehicles, even when they have the right of way. Anyone who suffers an injury at the hands of a driver should contact an injury lawyer to help ensure that the driver is held accountable for any injuries, damage, financial harm, and/or pain and suffering.

Source:  The Los Angeles Times, “L.A. City Council calls for boardwalk barriers in Venice” David Zahniser and Matt Stevens, Aug. 06, 2013