Open Thread: Coast, Santa Monica’s First Open Streets Event

Pier sign 2
Santa Monica’s first open streets event closed off two miles of streets to cars. Photos by Jason Islas/SBLA

Santa Monica closed off two miles of streets to motor vehicles on Sunday for its first-ever open streets event, Coast.

The route started at the newly-opened Downtown Santa Monica Expo line station. From there to the Pier was a designated pedestrian zone. The path continued north along Ocean Avenue to Wilshire and south along Main Street until Marine Avenue, the city’s southern border.

Santa Monica kicked off the event with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Colorado Esplanade, the stretch of Colorado Avenue from the Expo line station in downtown Santa Monica to the Pier which the city just improved with wider sidewalks, better street furniture and landscaping, and a separated cycle track.

Coast was the shortest open streets event in L.A. County to date, but that didn’t detour people from turning out. By the time I left the event — shortly after 1 p.m. — the streets were full of people.

As Gary Kavanagh noted on Twitter, the length of the route seemed to actually encourage more people to walk and that people on foot. He also noted that it made for a slower-paced event compared to other open streets events, like CicLAvia.

Santa Monica used the opportunity to highlight a number of goings on in the city, including the new GoSaMo initiative, which is designed to educate and encourage people to consider their mobility options before just jumping in the car.

The route was dotted with several “zones,” at which the city and its various partners highlighted the work they were doing. At the Mobility Zone, for example, visitors could learn about Santa Monica’s bike center, Santa Monica Spoke, Breeze Bike Share, Climate Action Santa Monica, railLA, and the Big Blue Bus, to name a few participants. Click on the map below to see a larger version.

Screenshot 2016-05-31 at 11.43.49

There was also a City Zone outside of city hall, where visitors could meet with their City Council members and state representatives, as well as learn about the new Downtown Specific Plan that Santa Monica is currently working on, in order to bring the zoning in the downtown up to date.

Especially on Main Street, local businesses touted their services as visitors gathered at local cafes and restaurants and took advantage of temporary seating that was set up in parking spots along the route.

There was also mobile entertainment that include Samba dancers who made their way up and down the route, stilt walkers, and rollerskaters.

It was a successful event overall, even though it definitely had a distinctly different vibe from a typical CicLAvia. It was the first open streets event I attended without my bike, but that didn’t prevent me from being able to enjoy the entire length of it.

One of Santa Monica’s City Council members has already voiced her opinion that the city should definitely do this again.

So, did you make it out to Coast? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below. More pictures after the jump.

Climate Action Santa Monica handed out goodies at the Mobility Zone. Among the goodies were Expo phase II commemorative TAP cards preloaded with day passes.
Climate Action Santa Monica handed out goodies at the Mobility Zone. Among the goodies were Expo phase II commemorative TAP cards preloaded with day passes.
Bicyclists pass by city hall and Tongva Park.
Bicyclists pass by city hall and Tongva Park.
A pianist performs for passers-by and those who have stopped for some food and coffee at the temporary streets seating along Main Street.
A pianist performs for passers-by and those who have stopped for some food and coffee at the temporary streets seating along Main Street.
Samba dancers perform on the Colorado Esplanade next to a banner promoting the GoSaMo multimodal initiative.
Samba dancers perform on the Colorado Esplanade next to a banner promoting the GoSaMo multimodal initiative.
Passers-by were able to request poems on any number of topics.
Passers-by were able to request poems on any number of topics.
By 1 p.m., Main Street was full of people on bikes, on skateboards, and on foot.
By 1 p.m., Main Street was full of people on bikes, on skateboards, and on foot.
  • Walt Arrrrr

    Loved it! COAST more than any other local open streets event shows that open streets events are more than just about riding bikes. I especially liked that Santa Monica allowed and encouraged cafe seating IN THE STREET. This is quite a contrast to CicLAvia, where in the past, volunteers have chased stationary people off the roadway. Looking forward to whenever Santa Monica does the next one.

  • Serena Liu

    My husband & I enjoyed it! We were only able to go for 2 hours but I wish we could have spent more time exploring the shops along the route. With the number of people walking & the distance of the route, COAST reminded us a lot of Sunday Streets in SF! I actually enjoy shorter routes these days because I’m able to “see everything” and spend more time leisurely exploring the hubs and the neighborhood.

  • Qrys

    And Bernie Sanders was there, too!

    Nice article. Got there late, but stopped for lunch and still did the whole circuit. Yes the uptick in people walking the route was nice, although the clusters of people chit-chatting in the middle of the street, while not unwelcome, did require more cautious and courteous maneuvering by the people on bikes. Yes, overall a slower vibe. The overcast day was a mixed blessing, it did keep things on the slightly-chilly side. Also the north end was less activated than the Main St. leg was so despite the Palisades Park overlook areas, I didn’t see hardly anyone around there.

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