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There’s always room to improve PCH safety

Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
12:07 pm PDT May 13, 2014

On more than one occasion, I’ve seen folks do the driving equivalent of throwing a Hail Mary pass along Pacific Coast Highway.

It’s what happens when a driver is on a side street and wants to make a left onto the opposite side of PCH, which requires crossing not just one lane of potentially heavy traffic, but two.

These are side streets where there are no stop signs or stoplights to slow traffic running perpendicular to the waiting driver, and oftentimes there are no convex traffic mirrors to let that driver know who’s coming around the bend at 45 or 50 mph.

Sure, the driver could make a right and head along the road to the next light or turn pocket and make a U-turn, but that’s not always a permissible maneuver, which can lead a driver along the road for quite a while. 

Such is the case more often than not around Malibu, with a few – thankfully – convenient exceptions, such as the light at Webb Way and the other at Trancas Canyon Road where U-turns are permissible. There are, of course, various turn pockets where U-turns are permitted, but even these could be risky ventures as vehicles speeding over a hill even 250 feet away could be on your tail in no time.

Biting the bullet and just making the right turn out of a side street and waiting to reach a point along PCH where a U-turn is permitted is clearly the safest thing to do; but when time is of the essence, the PCH Hail Mary “gun-it-and-run-it” seems like a more timely and economical option.

This, of course, opens up the danger to not just an unnecessary T-bone accident, but also a head-on collision if there’s a driver on the side street opposite of yours who wants to mirror your maneuver; compound that with two more drivers in each turn pocket along PCH and the rules of the road become instantly unclear: When the bases are loaded like that, everyone knows who has the right-of-way, but is unsure if that person can – or will – accept it.

Safety along PCH played a key role during the City Council election during the first quarter of 2014, and the soon-to-be-installed green arrow at Big Rock Drive and the ongoing improvements to the Kanan-Dume Arrestor Bed are manifestations of policies that ought to be lauded.

I understand our roads can never be entirely void of potential danger; that funding is limited; that planning can take a years and chasing solutions to fix “this problem and that problem” can be like arduously chasing a white rabbit down his hole; but it’s evident that there are always opportunities to improve the overall safety along Malibu’s only main road, and not a single one should be passed up.