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  • Jacob Aere

Encinitas toys with idea of downtown pedestrian scrambles

Some Encinitas crosswalks may be getting a makeover, with the city evaluating the potential for inclusion of pedestrian scramble crossings. Photo by Jacob Aere.

ENCINITAS — Encinitas’ Traffic and Public Safety Commission held a special meeting July 2 to approve and recommend two scenarios for new pedestrian crosswalks at D, E and F streets to City Council.

The options discussed during the meeting include a pedestrian scramble crossing which allows for diagonal movement and an exclusive pedestrian phase crossing which only permits parallel travel.

Originally, the agenda report focused on D and E streets but the Traffic and Public Safety Commission’s April meeting directed staff to include the F Street intersection on S. Coast Highway 101 in the evaluation.

Now commission staff are only recommending that the city move forward with scramble crossings at D and E streets, and that F Street be completed in a second phase.

Peter Kohl, chair of the commission, said “The two worst intersections in the city are D and E (streets). From a safety standpoint it makes a lot of sense to put in scramble crosswalks.”

Each of the three proposed crossings are separated exactly 480 feet from one another on S. Coast Hwy 101 and would synchronize their signals to maximize pedestrian and traffic efficiency.

The agenda report on the new crossings also includes the city of Carlsbad’s 2012 implementation of its downtown pedestrian scramble as a model.

Carlsbad’s diagonal crossing is in the heart of its downtown scene and it stops all traffic to allow for diagonal pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Carlsbad Village Drive and Carlsbad Boulevard.

“It may take a little bit longer for a car to get through the whole block or corridor, but I think that is something that we can easily live with,” Kohl said. “Because I think we will improve safety and reduce potential accidents.”

Vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic data was collected on May 30 to measure the level of service at the three Encinitas  intersections during the peak periods in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Based on the analysis results, all of the three intersections would experience vehicle and bike delays because of the pedestrian scramble crossings.

Although the pedestrian scramble scenario has higher delays compared to the exclusive phasing scenario, the diagonal crossing proposal is more convenient and understandable for pedestrians and drivers.

The two options do differ economically. The exclusive pedestrian phasing is $6,000 and could be implemented without modification to the traffic signal  indications, signing or striping.

Alternatively, the chosen scramble crossing will require traffic signal modification design and contractor work, which will total $40,000 at each location.

The approximate cost associated with the improvements at D and E streets is $80,000. And the commission staff recommends implementation of the pedestrian scramble seven days a week and 24 hours a day.

One of the priorities for commissioners is to “achieve mode shift, which is getting people to make trips in something other than a car if they can,” Commissioner Marty Benson said.

Benson also noted Vision Zero as a goal of the commission, an idea which envisions zero traffic fatalities in a city.

City Council could vote on the new crossings as early as fall 2019.

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