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Petition Tag - safe routes to school
A petition to improve safety and the traffic conditions surrounding Paul Ecke Central (PEC) during drop off and pick up (d/o and p/u) periods including providing Safe Routes to School for Pedestrians and Bicyclists.
Improving the efficiency of the d/o and p/u process
The highest priority for improving the efficiency of the congestion on Union Street in front of the school is to improve the efficiency of the intersection of Union and Vulcan Avenue. The queuing for cars on west bound Union Avenue causes gridlock near the intersection. To address the inefficiency the following improvements could be made and are in the order of the greatest benefits received to address the issue:
Roundabout: Construct a modern day roundabout at the intersection of Union Street and Vulcan Avenue. Issues include cost and time of implementation.
Costs: The costs for a modern day roundabout range from $100,000 to $300,000.
Time of Implementation: At best, it would take the City two to three years to implement a roundabout.
All-way stop. A all-way stop would improve the frequency for turns onto Vulcan Avenue for the queued traffic on Union Street. Other advantages include improved cross-walks at the intersection with continental style delineation, which is preferable to middle-block crosswalks. A all-way stop could be approved by the traffic commission and City Council within three months and is a good interim measure until a permanent roundabout can be constructed.
Turn restrictions at Union Street and Vulcan Avenue. If the City will not implement a three-way stop at Union and Vulcan, they should consider left hand turn restrictions on westbound traffic approaching Vulcan Avenue. The time restrictions could be from 7:45 AM to 8:10 AM. This restriction would also improve the efficiency of the drop off area for the school. Similar signing and restrictions have proven to be effective in the City of San Clemente.
Preferred Alternative: Regarding the three alternatives for addressing the efficiency of the intersection, I recommended installing an all-way stop as described above as an interim measure until a roundabout can be constructed. The measure should be installed as soon as possible with a realistic time schedule of three to six months.
Improving safety and convenience for pedestrians and bicyclist accessing PEC
To improve the safety and convenience for pedestrians and bicyclists accessing PEC, suggestions for addressing the remaining existing conditions listed above include:
Speeding on Vulcan Avenue - Constructing a roundabout or implementing a three-way stop will help address the speeding on Vulcan Avenue. Another traffic-calming measure used in other parts of Encinitas near elementary schools is the raised crosswalk. An example of one may be seen on Montgomery Avenue and Westminister Drive adjacent to a Cardiff School District School.
Large puddle at the intersection of Union Avenue and Vulcan Avenue - Construct new cross-gutter across Union Avenue and Vulcan Avenue which will also help dissuade speeding.
Intersection at Leucadia Blvd. and Hygeia should be improved to encourage more bicycling and pedestrians use for children crossing Leucadia Blvd. on their way to PEC. Unfinished streetscape (bicycle and pedestrian) improvements between Hermes Avenue and Hymettus.
The City Council approved roundabout should be installed at Hygeia Avenue and the Phase II Leucadia Blvd. Streetscape Improvements should be constructed to make a safe and more convenient pedestrian and bicycle experience for children crossing Leucadia Blvd. on their way to school. The Phase II improvements were promised following the completion of the successful Phase I, and were supposed to be constructed in 2012. The District should send a letter to City Council requesting the City fund the Phase II improvements in the next fiscal year.
No bike lanes on Hygeia Avenue, Cereus Street, Union, or Hermes Avenue- While implementing bike lanes on the streets would likely require significant restrictions on parking, the City should install Sharrows and associated signing on the noted streets. Sharrows are pavement legends that help notify the vehicle drivers that bicyclist have equal rights to the roadway. They also help make bicyclists aware of the proper position in the roadway for maximum safety and to avoid hazards such as “dooring.” Dooring is when a driver opens their door in front of bicyclist and the bicyclist doesn’t have time to react and hits the door.
There is no efficient way for pedestrians or bicyclists who live west of Vulcan Avenue to cross over the railroad-No crossing from Encinitas Blvd. to Leucadia Blvd. No crosswalk on the south side of Leucadia Blvd.
Crossing from the west side of Hwy 101 to AC walkway along Vulcan Avenue can take over 10 minutes; this lengthy wait dissuades pedestrians and bicyclists living west of Hwy 101.
The City should pursue a pedestrian/bike crossing at or near Union Street. Considering the costs of grade-separated crossings, focus on implementing an at-grade crossing with a wayside horn system. Wayside horns are significantly quieter than train horns. A video of the warning system may be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNgJ7VdL3og. Additionally, the City should be pursuing a quiet zone similar to that being implemented by the City of San Diego and the City of San Clemente throughout the entire city limits.
The City should construct a crosswalk on the south side of Leucadia Blvd. between Vulcan Avenue and the west side of N. Coast Hwy 101. The new crosswalk would reduce pedestrian delays by over 50% from the current conditions. The proposed new crosswalk is consistent with all the other intersection cross-walk configurations implemented in downtown Encinitas and downtown Leucadia deserves no less. The new crosswalk would need to be coordinated and permitted with NCTD.
The AC pathway on Vulcan Avenue has SDGE transformers that block the effective use of pathway. Relocate or underground the SDGE infrastructure. Construct an ADA and pathway up to public works standards. Constructing the Rail Trail would address this issue.
The existing AC pathway on the west side of Vulcan Avenue and adjacent to the east side of the NCTD right-of-way is full of goat head thorns. The goat heads are responsible for minimizing bicycle travel on the AC pathway. The City needs to coordinate with and put NCTD on notice that they need to address the goat head problem to comply with their own mission. People are dissuaded from walking and biking to NCTD stops and our local school because of the goat head problem. Create a task force to address the problem. It’s not that difficult and only requires accountability from the agency’s involved. The solution is to kill the weeds with an herbacide and repeat the process following regermination until the goat heads are eradicated. This method is proven for all the City parks, golf course, and other landscaped areas and should be implemented for the NCTD right of way.
Until landscaping/hardscaping is established, STOP hoeing dirt to remove weeds by work crews. The hoeing loosens top soil and promotes more air pollution and soil erosion when trains pass over 70 times per day.
Schedule Rail Trail improvements.
The current mid-block crosswalk on the west side of Vulcan Avenue should be moved to the intersection of Union Street. Studies have shown that mid-block crosswalks are more dangerous that crosswalks at intersections.-
Move the crosswalk as a part of the new intersection improvements proposed.
Hygeia Avenue and Hermes Avenue sidewalks are narrow and have many restrictions and obstacles for users. The City should address the restrictions and obstacles, and delineation.
Install the City Council approved stop sign at Vulcan and Union, and Hygiea and Cereus. Address ADA Improvements.
Install Sharrows on all the streets leading to PEC.
Construct the modern day roundabout at Hygeia Avenue and Leucadia Blvd.
Traffic congestion at the intersection of Cereus Street and Hygiea Avenue.
Install the stop sign that was approved by the Traffic Commission and City Council in approximately 2005 to 2006 time frame. The all-way stop would improve the efficiency of eastbound traffic on Cereus Street and would improve the safety for pedestrians on Hygeia Avenue crossing Cereus Street.
There is a section of rolled curb on the south side of Union Avenue between the eastern most school driveway and the exit of the school that should be replaced with 6 inch standard curb to dissuade cars from driving up on the sidewalk.
Many kids are being dropped of by parents driving one or two children to school. It doesn’t appear that most are utilizing car pooling. Implement a highly publicized Car Pooling Campaign as further explained below. The school only has one bike rack with limited capacity. Install a free-standing, fenced bike rack with increased capacity. It can be locked and unlocked by designated PEC staff. Increase the capacity to hold 100 to 200 bikes.
Reducing the number of car trips to the school during the peak drop off period
If not already established, PTA may consider creating a subcommittee to address the safety concerns of children walking and bicycling to school as well as maximizing carpooling. The reduction in the number of vehicles dropping off children has a direct impact in the congestion and safety of the area.
Benefits from walking and bicycling:
Environmental benefits including less pollution and greenhouse emissions.
Reduced use of fossil fuels, which helps our nation become less dependent on foreign countries.
Directly addresses the congestion issue. The more children that bike and walk to school the fewer vehicles causing congestion.
Creates positive habits in children’s lives.
Increase exercise for children before school, helping address the national obesity issue and providing children the opportunity to breath fresh air and maximize their alertness before starting school.
Benefits from carpooling: Items 1 through 3 above.
Many of these solutions can be implemented within a few months. I believe a realistic goal would be to have 40% of the students walking, bicycling, or carpooling to school. A reduction in trips caused by meeting this goal coupled with the improvements listed would greatly improve the congestion currently experienced.