Encinitas commission approves Z-style crosswalk on El Camino Real

The downtown Encinitas sign.
(Charlie Neuman / San Diego Union-Tribune/Zuma Pre)

A proposal to put a Z-style crosswalk on El Camino Real linking the Kohl’s shopping center with the CVS pharmacy area now heads to the Encinitas City Council for approval.

The city’s Mobility & Traffic Safety Commission gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up on Monday, June 13.

“I’m really excited about this project … I think this looks amazing,” commission Vice Chair June Honsberger said during an online meeting, adding that there are benefits both to pedestrians and vehicles given its proposed location.

In a Z-shaped crosswalk, the top part of the Z line crosses one section of a busy roadway — northbound traffic lanes on El Camino Real, for example — then there’s a “resting area” in the center median, or what could be considered the “middle” part of the Z. Next, pedestrians cross the other traffic lanes at a slightly different point — bottom part of the Z line — using a second crosswalk. The design allows slower pedestrians to take a break in the middle of the roadway, rather than trying to rush across a six-lane road as a flashing crosswalk sign counts down the seconds remaining.

The one proposed for El Camino Real would connect the Encinitas Marketplace shopping mall, which is home to Kohl’s and Chick-fil-A, with the Encinitas Village Shopping Center, which contains CVS pharmacy, Ralphs grocery, Trader Joe’s and several banks. It’s an area where people frequently jay-walk because the nearest signalized intersection is some 350 feet away, city traffic commissioners said.

City Traffic Engineer Abe Bandegan said the new signals also will include vehicle lane left-turn arrows, making it easier for cars to get into the two shopping centers, something that Honsberger told him she would definitely like to use.

“I find making a left turn into either one of those parking lots very difficult and dangerous,” she said.

Bandegan said he will submit the Z crosswalk design to the City Council for its approval soon and it will likely appear on the council’s consent calendar of items that are considered routine in nature. It should be an easy sell — 90 percent of the project’s cost is going to be covered by a state Department of Transportation grant, he said.

Construction is expected to take nine to 12 months and will include new traffic signal poles, roadway median improvements, and additional signs and striping.

While no one from the public spoke on the item Monday, June 13, Bandegan said he has heard from some people who have concerns about whether it would slow vehicle traffic and increase congestion on El Camino Real. He said the timing of the Z crosswalk signals will be coordinated with the existing, nearby traffic signals at Via Molena to help reduce the impact.

Several traffic commissioners said they would like many more changes to El Camino Real to make it more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and Bandegan said they need to proceed cautiously because it’s used by so many vehicles. About 30,000 a day travel the route, he said.