Recent traffic measures designed to make biking and walking safer on La Costa Avenue have been popular and problem-free thus far, said a city employee and resident who started a petition to make the road pedestrian- friendly.
More than a month ago, the city made a number of changes to the road, from Coast Highway 101 to Interstate 5. Those included:
• Restriping to add a 5-foot pedestrian lane on the eastbound side to go with an existing 5-foot bike lane;
• On the westbound side, adding a 3-foot buffer between the 5-foot bike lane and the car lane;
• Narrowing each side of the car lanes from 15 feet to 11 feet to make way for the work.
“It’s been highly embraced,” said resident Elena Thompson of the La Costa Avenue traffic measures. “You’re seeing a lot more people out there.”
Before the project, it was unsafe for pedestrians to go to and from the beach via La Costa Avenue, because the only place they could walk was in a narrow bike lane on each side of the street, Thompson said.
“Up until this point, they had to walk right out there with traffic and oncoming bikes,” Thompson said.
She added that bicyclists now have “more room to breathe,” too. She noted families rode on La Costa Avenue during a joy ride/walk a month ago to celebrate the project.
Last summer, Thompson started a petition, which gained more than 40 signatures, calling for walkability improvements on La Costa Avenue. The petition, combined with support from public speakers during city meetings, led the Encinitas City Council in March to approve the traffic measures.
Thompson said ideally sidewalks would be added in the area, but given competing infrastructure demands throughout the city, she said the improvements are a good solution.
Ed Deane, the city’s deputy director of engineering, said the city has been monitoring the project by camera and by driving the site at various times.
“Our No. 1 concern is safety of all users of the roadway,” Deane said in an email. “We want to make sure the modifications are not having an impact on the safe operation and maintenance of the roadway. So far, so good.”
Deane said that because the project was completed at the end of summer, the full next year will be a better gauge of how effective it is. If any issues arise, city staff will report them to the council.
The city spent $9,875 on the project, which went toward removing a portion of the prior striping, new striping, and pavement markings.
Deane said city plans ultimately call for converting La Costa Avenue into four lanes (two lanes in each direction), or as an alternative, keeping it as two lanes and adding left-hand turn lanes in the median. Both options would add sidewalks.
However, it’s unknown when these improvements would happen. Deane said they weren’t included in the city’s six-year capital improvement budget.