SOLANA BEACH — The city is seeking input on ways to improve how pedestrians and bicyclists get around town, especially after only about 10 people attended a Feb. 20 workshop to kick off its “active transportation” master plan process.
Active transportation is defined as any self-propelled, human-powered mode of travel, such as walking or cycling.
Solana Beach received a grant from the San Diego Association of Governments to prepare its first Comprehensive Active Transportation Strategy, or CATS, which will identify opportunities to improve bicycle and pedestrian networks by increasing connectivity and enhancing safety and comfort for walkers and riders.
The goal of the CATS is to make active transportation an easier and more attractive mode of travel.
The process is starting with an evaluation of what Solana Beach is like today for walkers and riders and where officials want it to be in the future.
With a master plan the city will also become eligible for grant funding for new projects and programs.
Solana Beach prepared a bicycle master plan in 1993 and adopted amendments in 1996 and 2005.
The CATS project will reflect changes in the city since then, such as roadway reconfigurations, differences in travel patterns and the growth of commercial districts.
While developing the master plan, the city will prioritize biking and walking networks, design priority projects, identify the costs and funding sources and prepare two grant applications.
The process is expected to take about 14 months.
Active transportation has many public health, environmental and economic benefits, including increased physical activity, which can reduce health risks such as obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, stress and depression.
More cycling and walking helps reduce vehicle miles traveled, so it also decreases greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality.
“Improving biking and walking safety can also improve traffic,” resident Douglas Alden, of BikeWalkSolana, said, noting that his children get to school faster than the cars they pass on the way each morning.
“You really need to teach the parents as much as the kids,” he said.
Slowing traffic, especially in residential neighborhoods, is part of the plan to improve walking and biking safety.
“Even if a collision occurs, injuries are reduced if cars are moving slower,” said Sherry Ryan, president of Chen Ryan Associates, a traffic and parking consulting firm.
As a means to that end, the city is proposing a host of traffic-calming measures, such as midblock crossings like the one recently installed on Coast Highway 101, decorative crosswalks similar to those on Cedros Avenue, chicanes, additional bike lanes and sharrows.
Other potential solutions include one- or two-way cycle tracks, which are like small roads for bikes that are separated from the road by medians or other landscaping or hardscape.
“We have a range of facilities we’re considering,” Ryan said. “We need the community to help us figure out where the problems are and what potential safety measures can be taken.”
Workshop attendees offered a few suggestions.
Roger Boyd said the city should reconsider installing roundabouts, especially in the eastern portion of the city. Daniel Powell recommended a presentation focused on education.
Ryan Wiggins suggested lengthening traffic signals to give people more time to cross roadways and improving signage, especially for sharrow lanes.
“Drivers are rightfully focusing on the road,” Wiggins said. “You should make the signs more visible where you have the opportunity.”
Wiggins also said if there are plans to narrow lanes, the term “road diet” should be replaced by something less negative.
City Manager David Ott agreed. “Resistance to change is extreme, especially if we’re going to narrow the lanes,” he said. “When we tried that before (the term road diet) gave the wrong intention.”
To help with the planning, residents are encouraged to take a 12-question survey available at sbcats.info.