SOLANA BEACH — Major improvements along Coast Highway 101 recently earned Solana Beach, the second smallest city in San Diego County, national recognition for getting it right.
In Dangerous by Design 2014, a report by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition, Solana Beach was lauded for the roadway redesign that features narrowed lanes, curb extensions, midblock crossings at popular crossing points and wider, continuous sidewalks.
The report notes that Coast Highway was often used as an alternative route to Interstate 5, resulting in people speeding through the historic downtown to the detriment of pedestrians and local businesses.
“Through an extensive planning process that engaged community members and business owners, Highway 101 was redesigned to be a safe and appealing complement to the community’s character,” the report states. “The safer and more appealing street has encouraged store owners to renovate their facades, and new businesses have opened.”
Also noted was the fact that while speeds were reduced, automobile access was not diminished.
The report includes a nationwide survey of existing streetscapes that are poorly designed and case studies on ones that are done correctly.
“Little Solana Beach got put in this national report about how to do things right and how to do sidewalk planning, bicycle planning, transit and … parking,” Councilman Mike Nichols said. “It was just impressive to see us included in that national report. “
From 2003 to 2012, more than 47,000 people were killed while walking, according to the report. Another 676,000 were injured, meaning someone on foot was hit by a car about every eight minutes, the reports states.
Dangerous by Design documents preventable pedestrian fatalities and makes specific recommendations at the national and state levels to improve safety.
The report issues a Pedestrian Danger Index, which indicates the likelihood that a person walking will be hit by a car and killed.
Orlando, with a 2008 to 2012 PDI of 244.28, was ranked the most dangerous. Rounding out the top 10 are the Florida cities of Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville and Miami; Memphis, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Phoenix and Scottsdale in Arizona; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
According to the report, these areas developed rapidly, with many low-density neighborhoods overly dependent on extra-wide, fast arterial roads to connect homes, schools, jobs and shops. Such roads rarely feature the facilities needed for safe travel by foot, the report notes.
The Boston areas of Cambridge and Quincy had a 2008 to 2012 PDI of 18.65, making it the safest of the 51 metropolitan areas ranked.
The safest places to walk tend to be more compactly developed and place a greater emphasis on pedestrian safety, the report states.
San Diego County ranked 29 with a PDI of 66.02.
Dangerous by Design 2014 looks at where fatalities happen and who’s most at risk, presenting data from every county, metro area and state.
According to the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System, pedestrians are most often killed on high-capacity, high-speed arterial roads — those built to move the most traffic possible with minimal delay over long distances.
At the same time, according to the report, “these arterials have become the Main Streets of our communities, and now typically are flanked by apartment complexes, shopping centers and office parks.”
From 2003 through 2012, almost 68 percent of all pedestrian fatalities were on roadways funded in some part by federal money and designed in accordance with federal guidelines.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, well-connected walking and bicycling networks are an important component for livable communities.
Other cities noted for getting it right include West Jefferson, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Although Phoenix made the list of top 10 worst cities, it was cited for getting it right when First Street near Arizona State University’s downtown campus was redesigned to include shade trees, wider sidewalks, frequent crosswalks and improved drainage.