CARLSBAD — A look at the historic Highway 101, how smaller travel lanes provide for more efficient travel and the efforts countywide were detailed last week during a city-sponsored public forum at the Dove Library.
Peder Norby, Dan Burden and Kathleen Ferrier of Circulate San Diego each gave a presentation focusing on the three aspects and how new techniques are improving the quality of life nationwide.
Norby, special projects coordinator for Carlsbad, began with an interesting look into the history of the roadway and how its quirky personality, especially at Palomar Airport Road, has shaped Carlsbad.
He wowed the audience with little known facts about the highway such as in the 1960s, when the roadway carried twice as much car traffic than today.
In 1986-87, Carlsbad built the seawall in response to a devastating storm, as city officials were worried another such weather event would destroy the highway.
Norby, though, praised efforts to keep the artery functioning at a high level.
“Highway 101 is rigid, it will fail,” he said. “If it’s adaptive, it will continue to succeed.”
Burden, meanwhile, is a noted traffic engineer and was listed in 2001 as one of six of the world’s most important civic innovators by Time magazine.
His presentation detailed efforts in numerous cities where urban sprawl was the norm, but through a reduction in the size of road, adding bike lanes, landscape and street parking has drawn renewed development and economic activity to cities and main arteries once left for dead.
He touted efforts in the Bird Rock community in La Jolla as a prime example of how those efforts have revived a once downtrodden neighborhood.
Burden’s slides also displayed at least 10 other cities in California and around the country where simple and cheap improvements revitalized those areas.
Perhaps most importantly, he said, is for cities to build for local traffic, not regionally. He said fewer lanes with more options for other means of transportation actually increases travel times and reduces congestion.
In addition, successful cities don’t build for peak hours of travel, which actually works against providing quicker transportation and increases wait times.
“It provides a smaller life radius and less time in the car,” Burden said. “Don’t build for peak hour.”
He also championed roundabouts of various sizes and capabilities. He said it takes some time to get used to the circular traffic measures, but they provide for safer and slower traffic, yet allows drivers to get to their destination quicker than hitting traffic lights.
Also, adding buffer zones on lanes to protect street parking and bicycle lanes eases traffic speeds. Burden also said providing colored bike lanes acts as another safety measure and adds a bit of character to city streets.
As for Ferrier, she discussed the efforts of revitalization projects in Solana Beach and San Diego. In addition, she outlined plans by the city of San Diego to revamp its traffic plans throughout the city to improve travel times, add bike lanes and better pedestrian access.
She also explained current efforts on University Avenue in the City Heights neighborhood, which is a traffic nightmare, to improve travel times, economic activity and public access. Construction will begin next year.
Despite traffic, Ferrier touted the economic response after instituting the innovate measures regarding car travel.
For example, in Solana Beach she said, after reworking Highway 101, 94 business licenses were issued and sales tax was up 24 percent over the previous year, minus the construction timeline.