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Council unanimously adopts pedestrian, safe school routes plan

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council unanimously adopted a plan that provides the city a roadmap for improving pedestrian travel and creating safer routes to schools, including at one of the most notoriously pedestrian unfriendly school sites, Paul Ecke Central Elementary School.

The council’s endorsement of the “Let’s Move Encinitas! Pedestrian Travel and Safe Routes to School Plan” came after hearing from parents, staff and a student involved with Paul Ecke Elementary, all with the same message for the council: make the safety around the school a top priority.

“Our kids need your help,” said Amy Flicker, the PTA president at Paul Ecke Central.

“We pride ourselves on being a progressive wellness and environmentally conscious school, but our students can’t even participate in our own school-sponsored bike and walk to school days because it is too risky for our kids,” she added.

The contingent requested the city prioritize several projects, including complete sidewalks along the east side of Vulcan Avenue, where the school is located, improving connections along Coast Highway 101 and Vulcan Avenue so that residents on the west side of Coast Highway 101 can safely traverse both streets to get to school, and traffic calming along several of the surrounding streets, including Hygeia Avenue and Cereus Street.

Chris Andrade, a safety patrol officer at the school, echoed Flicker’s concerns, saying that the traffic conditions on busy Vulcan Avenue and the streets surrounding the school make the prospects of a student getting injured in a traffic collision an inevitability.

“We can’t be the school that makes that phone call home,” Andrade said. “This is preventable, we can fix this. They have a plan, let’s put it in place.”

The Let’s Move plan provides the city with a list of priority projects that it can incorporate in its active transportation master plan and schools can use for traffic improvements around their campuses.

The plan, however, doesn’t provide the engineering or technical specification necessary to make the projects “shovel ready,” as the city must do with each individual project at the time they consider it.

The council, however, told the Paul Ecke Central contingent that they believed help was on the near horizon for some of the issues plaguing the area.

“I think we are on the cusp of doing something significant at Paul Ecke Central,” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said to the attendees.