Danger alert at Fay/Nautilus intersection: Crossing guard suggested for busy La Jolla school corner

Although the ‘cross’ indicator says it’s safe to go, a car attempts to turn onto Nautilus Street from Fay Avenue ahead of student pedestrians, the afternoon of Jan. 18.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

2:10 p.m. weekdays mark the start of a chaotic time at the T-intersection of Nautilus Street and Fay Avenue. That’s when Murilands Middle School lets its students out. Nine minutes later, students from La Jolla High School (right across the street), are released. Parents in cars line Nautilus and Fay to pick up their students, or wait across the street for them.

But that intersection poses a challenge that is troubling some parents and students.

When the light turns green, it’s a green signal for both pedestrians and cars, which only have the option to turn left or right, across the crosswalks on either side. And with the flow of student pedestrians, there are not a lot of opportunities for several drivers to proceed in one light cycle. As such, some drivers jump ahead and try to get ahead of the pedestrians, others wait until the area is free of students at the very end of the cycle.

A car waits to turn onto Nautilus Street from Fay Avenue, once a flow of student pedestrians pass.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

One parent told La Jolla Light she sees near-misses “three times a week.”

As Muirlands Middle School seventh-grader Skye Buffington observed: “I’m concerned about safety and how the kids and drivers don’t follow directions. When the light turns green for cars, they can’t really go because there are a lot of kids crossing the walkway, but they try to go anyway. Plus, sometimes kids cross when (the traffic hand is flashing or solid) and they’re not supposed to, and without looking to see if it’s safe and they hold up an entire line of cars.”

To make matters worse, she said, some students proceed outside the lines of the crosswalk.

Skye said she has also seen parents texting while driving, which causes further concerns.

One Muirlands Middle School teacher, who asked not to be named, said he observed “how poorly parents (and others) drive when they are dropping off and picking up their kids at our stoplight — running red lights, making U-turns, double parking, speeding, etc.”

But what can be done?

Dave Abrams, chair of La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation board, said the group has not reviewed any of the concerns associated with this area. “(Of course) cars are supposed to yield to pedestrians, but it can be the nature of drivers to not (yield),” he said, adding that he doesn’t know what can be done to ease the congestion and improve safety at this intersection.

Skye said she would like to see a temporary crossing guard or other safety measure implemented.