More than a year after it was proposed, a pedestrian refuge island has been installed on La Jolla Boulevard at Mira Monte, and a debated pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalk also went into place.
The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation advisory group approved the island (a physical structure that provides a place for pedestrians crossing the street to stop if traffic does not allow them to go all the way across) in March 2018, followed by the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) that June.
At the time, resident Zoe Kleinbub, with the support of City staff, requested the refuge island because the area is frequented by pedestrians getting to and from the nearby La Jolla United Methodist Church and the Fay Avenue Bike Path.
Kleinbub said it is not safe to cross the street there because pedestrians are obscured by cars waiting in the left turn lane.
However, LJCPA trustees argued it was unclear what was being presented; in that there was some discussion of whether the refuge island would include lights, but a pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalk was not included in the requested vote. Nevertheless, the board voted to approve the installation of the crosswalk.
In April 2019, District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s rep, Mauricio Medina, told the Bird Rock Community Council that an order was issued by the City in late March to start with a temporary island constructed of stanchions.
He told the audience that a permanent concrete island, with flashing lights, “still needs funding, so (City staff is) waiting on that, but I think they’re amenable to doing it in 2019, which is encouraging.”
In recent weeks, the road was re-striped to accommodate the left-turn lane and pedestrian island, so both remain.
The pedestrian-activated crosswalk joins several other crossing options in the Beach Barber Tract, Lower Hermosa and Bird Rock areas. Between the stoplight at Nautilus Street and the roundabouts fronting Bird Rock, there are pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalks on La Jolla Boulevard at Bonair Street and Gravilla Street; a stoplight at Palomar Street; non-flashing crosswalks at Winamar, Via del Norte and La Canada; then another pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalk immediately fronting the Bird Rock roundabouts.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles: “If you approach a pedestrian crossing at a corner or other crosswalk — even if the crosswalk is in the middle of the block, at a corner with or without traffic signal lights, and whether or not it’s marked by painted lines — you are required to exercise caution and reduce your speed, or stop if necessary, to ensure the safety of the pedestrian.”
It continues: “Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Although pedestrians have the right-of-way, they also must abide by the rules of the road. If you approach a crosswalk while driving, you are required to exercise caution and reduce your speed to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian. You may need to stop to ensure the safety of the pedestrian, as outlined in California Vehicle Code 21950.
“Crosswalks are often marked with white lines. Yellow crosswalk lines may be painted at school crossings. Some crosswalks have flashing lights to warn you that pedestrians may be crossing. Look for pedestrians and be prepared to stop, whether or not the lights are flashing.”