At the La Jolla Traffic and Transportation (T&T) advisory board meeting April 23, a plea for a pedestrian-activated blinking lighted crosswalk across La Jolla Boulevard at Westbourne Street was voiced.
“I’ve almost been hit crossing through there,” said resident Bill Fitzmaurice. “This is right by La Jolla High School and Muirlands Middle School and a lot of students use that way to get to the beach. I’ve witnessed people not providing the right-of-way to pedestrians in that crosswalk. It’s a horror story.”
Resident Melinda Merryweather added, “I’ve actually seen a person hit. I try and cross (the street there) with my bike all the time and it’s a struggle.” She said there is a stoplight one block south at Nautilus Street, and theorized that drivers will “hit the gas” as soon as the light turns green or race through a yellow light, unaware that there is a crosswalk so close by.
Additionally, one attendee noted that even if a car stops for a pedestrian, a bigger issue arises when the second car or third driver in line gets impatient because they don’t know why they’re stopping and they use the left turn lane to pass the car in front of them.
A petition in support of additional safety measures, started by residents Nathan and Stephanie Jernigan and signed by 300 nearby residents and business owners, was also presented at the meeting.
T&T chair Todd Lesser suggested those who want to see improved safety measures write letters to San Diego City Council president Sherri Lightner’s office, especially if the letters document an accident or near-miss.
“Our council representative will not want to disregard the wishes of hundreds of voters, so if every person on that petition writes a letter, that makes an impact. The city needs to be told this is important,” Lesser said. He added he would pass along the suggestions to the city, but could not guarantee that it would recommend a lighted crosswalk to improve safety.
“The city will have to evaluate the situation, including looking at the number of cars driving by and applying a point system,” he said. “After an area gets a certain number of points, the city will say ‘something needs to be done here.’ It sounds like you have met that, but the city will have to determine what it can do to improve safety.”
Lesser noted the city might determine having a crosswalk there is too dangerous based on the number of cars and remove it completely, directing pedestrians to cross at Nautilus Street. The next crosswalk to the north is six blocks up, at Genter Street.
Lesser also recommended privately funding the project to save costs and time. He said the blinking crosswalk across Girard Avenue between La Jolla Elementary School and Gillispie School — through which approximately 800 children cross daily, and despite support from the community — took at least six years to get funded. “The best option is to have city staff look
at the area and tell us what the viable solution is,” he said, adding those recommendations would be reported at a future meeting.
T&T did not vote on the proposal, and will next meet 4 p.m. Thursday, May 28 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Draper Ave. lajollacpa.org