Encinitas commission to craft ‘complete streets’ policy

The Encinitas Traffic and Public Safety Commission at some point will draft a “complete streets” policy with the goal of ensuring roads make room for not only motorists, but also cyclists and pedestrians.

On March 23, the Encinitas City Council unanimously agreed the commission should review how other cities are implementing complete streets, develop such a policy and bring it back for council consideration.

“I’m an absolute supporter of complete streets,” Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear said, adding that the council has brought up the idea on a number of occasions, so it’s time to take action.

A policy would potentially have a checklist of bike, pedestrian and transit infrastructure that must be considered when the city maintains or seriously revamps roads. Councilmembers said it would be a stopgap policy until the city has a circulation element — scheduled to be completed in 2019 — that fully addresses complete streets.

Nine residents at the meeting spoke in favor of complete streets, and four people who did not wish to speak in front of the council registered support for the concept.

Leslie Goldberg said it’s often smart to narrow car lanes and dedicate the extra space for biking and walking features. She cited a recent Canadian Institute of Traffic Engineers study that found 10-foot car lanes have the fewest crash frequencies and can usually handle just as much motorist traffic.

“We can have it all in our community,” Goldberg said. Other speakers said complete streets would result in health and economic benefits.

The Traffic and Public Safety Commission joined the council at the meeting, which was set up in the wake of a commission disagreement over whether the city should put in complete streets.

During a tense commission meeting last September, former Commissioner Dave Hutchinson argued Commissioner Brian Grover pushed for complete streets at the expense of car lanes.

Grover at that time said the Encinitas council’s strategic planning goals include implementing complete streets in the interest of making roads safer, and that many cities are embracing the concept.

At the March 23 meeting, Grover said making streets more bike and pedestrian friendly can be as simple as restriping the roadway, citing a pedestrian path and bikeway buffer added to La Costa Avenue last year. At his suggestion, the commission’s policy will aim to be “proactive and reactive” in selecting roadways suitable for all modes of travel.

Councilman Mark Muir said complete streets or not, most people get around by car. And Mayor Kristin Gaspar said more public input is needed so that there’s a balanced complete streets policy. Despite their reservations, they backed the motion.

Copyright © 2017, Encinitas Advocate
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