Solana Beach to implement traffic-calming measures

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff photo)

The Solana Beach City Council voted Feb.9 to pursue traffic-calming measures, including speed- mitigation measures along South Sierra Avenue and Santa Helena, and a speed limit reduction to 35 mph on North Highway 101 from Cliff Street to the city’s northern edge.

Residents in the community have been concerned for years about cars speeding along Santa Helena, “a meandering road with several horizontal curves,” according to a city staff report.

“My biggest concern is this is an area where there are a lot of kids,” Solana Beach City Councilwoman Kelly Harless said. “And I have seen it for myself, I have seen speeding in that area when children are present.”

Several residents emailed the city in support of adding traffic-calming measures on Santa Helena. Laurie Strawn said she has seen multiple accidents.

“It is just dumb luck that there were no pedestrians or bikers killed or injured in these accidents, as dozens of people walk, jog and bike in the neighborhood every day, including many children and dogs,” Strawn wrote.

The council action stems from the city’s work plan for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which included an interest in traffic-calming measures throughout the city.

“I’m definitely in favor of the speed cushions on South Sierra Avenue,” Solana Beach City Councilwoman Kristi Becker said. “I’m also in favor of reducing speed on North Highway 101, but I too have concerns with the visual look of the chokers. I don’t think that looks good.”

Karl Rudnick, a member of BikeWalkSolana, suggested ways to make the improvements more visually appealing.

“I would say for enhancing it more, just have some more frequent cross-hashing if you want,” he said. “There are limitations on how frequently to do that, and I do think the thermoplastic idea might be OK too, but I just think more frequent cross-hashing would make that thing stand out.”

There were two fatalities and five injuries among bicyclists on Solana Beach local roads throughout 2021, according to data from the San Diego sheriff. There were also two reported pedestrian injuries and one motorcyclist injury as a result of traffic accidents. Out of 42 total automobile accidents that were reported last year, the leading causes were alcohol, improper turn and speeding.

The speed reduction to 35 mph on the 101 arose from a streetscape project that the city of Encinitas recently completed along the 101. That project included a speed reduction to 35 mph, and left the Solana Beach segment of North Highway 101 between Cliff Street to the northern city border as a 40 mph stretch in between two 35 mph zones.

In 2019, the council adopted a policy to install speed cushions, so far implementing them on Glencrest Drive between Dell Street and Glencrest Place, as well as Highland Drive between San Lucas and San Andres drives, according to the city. Two more sets of speed cushions are scheduled to be installed on South Cedros Avenue, between Cofair and Marsolan avenues, as part of the city’s annual Pavement Rehabilitation Project.