Solana Beach City Council members listened to a series of recommendations for the Safe Routes to School Program during their Jan. 11 meeting, as the city prepares a grant submission to Caltrans.
“It’s very comprehensive and there are a lot of great ideas,” Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said. “I’ll look forward to the day when this is all implemented. This is going to help with our age-friendly communities as well, a lot of this walkability and safety, etcetera.”
The Safe Routes to School Program is being funded with $165,000 from Caltrans and $55,000 from the city of Solana Beach’s TransNet funds, which come from a half-cent sales tax. Its goals are to create safer routes for residents, particularly students going to and from school, to walk and bike in Solana Beach.
According to a city staff report, goals also include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging more walking and biking,
Safe Routes to School is being developed around nine sites: Skyline Elementary School, Solana Vista Elementary School, Earl Warren Middle School, Santa Fe Christian Schools, St. James Academy, LePort Montessori, Fusion Academy, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito (Solana Beach club location), and Child Development Center.
The program began in summer 2021 with a project website and questionnaire, mobility assessments, and the nine sites included in the program and a presentation to the City Council.
“The result of this effort will be a Safe Routes to School Program that highlights gaps and opportunities primarily in the walking and bicycling environment near these nine sites,” City Manager Greg Wade wrote in a report to the council.
Popup outreach events were held last year at Fiesta Del Sol in May, Concerts at the Cove in August, and the Solana Beach Library in September.
The city also collected about 200 questionnaires from residents, according to the staff report. Some of the comments said the city should address gaps in sidewalks and missing sidewalks in neighborhoods that lead to schools, drivers who speed along Lomas Santa Fe Drive, long crossing distances and lack of visibility, and students biking on the sidewalk.
Additional comments from residents, based on group conversations facilitated after a November council workshop, included making sure bicycles can be detected by traffic signals, maintaining continuity of the sidewalk near the fire station, adding ADA-compliant ramps, and making sure the Safe Routes to School Program is consistent with the Lomas Santa Fe Corridor improvement plan.
For more information, visit cityofsolanabeach.org/en/safe-routes-to-school.