CARLSBAD — More than 50 residents attended a traffic safety workshop with the city’s transportation department on Oct. 12 at Valley Middle School.
City officials gave an overview of the temporary and long-term plans to address speed and safety concerns, while residents provided feedback and suggestions after seeking help for months.
The issue of traffic safety exploded locally after the tragic death of a 35-year-old Carlsbad woman in August.
Christine Embree was riding an e-bike on Aug. 7 with her infant daughter, Delilah, when she was struck by a 42-year-old woman driving a Toyota 4-Runner at the intersection of Basswood Avenue and Valley Street.
Embree, known to friends as “Chawky,” died the following day, but her 16-month-old child survived without injury despite being thrown from the e-bike.
One week later, another cyclist, Brad Catcott of Solana Beach, was killed on Palomar Airport Road.
The city declared a state of emergency on e-bikes and traffic safety on Aug. 23 to free up funds to address the issue.
“You live in this community, and we want to hear your experience,” consultant Kim Hyshka told the audience. “We will better understand from you.”
Hyshka said the top priority is to reduce the speed from Skyline Road to Adams Street, and city staffers also presented a schematic and video of the proposed measures, including speed cushions and raised crosswalks at roughly 400-feet intervals.
Tom Frank, the city’s transportation director, said research shows with the installation of speed cushions, speeds drop between 4 to 8 mph.
Residents still voiced their concerns about the new traffic safety light (or Hawk light) at the intersection of Valley Street and Tamarack Avenue. Jason Oziel said during the peak drop-off and pick-up hours at Valley Middle School, the light is inadequate and an “abomination.”
Oziel and others chided the city’s decision to install the Hawk light but also called into question its effectiveness in managing traffic or improving safety since many motorists may be confused by the yellow and red-light combinations. Residents also said the size of the light poles and bulbouts are causing vehicles to make wider turns into oncoming traffic.
“We’re finally at the point where something meaningful might happen,” Oziel said.
The meeting also had breakout sessions with residents suggesting various solutions and ideas for the city, including roundabouts, speed cushions and many others. The city will collect the data and incorporate what it can for its long-term planning, which Frank said would take between two to three years.
Still, much of the audience was pleased with the forward movement on the issue, although concerns remain with the light.
“I think it went really well, and Tom sounds great,” said resident Christine Rosenthal, who lives near light. “We should’ve had this meeting before tearing up the streets and making it ugly. It’s the residents who know how fast people are going. I think Tom Frank seems like a great person, and I trust him.”