ENCINITAS — City Council adopted ordinance 2019-07 on July 10 to reduce Neptune Avenue’s speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph by a vote of 4-0.
The change to vehicle speed is to ensure public safety on the narrow one‐lane, one‐way road.
“I’ve lived on Neptune when it was two-way, it was really dangerous,” said Rodney McCoubrey, a 40-year Leucadia resident and environmental folk artist.
McCoubrey said he agrees with the speed limit change.
“There are so many pedestrians — it’s a really used street,” he said. “A lot of people come from different places just to walk or ride on this street. Anything that can help safety, because there are so many people now, would be good.”
Roughly 1,000 cars share the road with the heavy pedestrian and cyclist traffic every day. Additionally, the one-lane northbound avenue has limited street lighting for night time travelers.
The Leucadia street had no bicycle or pedestrian facilities before April 2019. This spring, the northbound lane on the beachside road was narrowed down to 10 feet along Neptune Avenue.
A basic sidewalk, labeled a type 3 pedestrian facility by the city of San Diego, was added on the west side of the roadway based on guidelines of the Active Transportation Plan of the City.
“The previous speed was considered unsafe,” said Peter Kohl, chair of the Encinitas Traffic and Public Safety Commission. “There were so many people walking and biking. The street has little parking in some places, so it was felt that the speed limit should be lowered to make it safer.”
A survey was conducted on June 5 to analyze car speeds along the single-lane road.
On June 10, the Encinitas Traffic and Public Safety Commission reviewed the results of the survey, which revealed a 22.5 mph average along Neptune. City Traffic Engineer Abraham Bandegan recommended to reduce the vehicle speed limit even though the survey didn’t demonstrate a need for immediate change.
Soon after, the City Council was introduced Ordinance 2019-07 during the June 19 meeting.
The survey was completed in two separate areas on Neptune Avenue, with the 85th percentile of vehicles speeds registering at 22 mph in the area between Sylvia Street to W. Leucadia Boulevard. The 85th percentile in the section between W. Leucadia Boulevard to Grandview Street was 23 mph.
“The mayor and City Council are pushing for something called Vision Zero, with the idea is to not have any accidents at all,” Kohl said. “I would say within the next year or so we will see a lot more changes.”
The speed limit was decreased because speed limits are estimated to the nearest 5 mph speed when compared to the 85th percentile driver in California, which averaged 22 mph along one stretch of Neptune Avenue.
“The city is doing multi-model improvements throughout the city,” said Development Services Director Brenda Wisneski. “Now we are trying to create areas for higher levels of protection.”
The new speed limit on Neptune Avenue will be implemented before the end of summer, and within 30 days of City Council approval.
Photo Caption: Bicyclists ride down Neptune Avenue on July 8. The City Council adopted an ordinance on July 10 to reduce the speed limit on the Encinitas street to 20 mph. Photo by Jacob Aere