Clairemont resident Stephanie Rabelo put out the call to her neighbors to show up November 19 between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. to support the idea of a proposed crosswalk on Mt. Acadia Boulevard from the Tecolote Canyon hiking trail to Snead Avenue (Tecolote Canyon Golf Course entrance).
“We’re looking to see if people feel strongly enough about a crossing to wake up early on a Saturday morning and walk across the street,” said Rabelo on November 18.
Rabelo works for a consulting business (CultivateUX) on a mission to "uncover what customers really want, then help business deliver it."
“We talked to city park ranger Matt Sanford, and he’s open to the idea,” said Rabelo. “He mentioned that there has been a need since people in the community have been crossing in this area.” Rabelo also said the issue was mentioned at the November 15 Clairemont planning group meeting when the Tecolote Canyon master plan amendment was discussed. “There seemed to be interest in a crosswalk, so that’s why we’re exploring it for the community.”
Rabelo also talked about being inspired by the history of the park and how the community fought to save it in the '60s when it was at risk of being developed.
As far as the proposed design, “We can make recommendations, but the city’s traffic engineers are the experts. I don’t know if our design is in sync with city regulations but we’re recommending a push-button signal with flashing lights and signs. We feel it’s the least-intrusive crosswalk, and the blinking lights will remind drivers about the crosswalk.”
While art on the crosswalk — showing an owl with wings spread wide (tecolote means "owl" in Spanish) — is part of the design, if the project proceeds, that part will have to be privately funded.
“We would be reaching out to groups that love the idea, but first we need to find out if the community wants a crosswalk. We have a sense that people that use the hiking trail are very interested, but people who don’t use the trail aren’t sure how they feel about it. That’s why we’re excited about having a hiker crossing that brings attention to the entrance. So few people know it’s there. The park is beautiful and the hope is that more people will enjoy it.”
When discussing safety concerns — the proposed crosswalk is not too many yards from a turn that many drivers take at high speed — Rabelo said there could be the potential for an underground crossing in the future if more people start using the hiking trail.
City spokesman Anthony Santacroce said, “We would have to conduct a study to see if the area qualifies for a crosswalk.... At this time, we do not feel there is a sufficient pedestrian demand for a crosswalk and we will wait until the [hiking] trail is installed.” Among other criteria, to be eligible for a crosswalk, ten pedestrians need to cross the street within a one-hour period.
I asked the police department about traffic incidents at the location of the proposed crosswalk. Officer Mark Herring said during the past two years there have been two calls to the intersection of Mt. Acadia and Snead following two accidents, both involving bicyclists. In February 2015, a cyclist crashed at the location, and in August 2015, two cyclists fell and crashed off a trail near one of the holes on the golf course. Neither incident involved vehicles or pedestrians.
Rabelo texted me on November 19 about the turnout: “Thirteen runners passed by the canyon intersection entrance, two people crossed.”
Despite the low turnout, Rabelo said she will continue doing research and community outreach. She asked that anyone who has feedback to email her at [email protected]
Opinions of ten nearby residents were evenly divided in favor of and opposed to the crosswalk. One resident not in favor of the crosswalk said, "Too many people speed on the street, even sometimes off the road and into the canyon." One resident in favor said, "People cross it all the time anyway; it's probably time to make it safe."