COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Road Diet Case Study: La Jolla, a Jewel of a Boulevard

Jan 31, 2020
Jan 30, 2020

↵ Back: A Placemaker's Primer on Road Diets

Top: La Jolla Boulevard before road diet (2007). Bottom: After road diet (2018).
Roundabouts and shortened crossing distances have helped change La Jolla Boulevard in San Diego, CA, from division to destination.

The Highlights

  • Traffic incidents and crashes have dropped by 90%
  • Greatly enhanced safety for pedestrian crossing
  • Increased surrounding retail sales by 30%

The Details

Located in the coastal Bird Rock neighborhood in San Diego, La Jolla Boulevard is the primary vehicular route to the La Jolla area of San Diego from the south. The high volume of traffic along the boulevard had been causing safety and air pollution problems. Local residents of the community were concerned about the high speeds and congestion during peak traffic hours, and had issues with crossing the street. The width of La Jolla Boulevard divided the neighborhood, which was also suffering from a lack of usable public space, a lack of parking, and struggling local businesses.

In 2003, the Bird Rock Community Council worked with the City of San Diego through a series of workshops and charrettes to develop and design a new traffic plan. Construction of the first phase began in 2007. The project was implemented in phases to allow time for reflection and learning as the project unfolded. The plan’s main focus was implementing five roundabouts at key intersections along La Jolla Boulevard. The traffic lanes were reduced from five lanes to two lanes, and medians were added along the boulevard. These interventions reduced the crossing length for pedestrians from 68 feet to 14 feet. On-street parking was also increased to 30 spaces along La Jolla Boulevard.

These measures addressed the community’s concerns and helped enhance the safety of the area for pedestrian crossing, with the city reporting a 90% decrease in traffic incidents and crashes. Additionally, as a result of the measures, the City reported a 30% increase in retail sales in the area. The addition of medians, roundabouts and narrower streets all contributed to safer pedestrian experiences for people crossing to the beach. The project has catalyzed several new mixed-use developments, a 139-unit condominium development, and a major drugstore on La Jolla Boulevard. These additions and measures have helped create a sense of place on the boulevard by actively engaging surrounding buildings with street life.

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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space