Ann Gardner | Via Latina
|Drivers and cyclists get together to make room for wider
sidewalks in Solana Beach. Photo Art Olson.
Click to enlarge.
Solana Beach has a new look. Can Del Mar be far behind?
The new wide sidewalks, with pockets for diagonal parking, seating areas, exotic plants and even mosaics, attracts our attention as we drive south on 101 through Solana Beach. Strollers are enjoying the seaside boardwalk and the Pacific Ocean is just blocks away. Further south, the wide vista of Del Mar’s beaches with breaking waves and volleyball players on the sand opens up to us; we drive past Via de la Valle with the San Dieguito lagoon and distant race track appearing on our left.
The new Solana Beach streetscape fits the beachside community like a glove and enhances the entrance to Del Mar. It emphasizes pedestrians, gathering places, friendly store fronts and, with the new southbound sharrow lane, slower, safer drivers. All of this because the western lane of the two southbound lanes on Highway 101 in Solana Beach is now shared by cars and bicycles for much of the commercial district, from Cliff Street north of town to Dahlia at the southern end. The space freed up by removing the former, separate bicycle lane (and moving the median a bit east) made way for the wider sidewalks, gathering spots in certain locations and additional diagonal parking in others.
On a recent Sunday morning motorists were still learning the ropes. Some didn’t get it and used their horn in an attempt to get the cyclist to move over; one cyclist turned defensively with a raised hand warning the driver to back off. Supported by the Bicycle Coalition, Sharrows are a relatively new tool in California’s bike friendly communities. Signs reinforcing cyclists’ right to ride in the a travel lane include the Sharrow symbol on a green rectangle and a “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” sign, both part of the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. They reinforce lesser-known but well-established laws that promote safety and allow bicycles and motor vehicles to use a full, shared lane. Sharrow lanes are now established in Solana Beach, Encinitas, Leucadia and Oceanside in North County, in the communities of Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Normal Heights and Downtown in San Diego and north of us in Long Beach.
Why not in Del Mar? Drivers will have learned the ropes in Solana Beach, and wider sidewalks in Del Mar would surely be expected after driving through our immediate neighbor’s pedestrian-oriented downtown.