The problematic intersection at Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue was No. 3 on the list and has been the site of 16 total collisions with 17 serious injuries recorded between 2001-2015, according to Circulate San Diego.
The only two intersections ranked more deadly on the list – University Avenue and Marlborough Avenue, and University Avenue and 52nd Street.
City spokesperson Anthony Santacroce said plans are in the works to improve Pacific Beach's busy intersection at Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue.
“We'll be installing accessible pedestrian push buttons there, which are audible signals to go along with the visual signals already there to warn pedestrians and tell them what to do,” Santacroce said. “That adds another layer of instruction and safety to the already visual signals you find in your normal crosswalk.”
Santacroce noted, in addition to the new high-tech pedestrian push buttons, that the city will also be “upgrading street lighting to LED lighting at that intersection,” which, he added, will give brighter and more clear lighting to that part of the street.
Santacroce was uncertain exactly how soon improvements at the intersection will be made, other than to say it's a “high priority.”
Pacific Beach civic leaders and residents reacted to the news that their beach community has one of the city's top three most lethal intersections.
Sara Berns, executive director of Discover Pacific Beach, noted the community's business improvement district, as well as other community leaders, have been working with the efforts of Vision Zero to address pedestrian safety on Garnet Avenue, one of the six most dangerous corridors in San Diego regarding pedestrian vs. vehicle fatalities.
“Vision Zero is a collaborative citywide effort to bring that fatality number down to zero,” Berns said. “Local efforts include a vision for Garnet Avenue to include a consistent visual crosswalk plan along the entire street that includes the scramble crossing at Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue. Unfortunately, that effort has been denied by the City because of the impediment to traffic.
“We believe we need to start looking at Garnet Avenue as less car-centric, and more of a complete street, which gives equal opportunity for safety and travel to the pedestrian, bicyclist and car. We have a great community of diverse mobility here in Pacific Beach already with bikes, skateboards, walkers and cars and that needs to be recognized,” Berns said.
Long-time Pacific Beach Planning Board member Chris Olson said he would like to see San Diego successfully implement a “pedestrian scramble” like the one done by Vision Zero in Los Angeles. Information on that is available at visionzero.lacity.org.
Mike Beltran, chair of Pacific Beach Planning Group's Traffic, Parking and Streets Subcommittee, gave his take on why Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue is so bad.
Beltran noted that “at Garnett and Mission you have pedestrians wanting to go west to the beach, east to the shopping on Garnett and all directions for food and beverages. The lights going east and west have no turn signals, so vehicles have to wait for pedestrians to cross before making those turns, and by the time the cross walks are clear, the lights start to turn causing drivers to speed through the intersection.”
Beltran offered a possible solution previously tried successfully elsewhere.
“My idea to fix this intersection is to create a pedestrian scramble similar to the one found in downtown San Diego at the intersection of Market and 5th,” he said. “This allows pedestrians to cross diagonally as well so the intersection can be cleared more quickly and vehicle traffic can carry on. It is my goal as the chair of the Traffic, Parking and Streets Subcommittee to bring this issue up and run it through the main board at our next meeting (Feb. 22).”
Noting that 60 percent of pedestrian crashes in San Diego occur at intersections, often the same ones time and again, a report released last year by the Office of the City Auditor found that, “Many intersections with the highest rates of crashes, injuries and fatalities have not been modernized to improve pedestrian safety and generally continue to experience crashes.”
In response, Circulate San Diego and its coalition of partner organizations is launching “The Fatal Fifteen,” an initiative to urge the city to fund safe and affordable infrastructure at the 15 most dangerous intersections in the city.
Circulate San Diego is a regional grassroots organization formed through the merger of Move San Diego and WalkSanDiego, leading organizations dedicated to advancing mobility and making the region a better place to live, work, learn and play. Circulate's work focuses on creating great mobility choices, more walkable and bike able neighborhoods and land uses that promote sustainable growth.