'Walk Audit' finds problems for pedestrians and bicyclists near the Nobel Drive trolley station
The northward extension of the Blue Line trolley made University City easier to reach without a car. But getting to the trolley — for example, to the Nobel Drive station — is not so easy.
“Sometimes it’s hard to walk around streets that were designed just for cars," said Will Moore, policy counsel for the advocacy group Circulate San Diego.
Last week, the group organized a "walk audit" of the neighborhood around the Nobel Drive station to see just how hard it is to travel those streets and sidewalks as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
Safety vests on, the audit team headed out, looking for trouble spots.
The walk was led by Maria Walker, assistant planner for Circulate San Diego, who pointed out potential problems.
At one intersection she noted, “There’s no crosswalk, there’s no traffic signal, the truncated domes are faced diagonally, so someone with visual impairments probably wouldn’t know which direction they’re walking."
The walk audit route took the group through the La Jolla Village Square shopping center to Gilman Drive, up to Villa La Jolla Drive and onto Nobel where they crossed the freeway and then walked back to the trolley station.
Along the way, the walkers took notes of the issues they saw.
At one stop, Walker — a native of New York City — made an observation that may surprise a lot of San Diegans.
“I felt safer walking in New York ... I feel like it was more enforced for a pedestrian right-of-way," she said.
Eventually, the group made its way to the bridge spanning Interstate 5, crossing on the north side, and returning on the south … and finally back to the trolley station, where recent University City transplant Trey Hannula had some thoughts, especially since he’d had a close call earlier in the day, before the audit.
“Walking around this neighborhood, I almost got hit by a car just today,” Hannula said. “There’s a lot of sidewalks that are inadequate for not just everyday students and shoppers, but also those with mobility impairments, visual and hearing impairments. It’s not super safe."
The information gleaned from the notes the walkers took will be distilled into a report, which will eventually make its way to the city council. They hope that what was learned on the walk audit will translate into repairs and improvements in the neighborhood surrounding the Nobel Drive trolley station.