Niguel Hills Middle School Safety Program
The City of Laguna Niguel (City) advanced a multi-disciplinary program of strategies to improve safety for students walking and cycling to Niguel Hills Middle School (NHMS) and to improve bicycle and road safety on streets and trails for the community at large.
The City and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) worked with NHMS to advance a safety program to create lasting and effective change to protect students traveling to and from school. The broad-reaching program included engineering, education, encouragement, and enforcement activities carried out by collaborative partnerships with NHMS, the Capistrano Unified School District, OCSD, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), and consultants. This innovative effort involved student art, engineering, and education as a model for other agencies to improve safety for youth and travelers alike.
The City reviewed the traffic conditions and implemented engineering improvements to create a safer walking and bicycling route to school. These engineering improvements included high visibility crosswalks, traffic signal retroreflective tape, and video detection and signal timing revisions at the Golden Lantern/Shark Bay intersection, which improved traffic congestion in and out of the school drop-off routes.
SCAG and Go Human Artistic Sidewalk Installation
Aligned with the engineering efforts, the City partnered with NMHS and hosted a Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Go Human demonstration event that served to link traffic engineering, education, and enforcement. The September 2022 Go Human event demonstrated artistic crosswalks at two high-visibility crosswalks at the school campus.
Students were then challenged to submit artwork in a school contest to develop painted crosswalk designs at four locations; two on the school campus and two along Shark Bay leading to the campus from Golden Lantern.
Using the winning student contest entries, four artistic crosswalks were painted by the City along Shark Bay in November 2022.
Communitywide e-Bike Education
This project benefits a variety of community members, particularly youth. As electric bicycles continue to grow in popularity, communities like Laguna Niguel are seeing an increasing mode shift from traditional bicycle travel to e-bike. This results in young people traveling at higher speeds. Growing concerns over the safety of e-bikes in relation to young people who do not have the knowledge or experience of safe on-street travel behaviors near moving vehicles are at a greater risk for traffic-related injury. In addition to infrastructure improvements, the City recognized the need for public outreach specifically targeting young people to teach them safe travel behaviors on e-bikes. Public Works and OCSD joined forces to educate students and the community on e-bike safety.
The innovative combination of programmatic efforts (engineering, encouragement, education, and enforcement) in partnership with SCAG and OCSD is a model for public works safety promotion and expanding beyond typical public works solutions.